Cause and effect

Mar 28th, 2017
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  1. “Actions exist, and also their consequences, but the person that acts does not.”
  2. ~The Buddha
  4. “The great Tao flows everywhere.
  5. All things are born from it,
  6. yet it doesn't create them.
  7. It pours itself into its work,
  8. yet it makes no claim.
  9. It nourishes infinite worlds,
  10. yet it doesn't hold on to them.”
  11. ~Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching 34 (translated by Stephen Mitchell)
  13. “This Body itself is Emptiness
  14. and Emptiness itself is this Body.
  15. This Body is not other than Emptiness
  16. and Emptiness is not other than this Body.
  17. The same is true of Feelings,
  18. Perceptions, Mental Formations,
  19. and Consciousness.”
  20. ~Heart Sutra (translated by Thich Nhat Hanh)
  22. “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
  23. ~Luke 17:20-21 (NRSV)
  25. “I am the light over all things.
  26. I am all.
  27. From me all has come forth,
  28. and to me all has reached.
  29. Split a piece of wood.
  30. I am there.
  31. Lift up the stone
  32. and you will find me there.”
  33. ~Gospel of Thomas 77 (translated by Marvin Meyer)
  37. This article is not meant to be scientific or spiritual, but philosophical. I recommend that the reader makes use of his or her own judgment and discernment. Eat the grapes, but spit out the seeds.
  41. They say that god is everything. Why call it "god", then?
  43. Why not call it "law", you know, as in "all of creation abides by the law of the creator"?
  45. If we have free will, then why do most spiritual paths boil down to surrendering to god's will?
  49. “What is god's will?”
  51. Since god is conceived of as all-powerful, I can only assume that whatever happens is god's will. Get as offended by this as you like. It's a logically sound argument. And by looking at the state of the world we can see that god really does work in mysterious ways. Anyone who believes in god, and that god is good, is burdened by the task of explaining away the obvious.
  53. Why does god allow suffering?
  54. Why does god allow injustice?
  55. Why does god allow evil to triumph over good?
  56. Why does god allow good people to live bad lives?
  57. Why does god allow bad people to live good lives?
  59. Oh, right! I forgot! All the bad in the world is the devil's doing, because apparently god, omnipotent and omnipresent as he is, has an enemy. Where would we be without a scapegoat to blame for everything that goes wrong?
  61. Of course, I don't believe that god exists, but even if such a being did exist, the fact that it's the source of all existence means that it would be nowhere and everywhere to be found within existence. This makes the whole conception of god redundant, because the existence of god is impossible to prove or disprove.
  65. “What is the real function of the spiritual journey?”
  67. Having dived deep into religion and spirituality, and surviving long enough to reach the other side, my conviction is that it's all about psychology. The spiritual stories and myths are clumsy attempts to map, diagnose and heal the human mind, using symbols and allegories. The stories have spread, mingled and evolved throughout history, and they have been taken out of context, out of the time and place in which they were created. This is what makes the spiritual waters so muddy these days. The sacred texts were not written with our culture in mind, and hence we lack the necessary frame of reference to properly understand them. We don't know what the point is anymore.
  71. “We are storytellers.”
  73. I'm speaking from personal experience when I say that identity is the most important choice that any human being will ever make. Most people identify with stories, and they get increasingly confused as life goes on. Most, if not all, people who dabble in spirituality suffer from dissociation in one form or another. Their mind has told a story so long and so great, that they've become segregated from their own body and the world around them. Identifying with the mind's projections is a slippery slope, and it will undoubtedly lead to mental illness in the long run. Identifying with floaty, vague and abstract concepts, such as "infinite consciousness", is not helpful. The path to healing begins with tracing the mind back to the body, making them one and the same thing, and that wholeness becomes the new healthy identity.
  77. “What is real?”
  79. We can never know anything at all about reality unless we face it directly, from the physical perspective of the body. The path to truth has always, and must always, come from direct experience. The rest is just brain chatter and theory. Truth has nothing to do with belief, and everything to do with the way things are. Truth is a discovery, not an invention. It's not something that can be different for different people. We all have different perspectives, but the map is not the territory.
  81. What I want to prove with this article is that no matter the path of choice, science or spirituality, the final conclusion is that there's no free will. There's just action, and it's not coming from anywhere or anyone in particular, but it's what connects everything together. None of us are responsible, and yet we all play our part. Change is the only constant.
  83. Is everything predetermined? I don't know, and I think that's the only honest answer that anyone could give to that question. We don't know. But causality is linear because it only moves in one direction, which is forward in time. The law is consistent; it can't contradict itself. This is what we know, and whatever we make of that is up to us. The idea of destiny or fate, ruled by action (cause and effect), is not a new one. The common religious view is that god decides our fate, and yet we still have free will, which doesn't make any sense. It's a completely irrational idea. There's no such thing as "relative free will". Freedom is an absolute; we either have it, or we don't. And if we don't have freedom it sure doesn't make sense to imagine an angry and vengeful god, who sadistically punishes his creation for doing exactly what it must do.
