How Realizing Cause and Effect leads to Peace
Cause and effect is a natural law that applies to all phenomena throughout the universe, both in the physical realm and the mental realm. It is a law explaining that everything has a cause, and all causes when combined with certain conditions, lead to specific effects. All phenomena are a result of the coming together of causes and conditions and will cease when such conditions change or are removed. This applies to the mountains, rivers, cars, and buildings, as well as our thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and sensations.
For example, an apple tree is the mere coming together of an apple seed (the cause) with the conditions of water, sunlight, air, soil, and time. If not for the seed, an apple tree would not be impossible. Likewise, if any of the necessary conditions were removed, the apple tree would also not be possible. By understanding cause and effect, we realize the interdependence of nature and appreciate the precious and delicate quality of the things in our lives.
Similarly, the feeling of happiness arises when a specific desire is met with a corresponding thought, memory, physical material or sensation, or when a condition hindering joy, such as pain, anxiety, stress or fear, is removed. For example, we will only derive happiness from encountering a friend if the desire to see such a friend exists. That same friend causing one great pleasure may bring another immense stress, anguish, or disappointment, depending on the perception one has attached to that friend. The same applies to all mental states we experience day to day; they are all conditioned by our varying thoughts, concepts, perceptions, and memories.
Applying it in everyday life
By understanding cause and effect, we learn to observe, externally in the world around, and internally in our mind and our mental states, from a more pragmatic and objective viewpoint. We raise questions and seek answers more methodically as opposed to emotionally and maintain a more impartial and balanced attitude in life. We can understand the roots of our own problems and help others manage theirs, by investigating what causes and conditions lead to what outcomes, and how we can change the outcomes by altering or removing the surrounding conditions.
For example, one may ask, ‘Why am I always so tired and low on energy?’ This may lead one to investigate the quality of their physical or mental condition. Are they resting adequately, eating healthily, and exercising regularly? Is their mental state relaxed, happy, and stable? Or are they carrying an illness, under the influence of a negative environment, or simple overworked and undervalued?
The same reflective approach can be applied to all of life’s questions and problems.
How can I maintain a specific habit?
What do I need for a healthy and fulfilling relationship?
Why do I always feel so depressed and helpless?
When is the best time to ask for a raise at work?
With a calm and introspective mind, one learns to contemplate cause and effect to analyze the reasons why things are the way they are to understand the reality of the situation better. Not only that, but we can also learn which causes and conditions we need to put together to achieve a particular goal or outcome. In turn, we learn how to manage our expectations better, how to implement desired change more effectively, and how to accept things that we cannot change.
In the process of introspection and change implementation, the reality of cause and effect becomes more evident as we learn what works and what doesn’t. We refine our understanding of what causes and conditions influence what outcomes and develop insight and wisdom through first-hand experience. With such a holistic approach towards life with all its experiences, we grow wiser with every obstacle and become more resilient with every setback.
Deep underlying implications
Deeply understanding the law of cause and effect, we penetrate the nature of reality through realization that the present moment is a result of all causes and conditions from the distant past. Everything right here and now is precisely the way it is supposed to be, and we learn to accept the present moment for what it is entirely. Our environment, our body conditions, our relationships, our mental states, our work, and everything else, are all a product of past causes and conditions coming together and the moment we accept that, we realize a deep sense of peace. This deep acceptance can only be internalized when we set aside our perception of right and wrong, good and bad, like and dislike because ultimately, the natural flow of life is beyond personal view.
When we accept the state of the present moment and make peace with it entirely, it’s not to say we become passive and lose motivation in life. On the contrary, only from a place of peace can we truly live energetically and optimistically. Furthermore, although the effect plane of the present moment is decided, we can still create conditions in the causal plane to influence change in the future. We may be unhealthy because, in the past, we didn’t take good care of ourselves. We can accept this reality and make peace with it, while simultaneously implementing a diet plan, exercise regime, and setting new goals to improve our health. The difference is when we first enable acceptance through insight and understanding, we create peace and joy in the here and now. This allows us greater clarity and composure to carry on with life’s work, because instead of waiting for gratification in the future, we can realize it immediately through deep acceptance of the current state.
