There is only one thing that all people are seeking. That is a good fate, meaning happiness. How, then, can we attain happiness? There is probably no greater issue than knowing the mechanism of fate. The principle that makes it clear that our fate (happiness or unhappiness) is decided by our deeds is the Law of Cause and Effect, which is the foundation of Buddhism.
Good causes produce good effects: If you plant good seeds (do good deeds),
you will harvest good fruits (happiness)
Bad causes produce bad effects: If you plant bad seeds (do bad deeds),
you will harvest bad fruits (unhappiness)
Own causes produce own effects: It is the seeds that you plant (your own deeds)
that bring about the results that appear to you, whether happiness or unhappiness
It is taught that the fate you reap comes entirely from what you have sown; your own deeds are what create your fate. This is by no means a rule that only applies while you are living. The Law of Cause and Effect is a truth that runs through the three worlds, meaning it applies to the time before you were born (your past lives), to the life you are living now (your present life), and to the time after your death (your future lives). It is therefore called “The Law of Cause and Effect of the Three Worlds”.
There are probably people who cannot accept the existence of past lives, but the fact that you were born in this era and in your particular country of origin is a result. Had you been born in a country where terrorist attacks are a common occurrence, you might well have been abducted or killed in a massacre by now. Each of the seven billion people in this world was born at a different time, in a different place, with their own unique appearance as well as their own set of talents. The reason why all of these results were different is that each person had planted different seeds in their past lives, before they were born.
We don’t even remember what we were doing this time last year, so of course, there is no-one who remembers the deeds they did in their past lives. Even so, Śākyamuni Buddha taught, “If you desire to know the seeds of the past, look at the results of the present.” This means that if we look at the results we are receiving in this present life, we can know what kind of seeds we planted in our past lives.
If radishes have grown in your field, you obviously must have planted radish seeds, even if you do not remember doing so. Seeds not sown will never grow. If a person is fortunate in their present life, it is because they did good deeds in their past lives; if, on the other hand, they are experiencing a succession of misfortune, it is because they have planted a succession of bad seeds. After all, only seeds that have been planted will grow.
Since it is too late to change the past, that which we want to know the most is what our fate will be like in the future. Despite society’s insistence on the importance of rationality, this is the reason why so many people turn to fortune-telling: they are worried about what tomorrow will bring, wondering if they might fall ill or be involved in an accident.
What is going to happen to us after death? What should we do in order to know the results we will reap in the future? Śākyamuni’s answer is this: “If you desire to know the results of the future, look at the seeds of the present.” Seeds sown will never fail to grow. If you look at the seeds you are planting in your present life, you will know what kind of results you will receive in the future.
There are those who do not acknowledge the existence of future lives and think, “It doesn’t matter how many people I kill, because I’m going to be given the death penalty anyway.” They then allow themselves to commit as many heinous acts as they wish. Such people must think that it won’t make a difference whether they kill one person or ten people. The matter will be over and done with, they think, when they receive the death penalty once in this life. One might shrug, “Well, that can’t be helped.” If one can accept this, however, one must also say, “It can’t be helped” when one receives one day’s pay despite working for ten days.
To think it fine that the result of ten acts of killing could be the same result that would come from one act of killing while also believing that someone who works ten days should receive ten times the salary of someone who works one day goes completely against the Law of Cause and Effect. The assertion that there is no future life is based on one’s own convenience, which is not in accordance with the truth.
“Due to the Law of Cause and Effect, there is no denying the existence of an afterlife.” (Śākyamuni Buddha)
Seeds sown will grow without fail, so even if the results of the seeds you plant in your present life do not appear to you within this lifetime, they will beyond any doubt appear to you in a future life. Those who believe this solemn Law of Cause and Effect of the Three Worlds are true Buddhists.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #51 | 2015, The Foundation of Buddhism that Runs Through the Three Worlds
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