What Does That Mean?
By Eldon Taylor
"The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth."
-- Chinese proverb
One night as I drifted off to sleep, I reflected on
unexplained events in my life and wondered, What does that mean? The
next morning as I dressed, I heard someone on the television in the
next room saying, "It's amazing. The window washer fell 500 feet, and
he lived. That story and more, next." I asked myself, What does that
mean? What does it mean to the window washer?
That day as I drove home from the grocery store, I
noticed a young man and his child. The weather was finally springlike,
and this fellow was working in a tiny garden. He appeared to be
breaking up some small clods by repeated blows with a hoe. I thought
back to my first home and garden. Such pride, such ambition--and such
is the great American dream. In the United States, most of us plan on
owning our own little piece of heaven; after all, a man's home is his
castle. As young people, we plan to buy our first vehicle, and the
consumption cycle begins. (Oh, we're consuming prior to that, but for
most of us it's limited to what the family provides, and because my
point has nothing to do with when or how the consumption habit begins,
I'll just leave it at that.)
So we make our plans, our dreams, and begin to live
them out to the best of our ability. Our clothes, automobiles, homes,
furniture, group memberships, and so on are all a part of our dreams.
The food we eat, the stops at Starbucks for a fancy latte, the cell
phones we carry, and on and on are also part of our dreams. I could go
on, but let's consider another way to look at this dream. Are we
consuming, or are we being consumed?
Is there a "now" moment where the heart is not just beating, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow says:
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Life has many twists and turns, and seldom do we find
the road to be straight and narrow. The same can be said for the
choices we have to make as well. We are sometimes tossed about like
leaves in a windstorm, bouncing from one event to the next,
and--despite our efforts to take control--unable to shut down the
prevailing winds. In the midst of all of this, we can find ourselves
experiencing the seemingly impossible.
Why? How does that happen? And what does it mean?
The Train Accident
When I was just 17 years old, I was driving a car
that stalled on a set of railroad tracks. My side of the vehicle was
facing an oncoming train traveling approximately 100 miles per hour and
pulling more than 100 cars. The young lady who was with me, her hand on
my leg, watched while I tried to start the car so that I could drive it
off the tracks. But in what seemed no time at all, the train struck the
car. The driver's side was crushed under the cowcatcher (the slanted
piece on the lower front of the engine) as the train dragged the car
down the tracks and finally threw the wreckage into a weedy field next
to the tracks.
My friend Connie was cut from the car with a welder's
torch. She asked about me while they worked to get her free, but they
told her nothing. Bless her heart, she also worried that her new nylon
stockings might have been damaged. Shock often has a disorienting
effect such as that.
As for me, I found myself standing a few hundred feet
away in the field. Suddenly, as if dropped there and awakened, I looked
around to see all kinds of emergency vehicles, other automobiles, and a
crowd of onlookers. I hurried toward the ambulance but was stopped by
emergency crew members. They wanted to know who I was, since from my
location and appearance, I clearly couldn't have been involved in the
This experience affected my life in many ways. One of
those, and perhaps the most meaningful, is the spiritual element.
Either a miracle had occurred or I was dead. Connie knew I was in the
car when it was struck. How did I live?
I told this story in my earlier book Choices and Illusions. Readers have written to tell me of similar events in their
lives. Here is one of them (used by permission):
"Last night I read in your book the story about the
train wreck and how you found yourself feet away from the accident
site. I had a similar experience in Southern California. I was on the
on-ramp to the freeway. At this particular entrance, cars also came off
the freeway, and I had to look to my right to ensure I had room and
that a vehicle wasn't coming at me. In front of me was a big truck, and
I was driving a small, subcompact car. In an instant, the truck in
front of me hit his brakes. I had nowhere to go and should have ended
up under the truck. Yet through some strange turn of events, I found
myself in a lane on the freeway, driving 60 miles an hour. There was no
way I could have done that!
"I was totally shaken over the episode and thankful
that I'd received the help of whatever or whoever put me in a safe
place. It almost felt as if time and space were shifted to have me
where I needed to be, out of harm's way. In that moment, I knew there
are laws and explanations we don't seem to have if we only see
ourselves as one-dimensional limited beings.
"Thank you for letting me share this story. I'd never
heard of someone having a similar experience until I read your book
Choices and Illusions.'
