When an accident happens we look for the cause. We try to find the cause because we don’t want the same outcome to occur again. We look for the cause and rectify it. The world has improved and progressed as a result of this way of thinking. At this moment the search is going on for Malaysian flight 370 that disappeared of the radar. Since there has been no sighting of it, a slew of possible scenarios are been spoken about: Was it a fire, exploding lithium batteries, pilot conspiracy, or terrorist takeover? No one is sure. And maybe we will never know, if the plane cannot be found that is. But still we want to know the cause of its disappearance so we can prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
When we find the cause we make efforts to change circumstances to prevent a similar event happening. After the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001 security changed overnight at prominent locations. The tiresome security at airports today is a result of the events of that day. At that time I was working as a driver making deliveries often times at high rise office buildings in downtown LA. Before 9/11 it was a breeze going in and out of these buildings, but after 9/11 getting into those buildings became an ordeal in patience!
The law that governs the universe is known as the Law of Cause and Effect. What we do come back to us. A student who studies diligently will generally do better than the student who is careless about their studies. During my college days I devoted most of my time to study while working parttime. My life was busy busy busy, but I was loving what I was doing. As a result I got grades that I could be satisfied with. However, on the flip side, while devoting myself to work and study, I neglected diet and exercise. My health suffered dearly, and I spent a lot of time and money post-college getting my health back. For a good cause there is a good effect; a bad cause will bring a bad effect, and my cause brings my effect. These are the principles of this law. This law is non-judgmental. If we do bad, even though we don’t mean to, a bad result will come back. We get what we put out for good or for bad, and the results must come back to me, the doer.
Whether we realize it or not our daily lives function believing in this law. To believe in this law is to live. In other words to live is to believe. But also to believe is to have doubt. I will explain.
When we get into our car in the morning, we assume it will start and run when we turn the key. We assume water will come from the taps, or that electricity will flow when we flick on a switch. When we take medicine or a vitamin pill we take it in the belief that it will do what it’s advertised as. To live is to believe in this law.
However, the truth of belief is that when we say we believe we are in fact doubting. We believe because we are not 100% sure. When we turn the key in the car ignition we cannot be sure the car will start. When asked about tomorrow’s weather, we say I believe it will be sunny, or rainy. We say we believe because we are not sure what exactly the weather will be.
The opposite of believing is to know. Knowing comes from direct experience. When we know something, we don’t need to say we believe. We don’t say that we believe today’s weather is sunny, because we can see that today is bright sunshine. We say with confidence, “today IS a sunny day!” We recommend a certain restaurant to eat at: “You should try this restaurant. Their food is the best!” If your best friend tells you this with enthusiasm you will be inclined to believe what they are saying as truth. “They seem so sincere, that maybe the food is really good,” you might think. But until you actually go to the restaurant and try the food for yourself can you actually know if the food is as good as your friend said.
We think we believe in the law of cause and effect. We might think that a good action will bring a good effect, don’t we. If I work hard for example at study, at my job, or at the gym I expect to see positive results. What about when something bad happens? Am I able to accept the law as quickly then? When something bad happens my mind is resistant to accepting the law; I find a scapegoat to explain off why I got the results I got. My belief in the Law is a matter of convenience. If it’s convenient to accept the law i.e. because I got a good result because of my efforts, I will happily do so. But if it’s not convenient, I will start looking for excuses.
To ‘believe deeply’ in the law is to know that the law is the truth of the universe without a shadow of doubt. Believing deeply is not the same as believing. To believe deeply in the law is to know that the law is undeviating in all times and places, that for a good cause, a good result is sure to follow; a bad cause will produce a bad result, and the results of my actions come back to me.
Frank Costelloe, Los Angeles
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #39 | 2014, Believing in the Law
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