Divination is the supposed ability to tell the future, and magic is a power that is supposed to be able to change the course of natural events by other than normal means. Luck is a quality which, if a person has it, is able to confer on him or her success or happiness, while fate is the supposed pre-determined course of all events. The Buddha dubbed all these things `base arts' and expressly forbade his monks and nuns to practise them (D.I,9). He said that a good monk `will not chant magic charms, interpreate dreams or signs or practice astrology' (àthabbaõaü supinaü lakkhaõaü no vidahe atho pi nakkhattaü, Sn.927). In one of the most severe rebukes he ever made, he also said that any lay disciple of his who believed in or practised these superstitions would be `the outcaste, the stain, the scum of the lay community'(A.III,206). The Tipiñaka lists some of the people who may be reborn in purgatory; among them are executioners, butchers, slanderers, corrupt judges and fortune tellers (S.II,255-61).

The Buddha was probably opposed to all these superstitions for several reasons. Firstly, the belief in luck and fate contradicts the teaching of kamma. The practice of divination and magic is inevitably related to a concern with wealth and thus reinforces ignorance and greed. Fortune telling and the hawking of magic charms and amulets usually involve fraud, dishonesty and cheating. Paradoxically, all these superstitions are widely accepted as true in most Buddhist countries today and are often practised by monks. See Astrology and Blessing.