Divine intervention is a concept which is present in the consciousness of humanity and especially in that of religious and spiritual minded humanity. The concept can be found in all religions and is normally the goal of prayer. In this contemplation we shall go a little deeper into this concept.
The term ‘divine intervention’ consists of two words, namely ‘divine’ and ‘intervention’. The word ‘intervention’ refers to a “stepping in” by “something extraneous”.1, 2 It consists of the prefix ‘inter’ and ‘vention’ (which on itself isn’t an English word). ‘Inter’ refers to a being between or among3 and is through the Latin ‘inter’, indicating the same,4 rooted in the Sanskrit ‘antar(a)’,5 meaning ‘interior’.6 ‘Vention’ comes from the Latin ‘venīre’ (or ‘veniō’, also written with an ‘u’ instead of a ‘v’),7 which basically refers to a coming.8 So an intervention basically regards an in between coming of something extraneous.
The adjective ‘divine’ means “of or pertaining to God or a god”.9 The word stems from the Latin ‘dīvīnus’,10 (again also written with a ‘u’ instead of a ‘v’) meaning ‘belonging to the gods’.11 This word consists of ‘dīvus’ and the postfix ‘īnus’.12 The latter attaches an enlargement to the word to which it is attached.13, 14 The word ‘dīvus’ refers to a god15 and belongs to a family of words to which the English ‘deity’, the Latin ‘deus’ and the Sanskrit ‘deva’ also belong. All these words can be brought back to the Indo-European word ‘deiwos’ which, like the aforementioned words, all refer to God or gods in general.16 So the English word ‘divine’ still carries the full original meanings of its linguistic forefathers, namely ‘pertaining to God or a god’.
Taking the above found meanings together into the concept of divine intervention we may consider divine intervention as an in between coming of something extraneous pertaining to God or a god.
Divine intervention may be considered as an in between coming of something extraneous pertaining to God or a god. Before moving further the difference between God and a god must be explained. Basically it can be said that ‘God’ written with a capital refers to the Christian god Yhwh (or Jehova), who by the monotheistic Christians is considered as the one and only god.17, 18 This is different where a god is considered, like among polytheists. Written with a small letter and preceded with the article ‘a’ it is clear that such a god is one among multiple gods.
The etymological roots of the word ‘god’ are somewhat unclear. The general academic opinion is that through the proto-Germanic ‘guth’ it can be traced back to the Indo-European word ‘ghut’.19 With that root being related to the Sanskrit root-words ‘hu’ and ‘hve’, which are used to indicate offerings and invocations,20 is ‘god’ thought to etymologically mean ‘that which is invoked’.21 Divine intervention then must be understood as an in between coming of something extraneous pertaining to that which is invoked.
The above definition of divine intervention gives a wider connotation to the word ‘divine’. For ‘divine’ was mentioned to mean “of or pertaining to God or a god” but now gains the more original meaning of ‘of or pertaining to that which is invoked’. For it are not only gods and God that are invoked. Buddha’s, mahatma’s, angels and saints are invoked too. One could say that all divine beings may be invoked. Saying this a circle in reasoning will be made, but nevertheless the saying is sensible. ‘Divine’ means ‘of or pertaining to that which is invoked’ and means therewith ‘of or pertaining to divine beings’.
