Bernie Siegel first wrote about miracles in 1986 when he was a practicing surgeon. His groundbreaking first book, Love, Medicine, & Miracles, prescribed more love as a path to healing and challenged the medical community to open to the possibility of miracles.
We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the introduction of the new paperback edition of A Book of Miracles, which includes stories Bernie compiled during his more than thirty years of practice, speaking, and teaching. Without diminishing the reality of pain and hardship, the stories show real people turning crises into blessings by responding to adversity in ways that empower and heal. They demonstrate what we are capable of and show us that we can achieve miracles as we confront life’s difficulties.
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Many years ago, I would have defined miracles as something for which there was no explanation. That was my concept of miracles. So when patients would recover unexpectedly from disease, I would rationalize what mechanisms were present within the body that could explain their recovery.
Today, I realize that everything is a miracle. When you ask quantum physicists and astronomers to explain creation, they do not have all the answers. Life is a miracle, and it is derived from the intelligent, loving, conscious energy that created it. You can call it God or anything you want to, but the nature of life shows us it is intelligent and loving, or we wouldn’t be able to survive a cut finger or an infection. Most of us do not stop to think about life on earth being a miracle.
To me, miracles are about our potential and what has been built into us to help us to survive. A botanist I read about called miracles “spontaneous reversals” because he saw how plants altered their genes to survive climate changes and diseases. Just think about the fact that a plant doesn’t bleed to death every fall when the leaves drop off...it heals and survives.
Doctors call unexpected recoveries and cures “spontaneous remissions,” but that wording makes you think it is luck and that the person had nothing to do with it. That is not true. All living things have the potential to create miracles. Studies and scans show that cancers come and go sometimes with no treatment. We need to study the personalities and learn the stories of the people whom we consider to have had a miraculous or self-induced healing.
I know people who have left their troubles to God, or who refused treatment to go home and make the world beautiful before they died. They did what made them happy — from getting a dog to building a wildlife habitat — and their letters to me later end with, “I didn’t die, and now I’m so busy I’m killing myself. Help! Where do I go from here?” I do not limit miracles to only physical events like recovery from disease, because they occur in every aspect of life. Since consciousness is not limited to the body, or by time and space, it can have effects at a distance, too, and I will discuss some of these things when I present specific examples.
Someday I hope we will spend as much money exploring inner space and the wonders of the human body as we are currently spending exploring outer space. The secret lies within us, and yet we are afraid to go within because of our nature. It is time to stop fearing what lies within us and to achieve our true potential.
A true miracle is often defined as an event that defies the laws of nature. My mother referred to miracles as “God’s redirections” from which something good would come. A television show you never knew existed alerts you to a medical condition you wouldn’t have checked out otherwise; a kind stranger helps you change your tire before a flood; while you are sleeping a dog barks when he smells a fire. There is so much more to these occurrences than chance.
These events are more than coincidences. These are miracles.
In fact, even so-called “bad breaks” can be classified as miracles because so often they lead us in better directions. Years ago, arthritis threatened to end my career as a surgeon before it had even begun. The military turned me down for active duty, so I returned to Connecticut to attempt to practice surgery with a former associate. Almost immediately, the symptoms of my arthritis subsided, and I went on to practice medicine and become who I am today.
Rather than wishing for miracles to change the physical nature of life, my desire is for those miracles that change our experience of it. When we decide to make a difference in the world and create peace, love, and happiness for all living things...that will indeed be a miracle.
We are all living a miraculous story. When we are enlightened by it, we elevate ourselves and demonstrate loving, intelligent, conscious energy. To do so we must act, seek wisdom, and have devotion. Those are the qualities demonstrated by those who exceed expectations.
I read a wonderful article by Stacey Chiew, who wrote, “I believe each one of us holds the key that unlocks the door for miracles. Before you can do that, you need to know the password: Love. Miracles are the response to love expressed in us and to others. It is the extra ordinary healing power of our body, the amazing protective energy force that helps keep us safe, and the joy when prayers are answered.”
I agree with Stacey that life is a miracle. We cannot, and probably never will, be able to explain creation and how intelligent, loving, conscious energy could create matter.
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