Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Law of Cause and Effect -- Part Three

               When using the term Three Worlds, it means the Past World, the Present World, and the Future World.

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      Past World                                            Present World                                        Future World
World before birth                         Human life (80-100 years max)                        World after death

   The Past World and the Future World are both related within the Present World. The Law of Cause and Effect penetrates the Three Worlds, which represents all time.

               Our True Self, our deepest sense of life, is not limited to this physical body. The physical body and its six billion cells disappear at death. Our True Self, our true life, also penetrates the Three Worlds. So once the physical body is gone, this True Self remains.

   The True Self is also referred to as the Alaya Mind or Alaya Consciousness. Alaya means storehouse in Sanskrit. Therefore, it can be referred to as the storehouse mind. It is like a safety deposit box, or a storage unit.

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                 Buddhism teaches that there are eight minds within human beings. Seven of them disappear at death with the physical body, but the Alaya Mind is the part that remains.

                The Alaya Mind is our self since the countless ages past. It lasts forever, long after our death. It flows from the beginning-less beginning and into the never-ending future. It is the invisible flow of life present in every moment.

                 Throughout life, we perform various deeds and actions that fall into three categories. They are also known in Japanese as Go, or karma.

Go \ Karma

Mind - Deeds

Mouth - Deeds \ Actions

Body - Deeds \ Actions

       We perform countless deeds with our mind, mouth, and body. These are the seeds which create our fate. The mind is performing them the most and has the strongest power. What moves the body and mouth is the mind.

                       My mind caused me to write out my notes on this lecture on Law of Cause and Effect from Takamori-sensei, the current living master of Pure Land Buddhism. Then I decided to put the content online to share the teachings. You are now reading this because your mind encouraged you to look into Buddhism, and you then found Mirror of Dharma Blog by searching Google or you clicked a link to this page. This example demonstrates a chain of causes and their subsequent effects.

       In our life, the mind always remains the strongest of the three, because it invisibly drives all our choices. Because of this, wrong thoughts can't be enforced at this level from outside forces. Mouth and body can of course be regulated.

                  For example in criminal cases, people discuss and debate whether or not the act was premeditated. The law examines what the murderer had in his mind. The mind has this strong energy, so a greater emphasis must be placed on it.

Original Photo by JohnE777 available on

                We have learned about good causes, bad causes, and own causes. So what kind of seeds do we have in our hearts and minds?

                 Even without knowing these causes or the Law of Cause and Effect, the actions of the mind, mouth and body are converted into invisible karmic power. The terms karmic power and seeds of karma are interchangeable. These energies are what is stored in the Alaya Mind. All our actions are recorded invisibly and stored within this storehouse mind. The karmic power within it flows throughout all the Three Worlds (past, present, future).

                    Karmic power thus becomes the cause, but cause alone cannot bring an effect. It requires a condition. You reap the effect only when the condition arrives. Karmic power lasts forever and never disappears. This means all our thoughts, words, and actions become invisible power stored into our Alaya Mind for all time.

                   The Chinese characters for the word "input" translate to "entering the power." When we use a word processor, we are "entering the power" of our thoughts to be stored into data onto a hard disk.

Original Photo by boredwithacamera available on

                    Putting weight on the keys of the keyboard is the condition that allows the process to take place. The commands or words we see on the monitor are the effect.

                   It’s also like the the call log on a cell phone, and there are so many other examples. Society and our world become more familiar when integrated with Buddhist fundamentals.

                    So Alaya Mind flows through the past, present, and future. This is why at birth, we receive the effects of certain characteristics like being American, Japanese, Male, Female, etc. These effects had to be determined before the result took place.

                   But how were they determined? They were made as a result of our past choices in the past life. This is why though we are all human beings, no single person has received the same experience. The different effects we all have were determined by each and every one of us in the past life and the past world.

                     It is not by accident. Our fate does not occur without cause. Different causes mean different effects. Karmic power from the past flowed into this present life. Our parents were the condition.

                     Some may claim the father is the cause and the mother was the condition. But then why do siblings have different effects? It must be the karmic power from each child's past.