The above paragraph was concluded with a circular definition: ‘Divine’ means ‘of or pertaining to divine beings’. This circle may be broken when we are able to find and replace a synonym for ‘divine’ as it is used in ‘divine beings’. The first synonym coming to mind, given the above information, may perhaps be ‘godly’. For what is divine is godly.22 However with this synonym a circular reasoning is maintained, for ‘divine’ was also defined as “of or pertaining to God or a god”, through which eventually the circular definition of ‘of or pertaining to divine beings’ was found. So searching further we find as general accepted synonyms words like ‘holy’, ‘sacred’, ‘spiritual’, ‘religious’ and ‘blessed’.23 Now the first three synonyms may take the place of ‘divine’ in ‘divine beings’ without further discussion. A divine being is a holy being, is a sacred being, is a spiritual being’. But whether such a being is a religious being depends upon the conception of the word ‘religious’. ‘Religious’ may indicate the same but the adjective is also applied to indicate everything related to religion.24 And quite often divine beings are beyond and even the cause of religions. We may think here for instance of the Buddha and Buddhism and of the Christ and Christianity. That divine beings may also be found as devout practitioners of religions, such as for instance Ramakrishna practicing Hinduism, may be true. However to avoid any confusion the word ‘religious’ shall here not be applied as synonym for ‘divine’. Further we shall also not apply the word ‘blessed’ as a synonym for ‘divine’. Indeed ‘blessed’ may indicate the same or something similar.25 However often divine beings are more than blessed beings blessing beings. More primary than the receivers of blessing they are considered as the bestowers of blessing. And the non-divine beings, primarily humans, then are in such cases as the receivers of the divine being’s blessing considered as the blessed beings. Thus the word ‘blessed’ shall also not be used as a synonym for ‘divine’. With the words ‘holy’, ‘sacred’ and ‘spiritual’ enough substitutes have been found to break the aforementioned circular definition. ‘Divine’ defined as ‘of or pertaining to divine beings’ may be redefined as ‘of or pertaining to holy, sacred or spiritual beings’.
Above the adjective ‘blessed’ was not taken as a synonym for ‘divine’ because divine beings are more often considered as blessing than blessed. For by which incredible divine being or power could for instance the Christian God be blessed? Now although thus not used as a synonym for ‘divine’ the word ‘blessed’ is interesting to consider a bit further. ‘Blessed’ as an adjective is derived from the verb ‘bless’, which stands also at the root of the noun ‘blessing’. Etymologically ‘bless’ is traced back through the old-Teutonic ‘blôdisôjan’ to the old-European ‘blód’.26 With the latter meaning ‘blood’ is the former given the meaning of ‘mark with blood’.27 It is then thought that in those old Teutonic days rites were performed in which the marking with blood was considered to confer sanctity.
Interestingly does this latter idea within the regarded etymology open up the way to replace that etymology for another one. For markings in rites to sanctify are not just made with blood in old-Teutonic days, they are found throughout history. In Christianity for instance oils and ashes are used in rites, whereby both are applied on the forehead for sanctification. Outside Europe we find this done in Hinduism where sandalwood paste, turmeric paste and ashes are applied on the forehead. So this can be considered as an Indo-European practise. Now besides humans wearing such a mark of sanctification and blessing on their forehead may animals, by nature, also wear a mark on their foreheads. When this occurs, especially when the mark is white and the animal is a horse, is in Dutch spoken of a ‘bles’28 and in German of a ‘blesse’ (or ‘blasse’ or ‘blässe’).29 In English the etymological related word ‘blaze’ is used.30 Etymologically these words are traced back to the Indo-European word ‘bhel’, meaning ‘shiny’ and ‘white’.31 This also led to the other English conception of ‘blaze’, regarding a “bright glowing flame or fire”, “brilliant light, brightness, brilliancy” and “glory, splendour, brilliant display”.32 In these meanings a blessing could be recognized also. For a blessing is generally also associated with the splendid characteristics of a blaze as mentioned. And phonetically ‘bless’ is also very close to words like ‘blaze’, ‘bles’ and ‘blesse’.
Now a Dutch word which is phonetically close to the English word ‘blaze’ regards the word ‘blazen’, meaning ‘to blow’.33 The German word is ‘blasen’.34 Academic etymology considers these words as belonging to a separate family of words, sprouting from the Indo-European root ‘bhleh’.35 Because of the close proximity of the phonetics of all the aforementioned words however here the idea is presented that all these words have a common etymological root (probably the Indo-European ‘bhleh’). For the family of words stemming from ‘bhel’ and ‘bhleh’ are not only phonetically close, but sometimes also semantically. For ‘bhel’ is also thought to be the root of the Dutch ‘blaar’,36 and this in combination with the proto-Germanic word ‘blē’.37 ‘Blaar’ in English is ‘blister’, which root is thought of as a bit obscure, but which nevertheless is etymologically related to ‘blow’.38 Now the immediate predecessor of the Dutch ‘blaar’ was ‘blader’,39 which phonetically is again close to the English word ‘bladder’. And ‘bladder’ then is again thought to share the same etymological root with ‘blow’ (in ‘bhleh’).40
We are laying here etymological (or rather etymosophical) relations between ‘bless’, ‘blaze’ and ‘blow’ through academic etymology. And still one more etymosophical relation is to be laid. Namely that between ‘bless’ and ‘bliss’. Academic etymology does not accept such a relation, although it accepts their phonetic and semantic proximity, as also their mutual influence on each other.41, 42 Academic etymology traces ‘bliss’ back to the Germanic ‘blīthiz’.43 This obviously is the Germanic root also of the German ‘blitz’, meaning ‘lightning’ or ‘flash’, but also ‘shiny’.44 And here we then find again semantic, but also phonetic, relations with the English ‘blaze’. Also the phonetic proximity of ‘bliss’ with ‘blister’ may be mentioned here.
