Chapter 4
In Buddhism, the Theory of Equality refers to the fundamental substance of Buddha-nature, and the Theory of Causation deals with the manifold illusory phenomena of the fundamental substance of mind and things. These two theories, complementary to each other, are integrated into one complete whole; it is because all things and phenomena are produced by causation that they are said to be devoid of self-nature, and it is because they are devoid of self-nature that they are equal with one another. If the multifarious things and phenomena of life were substantial and real, they would be unchangeable; neither would they be able to influence each other nor would they be adaptable to each other; in that case, how could they be said to be equal with one another? The Theory of Causation, which treats elaborately the question of phenomenal transformations of life and the universe, is corroborated and verified by other Buddhist theories, therefore it is a basic principle of Buddhism. Now the more advanced is the development of science, the more is the Theory of Causation substantiated. However, prior to this development, different views were held regarding the phenomenal transformations of life and the universe, but in the light of the Law of Cause and Effect of Buddhism and science, they are repudiated to be illogical and fallacious. Let us discuss those heretical views here briefly:

1) The Non-Cause Theory and Effect
In principle, this Theory is absurd and illogical. If all things and phenomena were produced without any cause, why would not gold, silver, and jewels come from the sky? And why should we go into different lines of work at all? Those adherents of the Non-Cause Theory generally are happy-go-lucky fellows, adopting “let-fate-decide-everything” attitude and waiting for something to turn up tomorrow, consequently they are apt to be indolent, easy-going and passive in character. Because the question of causation requires careful and patient study, and cannot be easily grasped by the imprudent and the unobserving, most people may take for granted that all the happenings and affairs of the world come about just accidentally and unexpectedly; in reality, however, invariably, everything, every event or every phenomenon, in undergoing the recurring process of its alternate arising and cessation, is strictly governed by the Law of Cause and Effect. The cause-and-effect relationships of material things, comparatively simple, can be apprehended more easily, but, regarding those phenomena, in which both matter and mind are involved, and, where the mind usually plays the dominant role, the cause-and-effect relationships are far more complicated and generally would take much longer time, may not be present in this life but may come in the next two, three or more generations. Of course, this cannot be known by people at large, and would appear incredible, except those who have the transcendental powers to read past lives; because the causes of those phenomena are unknown, the phenomena are said to be uncaused or non-caused. However, if the cause-and-effect relationships between matter and matter can be known deductively from their transformations, logically it can be inferred that in those phenomena of combined matter and mind, the Law of Cause and Effect is also operative, and there is no reason to believe that those phenomena would be immune from the Law; again, if the causes are still unknown, pending further investigations, it must not be assumed that the phenomena in question are non-caused, or one would foolishly fall into the errors of the Non-Cause Theory.

2) The Unequal Cause Theory and The Multiple Unequal Causes Theory
According to the Unequal Cause Theory, the “Unequal Cause” is the creator of everything but himself is uncaused; for this, he is said to be an Unequal Cause. While some believers of this theory maintain that everything is created by one Cause only, some others assert, however, that things may be produced by non-associated causes. “The Omnipotent Creator of everything of the world” is a typical example of the Unequal Cause. But if all things were produced by this Cause only, and without any conditions whatsoever, (secondary causes) then all of them should have been produced at one time. Certainly, this is not true, as, for example, all scientific appliances, one after another, were made at different times, and the most advanced inventions, as a rule, are the most up-to-date. Someone may argue to say that the Creator has the free will to make things at different times, so in counter-argument, the writer would like to ask this question: “Is the will to make things at different times conditioned or not?” If it is, then the Creator cannot be said to make things at his will, and so is not omnipotent; if it is unconditioned, logically, all things should have been made simultaneously. Moreover, if the Creator is uncaused, it is difficult to understand why other things should be caused and made by the Uncaused at all. Again, what is the Creator’s objective in making things diametrically opposed to each other? Would he be pleased to have made such horrible things as devils, hells and what not? And why should the Omnipotent Creator have not produced more and more people of good appearance, fine character, and high intelligence, and, why should he not prevent people from doing evils, instead of redeeming their sins? If he cannot do this, obviously, he is not omnipotent; if he can, but does not do it, this would be a gross injustice to humanity. From this viewpoint, the existence of the Unequal Cause is hardly logical.