Additionally, a mind that understands cause and effect and accepts the present moment entirely just the way it is, leaves no room for blame and complaint. This is because one realizes that everything is a mere product of conditioning, which is not always in one’s complete control. If someone inflicts pain on us, do we blame that person or the person that caused him trauma that he is merely reacting to by inflicting pain on others as a form of release? Or do we blame his parents for not instilling the right values in him? Or do we blame the fact that the parents must work three jobs just to make ends meet because of the tough conditions they were raised in? Do we blame the education system, social cultures and values, or the political powers that all played a part in what has happened? By contemplating cause and effect, we realize that ultimately, everyone and everything is the way they are because of past causes and conditions that they were not in control of. With such insight, we make room for empathy, compassion and patience, virtues which build character, promotes inner peace, and help others find comfort in their own lives.
When we lay down the blaming mind, we stop complaining about things we cannot control. Instead, we energetically strive towards the things we can, and we take full responsibility for our own lives. We realize that we are in complete control of our own happiness and direction in life and find fulfillment and purpose in our own unique way.
Creating our ideal life with Cause and Effect
In addition to achieving peace in the here and now by fully accepting the present moment, and laying down the blaming and complaining mind, contemplation of cause and effect can also help us achieve the things we want in life while also removing the things we don’t.
As human beings, everyone wants to be happy and free from suffering. As a result, our decision making is naturally directed towards what we think will bring us joy and comfort and what can take away our suffering. By meditating on cause and effect, and understanding causal relationships between phenomena, we can aim to create outcomes we desire by developing certain conditions. For example, if we wish for a particular position at work, want a certain type of physique, or desire to gain anything else we may want, we must first understand the causes and conditions that lead to such an outcome. Once the destination is clear and the path is set, we simply need to follow the path. Of course, along the way, there may be setbacks and obstacles. Still, through contemplation of cause and effect, we can learn how to overcome them, how we failed to foresee them before, and how to ensure such setbacks will not occur again.
While we must be realistic about how goals and objectives, ultimately, nothing stops us from trying to achieving anything we want in life. We just live and learn, enjoying the process in joyful acceptance while becoming a better, wiser, and more experienced person day after day.
How contemplation on cause and effect has helped me personally
Who I am today is very different from who I was five years ago, and I owe it all to the causes and conditions that helped me achieve the things I set out. When I was twenty five, I left the corporate life of an accountant to travel for a year, lived in China as an English teacher for another, became a Buddhist Monk in Taiwan for two, before returning to the secular world in Thailand to open a school in the past year.
Within these five years, the first thing I did was remove the conditions that were causing my depressive states and hindering my productivity. I left the stressful rat race of the financial sector and traded it for a more fulfilling lifestyle as a teacher. I changed my environment to be around more wholesome people and good influences. I limited my exposure to social media to spend more time doing productive things. And for three years, I lived without a television, computer or internet at home. I instead spent those years reading, meditating, and studying.
I understood the importance of creating conditions that would aid my transformation and spiritual growth, so I went into a monastery to become a Buddhist Monk. This proved to be extremely challenging, but that was what made it such a rewarding and fulfilling learning experience. In the monastery, I lived in college with other students, and we had no mobile phones, internet, television, any form or social media or connection to the outside world. Those two years, I directed my focus entirely towards developing the virtues of patience, diligence, right view, compassion and generosity, qualities that build character, lead to happiness and peace of mind, but most importantly, qualities that strengthen one’s capacity to provide and serve for the public.
Today, I teach yoga every day, as a way to give back to the community while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle for myself. My full-time job is an English teacher in a primary school which teaches me so much about managing children, how to teach all sorts of students, and how to solve problems that arise daily. After school and on the weekends, I also teach small English classes in the temple and at my learning center which I opened to share happiness and education. It is called Happy Learning Club.
I view my work and all aspects of life as a form of service I can benefit others with while learning throughout the process greatly attributes to my personal development and transformation, something that brings me great joy and satisfaction.
What I am trying to say is, we should strive to know with great clarity what it is that we want. Then, we contemplate the causes and conditions we need to achieve it and design a plan that includes the type of work, environment, resources, and lifestyle we should have. Only then can we implement the plan with determination, discipline, and diligence. I hope this chapter on cause and effect can bring you a little insight and direction to help achieve your life goals and ambitions.
Thanks for reading 😊