(7) THE LAW OF CAUSE AND EFFECT

This section will explain about the Law of Cause of Effect, which is the foundation of Buddhism.

Some think that the phenomena of this world have little or no meaning. They are thought to merely occur by chance. It is simply a matter of being in the "right place at the right time." On the other hand, there are those who recognize that each phenomenon has a cause. Thus a phenomenon is the effect of a cause. This is called the Law of Cause and Effect. All phenomena occur due to their respective causes. Nothing happens by chance. There is a cause for everything. Both science and Buddhism follow this law.

The Law of Cause and Effect says that each phenomenon has a cause. However, a cause alone is not sufficient to have an effect. The condition must be right for a cause to result in an effect. Therefore, an effect is the result of a cause given the proper conditions.

There is the adage, "seeds not planted will never grow." However, a seed can't grow without the proper condition. For example, a farmer sows wheat seeds hoping for a harvest. However, several other factors such as soil, fertilizer, water, sun and air are also necessary. Only when those factors are present will the farmer be able to harvest the wheat. Those factors are the conditions. Therefore, the law of cause and effect operates only when the essential conditions are met.

Following the law of cause and effect, Buddhism teaches that something is brought into existence, and develops only under the proper conditions. Nothing exists independently and nothing comes into being by accident.

Some people say, "this happened by accident," or "that was an unexpected event," as if something can happen without a cause. The fact that they cannot find the cause does not mean that there is no cause to be found. It simply means that they are unable to determine what it is.

Buddhism is essentially rational and logical. It strictly adheres to the law of cause and effect and is based on the principle: one reaps what one sows. When a theory, philosophy or religion is evaluated from the Buddhist point of view, the law of cause and effect is used to assess it.

The relationship between cause and effect is as follows: good deeds bring good results, bad deeds bring bad results and one's deeds bring one's results. It means that if one does a bad deed, he will surely get a bad result.

The following story illustrates this: A Japanese woman living abroad had an affair with a Caucasian man while her husband was in Japan. She got pregnant and gave birth to a girl. When her baby was born with Japanese features she was greatly relieved and pretended nothing had happened.

She didn't believe anyone would learn the truth as long as she kept the secret to herself. However, when her daughter was 19-year-old, she married a Japanese man, and gave birth to a child. The child was Caucasian in every respect.

There is a proverb, which says, "The effect of a deed practiced within four walls will be apparent one way or another three months hence." The effect of an event made itself apparent after 20 years. Given the right conditions, a planted seed never fails to grow and he who sows the seeds will harvest the fruit.

Buddhism teaches that whatever happens to us is the result of our own actions. Any misfortune we experience is the result of our own deeds. This is known as karma. Everything that happens to us is a consequence of our own deeds. Hence, we must take full responsibility for it.

The universal law of cause and effect was discovered by Sakyamuni Buddha, not created by him. Similarly, Newton discovered the law of universal gravity but he did not create it.

The Law of Cause and Effect is valid everywhere and always. It is a universal law that has always existed; it has no beginning and no end. It runs through the "three worlds" (past, present and future) and the "ten directions" (the universe).

<<previous chapter | next chapter>>