I've seen a few things in my time which have caused me to question my own sanity. Nothing sinister just 'different' things that you don't see every day.

So my questions is - what IS magic?

asked 25 Mar '10, 01:37

Joycelyn's gravatar image


Magic is anything that is sufficiently advanced beyond our understanding that it elicits wonder.

“Well, I want to know why the world is and what it is and why I live here and where I’m going next... I want to know that. How to fly without an airplane, if I had a wish.”


“Sorry what?”

“Doesn’t work that way. If you learn what this world is, how it works, you automatically start getting miracles, what will be called miracles. But of course nothing is miraculous. Learn what the magician knows and it’s not magic anymore.”

-- Richard Bach ("Illusions, the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah")


answered 25 Mar '10, 03:29

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 25 Mar '10, 03:35

Magic is what you experience from when you first open your eyes in the morning till you close them at night. Love and Light.


answered 16 Aug '11, 19:49

Roy's gravatar image


We all practice magic every day, most of it is unconscious. Our thoughts act in a 'magic' way whether we realize it or not. How do you think the manifestation box works...does it not function in an inexplicable fashion. The phenomenon law of attraction is magic in motion.


answered 12 Jan '11, 18:45

blubird%20two's gravatar image

blubird two

edited 16 Aug '11, 09:18

We are all brought up to see the world in a different way - hence, we are creating our realities based on what we expect to get. I wonder if we change what we expect, can we learn to manipulate what we end up with ?


answered 28 Nov '11, 22:46

Andrew%205's gravatar image

Andrew 5

andrew, nature has her unmutable order which we live in or dable with at best. so, it may be more than just individual expectations, though imagination and visualization is a necessary step in the process of what we end up with. and yes there are magi and magicians.

(28 Nov '11, 23:42) fred

In our daily lives, magic is also the accumulation of experience, the expression of human wisdom, and the skillful utilization of resources. The terms printed on the Chinese calendar, such as "spring begins," "excited insects," "rain water," "autumnal equinox," "severe cold," etc., describe seasonal periods as noted through the experience of countless generations and represent a precious inheritance from our ancestors. Farmers use their years of experiences to predict weather and to decide the proper time for planting and harvesting. In our society, many experts have already warned us about population explosion, environmental pollution and energy shortage so that we may plan for the future now. How can all these people see into the future? Experience empowers them to predict the future. Experience is powerful magic.

Besides experience, a decision made through wisdom is also magic. The wise prime minister Kung Ming could predict the future accurately and devise unusual strategies to secure a stronghold for the Kingdom of Shu during the Period of the Three Kingdoms. Mr. Yang-ming Wang advocated "seeing things through one’s conscience" and "using actions to accompany knowledge in predicting the future." History is full of wise individuals who see the changes of time and predict trends of the future. They are capable of making these predictions because of their wisdom. Magic is also an expression of wisdom. When we face difficulties, if we analyze the situation and devise solutions by using our wisdom, the difficulties will be resolved. Is this not magical? The accumulation of human knowledge leads to many scientific advances. This is also magic. The moon has been regarded as romantic, mysterious, beautiful, and yet out of our reach. Now with a spaceship, we have landed on the moon and have walked on its rugged surface. For anyone living before the twentieth century, would this act not be considered magic? With the many recent advances in medical technology, we now have many treatments that would be magic to our ancestors. If our skin is badly damaged, we may have a skin graft from another part of our bodies. If our kidneys or hearts fail to function, we may have a new organ transplanted from a donor. If we cannot see, we may even benefit from a cornea transplant. The success of test tube babies opens a new door for human reproduction. All these advances would be startling magic to our ancestors. We have invented cloud seeding and airplanes. Are we not calling the rains and flying freely in space now? Magic is not unique to the spirits and devas. If we use our knowledge wisely, we can create endless miracles in our worldly lives, too.

Acquiring magic is not considered difficult in Buddhism. The important question is upon what should magic be based? There are four foundations upon which magical power must rest.

