PHAP QUANG CULTURE COMPANY
ĐT/Fax: (08) 38462646 – 38479599
Mobile: 0986.861338 – 0984.982229
What is a miracle? It is not from any physical or biological principle. It actually indicates extraordinary abilities of human beings, or it could be a message from God, or Saint from the holy land.
For example, we use heat to boil water; that is physics. In principle, when we heat the water up to 100 degrees, the water is boiled completely. However, if someone just holds a pot of water, and after a while the water is completely boiled, that is not physics; that could be considered as a miracle. Therefore, if we could explain something based on physics principles, it would not be a miracle. On a contrary, if we could not explain something by any scientific means, we could consider it to be a miracle.
Similarly, a miracle could be something that does not have any biological origin. A human being could only jump, at most, a meter to two meter height. However, if someone could jump up into the sky, and could fly around and land safely on the ground, this ability could not be explained by biology. Human body is not structure in a way that allows human to fly. Human could only jump, but to a limited height only. Human could not fly. We could consider this as miracle.
Sometimes a miracle is a manifestation of human being extraordinary ability; or it could be a message from God or Saint. For example, in a village far away, at the top of a mountain, every time there was full moon, everybody often heard the sound of thunder, the sound of bells, the sound of whinnying horses, voices, and laughter. People investigated several times but no one found out what caused these noises. This was not normal. No one could explain why these events happened. We thought that these were messages from Gods or Saints; or these events were miracles.
Below are some extraordinary phenomena around the world.
In Bodhidharma’s biography, they said He could walk on water. The Bible of God also had the story about Jesus, who walked on water. These phenomena were miracles. During many festivals in India or Malaysia, there are shamans, wearing strange dresses, praying and dancing over the fire. They chant strange incantations and walk on burning hot charcoal fire. They walk like a drunk person, their feet step on hot burning coals but their feet aren’t burned. We could not explain these events by any physics or biology principles. Those are really miracles.
Some people could even talk to ghosts or spirits of dead people. They are still alive but they could talk to any spirits. We could not see them but some people could see them clearly and know that how many ghosts are in the room, the color of their dresses they were wearing and what they were talking about. We may not believe this; we may not be sure if they tell the truth or not because we could not see anything, or hear any conversation between them and the ghosts.
Sometimes these talented people spoke to our dead ancestors to pass on the family secrets. For example, the person told us about a hidden package of gold, buried under the ground. We believed in this message and dug the mentioned areas, and we found the package of gold. Therefore, we believed that these people could talk to ghosts. If they could not do so, they could not have known the secret about the gold package to tell us. This is also a miracle.
Nowadays, there are some psychics, who could talk to the dead to find lost graves of war heroes. This is also a miracle. Some people have a special ability to see the past or the future of others without any means, just simply by their extraordinary abilities. Fortunetellers also could perform this but they must use something as the medium such as cards. They must learn and memorise the combination of the cards, and what the cards are telling them. If they still have lots of blessing, the cards will show the truth; and vice versa. Therefore, sometimes these fortunetellers rely a lot on their luck as well. Not everything would be accurate.
However, those, who are able to know about their past or future without any means, any formulas, have already successfully cultivated and attained enlightenment. This is also a miracle. They also could read others’ thoughts as well. This is a type of psychic power. In Buddhism, it is called: “THA TÂM THÔNG” (the ability to see the future). It is extremely superior, and is not as simple as an ordinary psychic who could tell others’ thoughts.
For example, a psychic could tell if someone was so sad about their love romance situation, because the sadness was too strong. He could just tell by looking at the person. However, that was not “THA TÂM THÔNG” referred in Buddhism. We will discuss about this superior power another day. We should accept that in this case, the ability of psychics to read other people’s thoughts is special and is a miracle.
Some people can cure sick people by very basic and simple means. Typically, a qualified physician must use a variety of means to treat sick people, they must possess great knowledge and experiences in medicine and have many modern medical equipment. Even with Chinese medicine, the physician must be so talented to find the right combination of Chinese herbs and other types of medicine to help sick people. In Western countries, there are so many modern and advanced technologies to help with the analysis to find out the root cause and resolution to treat sick people. However, in the scenario whereby a sick person came to see someone, who were well-known for cure people with very basic things such as by just drinking a special glass of water, and the person got well afterwards, then it was a miracle.
