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29 03 2012 LESSON 565 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And Practice UNIVERSITYThrough http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org THE BUDDHIST ONLINE GOOD NEWS LETTER ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA Dhammapada Verse 117Seyyasakatthera VatthuDo No Evil Again And Again-Please send SEPWHEP SarvajanEconomy forPeace Welfare HappinessofEntirePeople to all your friends and efforts may be made to publish this as a BOOK
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29 03 2012 LESSON 565 FREE
ONLINE

eNālāndā

Research
And Practice
UNIVERSITYThrough http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org

THE
BUDDHIST
ONLINE GOOD NEWS LETTER


ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA

Dhammapada
Verse 117
Seyyasakatthera VatthuDo No Evil Again And Again
Please send

SEPWHEP

SarvajanEconomy forPeace Welfare HappinessofEntirePeople

to all your friends and efforts may be made to publish this as a BOOK



Verse 117. Do No Evil Again And Again

If one some evil does
then do it not again and again.
Do not wish for it anew

for evil grows to dukkha.

Explanation: A person may do some evil things.
But he should not keep on doing it over and over, repeatedly. He should not
take delight in it. Accumulation of evil is painful.

Dhammapada Verse 117
Seyyasakatthera Vatthu

Pipance puriso kayira
na nam kayira punappunam
na tamhi chandam kayiratha
dukkho papassa uccayo.

Verse 117: If a man does evil, he should not
do it again and again; he should not take delight in it; the accumulation of
evil leads to dukkha.


The Story of Thera Seyyasaka

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the
Buddha uttered Verse (117) of this book, with reference to Thera Seyyasaka.

Once there was a thera by the name of
Seyyasaka, who was in the habit of masturbating. When the Buddha heard about
this, he rebuked the thera for doing something that would lead one farther away
from the attainment of Magga and Phala. At the same time, the Buddha laid down
the discipline prohibiting such indulgence in sexual pleasures, i.e., Samghadisesa
Apatti
, offences which require penance and suspension from the Order. Then,
the Buddha added, “This kind of offence can only lead to evil results
in this world as well as in the next.”

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:


Verse 117: If a man does evil, he should not do it again and
again; he should not take delight in it; the accumulation of evil leads to
dukkha.

SEPWHEP

SarvajanEconomy forPeace Welfare HappinessofEntirePeople

ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA

Government

The Awaken One with Awareness said
“poverty is suffering in this world.” Here he speaks to the use of
wealthy by governments. Poverty and want, like greed (to which they are closely
related) contribute to crime and social discontent. [D.III.65, 70] Concept
of
  Awaken One with Awareness maintains
that it is the duty of the government or the administrators of a country to see
to the needs of those who are in want and to strive to banish poverty from the
land. At the very least, honest work should be available to all people, trade
and commerce should be encouraged, capital should be organized and industries
monitored to guard against dishonest or exploitive practices. By this criteria,
the absence of poverty is a better gauge of government’s success than the
presence of millionaires.

    It is often asked which
economic or political system is most compatible with the Concept of Awaken One
with Awareness. Concept of
  Awaken One
with Awareness does not answer such a question directly. One might say that the
Concept of  Awaken One with Awareness
would endorse whatever system is most compatible with it, but economic and
political systems are a question of method, and methods, according to the
Concept of  Awaken One with Awareness,
should be attuned to time and place.

    What is the purpose of a
government’s wealth? Essentially, a government’s wealth is for the purpose of
supporting and organizing its citizens’ lives in the most efficient and
beneficial way possible. Wealth enables us to practice and to attain
progressively higher levels of well-being. Wealth should support the community
in such a way that people who live in it conduct good lives and are motivated
to a higher good.

    A political or economic system that uses wealth to these
ends is compatible with the Concept of
 
Awaken One with Awareness (subject to the stipulation that it is a
voluntary or free system rather than an authoritarian one). Specific systems
are simply methods dependent on time and place, and can vary accordingly. For
example, when the Awaken One with Awareness established the Order of monks as a
specialized community, he set up rules limiting a monk’s personal possessions.
Most requisites were to be regarded as communal property of the Order.

    The Awaken One with
Awareness gave different teachings regarding wealth for householders or worldly
society. In his day, there were two main political systems in Jambudvipa: some
parts of the country were ruled by absolute monarchies, others were ruled by
republican states. The Awaken One with Awareness gave separate teachings for
each. This is characteristic of his teachings. Concept of
  Awaken One with Awareness is not a religion
of ideals and philosophy, but a religion of practice. The Awaken One with
Awareness made his teaching applicable to the real life of the people in the
society of the time.

    If the Awaken One with
Awareness had waited until he had designed a perfect society before he taught,
he would have fallen into idealism and romanticism. Since the perfect society
will always be a “hoped-for” society, the Awaken One with Awareness
gave teachings that could be put to effect in the present time, or, in his
words, “those truths which are truly useful.”

    For the monarchies, the
Awaken One with Awareness taught the duties of a Wheel-Turning Emperor,
exhorting rulers to use their absolute power as a tool for generating benefit
in the community rather than a tool for seeking personal happiness. For the
republican states, he taught the
aparihaniyadhamma — principles and methods for encouraging social harmony
and preventing decline. In their separate ways, both these teaching show how a
people can live happily under different political systems.

    When the absolute
monarchy reached its highest perfection in Jambudvipa, the Emperor Ashoka used
these Concepts of  Awaken One with
Awareness principles to govern his empire. He wrote in the Edicts, “His
Highness, Priyadassi, loved by the devas, does not see rank or glory as being
of much merit, except if that rank or glory is used to realize the following
aim: ‘Both now and in the future, may the people listen to my teaching and
practice according to the principles of Dhamma.’” [Ashokan Edict No.10]

10

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King
Piyadasi, does not consider glory and fame to be of great account unless they
are achieved through having my subjects respect Dhamma and practice Dhamma,
both now and in the future.[19] For this alone does Beloved-of-the-Gods, King
Piyadasi, desire glory and fame. And whatever efforts Beloved-of-the-Gods, King
Piyadasi, is making, all of that is only for the welfare of the people in the
next world, and that they will have little evil. And being without merit is
evil. This is difficult for either a humble person or a great person to do
except with great effort, and by giving up other interests. In fact, it may be
even more difficult for a great person to do.

    The ideal society is not
one in which all people occupy the same station; such a society is in fact not
possible. The ideal society is one in which human beings, training themselves
in mind and intellect, although possessing differences, are nevertheless
striving for the same objectives. Even though they are different they live
together harmoniously. At the same time, it is a society which has a noble
choice, a noble way out, for those so inclined, in the form of a religious
life. (Even in the society of the future Awaken One with Awareness, Ariya
Metteyya, where everyone is said to be equal, there is still to be found the
division of monks and laypeople.)

    While absolute equality
is impossible, governments should ensure that the four requisites are
distributed so all citizens have enough to live on comfortably and can find
honest work. Moreover, the economic system in general should lead to a
harmonious community rather than to contention and strife, and material
possessions used as a base for beneficial human development rather than as an
end in themselves
.

    In one
Sutta, the Awaken One with Awareness admonishes the Universal Emperor to
apportion some of his wealth to the poor. The emperor is told to watch over his
subjects and prevent abject poverty from arising. Here we see that ethical
economic management for a ruler or governor is determined by the absence of
poverty in his domain, rather than by a surplus of wealth in his coffers or in
the hands of a select portion of the population. When this basic standard is
met, the teachings do not prohibit the accumulation of wealth or stipulate that
it should be distributed equally.

    With an understanding of the Concepts of  Awaken One with Awareness perspective on
social practice, those involved in such matters can debate which system is not
compatible with the Concept of  Awaken
One with Awareness. Or they may opt to devise a new, more effective system.
This might be the best alternative. However, it is a matter of practical
application which is beyond the scope of this book.

Teachings on Economics from the Concepts of  Awaken
One with Awareness
Scriptures

The Concepts of  Awaken One with Awareness teachings on
economics are scattered throughout the Scriptures among teachings on other
subjects. A teaching on mental training, for example, may include guidelines
for economic activity, because in real life these things are all
interconnected. Thus, if we want to find the Buddhist teachings on economics,
we must extract them from teachings on other subjects.

    Although the Awaken One with Awareness never specifically
taught about the subject of economics, teachings about the four requisites –
food, clothing, shelter and medicine — occur throughout the Pali Canon. In
essence, all of the teachings concerning the four requisites are teachings on
economics.

The
Monastic Order

The Books of Discipline for the Monastic Order stipulate the
attitude and conduct monks and nuns with
Concepts
of
  Awaken One with Awareness
are to adopt
toward the four requisites. As mendicants, monks and nuns depend entirely on
donations for their material needs. The Discipline lays down guidelines for a
blameless life that is worthy of the support of the laity. A life dedicated to
Dhamma study, meditation and teaching is Right Livelihood for monks and nuns.

    The Discipline also contains standards and
regulations for ensuring that the four requisites, once supplied to the Order,
will be consumed in peace and harmony rather than contention and strife. Monks
with
Concepts of  Awaken One with Awareness are forbidden
from demanding special food or requisites. A monk must be content with little.
In this passage, the
Awaken One with
Awareness
instructs monks on the proper attitudes toward the four
requisites.

A monk in this Teaching and Discipline is one content with
whatever robes he is given and praises contentment with whatever robes are
given. He does not greedily seek robes in unscrupulous ways. If he does not
obtain a robe, he is not vexed; if he obtains a robe, he is not attached, not
enamored of it and not pleased over it. He uses that robe with full awareness
of its benefits and its dangers. He has wisdom which frees him from attachment.
Moreover, he does not exalt himself or disparage others on account of his
contentment with whatever robes are offered. Any monk who is diligent, ardent,
not given to laziness, who is fully aware and recollected in contentment with
robes, is said to be stationed in the time-honored lineage.

Moreover, a monk is content with whatever alms food he is given

Moreover, a monk is content with whatever dwellings he is given

Moreover, a monk is one who delights in developing skillful
qualities and praises their development; he delights in abandoning unskillful
qualities and praises their abandoning; he does not exalt himself nor disparage
others on account of his delighting in skillful qualities and praising their
development, nor on account of his abandoning of unskillful qualities and
praising their abandoning. A monk who is diligent, ardent, not given to
laziness, but fully aware and recollected in such development (
bhavana) and abandoning (pahana) is said to
be stationed in the time-honored lineage. [A.II.27]

    This passage shows the relationship between
contentment with material possessions and effort — material requisites are
used as foundation for human development.

    The monastic discipline exemplifies a
life-style which makes use of the least possible amount of material goods. This
is partly for practical reasons, to enable the Order to live in a way that does
not overtax the community, and partly so that the monks can devote as much of
their time and energy as possible in the study, practice and teaching of the
Dhamma. It also enables them to live a life that is as independent of the
social mainstream as possible, so that their livelihood is not all geared to
any socially valued gain. All monks with

Concepts of
  Awaken One with Awareness
, be they Arahants (completely awakened with awareness beings) or newly ordained
monks, live their lives according to this same basic principle of a minimal
amount of material possessions and an optimum of devotion to Dhamma practice.

    To live happily without an abundance of
material possession, monks rely on
sila, morality or
good conduct. Note that each of the four types of good conduct mentioned below
[Vism.16; Comp.212] calls upon another spiritual quality to perfect it:

Restraint of behavior (patimokkha
samvara sila
) means to live within the restraint of the Monastic Code of
Discipline (
Patimokkha); to refrain
from that which is forbidden, and to practice according to that which is
specified, to diligently follow in all the training rules. This kind of
sila is perfected through saddha, faith.

Restraint of the senses (indriya
samvara sila
) is accomplished by guarding over the mind so as not to let
unskillful conditions, such as like, dislike, attachment or aversion, overwhelm
it when experiencing any of the six kinds of sense impressions: sight, sound,
smell, taste, sensation in the body or thought in the mind. This kind of
sila is perfected through sati, mindfulness
or recollection.

Purity of livelihood (ajiva
parisuddhi sila
) demands that one conduct one’s livelihood honestly, avoiding
ways of livelihood that are wrong. For a monk, this includes not bragging about
superhuman attainments, such as meditation accomplishments or stages of
awakenment, or asking for special food when one is not sick; refraining from
extortion, such as putting on a display of austerity to impress people into
giving offerings; not fawning or sweet talking supporters; not hinting or
making signs to get householders to make offerings; not threatening them or
bullying them into making offerings; and not bartering with them, such as in
giving something little and expecting much in exchange. This kind of
sila, or purity, is perfected through viriya, effort.

Morality connected with requisites (paccaya sannisita sila) means using the four requisites with
circumspection, with an awareness of their true use and value, rather than
using them out of desire. At meal time, this means eating food for the sake of
good health, so that one is able to live comfortably enough to practice the
Dhamma conveniently, not eating to indulge in the sensual pleasure of eating.
This kind of
sila is perfected
through
pañña, wisdom.

Householders

While much of the Awaken One with Awareness’s teachings were
directed towards monks, there is no indication anywhere in the Scriptures that
the Awaken One with Awareness wanted householders to live like monks. Nor is
there any indication that the Awaken One with Awareness wanted everybody to
become monks and nuns. In establishing the order of monks and nuns, the Awaken
One with Awareness created an independent community as an example of
righteousness, and community that could nourish society with the Dhamma and provide
a refuge for those who wished to live a life dedicated to Dhamma study.

    Within this community there are both formal
members and true members. The formal members are those who are ordained into
the Concepts of
  Awaken One with
Awareness Order as monks and nuns and who live super-imposed, as it were, onto
normal “householder society.” The truly free members, however, are
those of Noble Order, both ordained and householders, who have experienced
transcendent insight and are scattered throughout the regular society of un
awakened beings.

    While the teachings in the Books of Discipline
can be applied to the lives of householders, they are more directly related to
monks. The monastic life is designed to be comfortable even when the four
requisites are in low supply. In this regard, monks and nuns serve as living
examples that life can be happy and fulfilling even when the four requisites
are not plentiful.

    Most lay people, however, see the four requisites
as basis on which to build more wealth and comfort. While householders may seem
to require more material goods than monks and nuns because of their demanding
responsibilities, such as raising children and running a business, the fact
remains that all of life’s basic needs can be met by the four requisites.

    Practical teachings on economic matters for
householders are contained in the Books of Discourses, or Suttas. The Suttas
recount the advice the Awaken One with Awareness gave to various people in
various stations throughout his life. In the Suttas, the Awaken One with
Awareness stresses four areas in which householders may relate skillfully to
wealth [D.III.188; A.V.176-182]:

    Acquisition — Wealth should not be acquired by
exploitation, but through effort and intelligent action; it should be acquired
in a morally sound way.

    Safekeeping — Wealth should be saved and
protected as an investment for the further development of livelihood and as an
insurance against future adversity. When accumulated wealth exceeds these two
needs, it may be used for creating social benefit by supporting community
works.

    Use — Wealth should be put to the following
uses: (1) to support oneself and one’s family; (2) to support the interests of
fellowship and social harmony, such as in receiving guests, or in activities of
one’s friends or relatives; (3) to support good works, such as community
welfare projects.

    Mental attitude — Wealth should not become an
obsession, a cause for worry and anxiety. It should rather be related to with
an understanding of its true benefits and limitations, and dealt with in a way
that leads to personal development.

    The Awaken One with Awareness praised only those
wealthy people who have obtained their wealth through their own honest labor
and used it wisely, to beneficial ends. That is, the Awaken One with Awareness
praised the quality of goodness and benefit more than wealth itself. The common
tendency to praise people simply because they are rich, based on the belief
that their riches are a result of accumulated merit from previous lives,
without due consideration of the factors from the present life, contradicts the
teachings of Concept of
  Awaken One with
Awareness on two counts: Firstly, it does not exemplify the Awaken One with
Awareness’s example of praising goodness above wealth; secondly it does not
make use of reasoned consideration of the entire range of factors involved.

    The present life is much more immediate and as
such must be afforded more importance. Previous
cause and
condition
determines the conditions of one’s birth, including physical
attributes, talents, intelligence and certain personality traits. While it is
said to be a determining factor for people who are born into wealthy families,
the Awaken One with Awareness did not consider birth into a wealthy family as
such to be worthy of praise, and Concept of
 
Awaken One with Awareness does not place much importance on birth
station. The Awaken One with Awareness might praise the good
cause and condition which enabled a person to attain such a favorable
birth, but since their birth into a wealthy station is the fruition of good
past
cause and condition, such people have
been duly rewarded and it is not necessary to praise them further.

    A favorable birth is said to be a good capital
foundation which affords some people better opportunities than others. As for
the unfolding of the present life, the results of previous
cause and condition stop at birth, and a new beginning is made. A
good “capital foundation” can easily degenerate. If it is used with care
and intelligence it will lead to benefit for all concerned, but if one is
deluded by one’s capital foundation, or favorable situation, one will use it in
a way that not only wastes one’s valuable opportunities, but leads to harm for
all concerned. The important question for Concepts of Awaken One with Awareness
is how people use their initial capital. The Awaken One with Awareness did not
praise or criticize wealth; he was concerned with actions.

    According to the Awaken One with Awareness’s
teachings, wealth should be used for the purpose of helping others; it should
support a life of good conduct and human development. According to this
principle, when wealth arises for one person, the whole of society benefits,
and although it belongs to one person, it is just as if it belonged to the
whole community. A wealthy person who uses wealth in this manner is likened to
a fertile field in which rice grows abundantly for the benefit of all. Such
people generate great benefit for those around them. Without them, the wealth
they create would not come to be, and neither would the benefit resulting from
it. Guided by generosity, these people feel moved to represent the whole of
society, and in return they gain the respect and trust of the community to use
their wealth for beneficial purposes. The Awaken One with Awareness taught that
a householder who shares his wealth with others is following the path of the
Noble Ones:

“If you have little, give little; if you own a middling amount,
give a middling amount; if you have much, give much. It is not fitting not to
give at all. Kosiya, I say to you, ‘Share your wealth, use it. Tread the path
of the noble ones. One who eats alone eats not happily.” [J.V.382]

    Some people adhere to the daily practice of not
eating until they have given something to others. This practice was adopted by
a reformed miser in the time of the Awaken One with Awareness, who said,
“As long as I have not first given to others each day, I will not even
drink water.” [J.V.393-411]

    When the wealth of a virtuous person grows, other
people stand to gain. But the wealth of a mean person grows at the expense of
misery for those around him. People who get richer and richer while society
degenerates and poverty spreads are using their wealth wrongly. Such wealth
does not fulfill its true function. It is only a matter of time before
something breaks down — either the rich, or the society, or both, must go. The
community may strip the wealthy of their privileges and redistribute the wealth
in the hands of new “stewards,” for better or for worse. If people
use wealth wrongly, it ceases to be a benefit and becomes a bane, destroying
human dignity, individual welfare and the community.

    Concepts of 
Awaken One with Awareness stress that our relationship with wealth be
guided by wisdom and a clear understanding of its true value and limitations.
We should not be burdened or enslaved by it. Rather, we should be masters of
our wealth and use it in ways that are beneficial to others. Wealth should be
used to create benefit in society, rather than contention and strife. It should
be spent in ways that relieve problems and lead to happiness rather than to
tension, suffering and mental disorder.

    Here is a passage from the Scriptures
illustrating the proper Buddhist attitude to wealth:

“Bhikkhus, there are these three groups of people in this
world. What are the three? They are the blind, the one-eyed, and the two-eyed.

“Who is the blind person? There are some in this world who do
not have the vision which leads to acquisition of wealth or to the increase of
wealth already gained. Moreover, they do not have the vision which enables them
to know what is skillful and what is unskillful … what is blameworthy and
what is not … what is coarse and what is refined … good and evil. This is
what I mean by one who is blind.

“And who is the one-eyed person? Some people in this world have
the vision which leads to the acquisition of wealth, or to the increase of
wealth already obtained, but they do not have the vision that enables them to
know what is skillful and what is not … what is blameworthy and what is not
… what is coarse and what is refined … good and evil. This I call a
one-eyed person.

“And who is the two-eyed person? Some people in this world
possess both the vision that enables them to acquire wealth and to capitalize
on it, and the vision that enables them to know what is skillful and what is
not … what is blameworthy and what is not … what is coarse and what is
refined … good and evil. This I call one with two eyes …

“One who is blind is hounded by misfortune on two counts: he
has no wealth, and he performs no good works. The second kind of the person,
the one-eyed, looks about for wealth irrespective of whether it is right or
wrong. It may be obtained through theft, cheating, or fraud. He enjoys
pleasures of the sense obtained from his ability to acquire wealth, but as a
result he goes to hell. The one eyed person suffers according to his deeds.

“The two eyed person is a fine human being, one who shares out
a portion of the wealth obtained through his diligent labor. He has noble
thoughts, a resolute mind, and attains to a good bourn, free of suffering.
Avoid the blind and the one-eyed, and associate with the two-eyed.”
[A.I.128]

The Inner Perspective

The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the Awaken One with Awareness’s more
esoteric teaching. While the Abhidhamma does not directly address economics, it
does have a strong indirect connection because it analyses the mind and its
constituents in minute detail. These mental factors are the root of all human
behavior, including, of course, economic activity. Negative mental constituents
such as greed, aversion, delusion (wrong belief) and pride motivate economic
activity as do the positive constituents such as non-greed, non-aversion and
non-delusion, faith, generosity, and goodwill. In this respect, the Abhidhamma
is a study of economics on its most fundamental level.

    In a similar connection, the more esoteric
practices of Concepts of Awaken One with Awareness, meditation in particular,
relate indirectly but fundamentally to economics. Through meditation and mental
training, we come to witness the stream of causes and conditions that begin as
mental conditions and lead to economic activity. With this insight, we can
investigate our mental process and make sound ethical judgments. Meditation
helps us to see how ethical and unethical behavior are the natural consequence
of the mental conditions which motivate them. Individual people, classes, races
and nationalities are neither intrinsically good nor evil. It is rather our
mental qualities that guide our behavior toward the ethical and the unethical.
Greed, hatred and delusion (wrong belief) drive us to unethical acts. Wisdom
and a desire for true well-being guide us to ethical behavior and a good life.

    With meditation, we gain perspective on our
motivations: we sharpen our awareness and strengthen free will. Thus, when it
comes to making economic decisions, decision about our livelihood and consumption,
we can better resist compulsions driven by fear, craving, and pride and choose
instead a moral course that aims at true well-being. In this way, we begin to
see how mental factors form the basis of all economic matters, and we realize
that the development of this kind of mental discernment leads the way to true
economic and human development.

    Perhaps more importantly, through meditation training it is possible
to realize a higher kind of happiness — inner peace, the independent kind of
happiness. When we have the ability to find peace within ourselves we can use
wealth, which is no longer necessary for our own happiness, freely for the
social good.

Lord Awaken One with
Awareness was asked, what you gained through Meditation? He replied

Nothing at All!

Let me tell you what I
lost through Meditation;

I lost Anger, Depression,
Insecurity, Burden of Old Age and

Fear of Death!

Seeking and Protecting Wealth

The following Sutta
offers teachings on livelihood for a householder with an emphasis on the benefits
that arise from right livelihood.

    At
one time, the brahmin Ujjaya went to visit the Awaken One with Awareness to ask
his advice on how to gain prosperity through right livelihood. The Awaken One
with Awareness answered by explaining the conditions that would lead to
happiness in the present and in the future:

“Brahmin, these
four conditions lead to happiness and benefit in the present. They are,
industriousness, watchfulness, good company and balanced livelihood.

“And what is the
endowment of industriousness (
utthanasampada)?
A son of good family supports himself through diligent effort. Be it through
farming, commerce, raising livestock, a military career, or the arts, he is
diligent, he applies himself, and he is skilled. He is not lazy in his work,
but clever, interested. He knows how to manage his work, he is able and
responsible: this is called endowment of industriousness.

“And what is the
endowment of watchfulness (
arakkhasampada)?
A son of good family has wealth, the fruit of his own sweat and labor, rightly
obtained by him. He applies himself to protecting that wealth, thinking, ‘How
can I prevent this wealth from being confiscated by the King, stolen by
thieves, burnt from fire, swept away from floods or appropriated by unfavored
relatives?’ This is called the endowment of watchfulness.

“And what is good
company (
kalyanamittata)?
Herein, a son of good family, residing in a town or village, befriends, has
discourse with, and seek advice from, those householders, sons of householders,
young people who are mature and older people who are venerable, who are
possessed of faith, morality, generosity, and wisdom. He studies and emulates
the faith of those with faith; he studies and emulates the morality of those
with morality; he studies and emulates the generosity of those who are
generous; he studies and emulates the wisdom of those who are wise. This is to
have good company.

“And what is
balanced livelihood (
samajivita)?
A son of good family supports himself in moderation, neither extravagantly nor
stintingly. He knows the causes of increase and decrease of wealth, he knows
which undertakings will yield an income higher than the expenditure rather than
the expenditure exceeding the income. Like a person weighing things on a scale,
he knows the balance either way … If this young man had only a small income
but lived extravagantly, it could be said of him that he consumed his wealth as
if it were peanuts. If he had a large income but used it stintingly, it could
be said of him that he will die like a pauper. But because he supports himself
in moderation, it is said that he has balanced livelihood.

“Brahmin, the
wealth rightly gained in this way has four pathways of decline. They are to be
given to debauchery, drink, gambling, and association with evil friends. It is
like a large reservoir with four channels going into it and four channels going
out opened up, and the rain does not fall in due season, that large reservoir
can be expected only to decrease, not to increase …

“Brahmin, wealth
so gained rightly has four pathways of prosperity. They are to refrain from
debauchery, drink and gambling, and to associate with good friends, to be drawn
to good people. It is like a large reservoir with four channels leading into it
and four channels leading out. If the channels leading into it are opened up,
and the channels leading out are closed off, and rain falls in due season, it
can be expected that for this reservoir there will be only increase, not
decrease … Brahmin, these four conditions are for the happiness and benefit
of a young man in the present moment.” [A.IV.241]

    The
Awaken One with Awareness then went on to describe four conditions which lead
to happiness and benefit in the future. In short, they are to possess the
spiritual qualities of faith, morality, generosity and wisdom.

The Happiness
of a Householder

The following teaching was given to the merchant Anathapindika.
It is known simply as the four kinds of happiness for a householder:

“Herein, householder, these four kinds of happiness are
appropriate for one who leads the household life and enjoys the pleasures of
the senses. They are the happiness of ownership, the happiness of enjoyment,
the happiness of freedom from debt, and the happiness of blamelessness.

“What is the happiness of ownership (atthisukha)? A son of good family possesses wealth that has been obtained
by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and
the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained. He experiences
pleasure, he experiences happiness, thinking, ‘I possess this wealth that has
been obtained by my own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of my own
arms and the sweat of my own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained.’ This is
the happiness of ownership.

“And what is the happiness of enjoyment (bhogasukha)? Herein, a son of good family consumes, puts to use, and
derives benefit from the wealth that has been obtained by his own diligent
labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and the sweat of his own
brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained. He experiences pleasure, he experiences
happiness, thinking, ‘Through this wealth that has been obtained by my own
diligent labor, acquired through the strength of my own arms and the sweat of
my own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, I have derived benefit and
performed good works.’ This is called the happiness of enjoyment.

“And what is the happiness of freedom from debt (ananasukha)? Herein, a son of good family owes no debt, be it great or
small, to anyone at all. He experiences pleasure and happiness, reflecting. ‘I
owe no debts, be they great or small, to anyone at all.’ This is called the
happiness of freedom from debt.

“And what is the happiness of blamelessness (anavajjasukha)? Herein, a noble disciple is possessed of blameless bodily
actions, blameless speech, and blameless thoughts. He experiences pleasure and
happiness, thinking, ‘I am possessed of blameless bodily actions, blameless
speech, and blameless thoughts.’ This is called the happiness of blamelessness.

“When he realizes
the happiness of being free from debt, he is in a position to appreciate the
happiness of owning possessions. As he uses his possessions, he experiences the
happiness of enjoyment. Clearly seeing this, the wise man, comparing the first
three kinds of happiness with the last, sees that they are not worth a
sixteenth part of the happiness that arises from blameless behavior.”

The Benefits
of Wealth

In this passage, the Awaken One with Awareness explains to the
merchant Anathapindika some of the benefits that can arise from wealth. Since
the teachings are specific to an earlier time, the reader is advised to glean
the gist of them and apply it to the modern day:

“Herein, householder, there are five uses to which wealth
can be put. They are:

“With the wealth that has been obtained by his own diligent
labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and the sweat of his own
brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the noble disciple supports himself
comfortably, sufficiently, he applies himself to seeing to his own happiness in
rightful ways. He supports his father and mother … wife and children,
servants and workers comfortably, to a sufficiency, applying himself to their
needs and their happiness as is proper. This is the first benefit to obtained
from wealth.

“Moreover, with the wealth that has been obtained by his
own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and the sweat
of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the noble disciple supports
his friends and associates comfortably, to a sufficiency, taking an interest in
their happiness as is proper. This is the second benefit to be derived from
wealth.

“Moreover, with the wealth that has been obtained by his
own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and the sweat
of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the noble disciple protects
his wealth from the dangers of confiscation by kings, theft, fire, flood, and
appropriation by unfavored relatives. He sees to his own security. This is the
third benefit to be derived from wealth.

“Moreover, with the wealth that has been obtained by his
own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and the sweat
of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the noble disciple makes the
five kinds of sacrifice. They are: to relatives (supporting relatives); to
visitors (receiving guests); to ancestors (offerings made in the name of
ancestors); to the king (for taxes and public works); and to the gods (that is,
he supports religion). This is another benefit to be derived from wealth.

