In search of Miracles

Roberto Jahn

The threat of suffering, disease, and death contradicts our desire to be happy and is a  fact of life that we find hard to accept.  When we are sick we consult doctors. We follow  their advice for remedies, but also simultaneously seek cures from other possible  sources, such as God, saints or angels.  In particular, when we are unable to solve a  problem on our own, we tend to pray on behalf of ourselves or those we love, because at  those times we are most in need of something bigger than ourselves.


Prayer, either in words or in thoughts, is a means to talk to God.  Teresa of Avila (1)  gives us an impactful definition of it: “Prayer is nothing else but being on terms of  friendship with God, frequently conversing in secret with him.”

There are various forms of prayer, they may be recited from memory, read from a book  of prayers, or composed spontaneously as we pray.  They may be said, chanted, or sung. Every tradition has its own unique set of prayers. “Om Hrim Ritam” and “Khandana  Bhava Bandhana’” are two beautiful hymn prayers written by Swami Vivekananda that  are a part of arati rituals in the Ramakrishna tradition.  They are prayers of submission,  reverence, and adoration.  Confessional prayers are another type of prayer.  We express  our gratitude for the sun rising every morning or for helping us to remember that  happiness is not always a choice!  These are prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude. Another type of prayer is the direct petition or supplication prayer, which is the most  popular type.  We beg God for specific favors, making him seem like a cosmic Santa  Claus.  However, most of the time, these prayers are desperate attempts to find hope in  the midst of sorrow.

Lord may I be healed

Through modern media, mass prayers for healing by evangelists can be seen in  countries all over the world. The modern music, raised hands, and bodies flying through  the air and hitting the floor are typical elements of such gatherings.  A typical type of  faith healing in Christianity involves praying over someone while placing hands on them.  There is a hypermarket today for the extrasensory.  A rough estimate places the number  of mediums, fake healers, tarot card readers, and clairvoyants solely in the West at over  1,000,000.  The last decades we have been witnessing a resurgence of sorcery,  witchcraft, and magic, often combined with a superstitious use of religion.

When it comes to supernatural phenomena -demons, miracles, apparitions and private  revelations- the Roman Catholic church walks a very fine line.  Catholics believe that  prayers, particularly those made to Mary, the saints, and the angels, have the power to  heal the sick or perform miracles.  Asking them to mediate with God is referred to as  intercessory prayer.  Therefore, for both physical and spiritual healing, millions of  pilgrims travel to Lourdes,  France, where cures are said to occur due to the intercession  of the Virgin Mary.  Do medical miracles truly happen?  Surely, in modern rational  mentality, it is difficult to say that something is “inexplicable”.  But life-changing healings  -that scientifically cannot be explained- actually happen as a result of ‘a healing power’  beyond medicine and human means.

Sickness, mental disease, possession, “natural” and “miraculous” healings cannot be  distinguished clearly from one another. The possibility of deception is always present.  To avoid mistakes, one must exercise discernment and be prudent.  As a result, every  healing case in Lourdes, that is attributed to intercession,  is scientifically studied by  international medical teams of the church!   To date, there have been 70 officially  confirmed miracles at Lourdes since the first apparition (2) in 1858.  But more than  7,000 miraculous ‘unofficial’ recoveries have been attributed since then to the  intercession of Mary at the sanctuary in France!!

Healing the sick through miracles, raising the dead, and driving out evil spirits are not  just practices associated with Jesus and Christianity but can also be found in the lives of  all the great saviors, prophets, saints and seers throughout all faith traditions according  to Swami Paramananda in his book “Spiritual Healing”.  The Buddha is known to have  worked many miracles, and so are Mahavira, Guru Nanak (3).

India, land of wonders

People seeking treatment in India will travel long distances to pray at a shrine, hug a  tree, or touch the feet of a holy man in the hope that the manifestation of Divine power  will free them from depression, possession by evil spirits, the negative effects of bad  planets, obstacles in marriage, protection from adversaries, or provide opportunities.  Mantras, or repetitive prayers of invocation, are used by people to for the help of the  divine and to request protection, relief from pain, and deliverance.

