What’s the Difference Between a Goal and a Miracle? (part one)

I’ve been thinking a lot about miracles this week – what they are, where they might come from, and whether or not they have any relevance in our modern world.  It occurs to me that there are a couple of distinctions which mark out what we might call a “miracle” from stuff that just happens or goals we work hard to achieve…

1. A miracle is in the eye of the beholder

The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke famously said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. This echoed an earlier sentiment from novelist Rider Haggard in the 19th century classic She:

“Fear not… I shall use not magic. Have I not told thee that there is not such thing as magic, though there is such a thing as understanding and applying the forces that are in nature?”

This is in fact the value of understanding the universal principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought that I point to in these blog posts each week. When we begin to understand how something works, it becomes less frightening, less unpredictable, and we are more able to benefit from it in our everyday life.

But does that really make it any less magical or miraculous?

Even dismissing the “miracles of ignorance” and “miracles of naivite”, is it not possible to experience life as a miracle even with a full understanding of the mechanics of its unfolding?

I for one still marvel at nearly every sunset (and the rare sunrise) I see, despite the fact that I am well aware I am neither viewing the chariot of the Gods dashing across the sky nor a gaseous ball of flame “rising” or “setting”.

This points to the subjective nature of miracles highlighted in Einstein’s dictum:

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

2. How “miraculous” something appears is inversely proportional to how much we think we’re at cause in its creation

If I write my name on a piece of paper, Einstein’s dictum aside, I’m very unlikely to think of that as a miracle. But if my name appears on the paper seemingly all by itself, that will seem to me to be fairly miraculous. In other words, we tend to attribute anything that comes from a force beyond ourselves as being in some sense “miraculous”.

And this is where the distinction between goals and miracles unveils itself:

If I think it’s up to me whether something happens or not, I set it as a goal; if I think it’s up to the universe, I pray (or hope) for a miracle.


Here are a few simple examples:

  • If Facebook wants to add another billion dollars to its bottom line, they will set that as a goal or business objective; if I want to add a billion dollars to mine, I’ll pray for a miracle.
  • If I want to have an amazing relationship with my kids, I focus on it as a “goal for the year ahead”; for someone who is deeply estranged from their family, they would hope for a miracle.
  • If a doctor wants to cure a patient’s life-threatening illness, they put all their energy, attention, and resources into it (like a goal); if a patient’s family wants the same result, they may well find themselves hoping and praying for a miracle.

While none of these examples are intended to be definitive, they raise what is for me an interesting question:

If I don’t believe there’s anything I can do to bring about a particular result or circumstance in my life, is there any value in “miracle setting”?

I’ll talk about this in more detail next week, but for now, let’s finish with a simple experiment:

1. Make a list of your top three goals for the year ahead.

2. Make a list of your top three “miracles” – the three things you would most like to have happen even though you have no idea how or even if they might possibly come about.

Share your lists on the Inside-Out Community Facebook group  and we’ll pick the conversation up next week…

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

With all my love,
Michael Signature