  87. “Things happen, and they cause other things to happen.”
  89. Everything is based on cause and effect. Everything, without a single exception. Causality is a law of nature, and it could be argued to be the law of nature. All it means is that all (physical) phenomena have a cause, and will cause other phenomena in the future. This moment was caused by what happened before, which means that we're always a reflection of the past.
  91. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Our conscious experience is the combined effect of activity in the body, as it interacts with the objective world. Thinking is a physical process that occurs in the brain, which is bound by the laws of nature, and has absolutely no magical properties beyond that. My argument is that due to the law of causality the self arises as the very last effect in a causal chain, more accurately described as a cycle or a pulse. The best analogy I can think of is the breath, or the beating of the heart. Round and round it goes... and we have nothing to do with it! It just happens on its own.
  95. “We are not the illusion.”
  97. I recently learned that when the human eye moves it's actually blind, but the brain fills in the gap so we don't notice it. Try it! Find a mirror and look at your right eye, and then your left eye. Can you see your eyes moving?
  99. Maybe the conscious experience works the same way? The seemingly separate inner self dies and is reborn over and over again, in rapid succession. The progression of all the separate frozen states creates the illusion of a continuous self, a ghost in the machine. This is the real world interpretation of reincarnation. It's the self being continuously re-created inside the body.
  101. Many people are familiar with the spiritual notion "the inbreath and outbreath of god", which suggests that god is both the creator and the destroyer; in other words, god is the transformer. What I argue is that this is actually referring to the inner dynamic between body and mind, creator and creation. We wrongly assume that the outbreath is what we are, and since this isn't true the effect is that we're fighting against the current instead of going with the flow. The path of least resistance is to let go of control, by thoroughly understanding that we never had it in the first place. The show must go on regardless of whether we choose to carry the burden of responsibility or not.
  105. “What is our true nature?”
  107. There's a poetic saying that goes: "let the mind sink into the heart". The faster we let go of the story, the faster our true nature can be revealed. The more attention we pay to the body, the more we allow what arises to dissolve back into its source. To become whole we must trace all our projections back to ourselves, instead of letting them run amok. Until we integrate our disowned shadow it will distort our perception of the world around us.
  109. Emotions precede thoughts, hence they are the cause of thoughts. The two could be seen as the same phenomenon at different stages of development, going from general to specific. What's the cause of emotions, you might ask? They are a combined effect of the state of the body, the sum of activity in all its interdependent parts. What this means is that the body is doing all the work, and we're not aware of anything until it's all done. The separate self is an illusion, a brain hallucination, and our subjective perception does not equal objective reality. We don't control anything, because free will can't coexist with causality. Either everything has a cause, or nothing does.
  111. It's matter over mind, not mind over matter. In the end, though, they're the same thing; it's all matter. The only thing making it seem otherwise is the redundancy of conceptual thinking and human language.
  115. “What do we need to do?”
  117. If we try to resist anything that arises inside, then we're going to war with ourselves. Then our bodies are in a state of imbalance, because there's no coherence between the brain and the rest of the body. Dissociation is a disconnection between thought and emotion, between ourselves and our bodies. This is what happens every time we try to exercise our so-called "free will", and choose to go against the flow. If we want to repress anything that arises inside we have to dissociate from the body, which is a bad idea since it's our natural self. Because emotions are so closely related to the body, they are the gateway to our source. Total self-honesty and a radical acceptance of everything (that arises inside) are required. If we want to fully know and heal ourselves, we must allow ourselves to feel. No holds barred.
  119. Some emotions are judged as unacceptable, because they are looked at from the viewpoint of the mind, which due to past experience wrongly assumes that the different emotions have inherent meaning. Unwanted emotions either get suppressed or projected, and both of these strategies yield terrible results. The self is biased, because it's programmed to look for happiness and avoid suffering. This "push and pull" dynamic means that we can never reach our true core by relying on thinking alone. The only sane reaction to this realization is to simply give up, to surrender. The answer is always right here, right now, so why look anywhere else? The will to awaken and to become enlightened is the very thing preventing us from seeing the truth. We already are that which we seek. It's not about becoming; it's about shedding all the layers of delusion that hide the natural self. There's nothing new under the sun.
  123. “Nothing is at the heart of everything.”
  125. This is it. The present moment, otherwise known as "now", is the nexus point where the past meets the future. Here and now will always be where all our power is, because we can't act in the past or the future, or anywhere else but where we are. With spirituality and religion out of the picture, what remains that's sacred? This moment is the leading edge of evolution, believe it or not. Maybe it's time we started seeing it as such?
  127. Can we appreciate the causal flow that we are, and understand our true nature without resorting to superstition and childish fantasies?
  129. To be asleep is to have the belief of being an invisible person in a body.
  130. To be awake is to be a human being.
  134. “Eternity isn't some later time. Eternity isn't a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.”
  135. ~Joseph Campbell
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