“Moreover, with the wealth that has been obtained by his
own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and the sweat
of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the noble disciple makes
offerings which are of the highest merit, which are conducive to mental
well-being, happiness and heaven, to religious mendicants, those who live
devoted to heedfulness, are established in patience and gentleness, are trained,
calmed, and cooled of defilements. This is the fifth benefit to be obtained
from wealth.

“Householder,
there are these five benefits to be obtained from wealth. If wealth is used by
a noble disciple in such a way that these five benefits are fulfilled, and if
it should then become spent, that noble disciple can reflect thus: ‘Whatever
benefit is to be obtained from wealth, I have obtained. Now my wealth is
spent.’ That noble disciple experiences no distress on that account. And if,
after that noble disciple has used his wealth to provide these five benefits,
that wealth should increase, that noble disciple reflects thus: ‘Whatever
benefit is to be obtained from my wealth I have already obtained. And now my
wealth has increased.’ That noble disciple is also not distressed on that
account; he is distressed in neither case.”

The Inner Perspective

The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the Awaken
One with Awareness’s more esoteric teaching. While the Abhidhamma does not
directly address economics, it does have a strong indirect connection because
it analyses the mind and its constituents in minute detail. These mental
factors are the root of all human behavior, including, of course, economic
activity. Negative mental constituents such as greed, aversion, delusion (wrong
belief) and pride motivate economic activity as do the positive constituents
such as non-greed, non-aversion and non-delusion(wrong belief), faith,
generosity, and goodwill. In this respect, the Abhidhamma is a study of
economics on its most fundamental level.

    In a similar connection,
the more esoteric practices of Concepts of Awaken One with Awareness,
meditation in particular, relate indirectly but fundamentally to economics.
Through meditation and mental training, we come to witness the stream of causes
and conditions that begin as mental conditions and lead to economic activity.
With this insight, we can investigate our mental process and make sound ethical
judgments. Meditation helps us to see how ethical and unethical behavior are the
natural consequence of the mental conditions which motivate them. Individual
people, classes, races and nationalities are neither intrinsically good nor
evil. It is rather our mental qualities that guide our behavior toward the
ethical and the unethical. Greed, hatred and delusion (wrong belief) drive us
to unethical acts. Wisdom and a desire for true well-being guide us to ethical
behavior and a good life.

    With meditation, we gain
perspective on our motivations: we sharpen our awareness and strengthen free
will. Thus, when it comes to making economic decisions, decision about our
livelihood and consumption, we can better resist compulsions driven by fear,
craving, and pride and choose instead a moral course that aims at true
well-being. In this way, we begin to see how mental factors form the basis of
all economic matters, and we realize that the development of this kind of
mental discernment leads the way to true economic and human development.

    Perhaps
more importantly, through meditation training it is possible to realize a
higher kind of happiness — inner peace, the independent kind of happiness.
When we have the ability to find peace within ourselves we can use wealth,
which is no longer necessary for our own happiness, freely for the social good.

Wealth and Spiritual
Development

The Awaken One with Awareness taught that basic material needs
must be met before spiritual development can begin. The following story
[Dh.A.III.262] illustrates how hunger is both a cause of physical suffering and
an obstacle to spiritual progress:

    One morning while the Awaken One with
Awareness was residing in the Jetavana monastery near the city of Savatthi, he
sensed with his psychic powers that the spiritual faculties of a certain poor
peasant living near the city of Alavi were mature enough for him to understand
the teaching, and that he was ripe for awakenment with awareness. So, later
that morning, the Awaken One with Awareness set off walking to Alavi, some 30
yojanas (about 48 km) away.

    The inhabitants of Alavi held the Awaken One
with Awareness in great respect, and on his arrival warmly welcomed him.
Eventually a place was prepared for everyone to gather together and listen to a
discourse. However, as the Awaken One with Awareness’s particular purpose in
going to Alavi was to awaken with awareness this one poor peasant, he waited
for him to arrive before starting to talk.

    The peasant heard the news of the Awaken One
with Awareness’s visit and, since he had been interested in the Awaken One with
Awareness’s teaching for some time, he decided to go to listen to the
discourse. But it so happened that one of his cows had just disappeared and he
wondered whether he should go and listen to the Awaken One with Awareness first
and look for his cow afterwards, or to look for the cow first. He decided that
he should look for the cow first and quickly set off into the forest to search
for it. Eventually the peasant found his cow and drove it back to the herd, but
by the time everything was as it should be, he was very tired. The peasant
thought to himself, “Time is getting on, if I go back home first it will
take up even more time. I’ll just go straight into the city to listen to the
Awaken One with Awareness’s discourse.” Having made up his mind, the poor
peasant started walking into Alavi. By the time he arrived at the place set up
for the talk, he was exhausted and very hungry.

    When the Awaken One with Awareness saw the
peasant’s condition, he asked the city elders to arrange some food for the poor
man, and only when the peasant had eaten his fill and was refreshed did the
Awaken One with Awareness start to teach. While listening to the discourse the
peasant realized the fruit of ‘Stream Entry,’ the first stage of awakenenment
with awareness. The Awaken One with Awareness had fulfilled his purpose in
traveling to Alavi.

    After the talk was over, the Awaken One with
Awareness bade farewell to the people of Alavi and set off back to the Jetavana
monastery. During the walk back, the monks who were accompanying him started to
discuss the day’s events: “What was that all about? The Lord didn’t quite
seem himself today. I wonder why he got them to arrange food for the peasant
like that, before he would agree to give his discourse.”

    The Awaken One with Awareness, knowing the
subject of the monks’ discussion, turned back towards them and started to
explain his reason, saying, “When people are overwhelmed and in pain
through suffering, they are incapable of understanding religious
teaching.” The Awaken One with Awareness went on to state that hunger is
the most severe of all illnesses and that conditioned phenomena provide the
basis for the most ingrained suffering. Only when one understands these truths
will one realize the supreme happiness of Nibbana.

    Concepts of Awaken One with Awareness
considers economics to be of great significance — this is demonstrated by the
Awaken One with Awareness having the peasant eat something before teaching him.
Economists might differ as to whether the Awaken One with Awareness’s
investment of a 45 kilometer walk was worth the awakenment with awareness of
one single person, but the point is that not only is Right Livelihood one of
the factors of the Eightfold Path, but that hungry people cannot appreciate the
Dhamma. Although consumption and economic wealth are important, they are not
goals in themselves, but are merely the foundations for human development and
the enhancement of the quality of life. They allow us to realize the profound:
after eating, the peasant listened to Dhamma and became awakened with
awareness. Concepts of Awaken One with Awareness’s economics ensures that the
creation of wealth leads to a life in which people can develop their potentials
and increase in goodness. Quality of life, rather than wealth for its own sake,
is the goal.

Sarvajan
Economics A Middle Way for the market place

Contents

Translator’s Foreword (first edition)

Author’s Preface

Sources

Introduction

Chapter One
   
The Problem of Specialization
   
The Two Meanings of Dhamma
   
How Ethics Condition Economics

Chapter Two
   
The Buddhist View of Human Nature
   
From Conflict to Harmony
   
Ethics and the Two Kinds of Desire
   
Ethical Considerations in Economic Activity

Chapter Three
   
Buddhist Perspectives on Economic
Concepts

   
Value
   
Consumption
   
Moderation
   
Non-consumption
   
Contentment
   
Work
   
Production and Non-production
   
Competition and Cooperation
   
Choice
   
Life Views

Chapter Four
   
The Role of Wealth in Buddhism
   
Right Livelihood
   
Miserliness
   
Knowing Wealth’s Limitations
   
Mental Attitude to Wealth
   
The Major Characteristics of Buddhist
Economics

Chapter Five
   
Teachings on Economics from the Buddhist
Scriptures

   
The Monastic Order
   
Householders
   
Government
   
The Inner Perspective
   
Seeking and Protecting Wealth
   
The Happiness of a Householder
   
The Benefits of Wealth
   
Wealth and Spiritual Development

Appendix

Translator’s Foreword (first edition)

These days concept of Awaken One with
Awareness meditation techniques are well-known in the West and concept of
Awaken One with Awareness insights into the human condition are, at least in
academic circles, exerting a growing influence. Unfortunately the popular image
of concept of Awaken One with Awareness is often an overly-austere one and many
people still consider it to teach a denial or escape from worldly concerns into
a private, hermetic realm of bliss. However, if we take the trouble to go to
the words of the Awaken One with Awareness himself, we find a full and rich
teaching encompassing every aspect of human life, with a great deal of
practical advice on how to live with integrity, wisdom and peace in the midst
of a confusing world. Perhaps it is time for such teaching to be more widely
disseminated.

    In
this small volume,
ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA offers a concept of
Awaken One with Awareness perspective on the subject of economics. While not
seeking to present a comprehensive Sarvajan economic theory, he provides many
tools for reflection, ways of looking at economic questions based on a considered
appreciation of the way things are, the way we are. I hope that making this
work available in English may go at least a short way towards resolving what
has been called the current ‘impasse of economics,’ and to awaken readers to
the wide-reaching contemporary relevance of the timeless truths that the Buddha
discovered and shared with us.

Author’s
Preface

It is well known that the study of economics has
up till now avoided questions of moral values and considerations of ethics,
which are abstract qualities. However, it is becoming obvious that in order to
solve the problems that confront us in the world today it will be necessary to
take into consideration both concrete and abstract factors, and as such it is
impossible to avoid the subject of moral values. If the study of economics is
to play any part in the solution of our problems, it can no longer evade the
subject of ethics. Nowadays environmental factors are taken into account both
in economic transactions and in solving economic problems, and the need for
ethics in addressing the problem of conservation and the environment is
becoming more and more apparent.

    In fact, economics is one
“science” which most clearly integrates the concrete and the
abstract. It is the realm in which abstract human values interact most palpably
with the material world. If economists were to stop evading the issue of moral
values, they would be in a better position to influence the world in a
fundamental way and to provide solutions to the problems of humanity and the
world at large. Ideally, economics should play a part in providing mankind with
opportunities for real individual and social growth rather than simply being a
tool for catering to selfish needs and feeding contention in society, and, on a
broader scale, creating imbalance and insecurity within the whole global
structure with its innumerable ecosystems.

    I would like to express
my appreciation to Dhammavijaya, who translated the first Thai edition of
Buddhist Economics, which was published by the Buddhadhamma Foundation in
August, 1988, into English. His translation was published in May, 1992, and
that edition has served as the basis for the second edition. I would like to
also express my thanks to Bruce Evans and Jourdan Arenson, who were inspired enough
to compile and translate further sources of teachings on Buddhist economics
from among my talks and writings published in both Thai and English, and thus
produce a more comprehensive treatment of the subject. I would also like to
express my appreciation to Khun Yongyuth Thanapura and the Buddhadhamma
Foundation who, as with the First Edition, have seen the printing through to
completion.

 

Sources

This book has been compiled from material in
the following works by the author:

    1. Buddhist Economics, the original
booklet of a talk given by the author at Thammasat University on March 9, 1989;
translated by Dhammavijaya.

    2. “A way out of the
Economic Bind on Thai Society” (Tahng
ork jahk rabop setthagit tee krorp ngum sungkhom thai
), published
in Thai by the Buddhadhamma Foundation, translated by Bruce Evans.

    3. Parts of the chapter
called ‘The Problem of Motivation,’ translated by Bruce Evans from the book Buddhadhamma.

    4. The section on Right
Livelihood, which makes up part of the chapter on morality (sila) from Buddhadhamma, translated by Bruce Evans.

    5. Part of the chapter
entitled “Foundations of Buddhist Social Ethics,” written in English
by the author, which appeared in Ethics,
Wealth and Salvation
, edited by Russell F. Sizemore and Donald K.
Swearer, published by University of South Carolina Press, 1990, Colombia, S.
Carolina.

Introduction

The Spiritual
Approach to Economics

Our libraries are full of books offering
well-reasoned, logical formulas for the ideal society. Two thousand years ago,
Plato, in The Republic, wrote one of the first essays on politics and started a
search for an ideal society which has continued to the present day. Plato built
his ideal society on the assumption that early societies grew from a rational
decision to secure well-being, but if we look at the course of history, can we
say that rational thinking has truly been the guiding force in the evolution of
civilization? The reader is invited to imagine the beginnings of human society:
groups of stone age humans are huddled together in their caves, each looking
with suspicion on the group in the next cave down. They are cold and hungry.
Danger and darkness surround them. Suddenly one of them hits on a brilliant
idea: “I know, let’s create a society where we can trade and build
hospitals and live in mutual well-being!”

    Such a scenario is not likely. Early humans, and the
first societies, were probably bound together more by their deep emotional
needs for warmth and security than any rational planning. And over the
millennia, our societies have evolved to a large extent at the directives of
these emotional needs. To be sure, rational thinking has played some part in
the process, but if we take an honest look at our so-called advanced society,
we must admit that our needs for security today are not so different from the
cave man’s. While our societies are certainly more complex, the propelling
force is still emotion, not reason.

    If we are to honestly discuss economics, we must admit
that emotional factors — fear and desire and the irrationality they generate
– have a very powerful influence on the market place. Economic decisions –
decisions about production, consumption and distribution — are made by people
in their struggle to survive and prosper. For the most part, these decisions
are motivated by an emotional urge for self-preservation.

    There is nothing inherently bad about fear and irrationality;
they are natural conditions that come with being human. Unfortunately, however,
fear and desire drive us to our worst economic excesses. The forces of greed,
exploitation and over consumption seem to have overwhelmed our economies in
recent decades. Our materialistic societies offer us little choice but to
exploit and compete for survival in today’s dog-eat-dog world. But at the same
time, it is obvious that these forces are damaging our societies and ravaging
our environment.

    In the face of such
problems, the science of economics adopts a rational approach. The job of
economists is to devise well-reasoned models to help society rise above fear,
greed and hatred. Rarely, however, do economists examine the basic question of
fear and the emotional needs for security that drive human beings. As a result,
their theoretical models remain rational solutions to largely irrational
problems, and their economic ideals can only truly exist in books.

    Perhaps a little idealism
is not so harmful; but there is a danger to the purely rational approach. At
its worst, it is used to rationalize our basest, most fear-ridden responses to
the question of survival. We see this tendency in the corporate strategists,
policy advisors and defense analysts who logically and convincingly argue that
arms production is in our best interests. When rationalism turns a blind eye to
the irrational, unseen irrational impulses are all the more likely to cloud our
rationality.

    The book you are reading
takes a different approach — a spiritual approach. As such, it does not delve
into the technical intricacies of economics. Instead it examines the
fundamental fears, desires and emotions that motivate our economic activities.
Of all the spiritual traditions, Buddhism is best suited to this task. As we
shall see, the Buddhist teachings offer profound insights into the psychology
of desire and the motivating forces of economic activity. These insights can
lead to a liberating self-awareness that slowly dissolves the confusion between
what is truly harmful and what is truly beneficial in production and
consumption. This awareness is, in turn, the foundation for a mature ethics.

    Truly rational decisions
must be based on insight into the forces that make us irrational. When we understand
the nature of desire, we see that it cannot be satisfied by all the riches in
the world. When we understand the universality of fear, we find a natural
compassion for all beings. Thus, the spiritual approach to economics leads not
to models and theories, but to the vital forces that can truly benefit our
world — wisdom, compassion and restraint.

    In other words, the
spiritual approach must be lived. This is not to say that one must embrace
Buddhism and renounce the science of economics, because, in the larger scheme
of things, the two are mutually supportive. In fact, one needn’t be a Buddhist
or an economist to practice Buddhist economics. One need only acknowledge the
common thread that runs through life and seek to live in balance with the way
things really are.

 

Chapter One

The Problem of Specialization

In a discussion of Sarvajan economics, the
first question that arises is whether such a thing actually exists, or whether
it is even possible. The image of a Awaken One with Awareness monk quietly
walking on alms round does not readily come to mind as an economic activity for
most people. Skyscrapers, shopping centers and the stock market would more
accurately fit the bill. At present the economics that we are acquainted with
is a Western one. When talking of economics or matters pertaining to it, we use
a Western vocabulary and we think within the conceptual framework of Western
economic theory. It is difficult to avoid these constraints when talking about
a Buddhist economics. We might find ourselves in fact discussing Concept of
Awaken One with Awareness with the language and concepts of Western economics.
Even so, in the course of this book, I hope to at least provide some Concept of
Awaken One with Awareness perspectives on things that can be usefully employed
in economics.

    While economic thinking has
been in existence since the time of Plato and Aristotle, the study of economics
has only really crystallized into a science in the industrial era. Like other
sciences in this age of specialization, economics has become a narrow and
rarefied discipline; an isolated, almost stunted, body of knowledge, having
little to do with other disciplines or human activities.

    Ideally, the sciences
should provide solutions to the complex, interrelated problems that face
humanity, but cut off as it is from other disciplines and the larger sphere of
human activity, economics can do little to ease the ethical, social and
environmental problems that face us today. And given the tremendous influence
it exerts on our market-driven societies, narrow economic thinking may, in
fact, be the primary cause of some of our most pressing social and
environmental troubles.

    Like other sciences,
economics strives for objectivity. In the process, however, subjective values,
such as ethics, are excluded. With no consideration of subjective, moral
values, an economist may say, for instance, that a bottle of whiskey and a
Chinese dinner have the same economic value, or that drinking in a night club
contributes more to the economy than listening to a religious talk or
volunteering for humanitarian work. These are truths according to economics.

    But the objectivity of
economics is shortsighted. Economists look at just one short phase of the
natural causal process and single out the part that interests them, ignoring
the wider ramifications. Thus, modern economists take no account of the ethical
consequences of economic activity. Neither the vices associated with the
frequenting of night clubs, nor the wisdom arising from listening to a
religious teaching, are its concern.

    But is it in fact
desirable to look on economics as a science? Although many believe that science
can save us from the perils of life, it has many limitations. Science shows
only one side of the truth, that which concerns the material world. By only
considering the material side of things, the science of economics is out of
step with the overall truth of the way things are. Given that all things in
this world are naturally interrelated and interconnected, it follows that human
problems must also be interrelated and interconnected. One-sided scientific
solutions are bound to fail, and the problems bound to spread.

    Environmental degradation
is the most obvious and dangerous consequence to our industrialized,
specialized approach to solving problems. Environmental problems have become so
pressing that people are now beginning to see how foolish it is to place their
faith in individual, isolated disciplines that ignore the larger perspective.
They are starting to look at human activities on a broader scale, to see the
repercussions their actions have on personal lives, society, and the
environment.

    From a Concept of Awaken One
with Awareness perspective, economics cannot be separated from other branches
of knowledge. Economics is rather one component of a concerted effort to remedy
the problems of humanity; and an economics based on Buddhism, a “Sarvajan
economics,” is therefore not so much a self-contained science, but one of
a number of interdependent disciplines working in concert toward the common
goal of social, individual and environmental well-being.

     One
of the first to integrate the Awaken One with Awareness’s teachings with
economics (and indeed to coin the phrase “Sarvajan economics”) was
ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA In his
essay on  Sarvajan economics, He looks to the Concept of Awaken One with
Awareness teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path to make his case. He affirms
that the inclusion of the factor of Right Livelihood in the Eightfold Path, in
other words the Buddhist way of life, indicates the necessity of a Sarvajan
economics. This is his starting point.

    Looking back, we can see
that the subsequent interest in Sarvajan economics shown by some Western
academics, took place in response to a crisis. Western academic disciplines and
conceptual structures have reached a point which many feel to be a dead end, or
if not, at least a turning point demanding new paradigms of thought and
methodology. This has led many economists to rethink their isolated,
specialized approach. The serious environmental repercussions of rampant
consumerism have compelled economists to develop more ecological awareness.
Some even propose that all new students of economics incorporate basic ecology
into their curriculum.

   His point that the
existence of Right Livelihood as one of the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path
necessitates a Sarvajan economics has a number of implications. Firstly, it
indicates the importance given to Right Livelihood (or economics) in Concept of
Awaken One with Awareness. Secondly, and conversely, it means that economics is
taken to be merely one amongst a number of factors (traditionally eight) that
comprise a right way of life, that is, one capable of solving the problems of
life.

    Specialization can be a
great benefit as long as we don’t lose sight of our common goal: as a
specialized study, economics allows us to analyze with minute detail the causes
and factors within economic activities. But it is a mistake to believe that any
one discipline or field of learning can in itself solve all problems. In
concert with other disciplines, however, economics can constitute a complete
response to human suffering, and it is only by fully understanding the
contributions and limitations of each discipline that we will be able to
produce such a coordinated effort.

    Unfortunately, as it
stands, economics is grossly out of touch with the whole stream of causes and
conditions that constitute reality. Economics, and indeed all the social
sciences, are, after all, based on man-made or artificial truths. For example,
according to natural laws, the action of digging the earth results in a hole.
This is a fixed cause and effect relationship based on natural laws. However,
the digging which results in a wage is a conventional truth based on a social
agreement. Without the social agreement, the action of digging does not result
in a wage. While economists scrutinize one isolated segment of the cause and
effect process, the universe manifests itself in an inconceivably vast array of
causes and conditions, actions and reactions. Focused as they are on the linear
progression of the economic events that concern them, economists forget that
nature unfolds in all directions. In nature, actions and results are not
confined to isolated spheres. One action gives rise to results, which in turn
becomes a cause for further results. Each result conditions further results. In
this way, action and reaction are intertwined to form the vibrant fabric of
causes and conditions that we perceive as reality. To understand reality, it is
necessary to understand this process.

The Two Meanings of Dhamma

For many people, the term “Sarvajan
economics” may evoke the image of an ideal society where all 
economic activity — buying and selling, production and consumption — adheres
to strict ethical standards. But such an idealized image, attractive as it may
sound, does not convey the full depth of the Awaken One with Awareness’s
teachings. The Awaken One with Awareness’s
 
teachings point to Dhamma,
or truth. In Concept of Awaken One with Awareness the term Dhamma is used to
convey different levels of truth, both relative truths and ultimate truth.

    Those truths regarding ethical behavior — both on a
personal day-to-day basis and in society — are called cariyadhamma. These are the truths
related to matters of good and evil. Dhamma in its larger sense is saccadhamma, truth, or sabhavadhamma, reality: it includes all
things as they are and the laws by which they function. In this sense, Dhamma
is used to describe the entire stream of causes and conditions, the process by
which all things exist and function.

    Unlike the narrower scope
of
cariyadhamma, which refers
to isolated ethical considerations,
sabhavadhamma
points to nature or reality itself, which is beyond concerns of good and evil.
In this all-encompassing sense, Dhamma expresses the totality of natural
conditions, that which the various branches of science seek to describe.

    Thus, the Awaken One with
Awareness’s teachings give us more than just ethical guidelines for a virtuous
life. His teachings offer a grand insight into the nature of reality. Given the
twofold meaning of the term Dhamma, it follows that an economics inspired by
the Dhamma would be both attuned to the grand sphere of causes and conditions
and, at the same time, guided by the specific ethical teachings based on
natural reality. In other words, Buddhist economists would not only consider
the ethical values of economic activity, but also strive to understand reality
and direct economic activity to be in harmony with “the way things
are.”

    Ultimately, economics cannot be separated from Dhamma,
because all the activities we associate with economics emerge from the Dhamma.
Economics is just one part of a vast interconnected whole, subject to the same
natural laws by which all things function. Dhamma describes the workings of
this whole, the basic truth of all things, including economics. If economics is
ignorant of the Dhamma — of the complex and dynamic process of
causes-and-effects that constitutes reality — then it will be hard pressed to
solve problems, much less produce the benefits to which it aims.

    Yet this is precisely the
trouble with modern economic thinking. Lacking any holistic, comprehensive
insight and limited by the narrowness of their specialized view, economists
single out one isolated portion of the stream of conditions and fail to
consider results beyond that point. An example: there exists a demand for a
commodity, such as whiskey. The demand is supplied by production — growing
grain and distilling it into liquor. The whiskey is then put on the market and
then purchased and consumed. When it is consumed, demand is satisfied. Modern
economic thinking stops here, at the satisfaction of the demand. There is no
investigation of what happens after the demand is satisfied.

    By contrast, an economics
inspired by Dhamma would be concerned with how economic activities influence
the entire process of causes and conditions. While modern economics confines
its regard to events within its specialized sphere, Concept of Awaken One with
Awareness economics would investigate how a given economic activity affects the
three interconnected spheres of human existence: the individual, society, and
nature or the environment. In the case of the demand for a commodity such as
whiskey, we would have to ask ourselves how liquor production affects the
ecology and how its consumption affects the individual and society.

    These are largely ethical considerations and this brings us
back to the more specialized meaning of Dhamma, that relating to matters of
good and evil. It is said in the Concept of Awaken One with Awareness
scriptures that good actions lead to good results and bad actions lead to bad
results. All of the Awaken One with Awareness’s teachings on ethical behavior
are based on this principle. It is important to note here that, unlike the
theistic religions, Concept of Awaken One with Awareness does not propose an
agent or arbitrating force that rewards or punishes good and evil actions.
Rather, good and evil actions are seen as causes and conditions that unfold
according to the natural flow of events. In this regard, Dhamma (in the sense
of ethical teachings) and Dhamma (in the sense of natural reality) are
connected in that the Buddhist ethical teachings are based on natural reality.
Ethical laws follow the natural law of cause and effect: virtuous actions
naturally lead to benefit and evil actions naturally lead to harm, because all
of these are factors in the stream of causes and conditions.

    Given its dynamic view of
the world, Concept of Awaken One with Awareness does not put forth absolute
rules for ethical behavior. The ethical value of behavior is judged partly by
the results it brings and partly by the qualities which lead to it. Virtuous
actions are good because they lead to benefit; evil actions are evil because
they lead to harm. There is a belief that any method used to attain a worthy
end is justified by the worthiness of that end. This idea is summed up in the
expression “the end justifies the means.” Communist revolutionaries,
for instance, believed that since the objective is to create an ideal society
in which all people are treated fairly, then destroying anybody and anything
which stands in the way of that ideal society is justified. The end (the ideal
society) justifies the means (hatred and bloodshed).

    The idea that “the
end justifies the means” is a good example of a human belief which simply
does not accord with natural truth. This concept is a human invention, an
expedient rationalization which contradicts natural law and “the way
things are.” Beliefs are not evil in themselves, but when they are in
contradiction with reality, they are bound to cause problems. Throughout the
ages, people with extreme political and religious ideologies have committed the
most brutal acts under the slogan “the end justifies the means.” No
matter how noble their cause, they ended up destroying that which they were
trying to create, which is some kind of happiness or social order.

    To learn from history, we
must analyze all the causes and conditions that contributed to the unfolding of
past events. This includes the qualities of mind of the participants. A
thorough analysis of the history of a violent revolution, for example, must
consider not only the economic and social climate of the society, but also the
emotional and intellectual makeup of the revolutionaries themselves and
question the rational validity of the intellectual ideals and methods used,
because all of these factors have a bearing on the outcome.

    With this kind of analysis, it becomes obvious that, by
the natural laws of cause and effect, it is impossible to create an ideal
society out of anything less than ideal means — and certainly not bloodshed
and hatred. Concept of Awaken One with Awareness would say that it is not the
end which justifies the means, but rather the means which condition the end. Thus, the result of
slaughter and hatred is further violence and instability. This can be witnessed
in police states and governments produced by violent revolution — there is
always an aftermath of tension, the results of Cause and Effect which often proves to be intolerable and
social collapse soon follows. Thus the means (bloodshed and aggression)
condition the end (tension and instability).

    Yet while ethics are
subject to these natural laws, when we have to make personal ethical choices
right and wrong are not always so obvious. Indeed, the question of ethics is
always a highly subjective matter. Throughout our lives, we continually face –
and must answer for ourselves — questions of right and wrong. Our every
choice, our every intention, holds some ethical judgment.

    The Concept of Awaken One
with Awareness teachings on matters relating to good and evil serve as guides
to help us with these subjective moral choices. But while they are subjective,
we should not forget that our ethical choices inevitably play themselves out in
the world according to the objective principle of causes and conditions. Our
ethics — and the behavior that naturally flows from our ethics — contribute
to the causes and conditions that determine who we are, the kind of society we
live in and the condition of our environment.

    One of the most profound
lessons of the Awaken One with Awareness’s teachings is the truth that
internal, subjective values are directly linked to the dynamic of external
objective reality. This subtle realization is at the heart of all ethical
questions. Unfortunately, most people are only vaguely aware of how their
internal values condition external reality. It is easy to observe the laws of
cause and effect in the physical world: ripe apples fall from trees and water
runs down hill. But because people tend to think of themselves as individuals
separate from the universe, they fail to see how the same laws apply to
internal subjective values, such as thoughts and moral attitudes. Since ethics
are “subjective,” people think they are somehow unconnected to
“objective” reality.

    According to the Concept
of Awaken One with Awareness view, however, ethics forms a bridge between
internal and external realities. In accordance with the law of causes and
conditions, ethics act as “subjective” causes for
“objective” conditions. This should be obvious when we consider that,
in essence, ethical questions always ask, “Do my thoughts, words and deeds
help or harm myself and those around me?” In practice, we rely on ethics
to regulate the unwholesome desires of our subjective reality: anger, greed,
hatred. The quality of our thoughts, though internal, constantly conditions the
way we speak and act. Though subjective, our ethics determine the kind of
impact our life makes on the external, objective world.

How Ethics Condition Economics

To be sure, the distinction between
economics and ethics is easily discernible. We can look at any economic
situation either from an entirely economic perspective, or from an entirely
ethical one. For example, you are reading this book. From an ethical
perspective, your reading is a good action, you are motivated by a desire for knowledge.
This is an ethical judgment. From the economic perspective, on the other hand,
this book may seem to be a waste of resources with no clear benefit. The same
situation can be seen in different way
s.