Sometimes, just a few herbal leaves could cure someone. It was very basic, but could help sick people. In indicates to us that there is really a spiritual factor, which influences on the healing and curing of sick people, not just only medicine. Actually, either the physician cure someone by Chinese medicines or Western medicines, there are always spiritual factors involved. All doctors had to go to a medical University and learnt the same program to be qualified, but some treat sick people so well and quick; but some do not. Those doctors, who could do well in their profession, have a lot of blessing. Their blessing helps them treat patients well and help them recover quickly. Therefore, if we want to recover quickly, we must find a blessed doctor. On the contrary, those doctors, who do not do so well, do not have enough blessing. As for those scenarios, where a person, who could perform miracles to cure people by just looking at someone, or asking someone to drink a special glass of water, are miracles.
We have heard so many stories about God appearing on earth. Nowadays, some people still admit that they have seen God. Indeed, some Buddhists, who have attained highest level of meditation to have pure mind, could actually see Buddha. This is not an illusion or imagination, Buddha wants them to see him to believe in the religion more and more. Today, science and technology develops so quickly, people’s lives are improving, therefore, not many people believe in any religions.
During war times, there were many soldiers, who got lost in forests. Without much help from others to find the way out, they prayed and prayed to God. Suddenly, a small dimming light appeared and led them the way to escape from the forest. This was really a miracle.
In fact, we remembered that, in this mountain, (Mount Dinh, Phật Quang temple, in Ba Ria -Vung Tau province), there was a root of a tree with a shape that looked like Buddha. A Buddhist sharpened it into a Buddha statue, and then we put it on a stone to display in the yard. A strange thing happened afterwards. No one was aware of a very small banana tree growing nearby. This banana tree suddenly blossomed with beautiful flowers, which had lotus shape, and they were the same height of the Buddha statue. Ordinarily, banana flowers would only blossom at the top of the banana tree, not in the middle. In this case, the flowers actually flourished right in the middle of the tree, at the same height as the Buddha statue. No one could explain why. There was no biological reason to explain this scenario. We believe it was a miracle.
The following story is originated from the North. It was long time ago. There was a monk, who was looking after a pagoda in Ninh Binh province. Most people in this province were Catholic and there was also a very famous church made of stones. Though local people were Catholic, they often asked the monk to bless their children. Some newborns of the people in this province often cried at night but their parents did not know the reason why. They asked for help from the monk. When he saw these children, he just patted them and said: “Don’t tease this child“. The child not only stopped crying at night, but also grew up very healthy.
We did not know if this was magic or this was the monk’s blessing. He had the power to make Saint to protect these children from bad spirits. This was a miracle.
Miracle always attracts lots and lots of people attention and admiration. Anyone, who could show his/her supernatural power, will become famous and have lots of people’s support. It is because everyone thinks that those, who have supernatural power, who could perform a miracle, is much more superior than anyone else. Those people have a lot of respect from others as well. They could also attract many followers, disciples. Those followers hope that they would be more lucky, and their fate would be improved and be better by following and believing in this special person. They would also become healthier and richer.
We must remember there are two outcomes, resulting from the above. The first outcome is the admiration of many people. The second one is the desire to use magic to change lives. For example, we were poor, but when we heard about someone who had supernatural power; we came and asked to become his disciple. We also asked him to use his supernatural power to make us luckier in business, etc… Or if there was a speculation that a Saint appeared somewhere up a mountain, there would be lots of people to come to pay respect and they prayed for themselves such as: becoming healthier, getting rid of drugs, winning lottery, etc…
almost everything! Therefore, there would be always these two outcomes: admiration and changes. Without these outcomes, it would just be a magic showbiz, performed by a magician.
David Copperfield, a well-known American magician, who had succeeded in his magician career. He had made a plane and a train carriage disappeared; he could walk through the Great Wall of China. All of the audiences stood in front of the train carriage, covered by a huge sheet, while David stood outside of the audience circle. He waved his hand once, the train carriage flew in the air, moving side to side slowly. He waved his hand the second time, the sheet started moving away from the train carriage. By the third wave, the train carriage had disappeared, right in front of hundreds of people. Once, he had let a chainsaw cut his body. These acts were performed in front of everyone, and these people could see the scene from every angle and they could not detect anything.
No one could explain about these shows. They called it miracles. People spent lots of money to watch these miracles but David Copperfield’s miracles could not change their fate. Therefore, these are not really miracles. This is just a great magician performing his acts. A real miracle would result in two outcomes. The first outcome is that everyone would respect and worship; and the second outcome is that the miracle would change people’s fate.