                      A cause itself doesn’t result in birth as a human. It must combine with a condition in order to make the effect. This is how we came to be born, but it is not only in this life. We have repeated birth and death ceaselessly. 

      Past             Present                 Future
                    Cause    --- >   Effect
                         Cause       --->     Effect

           To know the causes of the past, look at the effects within the present. To know the effects of the future, look at the causes being made at present. This concept remains constant within the Three Worlds.

If you're happy now = that's a good effect = which means you’ve done good things

If you're miserable now = that's a bad effect = which means you’ve done bad things

                 What we are suffering from is the deeds of our own past. So what about our future? How about after we die? Look at the cause in your present through the actions of your mind, mouth, and body. If you’re doing bad things, you must then suffer in the Future World.

                   If there is no past life, then there is no cause to be born. Without a past, there is then no future.

                                 If someone kills one person, they can be executed once. But if they kill ten people, they can still only be executed one time. Karma dictates that if you kill ten people, you will be executed ten times. What about the other nine offenses? They must be reaped in the future life. All the pain the killer caused must occur to them in their afterlife.

                  If the Law of Cause and Effect were false, it would not be able to span the Three Worlds and Ten Directions. This Law of Cause and Effect of Three Worlds remains valid for all time and all existence. The teachings of Buddhism are all based on this principle making understanding of this concept extremely crucial.

                  Your future is contained within the causes of your present. Look deeply at yourself and the actions of your mind, mouth and body. Look closely into the image that reflects back to you.

Original Photo by nattu available on

What is your body doing?

What is your mouth saying?

What is your mind thinking?

                   Listening to the words of Buddha in this way shows us our True Self. Without knowing the Law of Cause and Effect, this cannot be clear.

                    Look within the Mirror of Dharma at present. This is why listening to Buddhism is so essential.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Law of Cause and Effect -- Part Two

               Without knowing the Law of Cause and Effect, you can’t understand Buddhism or the teachings of Buddhism.

                 To review, here are the three core principles:

Good causes bring good effects.
Bad causes bring bad effects.
Your own cause brings your own effect.

                Our deeds or actions are like seeds. These seeds become causes.

Original Photo by photofarmer available on

Good Cause = Good Seed                               Good Seed = Good Result
Bad Cause = Bad Seed                      Bad Seed = Bad Result

Good Result = Happiness / Favorable Situation
Bad Result = Unhappiness / Unfavorable Situation

                All humanity is living to obtain happiness. Politics, science, medicine, the arts, all of them exist to make our lives happier.

Original Photo by US Mission Geneva available on

               The most important thing is how can we obtain happiness, and to know this we (as well as politicians) must first understand the relationship of the cause and effect.

                All effects have a cause. This is a true throughout the Three Worlds and Ten Directions. Without knowing the cause of happiness, we can’t enjoy that happiness as a result. We’ll be unfortunate if we are unaware of this principle.

                The emphasis is placed on the Law of Cause and Effect as the sole determinant of our fate.

                                                               Result                                               Cause
Good Fate\Destiny         =            Good Actions
Bad Fate\Destiny             =            Bad Actions
Own Fate\Destiny           =             Own Actions

                When we have a good destiny we can accept this, but during a bad destiny we cannot. That’s when we believe “others’ cause, others’ effect.” I must be suffering from what others have done, we think. We blame the judge and jury for our crimes, but if this was true we’d be receiving the effect of their deeds. Buddhism teaches own cause, own effect. If you don’t understand this third point, you can’t grasp the other two principles either.

                Even though we hear the Law of Cause and Effect, we still have this mentality of being persecuted during bad times. The thief who thinks the rope is the cause of his suffering is completely WRONG. The thief is suffering from his own doing. Once of aware of this, he has to reflect on what’s he done. He has to lament what he’s done.

Original Photo by Editor B available on

                We blame others all the time. "It must have been that guy," we say. But then we are just like the thief. We cannot understand this truth of the Three Worlds and the Ten Directions.