    However, the two
perspectives are interconnected and do influence each other. While modern
economic thinking rejects any subjective values like ethics, the influence of
ethics in economic matters is all too obvious. If a community is unsafe — if
there are thieves, the threat of violence, and the roads are unsafe to travel
– then it is obvious that businesses will not invest there, tourists will not
want to go there, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the
citizens are law-abiding, well-disciplined and conscientiously help to keep their
community safe and clean, businesses will have a much better chance of success
and the municipal authorities will not have to spend so much on civic
maintenance and security.

    Unethical business
practices have direct economic consequences. If businesses attempt to fatten
their profits by using substandard ingredients in foodstuffs, such as by using
cloth-dye as a coloring in children’s sweets, substituting chemicals for orange
juice, or putting boric acid in meatballs (all of which have occurred in
Thailand in recent years), consumers’ health is endangered. The people made ill
by these practices have to pay medical costs and the government has to spend
money on police investigations and prosecution of the offenders. Furthermore,
the people whose health has suffered work less efficiently, causing a decline
in productivity. In international trade, those who pass off shoddy goods as
quality merchandise risk losing the trust of their customers and foreign
markets — as well as the foreign currency obtained through those markets.

    Ethical qualities also
influence industrial output. If workers enjoy their work and are industrious,
productivity will be high. On the other hand, if they are dishonest,
disgruntled or lazy, this will have a negative effect on the quality of
production and the amount of productivity
.

    When it comes to
consumption, consumers in a society with vain and fickle values will prefer
flashy and ostentatious products to high quality products which are not so
flashy. In a more practically-minded society, where the social values do not
tend toward showiness and extravagance, consumers will choose goods on the
basis of their reliability. Obviously, the goods consumed in these two
different societies will lead to different social and economic results.

    Advertising stimulates economic activity, but often at an
ethically unacceptable price. Advertising is bound up with popular values:
advertisers must draw on common aspirations, prejudices and desires in order to
produce advertisements that are appealing. Employing social psychology,
advertising manipulates popular values for economic ends, and because of its
repercussions on the popular mind, it has considerable ethical significance.
The volume of advertising may cause an increase in materialism, and unskillful
images or messages may harm public morality. The vast majority of ads imbue the
public with a predilection for selfish indulgence; they condition us into being
perfect consumers who have no higher purpose in life than to consume the
products of modern industry. In the process, we are transformed into ‘hungry
ghosts,’ striving to feed an everlasting craving, and society becomes a
seething mass of conflicting interests.

    Moreover, advertising
adds to the price of the product itself. Thus people tend to buy unnecessary
things at prices that are unnecessarily expensive. There is much wastage and
extravagance. Things are used for a short while and then replaced, even though
they are still in good condition. Advertising also caters to peoples’ tendency
to flaunt their possessions as a way of gaining social status. When snob-appeal
is the main criterion, people buy unnecessarily expensive products without
considering the quality. In extreme cases, people are so driven by the need to appear
stylish that they cannot wait to save the money for the latest gadget or
fashion — they simply use their credit cards. Spending in excess of earnings
can become a vicious cycle. A newer model or fashion is advertised and people
plunge themselves deeper and deeper into debt trying to keep up. In this way,
unethical advertising can lead people to financial ruin. It is ironic that,
with the vast amount of ‘information technology’ available, most of it is used
to generate ‘misinformation’ or delusion.

    On the political plane,
decisions have to be made regarding policy on advertising — should there be
any control, and if so, of what kind? How is one to achieve the proper balance
between moral and economic concerns? Education is also involved. Ways may have
to be found to teach people to be aware of how advertising works, to reflect on
it, and to consider how much of it is to be believed. Good education should
seek to make people more intelligent in making decisions about buying goods.
The question of advertising demonstrates how activities prevalent in society
may have to be considered from many perspectives, all of which are
interrelated.

    Taking a wider perspective, it can be seen that the free
market system itself is ultimately based on a minimum of ethics. The freedom of
the free market system may be lost through businesses using unscrupulous means
of competition; the creation of a monopoly through influence is one common
example, the use of thugs to assassinate a competitor a more unorthodox one. The
violent elimination of rivals heralds the end of the free market system,
although it is a method scarcely mentioned in the economics textbooks.

    To be ethically sound,
economic activity must take place in a way that is not harmful to the
individual, society or the natural environment. In other words, economic
activity should not cause problems for oneself, agitation in society or
degeneration of the ecosystem, but rather enhance well-being in these three
spheres. If ethical values were factored into economic analysis, a cheap but
nourishing meal would certainly be accorded more value than a bottle of
whiskey.

    Thus, an economics
inspired by Concept of Awaken One with Awareness would strive to see and accept
the truth of all things. It would cast a wider, more comprehensive eye on the
question of ethics. Once ethics has been accepted as a legitimate subject for
consideration, ethical questions then become factors to be studied within the
whole causal process. But if no account is taken of ethical considerations,
economics will be incapable of developing any understanding of the whole causal
process, of which ethics forms an integral part.

    Modern economics has been
said to be the most scientific of all the social sciences. Indeed, priding
themselves on their scientific methodology, economists take only measurable
quantities into consideration. Some even assert that economics is purely a
science of numbers, a matter of mathematical equations. In its efforts to be
scientific, economics ignores all non-quantifiable, abstract values.

    But by considering economic activity in isolation from
other forms of human activity, modern economists have fallen into the narrow
specialization characteristic of the industrial age. In the manner of
specialists, economists try to eliminate all non-economic factors from their
considerations of human activity and concentrate on a single perspective, that
of their own discipline.

   
In recent years, critics of economics, even a number of economists themselves,
have challenged this “objective” position and asserted that economics
is the most value-dependent of all the social sciences. It may be asked how it
is possible for economics to be free of values when, in fact, it is rooted in
the human mind. The economic process begins with want, continues with choice,
and ends with satisfaction, all of which are functions of mind. Abstract values
are thus the beginning, the middle and the end of economics, and so it is
impossible for economics to be value-free. Yet as it stands, many economists
avoid any consideration of values, ethics, or mental qualities, despite the
fact that these will always have a bearing on economic concerns. Economists’
lack of ethical training and their ignorance of the workings of mental values
and human desire is a major shortcoming which will prevent them from solving
the problems it is their task to solve. If the world is to be saved from the
ravages of overconsumption and overproduction, economists must come to an
understanding of the importance of ethics to their field. Just as they might
study ecology, they should also study ethics and the nature of human desire,
and understand them thoroughly. Here is one area in which Buddhism can be of
great help.

VOICE
OF SARVAJAN

Sarvajan Economy

The BSP is the third biggest national party
with a growing vote share of above 6 per cent. In states like Haryana, Delhi,
Uttaranchal and Punjab, the BSP has good prospects. In the recently concluded
elections, despite no direct intervention and support from the party, the
candidates did remarkably well, emerging as runners-up in many constituencies.

The party will impress on new sections of
voters — mobilizing SC/STs and other politically marginalised groups (non-Jat
groups in Haryana, Muslims in Delhi and migrant population in Punjab) will pay
heavy dividends in the coming Lok Sabha elections. States like Maharashtra that
have witnessed strong SC/STmovements are a promising new frontier for the BSP —
in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, it has already launched an impressive
entry in the local elections.

UP, of course, will remain the central
location of Mayawati’s politics — making two communities crucial, the Brahmins
and the Muslims. A “SC/ST-Brahmin-Muslim alliance” is a sure winner in UP,
again possible to achieve. In states like Haryana, Delhi and Maharashtra, it
will win some parliamentary seats since SC/ST voter accepts the BSP as vanguard
party.

BSP prompt it to think harder about its national
agenda

There is a subtle acceptance that Mayawati’s
rule has brought tremendous change in UP, at the sociopolitical and economic
level.

Current political conditions permit Mayawati
to stretch into newer regions and communities, and become a formidable force in
the upcoming Lok Sabha election
.

The recent elections have shown that she has
the power to galvanise her core constituency, that SC/STs remain the permanent
voters of the BSP.

It has been suggested that her social
engineering with the brahmins will work again. Since it is unclear who they
actually voted overwhelmingly for.

Mayawati has now accepted the challenge to
work harder at persuading these sections to stay with the BSP through Sarvajan
politics.

Having fielded the maximum number of Muslim
candidates and having announced various welfare schemes for Muslims. With
a
  promise of concrete measures to
include Muslims in her social justice agenda and promise unconditional
protection to their religious and cultural interests Muslims will yet choose
her again. This makes sense in the larger ethical project of Bahujan politics.

BSP politics is based on the idea of fair
representation of historically marginalised communities in the political
sphere. It has mobilised SC/STs, given them a dignified political location and
made them vital to mainstream democratic struggles along with the Sarvajan
Samaj including OBCs, Minorities and the poor upper castes. And yet,
beingidentified mainly as a “Sarvajan party” and a “national party” has the
potential as an alternative national force. The BSP
  has taken the recent UP loss as a learning
experience and imagines itself as an emergent national player.

Sarvajan economics, actually exists and it
is possible. It was usefully employed in economics in Uttar Pradesh.

    While economic thinking
has been in existence since the time of Plato and Aristotle, the study of
economics has only really crystallized into a science in the industrial era.
Like other sciences in this age of specialization, economics has become a
narrow and rarefied discipline; an isolated, almost stunted, body of knowledge,
having little to do with other disciplines or human activities.

    Ideally, the sciences
should provide solutions to the complex, interrelated problems that face
humanity, but cut off as it is from other disciplines and the larger sphere of
human activity, economics can do little to ease the ethical, social and
environmental problems that face us today. And given the tremendous influence
it exerts on our market-driven societies, narrow economic thinking may, in
fact, be the primary cause of some of our most pressing social and
environmental troubles.

Like other sciences, economics strives for
objectivity. In the process, however, subjective values, such as ethics, are
excluded. With no consideration of subjective, moral values, an economist may
say, for instance, that a bottle of whiskey and a Chinese dinner have the same
economic value, or that drinking in a night club contributes more to the economy
than listening to a religious talk or volunteering for humanitarian work. These
are truths according to economics.

    But the objectivity of economics is shortsighted. Economists
look at just one short phase of the natural causal process and single out the
part that interests them, ignoring the wider ramifications. Thus, modern
economists take no account of the ethical consequences of economic activity.
Neither the vices associated with the frequenting of night clubs, nor the
wisdom arising from listening to a religious teaching, are its concern.

    But is it in fact
desirable to look on economics as a science? Although many believe that science
can save us from the perils of life, it has many limitations. Science shows
only one side of the truth, that which concerns the material world. By only
considering the material side of things, the science of economics is out of
step with the overall truth of the way things are. Given that all things in
this world are naturally interrelated and interconnected, it follows that human
problems must also be interrelated and interconnected. One-sided scientific
solutions are bound to fail, and the problems bound to spread.

Environmental degradation is the most
obvious and dangerous consequence to our industrialized, specialized approach
to solving problems. Environmental problems have become so pressing that people
are now beginning to see how foolish it is to place their faith in individual,
isolated disciplines that ignore the larger perspective. They are starting to look
at human activities on a broader scale, to see the repercussions their actions
have on personal lives, society, and the environment.

    From a Sarvajan perspective, economics cannot be
separated from other branches of knowledge. Economics is rather one component
of a concerted effort to remedy the problems of humanity; and an economics
based on Sarvajan Hithay Sarvajan Sukhay i.e., for the Peace, welfare and
happiness of entire people
 
“Sarvajan economics,” is therefore not so much a
self-contained science, but one of a number of interdependent disciplines
working in concert toward the common goal of social, individual and
environmental well-being.

    
One of the first to integrate the Awaken One’s teachings with economics (and
indeed to coin the phrase “Sarvajan economics”) was Jagatheesan
Chandrasekharan
InFREE
ONLINE

eNālāndā

Research
And Practice
UNIVERSITYThrough http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org on  Sarvajan economics, Awaken
One’s
  teaching of the Noble Eightfold
Path to make his case. He affirms that the inclusion of the factor of Right
Livelihood in the Eightfold Path, in other words the Awaken One with Awareness
way of life, indicates the necessity of a Sarvajan economics. This is starting
point.

    Looking back, we can see
that the subsequent interest in Sarvajan economics shown by some Western
academics, took place in response to a crisis. Western academic disciplines and
conceptual structures have reached a point which many feel to be a dead end, or
if not, at least a turning point demanding new paradigms of thought and
methodology. This has led many economists to rethink their isolated,
specialized approach. The serious environmental repercussions of rampant
consumerism have compelled economists to develop more ecological awareness.
Some even propose that all new students of economics incorporate basic ecology
into their curriculum.

The existence of Right Livelihood as one of
the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path necessitates a Sarvajan economics has a
number of implications. Firstly, it indicates the importance given to Right
Livelihood (or economics) in Awaken One with Awareness Teachings. Secondly, and
conversely, it means that economics is taken to be merely one amongst a number
of factors (traditionally eight) that comprise a right way of life, that is,
one capable of solving the problems of life.

    Specialization can be a great
benefit as long as we don’t lose sight of our common goal: as a specialized
study, economics allows us to analyze with minute detail the causes and factors
within economic activities. But it is a mistake to believe that any one
discipline or field of learning can in itself solve all problems. In concert
with other disciplines, however, economics can constitute a complete response
to human suffering, and it is only by fully understanding the contributions and
limitations of each discipline that we will be able to produce such a
coordinated effort.

    Unfortunately, as it
stands, economics is grossly out of touch with the whole stream of causes and
conditions that constitute reality. Economics, and indeed all the social
sciences, are, after all, based on man-made or artificial truths. For example,
according to natural laws, the action of digging the earth results in a hole.
This is a fixed cause and effect relationship based on natural laws. However,
the digging which results in a wage is a conventional truth based on a social
agreement. Without the social agreement, the action of digging does not result
in a wage. While economists scrutinize one isolated segment of the cause and
effect process, the universe manifests itself in an inconceivably vast array of
causes and conditions, actions and reactions. Focused as they are on the linear
progression of the economic events that concern them, economists forget that
nature unfolds in all directions. In nature, actions and results are not
confined to isolated spheres. One action gives rise to results, which in turn
becomes a cause for further results. Each result conditions further results. In
this way, action and reaction are intertwined to form the vibrant fabric of
causes and conditions that we perceive as reality. To understand reality, it is
necessary to understand this process.

The Two Meanings of Dhamma

For many people, the term “Sarvajan
economics” may evoke the image of an ideal society where all 
economic activity — buying and selling, production and consumption — adheres
to strict ethical standards. But such an idealized image, attractive as it may
sound, does not convey the full depth of the Awaken One with Awareness’s
teachings. The Awaken One with Awareness’s teachings point to Dhamma, or truth. In Concept of Awaken
One with Awareness the term Dhamma is used to convey different levels of truth,
both relative truths and ultimate truth.

Those truths regarding ethical behavior –
both on a personal day-to-day basis and in society — are called cariyadhamma. These are the truths
related to matters of good and evil. Dhamma in its larger sense is saccadhamma, truth, or sabhavadhamma, reality: it includes all
things as they are and the laws by which they function. In this sense, Dhamma
is used to describe the entire stream of causes and conditions, the process by
which all things exist and function.

    Unlike the narrower scope
of cariyadhamma, which refers
to isolated ethical considerations, sabhavadhamma
points to nature or reality itself, which is beyond concerns of good and evil.
In this all-encompassing sense, Dhamma expresses the totality of natural
conditions, that which the various branches of science seek to describe.

    Thus, the Awaken One with
Awareness’s teachings give us more than just ethical guidelines for a virtuous
life. His teachings offer a grand insight into the nature of reality. Given the
twofold meaning of the term Dhamma, it follows that an economics inspired by
the Dhamma would be both attuned to the grand sphere of causes and conditions
and, at the same time, guided by the specific ethical teachings based on
natural reality. In other words, Sarvajan economists would not only consider
the ethical values of economic activity, but also strive to understand reality
and direct economic activity to be in harmony with “the way things are.”

    Ultimately, economics cannot be separated from Dhamma,
because all the activities we associate with economics emerge from the Dhamma.
Economics is just one part of a vast interconnected whole, subject to the same
natural laws by which all things function. Dhamma describes the workings of
this whole, the basic truth of all things, including economics. If economics is
ignorant of the Dhamma — of the complex and dynamic process of
causes-and-effects that constitutes reality — then it will be hard pressed to
solve problems, much less produce the benefits to which it aims.

    Yet this is precisely the
trouble with modern economic thinking. Lacking any holistic, comprehensive
insight and limited by the narrowness of their specialized view, economists
single out one isolated portion of the stream of conditions and fail to
consider results beyond that point. An example: there exists a demand for a
commodity, such as whiskey. The demand is supplied by production — growing
grain and distilling it into liquor. The whiskey is then put on the market and
then purchased and consumed. When it is consumed, demand is satisfied. Modern
economic thinking stops here, at the satisfaction of the demand. There is no
investigation of what happens after the demand is satisfied.

    By contrast, an economics inspired by Dhamma would be
concerned with how economic activities influence the entire process of causes
and conditions. While modern economics confines its regard to events within its
specialized sphere, Sarvajan economics would investigate how a given economic
activity affects the three interconnected spheres of human existence: the
individual, society, and nature or the environment. In the case of the demand
for a commodity such as whiskey, we would have to ask ourselves how liquor
production affects the ecology and how its consumption affects the individual
and society.

    These are largely ethical considerations and this brings
us back to the more specialized meaning of Dhamma, that relating to matters of
good and evil. It is said in the Awakened One with Awareness
  scriptures that good actions lead to good
results and bad actions lead to bad results. All of the Awakened One with
Awareness’s teachings on ethical behavior are based on this principle. It is
important to note here that, unlike the theistic religions, Awakened One with
Awareness  does not propose an agent or
arbitrating force that rewards or punishes good and evil actions. Rather, good
and evil actions are seen as causes and conditions that unfold according to the
natural flow of events. In this regard, Dhamma (in the sense of ethical
teachings) and Dhamma (in the sense of natural reality) are connected in that
the Buddhist ethical teachings are based on natural reality. Ethical laws
follow the natural law of cause and effect: virtuous actions naturally lead to
benefit and evil actions naturally lead to harm, because all of these are
factors in the stream of causes and conditions.

    Given its dynamic view of the world, Awakened One with
Awareness does not put forth absolute rules for ethical behavior. The ethical
value of behavior is judged partly by the results it brings and partly by the
qualities which lead to it. Virtuous actions are good because they lead to
benefit; evil actions are evil because they lead to harm. There is a belief
that any method used to attain a worthy end is justified by the worthiness of
that end. This idea is summed up in the expression “the end justifies the
means.” Communist revolutionaries, for instance, believed that since the
objective is to create an ideal society in which all people are treated fairly,
then destroying anybody and anything which stands in the way of that ideal
society is justified. The end (the ideal society) justifies the means (hatred
and bloodshed).

    The idea that “the
end justifies the means” is a good example of a human belief which simply
does not accord with natural truth. This concept is a human invention, an
expedient rationalization which contradicts natural law and “the way
things are.” Beliefs are not evil in themselves, but when they are in
contradiction with reality, they are bound to cause problems. Throughout the
ages, people with extreme political and religious ideologies have committed the
most brutal acts under the slogan “the end justifies the means.” No
matter how noble their cause, they ended up destroying that which they were
trying to create, which is some kind of happiness or social order.

    To learn from history, we
must analyze all the causes and conditions that contributed to the unfolding of
past events. This includes the qualities of mind of the participants. A
thorough analysis of the history of a violent revolution, for example, must
consider not only the economic and social climate of the society, but also the
emotional and intellectual makeup of the revolutionaries themselves and
question the rational validity of the intellectual ideals and methods used,
because all of these factors have a bearing on the outcome.

    With this kind of
analysis, it becomes obvious that, by the natural laws of cause and effect, it
is impossible to create an ideal society out of anything less than ideal means
– and certainly not bloodshed and hatred. Awakened One with Awareness
  would say that it is not the end which
justifies the means, but rather the means which condition the end. Thus, the result of slaughter and
hatred is further violence and instability. This can be witnessed in police
states and governments produced by violent revolution — there is always an
aftermath of tension, the results of Cause
and Effect
, which often proves to be intolerable and social
collapse soon follows. Thus the means (bloodshed and aggression) condition the
end (tension and instability).

    Yet while ethics are subject
to these natural laws, when we have to make personal ethical choices right and
wrong are not always so obvious. Indeed, the question of ethics is always a
highly subjective matter. Throughout our lives, we continually face — and must
answer for ourselves — questions of right and wrong. Our every choice, our
every intention, holds some ethical judgment.

    The Awakened One with Awareness  teachings on matters relating to good and
evil serve as guides to help us with these subjective moral choices. But while
they are subjective, we should not forget that our ethical choices inevitably
play themselves out in the world according to the objective principle of causes
and conditions. Our ethics — and the behavior that naturally flows from our
ethics — contribute to the causes and conditions that determine who we are,
the kind of society we live in and the condition of our environment.

    One of the most profound lessons of the Awakened One
with Awareness ’s teachings is the truth that internal, subjective values are
directly linked to the dynamic of external objective reality. This subtle
realization is at the heart of all ethical questions. Unfortunately, most
people are only vaguely aware of how their internal values condition external
reality. It is easy to observe the laws of cause and effect in the physical
world: ripe apples fall from trees and water runs down hill. But because people
tend to think of themselves as individuals separate from the universe, they
fail to see how the same laws apply to internal subjective values, such as
thoughts and moral attitudes. Since ethics are “subjective,” people
think they are somehow unconnected to “objective” reality.

    According to the Awakened
One with Awareness view, however, ethics forms a bridge between internal and
external realities. In accordance with the law of causes and conditions, ethics
act as “subjective” causes for “objective” conditions. This
should be obvious when we consider that, in essence, ethical questions always
ask, “Do my thoughts, words and deeds help or harm myself and those around
me?” In practice, we rely on ethics to regulate the unwholesome desires of
our subjective reality: anger, greed, hatred. The quality of our thoughts,
though internal, constantly conditions the way we speak and act. Though
subjective, our ethics determine the kind of impact our life makes on the
external, objective world.

How Ethics Condition Economics

To be sure, the distinction between
economics and ethics is easily discernible. We can look at any economic
situation either from an entirely economic perspective, or from an entirely
ethical one. For example, you are reading this book. From an ethical
perspective, your reading is a good action, you are motivated by a desire for
knowledge. This is an ethical judgment. From the economic perspective, on the
other hand, this may seem to be a waste of resources with no clear benefit. The
same situation can be seen in different ways.

    However, the two
perspectives are interconnected and do influence each other. While modern
economic thinking rejects any subjective values like ethics, the influence of
ethics in economic matters is all too obvious. If a community is unsafe — if
there are thieves, the threat of violence, and the roads are unsafe to travel
– then it is obvious that businesses will not invest there, tourists will not
want to go there, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the
citizens are law-abiding, well-disciplined and conscientiously help to keep
their community safe and clean, businesses will have a much better chance of
success and the municipal authorities will not have to spend so much on civic
maintenance and security.

    Unethical business
practices have direct economic consequences. If businesses attempt to fatten
their profits by using substandard ingredients in foodstuffs, such as by using
cloth-dye as a coloring in children’s sweets, substituting chemicals for orange
juice, or putting boric acid in meatballs (all of which have occurred in
Thailand in recent years), consumers’ health is endangered. The people made ill
by these practices have to pay medical costs and the government has to spend
money on police investigations and prosecution of the offenders. Furthermore,
the people whose health has suffered work less efficiently, causing a decline
in productivity. In international trade, those who pass off shoddy goods as
quality merchandise risk losing the trust of their customers and foreign
markets — as well as the foreign currency obtained through those markets.

    Ethical qualities also influence industrial output. If
workers enjoy their work and are industrious, productivity will be high. On the
other hand, if they are dishonest, disgruntled or lazy, this will have a
negative effect on the quality of production and the amount of productivity.

    When it comes to
consumption, consumers in a society with vain and fickle values will prefer
flashy and ostentatious products to high quality products which are not so
flashy. In a more practically-minded society, where the social values do not
tend toward showiness and extravagance, consumers will choose goods on the
basis of their reliability. Obviously, the goods consumed in these two
different societies will lead to different social and economic results.

    Advertising stimulates
economic activity, but often at an ethically unacceptable price. Advertising is
bound up with popular values: advertisers must draw on common aspirations,
prejudices and desires in order to produce advertisements that are appealing.
Employing social psychology, advertising manipulates popular values for
economic ends, and because of its repercussions on the popular mind, it has
considerable ethical significance. The volume of advertising may cause an
increase in materialism, and unskillful images or messages may harm public
morality. The vast majority of ads imbue the public with a predilection for
selfish indulgence; they condition us into being perfect consumers who have no
higher purpose in life than to consume the products of modern industry. In the
process, we are transformed into ‘hungry ghosts,’ striving to feed an everlasting
craving, and society becomes a seething mass of conflicting interests.

    Moreover, advertising
adds to the price of the product itself. Thus people tend to buy unnecessary
things at prices that are unnecessarily expensive. There is much wastage and extravagance.
Things are used for a short while and then replaced, even though they are still
in good condition. Advertising also caters to peoples’ tendency to flaunt their
possessions as a way of gaining social status. When snob-appeal is the main
criterion, people buy unnecessarily expensive products without considering the
quality. In extreme cases, people are so driven by the need to appear stylish
that they cannot wait to save the money for the latest gadget or fashion –
they simply use their credit cards. Spending in excess of earnings can become a
vicious cycle. A newer model or fashion is advertised and people plunge
themselves deeper and deeper into debt trying to keep up. In this way,
unethical advertising can lead people to financial ruin. It is ironic that,
with the vast amount of ‘information technology’ available, most of it is used
to generate ‘misinformation’ or delusion.

    On the political plane,
decisions have to be made regarding policy on advertising — should there be
any control, and if so, of what kind? How is one to achieve the proper balance
between moral and economic concerns? Education is also involved. Ways may have
to be found to teach people to be aware of how advertising works, to reflect on
it, and to consider how much of it is to be believed. Good education should
seek to make people more intelligent in making decisions about buying goods.
The question of advertising demonstrates how activities prevalent in society
may have to be considered from many perspectives, all of which are
interrelated.

    Taking a wider perspective, it can be seen that the free
market system itself is ultimately based on a minimum of ethics. The freedom of
the free market system may be lost through businesses using unscrupulous means
of competition; the creation of a monopoly through influence is one common
example, the use of thugs to assassinate a competitor a more unorthodox one.
The violent elimination of rivals heralds the end of the free market system,
although it is a method scarcely mentioned in the economics textbooks
.

    To be ethically sound,
economic activity must take place in a way that is not harmful to the
individual, society or the natural environment. In other words, economic
activity should not cause problems for oneself, agitation in society or
degeneration of the ecosystem, but rather enhance well-being in these three
spheres. If ethical values were factored into economic analysis, a cheap but
nourishing meal would certainly be accorded more value than a bottle of
whiskey
.

    Thus, an economics inspired
by Awaken Ones with Awareness would strive to see and accept the truth of all
things. It would cast a wider, more comprehensive eye on the question of
ethics. Once ethics has been accepted as a legitimate subject for consideration,
ethical questions then become factors to be studied within the whole causal
process. But if no account is taken of ethical considerations, economics will
be incapable of developing any understanding of the whole causal process, of
which ethics forms an integral part.

    Modern economics has been
said to be the most scientific of all the social sciences. Indeed, priding
themselves on their scientific methodology, economists take only measurable
quantities into consideration. Some even assert that economics is purely a
science of numbers, a matter of mathematical equations. In its efforts to be
scientific, economics ignores all non-quantifiable, abstract values.

    But by considering
economic activity in isolation from other forms of human activity, modern economists
have fallen into the narrow specialization characteristic of the industrial
age. In the manner of specialists, economists try to eliminate all non-economic
factors from their considerations of human activity and concentrate on a single
perspective, that of their own discipline.

    In recent years, critics
of economics, even a number of economists themselves, have challenged this
“objective” position and asserted that economics is the most
value-dependent of all the social sciences. It may be asked how it is possible
for economics to be free of values when, in fact, it is rooted in the human
mind. The economic process begins with want, continues with choice, and ends
with satisfaction, all of which are functions of mind. Abstract values are thus
the beginning, the middle and the end of economics, and so it is impossible for
economics to be value-free. Yet as it stands, many economists avoid any
consideration of values, ethics, or mental qualities, despite the fact that
these will always have a bearing on economic concerns. Economists’ lack of
ethical training and their ignorance of the workings of mental values and human
desire is a major shortcoming which will prevent them from solving the problems
it is their task to solve. If the world is to be saved from the ravages of
overconsumption and overproduction, economists must come to an understanding of
the importance of ethics to their field. Just as they might study ecology, they
should also study ethics and the nature of human desire, and understand them
thoroughly. Here is one area in which Buddhism can be of great help.

This is Bhoop Kumar, an advocate who works
in Noida. He has the open-faced confidence of education. He says, “There is no bhed-bhav
[discriminatory behaviour] here.” There are, instead, schools, colleges (inter,
girls, polytechnic and dental), ponds, hospitals (two, which Nagar says cost Rs
1,000 crore each), bus stands and 24×7 public transport.

Kumar is grateful to Mayawati. “Before her,
the school was in Dadri. It wasn’t safe to send girls all that way. Now, all of
us are graduates.” His friend, a tall student with stubble and an earring,
nods. “Behenji has changed the image of this area,” says Kumar. “Mulayam [Singh
Yadav, the SP leader] can’t do anything new for us.” Hardly any of the SC/STs
owned land here; most now have jobs or professions or run small businesses,
especially in construction.

Is Kumar unhappy that Mayawati lost the UP
election? “It is good that she will have time to prepare for the Lok Sabha
election [in 2014],” he says. Was he put off by the land acquisition and grand
memorials? “There’s nothing wrong in it,” he says. “Those are images of great
men. I go [to the memorial parks] twice a week to walk.