On the other hand, miracle could make people easily forget about karma: the law of cause and effect. Why? According to the law of cause and effect, what must you do to have good health? You must do more and more good deeds, help as many people as possible, have compassion for others, and help the communities…as well as do less bad deed such as cheating, and making others miserable…then you could be blessed to have good health. Superstition is something like the scenario when someone tells you to drink a glass of water to cure your sickness. You could then easily forget about doing good deeds and create more blessings. It also means you may no longer believe in the law of karma.
We mentioned above about the scenario where there was a remote mountain area, sometimes we could hear music but there was no one or anything to make these music sound. Hearing this, we had rushed to this area and started praying. We should have focused on looking after our family, taking care of others, and building a better place to live for everyone, but instead we came to this area to pray, hoping that miracle would happen, hoping that when we came home, everything would be OK. This is so against the law of Cause and Effect. Miracle would attract many people’s attention and often make people forget about the karma. We all must be careful about this.
Because of this, many religious leaders always oppose to believing in miracles. There are many stories about miracle in Zen, such as the following story:
A magician met a monk who was waiting for a boat at the riverside. The magician asked:
- What are you standing here for?
- I’m waiting for a boat to cross the river.
- How long have you been a monk?
- About fifty years
- Oh, You have spent fifty years but you can’t cross the river? Look at me! He shouted and flew across the river, then waving:
- Come here! Come here!
The Zen Master asked him.
- How long have you been cultivating?
- Just over thirty years.
- You spent 30 years to cross the river only. I just need to spend one cent to cross the river.
We do not know if the story is true or not, but it is written to protest the use of magic. The magician spent 30 years just to be able to fly across the river. Meanwhile, the monk only needed one cent to cross the river by boat. This showed the opposition of performing power, creating miracles from many religious leaders. Because they know miracles and magic would make life unstable. When people do not believe in karma anymore, they become dependent on magic and miracles.
Another story about a Zen monk called Hue Trung who had lived a religious life for 40 years and became a Saint. Although he never left the mountains, his reputation gradually spread itself all around the country. The king invited him to the palace to pay his homage and asked him to be a master of his country. One day, a Tantric monk came and said that he was a Saint and he could tell other people’s thoughts. The king invited Hue Trung to meet the Tantric monk. The king wanted to know how good Hue Trung were, whom he had worshiped so much.
When the Tantric monk came, Hue Trung asked him : “Tell me what I am thinking now…” At that time, he thought about standing on a bridge and looking at the river. The Tantric monk immediately said he was a master of a country, why he was looking at the river? Hue Trung agreed and asked again: “Tell me where I am now…” At that time, he thought he was in a fair with lots of people and the dancing circus. The Tantric told: “You are the master of a country. Why do you go to the fair?” Hue Trung nodded. The third time, he asked the Tantric monk tell him the place he was in and stopped thinking. He has entered the highest level of meditation, which allows him to have pure mind, no thoughts. The Tantric monk tried his best but could not read anything. Hue Trung immediately said: “Evil! You must leave right now!”
Hue Trung scolded at him because he could read the thoughts of others, but didn’t know the enlightenment of a Saint. When their mind is pure, it stops thinking. The Tantric monk didn’t know this, nor he didn’t have the power of a Saint, so Hue Trung called him Evil.
This is a story about another Zen Master, Dang An Phong. He was also a Saint. One day, on the road traveling with his disciples, he saw many soldiers fighting, blood shed everywhere. He felt compassionate for these people, he thought: I must save these people and stop this! He flew over to the fighting field and pointed down. When the soldiers saw a flying monk in the middle of nowhere with solemn faces, they were terrified, stopped fighting and stampeding away immediately. Then Master Dang An Phong returned to his temple and told his disciples: “I showed off my power, I must not continue to live”. In the law of Buddhism, Buddha does not allow any disciple to show off their powers indiscriminately. Master Dang An Phong had made that mistake, he was afraid that people would depend on that, so he decided to stop living.
He stopped breathing in a handstand shape. He was quite cheeky himself. Though he broke the rule of using power while he was still alive, he did just the same when he decided to end his life: using power. His sister heard that her brother used his power to end his own life, she muttered to herself about him being cheeky… Then she shove the corpse down and took it for burial. The purpose of this story was to oppose the use of power.