So what does all this mean? What does it signify when
life hands us the unexplained? What about when the wisdom of our
culture crashes down on broken promises and failed dreams? What does it
mean when our spiritual or scientific models collapse under the weight
of real-life observation and experience? Is any of this really
possible, or is it just a point of view, a place of perspective, an
Approaching the Many-Worlds Argument
I have a very bright son--more than one,
actually--but the one I'm referring to has changed his colors many
times as he has grown into his teenage years. He is named after my dear
friend Roy Bey, who has passed on. My son Roy adopted Catholicism last
year and he pushed us to attend the Catholic church. This year,
however, he's agnostic to atheist. He likes to think of himself as a
six on the scale of the renowned atheist Richard Dawkins, and that
means he is agnostic, for he doesn't believe there is a God, and he
lives his life according to that belief. He also thinks it isn't
possible to be sure about the divine either way, so he can't say with
absolute certainty that there is no God, and as such he can't claim to
Our recent conversations have often been focused on
Freud, particularly his psychosexual development theories, and Dawkins,
the author of The God Delusion. When Roy gets an idea in his head, it's
imperative that he both share it and convince others of its worthiness.
So if you're not inclined toward his kind of agnosticism, then it's his
challenge to convince you of your error.
There have been many of what I'd call "miracles" in my
life, and my agnostic son, Roy, knows of most of them. I brought up
this topic, saying: "If there are no miracles in the world, then
perhaps there's no evidence that can't be explained away by science. If
there are miracles in the world, however, then perhaps you should
rethink your position. For example, how would you explain the train
wreck when I was a teenager?"
His answer, in brief, was: "Simple, Dad. It was a quantum jump."
We know about electron jumps--like them, my
train-wreck experience was just a function of natural law that we have
yet to understand. It all has to do with the many-worlds argument and
The Garden in the Jungle
The many-worlds argument, quantum jumps,
yet-to-be-discovered natural laws--all are reminiscent to me of an old
Antony Flew analogy. Flew, a philosopher intellectual, suggested what's
generally referred to as "the gardener story," or "the falsification
debate." Loosely and admittedly with some exaggeration, the story goes
like this: Imagine that two fellows happen upon a garden in the middle
of a jungle. The plot appears to be very well kept: Corn, squash,
carrots, peas, and so forth grow in straight rows. There are no weeds.
Now, our two gentlemen have different views about this
garden. The first man (I'll call him Believer, or "B" for short) says,
"What a nice garden. I wonder where the gardener is."
The second (I'll call him Doubter, or just "D") says,
"There is no gardener. This is a natural part of the world. Like so
many other perfect relationships in nature, this is a wonder, but it's
Here are two opposing views of the same thing. B
replies, "You have to be kidding. Look at the crops in the garden: they
all grow in straight rows. Look at the weeds: there simply are none."
D answers, "It's just like you to anthropomorphize
everything. I suppose someone placed the stars in the sky in exactly
the right way to create the Big and the Little Dippers.
Look--everything in this natural area you call a garden is no more than
a special type of oasis in the midst of a jungle. You wouldn't peer
over a giant sand dune in the desert and argue that the oasis below was
created by an oasis builder--or would you?"
B, speaking in a rather annoyed tone, says, "All
right. Let's wait and see. I'll show you that there's a gardener. We'll
hide; and when the gardener comes back, you'll have your proof. How's
D, just as annoyed, replies, "Fine. That's just fine,
but what if he doesn't ever appear? Then will you admit there's no
No gardener ever comes. B argues that perhaps the
person is invisible, so D installs an electric fence and takes guard
dogs to the premises, but no one shows up. The crops still grow in
straight lines, no weeds sprout, and the gardens appear to
be tended. All this, yet still no gardener.
B continues to believe, and finally D asks the big
(and baited) question: "What would it take to convince you that there's
B answers, "There must be one. Just because we haven't
seen or touched him, the dogs haven't smelled him, and so forth,
doesn't mean he doesn't exist!"
D presents the argument of the empiricist, and the
belief of B is ridiculed in light of the lack of observable evidence.
However, the argument works the other way as well. Take my son Roy,
whom I asked: "Are there miracles in the world?" If everything is only
a matter of an as-yet-undiscovered natural law, then there are no
miracles, and nothing can prove otherwise. The definition contains the
subject and the predicate for all intents and purposes. In other words,
it's a tautology (a circular argument) to define miracles as just those
events that are explainable by undiscovered natural laws, for there's
always room for the unknown to loom.
I urge you to read both Antony Flew's original parable
and also his newest book, There Is a God. This legendary British
philosopher and devout atheist garnered worldwide headlines when he
turned theist. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that I thought of Flew
in respect to my son's quantum jumps; perhaps it's something else, for
Flew is also considered one of the world's leading authorities on
miracles. You decide. What does it all mean? Does it need to mean
anything at all?
About the Author:
Eldon Taylor has made a lifelong study of
the human mind and has earned doctoral degrees in clinical psychology
and pastoral psychology. He is the CEO of Progressive Awareness
Research, an organization dedicated to researching techniques for
accessing the immense powers of the mind, and is the author of the New
York Times best seller, Choices and Illusions. The above article is an excerpt from the new book by Eldon Taylor, What Does That Mean? Exploring Mind, Meaning and Mysteries.
For more information on a special offer for Eldon Taylor's latest Hay House release, please go to the website for:
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