It is across the road from the Kumari Mayawati
Government Girls Postgraduate College, where an exam has just ended and
hundreds of girls are standing around holding pens and question papers, looking
drained but relieved.

Two hours down the GT Road, on the other
side of Bulandshahr and next to the Twin Upper Ganga Canal, is the
Muslim-dominated village of Hatmabad. Of its roughly 1,200 households, 100-150
are Schedule Caste (SC), and most of the rest Muslim. Hatmabad is one of the
district’s few dozen Ambedkar grams, villages which get special
attention under a scheme of the Mayawati government to improve drinking water,
housing, toilets and sanitation, drainage, roads, schools, irrigation, pensions
(old age, widow, handicapped, below-poverty-line), land availability and
health. Few of its residents own land, and few of those who do are from the
numerically dominant SC/ST Hindu Jatavs or Muslim Telis (oil-pressers), Julahas
(weavers) and Lohars (metalworkers). This area, too, is firmly BSP.

The entry to the village is auspicious. There is a mango
grove, two small mosques and a group of boys splashing in a canal.

Good, Evil and Beyond

Cause
and Effect in the Awaken One with Awareness’s Teaching


Contents

 

Introduction

Acknowledgment

1. Understanding the Law of Cause and effect
   
Cause and effect as a law of nature
   
The law of cause and effect and social preference
   
The meaning of cause and effect
       
a. cause and effect as intention
       
b. cause and effect as conditioning factor
       
c. cause and effect as personal
responsibility

       
d. cause and effect as social activity or career
   
Kinds of cause and effect

2. On Good and Evil
   
The problem of good and evil
   
The meaning of kusala and akusala
   
Kusala and akusala as catalysts for each
other

   
Gauging good and bad cause and effect
       
Primary factors
       
Secondary factors

3. The Fruition of Cause and effect
  
Results of cause and effect on different
levels

   
Factors that affect the fruition of cause
and effect

   
Understanding the process of fruition
   
Fruits of cause and effect on a long term basis — Heaven and
Hell

   
Summary: verifying future lives
   
Cause and effect fruition in the Cula Cause and effectvibhanga
Sutta

4. Cause and effect on the Social Level
   
The importance of ditthi in the creation of cause and effect
   
External influences and internal
reflection

   
Personal responsibility and social cause and effect
   
Responsible social action

5. The Cause and effect that Ends Cause and effect

6. Misunderstandings of The Law of Cause and effect
   
Who causes happiness and suffering?
   
Beliefs that are contrary to the law of cause
and effect

   
Can cause and effect be erased?
   
Do cause and effect and not-self contradict each other?

7. In Conclusion
   
The general meaning
   
Intelligence over superstition
   
Action rather than prayer
   
Non-adherence to race or class
   
Self reliance
   
A caution for the future

References


Understanding
the Law of Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect as a law of
nature

Concept of Awaken One with Awareness teaches
that all things, both material and immaterial, are entirely subject to the
direction of causes and are interdependent. This natural course of things is
called in common terms “the law of nature,” and in the Pali language niyama, literally meaning
“certainty” or “fixed way,” referring to the fact that
specific determinants inevitably lead to corresponding results.

    The laws of nature,
although uniformly based on the principle of causal dependence, can nevertheless
be sorted into different modes of relationship. The Buddhist commentaries
describe five categories of natural law, or niyama. They are:

    1. Utuniyama: the natural law pertaining to physical objects and changes in
the natural environment, such as the weather; the way flowers bloom in the day
and fold up at night; the way soil, water and nutrients help a tree to grow;
and the way things disintegrate and decompose. This perspective emphasizes the
changes brought about by heat or temperature.

    2. Bijaniyama: the natural law
pertaining to heredity, which is best described in the adage, “as the
seed, so the fruit.”

    3. Cittaniyama: the natural law pertaining to the workings of the mind, the
process of cognition of sense objects and the mental reactions to them
.

    4. Cause and effectniyama: the natural law pertaining to human behavior, the
process of the generation of action and its results. In essence, this is
summarized in the words, “good deeds bring good results, bad deeds bring
bad results.”

    5. Dhammaniyama: the natural law governing the relationship and
interdependence of all things: the way all things arise, exist and then cease.
All conditions are subject to change, are in a state of affliction and are not
self: this is the Norm.

    The first four niyama are
contained within, or based on, the fifth one,
Dhammaniyama, the Law of Dhamma, or the Law of Nature. It
may be questioned why Dhammaniyama, being as it were the totality, is also
included within the subdivisions. This is because this fourfold categorization
does not cover the entire extent of Dhammaniyama.

    To illustrate: the
population of Thailand can be sorted into different categories, such as the
royalty, the government, public servants, merchants and the populace; or it may
be categorized as the police, military, public servants, students and the
populace; or it can be divided up in a number of other ways. Actually, the
words “the populace” include all the other groupings in the country.
Public servants, householders, police, the military, merchants and students are
all equally members of the populace, but they are singled out because each of
those groups has its own unique characteristics. Those people without any
relevant feature particular to them are grouped under the general heading, “the
populace.” Moreover, although those groupings may change according to
their particular design, they will always include the word “the
populace,” or “the people,” or a similar generic term. The
inclusion of Dhammaniyama in the five niyama should be understood in this way.

    Whether or not these five
natural laws are complete and all-inclusive is not important. The commentators
have detailed the five groupings relevant to their needs, and any other
groupings can be included under the fifth one, Dhammaniyama, in the same way as
in the example above. The important point to bear in mind is the commentators’
design in pointing out these five niyama. In this connection three points may
be mentioned:

    Firstly, this teaching
highlights the Buddhist perspective, which sees the course of things as subject
to causes and conditions. No matter how minutely this law is analyzed, we see
only the workings of the Norm, or the state of interdependence. A knowledge of
this truth allows us to learn, live and practice with a clear and firm
understanding of the way things are. It conclusively eliminates the problem of
trying to answer questions of a Creator God with the power to divert the flow
of the Norm (unless that God becomes one of the determining factors within the
flow). When challenged with such misleading questions as, “Without a being
to create these laws, how can they come to be?” we need only reflect that
if left to themselves, all things must function in some way or other, and this
is the way they function. It is impossible for them to function any other way.
Human beings, observing and studying this state of things, then proceed to call
it a “law.” But whether it is called a law or not does not change its
actual operation.

    Secondly, when we analyze
events, we must not reduce them entirely to single laws. In actual fact, one
and the same event in nature may arise from any one of these laws, or a
combination of them. For example, the blooming of the lotus in the day time and
its folding up at night are not the effects of utuniyama (physical laws) alone,
but are also subject to bijaniyama (heredity). When a person sheds tears it may
be due largely to the effects of cittaniyama, as with happy or sad mental
states, or it could be the workings of utuniyama, such as when smoke gets in
the eyes.

    Thirdly, and most importantly,
here the commentators are showing us that the law of cause and effect is just
one of a number of natural laws. The fact that it is given as only one among
five different laws reminds us that not all events are the workings of cause
and effect. We might say that cause and effect is that force which directs
human society, or decides the values within it. Although it is simply one type
of natural law, it is the most important one for us as human beings, because it
is our particular responsibility. We are creators of cause and effect, and cause
and effect in return shapes the fortunes and conditions of our lives.

    Most people tend to
perceive the world as partly in the control of nature, partly in the control of
human beings. In this model, cause and
effectniyama
is the human responsibility, while the other niyama
are entirely nature’s domain.

    Within the workings of cause
and effectniyama, the factor of intention or volition is crucial. Thus, the law
of cause and effect is the law which governs the workings of volition, or the
world of intentional human thought and action. Whether or not we deal with
other niyama, we must deal with the law of cause and effect, and our dealings
with other niyama are inevitably influenced by it. The law of cause and effect
is thus of prime importance in regulating the extent to which we are able to
create and control the things around us.

    Correctly speaking, we
could say that the human capacity to enter into and become a factor within the
natural cause and effect process, which in turn gives rise to the impression
that we are able to control and manipulate nature, is all due to this law of cause
and effect. In scientific and technological areas, for example, we interact
with the other niyama, or natural laws, by studying their truths and acting
upon them in conformity with their nature, creating the impression that we are
able to manipulate and control the natural world.

    In addition to this, our
volition or intention shapes our social and personal relationships, as well as
our interactions with other things in the environment around us. Through
volition, we shape our own personalities and our life-styles, social positions
and fortunes. It is because the law of cause and effect governs our entire
volitional and creative world that the Awaken One with Awareness’s teaching
greatly stresses its importance in the phrase:
Kammuna vattati loko: The world is directed by cause and effect.[
1]*

The law of Cause and Effect and social preference

Apart from the five kinds of natural law mentioned above,
there is another kind of law which is specifically man-made and is not directly
concerned with nature. These are the codes of law fixed and agreed upon by
society, consisting of social decrees, customs, and laws. They could be placed
at the end of the above list as a sixth kind of law, but they do not have a
Pali name. Let’s call them Social Preference.[
a] These codes of social law are products of human
thought, and as such are related to the law of cause and effect. They are not,
however, the law of cause and effect as such. They are merely a supplement to
it, and do not have the same relationship with natural truth as does the law of
cause and effect, as will presently be shown. However, because they are related
to the law of cause and effect they tend to become confused with it, and
misunderstandings frequently arise as a result.

    Because both cause and
effectniyama and Social Preference are human concerns and are intimately
related to human life, it is very important that the differences between them
are clearly understood.

    In general we might state
that the law of cause and effect is the natural law which deals with human
actions, whereas Social Preference, or social laws, are an entirely human creation,
related to nature only insofar as they are a product of the natural human
thought process. In essence, with the law of cause and effect, human beings
receive the fruits of their actions according to the natural processes, whereas
in social law, human beings take responsibility for their actions via a process
established by themselves.

The meaning of cause and
effect

Etymologically, cause and effect means
“work” or “action.” But in the context of the Awaken One
with Awareness’s teaching it is defined more specifically as “action based
on intention” or “deeds willfully done.” Actions that are
without intention are not considered to be cause and effect in the Awaken One
with Awareness’s teaching.

    This definition is,
however, a very general one. If we wish to clarify the whole range of meaning
for cause and effect, we must analyze it more thoroughly, dividing it up into
different perspectives, or levels, thus:

a. Cause and effect as intention

Essentially, cause and effect is intention (cetana), and this word includes will,
choice and decision, the mental impetus which leads to action. Intention is
that which instigates and directs all human actions, both creative and
destructive, and is therefore the essence of cause and effect, as is given in
the Awaken One with Awareness’s words, Cetanaham
bhikkhave cause and effectm vadami
: Monks! Intention, I say, is cause
and effect. Having willed, we create cause and effect, through body, speech and
mind.[
2]

    At this point we might take
some time to broaden our understanding of this word “intention.”
“Intention” in the context of Concept of Awaken One with Awareness
has a much subtler meaning than it has in common usage. In the English
language, we tend to use the word when we want to provide a link between
internal thought and its resultant external actions. For example, we might say,
“I didn’t intend to do it,” “I didn’t mean to say it” or
“she did it intentionally.”

    But according to the
teachings of Concept of Awaken One with Awareness, all actions and speech, all
thoughts, no matter how fleeting, and the responses of the mind to sensations
received through eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, without exception,
contain elements of intention. Intention is thus the mind’s volitional choosing
of objects of awareness; it is the factor which leads the mind to turn towards,
or be repelled from, various objects of awareness, or to proceed in any
particular direction; it is the guide or the governor of how the mind responds
to stimuli; it is the force which plans and organizes the movements of the
mind, and ultimately it is that which determines the states experienced by the
mind.

    One instance of intention is
one instance of cause and effect. When there is cause and effect there is immediate
result. Even just one little thought, although not particularly important, is
nevertheless not void of consequence. It will be at the least a “tiny
speck” of cause and effect, added to the stream of conditions which shape
mental activity. With repeated practice, through repeated proliferation by the
mind, or through expression as external activity, the result becomes stronger
in the form of character traits, physical features or repercussions from
external sources.

    A destructive intention does
not have to be on a gross level. It may, for example, lead to the destruction
of only a very small thing, such as when we angrily tear up a piece of paper.
Even though that piece of paper has no importance in itself, the action still
has some effect on the quality of the mind. The effect is very different from
tearing up a piece of paper with a neutral state of mind, such as when throwing
away scrap paper. If there is repeated implementation of such angry intention,
the effects of accumulation will become clearer and clearer, and may develop to
more significant levels.

    Consider the specks of dust
which come floating unnoticed into a room; there isn’t one speck which is void
of consequence. It is the same for the mind. But the weight of that
consequence, in addition to being dependent on the amount of mental
“dust,” is also related to the quality of the mind. For instance,
specks of dust which alight onto a road surface have to be of a very large
quantity before the road will seem to be dirty. Specks of dust which alight
onto a floor, although of a much smaller quantity, may make the floor seem
dirtier than the road. A smaller amount of dust accumulating on a table top
will seem dirty enough to cause irritation. An even smaller amount alighting on
a mirror will seem dirty and will interfere with its functioning. A tiny speck
of dust on a spectacle lens is perceptible and can impair vision. In the same
way, volition or intention, no matter how small, is not void of fruit. As the Awaken
One with Awareness said:

“All cause and effect, whether good or
evil, bears fruit. There is no cause and effect, no matter how small, which is
void of fruit.”[
3]

    In any case, the mental
results of the law of cause and effect are usually overlooked, so another
illustration might be helpful:

    There are many kinds of
water: the water in a sewer, the water in a canal, tap water, and distilled
water for mixing a hypodermic injection. Sewer water is an acceptable habitat
for many kinds of water animals, but is not suitable for bathing, drinking or
medicinal use. Water in a canal may be used to bathe or to wash clothes but is
not drinkable. Tap water is drinkable but cannot be used for mixing a
hypodermic injection. If there is no special need, then tap water is sufficient
for most purposes, but one would be ill-advised to use it to mix a hypodermic
injection.

    In the same way, the mind has
varying levels of refinement or clarity, depending on accumulated cause and
effect. As long as the mind is being used on a coarse level, no problem may be
apparent, but if it is necessary to use the mind on a more refined level,
previous unskillful cause and effect, even on a minor scale, may become an
obstacle.

b. Cause and effect as
conditioning factor

Expanding our perspective, we find cause and effect as a
component within the whole life process, being the agent which fashions the direction of life. This
is cause and effect in its sense of “sankhara,”[
b] as it appears in the Wheel of Dependent Origination[c],where it is described as “the agent which
fashions the mind.” This refers to the factors or qualities of the mind
which, with intention at the lead, shape the mind into good, evil or neutral
states, which in turn fashion the thought process and its effects through body
and speech. In this context, cause and effect could be defined simply as
volitional impulses. Even in this definition we still take intention as the
essence, and that is why we sometimes see the word sankhara translated simply
as intention.

 

c. Cause and effect as personal responsibility 

Now let us look further outward, to the
level of an individual’s relation to the world. Cause and effect in this sense
refers to the expression of thoughts through speech and actions. This is behavior from an ethical perspective,
either on a narrow, immediate level, or on a broader level, including the past
and the future. Cause and effect in this sense corresponds to the very broad,
general meaning given above. This is the meaning of cause and effect which is
most often encountered in the scriptures, where it occurs as an inducement to
encourage responsible and good actions, as in the Awaken One with Awareness’s
words:

“Monks! These two things are a cause of
remorse. What are the two? Some people in this world have not made good cause
and effect, have not been skillful, have not made merit as a safeguard against
fear. They have committed only bad cause and effect, only coarse cause and
effect, only harmful cause and effect … They experience remorse as a result,
thinking, ‘I have not made good cause and effect. I have made only bad cause
and effect …’”

     It is worth noting
that these days, not only is cause and effect almost exclusively taught from
this perspective, but it is also treated largely from the perspective of past
lives.

d. Cause and effect as
social activity or career

From an even broader radius, that is, from
the perspective of social activity, we have cause and effect in its sense of work, labor or profession. This
refers to the life-styles and social undertakings resulting from intention,
which in turn affect society. As is stated in the Vasettha Sutta:

“Listen, Vasettha, you should
understand it thus: One who depends on farming for a livelihood is a farmer, not
a Brahmin; one who makes a living with the arts is an artist … one who makes
a living by selling is a merchant … one who makes a living working for others
is a servant … one who makes a living through stealing is a thief … one who
makes a living by the knife and the sword is a soldier … one who makes a
living by officiating at religious ceremonies is a priest, not a Brahmin …
one who rules the land is a king, not a Brahmin … I say that he who has no
defilements staining his mind, who is free of clinging, is a Brahmin … One
does not become a Brahmin simply by birth, but by cause and effect is one a
Brahmin, by cause and effect is one not a Brahmin. By cause and effect is one a
farmer, an artist, a merchant, a servant, a thief, a soldier, a priest or even
a king … it is all because of cause and effect. The wise person, seeing
Dependent Origination, skilled in cause and effect and its results, sees cause
and effect as it is in this way. The world is directed by cause and effect.
Humanity is directed by cause and effect …”

*  *  *

Having looked at these four different shades
of meaning for the word “cause and effect,” still it must be stressed
that any definition of cause and effect should always be based on intention. Intention is the factor
which guides our relationships with other things. Whether we will act under the
influence of unskillful tendencies, in the form of greed, hatred and delusion,
or skillful tendencies, is all under the control of intention.

    Any act which is without
intention has no bearing on the law of cause and effect. That is, it does not
come into the law of cause and effect, but one of the other niyama, such as utuniyama (physical laws). Such actions
have the same significance as a pile of earth caving in, a rock falling from a
mountain, or a dead branch falling from a tree.

 

Kinds of cause and effect

In terms of its qualities, or its roots,
cause and effect can be divided into two main types. They are:

    1. Akusala cause and effect: cause
and effect which is unskillful, actions which are not good, or are evil;
specifically, actions which are born from the
akusala mula, the roots of unskillfulness, which are
greed, hatred and delusion.

    2. Kusala cause and effect:
actions which are skillful or good; specifically, actions which are born from
the three kusala mula, or
roots of skill, which are non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion.

    Alternatively, cause and
effect can be classified according to the paths or channels through which it
occurs, of which there are three. They are:

    1. Bodily cause and effect:
intentional actions through the body.

    2. Verbal cause and effect:
intentional actions through speech.

    3. Mental cause and effect:
intentional actions through the mind.

    Incorporating both of the
classifications described above, we have altogether six kinds of cause and
effect: bodily, verbal and mental cause and effect which is unskillful; and
bodily, verbal and mental cause and effect which is skillful.

    Another way of classifying
cause and effect is according to its results. In this classification there are
four categories:

    1. Black cause and effect, black
result:
This refers to bodily actions, verbal actions and
mental actions which are harmful. Simple examples are killing, stealing, sexual
infidelity, lying and drinking intoxicants.

    2. White cause and effect, white result:
These are bodily actions, verbal actions and mental actions which are not
harmful, such as practicing in accordance with the ten bases for skillful
action.

    3. Cause and effect that is both black and white,
giving results both black and white:
Bodily actions, verbal
actions and mental actions which are partly harmful, partly not.

    4. Cause and effect which is neither black nor
white, with results neither black nor white, which leads to the cessation of
cause and effect:
This is the intention to transcend the three
kinds of cause and effect mentioned above, or specifically, developing the
Seven Enlightenment Factors or the Noble Eightfold Path.

    Of the three channels of
cause and effect — bodily, verbal and mental — it is mental cause and effect
which is considered the most important and far-reaching in its effects, as is
given in the Pali:

“Listen, Tapassi. Of these three types
of cause and effect so distinguished by me, I say that mental cause and effect
has the heaviest consequences for the committing of evil deeds and the
existence of evil deeds, not bodily or verbal cause and effect.”

    Mental cause and effect is
considered to be the most significant because it is the origin of all other
cause and effect. Thought precedes action through body and speech. Bodily and
verbal deeds are derived from mental cause and effect.

    One of the most important
influences of mental cause and effect is
ditthi
– beliefs, views and personal preferences. Views have an important bearing on
individual behavior, life experiences and social ideals. Actions, speech and
the manipulation of situations are based on views and preferences. If there is
wrong view, it follows that any subsequent thinking, speech and actions will
tend to flow in a wrong direction. If there is right view, then the resultant
thoughts, speech and actions will tend to flow in a proper and good direction.
This applies not only to the personal level, but to the social level as well.
For example, a society which maintained the belief that material wealth is the
most valuable and desirable goal in life would strive to attain material
possessions, gauging progress, prestige and honor by abundance of these things.
The life-style of such people and the development of such a society would
assume one form. In contrast, a society which valued peace of mind and
contentment as its goal would have a markedly different life-style and
development.

    There are many occasions
where the Awaken One with Awareness described right view, wrong view, and their
importance, such as:

“Monks! What is Right View? I say that
there are two kinds of Right View: the Right View (of one) with outflows, which
is good cause and effect and of beneficial result to body and mind; and the
Right View (of one) without outflows, which is transcendent, and is a factor of
the Noble Path.

“And what is the Right View which
contains outflows, which is good and of beneficial result to body and mind?
This is the belief that offerings bear fruit, the practice of giving bears
fruit, reverence is of fruit, good and evil cause and effect give appropriate
results; there is this world, there is an after-world; there is a mother, there
is a father; there are spontaneously arisen beings; there are mendicants and
religious who practice well and who proclaim clearly the truths of this world
and the next. This I call the Right View which contains the outflows, which is
good, and is of beneficial result to body and mind …”

*  *  *

“Monks! I see no other condition which
is so much a cause for the arising of as yet unarisen unskillful conditions,
and for the development and fruition of unskillful conditions already arisen,
as wrong view …”

*  *  *

“Monks! I see no other condition which
is so much a cause for the arising of as yet unarisen skillful conditions, and
for the development and fruition of skillful conditions already arisen, as
Right View  …”

*  *  *

“Monks! When there is wrong view, bodily
cause and effect created as a result of that view, verbal cause and effect
created as a result of that view, and mental cause and effect created as a
result of that view, as well as intentions, aspirations, wishes and mental
proliferations, are all productive of results that are undesirable, unpleasant,
disagreeable, yielding no benefit, but conducive to suffering. On what account?
On account of that pernicious view. It is like a margosa seed, or a seed of the
bitter gourd, planted in moist earth. The soil and water taken in as nutriment
are wholly converted into a bitter taste, an acrid taste, a foul taste. Why is
that? Because the seed is not good.

“Monks! When there is Right View, bodily
cause and effect created as a result of that view, verbal cause and effect
created as a result of that view, and mental cause and effect created as a
result of that view, as well as intentions, aspirations, wishes and mental
proliferations, are all yielding of results that are desirable, pleasant,
agreeable, producing benefit, conducive to happiness. On what account? On
account of those good views. It is like a seed of the sugar cane, a seed of
wheat, or a fruit seed which has been planted in moist earth. The water and
soil taken in as nutriment are wholly converted into sweetness, into
refreshment, into a delicious taste. On what account is that? On account of
that good seed …

*  *  *

“Monks! There is one whose birth into
this world is not for the benefit of the many, not for the happiness of the
many, but for the ruin, for the harm of the manyfolk, for the suffering of both
Devas and men. Who is that person? It is the person with wrong view, with
distorted views. One with wrong view leads the many away from the truth and
into falsehood …

“Monks! There is one whose birth into
this world is for the benefit of the many, for the happiness of the many, for
growth, for benefit, for the happiness of Devas and men. Who is that person? It
is the person with Right View, who has undistorted views. One with Right View
leads the many away from falsehood, and toward the truth …”

“Monks! I see no other condition which
is so harmful as wrong view. Of harmful things, monks, wrong view is the
greatest.”

*  *  *

“All conditions have mind as forerunner,
mind as master, are accomplished by mind. Whatever one says or does with a
defective mind brings suffering in its wake, just as the cartwheel follows the
ox’s hoof … Whatever one says or does with a clear mind brings happiness in
its wake, just as the shadow follows its owner.”

2. On Good and Evil
   
The problem of good and evil
   
The meaning of kusala and akusala
   
Kusala and akusala as catalysts for each
other

   
Gauging good and bad cause and effect
       
Primary factors
       
Secondary factors

2

On Good and Evil

The problem of good and
evil

Because
cause and effect is directly concerned with good and evil, any discussion of
cause and effect must also include a discussion of good and evil. Standards for
defining good and evil are, however, not without their problems. What is
“good,” and how is it so? What is it that we call “evil,”
and how is that so? These problems are in fact a matter of language. In the
Awaken One with Awareness’s teaching, which is based on the Pali language, the
meaning becomes much clearer, as will presently be demonstrated.

    The English words “good” and
“evil” have very broad meanings, particularly the word
“good,” which is much more widely used than “evil.” A
virtuous and moral person is said to be good; delicious food might be called
“good” food; a block of wood which happens to be useful might be
called a “good” block of wood. Moreover, something which is good to
one person might not be good to many others. Looked at from one angle, a
certain thing may be good, but not from another. Behavior which is considered
good in one area, district or society might be considered bad in another.

    It seems from these
examples that there is some disparity. It might be necessary to consider the
word “good” from different viewpoints, such as good in a hedonistic
sense, good in an artistic sense, good in an economic sense, and so on. The reason
for this disparity is a matter of values. The words “good” and
“evil” can be used in many different value systems in English, which
makes their meanings very broad.

   
In our study of good and evil the following points should be borne in mind:

   
(a) Our study will be from the perspective of the law of cause and effect, thus
we will be using the specialized terms kusala
and akusala or skillful and
unskillful, which have very precise meanings.

   
(b) Kusala and akusala, in terms of Buddhist ethics, are qualities of the law
of cause and effect, thus our study of them is keyed to this context, not as a
set of social values as is commonly used for the words “good” and “evil.”

   
(c) As discussed in Chapter One, the operation of the law of cause and effect
is related to other laws. Specifically, insofar as the inner life of the
individual is concerned, cause and effectniyama interacts with psychological
laws (cittaniyama), while externally it is related to Social Preference.

 

The meaning of kusala and akusala

Although
kusala and akusala are sometimes translated as “good” and
“evil,” this may be misleading. Things which are kusala may not
always be considered good, while some things may be akusala and yet not
generally considered to be evil. Depression, melancholy, sloth and distraction,
for example, although akusala, are not usually considered to be
“evil” as we know it in English. In the same vein, some forms of
kusala, such as calmness of body and mind, may not readily come into the
general understanding of the English word “good.”

   
Kusala and akusala are conditions which arise in the mind, producing results
initially in the mind, and from there to external actions and physical
features. The meanings of kusala and akusala therefore stress the state, the
contents and the events of mind as their basis.

   
Kusala can be rendered generally as “intelligent, skillful, contented,
beneficial, good,” or “that which removes affliction.”
Akusala is defined
in the opposite way, as in “unintelligent,” “unskillful”
and so on.

   
The following are four connotations of kusala derived from the Commentaries:

   
1. Arogya: free of illness, a mind that is
healthy; mental states which contain those conditions or factors which support
mental health and produce an untroubled and stable mind.

   
2. Anavajja: unstained; factors
which render the mind clean and clear, not stained or murky.

   
3. Kosalasambhuta: based on wisdom
or intelligence; mental states which are based on knowledge and understanding
of truth. This is supported by the teaching which states that kusala conditions
have yoniso-manasikara, clear
thinking, as forerunner.

   
4. Sukhavipaka: rewarded by
well-being. Kusala is a condition which produces contentment. When kusala
conditions arise in the mind, there is naturally a sense of well-being, without
the need for any external influence. Just as when one is strong and healthy (aroga), freshly bathed (anavajja), and in a safe and
comfortable place (kosalasambhuta),
a sense of well-being naturally follows.

   
The meaning of akusala should be understood in just the opposite way from
above: as the mind that is unhealthy, harmful, based on ignorance, and
resulting in suffering. In brief, it refers to those conditions which cause the
mind to degenerate both in quality and efficiency, unlike kusala, which
promotes the quality and efficiency of the mind.

   
In order to further clarify these concepts, it might be useful to look at the
descriptions of the attributes of a good mind, one that is healthy and trouble-free,
found in the Commentaries, and then to consider whether kusala conditions do
indeed induce the mind to be this way, and if so, how. We could then consider
whether akusala conditions deprive the mind of such states, and how they do
this.

   
For easy reference, the various characteristics of kusala found in the
Commentaries can be compiled into groups, as follows:

    1. Firm: resolute, stable,
unmoving, undistracted.

   
2.
Pure and clean:
unstained,
immaculate, bright.

    3. Clear and free: unrestricted,
free, exalted, boundless.

    4. Fit for work: pliant, light,
fluent, patient.

   
5. Calm and content: relaxed, serene, satisfied.

   
Having
looked at the qualities of a healthy mind, we can now consider the qualities
which are known as kusala and akusala, assessing to see how they affect the
quality of the mind.

   
Some examples of kusala conditions are: sati,
mindfulness or recollection, the ability to maintain the attention with
whatever object or duty the mind is engaged; metta,
goodwill; non-greed, absence of desire and attachment (including altruistic
thoughts); wisdom, clear understanding of the way things are; calm, relaxation
and peace; kusalachanda, zeal
or contentment with the good; a desire to know and act in accordance with the
truth; and gladness at the good fortune of others.

   
When there is goodwill, the mind is naturally happy, cheerful, and clear. This
is a condition which is beneficial to the psyche, supporting the quality and
efficiency of the mind. Goodwill is therefore kusala. Sati enables the
attention to be with whatever the mind is involved or engaged, recollecting the
proper course of action, helping to prevent akusala conditions from arising,
and thus enabling the mind to work more effectively. Sati is therefore kusala.

   
Examples of akusala conditions are: sexual desire; ill
will; sloth and torpor; restlessness and anxiety; doubt[
a], anger, jealousy, and avarice.