This is another story about Zen Master Van Mon. When he came to see Zen Master Tran Ton Tuc, his legs were severely amputated. One day, he came to the temple of a superior Zen master. This Zen master was a Saint, so he knew everything in future. On that day, he said to his disciples, “The man who is considered as the leader of my disciples is coming, please go and greet him“. At that same time, monk Vân Môn just walked through the door. Immediately, that Zen master assigned him responsibility for managing his disciples, because he knew monk Van Mon was enlightened.
One day, the Zen master told monk Van Mon and all of his disciples that: “There is a person who is coming here to ask me if he should start the war or not. I will not answer this question, so my life must end here“. He wanted to avoid answering questions about the war, so he died and left a note for the person. The note said that they must promote monk Van Mon to take all responsibilities of the temple. These were the Zen stories like these to warn people about the use of psychic powers. The Saints are very reluctant to use these powers, because they know human beings would rely on it. This would cause bad consequences.
This is the story about Zen master Van Hy. When he was alive, he went to Wutai Mountain to see Bodhisattva Manjushri. Manjushri transformed into an old man with a buffalo, but Zen master Van Hy did not know that. Later on, when he already attained enlightenment, one day, when he was cooking porridge, the smoke rose up and the image of Bodhisattva Manjushri appeared. He took a tablespoon hovering around to clear the smoke. Bodhisattva Manjushri said, “I am Manjushri”, he replied “Does not matter!” This means that he does not like power. A true and genuine Saint does not like to use power, miracle or anything unusual.
Someone had asked Confucius about the status of a soul after death: When does a soul become a Saint? When does a soul become an evil? Confucius replied: “I have not died yet, so I could not answer your questions.” Actually, he knew the answer, but he just did not want people to mention unusual things.
There are many people taking advantage of believing in miracles to do wrong and superstitious things. In the past, Mr Long Chau Nguyen created a religion and call himself a Master in That Son area. He had many disciples. At night, they lit and disguised as dragons, tigers to bow down to him. In the murky shadows, the tiger stood up and down in flashing lights, so people believed he was really a Saint. However, there were some people who did not believe in this, and he forced his disciples to stab them to death. At that time, in the West area, people call this religion “a Stabbing Religion”. Anyone, who did not believe in it, would be killed. Some bad people have taken advantage of others’ belief in miracles/powers to force them doing bad and evil acts.
Recently, we watched a movie about the statue of a Saint. Some time it glowed and many people had come to pray on their knees. When the camera turned toward the statue, it lightened up and everyone shouted “the Saint is coming!” Actually, even a kid knows the light was emitted from the lamp inside the statue. Someone switched it on and the statue lighted up. The statue was built on a high platform, the lamp was mounted inside. Many people had knelt down and worshiped earnestly in front of a statue, except the camera man, who stood still all the times. He stood there witnessing many people knelt down, rejoiced, cried out, but he himself did not show any emotion. If there was a really miracle, he would have thrown the camera away and bowed in front of the statue first and foremost. This indicated that he had been following a written script.
There are also many speculators, who claimed that they had seen Saints, who appeared under the trees over one hundred years old. Then one person told to another ten people, ten people told to another one hundred people, but no one really knew if it was true or not. Human beings are often easy to convince.
We had to live in a hut, in a remote rural area, to cultivate and to practise when we were still very poor. Our life was very normal, but some people in Saigon reported that they saw us sitting on a rock for a few months and our body shone with halos. Some people came to see us, but they were very surprised because they saw us poor, sick and we looked nothing like Saints. They kept staring at us… We thought they were just passers-by so we welcomed them normally. Later on, someone told us about the speculation, we just laughed and said we were only ordinary monks. Human beings are very easy to convince in miracles or magic. Please remember whenever you hear about such things… we must remember that others might just take advance of our belief and emotion to convince us to do bad things.
There are also cases of someone, who had put some chemical or bad drugs into the village well, and made many people sick. Then, they pretended to pray, and gave out “other medicines” to the sick village people. They were cured and got well afterwards. Since then, the whole village worshiped them. This was clearly the case of taking advantages of other’s beliefs. Why would they do such thing? Because these people do not have any moral standard. We must remember this, so if something similar happens in the future, we would know the reason why.
