Monday, November 4, 2013

Law of Cause and Effect -- The Three Worlds

                   We've learned so far from the Law of Cause and Effect, that every effect has a cause.

                   So of all the various ages, time periods, and decades we could have been born in... what exactly determines when is the moment we're born?

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                   Answer: the Law of Cause and Effect.

                 There are now more than 7 billion people alive today with nearly 200 countries in the world. We could have been born in so many different cities and places on this planet. So what determines where in the world we're born? Or how we even came to be born to our parents?

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                   Answer: It's still the Law of Cause and Effect.

Good Cause,    good effect.
Bad cause,    bad effect.
Own cause,    own effect.

                  Let's review briefly.

                  Cause refers to our deeds or actions.

                  Effect means our resulting experiences.

                  Good deeds lead to good results; bad deeds lead to bad results. Our own actions determine the good or bad experiences that happen to us.

                  So, for example, let's say you were born in United States. The cause for your birth had to occur before you were born.

                  The Law of Cause and Effect applies throughout all of the Three Worlds. In Buddhism, the Three Worlds represent time.

                 The Three Worlds are the Past World, the Present World, and the Future World.

                 The Past World includes all our lives from before our present life. 

                  The Present World is the span of our life from birth to death. 

                  The Future World represents our afterlife.

                  We've performed countless deeds in our past lives. All these past actions from before our human experience are what determined in this lifetime what our gender would be, the city we were born in, and even our date of birth. We could have been born at a time of war or a time of peace. Our family could have been richer or poorer when they had us. All of these karmic factors are determined by the deeds of our past life.

                   Children born to the same parents have different faces, personalities, and talents. This is because each one of them has their own individual karma.

                     Our destiny changes over time as a result of each choice we make in the present.

                   Now if someone chooses to take the life of another, they may face the death penalty for their actions. But why is it that if someone takes the lives of 10 people, or even 100 people, they can still only be put to death one time? Under ordinary law, the consequences for the other murders can't be prosecuted. 

                   But if a worker is paid a salary of $100 a day and then works for ten days straight, would it make sense to only get paid $100? No, of course not. Ten days work would deserve $1,000. One hundred days of work would merit $10,000 of wages. 

                   If the causes vary, then the results should also vary. 

                   A murderer can face the death penalty in this life only once. However, under the Law of Cause and Effect, they have to face the repercussions of every life they extinguished in a future life.

                   And just because a bad seed remains undetected does not mean that the person who planted it is safe. It may take time, but the bad effect will most certainly emerge for that person.

                   A seed that is planted will surely grow.

                  Let's review a scientific example of a cause with a delayed effect. More than 30,000 years ago, a squirrel buried the fruit of a flower in the arctic region of Siberia. Forgotten over the ages, it became covered over with an icy cold permafrost and remained perfectly preserved in sub-zero temperatures. Then in February of 2012, Russian scientists were able to grow a healthy, living plant from the fruit of that flower.

Original Photo by captainmcdan available on
Original Photo by tasaarni available on

                 Likewise, karmic seeds that we planted long ago before we were born can still become effects within this lifetime.

                   This means that all those bad things that we ourselves have done and kept secret in our hearts and minds for sure, will come back to us one day.

                   Every cause in the universe has an effect. According to Buddhism, this has always been and will always be the truth. 

                   In order to reveal to us how our destiny is shaped, Sakyamuni Buddha shared this insight within the Cause and Effect Sutra:

If you want to know the seeds of the past, 
look at the fruit of the present. 

If you want to know the fruit of the future, 
look at the seeds of the present.

                         What does this mean exactly?

                         The way to know what you did in the past is to look at what's happening to you right now. Whatever you're doing at present will determine what type of experience you'll have in the future. 

                          There are many practical examples where this can be witnessed easily. Someone with good grades now is someone who studied hard in the past. Someone who's lazy now and makes no effort can't expect good results in the future.

                            However, because of all the countless past causes contained within our Alaya-consciousness (storehouse consciousness) since the beginningless past, there are a vast, incomprehensible combination of consequences that can occur to us while we're alive. The only missing component preventing them from occurring is the right condition to bring them about.

                            The Law of Cause and Effect as it relates to concept of time and condition is known in Buddhism as the Law of Causality in the Three Worlds.

  Looking deeply 
into our present 
reveals both 
the past and the future.

    The present is thus the key to the past and the future.

This is the reason 
why Buddhism teaches 
the importance of the present self 
and being in the 

                           But did you know even the word "now" is in the past before you finish saying it?

                           When you say -- "Now!"-- as soon as you utter the sound "N-" from your lips, it enters the past by the time you arrive at the "-ow!" It's a tiny, one-syllable word, and yet with this example we can clearly see how time within the Three Worlds is all connected.

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                           The more we strive to understand the Law of Cause and Effect, the more we strive to discard bad intentions and practice good intentions.

                           We aim at getting rid of bad thoughts, so that they don't occur to us later on. The result of doing bad things only brings more bad results into your mind.

                           We want to set our minds on positive thoughts, but then follow through with them so that they become actions as well. 

                           Because whatever we choose to do now... these choices will be the results we are going to end up harvesting for ourselves later. This is why we should fear evil and turn to the light with all our hearts.

Original Photo by _Virdi_ available on

                            If you don't want bad results, stop doing bad deeds. If you want to be happy, do good deeds.

                            This is the conclusion of this series on Law of Cause and Effect. I encourage you to read lessons on Law of Cause and Effect here on this blog. Continue to review and study it often, because this universal truth is both the foundation of Buddhism as well as the compass that points the way for all toward a happier life.

Source: Arctic Flower Article from New York Times


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