                We wonder then intensely how this can be true in the cases of accidents or the victims of violent crimes, especially where children have been injured or killed. Why do they have to suffer? The effect of being hurt was caused by an attacker.

                Is this still own cause, own effect? Yes, it is something they have done in their past, but we just can’t say that politely. Instead we go saying the cause was the murderer, and the victims did nothing. But the Law of Cause and Effect remains true regardless. When we hear about these tragedies in our lives and on the news, we just can’t accept it.

                For example, let’s talk about the Akihabara Massacre which took place in Japan in June of 2008. A man drove a truck into a crowd killing three people and injuring two. He then exited the vehicle and began stabbing those around him. Using a survival knife, he killed four and injured eight others. But why did those victims have to be there at that place and time? If they were just a little further or had arrived an hour before, they would have been spared. Why did they have to be there at that place and that time?

Original Photo by Almir de Freitas available on

                The effect is that they were killed. Why did those 7 people have to suffer is the issue. The effect of being killed had to have had a cause. As we have learned in the Law of Cause and Effect, own cause, own effect. The result of being killed in the accident has to have been caused by something the victims had within them.

                If you believe that the cause is the murderer, you still believe others cause own effect. So again what was the cause in this case?  Own cause, own effect. This principle penetrates the Three Worlds and Ten Directions. The seed had to have been planted by the victims.

                We say again, it can’t be like that. The victims did nothing wrong. But it is the same as the example of the thief and the rope. It is natural to hold a grudge against the murderer, so the point has to be made clearer.

                Own cause, own effect is the truth. There is not even a single case for others’ cause own effect. Good causes bring good effects, Bad causes bring bad effects, Your own causes bring your own effect.

                If being killed is the result, then the cause for this result must be something the victims had within themselves. The victims had cause to be at that site at that moment. Many visitors had passed through Akihabara in great numbers that day, totaling tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. There had to have been a seed the victims had to bring them to that exact place and time. If they didn’t have that cause, they wouldn’t have been there and others would have died instead.

                It was a cause they had that in turn caused them to be killed. Others around them did not have that cause. It is because of own cause own effect. But then does the murderer have nothing to do with them?

                The murder is the condition. An effect needs a combination of cause and condition. In this way, it could better be called the Law of Cause, Condition, and Effect.  A cause itself can’t bring an effect. Only when a condition combines with a cause can effect arrive.
                Usually we omit condition, but it is really the Law of Cause, Condition, and Effect. If the law could have intervened in time and brought justice, the effect wouldn’t have come about. This is why we must enforce the law in order to remove bad conditions from society.

Original Photo by Tim Pearce, Los Gatos available on

                The other people around did not have the cause of murder within them. Seven people had their cause and condition combined to have a sad effect. It is a cause they had. All of which happens to you comes from your own cause. When unfavorable results occur, we must reflect on our own doings. We must lament what we have done.

                This must be understood deeply. A mass murder makes people think others’ cause, own effect. But why to only them? Only they received the result. The survivors’ causes must have been different. The murder was the condition.

                There is more to come on this topic. In the next post, we will explore how past causes relate to our destiny and gain insight on the True Self.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Law of Cause and Effect -- Part One

      The foundation of Buddhism is the Law of Cause and Effect.

       Without knowing this deeply, one cannot understand Buddhism or move forward on the path. The Law of Cause and Effect is made up of these three essential guidelines:

Good deeds bring good results.
Bad deeds bring bad results.
Your own deeds bring your own results.

       Every effect has a cause and a condition.

Original Photo by stevendepolo available on

       A cause and a condition combine to make an effect.

       All effects have a cause. All effects have a condition. There are no exceptions.


       Due to this relationship, the Law of Cause and Effect can more clearly be known as the Law of Cause, Condition, and Effect.

      A law within Buddhism is a rule that penetrates the Three Worlds and Ten Directions.

      The Three Worlds are past, present, and future.

       The Ten Directions are north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, up, and down.

       The Three Worlds represent all time, infinity, always. The Ten Directions means any place, everywhere, all countries on the earth. So the Law of Cause and Effect is applicable everywhere, and it never changes. Even if society changes, this fundamental law in Buddhism never will.