There are many honorable Buddhist monks in this life. If we are lucky to meet any of them, we would be blessed with lots of luck and good things would come to us eventually. These monks would bless us with good things such as health, improvement in businesses. But when you asked, they would reply that they were not involved in any of these things. These monks would deny anything to do with magic, or supernatural power, because it would make people lose belief in karma, and eventually lose their moral standards.
Therefore, good religion and bad religion is very different from each other. One praises miracles, one totally oppose to miracles and only praises morality and change bad karma into good karma. We must live well with others, loving and helping people, then we would be happy.
So, from now on, if we hear anyone talking about miracles, we must say “Sorry! I don’t care”. However, if we hear that there are great honourable monks with very high moral standards, we must respect learn from them. We must only learn about ethical principles. We must not follow the wrong path, and then to be taken advantage of. We must be strong. We must be strong not to be enticed by miracles, or supernatural powers. We must learn to become a true Buddhists. Only doing this, our life would eventually be better.
In Buddhism, if a monk blessed someone with good things, they then were very lucky. If the person came back and asked for more blessings, the monk would not do so as he was afraid that this person would take advantage and rely on the blessings totally. The monk would havesaid to the person that it was only the coincident, he must go home and do more good things, love and help people, then they would continue having more blessings. We, true Buddhist monks must never take advantage of our power to promote our reputation and image. We always must prove ourselves normal, such as the Japanese Zen master Bankei.
A Buddhist asked him:
- I heard you are an enlightened monk. You have magic power, don’t you?
- What power are you talking about?
- My Master could write on a piece of paper, while he stands on this side of the river, but the piece of paper was placed on the other side. Could you do the same?
He just said this:
– Your evil Master could only do dark magic. What is really a miracle? That is: we eat when we are hungry; we rest when we are tired.
It is strange, we could not understand this statement at all, as the saying is quiet ordinary really. Maybe we must practise and cultivate for thirty years, then we would be able to understand this.
Bang Lin Yun was also a Buddhists. When he was enlightened, he wrote a poem to talk about his enlightenment. There was this statement: “Miracles means: carrying water bucket and cutting firewood everyday.” Another very strange statement about miracle! Perhaps, only practice and cultivation for long time could help us understand these statements.
“Crime Scene Investigation” is an American television drama series, which talks about specialists investigate crime scenes to determine the cause of the crime and find the criminals. As when a murder occurs, the investigation team comes to take photos, get blood samples, hair samples…. at the scenes. Through the analysis of the crime scenes, they eventually find out the criminal. This team has very talented people. They use very sophisticated scientific method to help find out who commit these crimes.
One day, the investigation team encountered a cult, which worships aliens. They speculated that: “This world is a temporary world! (sound similar to Buddhism) so, human have to take poison to die because a comet is passing the earth.” (At that time, there was the comet started passing by the earth). They claimed that if a human being died when the comet passed by, the aliens living on this comet would take our souls to a happy and heavenly place. Many people had believed in this speculation, and took the poison to end their lives. When the investigation team found out, many people were already dead. There was only a girl still alive. They started to investigate and eventually found out about the cult. They came to see the girl right at the time when she was about to take the poison. They took her to the hospital and the girl survived.
The leader of the investigation team asked: “Why did you advise people to take poison and you also want to do the same?” She said that she believed in aliens who would take human’s soul to another happy world; the earth is trivial, temporary and full of miseries.
The leader said: “If the aliens are real, they would be wise enough to stay away from human on this earth.” His saying is though is short, but means so much. It means that those, who have wisdom, would not intervene into this world full of confusion, superstition, chaos, cruel, bad ambitions like this world. Only when we got rid of cruelty, greed and hatred, perhaps others from different world would come to socialise with us. For now, everything like this is only superstition.
In meditation, there are five obstacles on the path to enlightenment.
The first obstacle is the physical body. Cross-legged sitting posture is very painful and very uncomfortable as we would always want to move and change the position to make us more comfortable. It is very challenging and hard working to sit still in that position for long time. We must overcome this first obstacle in meditation.
The second obstacle is delusion. When we meditate, we must stop thinking. However, it is hard to do so, our mind doesn’t stop thinking naturally… We must overcome this second obstacle in meditation.
The third obstacle is the presence of hallucinations. When we stop thinking and could be still, we would be able to see the aura, hearing voices, seeing future things … The illusion is very special and very refreshing. It is indeed a meditation obstacle. If we enter so deeply into hallucination, we would never be enlightened and potentially would suffer from mental illness.
