Champions of Buddhism

Capitula Partium III & IV : Weikza Specialists as Diagram-Makers, Diviners, and Exorcists





III.1 (6)

Sacred Diagrams

Thomas Patton


III.2 (7)

Healing through Weikza

Ce'line Coderey


III.3 (8)

Being an Exorcist in Burma

Guillaume Rozenberg


IV (9)

What Kind of Buddhism ...?

Steven Collins


pp. 247-9 Contributores Contributrixque





other affliliations


Thomas Patton


City __ of Hong Kong



Ce'line Coderey



IRASIA (Marseille) & CASE (Paris)


Guillaume Rozenberg



LISST (Toulouse)


Steven Collins



LISST (Toulouse)




III.1 (6)

Sacred Diagrams as Technologies of Potency

Thomas Patton


pp. 143-4 "in" & "sama"

p. 143

"An in is geometrically designed square consisting of cells ... .

p. 144

A sama is a drawing made up Burmese characters compiled in such a way as to produce images of Buddhas, holy figures, and animals."

{Similar figures made up of <arabiy characters similarly compiled are drawn in the <arabiy-speaking world, especially in S.uwfiy art.}

pp. 144-5 mantra-s & yantra-s which may endanger the profane if employed by them without due authorization from the appropriate lineage-of-transmission

p. 144

"Most yantra employed by practitioners originate from one of the following sources :

1) Holy figures, usually white-clad mendicants referred to as bodaw or brown-clad hermits (B. yathey; Sanskrit rishi {r.s.i}), can appear in dreams or in person {i.e., as a visionary apparition, seen while awake with the eyen open} to present a practitioner with a yantra.

2) Yantra can arise in the mind {i.e., as a vision seen while awake with the eyen closed} during periods of intense meditation (P. samatha).

3) Using one's knowledge of the laws and properties of yantra ... by linking parts of other yantra ... {if authorized in a dream to do this}.

4) Certain weikza saints, such as Bo Min Gaung or Yatkansin Taung Sayadaw, can reveal ... through a visual {praeternatural appariton of "handwriting on the wall"} or auditory experience {"hearing voices" from praeternatural sources}.

... Although there are numerous yantra to be found in ... palm-leaf manuscripts, weikza gaing ({occult} congregation) manuals, and personal practitioners' and journals and notebooks,

a yantra used from one of these sources ... is not only believed to be useless but also may be harmful to the practitioner ... . ...

{If a secret mantra or yantra were received, in the 1st instance, by a practitioner from a deity in a dream, then it ought not to be employed without authorization by that deity (which authorization can be constructively supplied by the practitioner who dreamt of it), lest the deity become offended on account of violation of propriety of protocol.}

p. 145

Even though I tried to reassure them ..., the practitioners were still afraid that should one of the more powerful yantra be made public, it might ... have disastrous effects ... for the person using it ... ."

pp. 146-8 procedure in employing IndoChinese-style chess-moves in order to fill with numerals the cells of a square {somewhat reminiscent of that magic-square known in traditional Confucianist-lore as the "Map from the River Lo"}

p. 146

"The numbers must be set down in a prescribed manner that has its origins in Burmese classical chess. ...

[p. 161, p. 10 "on yantra in other parts of Southeast Asia, ... such chess-inspired movements are not only relegated to those yantra originated from Myanmar (Bizot 1981; Bizot and von Hinu:ber 1994)."]

1) horse, which, like the knight in {European} traditional chess{,} moves one square in a straight line, and one

p. 147

obliquely [forwards];

2) chariot, similar to the rook, moves in a straight line, backwards, forwards, or sideways;

3) soldier moves up or down one space at a time; and

4) spiral (B. khayu-pat) circles around a fixed center point. ...

The nature of this yantra is such that it can be used by the practitioner in gaining ... weikza-related superpowers. Therefore, the horse movement is used to fill the nine cells with the numbers corresponding with the 37 constituents of enlightenment. Using the horse movement in this case, the yantra maker ... inscribes the Burmese number "4" while chanting, ... ("May the four 'foundations of mindfulness' endure").

Six of the remaining eight

p. 148

squares are filled in with numbers of the other sets of constituents of enlightenment which simultaneously chanting the following mantra : ...

May the four right exertions,

four bases of power, ...

seven factors of enlightenment,

and eight-fold path endure!