The idea here presented is to bring all the aforementioned words back to one Indo-European root word, so they can all be considered as one family of words. The words themselves indicate in their phonetics and semantics such a relationship. A blessing is an in a blaze being blown into bliss.
Now the question may rise why so much attention has been given to this one word ‘blessing’. ‘Blessed’ was not approved as a synonym for ‘divine’, and also is the definition for blessing (an in a blaze being blown into bliss) not similar to that of divine intervention (an in between coming of something extraneous pertaining to holy, sacred or spiritual beings). Nevertheless may the two definitions connect to each other. In which way, and why a special paragraph was reserved for the concept of blessing, shall however only be made clear in the conclusion of this contemplation.
Considering all the above the question may rise in which situations divine intervention may occur. To answer this question first the difference between divine intervention and divine direction must be mentioned. Everything is divinely directed. Every particular human in his particular situation is part of a greater being in his greater situation. This greater being is divine from the perspective of a human and when this being leads its greater life and creates its greater situations the humans and situations being part thereof are so to speak directed by that divine being. Humans are capable of making individual choices, however their choices must be made within the choices of the greater being of which they are part. This is what here is called ‘divine direction’. This is different from divine intervention where a divine being interferes with a particular human in his particular situation. Divine direction regards general interference while divine intervention regards particular interference. And the question here regards the question for when particular divine interference may occur.
Now what must be understood when answering this question is that no divine interference shall ever take place when the to be interfered with human and his situation are not under the attention of any divine being. Thus, when divine interference is wished for by a human in a certain situation, it is necessary that the regarded human in his situation is under the attention of a divine being. And to meet this condition, to make sure that a certain human is under the attention of a divine being, prayer may be applied. Perhaps that attention was already present without prayer, but by conducting the latter the praying person hopes to ensure the attention.
The above is acknowledged by etymology. Generally a prayer is understood as a “solemn and humble request to God, or to an object of worship”.45 Etymologically it can be traced back through the Latin ‘precārī’,46 meaning primarily ‘to ask’,47 to the Sanskrit word ‘prashna’,48 denoting the same.49 So in a prayer something is asked from a divine being, and what is asked is basically divine interference.
For divine interference to take place attention of a divine being must be present, and that attention may be ensured by prayer. To this must be added however that it is not necessarily so that any prayer always ensures attention. There are certain conditions in prayer that must be met in order for prayer to be effective. Different religions have prescribed different rules of prayer in order to draw the attention of different divine beings. Such prayers however are only the exoteric reflections of the more esoteric science of invocation and evocation, which has a more scientific and less devotional approach to the matter of drawing attention of divine beings.50 The subject of invocation and evocation shall however be left to be contemplated further somewhere else.
For divine intervention to take place the to be intervened person and situation must be under attention of the to be intervening divine being. This attention however must be seen as a condition and not as a cause. Even when under attention divine intervention may not take place. This is for instance the case when the regarded situation is caused by fate.
The English word ‘fate’ refers to a certain predetermination and destiny.51 It can be traced back to the Latin ‘fātum’,52 which may refer to a prophetic utterance, to destiny, one’s life span and to the Roman goddess who in Greek is called ‘Moĩra’.53, 54 The word itself is rooted in the Greek ‘phátis’ which refers to speech in general and a voice from heaven in particular.55 This semantically corresponds to the Dutch word for fate ‘bestemming’56 which literally translated back in English means ‘envoicing’. Fate is the envoicing from heaven by which one’s destiny is predetermined. Now the ones speaking thus from heaven are the gods, who more generally were earlier in this contemplation understood as divine beings. And it are these same divine beings who are to conduct the divine interference. Now it shall be clear that one’s fate shall not be interfered with by those who have envoiced it. One’s fate is given out as a necessity.