The fourth obstacle is magic power. A meditation practitioner, who could overcome the first three obstacles, would have extraordinary power. They could read other people’s mind, know the past, the future, and heal others. However, this is the most challenging obstacle. If they abuse their supernatural power, they would potentially and eventually do evil acts.
Even if we could overcome the fourth obstacle, we would still face the fifth one, which is our ego. This means that even if our mind is extremely pure, and has no delusion, but deep down, secretly, we still have a little pride. When we really could get rid of our ego, we would be enlightened and become an Arhat.
We now should understand that one of the five hindrances on the path of enlightenment is magic power. We must have a clear standpoint about miracles and stand by our moral standard and beliefs.
When we come to Buddhism, we must only focus on morality, virtue, and ethics. Do not focus on miracles although it is sure to happen at some point in time. An Arhat has six types of magic power: flying, going under the ground, transforming into thousands of shapes or forms, disappear from one place to another. However, one of the most important powers is having the extreme ethical standard (LAU TAN THONG). It means the ethical standard of an Arhat must be perfect and absolute. Buddha calls it a power. I must say again: extremely perfect and absolute ethic is the most wonderful power of all.
We all have heard about a brave soldier, who was arrested, tortured, beaten violently, but he did not say anything. Even they amputated both of his legs, he still did not say a word. This is really magical. His will, patriotism, and his love for the country and for his teammates were so extraordinary. This is an example of being extremely ethical, which is beyond our imagination.
In this scenario, a girl, whose mother married someone else, must live with her stepfather. He always tortured and beat her up brutally. He did not let her eat anything. Her mother had to hide the food and gave it to her secretly, or when he was drunk. She was tortured like this for a long time but when she grew up, she became rich, she still took care of him. Why did she do that? It is quite simple really. She considered him as her father because he was her mother’s husband.
We also may have heard about one person who have donated his blood for fifteen times. When someone asked him why so many times, he answered: “I am healthy and there always is a need for blood donation, so I do it.” Blood is very precious, but he did it willingly without any hesitation. He indeed is very ethical. Miracle could happen right in our normal life, not something so superstitious and mystical. Love and compassion between beings could enable us doing anything, sometimes could be beyond imagination Arhat Sariputra is the leader of Buddha’s Sangha, which was comprised of thousands of credible monks and Arhats. Though he was complained and insulted by others, when Buddha asked him about this, he did not explain anything; he just said: “Dear Buddha! I always see myself as soil and dust, where people could step on, even throw rubbish on to it, it would still be happy. I would do the same. I wish I would always receive bad and dirty things and leave good things for this life. I always think myself as Chien Da La, who could carry baskets and baskets of manure to clean up, freshen up this life”. After hearing his preach, everyone was teary and emotional about it. After that, he went and apologised to the person who
complained and insulted him. His ethic could make the earth move. That is a miracle, not the ability to fly into the sky or go under the ground.
While we are sitting here listening to Buddha’s teachings, enjoying life in peace and happiness; while we have a house to live in, have food to eat when needed…. and while we live an enjoyable life, there are many soldiers, living in the forest, regardless of raining or under the bright sunshine, they still had to practise, be brave and strong to protect the border of our country. No one could fully appreciate and understand fully about their sacrifices.
There are also people who compose poems and songs that lead people towards the good and great things. We could consider it as miracle. Wars are everywhere around the world. The song “We are the world” helps create awareness amongst people about peace, compassion instead of hatred and killings. These could be called miracles.
We must understand what a miracle is accurately. When we could understand it correctly, we would be able to comprehend why Bang Long An said: carrying water buckets and cutting firewood everyday are miracles. If we have not yet agreed or understood completely this saying, it means our mind is full of greed, hatred, and delusion. When we were doing these tasks, we wanted to finish them quickly, so we could do something else more enjoyable. On the contrary, when a Zen Master carries out these same tasks, their mind is completely focused on these tasks, hoping what they are doing would help others. Their mind does not think about anything else rather than focus on doing the tasks that could help others.
You know, raining is also a miracle. Why is that so? When it rains, everywhere is wet and it could cause many accidents. However, with Zen Masters, they see the rain very beautiful, sparkling. Why? It is because their mind just focuses on looking at the rain, but nothing else; whereas, we look at the rain with millions of thoughts going through our mind at the same time. The rain could easily evoke memories of an ordinary person’s past, expectations and create many dreams. As for Zen Masters, each raindrop is beautiful in its own right. Those raindrops are miracles from heaven.