The bottom center square is filled in with the number "9" while chanting, ... ("May the nine supramundane dhamma endure!"). ...

The center square is saved for last, for it is the square that will "activate" the yantra. Here, the practitioner enters the number "1," ... and chants, "bhavissati" ("let it be so ..." {So mote it be!})."

Bizot 1981 = Franc,ois Bizot : "Notes sur les yantra bouddhiques d'Indochine". In :- Michel Strickman (ed.) : Tantric and Taoist Studies in Honour of R. A. Stein. Bruxelles : Institut Belge des Hautes E'tudes Chinoises. vol. 1, pp. 155-91.

Bizot and & von Hinu:ber 1994 = Franc,ois Bizot & Oskar von Hinu:ber : Itipisoratanamala : la guirlande de Joyaux. Paris : E'cole franc,aise d'Extre^me-Orient.

p. 149 prohibitions

"Regardless of one's yantra preference or weikza congregation affiliation, there is a

set of 16 rules that one must adhere to

{read "prohibitions, forbidden actions, acts which one must not perform", rather than "rules that one must adhaere to"}

These rules can be summarized under three categories : 1) uncleanliness ...; 2) faultiness ...; and 3) the practioner's lack of attentiveness ... ."

p. 149 three-stage process of ingesting cumulatively larger quantities of yantra-s

"To ensure that the practitioner fully activates the power of the yantra,

he must ingest the yantra by burning it and swallowing the ash with water.

[p. 162, n. 12 "Such practitoners ... believed that once swallowed, the yantra travels through the body".]

Some practitioners do not burn the yantra ..., [instead, such] practitioners roll up the yantra and swallow it whole.

{In such cases, the yantra could well be drawn, with some edible food, on some edible food.}

This practice of ingesting the yantra involves a three- stage process ... over the course of several months : drinking

1) 108;

2) 1,000; and

3) 5,000 yantra.

Completing the first stage will give the practitioner power ... to be loved by all the celestial deities.

Finishing the second stage will provide the practitioner with clairvoyant powers ... .

If the practitioner succeeds in ... 5,000 yantra, he will attain supernatural powers ... with the weikza.

Some advanced practitoners may even gain the power to see various vijjadhara (B. weikzadho) along with the ability to visit them in their dwelling places that are otherwise inaccessible to non-weikza."

pp. 149-50 possible encountre with obstructive praeternatural entity

p. 149

"it is said that demons and evil spirits will appear

p. 150

attempting to hinder the practitioner's progress. The aspiring weikza {aspirant to becoming a weikza} must not be afraid ... .

The ... protector weikza ... will appear and teach the practitioner things that will make him wiser than most deities {!!} and urge the practitioner to carry on with the practice."

pp. 151-3 the protecting-from-danger set of 3 : yantra-inscribed candles

p. 151

"The most common kind of candle yantra is the ... "Noble Attributes [that keep one] Free From Danger yantra." ... After completing a preliminary set of rituals that involves ... making offerings to ...

p. 152

congregation-specific weikza and teachers, the practitoner begins by inscribing the three nine-squared in located at the bottom of each yantra ... . ... The center square of each is to be filled in with the number of the day of the week the practitioner was born on ... . ...

p. 153

Similarly, the other two yantra should be completed ... . ... Surrounding each of the yantra are various mantras invoking success (P. jayatu) and dissolution of obstacles (P. aneka antaraya pi vinassantu asesato, "May countless dangers be completely destroyed"). ...

The three completed candle yantra are to be burned separately, one at a time, starting from left to right. ... If one practices this yantra method for weeks ..., he will, in addition to being from from various worldly and other-worldly dangers, gain the ability to cure other peoples' diseases, commune with weikza and deities, and have a body free of disease."

pp. 154, 163 usual formula of the magic spell

p. 154

"Possessing clear insight; master of ... wisdom; comprehending both worldly and other-worldly dhamma (phenomena) ...; enodowed with all powers of the body and mind; possessing states of concentration more solid than the rock of Mount Meru itself; may I immediately acquire wealth greater than any deity ... ."

