The Law of Cause and Effect
Consider, if you will, the law of cause and effect. We can observe this law in action every day in front of our eyes, yet we seldom give it much thought. But in fact, all aspects of life are governed by it. Every action has some result or consequence. When we initiate an action, we set in motion forces that must resolve themselves, and there is no stopping that process.
If, for example, we take a rifle and pull the trigger, we have created an action. The gun goes off and the bullet goes hurtling off at a speed that renders it invisible to our eyes. At this stage we could perhaps walk away and think nothing more of it. But the truth is that there is still a bullet hurtling through the air, and it will travel on a predictable path and eventually strike the earth at some equally predictable point. As soon as we pull that trigger we set in motion a train of events that will end in a bullet striking its target, whether that target was intended or not. Furthermore, once that trigger has been pulled, it is too late to reconsider the action. It is done. We cannot call that bullet back once the rifle has been fired. Unfortunately life does not provide us with an “undo” button!
In life we are constantly generating actions without giving them much thought. Most especially we don’t give much thought to the consequences of these actions.
It is very interesting, and somewhat disturbing, to realize that popular culture has it that even if you do horrendous things, you can “get away with it” if nobody catches you or can prove later that you did it. There was once a survey taken in the UK in which they asked people, if they knew for sure that they would get away with it, would they commit crimes like rape or murder? The result was an astonishing 65 percent who said yes, they would.
If you doubt the accuracy of this finding, cast your mind back to any major war that has occurred in the past or that is even going on right now. In every armed conflict there have been atrocities committed, normally by both sides. Rape, torture and murder on a massive scale are common in wartime, and it is because the rule of law has broken down to the extent that people consider it unlikely that they will ever be held to account for their actions.
Is this type of thinking justified or valid? The answer is a definite and emphatic no. We may be deceived into thinking that because we cannot always observe consequence, there may be none – but it is a scientifically verifiable fact that there is always consequence. It may be obscure, it may be delayed, it may take on forms that we don’t always recognize, but consequences are as inescapable as night following day.
So the moment that we actually recognize this as a fact of life, is the moment we need to start taking a closer look at our own behaviour. If we start to see that every action generates an appropriate reaction, then, if we’re smart, we’ll start to think that it would be a really good idea to avoid all actions that will cause us pain and grief and only do things that will have pleasant or positive results.
But even though we may have the wisdom to understand the law of cause and effect and its all-pervading influence on our lives, we may discover that this is not enough. What we need is the additional wisdom to know that once we have erred, we can rectify our thinking and never make the same mistake again. What is it, therefore, that we lack in our understanding that will allow us to solve this thorny problem?
Well, it is not sufficient merely to avoid those negative actions that have undesirable reactions. Otherwise spending our lives doing good works would be all that was necessary to secure eternal happiness. But, as Hazur Maharaj Ji often used to say, that constitutes exchanging rusty iron chains for shiny golden ones. We remain bound to the consequences of our actions, and to the cycle of birth and death. We need to find a way of life that will lead us towards an ideal condition. And what might that be?
Many people consider a life of luxury and indulgence as an ideal condition. But if you take a closer look, these people who find themselves in the limelight all the time – the so-called glitterati -are far from happy and lead far from idyllic lives. How many of them commit suicide or die of drug overdoses? How many of them have multiple divorces? How many of them have children who are so clearly disturbed that they are constantly getting into trouble? These are obviously not the people whose lifestyle we want to imitate.
So what then? A clear criterion for success is that factor that is most frequently misunderstood: happiness. But how can we have happiness that doesn’t have a negative payback? First we need to have a look at how we define happiness.
Our biggest mistake is to think that sensory indulgence provides happiness. Indulgence in fine foods or sex, strong drink, drugs and so on may have pleasurable elements, but the pleasures that indulgence brings have serious shortcomings. Firstly, they only last for a short time, and secondly, they all have a heavy price attached.
We know from experience that no matter how many of these things we indulge in, we always end up just as unhappy, or more so, than we were before. So where are we going to look for something that will meet our innermost needs, not just for a short time, but forever? What are the requirements for us to find lasting solutions? Our thinking is constrained by our experience in this life. We have only known the short-lived and temporary phenomena of this material, physical world. So to start looking for something which we have not yet experienced is a tall order.
Let’s look at this from another point of view: So far we’ve been talking from the perspective of logic and reason. But the fact is that even before we were clear on the issues at stake here, we were already searching and seeking. At its root, this thing that was driving us was the soul’s unhappiness at being in this world, at being separated from its source.
Now, we have to admit that we would never have figured all this out on our own. It was only when we came into contact with a perfect living Master that some semblance of sense started clarifying the issues for us. Up to that time we thought there was something wrong with us and that we were all alone in the world with an apparent dementia that was driving us to go poking around in all sorts of strange places, like mad people in search of a mystery that even we could not adequately explain.
Enter the Master. Eventually we came to his satsang. There we learned several new concepts – including the practical application of cause and effect in our lives. In other words, karma. This law of karma is inexorable. Down to the last detail, the universe records everything, and it must all balance out in the end. It is said that “nature abhors a vacuum”. Well, it abhors an energy imbalance even more. So we must try to behave in a way that is calculated to incur the least amount of karma.
Ultimately the task ahead of us is quite simple. The Masters say that on the one hand you have the path of the world, and on the other hand you have the path of the mystics. The path of the world you are well acquainted with, but what do you know about the mystic way? What lies in this other direction?
The Masters have a different vision of how it all works. They say firstly that there is most certainly a God who created everything, and remains at the core or centre of it all. Absolutely nothing escapes his notice, and nothing moves without his say-so. Secondly, they tell us that the Lord manifests himself throughout the universe in the form of a dynamic power, Shabd, through which he created it all, and now sustains it. The Masters tell us that we are not this body, nor are we this mind. Our true nature is that of soul. They tell us that the soul is a particle of God, and until and unless it is reunited with its true Father, it will continue to be miserable in this world. They say that to return to our Father’s house, we need to contact this power and merge with it. And it is for this purpose that the Masters have descended to our level.
The Masters exist in flesh and blood, and we can relate to them, and this makes it possible for them to teach us and show us the way. They tell us that the first step towards achieving our goal is to gather our attention and focus it at the eye centre. Our Master advises us to practise simran or repetition at the eye centre. He tells us that when we manage to focus the attention at the eye centre, the door will open, and he, in his Radiant Form, will put us into conscious touch with that power within, which will cleanse the soul and make it fit to continue its spiritual journey into the regions beyond.
The Master teaches us that by focusing our attention at the eye centre, we can invoke the grace of the Lord to such a degree that we can rise up into an awareness of a far more sublime condition, without any negative consequences. By now, if we have the initiation of a perfect living Master, we know exactly what he expects of us. And he is not asking us to do anything too difficult: just live a decent life, and meditate every day. That’s all. Live a calm and untroubled life, and attain stillness within. Then see the magic begin!