In the early days of science, atoms, classified into ninety two components, were regarded as the smallest indivisible unit and the source of all material things of the world. This gave rise to the Multiple Unequal Causes Theory. Later, when scientists discovered that electrons, not atoms, were the smallest immutable unit, the Multiple Unequal Causes Theory was nullified and gave way to the Unequal Cause Theory. However, with the discovery of atomic energy, the One Unequal Cause Theory was proved also fallacious; firstly, the old Law of Immutability of Material Things was repudiated by the discovery of modern science that material things can be turned into energy; secondly, energy and material things, formerly considered to be two separate things, are proved to be members of the same family. This indicates that the repeal of the Unequal Cause Theory by scientists themselves is in keeping with the Universal Law of Cause and Effect of Buddhism.

3) Fatalism
This theory holds that in life everything is prefixed either by fate or by Heaven’s appointment and there is nothing one can do against this, consequently, believers of this theory are inclined to be passive and irresponsible. The happy-go-lucky type of optimists may be said to be fatalists. The conventional Chinese conception of fate is this; if it is based on some established principle, it is fatalism; if it is not, it can hardly be inferred to be the Life’s appointment at all. According to the Buddhist Theory of Causation, thought bad karma may have been sown in the past life, it is possible that by cultivating good deeds diligently, they may be deferred and even neutralized; moreover, without the necessary conditions, they would not emerge and bear fruit in the present life; if one cherishes but profound repentance, not only would the emergence of bad seeds be averted but also the bad karma would be counteracted. This truth was borne out by the personal experience of the celebrated Chinese scholar Yuan, Liao-Fan of the Ming Dynasty in the well-known autobiography “Liao-Fan’s Four Precepts”, in which we can find substantial proofs to show that by practising good deeds, the so-called Life’s Appointments can be transmuted eventually. Moreover, in Fatalism what is said to be stable and invariable turns out to be in reverse; in other words, in the stable there is the unstable, and in the invariable there is the changeable; if the Buddhist Theory of Causation is realized, certainly we would not believe in Fatalism nor would lead such a passive life. Inasmuch as happiness and misery are self made, obviously, we cannot seek happiness or avert misery by depending on external aids, However, on the good understanding that weal and woe are fundamentally void, and by practising good deeds incessantly, but without giving any thought of them, one may be said to be making a big stride on the way towards enlightenment.

4) Mechanism
In the view of philosophers of Mechanical Materialism, when a thing makes a change or an event takes a turn, this comes about under the influence of both the tradition and the environment of that time. Furthermore, they assume that inasmuch as the mind is nothing but manifestation of material phenomena, factors responsible for causing the changes of those phenomena are material things and time only. To illustrate, if a person was brought up in a prominent family, say, like that of President Roosevelt, and his environment was also identical with that of the latter, hypothetically speaking, he would be also a President in future and make great accomplishments. From the standpoint of the Mechanism Theory, this hypothetical case may be said to be similar to the making of motor cars; cars of the same brand are assembled with identical parts and so they function all the same. In other words, things of the same pattern are set up mechanically. The Theory further assumes that all changes in the events and human affairs all over the world take place mechanically, inasmuch as they are governed by the laws of science. However, Buddhism looks into the question of phenomenal transformations in a different way. However important is the factor of material things, it must be conceded that usually the mind plays the predominating role. Of course, things may cause reactions of the mind, but also may be changed by the mind. Moreover, the old Law of Conservation of Matter, on which the Mechanism Theory was based, had been invalidated by the discovery of the new Physics that material things can be turned into immaterial energy. Again, considering that time and space are the important elements of energy, and the mind is an indispensable element of time, it can be inferred that not only material things and energy are of one family, but material things and the mind are also of one and the same entity. From this, it can be seen that the foundation of the Mechanism Theory has crumbled and lost its ground completely.

The aforementioned four Theories are called “Mere Imaginations” in Buddhism terms. Because of their false discriminations, likely they would produce the following detrimental effects: 1) Their attitude of work held by those believers shows their lack of self-respect and sense of responsibility; if they fail, they would say that it is fate of God or the social environment that goes against them, and if they are successful, they would claim that one cause has done it and it is not others they themselves have don’t it; 2) As their efforts are expended for their own interests, they are not active in social work at all; 3) To other people, they show no compassion, but self-conceit, arrogance and aggressiveness. In short, to rid ourselves of those defilements, the only way is to believe and to hold on to the Universal Law of Cause and Effect of Buddhism.