The Buddhist Perspective on Magic

admin#Magic Life

When we mention the word “magic,” we immediately think of those mysterious, unusual and superhuman actions.

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When we face an obstacle, do we not all wish for a miracle? Maybe a Superman will appear and eliminate our problems. When someone hits or curses at us, would it not be great if we were martial arts masters? We could use one little finger to pin him to the ground. When being chased, would it not be wonderful if we could fly? We could easily escape the calamity. When someone wants to cause trouble, would it not be great if I could whisper a spell to make him immobile? When a rich person does not believe in doing good, would it not be nice if I could magically gather his money and give it to the poor and needy? Magic, to most people, is essentially the wish to be outstanding, to be powerful, and to be capable of accomplishing the impossible.

Although magic can be used to punish the evil and help the needy, it can also be misused to endanger humanity. Does magic have any benefit for society? Is magic good or bad? What is the meaning of its existence? I would like to discuss the Buddhist perspective on magic and the supernatural from four aspects.

I. The Definition and Classification of Magic

According to the scriptures, magic is a supernormal, unlimited, unimaginable power attained during meditation practice. We often believe that only the Buddha, Bodhisattvas, gods or fairies have magical or supernatural power. In actuality, ghosts and demons can also have magical power. We humans have magical power, too. Magic is not limited to the unusual acts of causing rain and storms or riding on clouds. Magic is everywhere in our lives. We can recognize it if we look carefully. When we are exhausted and thirsty after a long journey, a glass of water can quench our thirst. Is that glass of water not like a magic potion? A non-swimmer sinks like a rock after falling into water despite frantic yet fruitless struggles. In comparison, a good swimmer simply makes a few easy strokes and kicks to move around like a fish. Is this not miraculous? Beginning bicyclists may grip the handles with all their might and still fall off their bicycles. The experts can let their hands go and remain securely on their fast moving bicycles. Does this not seem supernatural? We can also describe those amazing circus performances as magic. According to science, the body itself is a miracle. Tears flow when one is sad and laughter comes when one is happy. Hunger can be cured by food. Cold sensation can be alleviated by clothing. Are all these phenomena not magical? A woman’s mammary glands not only secrete milk but also vary the nutrient composition and amount according to the changing needs of the baby. Once the baby stops nursing, all milk production stops automatically. Is this not amazing?

Magic is not limited to tricks and sorcery; it is everywhere. The change of the four seasons, the blooming and wilting of flowers, the changing faces of the moon, the large and small sizes of the animals, the love and unity of two people, are they not all expressions of magical wonders?

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