   
Jealousy
makes the mind spiteful and oppressive, clearly damaging the quality and health
of the mind. Therefore it is akusala. Anger stirs up the mind in such a way
that rapidly affects even the health of the body, and thus is clearly akusala.
Sensual desire confuses and obsesses the mind. This is also akusala
.

   
Having established an understanding of the words kusala and akusala, we are now
ready to understand good and bad cause and effect, or kusala cause and effect
and akusala cause and effect. As has been already mentioned, intention is the
heart of cause and effect. Thus, an intention which contains kusala conditions
is skillful, and an intention which contains akusala conditions is unskillful.
When those skillful or unskillful intentions are acted on through the body,
speech or mind, they are known as skillful and unskillful cause and effect
through body, speech and mind respectively, or, alternatively, bodily cause and
effect, verbal cause and effect and mental cause and effect which are skillful
and unskillful as the case may be
.

 

Kusala and akusala as catalysts
for each other

An act
of faith or generosity, moral purity, or even an experience of insight during
meditation, which are all kusala conditions, can precipitate the arising of
conceit, pride and arrogance. Conceit and pride are akusala conditions. This
situation is known as “kusala acting as an agent for akusala.”
Meditation practice can lead to highly concentrated states of mind (kusala),
which in turn can lead to attachment (akusala). The development of thoughts of
goodwill and benevolence to others (kusala), can, in the presence of a
desirable object, precipitate the arising of lust (akusala). These are examples
of kusala acting as an agent for akusala.

   
Sometimes moral or meditation practice (kusala) can be based on a desire to be
reborn in heaven (akusala). A child’s good behavior (kusala) can be based on a
desire to show off to its elders (akusala); a student’s zeal in learning
(kusala) can stem from ambition (akusala); anger (akusala), seen in the light
of its harmful effects, can lead to wise reflection and forgiveness (kusala);
the fear of death (akusala) can encourage introspection (kusala): these are all
examples of akusala as an agent for kusala.

   
An example: the parents of a teenage boy warn their son that his friends are a
bad influence on him, but he takes no notice and is lured into drug addiction.
On realizing his situation, he is at first angered and depressed, then,
remembering his parents’ warnings, he is moved by their compassion (akusala as
an agent for kusala), but this in turn merely aggravates his own self-hatred
(kusala as an agent for akusala).

   
These changes from kusala to akusala, or akusala to kusala, occur so rapidly
that the untrained mind is rarely able to see them.

 

Gauging good and bad cause and effect

   
In terms of the law of cause and effect, the conventions of society may be
divided into two types:
It has been
mentioned that the law of cause and effect has a very intimate relationship
with both psychological laws and Social Preference. This very similarity can
easily create misunderstandings. The law of cause and effect is so closely
related to psychological laws that they seem to be one and the same thing, but
there is a clear dividing line between the two, and that is intention. This is
the essence and motivating force of the law of cause and effect and is that
which gives the law of cause and effect its distinct niche among the other
niyama or laws. Cittaniyama, on the other hand, governs all mental activity,
including the unintentional.

    Human intention, through
the law of cause and effect, has its own role distinct from the other niyama,
giving rise to the illusion that human beings are independent of the natural
world. Intention must rely on the mechanics of cittaniyama in order to
function, and the process of creating cause and effect must operate within the
parameters of cittaniyama.

    Using an analogy of a man
driving a motor boat, the “driver” is intention, which is the domain
of the law of cause and effect, whereas the whole of the boat engine is
comparable to the mental factors, which are functions of cittaniyama. The driver
must depend on the boat engine. However, for the “boat engine” to
lead the “boat,” that is, for the mind to lead life and the body, in
any direction, is entirely at the discretion of the “driver,”
intention. The driver depends on and makes use of the boat, but also takes
responsibility for the welfare of both boat and engine. In the same way, the
law of cause and effect depends on and makes use of cittaniyama, and also
accepts responsibility for the welfare of life, including both the body and the
mind.

    There is not much
confusion about this relationship between the law of cause and effect and
cittaniyama, mainly because these are not things in which the average person
takes much interest. The issue that creates the most confusion is the
relationship between the law of cause and effect and Social Preference, and
this confusion creates ambiguity in regard to the nature of good and evil.

    We often hear people say
that good and evil are human or social inventions. An action in one society,
time or place, may be regarded as good, but in another time and place regarded
as bad. Some actions may be acceptable to one society, but not to another. For
example, some religions teach that to kill animals for food is not bad, while
others teach that to harm beings of any kind is never good. Some societies hold
that a child should show respect to its elders, and that to argue with them is
bad manners, while others hold that respect is not dependent on age, and that
all people should have the right to express their opinions.

    To say that good and evil
are matters of human preference and social decree is true to some extent. Even
so, the good and evil of Social Preference do not affect or upset the workings
of the law of cause and effect in any way, and should not be confused with it.
“Good” and “evil” as social conventions should be
recognized as Social Preference. As for “good” and “evil,”
or more correctly, kusala and akusala, as qualities of the law of cause and
effect, these should be recognized as attributes of the law of cause and
effect. Even though the two are related they are in fact separate, and have
very clear distinctions.

    That which is at once the
relationship, and the point of distinction, between this natural law and the
Social Preference is intention, or will. As to how this is so, let us now
consider.

   
1. Those which have no direct
relationship to kusala and akusala.

   
2. Those which are related to kusala
and akusala.

   
Those
conventions which have no direct relationship to kusala and akusala
are the accepted values or agreements which
are established by society for a specific social function, such as to enable
people to live together harmoniously. They may indeed be instruments for
creating social harmony, or they may not. They may indeed be useful to society
or they may in fact be harmful. All this depends on whether or not those
conventions are established with sufficient understanding and wisdom, and
whether or not the authority who established them is acting with pure
intention.

   
These kinds of conventions may take many forms, such as
traditions, customs or laws. “Good” and “evil” in this
respect are strictly matters of Social Preference. They may change in many
ways, but their changes are not functions of the law of cause and effect, and
must not be confused with it. If a person disobeys these conventions and is
punished by society, that is also a matter of Social Preference, not the law of
cause and effect.

   
Now, let us consider an area in which these social conventions
may overlap with the law of cause and effect, such as when a member of a
society refuses to conform to one of its conventions, or infringes on it. In so
doing, that person will be acting on a certain intention. This intention is the
first step in, and is therefore a concern of, the law of cause and effect. In
many societies there will be an attempt to search out this intention for
ascertaining the quality of the action. That is again a concern of Social
Preference, indicating that that particular society knows how to utilize the
law of cause and effect. This consideration of intention by society is not,
however, in itself a function of the law of cause and effect. (That is, it is
not a foregone conclusion — illegal behavior is not always punished. However,
whether actions are punished or not they are cause and effect in the sense that
they are volitional actions and will bring results.)

   
As for the particular role of the law of cause and effect, regardless of
whether society investigates the intention or not, or even whether society is
aware of the infringement, the law of cause and effect functions immediately
the action occurs, and the process of fruition has already been set in motion.

   
Simply speaking, the deciding factor in the law of cause and effect is whether
the intention is kusala or akusala. In most cases, not to conform with any
Social Preference can only be said to constitute no intentional infringement
when society agrees to abandon or to reform that convention. Only then will
there be no violation of the public agreement.

   
This can be illustrated by a simple example. Suppose two people decide to live
together. In order to render their lives together as smooth and as convenient
as possible, they agree to establish a set of regulations: although working in
different places and returning from work at different times, they decide to
have the evening meal together. As it would be impractical to wait for each
other indefinitely, they agree that each of them should not eat before seven
pm. Of those two people, one likes cats and doesn’t like dogs, while the other
likes dogs and doesn’t like cats. For mutual well-being, they agree not to
bring any pets at all into the house.

   
Having agreed on these regulations, if either of those two people acts in
contradiction to them, there is a case of intentional infringement, and cause
and effect arises, good or bad according to the intention that instigated it,
even though eating food before seven pm., or bringing pets into a house, are
not in themselves good or evil. Another couple might even establish regulations
which are directly opposite to these. And in the event that one of those people
eventually considers their regulations to be no longer beneficial, they should
discuss the matter together and come to an agreement. Only then would any
intentional nonconformity on that person’s part be free of kammic result. This
is the distinction between “good” and “evil,” and
“right” and “wrong,” as changing social conventions, as
opposed to the unchanging properties of the law of cause and effect, kusala and
akusala.

   
The conventions which are related to
kusala and akusala in the law of cause and effect
are those
conventions which are either skillful or unskillful. Society may or may not
make these regulations with a clear understanding of kusala and akusala, but
the process of the law of cause and effect continues along its natural course
regardless. It does not change along with those social conventions.

   
For example, a society might consider it acceptable to take intoxicants and
addictive drugs. Extreme emotions may be encouraged, and the citizens may be
incited to compete aggressively in order to spur economic growth. Or it might
be generally believed that to kill people of other societies, or, on a lesser
scale, to kill animals, is not blameworthy.

   
These are examples where the good and evil of Social Preference and kusala and
akusala are at odds with each other: unskillful conditions are socially
preferred and “good” from a social perspective is “bad”
from a moral one. Looked at from a social perspective, those conventions or
attitudes may cause both positive and negative results. For example, although a
life of tension and high competitiveness may cause a high suicide rate, an
unusually large amount of mental and social problems, heart disease and so on,
that society may experience rapid material progress. Thus, social problems can
often be traced down to the law of cause and effect, in the values condoned and
encouraged by society.

   
Social Preference and the law of cause and effect are separate and distinct.
The fruits of cause and effect proceed according to their own law, independent
of any social conventions which are at odds with it as mentioned above.
However, because the convention and the law are related, correct practice in
regard to the law of cause and effect, that is, actions that are kusala, might
still give rise to problems on the social level. For example, an abstainer
living in a society which favors intoxicating drugs receives the fruits of
cause and effect dictated by the law of cause and effect — he doesn’t
experience the loss of health and mental clarity due to intoxicating drugs –
but in the context of Social Preference, as opposed to the law of cause and
effect, he may be ridiculed and scorned. And even within the law of cause and
effect there may arise problems from his intentional opposition to this Social
Preference, in the form of mental stress, more or less depending on his wisdom
and ability to let go of social reactions.

   
A progressive society with wise administrators uses the experience accumulated
from previous generations in laying down the conventions and laws of society.
These become the good and evil of Social Preference, and ideally they should correlate
with the kusala and akusala of cause and effectniyama. The ability to establish
conventions in conformity with the law of cause and effect would seem to be a
sound gauge for determining the true extent of a society’s progress or
civilization.

   
In
this context, when it is necessary to appraise any convention as good or evil,
it would best be considered from two levels. Firstly, in terms of Social
Preference, by determining whether or not it has a beneficial result to
society. Secondly, in terms of the law of cause and effect, by determining
whether or not it is kusala, beneficial to mental well-being.

   
Some
conventions, even though maintained by societies for long periods of time, are
in fact not at all useful to them, even from the point of view of Social Preference,
let alone from the point of view of the law of cause and effect. Such
conventions should be abandoned, and it may be necessary for an exceptional
being with pure heart to point out their fault.

   
In the case of a convention which is seen to be helpful to society and to human
progress, but which is not in conformity with the kusala of the law of cause
and effect, such as one which enhances material progress at the expense of the
quality of life, it might be worth considering whether the people of that
society have not gone astray and mistaken that which is harmful as being
beneficial. A truly beneficial custom should conform with both Social
Preference and the law of cause and effect. In other words, it should be
beneficial to both the individual and society as a whole, and beneficial on
both the material and psychic levels.

   
In this regard we can take a lesson from the situation of society in the
present time. Human beings, holding the view that wealth of material
possessions is the path to true happiness, have proceeded to throw their
energies into material development. The harmful effects of many of our attempts
at material progress are only now becoming apparent. Even though society
appears to be prosperous, we have created many new physical dangers, and social
and environmental problems threaten us on a global scale. Just as material
progress should not be destructive to the physical body, social progress should
not be destructive to the clarity of the mind.

   
The Awaken One with Awareness gave a set of reflections on
kusala and akusala for assessing the nature of good and evil on a practical
level, encouraging reflection on both the good and evil within (conscience),
and the teachings of wise beings (these two being the foundation of conscience
and modesty). Thirdly, he recommended pondering the fruits of actions, both
individually and on a social basis. Because the nature of kusala and akusala
may not always be clear, the Awaken One with Awareness advised adhering to
religious and ethical teachings, and, if such teachings are not clear enough,
to look at the results of actions, even if only from a social basis.

   
For
most people, these three bases for reflection (i.e., individually, socially,
and from the accepted teachings of wise beings) can be used to assess behavior
on a number of different levels, ensuring that their actions are as circumspect
as possible.

   
Thus,
the criteria for assessing good and evil are: in the context of whether an
action is cause and effect or not, to take intention as the deciding factor;
and in the context of whether that cause and effect is good or evil, to
consider the matter against the following principles:

Primary Factors

  • Inquiring into the roots of
    actions, whether the intentions for them arose from one of the skillful
    roots of non-greed, non-aversion or non-delusion, or from one of the
    unskillful roots of greed, aversion or delusion.
  • Inquiring into the effects on
    the psyche, or mental well-being, of actions: whether they render the mind
    clear, calm and healthy; whether they promote or inhibit the quality of
    the mind; whether they encourage the arising of skillful conditions and
    the decrease of unskillful conditions, or vice versa.

Secondary Factors

   
1. Considering whether one’s actions are censurable to oneself or not
(conscience).

   
2.
Considering the quality of one’s actions in terms of wise teachings.

   
3. Considering the results of those actions:


               
a. towards oneself


               
b. towards others.

   
It is possible to classify these standards in a different way, if we first
clarify two points. Firstly, looking at actions either in terms of their roots,
or as skillful and unskillful in themselves, are essentially the same thing.
Secondly, in regard to approval or censure by the wise, we can say that such
wise opinions are generally preserved in religions, conventions and laws. Even
though these conventions are not always wise, and thus any practice which
conflicts with them is not necessarily unskillful, still it can be said that
such cases are the exception rather than the rule.

    We are now
ready to summarize our standards for good and evil, or good and bad cause and
effect, both strictly according to the law of cause and effect and also in
relation to Social Preference, both on an intrinsically moral level and on a
socially prescribed one.

   
1. In terms of direct benefit or harm: are these actions in themselves
beneficial? Do they contribute to the quality of life? Do they cause kusala and
akusala conditions to increase or wane?

   
2. In terms of beneficial or harmful consequences: are the effects of these
actions harmful or beneficial to oneself?

   
3. In terms of benefit or harm to society: are they harmful to others, or
helpful to them?

   
4. In terms of conscience, the natural human reflexive capacity: will those
actions be censurable to oneself or not?

   
5. In terms of social standards: what is the position of actions in relation to
those religious conventions, traditions, social institutions and laws which are
based on wise reflection (as opposed to those which are simply superstitious or
mistaken beliefs)?

Prior to
addressing the question of the results of cause and effect in the next chapter,
it would be pertinent to consider some of the points described above in the
light of the Pali Canon.

“What
are skillful (kusala) conditions? They are the three roots of skillfulness –
non-greed, non-aversion and non-delusion; feelings, perceptions, proliferations
and consciousness which contain those roots of skillfulness; bodily cause and
effect, verbal cause and effect and mental cause and effect which have those
roots as their base: these are skillful conditions.

“What
are unskillful (akusala) conditions? They are the three roots of unskillfulness
– greed, aversion and delusion — and all the defilements which arise from
them; feelings, perceptions, proliferations and consciousness which contain
those roots of unskillfulness; bodily cause and effect, verbal cause and effect
and mental cause and effect which have those roots of unskillfulness as a
foundation: these are unskillful conditions.”

*  *  *

“There
are two kinds of danger, the overt danger and the covert danger.

“What
are the ‘overt dangers’? These are such things as lions, tigers, panthers,
bears, leopards, wolves … bandits … eye diseases, ear diseases, nose
diseases … cold, heat, hunger, thirst, defecation, urination, contact with
gadflies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and crawling animals: these are called ‘overt
dangers.’

“What
are the ‘covert dangers’? They are bad bodily actions, bad verbal actions, bad
mental actions; the hindrances of sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor,
restlessness and doubt; greed, aversion and delusion; anger, vengeance, spite,
arrogance, jealousy, meanness, deception, boastfulness, stubbornness,
contention, pride, scornfulness, delusion, heedlessness; the defilements, the
bad habits; the confusion; the lust; the agitation; all thoughts that are
unskillful: these are the ‘covert dangers.’

“They
are called ‘dangers’ for what reason? They are called dangers in that they
overwhelm, in that they cause decline, in that they are a shelter.

“Why
are they called dangers in that they overwhelm? Because those dangers suppress,
constrict, overcome, oppress, harass and crush …

“Why
are they called dangers in that they cause decline? Because those dangers bring
about the decline of skillful conditions …

“Why
are they called dangers in that they are a shelter? Because base, unskillful
conditions are born from those things and take shelter within them, just as an
animal which lives in a hole takes shelter in a hole, a water animal takes
shelter in water, or a tree-dwelling animal takes shelter in trees .. “

*  *  *

“When
greed, aversion and delusion arise within his mind, they destroy the evil doer,
just as the bamboo flower signals the ruin of the bamboo plant …

*  *  *

“See
here, Your Majesty. These three things arise in the world not for welfare or
benefit, but for woe, for discomfort. What are those three? They are greed,
aversion and delusion …”

*  *  *

“Monks,
there are these three roots of unskillfulness. What are the three? They are the
greed-root, the aversion-root and the delusion-root of unskillfulness …

“Greed
itself is unskillful; whatever cause and effect is created on account of greed,
through action, speech or thought, is also unskillful. One in the power of
greed, sunk in greed, whose mind is distorted by greed, causes trouble for
others by striking them, imprisoning them, crushing them, decrying them, and
banishing them, thinking, ‘I am powerful, I am mighty.’ That is also
unskillful. These many kinds of coarse, unskillful conditions, arising from
greed, having greed as their cause, having greed as their source, having greed
as condition, persecute the evil doer.

“Hatred
itself is unskillful; whatever cause and effect is created on account of
hatred, through action, speech or thought, is also unskillful. One in the power
of hatred … causes trouble for others … that is also unskillful. These many
kinds of coarse, unskillful conditions persecute the evil doer …

“Delusion
itself is unskillful; whatever cause and effect is created on account of
delusion, through action, speech or thought, is also unskillful. One in the
power of delusion causes trouble for others … that is also unskillful. These
many kinds of unskillful conditions persecute the evil doer in this way.

“One
who is thus caught up, whose mind is thus infected, in the coarse, unskillful
conditions born of greed, hatred and delusion, experiences suffering, stress,
agitation and anxiety in this present time. At death, at the breaking up of the
body, he can expect a woeful bourn, just like a tree which is completely
entwined with a banyan creeper comes to ruin, to destruction, to decline, to
dissolution …

“Monks!
There are these three roots of skillfulness. What are the three? They are the
non-greed root, the non-aversion root and the non-delusion root …”

*  *  *

“Monks!
There are three root causes of cause and effect. What are the three? They are
greed … hatred … delusion …

“Whatever
cause and effect is performed out of greed … hatred … delusion, is born
from greed … hatred … delusion, has greed … hatred … delusion as its
root and as its cause, that cause and effect is unskillful, that cause and
effect is harmful, that cause and effect has suffering as a result, that cause
and effect brings about the creation of more cause and effect, not the
cessation of cause and effect.

“Monks!
There are these three root causes of cause and effect. What are the three? They
are non-greed … non-hatred … non-delusion

“Whatever
cause and effect is performed out of non-greed … non-hatred … non-delusion,
is born of non-greed … non-hatred … non-delusion, has non-greed …
non-hatred … non-delusion as its root and its cause, that cause and effect is
skillful, that cause and effect is not harmful, that cause and effect has
happiness as a result, that cause and effect brings about the cessation of
cause and effect, not the creation of more cause and effect …”

*  *  *

“Listen,
Kalamas. When you know for yourselves that these things are unskillful, these
things are harmful, these things are censured by the wise, these things, if
acted upon, will bring about what is neither beneficial nor conducive to
welfare, but will cause suffering, then you should abandon them.”

“Kalamas,
how do you consider this matter? Do greed … hatred … delusion in a person,
bring about benefit or non-benefit?”

(Answer:
Non-benefit, Venerable Sir.)

“One
who is desirous … is angry … is deluded; who is overwhelmed by greed …
hatred … delusion, whose mind is thus distorted, as a result resorts to
murder, to theft, to adultery, to lying, and encourages others to do so. This
is for their non-benefit and non-welfare for a long time to come.”

(Answer:
That is true, Venerable Sir.)

“Kalamas,
how say you, are those things skillful or unskillful?”

(Answer:
They are unskillful, Venerable Sir.)

“Are
they harmful or not harmful?”

(Answer:
Harmful, Venerable Sir.)

“Praised
by the wise, or censured?”

(Answer:
Censured by the wise, Venerable Sir.)

“If
these things are acted upon, will they bring about harm and suffering, or not?
What do you think?”

(Answer:
When put into practice, these things bring about harm and suffering, this is
our view on this matter.)

“In
that case, Kalamas, when I said, ‘Come, Kalamas, do not believe simply because
a belief has been adhered to for generations … nor simply because this man is
your teacher, or is revered by you, but when you know for yourselves that these
things are unskillful, then you should abandon those things,’ it is on account
of this that I thus spoke.”

*  *  *

The
following passage is from an exchange between King Pasenadi of Kosala and the
Venerable
Ananda. It is a series of questions and answers relating to the
nature of good and evil, from which it can be seen that Venerable Ananda makes
use of all the standards mentioned above.

King: Venerable Sir,
when foolish, unintelligent people, not carefully considering, speak in praise
or blame of others, I do not take their words seriously. As for pundits, the
wise and astute, who carefully consider before praising or criticizing, I give
weight to their words. Venerable Ananda, which kinds of bodily actions, verbal
actions and mental actions would, on reflection, be censured by wise ascetics
and Brahmins?

Ananda: They are those
actions of body … speech … mind that are unskillful, Your Majesty.

King: What are those
actions of body … speech … mind that are unskillful?

Ananda: They are those actions
of body … speech … mind that are harmful.

King: What are those
actions of body … speech … mind that are harmful?

Ananda: They are those
actions of body … speech … mind that are oppressive.

King: What are those
actions of body … speech … mind that are oppressive?

Ananda: They are those
actions of body … speech … mind which result in suffering.

King: What are those
actions of body … speech … mind which result in suffering?

Ananda: Those actions of
body … speech … mind which serve to torment oneself, to torment others, or
to torment both; which bring about an increase in unskillful conditions and a
decrease of skillful conditions; Your Majesty, just these kinds of actions of
body … speech … mind are censured by wise ascetics and Brahmins.

Following
that, Venerable Ananda answered the King’s questions about skillful conditions
in the same way, summarizing with:

“Those
actions of body … speech … mind which result in happiness, that is, those
actions which do not serve to torment oneself, to torment others, nor to
torment both; which bring about a decrease in unskillful conditions and an
increase in skillful conditions; Your Majesty, just these kinds of actions of
body … speech … mind are not censured by wise ascetics and Brahmins.”

*  *  *

“One
in the power of greed and desire … hatred and resentment … delusion …
with mind thus distorted … does not know as it is what is useful to oneself
… what is useful to others … what is useful to both sides. Having abandoned
desire … aversion … delusion, one knows clearly what is useful to oneself
… useful to others … useful to both.”

*  *  *

“Bad
cause and effect is like freshly squeezed milk — it takes time to sour. Bad
cause and effect follows and burns the evil doer just like hot coals buried in
ash.”

*  *  *

“One
who previously made bad cause and effect, but who reforms and creates good
cause and effect, brightens the world like the moon appearing from behind a
cloud.”

*  *  *

“To
make good cause and effect is like having a good friend at your side.”

*  *  *

“Ananda!
For those bad actions through body, speech and mind, which are discouraged by
me, the following consequences can be expected: one is blameworthy to oneself;
the wise, on careful consideration, find one censurable; a bad reputation
spreads; one dies confused; and at death, on the breaking up of the body, one
goes to the woeful states, the nether realms, hell …

“Ananda!
For those good actions through body, speech and mind recommended by me, the
following rewards can be expected: one is not blameworthy to oneself; the wise,
after careful consideration, find one praiseworthy; a good reputation spreads;
one dies unconfused; and at death, on the breaking up of the body, one attains
to a pleasant realm, to heaven …”

*  *  *

“Monks,
abandon unskillful conditions. Unskillful conditions can be abandoned. If it
were impossible to abandon unskillful conditions, I would not tell you to do so
… but because unskillful conditions can be abandoned, thus do I tell you …
Moreover, if the abandoning of those unskillful conditions was not conducive to
welfare, but to suffering, I would not say, ‘Monks, abandon unskillful
conditions,’ but because the abandoning of these unskillful conditions is
conducive to benefit and happiness, so I say, ‘Monks, abandon unskillful
conditions.’

“Monks,
cultivate skillful conditions. Skillful conditions can be cultivated. If it
were impossible to cultivate skillful conditions, I would not tell you to do so
… but because skillful conditions can be cultivated, thus do I tell you …
Moreover, if the cultivation of those skillful conditions was not conducive to
welfare, but to suffering, I would not tell you to cultivate skillful
conditions, but because the cultivation of skillful conditions is conducive to
welfare and to happiness, thus do I say, ‘Monks, cultivate skillful
conditions.’”

*  *  *

“Monks,
there are those things which should be abandoned with the body, not the speech;
there are those things which should be abandoned with the speech, not the body;
there are those things which should be abandoned neither with the body, nor
speech, but must be clearly seen with wisdom (in the mind) and then abandoned.

“What
are those things which should be abandoned with the body, not through speech?
Herein, a monk in this Dhamma-Vinaya incurs transgressions through the body.
His wise companions in the Dhamma, having considered the matter, say to him:
‘Venerable Friend, you have incurred these offenses. It would be well if you
were to abandon this wrong bodily behavior and cultivate good bodily behavior.’
Having been so instructed by those wise companions, he abandons those wrong
bodily actions and cultivates good ones. This is a condition which should be
abandoned by body, not by speech.

“What
are the things which should be abandoned through speech, not through the body?
Herein, a monk in this Dhamma-Vinaya incurs some transgressions through speech.
His wise companions in the Dhamma, having considered the matter, say to him:
‘Venerable Friend, you have incurred these offenses of speech. It would be well
if you were to relinquish this wrong speech and cultivate good speech.’ Having
been so instructed by those wise companions, he abandons that wrong speech and
cultivates good speech. This is a condition which should be abandoned by speech,
not by body.

“What
are the things which should be abandoned neither by body nor speech, but which
should be clearly understood with wisdom and then abandoned? They are greed …
hatred … delusion … anger … vindictiveness … spite … arrogance …
meanness. These things should be abandoned neither by the body or speech, but
should be clearly understood with wisdom and then abandoned.”

3. The Fruition of Cause and effect
  
Results of cause
and effect on different levels

   
Factors that
affect the fruition of cause and effect

   
Understanding the
process of fruition

   
Fruits of cause and effect on a
long term basis — Heaven and Hell

   
Summary: verifying
future lives

   
Cause and effect fruition in the
Cula Cause and effectvibhanga Sutta

3

The Fruition of Cause and
effect

Results of cause and effect on different levels

Probably
the most misunderstood aspect of the whole subject of cause and effect is the
way it yields results, as summarized in the principle, “Good actions bring
good results, bad actions bring bad results.” Is this really true? To
some, it seems that in “the real world” there are many who obtain
good results from bad actions and bad results from good actions. This kind of
understanding arises from confusion between “Social Preference” and
the law of cause and effect. The confusion can be readily seen from the way
people misunderstand even the meaning of the words, “good actions bring
good results.” Instead of understanding the meaning as “in performing
good actions, there is goodness,” or “good actions bring about good
results in accordance with the law of cause and effect,” they take the
meaning to be “good actions result in good things.” Bearing this in
mind, let us now consider the matter in more depth.

    The subject
which causes doubt is the distinction, and the relationship between, the law of
cause and effect and Social Preference. To clarify this point, let us first
consider the fruition of cause and effect on four different levels:

   
1. The inner, mental level:
the results cause and effect has within
the mind itself, in the form of accumulated tendencies, both skillful and
unskillful, and the quality of the mind, its experiences of happiness,
suffering, and so on.

   
2. The physical level:
the effect cause and effect has on character, mannerisms,
bearing, behavioral tendencies. The results on this level are derived from the
first level, and their fields of relevance overlap, but here they are
considered separately in order to further clarify the way these two levels
affect life experiences.

   
3. The level of life experiences:
how cause and effect affects the events
of life, producing both desirable and undesirable experiences; specifically,
external events like prosperity and decline, failure and success, wealth,
status, happiness, suffering, praise and criticism. Together these are known as
the lokadhamma (worldly
conditions). The results of cause and effect on this level can be divided into
two kinds:

  • those arising from nonhuman
    environmental causes
  • those arising from causes
    related to other people and society.

    4. The social level: the results of individual and collective cause and effect
on society, leading to social prosperity or decline, harmony or discord. This
would include the effects of human interaction with the environment.

    Levels 1 and 2 refer to the results which affect mind and
character, which are the fields in which the law of cause and effect is
dominant. The third level is where the law of cause and effect and Social
Preference meet, and it is at this point that confusion arises. This is the
problem which we will now consider. The fourth level, cause and effect on the
social level, will be considered in the next chapter.

   
When considering the meaning of the words “good actions bring good
results, bad actions bring bad results,” most people tend to take note
only of the results given on the third level, those from external sources,
completely ignoring results on levels one and two. However, these first two
levels are of prime importance, not only in that they determine mental
well-being, inner strength or shortcomings, and the maturity or weakness of the
faculties, but also in their potential to determine external events. That is to
say, that portion of results on the third level which comes into the domain of
the law of cause and effect is derived from the cause and effect-results on the
first and second levels.

