Many people believed certain Paritta/Sutta have certain magical power, for example Bojjhanga Sutta for curing illness and Om Mani Padme Hum having a great (even greatest) magical power among other Mantra (i refer Mantra to Mahayana tradition and Paritta to Theravada tradition).

What do you think about this?

Does the Buddha has spoken by Himself - that His follower can re-chant his words (Sutta/Mantra) to gain specific magical power? If He has, please kindly tell me what Sutta is it,

Note : Please dont be offensed, i love listening to Sutta, but im curious about this one.

  • Can you share with us which sutta is this ?
    – user13064
    Apr 16, 2018 at 13:47

7 Answers 7


In AN 4.67, the Buddha allowed the monks to use the paritta to protect themselves from harm. Notice Ven. Thanissaro's note:

"This is one of the few protective charms mentioned in the Pali canon and specifically allowed by the Buddha for monks to use (another charm, also allowed to the monks, is contained in DN 32). Note that the power of the charm is said to come, not from the words, but from the mind of good will with which they are said. It thus differs from charms taught in later forms of Buddhism, where the words themselves are said to contain power."

  • 1
    The "mind of good will" also affects how you behave: you won't angrily attack a snake, if you walk away you'll do that quietly, etc.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 17, 2014 at 14:56
  • Thanks. "Note that the power of the charm is said to come, not from the words, but from the mind of good", so the Sutta doesnt have their certain power, the mind does?
    – Blaze Tama
    Nov 18, 2014 at 2:37
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    depends on how you'd define "power". We can say the suttas certainly have the educational power for without it, the mind wouldn't be able to develop its own power.
    – santa100
    Nov 18, 2014 at 14:31

If it works for you, it works for you. The siddhis and mantras, sutra recitations as magic are outside of science (or more to the point, there is no support for magic from science-- and if there was, then it wouldn't be magic anymore, it would be a new branch of science).

All that said, the siddhis are most convincing when the effect of the "magic" is something that happens in the confines of your own head. If you say a mantra to magically make yourself brave, and it works for you, that actually sounds quite plausible.

  • Thanks. "If you say a mantra to magically make yourself brave" I think theres a distinct difference between mental attitudes like "bravery, compassion" with the "real" magical power, like healing someone illness (not a mental illness)
    – Blaze Tama
    Nov 18, 2014 at 2:39
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    @Blaze: Placebos are often helpful in healing physical illness. Is that magic? Where does the power come from? (My opinion would be that the healing power of placebos is mental.)
    – Tom Barron
    Nov 18, 2014 at 11:16
  • @TomBarron Sorry English is not my native language, do you mean sometimes physical illness can be cured by certain mental attitudes?
    – Blaze Tama
    Nov 18, 2014 at 12:32
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    If it is explicable it is not magic anymore. This is a characteristic of English and the definition of magic. Now the cultural phenomena of the goals, practices of Buddhist attempting to develop the siddhis, thats explicable. The goals are magic. If it works, it must be explicable, and uh-oh, it's not magic. So it appears that the word magic has a connotation of fraud. Back the the siddhis, the interesting stuff is the magic that happens in your head. The rest is fraud. If you don't like calling siddhis magic, then call them siddhis. Nov 18, 2014 at 15:03
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    @BlazeTama Tom was asking you about "the placebo effect", which means that for example, "Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect". He was asking that because you were suggesting that healing someone's physical illness would be "real" magical power.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 18, 2014 at 16:26

According to What the Bleep Do We Know!?, when you chant on water and look at it under an electronic microscope, there are visible structural patterns which emerge in the water atoms. This does not go to the extent of trying to deduce if this is beneficial but positive vibes created in chanting may have beneficial effects. This is mentioned in the canonical texts also.

Having said that, the greatest benefit is when you understand, memorize and put what is said into practice. This is by far greater.

  • Thanks. "Having said that, the greatest benefit is when you understand, memorize and put what is said into practice. This is by far greater." Yes i agree with you. I also heard about this water research. What make me curious is, is it the mind or the Sutta that effect water's atom? For example, if we chant 2 different Sutta, will the pattern of atoms be different?
    – Blaze Tama
    Nov 18, 2014 at 2:40
  • This needs further investigation. I am not sure. Nov 18, 2014 at 4:24
  • 1
    Further investigators said that the experiment with the water wasn't done well: perhaps they took 100 photos of each water sample and published one non-random photo from each sample (so there was "observer bias" and the experiment wasn't blinded). It's not reproducible under controlled conditions. See for example this and this and this and this.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 18, 2014 at 10:07

Many people believed certain Paritta/Sutta have certain magical power, for example Bojjhanga Sutta for curing illness

I think that if you tell a sutta like the Gilana Sutta to someone whose body is very ill, that can help them, especially when ('right speech') they want to, when they are ready to hear the dhamma from you (which we can assume Kassapa wanted to, was ready to hear from the Buddha):

"Well Kassapa, how is it with you? Are you bearing up, are you enduring (your suffering)? Do your pains decrease or increase? Are there signs of your pains decreasing and not of increasing?"

"No, Ven. Sir, I am not bearing up, I am not enduring, the pain is very great. There is a sign not of pains decreasing but of their increasing."

"Kassapa, these seven factors of enlightenment are well expounded by me and are cultivated and fully developed by me. They conduce to perfect understanding, to full realization (of the four Noble Truths) and to Nibbana. What are the seven?

i. "Mindfulness, the factor of enlightenment, Kassapa, is well expounded by me, and is cultivated and fully developed by me. It conduces to perfect understanding, to full realization and to Nibbana.

ii. "Investigation of the Dhamma, the factor of enlightenment, Kassapa, is (etc.)

