Waiting on Miracles

The miracle is a shift in thinking in which thought aligns, however briefly, with Truth. This means that we are not indulging our narrative preferences – this is good, this is bad, I am this, you are that. We let those be, like blades of grass or floating contrails. They are no longer our concern. The miracle is both impersonal and factual, a shock to our illusory comfort (always predicated on preference), and a clear bolt of lightening in our self-imposed dark (always a consequence of preference).

Truth, in this instance, is neither an object nor a stance taken with respect to objects. It is not an opinion. Nor is it a stranger to us, nor even unfamiliar (like a friend we have not seen in many years). It is simply what is, the wholeness of being, the fullness of the moment. Nothing is excluded (not even possibility, not even the possibility of impossibility) because nothing could be excluded. It is in the nature of the space in which thought happens, or the luminous ground from which it emerges, though both those analogies are inadequate.

And anyway, those kinds of statements – “thought aligns, however briefly, with truth,” “the luminous ground” – are maddening to various degrees. Explanation often turns into justification, which doesn’t help anyone. A kind of gentle sustained attention to what is before us – both internally and externally – seems eventually sufficient. We begin to perceive the way in which how we see – again, both internally and externally – is conditioned, and thus partial. And what can partiality beget but segments, fractures, portions, partitions, et cetera?

It is important to note that we want to fragment life, at least in the sense that we are evolved in such a way as to facilitate fragmentation. Our brains naturally divide that which is perceived, the better to understand it and thus coordinate response and reaction, which is to say, functionality. I am not saying this is right or wrong – it is simply a fact. This is how thought works. The problem is that we pretend the fragments are the whole – that they are real and true. Life is so much gentler when we just let it all be, and see our partiality for what it is – which is simply a mode of seeing that is contained within the whole.

That is what the miracle (as we are using the term here, in the mode – imprecisely perhaps – of A Course in Miracles) does. That is what it is for. The miracle is the insight that fragmentation is not wholeness and – critically – that wholeness is unaffected by our confusion, by fragmentation. That is literally all the miracle does. Of course the context of the miracle will shift for all of us – some of us will experience it while meditating, some while hiking, some in the midst of a kiss. It doesn’t matter. The form of the miracle is the least interesting aspect of it; its content is always the same: fragmentation is not wholeness. Only Truth is true. Et cetera.

The miracle passes. It is temporary, a stop-gap. It is like a flash of light in a dark landscape that illuminates enough of the trail to allow a few more steps upon it. The further we go along the trail, the more frequent and sustained the miracles – these flashes, these lights – become. Eventually we are no longer walking in a darkness briefly interrupted but rather in a sort of twilight; and this twilight itself grows brighter and brighter; becomes luminous, and illuminative.

The miracle is that insight which – over time – renders itself unnecessary.

But we do not understand miracles: and they are necessary because we don’t understand them. This is to say that we can’t force the miracle – we can’t demand right thinking happen now. If right thinking were so easy or malleable – if it were so readily accessible, it if were so subject to our will – then we wouldn’t need help. We wouldn’t have invented philosophy, religion, psychotherapy, hallucinogenics, Tarot cards and so forth nor relied upon them so . . . But we are too tangled up. Therefore, if we are going to be become clear and coherent – if we are going to locate ourselves outside time and space – then we need help. The miracle is our help.

Concern yourself not with the extension of holiness, for the nature of miracles you do not understand. Nor do you do them. It is their extension, far beyond the limits you perceive, that demonstrates you do not do them. Why should you worry how the miracle extends to all the Sonship when you do not understand the miracle itself? (T-16.II.1:3-6)

When Nisargadatta was asked for tricks or methods or ways to Truth, he generally responded much like in the following exchange.

Question: Did you get your own realisation through effort or by the grace of your Guru?

Nisargardatta: His was the teaching and mine was the trust. My confidence in him made me accept his words as true, go deep into them, live them, and that is how I came to realise what I am. The Guru’s person and words made me trust him and my trust made them fruitful.

What moves me in this regard – this idea of trust from which so far as I can see, Nisargadatta never wavered – is simply that Nisargadatta eschews any prerequisite knowledge or experience. His guru said that he was “something changeless, motionless, immovable, rocklike, unassailable; a solid mass of pure being-consciousness-bliss,” and Nisargadatta believed him, gave attention accordingly, and learned that his Guru was right. He was awakened to his true nature.

That is a way to think about miracles: we are told that they are real, that will operate to awaken holiness (which is to say, authenticity, coherence, lovingkindness, et cetera) within us, and to extend it – and we are told that our job is simply to accept all this as true and go about our business. Let it be. It is enough to know the truth is given to us; we don’t have to also decide what to do with it, who to share it with, and so on and so forth.