   
For instance, states of mind which are results of cause and effect on the first
level — interests, preferences, tendencies, methods for finding happiness or
coping with suffering — will influence not only the way we look at things, but
also the situations we are drawn toward, reactions or decisions made, our way
of life and the experiences or results encountered. They affect the attitude we
adopt towards life’s experiences, which will in turn affect the second level
(behavioral tendencies). This in turn promotes the way in which mental
activities (the first level) affect external events (the third level). The
direction, style, or method taken for action, the persistence with it, the particular
obstacles in face of which we will yield and in face of which we will persist,
including the probability of success, are all influenced by character and
attitude. This is not to deny that other factors, particularly environmental
and social ones, affect each other and have an influence over us, but here we
are concerned more with observing the workings of cause and effect.

   
Although events of life are largely derived from the effects of the law of
cause and effect from the personal (physical and mental) level, this is not
always the case. An honest and capable public servant, for example, who applied
himself to his work would be expected to advance in his career, at least more
so than one who was inefficient and inept. But sometimes this doesn’t happen.
This is because the events in life are not entirely subject to the law of cause
and effect. There are factors involved from other niyama and value-systems,
especially Social Preference. If there were only the law of cause and effect
operating there would be no problem, results would arise in direct
correspondence with the relevant cause and effect. But looking only at the
influence of cause and effect to the exclusion of other factors, and failing to
distinguish between the natural laws and Social Preferences involved, causes
confusion, and this is precisely what causes the belief, “good actions
bring bad results, bad actions bring good results.”

   
For example, a conscientious student who applies himself to his lessons could
be expected to acquire learning. But there may be times when he is physically
exhausted or has a headache, or the weather or some accident may interrupt his
reading. Whatever the case, we can still assert that in general, the law of
cause and effect is the prime determining factor for the good and bad
experiences of life.

   
Let
us now look at and rectify some of the misunderstandings in regard to the
fruition of cause and effect by referring to the root texts. The phrase that
Thai people like to repeat, “good actions bring good results, bad actions
bring bad results,” comes from the Awaken One with Awareness’s statement,

Yadisam vapate bijam
         Tadisam labhate phalam
Kalyanakari kalyanam        
Papakari ca papakam

   
Which translates as:

As the seed, so the fruit.
Whoever does good, receives good,
Whoever does bad, receives bad.

   
This passage most clearly and succinctly expresses the Buddhist doctrine of
cause and effect. (Note that here the Awaken One with Awareness uses
bijaniyama, the law of heredity, for illustration.) Simply by clearly
considering this illustration, we can allay all confusion regarding the law of
cause and effect and Social Preference.

   
That is to say, the phrase, “As the seed, so the fruit,” explains the
natural law pertaining to plants: if tamarind is planted, you get tamarind; if
grapes are planted, you get grapes; if lettuce is planted, you get lettuce. It
does not speak at all in terms of Social Preference, such as in “if
tamarind is planted, you get money,” or “planting lettuce will make
you rich,” which are different stages of the process.

   
Bijaniyama and Social Preference become related when, having planted grapes,
for example, and obtained grapes, and the time being coincident with a good
price for grapes, then your grapes are sold for a good price, and you get rich
that year. But at another time, you may plant water melons, and reap a good
harvest, but that year everybody plants water melons, supply exceeds demand,
and the price of water melons goes down. You make a loss and have to throw away
a lot of water melons.

   
Apart from the factor of market demand, there may also be other factors
involved, economic ones determined by Social Preference. But the essential
point is the certainty of the natural law of heredity, and the distinction
between that natural law and Social Preference. They are different and yet
clearly related
.

   
People tend to look at the law of cause and effect and Social Preference as one
and the same thing, interpreting “good actions bring good results” as
meaning “good actions will make us rich,” or “good actions will
earn a promotion,” which in some cases seems quite reasonable. But things
do not always go that way. To say this is just like saying, “Plant mangoes
and you’ll get a lot of money,” or “They planted apples, that’s why
they’re hard up.” These things may be true, or may not be. But this kind
of thinking jumps ahead of the facts a step or two. It is not entirely true. It
may be sufficient to communicate on an everyday basis, but if you wanted to
speak accurately, you would have to analyze the pertinent factors more clearly.

Factors which affect the fruition of cause and effect

In the Pali
there are four pairs of factors which influence the fruition of cause and
effect on the level of life experiences. They are given as the four advantages
(sampatti) and the four
disadvantages (vipatti).

   
Sampatti translates roughly as attribute or attainment, and refers to the
confluence of factors to support the fruition of good cause and effect and obstruct
the fruition of bad cause and effect. The four are:

   
1. Gatisampatti: Favorable birthplace,
favorable environment, circumstances or career; that is, to be born into a
favorable area, locality or country; on a short term scale, to be in a
favorable place.

   
2. Upadhisampatti: The asset,
suitability and support of the body; that is, to have a beautiful or pleasant
appearance or personality which arouses respect or favor; a strong and healthy
body, etc.

   
3. Kalasampatti: The asset of
opportunity, aptness of time, or the support of time; that is, to be born at a
time when the country lives in peace and harmony, the government is good,
people live virtuously, praise goodness and do not support corruption; on an
immediate level, to encounter opportunities at the right time, at the right
moment.

   
4. Payogasampatti: The attribute of
action, aptness of action, or advantage of action; that is, action which is
appropriate to the circumstance; action which is in accordance with personal
skill or capability; action which fully accords with the principles or criteria
concerned; thoroughgoing, not halfhearted, action; proper procedure or method.

   
Vipatti translates roughly as defect or loss, and refers to a tendency within
conditioning factors to encourage the fruition of bad cause and effect rather
than the good. They are:

   
1. Gativipatti: Unfavorable
birthplace, unfavorable environment, circumstances or career; that is, to be
born into or be situated in a sphere, locality, country or environment which is
unsupportive.

   
2. Upadhivipatti: Weakness or
defectiveness of the body; that is, to have a deformed or sickly body, of
unpleasant appearance. This includes times of bad health and illness.

   
3. Kalavipatti: Disadvantage or
defectiveness of time; that is, to be born into an age when there is social
unrest, bad government, a degenerate society, oppression of good people, praise
of the bad, and so on. This also includes inopportune action.

   
4. Payogavipatti: Weakness or
defectiveness of action; putting effort into a task or matter which is
worthless, or for which one is not capable; action which is not thoroughly
carried through.

   
First pair: Gatisampatti: Birth into an affluent
community and a good education can procure a higher position in society than
for another who, although brighter and more diligent, is born into a poorer
community with less opportunity. Gativipatti:
At a time when a Awaken One with Awareness is born into the world and
expounding the Dhamma, birth in a primitive jungle or as a hell-being will
obstruct any chance of hearing the teachings; learning and capability in a
community where such talents are not appreciated may yield no benefits, and
even lead to rejection and scorn.

   
Second pair: Upadhisampatti: Attractive features and
a pleasant appearance can often be utilized to shift upwards on the social
scale. Upadhivipatti:
Deformity or deficiency are likely to hinder the honor and prestige that would
normally befall a member of a socially high and wealthy family; where two
people have otherwise equal attributes, but one is attractive while the other
is unpleasant looking or sickly, the attributes of the body may be the deciding
factor for success.

   
Third pair: Kalasampatti: At a time when government
and society are honest and praise virtue, honesty and rectitude can procure
advancement; at a time when poetry is socially preferred, a poet is likely to
become famous and revered. Kalavipatti:
At a time when society has fallen from righteousness and the government is
corrupt, honest people may actually be persecuted; at a time when a large
portion of society prefers harsh music, a musician skilled at cool and relaxing
music may receive little recognition.

   
Fourth pair: Payogasampatti: Even without goodness
or talent, a knack with public relations and an understanding of social mores
can help to override failings in other areas; a skill in forging documents may
be beneficially turned to the inspection of references. Payogavipatti: Talent and abilities
will inevitably be impaired by an addiction to gambling; a sprinter with the
ability to become a champion athlete might misuse his talent for running away
with other people’s goods; a practically minded person with a mechanical bent
might go to work in a clerical position for which he is wholly unsuited.

    The fruits of cause and
effect on the external level are mostly worldly conditions, which are in a
state of constant flux. These worldly conditions are relatively superficial,
they are not the real essence of life. How much they influence us depends on
the extent of our attachment to them. If there is little attachment, it is
possible to maintain equilibrium in the face of hardships, or at least not be
overwhelmed by them. For this reason Concept of Awaken One with Awareness
encourages intelligent reflection and understanding of the truth of this world,
to have mindfulness and not be heedless: not to become intoxicated in times of
good fortune, and not to fall into depression or anxiety in times of
misfortune, but to carefully consider problems with wisdom.

   
Aspiration to worldly goals should be
coupled with a knowledge of personal attributes and weaknesses, and the ability
to choose and organize the relevant attributes to attain those goals through
skillful means (kusala cause and effect).
Such actions will have a lasting and beneficial effect on life at all levels.
Success sought through unskillful means, or favorable occasions used to create
unskillful cause and effect, will create undesirable results according to the
law of cause and effect. These four advantages (sampatti) and disadvantages
(vipatti) are constantly changing. When favorable times or opportunities have
passed, evil cause and effect will ripen. Favorable conditions should rather be
utilized to create good cause and effect.

    In this context, we might
summarize by saying that, for any given action, where many different natural
laws come into play, our prime emphasis should be with the factors of cause and
effect. As for the factors which come under other kinds of natural law, after
careful consideration, they can also be incorporated, as long as they are not
harmful on the level of cause and effect. Practicing in this way can be called
“utilizing skillful cause and effect and the four advantages,” or
“knowing how to benefit from both the law of cause and effect and Social
Preferences.”

   
In any case, bearing in mind the real aim of the Awaken One with Awareness’s
teaching, an aspiration to true goodness should not be traded for merely
worldly results. Truly good cause and effect arises from one or another of the
three roots of skillfulness: non-greed, non-aversion and non-delusion. These
are actions based on altruism, relinquishing the unskillful within the mind and
developing benevolent thoughts towards others, creating actions based on
goodwill and compassion. Such actions are based on wisdom, a mind which aspires
to truth and enlightenment. This is the highest kind of cause and effect, the
cause and effect which leads to the cessation of cause and effect
.

Understanding the process of fruition

Whenever
the intention to perform skillful or unskillful deeds arises, that is the
beginning of movement in the mind. To use a more scientific phrase, we could
say that “volition-energy” has arisen. How this energy proceeds,
which determinants affect it and so on, are usually a mystery to people, one in
which they take little interest. They tend to devote more interest to the
results which appear clearly at the end of the cycle, especially those which materialize
in the human social sphere. These are things which are easily seen and spoken
about.

   
Mankind
has a very good knowledge of the creations of the mind on a material plane, and
how these things come about, but about the actual nature of the mind itself,
the seat of intention, and the way intention affects life and the psyche, we
have very little knowledge indeed. It is a dark and mysterious realm for most
people, in spite of the fact that we must have an intimate relationship with
these things and are directly influenced by them.

   
On account of this obscurity and ignorance, when confronted with seemingly
random or unexplainable events, people tend to be unable to join the scattered
threads of cause and effect, and either fail to see the relevant determining
factors, or see them incompletely. They then proceed to reject the law of cause
and effect and put the blame on other things. This is tantamount to rejecting
the law of cause and effect, or the natural process of interdependence.
Rejecting the law of cause and effect and blaming other factors for the
misfortunes of life is in itself productive of more unskillful cause and
effect. Specifically, by so doing, any chance of improving unfavorable
situations through clear understanding is defeated.

   
In any case, it is recognized that the process of cause and effect fruition is
extremely complex, it is a process that is beyond most people’s comprehension.
In the Pali it is said to be acinteyya,
beyond the comprehension of the normal thought processes. The Awaken One with
Awareness said that insisting on thinking about such things could make one go
crazy. In saying this, the Awaken One with Awareness was not so much forbidding
any consideration of the law of cause and effect, but rather pointing out that
the intricacy of causes and events in nature cannot be understood through
thought alone, but only through direct, intuitive knowledge.

    Thus, being
acinteyya does not forbid us from touching the subject at all. Our relationship
with cause and effect is one of knowledge and a firm conviction in that
knowledge, based on examination of those things which we are able to know.
These are the things which are actually manifesting in the present moment,
beginning with the most immediate and extending outwards.

   
On the immediate level we are dealing with the thought process, or intention,
as has been described above, initially noticing how skillful thoughts benefit
the psyche and unskillful thoughts harm it. From there, the fruits of these thoughts
spread outwards to affect others and the world at large, rebounding to affect
the perpetrator in correspondingly beneficial and harmful ways.

   
This process of fruition can be seen on increasingly intricate levels,
influenced by innumerable external causes, until it is possible to see a
complexity far exceeding anything we had previously conceived of. Such an
awareness provides a firm conviction in the truth of the natural law of cause
and effect. Once the process is understood on an immediate level, the long term
basis is also understood, because the long term is derived from the immediate
present. Without an understanding of the process on the short term, it is
impossible to understand the process on a long term basis. Only through seeing
in the present can we see the way things are.

   
Having a firm conviction in the natural process of cause and effect in relation
to intention or volition is to have a firm conviction in the law of cause and
effect, or to believe in cause and effect. With a firm conviction in the law of
cause and effect, we are able to realize aspirations through appropriate
action, with a clear understanding of the cause and effect process involved.
When any goal is desired, be it in the area of personal development or in
worldly conditions, the relevant factors included in both the law of cause and
effect and in other niyama must be carefully considered, and the right
conditions created accordingly.

   
For example, a skilled artist or craftsman must not consider only his own
designs and intentions to the exclusion of everything else, but also the
relevant factors from other niyama and value-systems. When planning an
intricate house design, an architect must consider the materials to be used for
particular areas. If he designates a soft wood for use where a hardwood is
needed, no matter how beautiful the design may be, that house may collapse
without fulfilling the function it was intended for. To work with the law of
cause and effect in a skillful way, it is necessary to develop an interest in
moral rectitude and an appreciation of goodness, (kusalachanda or dhammachanda),
and a motivation to improve life and one’s surroundings. A desire for quality
or care in personal actions and relationships is necessary. People who desire
only worldly results, neglecting this aspiration for goodness, tend to try to
play with or cheat the law of cause and effect, causing trouble not only for
themselves, but for society as a whole.

Fruits of cause and effect on a long term basis –
Heaven and Hell

Some
scholars feel that in order to convince the layman of the law of cause and
effect and to encourage morality, he must first be convinced of the fruition of
cause and effect on the long term basis, from past lives and into future lives.
As a result of this, they see the need to verify the existence of an afterlife,
or at least to present some convincing evidence to support it. Some scholars
have attempted to explain the principle of cause and effect and afterlife by
referring to modern scientific laws, such as The Law of Conservation of Energy,
applying it to the workings of the mind and intention. Others refer to the
theories of modern psychology and data concerning recollection of past lives.
Some even go so far as to use mediums and seances to support their claims.
These attempts at scientific verification will not be detailed here, because
they are beyond the scope of this book. Those interested are advised to look
into the matter for themselves from any of the numerous books available on the
subject. As far as the present book goes, only a few reflections on the matter
will be given.

   
The desirability of demonstrating the truth of future lives and the fruits of
cause and effect on a long term basis would seem to have some validity. If
people really did believe these things, it is possible that they would be more
inclined to shun bad actions and cultivate good ones. It would thus seem
unnecessary to oppose the continued study of and experimentation with such
matters, as long as it lies within the bounds of reason. (Otherwise, such
investigations, instead of casting light on the mysterious, may turn observable
truths into inexplicable mysteries!) If there is honest and reasoned
experimentation, at the very least some scientific gain is to be expected.

   
On the other hand, scholars who are delving into such matters should not become
so engrossed in their research that they are blinded by it, seeing its
importance above all else and overlooking the importance of the present moment.
This becomes an extreme or unbalanced view.

   
Overemphasis on rebirth into heaven realms and hell realms ignores the good
which should be aspired to in the present. Our original intention to encourage
moral conscience at all times, including future lives, and an unshakable faith
in the law of cause and effect, will result instead in an aspiration only for
future results, which becomes a kind of greed. Good actions are performed for
the sake of profit. Overemphasis on past and future lives ignores the
importance of the qualities of moral rectitude and desire for goodness, which
in turn becomes a denial of, or even an insult to, the human potential to
practice and develop truth and righteousness for their own sakes.

   
Even though there are some grounds to the idea that verification of an
afterlife might influence people to lead more virtuous lives, still there is no
reason why people should have to wait to be satisfied on this point before they
will agree to lead more moral lives. It is impossible to tell when the big
“if” of this scientific research will be answered: when will this
research be completed?

   
If we consider the matter strictly according to the meaning of the word
“verification,” as being a clear demonstration, then the word is
invalid in this instance. It is impossible for one person to resolve another’s
doubts about rebirth. Rebirth is something which only those who see for
themselves can really be sure about. This “verification” that is
spoken of is merely an assemblage of related facts and case histories for analysis
or speculation. The real essence of the matter remains acinteyya, unfathomable.
No matter how many facts are amassed to support the issue, for most it will
remain a matter of faith or belief. As long as it is still a matter of belief,
there will always be those who disbelieve, and there will always be the
possibility of doubt within those who believe. Only when certain of the fetters
have been abandoned on the attainment of Stream Entry is it possible to be
beyond doubt.

   
To sum up, searching for data and personal histories to support the issue of
life after death has some benefit, and such doings should not be discouraged,
but to say that ethical practice must depend on their verification is neither
true nor desirable.

Summary: verifying future lives

Are
there really past and future lives, heaven and hell? This is not only a
fascinating question, but also, to some, a disquieting one, because it is an
unknown quantity. Therefore I would like to include a small summary of the
matter.

   
1. According to the teachings of Concept of Awaken One with Awareness as
preserved in the scriptures, these things do exist.

   
2. There is no end to verifying them, because they cannot be proven one way or
another. You either believe in them or you don’t. Neither those who believe,
nor those who disbelieve, nor those who are trying to prove or disprove, really
know where life comes from or where it goes to, either their own or others’.
All are in darkness, not only about the distant past, but even toward their
present birth, their present lives, and the future, even one day away.

   
3. On the subject of verification: it can be said that “sights must be
seen with the eye, sounds must be heard with the ear, flavors must be tasted
with the tongue” and so on. It would be impossible to see a visual object
using organs other than the eye, even if you used ten ears and ten tongues to
do so. Similarly, perceiving visual or audible objects (such as ultraviolet
light waves or supersonic sound waves) with instruments of disparate or
incompatible wave length is impossible. Some things are visible to a cat, but
even ten human eyes cannot see them. Some things, although audible to a bat,
are inaudible to even ten human ears. In this context, death and birth are
experiences of life, or to be more precise, events of the mind, and must be
researched by life or the mind. Any research should therefore be carried out in
one of the following ways:

(a) In
order to verify the truth of these things in the mind, it is said that the mind
must first be in the state of concentrated calm, or samadhi. However, if this method seems impractical or
inconvenient, or is considered too prone to self-deception, then the next
method is

(b)
to verify with this present life itself. None of us have ever died. The only
thorough test is that achieved with one’s own death … but few seem inclined
to try this method.


(c)
If there is no real testing as mentioned above, all that remains is to show a
number of case histories and collected data, such as accounts of recollections
of previous lives, or to use analogies from other fields, such as sounds
perceptible only to certain instruments, to show that these things do have some
credibility. However, the issue remains on the level of belief.

   
Regardless of belief or disbelief, or however people try to prove these things
to one another, the unavoidable fact, from which all future life must stem, is
life in the present moment. Given this, it follows that this is where we should
be directing our attention. In Concept of Awaken One with Awareness, which is
considered to be a practical religion, the real point of interest is our
practical relationship towards this present life. How are we going to conduct
our lives as they unfold right now? How are we going to make our present life a
good one, and at the same time, in the event that there is a future life,
ensure that it will be good? In the light of these points, we might consider
the following:

  • In the original
    Pali, that is, in the Discourses (Suttas), there is very little mention of
    previous and future lives, heaven and hell. In most cases they are merely
    given a mention. This indicates that not much importance or relevance is
    attributed to them in comparison to the conduct of life in the present
    world, or the practices of morality, meditation and wisdom
    .
  • When, in the Pali, rebirth in
    heaven or hell is included in the fruits of good and evil cause and
    effect, it is usually after mentioning all the fruits of cause and effect
    occurring in the present life. These may be given as four, five or up to
    ten in number, with the final phrase: “At death, on the breaking up
    of the body, he goes to the nether worlds, a woeful state, hell,” or
    “At death, on the breaking up of the body, he goes to a pleasant
    bourn, heaven.”

    There
are two observations to be made in this respect:

   
Firstly, the fruits of cause and effect in the present life are given priority
and are described in detail. Results in an afterlife seem to be thrown in at
the end to “round off the discussion,” so to speak.

   
Secondly, the Awaken One with Awareness’s explanation of the good and bad
results of cause and effect was always as a demonstration of the truth that
these things proceed according to causes. That is, the results (of cause and
effect) follow automatically from their causes. Simply to know this fact is to
install confidence in the fruits of actions.

   
As long as those who do not believe in an afterlife still do not know for a
fact that there is no afterlife, or heaven and hell, they will be unable to
completely refute the doubts lurking deeply within their minds. When such
people have spent the energy of their youth and old age is advancing, they tend
to experience fear of the future, which, if they have not led a virtuous life, can
be very distressing. Therefore, to be completely certain, even those who do not
believe in these things should develop goodness. Then, whether there is or is
not an afterlife, they can be at peace.

   
As for those who believe, they should ensure that their belief is based on an
understanding of the truth of cause and effect. That is, they should see
results in a future life as ensuing from the quality of the mind developed in
the present one, giving emphasis to the creation of good cause and effect in the
present. This kind of emphasis will ensure that any relationship with a future
life will be one of confidence, based on the present moment. Aspirations for a
future life will thus encourage care with the conduct of the present moment,
bearing in mind the principle: “Regardless of how you relate to the next
life, don’t give it more importance than the present one.” This way, the
mistake of performing good deeds as a kind of investment made for profit is
avoided.

   
Any belief in a future life should help to alleviate or completely do away with
any dependence on higher powers or things occult. Belief in a future life means
belief in the efficacy of one?s own actions (cause and effect). Dependence on
any external power will only hinder progress in life and personal development.
Those who have allowed themselves to slide into such dependencies should strive
to extract themselves from them and become more self-reliant.

   
Ideally, we should try to advance to the stage of avoiding bad actions and
developing the good, irrespective of belief or disbelief. This means to perform
good deeds without the need for a result in some future life, and to avoid evil
actions even if you don’t believe in such things. This can be achieved by:

(1)
developing an appreciation for moral rectitude, an aspiration for goodness, and
a desire for the best in all situations
.

(2)
developing an appreciation for the subtle happiness of inner peace through
meditation practice, and making that in itself an instrument for preventing the
arising of evil states of mind and for encouraging the good. This is because it
is necessary to avoid bad actions and cultivate the good in order to experience
this inner peace. In addition, inner peace is an important aid in resisting the
attraction of sensual desire, thus preventing the creation of the more extreme
forms of bad cause and effect. However, concerning the state of inner peace, as
long as it is on the worldly level, it is advisable to be wary of getting so
caught up in it as to cease to progress in one’s practice by allowing it to
become an object of attachment.

(3)
training the mind to conduct life with wisdom, knowing the truth of the world
and life, or knowing the truth of conditions. This enables us to have some
degree of freedom from material things or sense pleasures, thus reducing the
likelihood of committing bad cause and effect on their account. We develop a
sensitivity to the lives and feelings of others, understanding their pleasures,
pains and desires, so that there is a desire to help rather than to take
advantage of them. This is the life style of one who has reached, or is
practicing towards, the transcendent truth and transcendent Right View. Failing
this, we can live by the faith which is the forerunner of that wisdom, the unshakable
conviction in a life guided by liberating wisdom as the finest and most
excellent kind of life. This kind of an appreciation will serve as a foundation
for the development of such a life.

   
These three principles of practice are connected and support each other. In
particular, point number (1), chanda (zeal) is necessary in performing any kind
of good action, so is also essential in points (2) concentration and (3)
wisdom.

   
When accompanied by practice in accordance with these three principles, any
belief in fruition of cause and effect in a future life will serve to encourage
and strengthen the avoidance of bad actions and development of the good. Such
belief will not in itself be so critical that without expectation of good
results in a future life, there will no longer be any incentive to do good
deeds.

   
If it is not possible to practice these three principles, then belief in a
future life can be used to encourage a more moral life, which is better than
letting people live their lives obsessed with the search for sensual
gratification, which only serves to increase exploitation on both the
individual and social levels. In addition, belief in a future life is
considered to be mundane Right View and thus is one step on the way to
developing a good life.

Cause and effect fruition in the Cula
Cause and effectvibhanga Sutta

Having
established an initial understanding, let us now look at one of the Awaken One
with Awareness’s classic teachings dealing with the fruition of cause and
effect, extending from the present into a future life.

“See
here, young man. Beings are the owners of their cause and effect, heirs to
their cause and effect, born of their cause and effect, have cause and effect
as their lineage, have cause and effect as their support. Cause and effect it
is which distinguishes beings into fine and coarse states.”

1.a. A
woman or a man is given to killing living beings, is ruthless, kills living
beings constantly and is lacking in goodwill or compassion. At death, on
account of that cause and effect, developed and nurtured within, that person
goes to a woeful bourn, the nether worlds, to hell. Or, if not reborn in hell,
but in the human world, he or she will be short-lived.

b. A
woman or man shuns killing and is possessed of goodwill and compassion. At
death, on account of that cause and effect, developed and nurtured within, that
person goes to a good bourn, to a heaven realm. Or, if not reborn in heaven,
but as a human being, he or she will be blessed with longevity.

2.a. A
woman or man is given to harming other beings by the hand and the weapon. At
death, on account of that cause and effect, developed and nurtured within, that
person goes to a woeful bourn, the nether worlds, to hell. Or, if not reborn in
hell, but as a human being, he or she will be sickly.

b. A
woman or man shuns harming other beings. At death, on account of that cause and
effect, developed and nurtured within, that person arrives at a good bourn, a
heaven realm. Or, if not reborn in heaven, but as a human being, he or she will
be one with few illnesses.

3.a. A
woman or man is of ill temper, is quick to hatred, offended at the slightest
criticism, harbors hatred and displays anger. At death, on account of that
cause and effect, developed and nurtured within, that person goes to a woeful
bourn, the nether worlds, to hell. Or, if not born in hell, but as a human
being, he or she will be ugly.

b. A
woman or a man is not easily angered. At death, on account of that cause and
effect, developed and nurtured within, that person goes to a pleasant bourn, a
heaven realm. Or, if not reborn in heaven, but as a human being, he or she will
be of pleasant appearance.

4.a. A woman
or man has a jealous mind. When others receive awards, honor and respect, he or
she is ill at ease and resentful. At death, on account of that cause and
effect, developed and nurtured within, that person goes to a woeful bourn, the
nether worlds, to hell. Or, if not reborn in hell, but as a human being, he or
she will be one of little influence.

b. A woman
or a man is one who harbors no jealousy. At death, on account of that cause and
effect, developed and nurtured within, that person goes to a good bourn, to a
heaven realm. Or, if not reborn in heaven, but as a human being, he or she will
be powerful and influential.

5.a. A
woman or man is not one who gives, does not share out food, water and clothing.
At death, on account of that cause and effect, developed and nurtured within,
that person goes to a woeful bourn, the nether worlds, to hell. Or, if not
reborn in hell, but as a human being, he or she will be poor.

b. A
woman or a man is one who practices giving, who shares out food, water and
clothing. At death, on account of that cause and effect, developed and nurtured
within, that person goes to a good bourn, to a heaven realm. Or, if not reborn
in heaven, but as a human being, he or she will be wealthy.

6.a. A
woman or man is stubborn and unyielding, proud, arrogant and disrespectful to
those who should be respected. At death, on account of that cause and effect,
developed and nurtured within, that person goes to a woeful bourn, the nether
worlds, to hell. Or, if not reborn in hell, but as a human being, he or she
will be born into a low family.

b. A
woman or man is not stubborn or unyielding, not proud, but pays respect and
takes an interest in those who should be respected. At death, on account of
that cause and effect, developed and nurtured within, that person goes to a
good bourn, to a heaven realm. Or, if not reborn in heaven, but as a human being,
he or she will be born into a high family.

7.a. A
woman or man neither visits nor questions ascetics and Brahmins about what is
good, what is evil, what is harmful, what is not harmful, what should be done
and what should not be done; which actions lead to suffering, which actions
will lead to lasting happiness. At death, on account of that cause and effect,
developed and nurtured within, that person goes to a woeful bourn, the nether
worlds, to hell. Or, if not reborn in hell, but as a human being, he or she
will be of little intelligence.

b. A woman
or man seeks out and questions ascetics and Brahmins about what is good … At
death, on account of that cause and effect, developed and nurtured within, that
person goes to a good bourn, to a heaven realm. Or, if not reborn in heaven,
but as a human being, he or she will be intelligent.

   
In this Sutta, although fruition in a future life is spoken of, yet it is the
actions of the present moment, particularly those which have become regular,
which are emphasized. Regular actions nurture the qualities of the mind which
help to form personality and character. These are the forces which bring about
results in direct relation to the causes. Rewards of such actions are not
fantastic, such as in doing one single good deed, an act of giving, for
example, and receiving some boundless reward fulfilling all wishes and desires.
If this sort of attitude prevails it only causes people to do good deeds as an
investment, like saving money in a bank and sitting around waiting for the
interest to grow; or like playing the lottery, putting down a tiny investment
and hoping for a huge reward. As a result people pay no attention to their
daily behavior and take no interest in conducting a good life as explained in
this Sutta.

