The Universal Law of Cause and Effect

If you understand and comprehend at least one thing about Buddhism, it should be the universal law of cause and effect. This is the law that governs all beings and events throughout the three worlds and ten directions in the universe. The three worlds meaning past, present and future. The ten directions being north, south, east, west, all intermediate directions, and from the heavens all the way down to the deepest depths.

Unfortunately, it is not very easy to explain all there is to know about the law of cause and effect because it is so powerful and profound. However, I will do my best to explain it clearly.

Sakyamuni Buddha established the following:

善因善果 – Good deeds bring good results
悪因悪果 – Bad deeds bring bad results
自因自果 – My deeds bring my results

Whatever happens in this universe is built upon the universal law of cause and effect, and there is never a time when it fails, that is why it is called law. That puts it up there with gravity, the Sun and the laws of physics.

Now, this brings me to my next point: our past lives. I mentioned in another article that we have been in existence since the distant past. I am sure you don’t remember it, but I can assure you that is the case. The actions performed in every life is stored in energy, called Karma. The records are stored in what is called the Alaya Mind.

That means that ever since you have been transmigrating from the distant past up until now, a record of what actions have been performed in each life is stored in the Alaya Mind. Think of the Alaya Mind as a big hard disk or memory chip with all the records of what you have done on it. I wont get into the eight consciousnesses at this point in time as it is well beyond the scope of this article, but know that the Alaya Mind is the most important of the eight consciousnesses and all the other seven depend on this one.

So now that you know that you have existed at some point in the past, and managed to find yourself reborn as a human in this life, and had all the records of past lives stored in your Alaya Mind, it will become very easy to understand the law of cause and effect.

Essentially everything has a cause, and everything has an effect. If you drop a pen, the pen will hit the ground, and if you plant a pumpkin seed, then only a pumpkin can grow. There is no such thing that if you plant a pumpkin seed, a watermelon will grow. Right? So therefore, by that logic, a seed that isn’t planted cannot grow.

Although you may not know it, the results of this life lie in the seeds of the past life. Even your birth was governed by and determined by your actions in the previous life. This is the truth behind why people from the same parents and conditions grow up to be very different people. This also answers the question of “why wasn’t I born in a rich family?” or “How come I was not born in Europe or Asia?” The answer is simple, and that is because the seeds of the past life did not support it.

So, generally speaking, in Buddhism everything has a cause and effect. there are no superstitions. Everything has a definitive source and everything has a definitive effect. If something bad happens to you today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year these are the cause of the seeds of the past coming to fruition. Likewise if something good happens to you then these also are the results of the seeds you planted. So, in summary, take care and watch out what actions you perform in life, because everything has an effect.


One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nadia Parker. Nadia Parker said: The Universal Law of Cause and Effect « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure … […]

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