A. Compassion

According to Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra, "Bodhisattvas abandon the five desires and attain the different states of meditation. Out of compassion for all beings, they acquire magical powers. They perform miracles to purify people’s minds. Why? If one does not perform the extraordinary, many people cannot be impressed and saved." For their love of all beings, even when Bodhisattvas have eradicated all defilements, they do not enter into Nirvana, unlike those of the two vehicles (Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas). Bodhisattvas pledge the great Bodhi vows and acquire magic so that more living beings can be saved. Why is magic needed for emancipating people? It is because most people are ignorant, they do not cherish the truth of the ordinary, and they only pay attention to the extraordinary. Bodhisattvas have to use miracles as an expedient means to impress people. Magic is only a tool for Bodhisattvas. Buddhahood is the true goal of Bodhisattvas’ practice. After all, to cultivate oneself without compassion is to follow the way of the devil. Attaining magical power without compassion is like adding a new arsenal to a ferocious creature. The resulting harm will be even greater. Examples of magic cultivation without compassion include Devadatta using magic to damage Buddhism, and the evil spirits using magic to harm innocent people. Therefore, before one starts to learn magic, one must observe the prerequisite of nurturing one’s compassion. Without compassion, one should not learn magic.

B. Precepts

Magic based on the pure precepts means that practitioners must uphold these precepts. Following the precepts is one aspect of the threefold training of Buddhists. The body and mind should rest on the precepts. By accepting the precepts, we know right from wrong, what should be done and what should not be done. When we have the spirit of keeping the precepts, we will guard our actions with the precepts, we will not use magic to harm others, and we will only use magic as an expedient means to help accomplish beneficial deeds in keeping with the precepts. Therefore, when we learn magic, we must be strict in upholding the precepts. Otherwise, the resulting magic will become the destructive power of evil.

C. Patience

To have magic, one must also have the mental discipline of patience. If we do not have adequate virtue of patience, we lose control easily. When we are then empowered by magic, we may be prone to misuse magic for attacking those we dislike. By doing so, magic is nothing but another sharp weapon for suppressing others. We must learn to be patient and never use magic unless absolutely necessary. Even then, any show of magic is strictly a means for upholding righteous truth and benefiting more people.

D. The Ordinary

The Buddhist sutra states, "The ordinary is the Way." Buddhist teachings are for the purification of character and cultivation, not for the eccentric or unusual. When the mind is rested on the everyday commonness, it can last for all eternity. In contrast, magic is for the moment only. Magic cannot eliminate the binding hindrances from our fundamental defilements, nor can it lead us to ultimate liberation in life. Only through seeing the ultimate truth of teachings in our everyday lives and purifying ourselves to enjoy total liberation can we call that the true magic.

My maternal grandmother became a vegetarian and started diligent cultivation in Buddhism around age seventeen. She took care of me since my early childhood. She influenced me greatly and helped to plant the cause for me to become a monk later. I recall that as a young child I stayed with my grandmother all the time. I was always awakened by the incredible wave-crashing sounds from her stomach at night. As a curious child, I asked, "Grandma, why does your stomach make sounds?"

She replied confidently, "This is the result of cultivation."

After becoming a monk, I studied with many Buddhist masters. None of their stomachs ever made any sounds. Could these masters not be as spiritually cultivated as Grandma? Eventually as I grew up, I realized the answer. After seven or eight years, at age twenty, I returned home one summer to visit my grandmother. I saw her sitting alone under a tree. I sat next to her and asked, "Grandma! Can your stomach still make sounds?"

"Of course. How can I lose the result of my cultivation?" Grandmother replied with confidence.

I asked her pointedly, "What is the use a sound-making stomach? Can it eradicate defilement and sorrow, develop virtue and morality, and stop the rounds of rebirth?"

Grandmother was at a loss as to how to reply. Just then an airplane with a loud roaring engine flew overhead. Relentlessly, I asked further, "That airplane engine can make a much louder sound than your stomach. Tell me, how does a stomach making sound contribute to a person’s life?"

After listening to my questions, grandmother was startled and confused. Silently she stood up and went inside the house. Now decades have passed. Whenever I recall grandmother’s confused and disappointed expression, I feel deeply apologetic. Although her unusual skill could be considered magic, a temporary skill at best, it was nonetheless the fruit of decades of diligent cultivation. How could I have been so insensitive as to damage her confidence so? On the other hand, I believe that she would eventually appreciate my wholehearted intent on guiding her into the correct way of practice among the ordinary.


experience and enjoy.


answered 28 Nov '11, 23:54

white%20tiger's gravatar image

white tiger

white tiger, yes, the 'right or correct way' as we have fought each other for the elitist right of it

(30 Nov '11, 02:45) fred

fred i do not fight you. why do you see it this way? i am sharing with you. we are each at different level fred. and i do not judge you. when you are right you are right when something is not right i tell you. but you can believe what ever you want it does not mean it is true. experience and enjoy.

(30 Nov '11, 03:20) white tiger
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