Saturday, March 16, 2013

Law of Cause and Effect -- Past Karma & Conditions

             Now that you have learned the basics on the Law of Cause and Effect, we can go into some of the more technical aspects of how it functions. Let's review an important passage before we go further.

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

           Each deed you perform through mind, mouth, and body remains as invisible, indestructible energy called karma, and this karmic power is stored within what's known as the Alaya Mind

           Alaya is a word in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, meaning storehouse. Back in the day, all precious goods from homes were kept outside in storehouses made of strong, fire-proof material. The picture below displays an old storehouse near Tokyo, Japan.

Original Photo by shig2006 available on

            Similarly, good and bad deeds are protected and stored in the Alaya Mind for eternity because this is the part of us that lives on forever, our True Self.

            This karmic energy from the beginning-less past flows to the present moment, carries on into the endless future, and never disappears. 

             Many people think that reincarnation means their personalities have gone through various lives just like in the recent movie, Cloud Atlas. But egos exist only within the physical self which last only from birth to death.

             This physical self can be compared to a bubble that forms on the surface of a great river. It floats just a short while in this Present World and then disappears.

Original Photo by LollyKnit available on
Original Photo by ikewinski available on

                            Our Alaya Mind and the Three Worlds

                                      Birth                                 Death
Past World (Before Birth)      Present World (This Life)         Future World (After Death)

               Our Alaya Mind (represented by the arrow above) is what travels through various lives of past, present, and future storing all of our deeds.

               Deeds remain stored in the Alaya Mind as causes until they encounter a condition

               Every effect requires a condition.

               For this reason, the Law of Cause and Effect could be called:

The Law of Cause, Condition, and Effect

               A condition combines with a cause to develop into an effect. Take rice for example. In order for a rice seed to grow, many conditions are required. 

               These include water, sunlight, soil, and proper temperature. Without them, the rice simply cannot grow.

                Q: So, can a cause without a condition still take effect?

                 A: Nope, it cannot take effect.

                No condition = No effect!

                 It's like planting seeds on a table. There's no way they will grow there without soil.

Original Photo by Phil and Pam available on

                 Let's take a look at another example of how cause and condition combine into an effect.
                 Imagine that you were just involved in a serious car crash.

Original Photo by snof_grof available on

                  A reckless driver sped through a red light while you were crossing the intersection with the right of way. There were many other cars in vicinity, but let's say you were the only one badly injured. Why were you hurt while others weren't? You could have avoided the accident if you had left your house just seconds earlier or a few seconds later. Why did you have to be right there at that exact moment?

                  Having received that effect indicates there was some cause for you to be in the accident other people didn't have. 

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

   Bad Past Deeds  -------------------> Bad Car Accident \ Suffering
                                                   (Cause)                                          (Effect)

                  A bad deed from your past brought you to that exact moment of that intersection where the reckless driver was headed. This is the Law of Cause and Effect. Your suffering from the accident was the effect.

                  But an effect can occur only when our past karma combines with a condition. This means the bad driver who ran the red light was the condition.

                                          Cause: Bad Past Deeds ------------------------ Condition: Bad Driver
                                                                   Effect: Bad Car Accident \ Suffering

                   The cause for your suffering was something bad you did from your past. The Law of Cause and Effect reveals that everything that occurs to us, good or bad, happens for a reason. It occurs because of our own deeds. That means we accept responsibility that our own actions define our destiny. We don't see others as the main source of our misfortune.

                   Of course, the driver who ran the red light must face legal accountability for his actions. But on a karmic level, we accept responsibility that something we did brought us into that situation. 

Original Photo by Anas Qtiesh available on

                   Once you realize how the Law of Cause and Effect really works, you'll begin to see how pointless anger, hatred, envy, and jealousy against others truly is. They only bring about more negative karma for your own future.

                   When one embraces the Law of Cause and Effect, every time good happens it makes you want to do more good. And when bad happens, it becomes a time to reflect and correct yourself. In times of great suffering, tragedy, or misfortune, you focus on just doing as much good as possible in the moment to improve your situation.

                   There is an old story that illustrates the mysterious nature of cause and effect.

                  A rancher had three horses that helped him earn his livelihood. He awoke one morning to find that one of them was missing. This caused him great suffering as his income would now greatly decrease. Then later that day, the horse returned with a wild mustang. To his surprise, the rancher now had four horses! He was brimming with excitement.

Original Photo by A.Davey available on

                The rancher instructed his son to tame the horse in preparation for the expansion of his business. But this mustang was very wild in spirit and it threw his son out from the saddle onto the ground. The son suffered severe injuries to his back.

               The rancher worried for his son and now again for the livelihood of his business. How could he run it by himself?

               Within just a short time, a savage war broke out and all the young men in the kingdom were drafted. Many of the youth ended up being killed in the war, but the rancher's son was spared from duty because of injury. The rancher rejoiced that he could still be with his son.

                    From this fable, we come to understand that their is such a vast, interconnected web of causes and effects in our world. It is impossible for us to fathom them all.

                    But by learning the Law of Cause and Effect, we understand how our actions shape our world. Crimes, war, violence would cease to exist if everyone realized this Universal Truth.

Original Photo by RyanKemmers available on

                     As we continue to listen to the teachings of Buddhism, we'll be closer to discovering more about our True Self. Please continue to read more on this blog about this very profound subject, as it takes much more than just one or two short lessons to master.

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