Bright sunshine and the birds’ singing sound in the morning are also miracles, when our mind is pure and focused. Anything could be seen as a miracle if our mind is pure and focused, just as Bankei said: “When we are hungry we eat; when we are tired we rest.” He sees miracles in the ordinary things. Those who always want to see unusual things will be enticed into superstition easily; therefore, they could easily forget about the Dharma and karma.
As for us, when we are able to see miracles in just a floating log on the river, it means we have awakened to the Dharma; we must not be influenced by bad things. Only then, we could understand that everything around us is sacred, magical, and the most magical thing we can do in this life is to love all beings. That is the most wonderful miracle.
Actually, nowadays, there are many achievements of many talented scientists in the world, which are also considered miracles. One of the big achievements of all times is the invention of mobile phones… In the old days, no one was able to imagine one day we could contact our loved ones from anywhere in the world. In addition, we could travel from one place to another quite quickly.
Similarly, there are miracles in the movie industry, too. With advanced technology, filmmakers can make epic scenes such as: the White House was blown up, shredded to pieces, but in fact, there was no explosion at all. The scene was created by very advanced technology. These advanced technology could also be used to modify my preach on Buddhism. They could make the scene sounds like we were teaching bad things, but indeed we were not. Modern technology can do lots of things, both good and bad.
Many bad forces are currently taking advantage of modern technology to manufacture deadly weapons. Instead of using technology to help many other human beings, they use it for killings. Young people use the internet to access depraved information, playing game… These things will eventually impact on their morals, their thinking and their behaviour. This is the downside of advanced technology.
The most horrific thing is kidnapping children and then sell their organs. These gangs abduct healthy children, then harvest their hearts, kidneys, livers, eyes to sell. There are wealthy patients who need organ transplant, who would be willing to buy these things of from these Mafia gangsters. Technology could assist doctor to cure people; however, these so-called “help” do not have any moral standards at all. These are the acts of evils.
Any supernatural power, which cannot be used to help any beings, should not be considered as good thing or a good miracle. We could pay hundreds of dollars to see the famous Magician David Copperfield to perform, but it brings no benefits to us, or to other beings. We spent the money, so we could not afford to buy food for our family. We paid the money to see magic, but we did not gain any more knowledge, did not expand our compassion for anyone else, then the magic means nothing. What we did means nothing.
What must a miracle bring? At first, it must help people to have enough food to eat; make people love each other more and more; and live morally. Life does not need useless miracles, which do not bring any benefit for any beings.
If a person, who could perform magic, who could also remind people to love and help each other, live morally, and meditate to eradicate the ego, it would be a great thing. If we could learn to love others, help more and more people from watching these performers, then it is a great thing. Miracles comes with ethics would bring great things to life. If we learn nothing from these magicians, then we do not need these types of magic in this life.
Although Zen master Dang An Phong violated a rule in Buddhism, but he was appreciated because what he did prevented a war, which could have led to the massacre of many human beings. We hope that those, who have supernatural powers, will use them to bring peace and more compassion to this world.
If a miracle only bring personal benefits, that is a sin. A miracle is really valuable only when it help people practise, cultivate, love and have compassion for others, and to build a world with peace, happiness, prosperity, and morality … On the other hand, a miracle, which is used to promote self-benefits, it is indeed a sin of selfishness. If the purpose to have power, to be able to perform magic to attract people to promote self-image, that is an evil sin.
So, who cannot fly; cannot go underground, but what they say always help people unite, help create more love and compassion amongst all beings, help get rid of sins, selfishness, hatred, and jealousy… that is the miracle. They are ordinary people who walk by their own feet, and have no supernatural power, whatsoever.
We all could do the same, too. We could help convince our neighbours to go to a temple to pay homage to Buddha, to believe in karma, to have less hatred for others. We could help others learn more and more about Buddhism. They learn from us to become true Buddhists. If we could do all that, it means we are performing magic; we are creating miracles.
However, to achieve these miracles, we must try harder, to the best of our ability, to be able to do phenomenal things:
Living amongst people, who are full of jealousy, but we are not jealous
Living amongst people, who are full of hatred, but we love all beings
Living amongst people, who are full of selfishness, but we live unselfishly
Living amongst people, who just live for themselves, but we care for all others
Only then, we perform miracles for this ordinary life, and we could influence many other people. We help improve morality and bring better things into this life. This is the miracle, which Buddha wants us, His disciples, to achieve.
