Ep82: Dhammarato – Magical Thinking In Buddhism

In this episode, I am once again joined by Dhammarato – a lineage teacher in the Thai Buddhist tradition who is known for his unique, 1-1 teaching style conducted over Skype. 

This interview was recorded in the lead up to a dialogue I will be hosting between Dhammarato and Daniel Ingram on the question ‘Is there magic in the dharma?’.

In this episode, Dhammarato explores the Mahātanhāsankhaya Sutta, and draws out themes of magical thinking, continuation of consciousness, and dependent origination.

Later Dhammarato gives his take on the Buddhist doctrines of rebirth and making merit, the Mahasi meditation method, the tulku system, and the Dalai Lama’s claims of reincarnation.

We also discuss if the 8-fold path inevitably leads to individual renunciation and societal collapse, and what it means to ‘leave the fight’.


Audio version of this podcast also available on iTunes and Stitcher – search ‘Guru Viking Podcast’.

0:00 – Intro
0:54 – Dhammarato gives a summary of magical thinking and the Mahātanhāsankhaya Sutta
20:08 – The two levels of Dhammarato’s analysis
21:16 – How is it possible to read magical thinking into a sutta that refutes magical thinking?
25:51 – Placebo, causation, and useful ignorance
29:39 – Relationship of understanding of cause and effect to suffering
33:42 – Craving, perception, and the 4 Modes of Clinging
50:10 – Repetition and understanding how the mind works
53:46 – How to see through the Self
57:08 – Critique of the Mahasi Method and Thai vs Burmese meditation
1:00:44 – Who or what realises the No-Self?
1:05:58 – Reincarnation is irrelevent
1:07:21 – The problem with the doctrine of reincarnation
1:10:30 – Is the doctrine of making merit magical thinking?
1:19:36 – Uppaya and useful ignorance
1:20:21 – Society is built on magical thinking
1:23:01 – Renunciation is the inevitable outcome of the 8-fold noble path
1:25:57 – Is the Hinayana self-terminating?
1:26:38 – A historical example of Buddhism destroying a society
1:28:22 – Is Buddhism inviable on a societal level?
1:35:32 – The tension between individual liberation and societal collapse
1:36:43 – Dhammarato reflects on the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation claims
1:38:23 – Is the tulku system a scam?
1:41:45 – Magical beliefs prevent progress
1:45:23 – Ideal society: Benign dictatorship vs democracy
1:47:41 – Leaving the fight
1:49:41 – Dhammarato’s radical position of renunciation in the face of death

Previous Episodes with Dhammarato:

To find out more about Dhammarato, visit:

For more interviews, videos, and more visit:
– www.guruviking.com

Music ‘Deva Dasi’ by Steve James

Episode Resources:

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