       To give an example, let's look at rice. In order for there to be rice, there needs to be a rice seed. But just a rice seed alone cannot make rice. Proper water, sunlight, soil, and labor are required to harvest the rice. Only when it meets the right conditions can it produce rice.

Original Photo by Marc Veraart, available on

       Using this logic, it also becomes clear that a rice seed simply dropped on the floor of your house will never grow.

       Being born human is an effect, and so this must have a cause. Though we are all born human, the lives we are born into are all different. These different effects must have different causes. So each life has its own different cause. For examples, the location we're born like Africa, Japan, or the United States, and the era we were born into differs.

       Now there are situations that occur in which we do not know the cause. Yet there has to be a cause for those too. Something that happens accidentally doesn't mean it is without a cause. It is simply not yet known or the evidence is not available.

       So what is the future of humanity? What is the destination for all human beings?

                                                      Happiness    OR    Unhappiness

       We are living to obtain happiness. Favorable or unfavorable fates are effects. Without knowing their cause, we can't be happy. We all want to know the causes and effects that determine our fate for better or worse. That's why these three lines are so crucial to learn repeatedly:

Good deeds bring good results.
Bad deeds bring bad results.
Your own deeds bring your own results.

       To see cause and effect clearly, let's use for example fruits and vegetables. Planting a watermelon seed yields a watermelon. Planting a radish seed yields a radish. You harvest only what you yourself have planted.

If you plant watermelon seeds...

Original Photo by pj_vanf available on
you get watermelons.

Original Photo by srqpix available on

If you plant radish seeds...

Original Photo by Rosa Blue available on

you get radishes.

Original photo by orangejack available on

Your Effort   -------->   Your Result

       It is impossible to plant a watermelon seed and get a radish, or plant a radish seed and get a watermelon. It will never happen in a million years.

       Likewise, good effects or a favorable fate can only have come from a good cause. Bad effects or an unfavorable fate can only have come from a bad cause. The relationship of this principle penetrates the Three Worlds and the Ten Directions.

      A good cause is the equivalent to a good deed or action.

       A bad cause is the equivalent of a bad deed or action.

       Suffering from a bad fate, we say we're unlucky or we've been hit by bad luck. But how does luck determine favorable or unfavorable fates?

Original Photo by fontplaydotcom available on

        Many attribute it to a god or the curse of an ancestor. But still the reason remains shrouded in vague, unclear answers.

       Our deeds and our actions determine our fates. Good deeds and actions will result in a good fate. Bad deeds and actions will result in a bad fate. To obtain happiness, we have to do good. No one wants to suffer a bad fate, but we can only avoid a bad fate by not doing bad. This truth penetrates the Three Worlds and the Ten Directions, both timeless and universal.

       Never has there ever been a case where a good deed has produced a bad effect. Never also has there been a bad deed performed that led to a good effect. Whether we're happy or not is caused solely by the deeds we perform.

       If a student studies hard, they will get good grades and eventually be employed. We can see clearly how the cause, studying diligently, led to the effect of getting good grades.

Original Photo by Enokson available on

        How deeply you believe in the Law of Cause and Effect shows how deeply you believe in Buddhism. When we think of stealing, we refrain ourselves from doing so in order to avoid the bad effect of being arrested. Again these ideals remain valid throughout the Three Worlds and the Ten Directions.

      What you sow, you shall reap. The concept of own cause own effect is very important and easily misunderstood. All of our fate at this moment has been brought on by our own deeds. It is our own deeds not those of others.

       We think in our minds constantly: others' cause, my effect. We think that someone else's deeds bring our effects. We constantly blame others for our misfortune. But this is completely wrong. There is not a single case where occurred. It is not true in the Three Worlds and the Ten Directions. All phenomenon occurs by own cause, own effect.

       When we're happy we accept the Law of Cause and Effect gladly. I worked really hard to enjoy these results. What I have sewn I am now reaping! But when tides turn and we are in a bad circumstance, we no longer believe it to be true. Yet when we're in trouble or in the wake of a natural disaster we do not think, what I have sewn I am reaping now. We persist otherwise by saying, "This could not have happened to me because of something I've done."