Perhaps this can help them to feel better, to "bear up", to endure.

It might even (temporarily) help to cure their illness. Or it might not. I don't think we should expect it to cure their physical illness for ever: because, "all compound things are subject to decay."

The purpose of Buddhism is to help people even though, even when there is illness, there is death.

What do you think about this?

I this that it is possible for a person who is living and who is dying to understand, to realize, to cultivate the seven factors of enlightenment: to be mindful, to investigate the Dhamma, to persevere, etc.

I even think that can have a 'magical' effect on people: i.e. when they live and when they die they might feel equanimity and kindness and so on, instead of feeling anger and suffering and ignorance and so on.

But the reason why it happens isn't 'magic' it happens for a reason: the reason why it happens is right view, right intention, etc.

Unfortunately, the belief that a ritual has a magical power might be a "fetter", if I've understood that right. See for example Three fetters; or this description of Five lower fet­ters which includes,

Sīlabbata-parāmāsa: attach­ment to moral pre­cepts and reli­gious prac­tices. Attach­ment to form and cer­e­mony. The mis­taken under­stand­ing that one will be puri­fied and lib­er­ated merely by the act of keep­ing moral pre­cepts, rules, tra­di­tions, and prac­tices. The belief that these rules and prac­tices are sacred in them­selves. One fol­lows them with the desire for reward or acqui­si­tion. Miss­ing the true pur­pose of moral pre­cepts and reli­gious obser­vances, one ends up astray or in an extreme form of prac­tice (say of prac­tis­ing extreme asceti­cism—tapa), not on the Noble Path.

Fortunately however; although death is real and suffering exists; even so the dhamma, hearing the dhamma and reciting the dhamma can be helpful, can help to liberate people from suffering.


Mantrayoga follows logically from the general doctrine of karma and the inclusion of mind as a "sixth sense," both of which are fundamental to the Pali Canon and all Buddhist schools except perhaps for ultra-neo-Theravadin rationalists who want to expunge everything Indian from the Pali Canon, although the Buddha was an Indian.

The latter is generally associated with Sri Lanka. Every cause has an effect, every effect is the result of a cause, mind is real. The theory of mantra (or mantrayoga, a synonym for Tantra) is universal and is even found in the "barbarian dharma." All ancient peoples attributed a powerful significance to speech, since it is through speech that the world of differentiated objects is articulated. Curiously, one finds this doctrine also in quantum physics ("the act of observation").

It is simply stupid to demand that Buddhism or any other theosophy conform to the modern secular religion of scientism, and it is naive to believe that we know everything about the world simply because we have created powerful mathematical models of the parts of the world that we want to control. In fact, there are many aspects of life and consciousness that we simply don't understand in those terms.

It is perhaps significant that science itself is moving away from the mechanist, materialist paradigm. In any case, it is best to keep an open mind. Mantrayoga involves many different aspects - the sounds themselves, the meaning of the words, the effect of the words on the mind and the brain, the conviction of that mind in the significance of the sounds and meanings, and the intention of the mind. Whether you choose to call this "magical" or not is really a matter of semantics.

  • Hi Alexander Duncan and welcome to Buddhism SE. Could you add some sections to your answer making it more easy to read for other user and add some references to e.g. the texts or other sources. Thank you .
    – user2424
    May 24, 2015 at 14:43

Lord Buddha has advised his follower to use suttas.Because suttas are nothing but the word of lord Buddha.

But there are some suttas that has more uses for someone who chants them. For example suttas like

  • Karaniya meththa sutta

  • Atanataya sutta*

Karaniya meththa sutta

This sutta contains teachings and advises that are completely equal to what Buddhists practice in "Meththa meditation" so when chanting it essentially becomes the meththa meditation.So this is the power of it that brings security to the practitioner.This was a sutta adviced by Lord Buddha to be practiced by all beings.

Buddhism does not believe in magic.We only believe in completely logical things.

Atanataya sutta

This sutta on the other hand had a different beginning,

One day the 4 God kings visited lord Buddha with their armies and said this.

"We see that good ones who practice Great Lord Buddha's teachings have no protection from evil beings so we thought we should provide them with some protection.Great Lord Buddha please accept this and teach your good followers"

So they said the Atanataya sutta for the first time and Lord Buddha listened to it and accepted it.It was then taught to monks for protection.

This sutta contains two parts.

  • Prasing the Lord Buddhas who were present in this era
  • Mentioning the punishments for evil beings if they do any harm to a Buddhist.*

First part These are genuine praisings for the Great Lord Buddhas who existed in this era (Kalpa) and advises for intelligent beings to become followers of Buddhism.

Second part

As all these evil beings are under the command of the 4 god kings these are actually orders from their kings to not to harm Buddhists,and the warnings of possible punishments if they go against the orders.

I can give you many examples and they all end with a perfectly logical meaning.So the truth is chanting does not bring magic.

Learn suttas with meanings - Click and learn

Try learning about the meaning of suttas then you will see that they are not magic.And it is the right way to use suttas, because reciting with meaning can bring you to better understanding and it gains you very good and powerful karma.


First please don't use the word magic, magic is a word associated with fiction or not real, the word is already programed in your mind as a impossible act that humans do not posses.

The flesh and this dimension have rules and boundaries.The mind that sees its true self as only the spirit can manifest the powers of the spirit into this realm.These forces are only to be used for good and to help others and not to benefit the self.

If a collective conscious of enlightened minds all are sharing the same thought and intention at once these powers are manifested rapidly into this realm. So to make sure everyone is sharing the same intension,chanting in sequence is a way of focusing energy but not necessary to manifest our true unlimited powers.

We all are one but must come back together and reunite, love one another because you love yourself.

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