   
Summarizing, the essence of the Cula Cause and effectvibhanga Sutta still rests
on the fact that any deliberation about results in a future life should be
based on a firm conviction in the cause and effect, that is, the quality of the
mind and of conduct, which is being made in the present moment. The results of
actions on a long term basis are derived from and related to these causes.

   
A basic principle in this regard might be summarized as follows: The correct
attitude to results of cause and effect in future lives must be one which
promotes and strengthens a predilection for moral conduct and wisdom
development. Any belief in cause and effect-results which does not strengthen
this predilection for goodness, but instead serves to strengthen greed and
desire, should be recognized as a mistaken kind of belief which should be
corrected.

 

4. Cause and effect on the Social Level
   
The importance of ditthi in the creation of cause
and effect

   
External influences and internal
reflection

   
Personal responsibility and social cause and effect
   
Responsible social action

4

Cause and effect on the Social Level

The human world is the world of intentional
action. Human beings have very sophisticated levels of intention, which, in
conjunction with their thought processes, allow them to achieve things which
would be impossible for other animals. Although the lower animals, too, possess
intention, it is limited to a nominal degree, being largely on the instinctual
level.

    Thinking is guided by
intention. Intention is what fashions the thinking process and, through that,
external conditions. Our way of life, whether on the individual level or on the
level of societies, both small and large, is directed by intention and the
thinking process. It would not be wrong to say that intention, being the
essence of cause and effect, is what directs the unfolding of our human lives
.

    Now let us look at some
examples of how intention affects society. Intention on the negative side is
that which is influenced by defilements. There are many kinds of defilements.
When these defilements enter into our minds they color the way we think. Here I
will mention three kinds of defilements, which play an important role in
directing human behavior. They are:

1. Tanha
– craving for personal gain.
2. Mana — pride, desire to
dominate.
3. Ditthi — clinging to
views.

    Normally when talking of
defilements we tend to summarize them as greed, hatred and delusion, the roots
of akusala. Greed, hatred and delusion are more or less defilements on the
roots level. Tanha, mana and ditthi, or craving, pride and views, are the
active forms of defilements, the roles they play in human undertakings and the
form they most often take on the social level.

    The way these three
defilements affect human activities can be seen even more clearly on the social
scale than on the individual level. When people’s minds are ruled by the
selfish desire for personal gain, aspiring to pleasures of the senses, their
actions in society result in contention, deceit and exploitation. The laws and
conventions formulated by society to control human behavior are almost entirely
necessitated by these things. And in spite of all efforts, these problems seem
to be almost impossible to solve.

    A simple example is the drug problem. People have a
tendency to be attracted to addictive things, and there are a great number of
people who are trapped in this problem. And why is it so hard to deal with?
Primarily, because of the drug peddlers. Their desire for the profit to be
gained from the drug trade gives rise to the whole industry, and the corruption
and violence it breeds. The industry has become so extensive and complex that
any efforts to rectify the situation, including efforts to broadcast the
dangers of drug abuse, are rendered ineffective. This problem of drug abuse,
which is a problem on the social and national scale, arises from tanha.

    Pollution is another case
in point. Since the indiscriminate dumping of chemicals and waste products
presents a danger to the environment and public health, the government must
create laws for the control of factories and waste disposal. But those running
the industries are not inclined to give up their profits so easily. They find
ways to circumvent the laws, and so we find examples of government officials
operating through selfishness. With minds dominated by greed, instead of
carrying out the task expected of them, they take bribes. The law breakers go
on unchecked, as does the pollution, causing strife for the whole of society.
Both the presence of pollution, and the difficulty encountered in preventing
and controlling it, arise from craving.

    Corruption is another
social problem which seems impossible to eradicate. This condition fans
outwards to cause countless other problems in society, which are all in the end
caused by craving. It is impossible to list all the problems caused by tanha.

    Tanha also works in
conjunction with mana, the craving for power and influence. From ancient times,
people have gone to war through this desire for power; sometimes at the
instigation of one individual, sometimes through a faction, and sometimes
collectively as whole countries. Coupled with the craving for personal gain,
the craving for power gives rise to exploitation, nationalism and expansionism
with all their subsequent chaos. You could say that the world turns almost
entirely at the direction of tanha, craving, and mana, pride. Human history is
largely the story of these defilements.

The importance of ditthi in the creation of cause
and effect

However, if we look more deeply into the
processes taking place, we will see that the defilement which exerts the most
influence is the third one — ditthi. Ditthi is view or belief, the attachment
to a certain way of thinking. Our attitudes and ways of thinking will decide
the type of personal gain and influence that we aspire to. When there is the
view that a certain condition is desirable and will provide true happiness,
craving for personal gain is directed toward that end. Craving and pride
generally play a supporting role to ditthi. Ditthi is therefore the most
important and powerful of these three defilements.

    Social directions are decided by ditthi. A sense of
value of any given thing, either on an individual or social basis, is ditthi.
With this ditthi as a basis, there are efforts to realize the object of desire.
People’s behavior will be influenced accordingly. For example, with the belief that
happiness is to be found in an abundance of material goods, our actions and
undertakings will tend to this end. This is a wrong view, thus any undertakings
resulting from it will also be wrong. All attempts at so-called progress will
be misguided and problematic. Material progress always brings problems in its
wake, because it is founded on two basically wrong and harmful views:

    1. That humanity must
conquer nature in order to achieve well-being and find true happiness;

    2. That happiness is dependent
on material wealth.

These two views are the main forces behind
the modern surge for progress.

    The kind of civilization
which is exerting its influence over the entire world today is founded on the
basic premise that mankind is separate from nature. According to this view,
Mankind is nature’s owner, free to manipulate nature according to his will. In
the present time we are beginning to see that many of the problems arising from
material progress, particularly the environmental ones, are rooted in this
basic misconception
.

    Guided by wrong view,
everything else goes wrong. With right view, actions are guided in the right
direction. Thus, desires for personal gain can be beneficial if they are
founded on right view, but with wrong view or wrong belief, all resultant
actions become harmful. On the individual level, views express themselves as
beliefs in the desirability of certain conditions, which in turn lead to
efforts to effectuate them. On the social level, we find attitudes adhered to by
whole societies. When there is a conviction in the desirability of any given
thing, society supports it. This collective support becomes a social value, a
quality adhered to by society as a whole, which in turn pressures the members
of the society to perpetuate such beliefs or preferences.

    It is easy to see the
influence social values have on people. Sociologists and psychologists are very
familiar with the role played by social values and the effect they have on our
minds. From social values, ditthi extends outwards to become belief systems,
ideologies, political and economic systems, such as capitalism, communism and
so on, and religions. When theories, beliefs and political ideologies are
blindly adhered to, they are always products of the defilement of ditthi.

    From one person, these
ideas fan out to become properties of whole groups and societies. One
individual with wrong view can effect a whole society. A case in point is the
country of Cambodia. One leader, guided by wrong view, desiring to change the
social system of Cambodia, proceeded to try to realize his aim by authorizing
the killing of millions of people and turning the whole country upside down.
Another example is the Nazis, who believed that the Jewish race was evil and
had to be destroyed, and that the Aryan race were to be the masters of the
world. From this belief arose all the atrocities which occurred during the
Holocaust in World War II.

    Then there are economic
systems and ideologies, such as Communism and Consumerism: many of the changes
that have taken place in the world over the last century have been based on
these ideologies. And now it seems that it was all somehow some kind of
mistake, we have to turn around and undo the changes. And this causes another
momentous upheaval for the population, as can be seen in Russia and the former
Soviet States.

    One of the ways in which
ditthi causes problems on a social level is in the field of religion. When
religious ideologies are blindly clung to, human beings resort to exploitation
and violence in the name of religion. Wars fought in the name of religion are
particularly violent. This kind of clinging has been a great bane to mankind
throughout history. The Awaken One with Awareness recognized the importance of
ditthi and greatly emphasized it in his teaching. Even belief in religion is a
form of ditthi, which must be treated with great caution in order to prevent it
from becoming a blind attachment. Otherwise it can become a cause of
persecution and violence. This is why the Awaken One with Awareness stressed
the importance of ditthi, and urged circumspection in relation to it, as
opposed to blind attachment.

    On the negative side,
intention works through the various defilements, such as those mentioned just
now. On the positive side, we have the opposite kind of influences. When
people’s minds are guided by positive values, the resulting events within
society will take a different direction. And so we have the occasional attempts
to rectify social problems and create constructive influences and human society
does not completely annihilate itself. Sometimes human beings act through
kindness and compassion, giving rise to relief movements and human aid
organizations. As soon as kindness enters into human awareness, people will
undertake all sorts of works for the purpose of helping others.

    International incidents,
as well as relief movements, are results of intention, fashioned by either
skillful or unskillful qualities, proceeding from mental cause and effect into
verbal and bodily cause and effect. These institutions or organizations then
proceed to either create or solve problems on the individual level, the group
level, the social level, the national level, the international level and
ultimately the global level.

    The importance of ditthi,
whether as a personal view, a social value or an ideology, cannot be
overemphasized. The reader is invited to consider, for example, the results on
society and the quality of life if even one social value, that of materialism,
were to change into an appreciation of skillful action and inner well-being as
the foundations for true happiness.

External influences and internal reflection

When people live together in any kind of
group, they naturally influence each other. People are largely influenced by
their environment. In Concept of Awaken One with Awareness we call this paratoghosa — literally, “the
sound from outside,” referring to the influence of external factors, or
the social environment. These can be either harmful or beneficial. On the
beneficial side, we have the kalyanamitta,
the good friend. The good friend is one kind of external influence. The Awaken
One with Awareness greatly stressed the importance of a good friend, even going
so far as to say that association with good friends was the essence of the Holy
Life.

    Most people are primarily
influenced by external influences of one kind or another. On the individual
level, external influences are our contact with others, the influence of which
is obvious. Young children, for example, are readily influenced and guided by
adults. On the larger scale, beliefs, social values, and the consensus of the
majority serve the same purpose. People born into society are automatically
exposed to and guided by these influences.

    In general we can see
that most people simply follow the influences from the social environment
around them. An example is India in the time of the Awaken One with Awareness.
At that time Brahmanism completely controlled the social system, dividing the
whole of society into four castes — the ruling caste, the intellectual or
religious caste (the Brahmins), the merchant caste and the menial caste. This
was the status quo for society at that time. Most people born into that society
would naturally absorb and unquestioningly accept this situation from the
society around them.

    But occasionally there
arise people who know how to think for themselves. These beings possess insight
into society’s problems and how they came about, and will initiate action to
correct those problems. This involves the use of
yoniso-manasikara, skillful reflection, which is the
ability to recognize the mistaken practices within society and look for ways to
improve them, as did the Awaken One with Awareness with the caste system in ancient
India. The Awaken One with Awareness pointed out that real worth cannot be
decided by a person’s birth station, but by actions, good or evil as the case
may be. From the Awaken One with Awareness’s skillful reflection a new teaching
arose, which became known as Concept of Awaken One with Awareness.

    Without skillful
reflection, human beings are utterly swamped by the influence of external
factors, such as religious beliefs, traditions and social values. It is easy to
see how traditions and customs mould human attitudes. Most people are
completely swayed by these things, and this is the cause and effect that they
accumulate. We could even say that traditions and customs are social cause and
effect that has been accumulated through the ages, and these things in turn
mould the beliefs and thoughts of the people within each society.

    Every once in a while there
will be one who, gauging the social conventions and institutions of the time
with reasoned reflection, will instigate efforts to correct mistaken or
detrimental beliefs and traditions. These means for dealing with problems will
become new systems of thought, new social values and ways of life, which in
turn become social currents with their own impetus. In fact, social currents
are originated by individuals, and from there the masses follow. Thus we can
say that society leads the individual, but at the same time, the individual is
the originator of social values and conventions. Thus, in the final analysis,
the individual is the important factor.
 

Personal responsibility and social
cause and effect

How does a socially accepted view become
personal cause and effect? Personal cause and effect arises at the point where
the individual agrees to the values presented by society.

    Take, for example, the
case of an autocrat who conceives a desire to create an empire. This is a
condition arising within one person, but it spreads out to affect a whole
society. In this case, what cause and effect does the society incur? Here, when
the king or despot’s advisers agree to and support his wishes, and when the
people allow themselves to be caught up in the lust for greatness, this becomes
cause and effect for those people also, and becomes cause and effect on a
social scale. It may seem that this chain of events has arisen solely on
account of one person, but it is not so. All are involved, and all are Cause
and Effectically responsible, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the
extent of their personal involvement and acquiescence. The views and desires
conceived by the despot become adopted by the people around him. There is an
endorsement, more or less conscious, of that desire by the people, allowing the
craving for power and greatness to spread and escalate throughout the
population
.

    This agreement, or
endorsement, of social values, is an intentional act on the level of each
individual, which for most is done without skillful reflection, and for the
most part without awareness. For instance, the concept of “progress”
so often spoken about in the present time is a concept based on certain
assumptions. But most people do not inquire into the basic assumptions on which
this concept is based. Thus the concept of “progress” goes
unchallenged. This lack of reflection is also a kind of cause and effect, as it
leads to the submission to the social value concerned.

    Here in Thailand, we are
accepting the social values introduced to us by the West, which has a dramatic
effect on Thai society. Being exposed to this form of belief, Thai people are
led into believing that the material progress from the West is desirable.
Adopting this way of thinking, their whole way of life is affected, leading to
a rejection of religion and a decline in morals.

    It is not difficult to
see the lack of reflection present in most people in society. Even to
understand the workings of things on an elementary level, such as in seeing the
cause and effect involved in personal actions, is beyond most people’s
awareness. Most people follow the crowd. This is the way society usually
operates, and this is social cause and effect.

Responsible social action

All in all, contrary to the widespread image
of Concept of Awaken One with Awareness as a passive religion encouraging
inaction, responsible social action is rather encouraged in the Awaken One with
Awareness’s teaching. There are numerous teachings for encouraging social
concord, such as the four sangaha vatthu,
the Conditions for Social Welfare: dana,
generosity; piyavaca, kindly
speech; atthacariya, helpful
action; and samanattata,
impartiality or equal participation.

    However, in Concept of
Awaken One with Awareness, all action should ideally arise from skillful mental
qualities. A seemingly well-intentioned action can be ruined by the influence
of unskillful mental states, such as anger or fear, or it can be tainted
through ulterior motives. On the other hand, simply to cultivate skillful
mental states without resultant social action is not very productive. So we can
look at virtue on two levels: on the mental level we have, for example, the
Four Sublime States. These are the bases of altruistic action, or, at the
least, of harmonious relations on a social level. On the second level we have
the external applications of these skillful qualities, such as in the four Conditions
for Social Welfare. The two levels of virtue are interrelated.

    The Four Sublime States
are metta, goodwill,
friendliness; karuna,
compassion, the desire to help other beings; mudita,
sympathetic joy, gladness at the good fortune of others; and upekkha, impartiality or equanimity.

    Goodwill is a mental
stance assumed towards those who are in the normal condition, or on an equal
plane with ourselves; compassion is a mental attitude toward those who are in
distress; gladness is an attitude toward those who are experiencing success;
equanimity or impartiality is even-mindedness toward the various situations in
which we find ourselves.

    In practical terms these four
qualities manifest as the Four Conditions for Social Welfare. Dana, giving or
generosity, is more or less a basic stance towards others in society, an
attitude of generosity, which can be based on goodwill, compassion, or
gladness, through giving as an act of encouragement. Generally speaking,
although giving refers to material things, it can also be the giving of
knowledge or labor.

    The second condition for
harmony is piyavaca, kindly speech, which can be based on all four of the
Sublime States. Friendly speech, based on goodwill, as standard behavior in
everyday situations; kindly speech, based on compassion, in times of
difficulty, as with words of advice or condolence; and congratulatory speech,
based on gladness, as in words of encouragement in times of happiness and
success. However, when confronted with problems in social situations, kindly
speech can be expressed as impartial and just speech, which is based on
equanimity.

    The third condition is
atthacariya, helpful action, which refers to the offering of physical effort to
help others. In the first factor, generosity, we had the giving of material
goods. In the second factor, kindly speech, we have the offering of gentle
speech. With this third item we have the offering of physical effort in the
form of helpful conduct. This help can be on ordinary occasions, such as offering
help in a situation where the recipient is not in any particular difficulty.
Help in this instance is more or less a “friendly gesture,” and so is
based on goodwill. Help can be offered in times of difficulty, in which case it
is based on compassion. Help can be offered as an encouragement in times of
success, in which case it is based on sympathetic joy or gladness at the good
fortune of others. Thus, atthacariya, helpful conduct, may be based on any of
these three Sublime States.

    Finally we have
samanattata, literally, “making oneself accessible or equal.” This is
a difficult word to translate. It means to share with other people’s pleasures
and pains, to join in with them, to be one with them. It refers to sharing,
cooperating and joining in. We could say that it means to be humble, such as
when helping others in their undertakings even when it is not one’s duty, or to
be fair, such as when arbitrating in a dispute.

    In Concept of Awaken One
with Awareness, while social action is encouraged, it should always stem from
skillful mental states rather than idealistic impulses. Any social action, no
matter how seemingly worthwhile, will be ruined if it becomes tainted with
unskillful intentions. For this reason, all action, whether individual or socially
oriented, should be done carefully, with an awareness of the real intention
behind it.

Here are some of the Awaken One with
Awareness’s words on cause and effect on the social level:

“Then the leaders among those beings
came together. Having met, they conferred among themselves thus: ‘Sirs! Bad
deeds have arisen among us, theft has come to be, slander has come to be, lies
have come to be, the taking up of the staff has come to be. Enough! Let us
choose one among us to admonish rightly those who should be admonished, to
rebuke rightly those who should be rebuked, to banish rightly those who should
be banished, and we will apportion some of our wheat to him.’ With that, those
beings proceeded to approach one being of fine attributes, more admirable, more
inspiring and more awesome than any of the others, and said to him, ‘Come, Sir,
may you rightly admonish those who should be admonished, rightly rebuke those
who should be rebuked, and rightly banish those who should be banished. We, in
turn, will apportion some of our wheat to you.’ Acknowledging the words of
those other beings, he became their leader … and there came to be the word
‘king’ …”

*  *  *

“In this way, bhikkhus, when the ruler of a
country fails to apportion wealth to those in need, poverty becomes prevalent.
Poverty being prevalent, theft becomes prevalent. Theft being prevalent,
weapons become prevalent. When weapons become prevalent, killing and maiming
become prevalent, lying becomes prevalent … slander … sexual infidelity …
abuse and frivolity … covetousness and jealousy … wrong view becomes
prevalent.”

5. The Cause and
effect that Ends Cause and effect

5

The Cause and
effect

that Ends Cause and effect

In the last part of Chapter 1, four
different kinds of cause and effect were mentioned, classified according to
their relationships with their respective results:

1. Black cause and effect, black result.
2. White cause and effect, white result.
3. Cause and effect both black and white,
result both black and white.

4. Cause and effect neither black nor white,
result neither black nor white, this being the cause and effect that ends cause
and effect.

    All of the varieties of cause
and effect-results so far described have been limited to the first three
categories, white cause and effect, black cause and effect, and both white and
black cause and effect, or good cause and effect and bad cause and effect. The
fourth kind of cause and effect remains to be explained. Because this fourth
kind of cause and effect has an entirely different result from the first three,
it has been given its own separate chapter.

    For most people,
including Buddhists, any interest in cause and effect tends to be centered
around the first three kinds of cause and effect, completely disregarding the
fourth kind, even though this last kind of cause and effect is one of the
pivotal teachings of Concept of Awaken One with Awareness, and leads to its
ultimate goal.

    Black, white and black-and-white
cause and effect are generally described as the numerous kinds of action
included within the ten bases of unskillful action, such as killing living
beings, infringing on the property of others, sexual misconduct, and bad or
malicious speech, with their respective opposites as skillful actions. These
kinds of cause and effect are determinants for various kinds of good and bad
life experiences, as has been explained above. The events of life in turn
activate more good and bad cause and effect, thus spinning the wheel of samsara
round and round endlessly.

    The fourth kind of cause
and effect results in exactly the opposite way. Rather than causing the
accumulation of more cause and effect, it leads to the cessation of cause and
effect. In effect this refers to the practices which lead to the highest goal
of Concept of Awaken One with Awareness, Enlightenment, such as the Noble
Eightfold Path, also known as the Threefold Training (Moral Discipline, Mental
Discipline and Wisdom), or the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. Sometimes this
fourth kind of cause and effect is spoken of as the intention, based on
non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion, to abandon the other three kinds of
cause and effect.

    No discussion of cause and
effect should fail to mention happiness and suffering. Cause and effect is the
cause which results in happiness and suffering, and as long as there is cause
and effect, there will be fluctuation between these two states. In aspiring to
the highest good which is devoid of every flaw, however, any condition tainted
with either happiness or suffering, being subject to fluctuation, is
inadequate. All worldly cause and effect is still tainted with suffering, and
is a cause of suffering.

    However, this is valid
only for the first three kinds of cause and effect. The fourth kind of cause
and effect is exempt, because it leads to the cessation of cause and effect,
and thus to the complete cessation of suffering. Although good cause and effect
results in happiness, such happiness is tainted with suffering and can be a
cause for suffering in the future. But this fourth kind of cause and effect, in
addition to being in itself free of suffering, also gives rise to the untainted
and total freedom from suffering. It is thus the purest kind of happiness.

    The cessation or quenching of
cause and effect was taught in a number of different religions in the Awaken
One with Awareness’s time, notably the Nigantha (Jain) Sect. The Niganthas
taught the principle of old cause and effect, the cessation of cause and
effect, and the mortification of the body in order to “wear out” old
cause and effect. If these three principles are not clearly distinguished from
the Awaken One with Awareness’s teaching they can easily be confused with it.
Conversely, distinguishing them clearly from the principles of Concept of
Awaken One with Awareness can help to further clarify the Awaken One with
Awareness’s message. The Niganthas taught:

“All happiness, suffering and neutral
feeling are entirely caused by previous cause and effect. For this reason, when
old cause and effect is done away with by practicing austerities, and no new
cause and effect is created, there will no longer be the influence of cause and
effect-results. With no influence of cause and effect-results, cause and effect
is done away with. Cause and effect being done away with, suffering is done
away with. When suffering is done away with, feeling is done away with. With no
more feeling, all suffering is completely quelled.”

The Niganthas believed that everything is
caused by old cause and effect. To be free of suffering it is necessary to
abandon old cause and effect and, by practicing austerities, not accumulate new
cause and effect. But Concept of Awaken One with Awareness states that old
cause and effect is merely one of the factors in the whole cause and effect
process. This is an important point
.

    Cause and effect can lead
to the transcendence of suffering, but it must be the right kind of cause and
effect, the cause and effect which prevents the arising of more cause and
effect and thus leads to its cessation. Therefore, in order to nullify cause
and effect, instead of merely stopping still or doing nothing, the practicing
Buddhist must apply himself to a practice based on right understanding. Correct
practice induces independence, clarity and freedom from the directives of
desire as it, in hand with ignorance, entangles beings in the search for
attainments.

    In order to clarify this fourth kind of cause and
effect, its general features may be briefly summarized thus:

    (a) It is the path of
practice which leads to the cessation of cause and effect. At the same time, it
is in itself a kind of cause and effect.

    (b) It is known as “the cause and effect which is
neither black nor white, having results which are neither black nor white, and
which leads to the cessation of cause and effect.”

    (c) Non-greed, non-hatred and
non-delusion are its root causes.

    (d) It is based on wisdom
and understanding of the advantages and the inadequacies of things as they
really are. It is an impeccable kind of action, action that is truly
worthwhile, based on sound reason, and conducive to a healthy life.

    (e) Because this kind of
action is not directed by desire, whether in the form of selfish exploitation,
or inaction based on fear of personal loss, it is the surest kind of altruistic
effort, guided and supported by mindfulness and wisdom.

    (f) It is kusala cause
and effect, skillful action, on the level known as Transcendent Skillful Action.

    (g) In terms of practice,
it can be called the Eightfold Path to the cessation of suffering, the Fourth
of the Four Noble Truths, the Seven Factors of Awakenment with Awareness, or
the Threefold Training, depending on the context; it is also referred to in a
general sense as the intention to abandon the first three kinds of cause and
effect
.

    In regard to point (e)
above, it is noteworthy that tanha, or desire, is seen by most people as the
force which motivates action. As far as most people are concerned, the more
desire there is, the more intense and competitive is the resultant action; they
see that without desire there is no incentive to act, and the result could only
be inertia and laziness. This kind of understanding comes from looking at human
nature only partially. If used as a guideline for practice, it can cause
problems on both the individual and social levels.

    In fact, desire is an
impetus for both action and inaction. When it is searching for objects with
which to feed itself, desire is an impetus for action. This kind of action
tends to generate exploitation and contention. However, at a time when good and
altruistic actions are called for, desire will become an incentive to inaction,
binding the self to personal comfort, even if only attachment to sleep. Thus,
it becomes an encumbrance or stumbling block to performing good deeds. If
ignorance is still strong, that is, there is no understanding of the value of
good actions, desire will encourage inertia and negligence. For this reason,
desire may be an incentive for either an exploitative kind of activity, or a
lethargic kind of inactivity, depending on the context.

    The practice which supports a
healthy life and is truly beneficial is completely different from this pandering
to selfish desires, and in many cases calls for a relinquishment of personal
comforts and pleasures. This kind of practice cannot be achieved through desire
(except if we first qualify our terms), but must be achieved through an
understanding and appreciation of the advantage of such practice as it really
is.

    This appreciation, or aspiration, is called in Pali chanda (known in full as kusalachanda or dhammachanda). Chanda, or zeal, is the
real incentive for any truly constructive actions. However, zeal may be impeded
by desire and its attachments to laziness, lethargy, or personal comfort. In
this case, desire will stain any attempts to perform good actions with
suffering, by resisting the practice through these negative states. If there is
clear understanding of the advantage of those actions and sufficient
appreciation (chanda) of them, enabling the burdening effect of desire to be
overcome, chanda becomes, in addition to an impetus for action, a cause for
happiness.

    This kind of happiness
differs from the happiness resulting from desire — it is light and untroubled
rather than constrictive and heavy, and conducive to creative actions free of
suffering. In this case,
samadhi,
the firmly established mind, comprising effort, mindfulness and understanding,
will develop within and directly support such undertakings. This kind of
practice is known as “the cause and effect that ends cause and
effect.”

    By practicing according
to the Noble Eightfold Path, desire has no channel through which to function,
and is eliminated. Greed, hatred and delusion do not arise. With no desire,
greed, hatred or delusion, there is no cause and effect. With no cause and
effect there are no cause and effect-results to bind the mind. With no cause
and effect to bind the mind, there emerges a state of clarity which transcends
suffering. The mind which was once a slave of desire becomes one that is guided
by wisdom, directing actions independently of desire’s influence.

Here follow some of the Awaken One with
Awareness’s words dealing with the cause and effect that ends cause and effect.

“Bhikkhus, know cause and effect, know
the cause of cause and effect, know the variations of cause and effect, know
the results of cause and effect, know the cessation of cause and effect and
know the way leading to the cessation of cause and effect … Bhikkhus,
intention, I say, is cause and effect. A person intends before acting through
body, speech or mind. What is the cause of cause and effect? Sense contact is
the cause of cause and effect. What are the variations of cause and effect?
They are, the cause and effect which results in birth in hell, the cause and
effect which results in birth in the animal world, the cause and effect which
results in birth in the realm of hungry ghosts, the cause and effect which
results in birth in the human realm, and the cause and effect which results in
birth in the heaven realms. These are known as the variations of cause and
effect. What are the results of cause and effect? I teach three kinds of cause
and effect-result. They are, results in the present time, results in the next
life, or results in a future life. These I call the results of cause and
effect. What is the cessation of cause and effect? With the cessation of
contact, cause and effect ceases. This very Noble Eightfold Path is the way
leading to the cessation of cause and effect. That is, Right View, Right
Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right
Mindfulness and Right concentration.”

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, when a noble disciple thus
clearly understands cause and effect, the cause of cause and effect, the
variations of cause and effect, the results of cause and effect, the cessation
of cause and effect and the way leading to the cessation of cause and effect,
he then clearly knows the Higher Life comprising keen wisdom, which is the
cessation of this cause and effect.”

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, I will expound new cause and
effect, old cause and effect, the cessation of cause and effect and the way
leading to the cessation of cause and effect … What is old cause and effect?
Eye … ear … nose … tongue … body … mind should be understood as old
cause and effect, these being formed from conditions, born of volition, and the
base of feeling. This is called ‘old cause and effect.’

“Bhikkhus, what is ‘new cause and
effect’? Actions created through body, speech and mind in the present moment,
these are called ‘new cause and effect.’

“Bhikkhus, what is the cessation of
cause and effect? The experience of liberation arising from the cessation of
bodily cause and effect, verbal cause and effect and mental cause and effect,
is called the cessation of cause and effect.

“Bhikkhus, what is the way leading to
the cessation of cause and effect? This is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely,
Right View … Right Concentration. This is called the way leading to the
cessation of cause and effect.”

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, this body does not belong to
you, nor does it belong to another. You should see it as old cause and effect,
formed by conditions, born of volition, a base of feeling.”

