Dharma – Magic or Psychology? …or a little of both?

Walking around a Stupa (a large circular structure with sacred objects inside, representing the Buddha) in order to gain merit; is there magic in it, or is it psychological? That’s for you to decide. Does it do something, or does it make us feel good? In Buddhism, there is practice called Tonglen. One visualizes taking onto oneself the suffering of others on the in-breath, and on the out-breath, giving happiness and success to all sentient beings. It’s a great idea.

While this might seem like an outrageous thing to do – breathe in suffering and breathe out joy – part of the practice is to work with habitual patterns of mind and develop the psychological attitude of exchanging oneself for others.” Chogyam Trungpa

I attended a retreat where we had a heated discussion about Tonglen with the lama. The lama said, “It’s a good idea to exchange yourself for others, but would you actually do it?”

Dharma is the first step of intention towards actual experience.

The magic is being inspired, which changes our psychology… prayer has the same effect!
Is there magic, or is it psychological? Or is there a little bit of both? It’s for you to decide. We can become hooked on the good wish but that doesn’t make us stable: experience does.

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  1. tony says:

    …However, through experience there is a sort of magic, and that isn’t easy to explain! 🙂


  2. daisymae21 says:

    Tony – wasn’t Trungpa Rinpoche a phenomenally clear, unambiguous teacher? I value his words more as time passes.
    You know, I spent years trying to hold things together through a belief in ‘magic’. If you’d asked me at the time, I wouldn’t have recognised that that was what I was doing – there was a kind of hopeful desperation I think (not unlike a belief in God really). And the big problem inherent in that is that if ‘magic’ doesn’t happen, it was my fault – I didn’t believe or trust enough, or I wasn’t pure enough…
    For me, magic may – or may not – happen. I have no idea when or how or where or if it will or won’t. So I can’t rely on it. I can’t use it as a firm foundation. If it happens, it’s a bonus. If it doesn’t, I haven’t missed out on anything.
    But my psychological attitude is something I can work with, and the Dharma offers teachings that I can definitely rely upon!
    PS Like the idea that magic lies in being inspired.

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