Magical Thinking

Image result for harry potterSome people believe that rituals are efficacious in themselves ―that is, the words and actions that constitute the ritual are considered effective, independently of other causes and conditions, even in situations in which causes and conditions are unfavorable.

The careful pronunciation of mantras and the elaborate observance of certain procedures are believed to produce results. Rituals are operative if the forms are respected (ritual exactitude), independently of the qualities of the performer. Spells and incantations are considered efficacious (à la Harry Potter) if the correct substances are employed and the directions are followed without deviation. And for many, if you can visualize it, declare it, put it on a “vision board,” and affirm it, it must happen…

In Jonang Buddhism (maha madhyamaka), rituals have very little in common with these wrong views. Mantras have no intrinsic power, nor are there inherently sacred objects or procedures. Ritual is merely a vehicle for intentionIt is the mind of the practitioner that is transformed by ritual, and not the external world.

One thing is to use ritual properly as a skillful means to deepen and sustain intention, and quite another to believe in its independent efficacy, which is mere superstition and magical thinking.

About Tashi Nyima

I am a Dharma student, and aspire to be a companion on the path. I trust that these texts can offer a general approach and basic tools for practicing the Buddha's way to enlightenment. ||| Soy un estudiante del Dharma, y aspiro a ser un compañero en el sendero. Espero que estos textos ofrezcan a algunos un mapa general y herramientas básicas para la práctica del sendero a la iluminación que nos ofrece el Buda.
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2 Responses to Magical Thinking

  1. Kim says:

    Thank you Tashi. I have an aversion to rituals, but your piece gives me a different perspective. I have a beginners grasp on its purpose.

    Still hope to meet you one of these days,



  2. I agree that the mantras and ritual devices have no power in and of themselves. I also agree that it is the mind that is affected, changed, or transformed. But where I differ is that since the mind (conciousness) is interwoven throughout all matter it can have and effect on the physical world.

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