Earlier I asked this question. I think that was too broad, and I hope this question is more answerable.
In Buddhism there exists two truths, often called the Conventional and Ultimate truths.
The first truth refers to the physical state of things,
The world is all that is the case. (Which is the first premise of Wittgenstein's Tractatus)
Would be a loose and quick summery of such a truth, it is the Zen spirit of taking things as they are.
The second truth is argued about by all the schools, each taking a position that is subtlety different in various ways. It has many forms and depending on the school of thought in question might be called other things besides ultimate truth.
In Nagarjuna's own words:
- The teaching by the Buddhas of the dharma has recourse to two truths: The world-ensconced truth and the truth which is the highest sense.
- Those who do not know the distribution (vibhagam) of the two kinds of truth, Do not know the profound "point" (tattva) in the teaching of the Buddha.
- The highest sense of the truth is not taught apart from practical behavior, And without having understood the highest sense one cannot understand nirvana.
Nagarjuna also opens the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā text with this gem
Neither from itself nor from another, Nor from both, Nor without a cause, Does anything whatever, anywhere arise.
What an opening, it has that Eastern philosophy riddle like feel to it. I want to quickly compare it to the hindu text Yoga Vasistha, sometimes called Vasistha's Yoga. Then we will quickly move on because an understanding of non-duality, emptiness, etc. is not required to ask the question that all of this is laying the foundation for...
He who knows 'I am not', 'Nor does the other exist', "Nor is there non-existence', and whose mental activity has thus come to a standstill, is not engrossed in acquisitiveness. O Rama, there is no bondage here other than craving for acquisition, and the anxiety to avoid what one considers undesirable. Do not succumb to such anxiety, and do not let acquisition of what is considered desirable be your goal. Giving up both these attitudes, rest in what remains.
So what of the magician, what of the philosopher, who in their shows and conversations might, either accidentally or intentionally, create flickers of doubt in the Conventional truth. Enough so that the spectators might consider for the first time the possibility of underlying truths, or revisit the thoughts if they had been considered prior.
For if someone were to hold the firm and scientifically correct view of the conventional truth, the thing that would hinder them from progress on the path would be knowledge of the ultimate truth. If they had never conceived of an Ultimate truth it could be the very thing that gets them investigating such a possibility.
So if a Magician, with parlor card tricks, slight of hand, and means of illusion and tricks, was to without malice and without swindling an audience, only for entertainment, or perhaps also the case where it was their means to a right livelihood to take care of their responsibilities. The only possible transgression I can see is lying. But the deception in such shows is not to harm, and those going want to see these feats of showmanship.
So if a magic trick led to the thought process of searching for ultimate truth, while not rejecting conventional truth, as is the stance of most schools of Buddhism, what kind of karma would that create?
I can see some edge cases where the wrong view of magic being real could be a possible down side, where causing another sentient being to chase this view would have some kind of possible repercussions.
But also the less likely and hypothetical situation that these questions could lead one, maybe through many lives, to studying emptiness and dependent origination, and to the perfection of the 6th paramita of wisdom.
In closing, a paragraph from A Guide to the Words of My Perfect Teacher, Which provides commentary to the work of Patrul Rinpoche. The paragraph starts with the word "Here" and ends with the word "name."