p. 163, n. 20

"This translation follows the nissaya ... provided in several of the documents where this mantra is found. Nissaya are often commentarial in nature and provide, as in this case, additional meanings in their interpretations. ... Considered by many practitioners to be primordial syllables that appear throughout the world (a partially eclipsed sun, for example, resembles the Burmese syllable "CA"), they were even thought to have appeared as kappabindu (marks made on new robes making them lawful in accord with the Vinaya ...) on the robes of the four Buddha[-]s of this world cycle. ... Spiro (1967:176) ... notes similar interpretations of the diagram and its symbolism."

pp. 155-6 specialists in "supreme knowledge"

p. 155

In Burma, "many who are on the path ... understand their vocation as being masters of certain kinds of knowledge that may ... bear supernormal powers. They are not unlike the mo wisa (P. vijja)

p. 156

or "specialists of supreme knowledge" of Northeast Thailand {former part of Laos, until forcibly annexed to Syama} who specialize in certain religious knowledge and spells learned from masters (Hayashi 2000). Such weikza path practitioners see themselves atop a hierarchy of specialists whose lower levels include low, middling, and upper teachers (B. auk, alay, and atet saya) who use their powers of healing, clairvoyance, and protection to help others."

Hayashi 2000 = Yukio Hayashi : "Wisa and Thamma among the Thai-Lao in Northeast Thailand". In :- Yukio Hayashi & Y. Guangyuan (edd.) : Dynamics of Ethnic Cultures across National Boundaries in Southwestern China and Mainland Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai : Ming Muang Printing House. pp. 169-88.

p. 156 use of yantra

"There are, of course, those practitioners who aspire to the goal of a semi-divine weikza. For them, using yantra is thought to imbue a practitioner with the ability to achieve "success" (B. aung-min) on the path to supernatural weikza-hood. ... Certain abilities are embedded within the yantra and once a practitioner reaches a certain point in his practice after correctly using the yantra over an extended period of time, he will be able to use the abilities associated with that yantra. ... When a practioner succeeds in owning a particular yantra, the powers and abilities associated with it settle in the practitioner's body, giving him the ability to recall the power at will, without having to construct a yantra."

pp. 156-7 gambhira siddhi 'mystic perfection'

p. 156

"A characteristic feature of weikza practices is the establishment of contact with some deeper (P. gambhira) level of reality considered as more fundamental than the {material, waking} world of everyday experience. Tapping

p. 157

into such levels is acquired by means of physical, verbal, and mental techniques with the purpose of controlling natural phenomena, such as the ability to prolong one's physical body for hundreds of years or to shed the corporeal body completely and live in spirit form.

... there is a belief that having direct access to weikza saints can help hasten one's progress along the weikza path. Such access can be developed through various meditation techniques, such as

chanting mantras ... on prayer beads;

connecting with the power of accomplished weikza, especially at sacred sites where the power of certain weikza is supposed to flow through; or

it can come naturally when an accomplished weikza chooses one to enter into a relationship with and guide the practitioner along the path."

pp. 158-9, 163 corpus of litterature on weikza phainomena

p. 158

"There is a vast corpus of vernacular literature on the weikza phenomenon that comprises published reference manuals, biographies, and histories; unpublished textbooks and pamphlets circulated among practitioners; monthly journals that focus specifically on the weikza phenomenon; and folding-paper books {which fold in like manner as an accordion or a fan : such a format being much-used for Taoist litterature in southern China} (B. parabaik) and palm-leaf manuscripts that provide detailed information on practices used by those on the weikza path.

Concerning the manuscripts,

p. 159

for instance, Christian Lammerts ... informs us that there are "thousands of extant manuscripts associated with vijjadhara-type practices in Myanmar -- particularly concerning medicine and alchemy ..." (2010:22)."

163, n. 23

"Patrick Pranke's formative essay, "On Becoming a Buddhist Wizard" (1995), ... provides a translation and analyses of a popular weikza manual."

Lammerts 2010 = Dietrich Christian Lammerts : Buddhism and Written Law : Dhammasattha Manuscripts and Texts in Premodern Myanmar. PhD diss, Cornell Univ.

Pranke 1995 = Patrick Pranke : "On Becoming a Buddhist Wizard". In :- Donald S. Lopez Jr. (ed.) : Buddhism in Practice. Princeton Univ Pr. pp. 343-58.


Be'ne'dicte Brac de la Perrie`re; Guillaume Rozenberg; and Alice Turner (edd.) : Champions of Buddhism : Weikza Cults in Contemporary Burma. NUS Pr, Singapore, 2014.