In all aspects of transformations of A) matter, B) mind, and C) matter and mind combined, the Law of Cause and Effect extends its operation incessantly and continuously. From the time of their spiritual development to their attainment of Buddhahood, in and out of this world, sentient being are subjected to the operation of this Law. In view of its extensive application, it may be fittingly called The Universal Law of Cause and Effect. For short, it is called the Law of Cause and Effect; for elaboration, “Cause and Conditions, Fruit and Retribution.” The cause means the primary cause and conditions are auxiliary causes; whatever is produced by cause and conditions is called “fruit”, and to whoever is responsible for making the cause, the fruit is identically a “retribution”. The Law of Cause, Condition, Fruit and Retribution is well summed up in the following gatha: “Even with the passing of hundreds and thousands of aeons, one’s karma may remain and would not bear the fruit till the cause and conditions meet, and then none but its maker alone would have to bear the suffering of the retribution. “In the gatha three points are noteworthy: 1) Karma, as a cause, would not be nullified by itself even after the lapse of long, long time, same as what was said in Newton’s Law of Motion that still things always remained still and moving things were always on the move, and in either case, they would not by themselves, change their phenomena of stillness and motion, unless intervened by an external force. 2) When the cause and conditions meet together, regardless how long and how short this may take, the fruit would be produced eventually, e.g. by the external force, still things would move at once and moving things would either change their direction, or accelerate their speed or come to stop. 3) By one’s doing, which is the cause, one gets the fruit automatically, this is to say, for one’s happiness or misery, one oneself alone is responsible, and neither happiness is reward, nor misery is punishment from God; as claimed by some religion, one gets retribution for another’s doing, and vice versa, but such cases are repudiated by Buddhism to be fallacious and illogical. In science, the Law of Cause and Effect, though included in the Universal Law of Cause and Effect, deals only with material things and their interrelationships. But if the object of research has to do with human affairs or with the mind, then the scientific experiment would come to a halt. From this, it may be seen that the cause-and-effect relationships expounded by science are comparatively simple. For example, when a copper wire moves in a magnetic field, in order to intercept the magnetic line of force, electric pressure would be produced. In this case, the copper wire is the primary cause, its motion and the magnetic line are the conditions and the electric pressure is the effect; but it there is no copper wire, or if the wire is not moving in the magnetic field to counteract the magnetic line of force, there would be no electric pressure at all. From this, it can be clearly seen that the cause-and-effect relationships of material things may be summed up in a simple dictum: “such cause, such effect”. In a word, the Law of Cause and Effect works out automatically and precisely in due time. Not only it applies to relationships between the material things, but also those between mind and mind, and to those of combined matter and mind as well. Considering that matter and mind are of one integrated whole, it can be inferred that the Law of Causality, that applies to the one, also holds good with the other.

Of couse, the interrelationships of combined matter and mind are far more complicated than those of material things discussed in the foregoing, and what is said on this question so far, is too precise, readers may better refer to Buddhist Scriptures for comprehensive and meticulous details. Speaking of causes, there are tow fundamental theories: 1) the six causes given by Abbhidharma-kosa-Sastra; and 2) the ten causes given by Yogacarabhumi-Sastra; in both Sastras the sphere of causes is so extensive that conditions (secondary causes) are also included. In Dirghagama Sutra conditions are classified into four different kinds: a) Primary cause and Secondary cause, b) Equal Incessant Causes, c) Condition qua perceived qua perceived object, and d) Condition qua contributing factor (causes helping primary cause to grow). This classification of cause and conditions is common to both Mahayana and Hinayana Schools. In the Pali texts there are as many as twenty-four conditions, resulting from the further divisions of both Condition qua perceived object and Condition qua contributing factor. Under those twenty-four conditions all aspects of interrelationships between mind and form, mind and mind, mind and combined matter and mind, body and mind, combined body and mind and another combined body and mind are dealt with at great length. From this, we can see that the question of complicated and comprehensive relationships of those diverse and manifold phenomena of the world is dealt with thoroughly and scientifically in Buddhism. Let us take up those four general Conditions for brief discussion.
1) Both cause and conditions are primary causes. For instance cotton is the primary cause of yarn, wheat, the cause of flour, and copper wire, the cause of electric current. As to those cases where mind is concerned or where matter and mind are involved, every act of the body, of the mouth, of the mind, commonly called karma, is the primary cause.
2) By Equal Incessant Cause, it is meant that owing to the eight Consciousness and their Mental Associates, thoughts arise and pass out from moment to moment continually in succession, and when transformation is brought about in this manner, the cause is called Equal Incessant Cause. Such cause applies to phenomena of the mind exclusively.
3) When the discriminating mind and the objects of discrimination are confronting each other, with the former looking upon the latter as the object of causation, such phenomenon is attributed to be the secondary cause responsible for subsequent thoughts; thus it is called Condition qua perceived objects.
4) In all psychic and material phenomena, those causes, either by their being in accord with, or by their being in opposition to the primary cause, affects its subsequent development, and for this reason, they are called Conditions que contributing factor. It holds only with phenomena of material things that if there are a primary cause and conditions qua perceived objects, the fruit would be produced accordingly, but as to those phenomena where mind is involved, the four conditions must be present together to bear the fruit.
Fruits produced by the combination of causes and conditions as enumerated in the foregoing are classified in to five categories:
1) Vipakaphala, (retribution maturing at various times);
2) Nisyandaphala, (like effects from like causes);
3) Visamyogaphala (cutting off the retribution bond);
4) Perusakaraphala, (the fruit as result of human activity);
5) Adhiputiphala, (dominant effect or superior fruit).
For better and deeper understanding of those interrelationships, readers may refer to Abhidharma-kosa-Sastra and Vidya-matra-siddhi Sastra(Theory of Mere Consciousness).