       If you cannot believe that this is the case in bad times, then truly you don't believe that good times are of your doing either.

       It's never the case that others' causes bring your effects.

       Some may ponder, "Why was I born as the son of horrible parents?" People like this are in miserable situations, and they often hold grudges against society or other people. But a seed you haven't planted will never occur to anyone, rest assured.

       Others' cause own effect will never occur. Never in life.

       An example of this is in the story of the thief who blamed the rope. A thief went out and stole someone's belongings. Then he was caught by the authorities and tied up with a rope. He began to suffer greatly and cursed the rope that restricted his freedom.

Original Photo by Itani Stock Photos available on

       Who created the pain for this thief? What's the cause?

        The thief believed it was the rope. However had he not stolen, there would not have been a rope. The thief must blame his own crime, created by his own actions.

       We study hard, and then we can get into a top university. We steal and we meet with misfortune. But do we really understand this point? When we suffer from trouble we know there must be a cause. The actions of someone else quickly become our target.

       If someone else is drinking alcohol, do you receive the effects of being drunk instead of them? No. How about you exercise and your friend gets healthier instead? No, if you're the one who's cautious with your diet, it's you who becomes leaner. The effects only occur to the person on the diet and their efforts.

         If you deeply believe in the Law of Cause and Effect, you must lament your misfortunes deeply as your own doing. We tend to instead sympathize with the thief tied down by the rope in those cases. We hold grudges and blame others which shows ignorance of the Law of Cause and Effect.

      In the next post, I will review this article and go over the incorrect notion of others' cause own effect.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Reference: This three-part series on the Law of Cause and Effect is written from lecture notes. The seminar was taught by Takamori Kentetsu, the current living master of Pure Land Buddhism.

Welcome to Mirror of Dharma Blog!

                Welcome, everyone! I hope you too can enjoy the same peace of mind and satisfaction that I have found from these truly life-changing teachings.

                  On this blog, I will try to convey each lesson to you as closely as I have learned it from the seminars of our teacher, Kentetsu Takamori. Our sensei (pronounced sen-SAY, meaning the honorific title of teacher), Mr. Takamori, is also a best-selling author who has copies of his work sold internationally and published in many languages. I am so very grateful to his teachings, and I highly encourage you to read his books which are available online.

                If you're new to Buddhism, you've probably heard here and there about Zen meditations, intense practices lasting sometimes even decades where very devout monks aspire toward the enlightenment. Or you've heard about how the Dalai Lama gives inspirational talks on how to spread world peace by calming down our minds. Though these figures and ideas remain popular to this day, the mental practices these Buddhist sects actually require can often call for something that may be too challenging or out of reach for many modern people to perform in modern times.

                Could you shave your head, live in seclusion, eat only a small portion of vegetables, and purge your mind of all evil by intense meditation? Perhaps... but only if you're 100% dedicated to that path. You might attain enlightenment this way but it could possibly be after millions of years and many, many lifetimes. The problem remains that those practices could be too extreme for us to practice ourselves nowadays, especially if we're working a full-time job and raising kids.

                 Now you've probably never even heard of Pure Land Buddhism, but I hope this blog can change that. Here I intend to familiarize you with the step-by-step way the Pure Land School teaches us how to at long last find the real meaning of our lives that we have all desperately longed for. The common purpose all mankind has been looking for is none other than to arrive at this state of everlasting happiness.

                Pure Land Buddhism is for all people and all walks of life with nothing required except listening and an open mind to learn. Pure Land Buddhism will teach you how to fulfill your true purpose of life and obtain an absolute form of happiness while you're still alive in the here and now.

               This is a goal that is actually obtainable for you in this very lifetime. It's not something you wait for in the afterlife. My greatest hope is that you will continue to listen to Buddhism until you find this true happiness.

                   Gassho. (pronounced GA-shou, used as a Buddhist greeting or farewell, often accompanied by placing the palms together and bowing as a sign of mutual respect)