We all wish for a wonderful miracle, which could bring all religions together; which could help all religions find one common principle, common goal; not to divide the human race. There are many religions in this world that just want their religion to be number one. Some politicians have taken advantage of these religions to attract the population, which had caused lots of pains and deaths for humanity. The world needs a common belief. I am not saying that Buddhism will become the only religion for the whole of humanity, but it should the choice of all beings.
For all of those, who want to create miracle, please make everyone to have one common belief. A miracle should help human get rid of ego, remove selfishness, greed, and hatred. A miracle should not be used for ordinary enjoyment because it is meaningless. It must help us improve morality, help us to mediate to get rid of ego, and lead us towards the right direction of practising and cultivating to become a Saint. That is the true miracle.
In Buddha’s times, Buddha used his power many times to help his disciples to practise meditation. There was a Bhikkhu, who was meditating, but could not focus, his mind was full of thoughts, Buddha appeared and preached to the Bhikkhu to help with his mediation, then gone. After listening to Buddha’s teachings, the Bhikkhu was able to focus, and meditate successfully to attain enlightenment.
A very ordinary miracle that anybody can create is karma. Karma is the best way to bring greatness into this life. When someone was terminally ill, no doctor was able to treat this patient, he then sold everything he owned, and dedicated his life to help others, to help promote morals, and Buddhism principles. After a while, this person was getting better, and the illness was gone. That was a miracle that no one was able to explain. However, it is indeed karma.
There was this young man, who was an orphan and very poor. With such condition of life, most people would just try to survive day by day. However, this person believed in karma, he always liked to help others. He was willing to do anything, which would benefit others. He worked hard. He was loyal with all employers. He was also very diligent and thoughtful.
Then the opportunity came. He was employed to be a helper of a jewelry owner, who was very rich. The jewelry owner had only one daughter. After three years, the owner was fond of this young man, and wanted his daughter to marry this person. Yet, he did not know that his daughter also admired this young man, who was hard working, kind hearted and were well-behaved. They then got married and lived happily. This is a true story from Tay Ninh province. Though this young man had become wealthy, he still lived very simply, still helped others and still worked hard. He had children, then grandchildren, who all grew up and became good citizens, due to his blessings. When he knew about Buddhism, he leant about mediation and was able to achieve high level of meditation. This is a miracle of karma.
With karma, we are able to create many miracles in this life. If we do good deeds, though just one by one, miracle would happen. As mentioned above, the path to enlightenment is actually meditation in Buddhism. As I mentioned before, the fourth obstacle in meditation is magic and power. But only when our mind is so pure, then a miracle would happen. We must mediate. We must not show off any power, any magic, only then we could achieve high level of mediation.
Often people asks: how long will it take us to be enlightened? Time in this context is meaningless. It could be many years; it could be many lives as well. We must focus on the present time. It is important that we live the Dharma now, to improve morality in every moment of life now. One day, a miracle would happen, and we would be able to attain enlightenment. However, please remember, we must not show off, must not be arrogant about our achievement.
It takes time (not exactly how long) to attain the highest level of mediation. Even when we attain this level, we must not show off. We must be modest, like the first days that we started learning about meditation. Life always has many wonderful things that we have to cherish and appreciate.
The last thing we want to mention in this sermon is the following advice:
We all have friends from other religions. Please discuss with your friends about the topic we discussed today: The Miracle and its true meanings. If someone wants to show off any magic, or power, we must say the following:
“Please remember that miracle will not happen when we give less, but want more returns. It is actually superstition, not miracle. Miracle is only valuable when it brings prosperity, happiness, moral and compassion to all beings. Miracle is a sin if we use it for our own personal benefit”.
We have a treasure of many miracles in this ordinary life, so let’s cherish those:
What is a miracle? That is when we do the extraordinary thing in life as the result of love, morality and compassion.
What is a miracle? That is we eat when we are hungry; we rest when we are tired.
What is a miracle? That is when we offer someone a glass of water, or when we cook a meal for someone.
What is a miracle? That is when we donate blood to help others in emergency.
What is a miracle? That is when we always have compassion for others regardless of all sufferings and miseries.
Let’s share the meanings of miracle with everyone, with our friends from other religions. I wish you all could always have miracles in your life.
Namo Shakya muni Budha.