As said in the Sutras, all material things and environments including the earth, mountains, rivers, the sun, the moon, stars, planets, birds, animals, etc. etc. are not made by a creator, but are produced by the collective karma of humanity, formed either in the past generations or at the present age. For instance, from the time Shanghai (The biggest city in China) was open to foreign trade to its development as the largest commercial port of China, the cause and effect of this incident came about in less than a century and so could be known more easily than the sun, the earth, the moon, etc., the causes of which can traced from the past history of thousands of years ago. However, the operation of Buddhist Law of Cause and Effect is unrestricted by time; when causes would bear fruit, varies in every case, as causes implanted in the past may meet conditions either at the present age or in the next generation or more, and with the causes sown in this life, this also holds true; in a word, when the fruit may become mature depends solely on when the cause and conditions will meet together. Ignorant of the Law of Cause and Effect operating in this manner, some people say that the Law is unsound because the cause and the effect do not correspond with each other, as shown by the fact that some good people have suffered bad retribution in their lifetime while the notorious had enjoyed their good fortune to their last day. Of course, those critics entirely miss the fundamental principle of the Law; on the one hand, the good and bad fruit could be produced by causes sown in past lives, and on the other hand, it is possible that causes of good and bad karma sown in this life may not have met the conditions as yet and so the fruit is still not mature.

The fundamental truth, as pointed out by the Law of Cause and Effect, is this; for one’s own doing, be it good or bad, none can be free from retribution; neither can take another person’s retribution by proxy. It is wrong to assume that descendents would be blessed with fruit of good deeds of their ancestors, for whatever fortune may have come to them is the fruit of their own good karma which have nothing to do with those of the latter; furthermore, under the principle, that good draw the good, it is possible for “like father” and “like son” to be united together in one family. This is the way the Law operates. Furthermore, as pointed out by the Law of Causality, cause and effect are at parity with each other; a cause is also an effect of its cause, an effect is also a cause of another effect, and so ad infinitum. Therefore, as far as their formation is concerned, both cause and effect are not fixed but relative to each other, e.g. where there is cause, there is effect, and vice versa. For instance, yarn is the fruit of cotton and itself the cause of cloth. Likewise, cloth is the fruit of yarn and the cause of clothing. Apart from material things, the Law also operates in the sphere of human affairs, e.g., father is the son of grandfather and father of his child, and the same may be said of grandfather, and ad infinitum. In view of this, not only is the Unequal Cause Theory illogical but also fallacious, because it is not conforming with the reality. As deduced from the Buddhist Law of Cause and Effect, necessarily, life goes on in three periods of time, namely, the past, the present and the future. Because of incessant and continuous operation of this Law, there is neither a “first” cause nor a “last” effect, inasmuch as cause is always preceded by its own cause and an effect is always followed by its own effect. It is on this principle that the Theory of Transmigration into six levels of existence is established. Though without the supernatural power of clairvoyance, we cannot see how this Law operates in the sequence of time from the past to the present and from the present to the future, nevertheless, by direct inference and logical reasoning, this theory is sound and credible.

One may ask: conceding that from the Law of Cause and Effect, we have no difficulty in knowing the relationships between material things and also those between matter and mind, (e.g. those psychological reactions and sensations to material things such as pleasure and pain, sadness and joy, etc.) however, can the mind change material things or not? “Yes, it can” Considering that fruits mature at varying times, in such cases, if they do not come in the present life, the truth cannot be verified, however, there are ample proofs and concrete examples to show that while responding to things, the mind can cause, and does cause them to change. At the bare mentioning of sour plum, saliva comes out of the mouth automatically. While ascending to a steepy rock overhanging the mountain, if we just think of what danger we may encounter in the climbing, at once the feet become so weak that they can hardly stand firm or be lifted up at all. Again, in wet dreams, even though the object of affection is imaginary, emission takes place actually. According to a legendary tale, Lee Kwong (A ancient Chinese general in Song Dynasty), a hunter, who shot a tiger at a distance, found that the object was a rock and the arrow pierced so deep into it that it could not be pulled out; to test his own strength, he shot at the rock again and again and despite his doing his utmost, none of his arrows could stick into it at all. In his childhood, Kumarajiva, the distinguished Buddhist personage, once went with his mother to a monastery, and seeing a bowl, playfully put in on the head. Later, taking it off, and on recognizing that it was made of metal, he could not life it any more. From the above instances, it is obviously clear, that material things can be changed by the mind. It is because fundamentally, weight and hardness are not inherent in material things in degrees, and it is not until with the emergence of the condition qua contributing factor of the body-organ that the body-consciousness would give rise to the concept of how hard and how heavy those things are felt to be. When there are changes with the condition, the weight and hardness would be changed correspondingly, thus a rock might appear no harder than a tiger’s skin and an iron bowl as light as a tile. Extraordinary as this seems to be, yet in the light of the Theory of Mere Consciousness, all the instances are simple, common and rational. Considering that all transformations of matter, of mind and of the combination of matter and mind are governed by the Law of Cause and Effect, and none of the transformations can be free of the operation of this Law, is it not fitting to call it the Universal Law of Cause and Effect?