Magic used to be a great passion of mine. Performing card tricks etc. Im thinking of picking it up again, but what ive been thinking is if the performance of a trick constitutes breaking the fourth precept(lying)?

For exampe saying: "Now the coin is in my hand" even though the hand is empty, then making it dissapear.(Perhaps a bad example but you get the point).

Will doing magic for the purpose of entertainment create any negative karma due to the lying and deceptions?

From what ive understood its all about intent. So if the intent is to entertain is it okay?

Would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.


2 Answers 2


I don't personally see any problem with it. Although what you are saying is technically untrue, in the case of stage magic the audience knows that the performer is using sleight of hand and that it's just a trick. It's no more deceptive than telling a joke or a fairy tale. Technically the words aren't true, but the listener knows that. Unless you are trying to convince people that you actually do have powers like some fraudulent faith healers do and stuff, I wouldn't worry about it.


Performing magic doesn't necessarily break the precept but the kind of methods you use to perform magic may break it. There must be four factors involved in your action to breach the fourth precept. If I take your example with the four factors here,

  1. An untrue state of affairs. - In your case the coin is not in your hand
  2. An intention to deceive - Your intention is to deceive the people by saying it's in your hand.
  3. The expression of the falsehood either with gesture, words or body language- In your case you are saying that it's in your hand
  4. Conveying a false impression - The audience is deceived by your words.

Hence, the precept has been broken here. In this kind of situation I think we can use our intelligence to avoid such things from happening. Even if you lie to save someone's life, let alone entertain someone that's still a breach of the precept. From this action, there'll be good results by saving a life and bad consequences from lying.

  • Thx for replying. Seems really technical then. You could then perhaps change the phrasing to. "Your belief might now be that the coin is in my hand, but if that is so, you are mistaken" (showing hand empty). The above example would then not break the precept. So perhaps there are honest ways to perform magic? Aug 27, 2014 at 19:35
  • Yeah exactly my point. :)
    – dmsp
    Aug 27, 2014 at 20:04

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