Honor the truth that has been given you, and be glad you do not understand it. Miracles are natural to the One who speaks for God. For His task is to translate the miracle into the knowledge which it represents, and which is hidden to you. Let His understanding of the miracle be enough for you, and do not turn away from all the witnesses that He has given you to His reality (T-16.II.5:3-6).

I write sometimes about passivity – a kind of energetic passivity – in which one is giving attention without leaping via judgment into experience, in which the dualism of observer/observed is allowed to simply be. I don’t mean sitting around expecting miracles; I mean doing what is given us to do while trusting in miracles. Bake bread, walk the dog, teach the class, write the poem, shovel the path . . . and trust the miracle. Don’t think about the miracle – trust the miracle.

The insight will dawn, because it is already given. Inevitability is a kind of law here. Fun house mirrors don’t actually distort anything; they just seem to. So it is with perception: it’s askew, but it can be corrected. It can realign itself. Our efforts to get it to do so are always futile; we accomplish the most by doing nothing. Which is – sometimes, for some of us – the hardest thing. Hence the usefulness – albeit temporarily – of a practice: the lessons of ACIM, devotion to walking or art, love affairs with chickadees. The practice becomes a distraction, so that unexpectedly we become aware of what is already here and always was and we take note accordingly, miraculously.


  1. Before visiting here this a.m., she of the six words wrote:

    Do not mistake
    twilight for dawn

    Your words have me looking at it another way, as though it is not light heading in separate directions, merely another aspect of the same. Hmmm..

    Also, Sean, in a very roundabout way I have stumbled upon Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s “Pathways Through to Space” and in the first 25 pages am feeling a sort of humming going on, which — again after reading here — I seem to identify as a trust building. (Have you read him?)

    The wind is strong this morning, and the chime outside my kitchen window that never sounds is making its presence known. Something inside is sounding, too, just a little … just enough. And this morning, at least, I am OK with that.


    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Yes, I saw that . . . It resonated for me . . . You have really been writing from a clarified space lately – more confident, more direct, more effortless . . . It is very provocative & comforting at the same time. . . Thank you . . .

      The odd thing (for me) about this light simile is that it is not literally light (or dark or dim but brightening or whatever) but rather understanding, where understanding isn’t really intellectual, nor even verbal . . . Kind of a strange place to find oneself, as a writer, beyond the bounds of language. Wittgenstein feels helpful with respect to this though as I said, it’s slow going. This issue – the tension between language and use – reminds me of the Jack Gilbert poem, “Orpheus in Greenwich Village.”

      What if Orpheus,
      confident in the hard-
      found mastery,
      should go down into Hell?
      Out of the clean light down?
      And then, surrounded
      by the closing beasts
      and readying his lyre,
      should notice, suddenly,
      they had no ears?

      Like that, but not exactly of course . . .

      I am only nominally familiar with Merrell-Wolff – but if you are moved by his work, then I will add it to my list . . . I am reading Wittgenstein lately, who keeps me to a crawl, albeit an ecstatic one . . . slow going which somehow befits winter, at least such a cold and snowy one . . .

      Okay . . . time to sit down for dinner . . . talk to you soon . . .

      ~ Sean

  2. Something has to take us to the edge, Sean, why not language if that’s the way we lean.

    I liked Gilbert’s poem… very much. Just another well-timed reminder that I don’t know what I don’t know and that my interpretations are just, what, a little frosting on the cake I baked with whatever ingredients came my way.

    Thanks for the comments on my little poems. I find today that a take-no-prisoners voice has found me … as though it’s over all my whining and saying, come on, you know this …. get on with it.

    Anyway, as for Wittgenstein…if your intellect stumbles there, mine would just lie down and take a nap. 🙂 Merrell-Wolff is tough enough. Took a detour this a.m. (after a visit to the Edgar Cayce library) and am reading a translation of Shankara’s “Crest-Jewel of Discrimination.”

    It opens, ACIM-style, with “Brahman — the absolute existence, knowledge and bliss — is real. The universe is not real. Brahman and Atman (man’s inner self) are one.”

    Cool, huh?

    Enjoy your weekend,

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. A good nap is never out of place!

      Giving attention to the Vedantic tradition – both its iconic texts and its contemporary practitioners – has been very helpful to me in reading A Course in Miracles. In essence, ACIM becomes a particular sparkle in a broad tapestry, one that is helpful to me, without shifting my focus away from the whole. I feel very grateful in that sense to have been directed to Tara Singh so early in my study, as he continues to be – for me – the best reader and teacher of ACIM.

      But as you say, we don’t know what we don’t know, and so a sense of humility and even adventurousness is never not called for . . .

      You have a good weekend, too.

      ~ Sean

    1. yes . . . he is actually a joy to read, notwithstanding the fierce logic and intelligence . . . there is a luminosity in the writing owing to more than mere reason . . .

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