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, these three cause and
effect-origins, greed, hatred and delusion, are causes of cause and effect.
Whatever cause and effect is performed on account of greed, is born from greed,
has greed as origin, and is formed from greed, results in rebirth. Wherever his
cause and effect ripens, there the doer must experience the fruits of his cause
and effect, be it in the present life, in the next life or in a future life.
Cause and effect performed on account of hatred … cause and effect performed
on account of delusion … (the same as for greed)

“Bhikkhus, these three cause and
effect-origins, non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion, are causes of cause and
effect. Whatever cause and effect is performed on account of non-greed, is born
from non-greed, has non-greed as origin, and is formed from non-greed, is
devoid of greed, that cause and effect is given up, cut off at the root, made
like a palm tree stump, completely cut off with no possibility of arising
again. Whatever cause and effect is performed on account of non-hatred … on
account of non-delusion …”

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, these three cause and
effect-origins, greed, hatred and delusion, are causes of cause and effect.
Whatever cause and effect is performed on account of greed, is born from greed,
has greed as origin, is formed from greed, that cause and effect is unskillful
… is harmful … has suffering as a result. That cause and effect exists for
the arising of more cause and effect, not for the cessation of cause and
effect. Whatever cause and effect is done on account of hatred … on account
of delusion …

“Bhikkhus, these three cause and
effect-origins, non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion, are causes of cause and
effect. Whatever cause and effect is done on account of non-greed, is born of
non-greed, has non-greed as origin, is formed from non-greed, that cause and
effect is skillful … not harmful … has happiness as a result. That cause
and effect leads to the cessation of cause and effect, not to the arising of
cause and effect. Whatever cause and effect is done on account of non-hatred
… on account of non-delusion …”

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, killing of living beings, I say,
is of three kinds. That is, with greed as motive, with hatred as motive and
with delusion as motive. Stealing … sexual misconduct … lying … malicious
tale-bearing … abusive speech … frivolous speech … covetousness …
resentment … wrong view, I say, are of three kinds. They are, with greed as
motive, with hatred as motive and with delusion as motive. Thus, greed is a
cause for cause and effect, hatred is a cause for cause and effect, delusion is
a cause for cause and effect. With the cessation of greed, there is the
cessation of a cause of cause and effect. With the cessation of hatred, there
is the cessation of a cause of cause and effect. With the cessation of
delusion, there is the cessation of a cause of cause and effect.”

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds
of cause and effect … What is black cause and effect, black result? Some
people in this world are given to killing, given to stealing, given to sexual
infidelity, given to lying, given to drinking intoxicants which lead to
heedlessness. This is called black cause and effect, black result.

“Bhikkhus, what is white cause and
effect, white result? Some people in this world dwell aloof from killing, aloof
from stealing, aloof from sexual infidelity, aloof from lying, aloof from the
drinking of intoxicants which lead to heedlessness. This is called white cause
and effect, white result.

“Bhikkhus, what is cause and effect
both back and white with result both black and white? Some people in this world
create actions through body … speech … mind which are both harmful and not
harmful. This is called ’cause and effect both black and white with result both
black and white.’

“Bhikkhus, what is cause and effect
neither black nor white, with result neither black nor white, which leads to
the cessation of cause and effect? Within those three kinds of cause and
effect, the intention to abandon (those kinds of cause and effect), this is
called the cause and effect which is neither black nor white, with result
neither black nor white, which leads to the ending of cause and effect.”

*  *  *

“Listen,
Udayi. A bhikkhu in this Teaching and Discipline cultivates the Mindfulness
Enlightenment Factor … the Equanimity
Awakenment
with Awareness
Factor, which tend to
seclusion, tend to dispassion, tend to cessation, which are well developed,
which are boundless, void of irritation. Having cultivated the Mindfulness
Awakenment
with Awareness Factor … the
Equanimity
Awakenment with AwarenessFactor … craving is discarded. With the discarding of craving, cause
and effect is discarded. With the discarding of cause and effect, suffering is
discarded. Thus, with the ending of craving there is the ending of cause and
effect; with the ending of cause and effect there is the ending of
suffering.”

6. Misunderstandings of The Law of Cause and effect
    Who causes happiness and suffering?
   
Beliefs that are contrary to the
law of cause and effect

   
Can cause and effect be erased?
   
Do cause and effect and not-self contradict each
other?

6

Misunderstandings
of the Law of Cause and effect

Who
causes happiness and suffering?

According to the Awaken One with Awareness’s
words, “Through Ignorance, bodily actions … verbal actions … mental
actions … are created, of one’s own accord … through external influences
… knowingly … unknowingly.” There are also instances where the Awaken
One with Awareness refuted both the theory that all happiness and suffering are
caused by the self (known as attakaravada)
and the theory that all happiness and suffering are caused by external forces
(known as parakaravada). This
highlights the need to see cause and effect in its relation to the entire
stream of cause and effect. The extent of any involvement, either one’s own or
of external factors, must be considered in relation to this process. Otherwise
the common misunderstanding arises that all events are caused by personal
actions, to the exclusion of everything else.

    What must be grasped is
the difference between cause and effect in the context of natural law, and
cause and effect in the context of ethics. When speaking of cause and effect as
a natural law, a process that exists in nature and incorporates a wide range of
conditioning factors, we do not overemphasize the role of individual action, so
we say that cause and effect is not the only cause of happiness and suffering.
But on the level of ethics, the teaching of cause and effect is meant to be
used on a practical basis. Consequently, full responsibility is placed on the
individual. This is emphasized in the Awaken One with Awareness’s words from
the Dhammapada, “Be a refuge unto yourself.”

    In addition to meaning
that we must help ourselves, this injunction also includes our relationship
when helped by others. That is, even in the event of help arising from external
sources, we are still responsible for accepting such help on all or any of the
following three levels: (a) In the invitation, whether intentional or
otherwise, whether conscious or not, of such help; (b) In fostering such help
through appropriate behavior; (c) And at the very least, in the acceptance of
such help. For this reason, the principle of cause and effect on the level of
natural law and on the level of ethics do not conflict, but actually support
each other.

Beliefs that
are contrary to the law of cause and effect
     

There are three philosophies which are
considered by Concept of Awaken One with Awareness to be wrong view and which
must be carefully distinguished from the teaching of cause and effect:

   
1.
Pubbekatahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering
arise from previous cause and effect (Past-action determinism).

   
2.
Issaranimmanahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and
suffering are caused by the directives of a Supreme Being (Theistic
determinism).

   
3.
Ahetu-apaccayavada: The belief that all happiness and suffering
are random, having no cause (Indeterminism or Accidentalism).

    Concerning this, we have
the Awaken One with Awareness’s words:

“Bhikkhus, these three sects, on being
questioned by the wise, fall back on tradition and stand fast on inaction. They
are:

1. The group of ascetics or brahmins which
teaches and is of the view that all happiness, suffering and neutral feeling
are entirely a result of cause and effect done in a previous time.

2. The
group of ascetics and brahmins which teaches and is of the view that all
happiness, suffering and neutral feeling are entirely a result of the will of a
Supreme Being.

3. The group of ascetics and brahmins which
teaches and is of the view that all happiness, suffering and neutral feeling
are entirely without cause
.

“Bhikkhus, of those three groups of
ascetics and brahmins, I approach the first group and ask, ‘I hear that you
uphold this teaching and view … Is that so?’ If those ascetics and brahmins,
on being thus questioned by me, answer that it is so, then I say to them, ‘If
that is so, then you have killed living beings as a result of cause and effect
committed in a previous time, have stolen as a result of cause and effect done
at a previous time, have engaged in sexual misconduct … have uttered false
speech … have held wrong view as a result of cause and effect done in a
previous time.’

“Bhikkhus, adhering to previously done
cause and effect as the essence, there are neither
motivation nor effort
with what should be done and what should not be done … Not upholding ardently
what should be done, nor abandoning what should be abandoned, those ascetics
and brahmins are as if deluded, lacking a control, incapable of having any true
teaching. This is our legitimate refutation of the first group of ascetics and
brahmins holding these views.

“Bhikkhus, of those three groups of
ascetics and brahmins, I approach the second group … and say to them, ‘If
that is so, then you have killed living beings because of the directives of a
Supreme Being … stolen the goods of others … engaged in sexual misconduct
… uttered false speech … have held wrong view because of the directives of
a Supreme Being.’

“Bhikkhus, adhering to the will of a
Supreme Being as the essence, there are neither motivation nor effort with what
should be done and what should not be done …

“Bhikkhus, of those groups of ascetics
and brahmins, I approach the third … and say to them, ‘If that is so, then
you have killed living beings for no reason whatsoever … stolen the goods of
others … engaged in sexual misconduct … uttered false speech … have held
wrong view for no reason whatsoever.

“Bhikkhus, adhering to accidentalism as
being the essence, there are neither motivation nor effort with what should be
done and what should not be done …”

    The first of these three
schools of thought is that of the Niganthas, about which we can learn some more
from the Awaken One with Awareness’s words:

“Bhikkhus, there are some ascetics and
brahmins who are of this view, ‘All happiness and suffering are entirely caused
by previous cause and effect. For this reason, with the exhausting of old cause
and effect through austerities, there will be no influence exerted by cause and
effect-results. When there is no more influence of cause and effect-results,
cause and effect is ended. With the ending of cause and effect there is an
ending of suffering. With the ending of suffering there is an ending of feeling.
With the ending of feeling, all suffering is eventually extinguished.’
Bhikkhus, the Niganthas are of this view.”

    The following words from
the Awaken One with Awareness clearly illustrate the Buddhist view:

“Listen, Sivaka. Some kinds of feeling
arise with bile as condition … with changes in the weather as condition …
with inconstant behavior as condition … with danger from an external source
as condition … with cause and effect-results as condition. Any ascetic or brahmin
who is of the view that, ‘All feeling is entirely caused by previous cause and
effect,’ I say is mistaken.”

    These words discourage us
from going too far with cause and effect by considering it as entirely a thing
of the past. Such a view encourages inactivity; passively waiting for the
results of old cause and effect to ripen and taking things as they come without
thinking to correct or improve them. This is a harmful form of wrong view, as
can be seen from the Awaken One with Awareness’s words above.

    Significantly, in the
above passage, the Awaken One with Awareness asserts effort and motivation as
the crucial factors in deciding the ethical value of these various teachings on
cause and effect.

    The Awaken One with Awareness did not dismiss the
importance of previous cause and effect, because it does play a part in the
cause and effect process, and thus has an effect on the present in its capacity
as one of the conditioning factors. But it is simply one of those conditions,
it is not a supernatural force to be clung to or submitted to passively. An
understanding of the Principle of Dependent Origination and the cause and
effect process will clarify this.

    For example, if a man
climbs to the third floor of a building, it is undeniably true that his
arriving is a result of past action — namely, walking up the stairs. And
having arrived there, it is impossible for him to reach out and touch the
ground with his hand, or to drive a car around. Obviously, this is because he
has gone up to the third floor. Or, having arrived at the third floor, whether
he is too exhausted to continue is also related to having walked up the stairs.
His arrival there, the things he is able to do there and the situations he is
likely to encounter, are all certainly related to the “old cause and
effect” of having walked up the stairs. But exactly which actions he will
perform, his reactions to the situations which he meets there, whether he will
take a rest, walk on, or walk back down the stairs and out of that building,
are all matters which he can decide for himself in that present moment, for
which he will also reap the results. Even though the action of walking up the
stairs may still be influencing him (for example, with his strength sapped he
may be unable to function efficiently in any given situation), whether he
decides to give in to that tiredness or try to overcome it are all matters
which he can decide for himself in the present moment.

    Therefore, old cause and
effect should be understood in its relation to the whole cause and effect
process. In terms of ethical practice, to understand the cause and effect
process is to be able to learn from old cause and effect, understanding the
situation at hand, and to skillfully make a plan of action for improving on and
preparing for the future.

Can
cause and effect be erased?

At one time the Awaken One with Awareness
said:

Bhikkhus, there
are those who say ‘Whatever cause and effect is made by this man, he will
receive identical results thereof.’ If such were the case, there could be no
higher life, no path could be perceived for the successful ending of suffering
.

“But with the view, ‘When cause and
effect based on a certain kind of feeling is made (pleasant or unpleasant, for
example), results arise in conformity with that feeling,’ the higher life can
be, there is a way for the ending of suffering.

“Bhikkhus, for some people, only a
little bad cause and effect can lead to rebirth in hell, but for others that
same small amount of bad cause and effect will produce results only in the
present moment, and even then, only the most extreme aspects of it will become
apparent, not the minor.

“What kind of person is it who, for only a little bad cause and effect, goes to hell?
There are those who have not trained their actions, have not trained in moral
restraint, have not trained their minds and have not developed wisdom. They are
of little worth, are of small status and dwell discontented over minor cause
and effect results. This kind of person it is who, over just a little bad cause
and effect, can go to hell (like putting a lump of salt into a very small
vessel).

“What kind of person is it who, for exactly
the same amount of bad cause and effect, receives fruit only in the present,
and even then, the minor aspects of that cause and effect do not manifest, only
the major? There are those who have trained their actions, have trained in
moral restraint, have trained their minds and have developed wisdom. They are
not of little worth, they are great beings, they have a measureless abiding. For
this kind of person, just the same kind of minor bad cause and effect gives
results only in the present, and even then the minor aspects of that cause and
effect do not manifest, only the major (like putting a lump of salt into a
river).”

*  *  *

“Listen, householder, some teachers
give the teaching and are of the view that those who kill living beings must
without exception go to the woeful states, falling to hell; that those who
steal must without exception go to the woeful states, falling to hell; that
those who commit adultery must without exception go to the woeful states,
falling to hell; that those who lie must without exception go to the woeful
states, falling to hell. Disciples of those teachers, thinking, ‘Our teacher
gives the teaching and is of the view that those who kill living beings must
all fall into hell,’ conceive the view thus, ‘I have killed living beings.
Therefore I, too, must go to hell.’ Not relinquishing that speech and that
view, he indeed goes to hell, just as if pushed there by force.

“As for the Tathagata, fully awakened
with awareness Awaken One with Awareness, he arises in the world … He speaks
in dispraise of killing living beings … stealing … adultery … lying, in
many ways, and teaches, ‘Killing of living beings … stealing … adultery …
lying should be abandoned.’ A disciple of the Teacher, reflecting thus, ‘The
Blessed One speaks in dispraise of killing living beings … in many a way, and
teaches the abandoning of killing living beings. I have killed many beings
already. That killing of living beings by me is not good, is not worthy. I will
suffer on account of those actions, and on their account I will not be beyond
reproof.’ Reflecting in this way, he gives up killing of living beings, and is
one who abandons the killing of living beings from that moment on. Thus does he
abandon that bad cause and effect …

“He abandons the killing of living
beings … lying … malicious tale-bearing … coarse speech … frivolous
speech … covetousness … enmity … wrong view. He is one endowed with Right
View, he is a Noble Disciple with a mind free of greed, free of aversion, not
deluded but possessed of self awareness and firm mindfulness. He dwells with a
mind full of goodwill, spreading to the first … second … third … the
whole four directions, above, below, spreading out wide to the whole world, to
all beings in all places, with a mind full of goodwill that is expansive,
grand, boundless, free of enmity and ill will. Having so thoroughly developed
the Mind Deliverance through Goodwill, any moderate amount of cause and effect
previously done will no longer manifest …”

    These words have been
quoted to prevent misunderstandings in relation to the fruition of cause and
effect. The present extract is only a small portion of the material available,
as to present it all would take up too much space.

Do
cause and effect and not-self contradict each other?

There is one question which, though only
occasionally asked, tends to linger in the minds of many newcomers to the study
of Concept of Awaken One with Awareness: “Do the teachings of cause and
effect and not-self contradict each other?” If everything, including body
and mind, is not-self, then how can there be cause and effect? Who is it who
commits cause and effect? Who receives the results of cause and effect? These
doubts are not simply a phenomenon of the present time, but have existed from
the time of the Awaken One with Awareness, as can be seen in the following
example:

    A bhikkhu conceived the following doubt,

“We know that body, feeling,
perception, volitional impulses and consciousness are not self. If so, then who
is it who receives the results of the cause and effect made by this
‘non-self’?”

    At that time, the Blessed One, knowing the thoughts of
that bhikkhu, addressed the bhikkhus thus:

“Bhikkhus, it may be that some foolish
people in this Teaching and Discipline, with mind fallen into ignorance and
confused by desire, might conceive the teaching of the Master to be
rationalized thus: ‘We know that body, feeling, perception, volitional impulses
and consciousness are not self. If that is so, who is it who receives the
results of the cause and effect created by this “non-self”?’ All of
you now, having been thoroughly instructed by me, consider these matters: is
form permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, Lord.”

“Is what is impermanent (a cause for)
happiness or suffering?”

“Suffering, Lord”

“Of that which is impermanent,
unsatisfactory, and normally subject to degeneration, is it proper to say that
‘this is mine, this is me, this is my self’?”

“No, it is not proper, Lord.”

“For that reason, form, feeling,
perception, volitional activities and consciousness, of whatever description,
are merely form, feeling, perception, volitional activities and consciousness.
They are not ‘mine,’ not ‘me,’ not ‘my self.’ Reflect on this as it is with
wisdom. The learned, Noble Disciple, seeing in this way, does not attach to
form, feeling, perception, volitional impulses or consciousness. He is free of
those things, and has no further task to do.”

    Before examining this
scriptural reference, consider the following illustration: Suppose we are
standing on the bank of a river, watching the water flow by. The water flows in
a mostly flat area, therefore it flows very slowly. The earth in that
particular area is red, which gives this body of water a reddish tint. In
addition to this, the water passes many heavily populated areas, from where
people have long thrown in refuse, which, in addition to the industrial waste
poured into the water by a number of recently built factories, pollutes the
water. The water is therefore uninhabitable for most animals; there are not
many fish in it. Summarizing, the body of water we are looking at is reddish,
dirty, polluted, sparsely inhabited and sluggish. All of these features
together are the characteristics of this particular body of water. Some of
these characteristics might be similar to other streams or rivers, but the sum
total of these characteristics is unique to this stream of water.

    Presently we are informed
that this body of water is called the Tah Wung River. Different people describe
it in different ways. Some say the Tah Wung River is dirty and doesn’t have
many fish. Some say the Tah Wung River flows very slowly. Some say that the Tah
Wung River is red-colored.

    Standing on the river’s
bank, it seems to us that the body of water we are looking at is actually
complete in itself. Its attributes, such as being sluggish, red-colored, dirty,
and so on, are all caused by various conditioning factors, such as the flowing
water contacting the red earth. In addition, the water which we are looking at
is constantly flowing by. The water which we saw at first is no longer here,
and the water we are now seeing will quickly pass. Even so, the river has its
unique features, which do not change as long as the relevant conditioning
factors have not changed.

    But we are told, then,
that this is the Tah Wung River. Not only that, they say that the Tah Wung
River is sluggish, dirty, and short of fish. Just looking, we can see no
“Tah Wung River” other than this body of water flowing by. We can see
no “Tah Wung River” possessing this body of water. Yet they tell us
that the Tah Wung River breaks up the red earth as it passes, which makes the
water turn red. It’s almost as if this “Tah Wung River” does
something to the red earth, which causes the earth to “punish” it by
turning its water red.

    We can see clearly that this
body of water is subject to the process of cause and effect governed by its
various conditioning factors: the water splashing against the red earth and the
red earth dissolving into the water is one causal condition, the result of
which is the red-colored water. We can find no “body” doing anything
or receiving any results. We can see no actual Tah Wung River anywhere. The
water flowing past us now flows right on by, the water seen previously is no
longer here, new water constantly taking its place. We are able to define that
body of water only by describing its conditioning factors and the events which
arise as a result, causing the features we have observed. If there was an
actual and unchanging Tah Wung River, it would be impossible for that flow of
water to proceed according to its various determining factors. Finally we see
that this “Tah Wung River” is superfluous. We can speak about that
body of water without having to bother with this “Tah Wung River.” In
actual fact there is no Tah Wung River at all!

    As time goes by we travel
to another district. Wishing to describe the body of water we saw to the people
there, we find ourselves at a loss. Then we recall someone telling us that that
body of water was known as the Tah Wung River. Knowing this, we can relate our
experience fluently, and the other people are able to listen with interest and
attention. We tell them that the Tah Wung River has dirty water, not many fish,
is sluggish, and red-colored.

    At that time, we realize clearly that this “Tah
Wung River,” and the role it plays in the events we describe, are simply
conventions of language used for convenience in communication. Whether the
convention of Tah Wung River exists or not, and whether we use it or not, has
no bearing whatsoever on the actions of that body of water. That body of water
continues to be a process of interrelated cause and effect reactions. We can
clearly distinguish between the convention and the actual condition. Now we are
able to understand and use the convention of speech with ease.

    The things which we
conventionally know as people, to which we give names, and refer to as
“me” and “you,” are in reality continuous and
interconnected streams of events, made up of countless related constituent
factors, just like that river. They are subject to countless factors, directed
by related determinants, both from within that stream of events and from
without. When a particular reaction takes place in a causal way, the fruit of
that action arises, causing changes within the flow of events.

    The conditions which are
referred to as cause and effect and vipaka
are simply the play of cause and effect within one particular stream of events.
They are perfectly capable of functioning within that stream without the need
for the conventions of name, or the words “me” and “you,” either
as owners or perpetrators of those actions, or as receivers of their results.
This is reality,[
c] which functions naturally in this way. But for
convenience in communication within the social world, we must use the
convention of names, such as Mr. Smith and so on, for particular streams of
events.

    Having accepted the
convention, we must accept responsibility for that stream of events, becoming
the owner, the active perpetrator and the passive subject of actions and their
results, as the case may be. But whether we use these conventions or not,
whether we accept the labels or not, the stream of events itself functions
anyway, directed by cause and effect. The important point is to be aware of
things as they are, distinguishing between the convention and the condition
itself. One and the same thing, in the context of its actual nature, is one
way, but when spoken of in conventional terms it must be referred to in another
way. If we have an understanding of the actual reality of these things we will
not be deluded or confused by the conventions.

   
Both reality and convention are necessary. Reality (often referred to as paramattha) is the natural state.
Conventions are a useful and practical human invention. Problems arise when we
confuse the two, clinging to the reality and trying to make it follow
conventions. Within the actual reality there is no confusion, because the
principle naturally functions by itself, not being subject to anybody’s ideas
about it — it is people who become confused. And because reality is not
confused, functioning independently of people’s desires, it frustrates those
desires and makes people even more confused and frustrated. Any problem
occurring is purely a human one.

    As can be seen in the passage
above, the bhikkhu who conceived this doubt was confusing the description of
the reality, which he had learned, with the convention, to which he still
clung. This was the cause of his bewilderment and doubt. Referring to the
original wording, it goes something like this: “If cause and effect is
created by not-self, what self is it that receives the fruits of cause and
effect?” The first part of the sentence is spoken according to his
acquired knowledge of the reality, while the second part is spoken according to
his own habitual perception. Naturally they don’t fit.

    From the foregoing, we
can summarize thus:

  • The teachings of not-self and cause and effect are
    not at all contradictory. On the contrary, not-self lends weight to the
    teaching of cause and effect. Because things are not-self, there can be
    cause and effect, and cause and effect can function. When the process of
    events is operating, all the factors involved must arise, cease and
    interact unhindered, so that the stream of events can proceed. There can
    be no permanent or actual entity to block this flow. If there was a self,
    there could be no cause and effect, because a self (by definition) is not
    subject to cause and effect. Nothing can effect its existence, or cause
    the self to be other than what it is. In the end we would have to divide
    the individual into two levels, such as is held by the sassataditthi
    (belief in an intrinsic self) sects, who believe that the self who creates
    and receives the fruits of cause and effect is merely the external or
    superficial self, while the real self, or essence of the self, lies
    unchanging within.
  • The creation of cause and effect and its results in
    the present time is done without the need for an agent or a recipient. We
    should consider thus: “Which factors are operating here? What
    relationships are involved? What events are arising within the stream as a
    result, and how are they effecting changes within the stream?” When a
    cause, known as cause and effect, or action, arises, there follows the
    result, known as
    vipaka,
    within that stream of events. We call this “cause and effect.”
    This process is not dependent on an owner of those actions, or a doer and
    a recipient of results as an additional, extraneous entity. Cause and
    effect is the flow of cause and effect within that stream of events,
    unlike the conventions which are pasted over them.

    When there is an agreement to call that stream of events
Mr. Smith or Miss Brown, there arises an owner of actions, a doer and a
recipient of results. However, the stream of events proceeds regardless,
completely perfect within itself as far as the cause and effect process goes.
It does not depend on names in order to function.

    When it is time to speak
in the context of a stream of events, describing its operation, its causes and
its results, then we can so speak. When it is time to speak in the context of
conventions, describing actions and the fruits of actions in personal terms, we
can speak thus also. With right understanding, we do not confuse the two
levels.

    Even with regard to
inanimate objects, such as the river above, most people still manage to cling
to conventions as actual entities. How much more so when it comes to human
beings, which are more complex and intricate junctions of causal processes,
involving mental factors. As for these mental factors, they are extremely
subtle. Even impermanence is incomprehensible to many people. There are those
who say, for instance, “Who says memory is impermanent and unstable?
Memory is permanent, because wherever and whenever it arises, it is always
memory, it never changes.”

    Some people may agree with
this line of reasoning, but if the argument is applied to a material object the
error becomes more obvious. It is like saying, “Who says the body is
impermanent? The body is permanent and unchanging, because wherever and
whenever the body arises, it is always the body, it never changes.” It is
easier to see the mistake in this latter argument, but actually both arguments
are equally mistaken. That is, both confuse memory, for instance, and the label
“memory,” or body and the label “body.” The arguments
suggest that memory and the body are stable and unchanging, but in fact what
they are saying is that the names “memory” and “body” are
(relatively) stable and unchanging.

    Studying the law of cause
and effect solely on the level of convention sometimes leads to a simplistic
view of things, such as believing that a certain person, having committed
such-and-such cause and effect, on such-and-such a day, ten years later
receives such-and-such bad result. The cause and effect process referred to
jumps over a span of ten years all in one step. The total stream of events
involved is not taken into account, and so it is difficult to see the real
process involved. Studying the same case in terms of the natural stream of
events helps to see the operation of cause and effect relationships more
completely and in more detail, revealing the real significance of the results
which have arisen and how they have come about.

    Suppose a certain Mr.
Brown has an argument with his neighbor and kills him. Although he goes into
hiding, eventually he is arrested and convicted. Later, even after having been
freed at the end of his prison term, Mr. Brown still experiences remorse on
account of his bad actions. He is often haunted by the image of the murder
victim. His facial features and physical bearing change, becoming agitated,
fearful and depressive. These mental states, coupled with his strong physical
bearing, together cause him to become even more violent and bad-tempered. As
time goes on his physical features take on coarse and hostile characteristics.
He hides his suffering with aggressive behavior, becoming a danger to society
and to himself, unable to find any real happiness.

    In this example, we can
say simply that Mr. Brown has committed bad cause and effect and suffered the
results of his actions. This is speaking conventionally, and it is readily
understood by most people. It is a way of communication, facilitating the
exchange of ideas, but it speaks merely of the external appearance of things,
or the grosser results of the relevant factors which are concealed within. It
does not pierce the true essence of the matter, of the interrelated factors
reacting according to the natural laws.

    However, if we speak in terms of reality, we can speak
of the essence in its entirety, referring to it as a process of events. For
example, we could say that within the operation of this set of five khandhas, a mind state based on anger
arose. There followed the mental proliferation in accord with that anger,
leading to physical action. Conceiving in this way habitually, the mind began
to assume those tendencies. Physical repercussions from external sources were
experienced, adding to the unpleasant feeling, and so on.

    Speaking according to the
conditions in this way, we have all the necessary information without the need
for reference to Mr. Brown or any kind of self. The process contains in itself
natural elements of various kinds arising and reacting with each other to
produce actions and reactions, without the need for a doer or a receiver of
results.

    Whether speaking
according to the conditions as given here, or according to the convention as
related above, the reality of the situation is identical — neither is
deficient or more complete — but the description of things as a natural
condition is given in terms of the natural facts, without the appendages of
conventional imagery.

    In any case, even with these examples, there may still be
some doubt on the matter, so it might be helpful to conclude with a story:

    Tit Porng went to visit the Venerable Abbot of the
nearby monastery. At one point, he asked:

    “Eh, Luang Por, the
Awaken One with Awareness taught that everything is not-self, and is without an
owner — there is no-one who commits cause and effect and no-one who receives
its results. If that’s the case, then I can go out and hit somebody over the
head or even kill them, or do anything I like, because there is no-one
committing cause and effect and no-one receiving its results.”

    No sooner had Tit Porng
finished speaking, when the Abbot’s walking stick, concealed somewhere unknown
to Tit Porng, swung down like a flash. Tit Porng could hardly get his arm up
fast enough to ward off the blow. Even so, the walking stick struck squarely in
the middle of his arm, giving it a good bruise.

    Clutching his sore arm,
Tit Porng said, “Luang Por! Why did you do that?” His voice trembled
with the anger that was welling up inside him.

    “Oh! What’s the
matter?” the Abbot asked offhandedly.

    “Why, you hit me! That
hurts!”

    The Abbot, assuming a
tone of voice usually reserved for sermons, slowly murmured: “There is
cause and effect but no-one creating it. There are results of cause and effect,
but no-one receiving them. There is feeling, but no-one experiencing it. There
is pain, but no-one in pain … He who tries to use the law of not-self for his
own selfish purposes is not freed of self; he who clings to not-self is one who
clings to self. He does not really know not-self. He who clings to the idea
that there is no-one who creates cause and effect must also cling to the idea
that there is one who is in pain. He does not really know that there is no-one
who creates cause and effect and no-one who experiences pain.”

   
The moral of this story is: if you want to say “there is no-one who
creates cause and effect,” you must first learn how to stop saying
“Ouch!”


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