The cause of disease

In the Roman Catholic tradition, sickness is linked to sin, a direct consequence of the  Christian dogma of original sin.  God sends disease as a punishment for sin or to cleanse  the soul. As a result, the Catholic tradition of deliverance from evil spirits, which  involves healing prayer to remove sin, is still very much in practice.  In more or less the  same vein,  rude or inappropriate behaviour is regarded in Dharma as weakening the  individual’s character and causing bad karma and sickness.  Or it might originate from  ancestral lines or past lifetimes.  Hindus believe that self-imposed penance and prayer to  God not only produces good karma but also greatly diminish the severity of the karmic  punishments that would otherwise be suffered.  According to Ma Sarada, “a man who, as  a result of his past karma, is destined to lose his leg, may instead suffer from the prick of  a thorn in his foot.”  In other words, we can work out our karmic tendencies.

Where does healing power come from?

From the balm of devotion. Hinduism and Christianity both follow the same path of  loving devotion when it comes to spiritual care,  despite their seeming differences.  Both  traditions share the belief that anybody who approaches the Divine with earnest  devotion and a humble heart can experience grace.

Keeping in touch with a higher power through prayer will bring great assistance in the  healing process.  Both for patients and healers.  It goes without saying that you must be  healed yourself before you use the gift of healing as the healing does not come from the  healer, but through him.  Before to be able to fully believe and surrender to God, patients  and healers must go through a sincere, lengthy and slow process of devotional service.


Vedanta and healing would seem at opposite ends of the spectrum. Vedanta is typically  associated with Shankara’s non-dualism and his ‘world-denying’ tradition: that all is  Brahman and healing has the duality of the body-mind-complex as its focus.   However,  there are five further schools of thought that see Vedanta as basically a theology of God!  Considering what I understand, these schools are in no way less deserving of recognition  as teachers of Vedanta, than Shankara, according to Swami Tapasyananda’s expert  analysis of the lives and philosophies of the other Vedantic teachers.  Ramanuja,  Madhva, Nimbarka, Vallabha and Caitanya (4) all base their teachings on the Prasthana  Traya, the threefold canon of Vedanta (5). Their focus on Bhakti —the path of Divine  Love— is what sets these teachings apart from the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.

The way to healing

As said, the prayer for healing requires a devotional mindset. While many external  factors, such as diet and exercise, might be helpful, it’s the attitude that matters.  Devotion creates a setting that allows interaction with the supernatural. The devotional  mindset is essential for the efficacy of healing prayer. “He serves those who surrender  themselves,” says the Bhagavadgita,  4.12. When one maintains a constant connection  with God through worship and active prayer -while refraining from the temptations of  greed, fortune, name, fame, and power- it positively affects our life.  Healing is a spiritual  process that, as mentioned, requires time in addition to a certain attitude, both for the  healer and the patient. There are times when prayer immediately results in  improvement, but in general you need to have the determination to keep going.  Speaking to our inner voice and listening to, requires faith and courage.  Before our  prayers are answered,  we may need to spread them out over several days, weeks,  months, or even years.

Prayer and Self-Realization

“Prayer is the expression of both actual Realization and the desire for a higher state of  consciousness…” Swami Premananda defined it eloquently. You  might start by attempting to address a health issue or need, but the path of Divine Love,  as ecstatically rewarding as it may be, is merely a means by which our own Divinity  might be made manifest.   What underlies all of our misery is the mistaken belief that we  are our limited, labeled selves: banker, woman, asian, catholic, vedantist.  The following  clearly demonstrates that, notwithstanding Ramakrishna’s preference for the path of  devotion, his ultimate objective transcends whatever religion or school of thought:  Advaita that reveals the reality of the Self.

“Satcidananda is like an  infinite oecan. Intense cold freezes the water into ice, which  floats on the ocean in blocks of various forms. Likewise  through the cooling influence of Bhakti, one sees forms  of God in the Ocean of the Absolute. These forms are  meant for the Bhaktas, lovers of God. But when the  Sun of Knowledge rises, the ice melts; it becomes the same  water it was before — water above and water below,  everywhere nothing but water!”  Ramakrishna (6)

We can truly heal by acknowledging the greatest miracle that we are and have always  been one with our darkest and brightest sides, God: that doesn’t judge, that is untainted  by thoughts and actions, right and wrong, fear and pain, joy and peace.  This Self awareness is the key to resolving the core causes of nearly all of our health problems:  conflicts, stress, worry, and anxiety.  There will be no more difficulties left to tackle once  we have returned to our true nature.  Aham Aarogyam. Aham Brahmasmi. I am healthy. I  am God.


Roberto Jahn lives in Spain. Earlier he lived in USA,  Surinaam and Holland.  He is a student of Advaita Vedanta.