This may be different in the case of accidences which are not necessities but only possibilities. The English word ‘accidence’ is nowadays only in use to refer to certain parts of grammar,57 but used to be also in use to refer to a “fortuitous circumstance”.58 The word was in earlier contemplations reintroduced carrying with it the semantics of the English word ‘accident’, which carries meanings pertaining to a chance or a random event.59 The word can eventually (through the Latin accēdentia) be traced back to the Latin word ‘accēre’ meaning basically ‘to come’ or ‘to happen’.60, 61, 62 An accidence then simply can be understood as a random happening. Now since accidences are random it is not an issue for divine beings to interfere with them. Accidences as non-necessities may be offset by divine interference.
How is this with choices? A choice is considered to be a “preferential determination between things proposed”.63 Like the Dutch ‘keuze’ is the English ‘choice’ through the proto-Germanic ‘keusan’, meaning ‘to taste’ and ‘to try’, traced back to the Indo-European root word ‘ǵeus’, denoting the same thing.64 So basically a choice may be conceived as a trial of preference. This conception contains the idea of learning. For by trying one learns what is preferential.
Now where divine intervention in accidence and in fate could be set clear this is not so easy to do in choice. First of all it must be called to attention that choice develops gradually from accidence towards fate.65 So divine intervention in choices shall more likely take place with little evolved humans and less likely with much evolved humans. That is; when both are equally under attention. Because normally the much evolved humans are more likely to catch the attention of divine beings than the little evolved humans.
Also it must be taken in consideration that choice is dual in nature whereby accidence is reflected in the cause of choice and fate in the effect of choice.66 Divine interference then shall more likely take place in the causal part and less likely in the effectual part.
Then each of these two parts can again be divided into a subjective and an objective part, resulting in the fourfold choice with its parts of subjective cause, objective cause, objective effect and subjective effect (whereby the subjective and the objective are mediated through action and experience).67 Now it can be said that accidence is again reflected in the subjective cause and in the objective effect, and fate in the objective cause and the subjective effect. (This on base of the cycle of karma through its four different quarters where one quarter due to the cycle run through is causal or effectual towards the other).68
So taking the above findings together it can be said that in choice divine intervention is most likely to take place in the subjective cause of a little evolved human and least likely to take place in the subjective effect of a much evolved human.
Above was differentiated between objective and subjective divine intervention. Here this difference shall be explained a little. Basically what is objective regards the outer realm and what is subjective the inner realm. What is objective regards the world and what is subjective regards the human. What is objective regards the objects and what is subjective regards the subject. In objective divine intervention then intervention in the course of objects in the world takes place while in subjective divine intervention this takes place in the course of inner states in a human.
For instance in divine intervention in a subjective cause the regarded human is innerly stimulated to act in a certain way. In divine intervention in an objective cause the immediate impacts of an action are changed. In divine intervention in an objective result the karmic effects in the objective world are changed. And in divine intervention in a subjective result the direct inner impacts of the experience are changed.
That divine intervention most likely takes place in a subjective cause can be explained because there the root of the whole cycle of karma is found. As mentioned in an earlier contemplation that whole cycle must be completed once started.69 And that divine intervention least likely takes place in a subjective effect can also be explained because it is in the subjective states following the experience that one’s subjective order is rearranged, eliminating or transmuting those elements which caused the bad or wrong action which eventually led to the regarded (unpleasant) experience.70 Divine beings as the guides of evolution shall not interfere with such elimination and transmutation of coarse, involutionary elements.
Taking the above in consideration it may dawn that in prayer it is best to ask for divine intervention in subjective causes. When one asks for guidance in the taking of actions divine intervention is the most likely to take place. This does not mean that prayer for divine intervention in subjective effects of bad actions (which can be translated as ‘suffering’) is useless. For even when no intervention in this suffering takes place an answer may still come. For even within the suffering the divine spark of the sufferer may be blown upon, leading to a blazing up of a bliss which is beyond all suffering and beyond any subjectivity or objectivity. Even when an in between coming of something extraneous pertaining to holy, sacred or spiritual beings does not take place an in a blaze being blown into bliss still may. Even when no divine intervention takes place a blessing still may. Let us thus pray.