I would be interested if you elaborated still a bit further here. The cause and effect model is deeply embedded in our consciousness and it is compelling precisely because it appears to be what happens in our experience moment by moment. Yes, there are gaps that we may attribute to karma, coincidence, wages of sin or whatever. But for the most part those gaps are few and far between. On a daily level, we tend to see relationships between cause and outcome in almost everything that happens. If we set fire to gasoline, it ignites. We draw the curtains or close the shudders on our windows and it gets darker. I wash my hands with soap after working in the garden and the dirt comes off my fingers (mostly). I refuse to pay my taxes and the tax man comes after me. There is such a consistent regularity to these actions and outcomes on the immediate level that no one feels the need to keep reducing them back ad infinitum to find a first mover principle.
I can see how on an existential level this applies as well - though we often misunderstand what causes leads to what results. On a deeper level I can also see your point about how peace and happiness are uncaused - that they are simply there in the same way that the "rising" of the sun is not caused by anyone - even though earlier generation probably attributed their activities to its daily reappearance.
Can you explain why simple actions in our reality lead to a consistent regularity of outcomes (i.e. driving my car too fast around a corner (at 80km) under normal conditions causes my car to swerve but slowing to 25km does not cause it to swerve? Do we simply change the verb to "arises"? Then do we say that these events simply arise spontaneously? How do we account for their predictably? I would appreciate your insights here.I appreciate these questions, in part because I don't have a lot of personal reasons to write more on this topic at this time, so it helps if someone raises questions and prods me to fill in the blanks in my presentation of the acausal viewpoint. I consider such questions to be example of acausal synchronicity, so to speak. They may seem to cause me to write a response, but the truth is that they are just part of the harmonics of how ideas unfold.
Which is already answering the question in an important respect. One way of looking at events as they unfold is to see them as purely material happenings, which seem to us to clearly operate by cause and effect. All the examples given, such as gasoline igniting when we heat it, presume that these things just "happen", without any consciousness being involved. But I will argue that this is never actually the case. Even when something that seems in no way caused by human beings, such as the earthquake in Haiti last week, occurs in our consciousness, or it does not have any meaning to us at all. I would argue that both an earthquake in Haiti, and let's say a military invasion in Iraq, killing the same number of people, perhaps, would both be events we cannot sensibly understand without looking at our human consciousness of these events.
In the one case, we seem to have a random act of nature - tectonic plates letting off a little tension - and in the other, a deliberate act of human beings. One can try to ascribe these events to specific material causes, but will that really help us understand the actual experience of these things? I would say not. In the first case, we look to science for a cause, and the answer we get is pretty much devoid of meaning to most people. There's a reason why scientific explanation of cause and effect leave us rather cold and empty. It suggests that we live in a world that is devoid of meanings, that is random, indifferent to us, and cruelly disposed much of the time. Even worse, it doesn't seem to be conscious. Human beings like stories with villains and heroes and conscious acts. We like the idea of Gods being behind every act of nature, not because we are stupid, but because we intuitively like the idea that there is consciousenss behind everything that happens. This is why people like to believe in spirits and witches and voodoo, speaking of Haitians, and of Gods and devils and some kind of battle between good and evil, speaking of Pat Robertson's infamous attribution of the earthquake to some pact with the Devil he alleges they made some 200 years ago.
While I understand that need to create some way of including consciousness in the equation, the real problem with the Voodoo or Pat Robertson interpretation of these kinds of things is that it feels obliged to find a cause to blame for these things. Science tries to rectify this by looking for purely material causes, and this works if we confine ourselves to strictly material events analyzed in a strictly material way. The problem is, there's no such thing n real life as a strictly material event. There's always a human consciousness involved in it somehow, either as a seeming actor or a seeming observer. Science likes to push the conscious observer as far out of the picture as possible, in order to analyze things on a purely material place. They like to consider consciousness to be virtually insignificant, secondary, or really just tertiary, whereas the primary matter is material actions and reactions.
The problem is that once we take the human consciousness out of the picture, we have also taken what is real and primary out of the picture also, since consciousness if primary to every single one of us, and not at all secondary or tertiary. There are no "third persons" in life, there is only the first person, the "I" who experiences and acts and observes. So there's no way we can discuss such things as gasoline igniting or earthquakes striking or wars breaking out without making consciousness primary to the whole experience. And when we do that, it's no longer possible to see the event in strictly causal ways. Who observed the gasoline ignite, and why was he there? Who struck the match, and why? If we try to seen this as a caused event, we have to find out who caused it to arise in our consciousness, and how?
Even if it looks like a causal event, we can't account for our observation of it by cause and effect. Our actual experience is not of being the abstract observer of an effect, as in science, or the recipient of an effect, or the cause of it. If we look at the even without including the primary fact that it occurred in our consciousenss, we can point to causes and effects, but if we see it as arising in consciousness, this no longer makes sense. If we dream of lighting gasoline on fire, can we really say afterwards, knowing that this whole thing appeared in our subjective consciousness, that the fire was "caused" by the match we lit in the dream? Clearly, it was not. We dreamed of the match and the fire as causally linked because that's how our minds think. And the same is true in life. Our waking life is not actually different from a dream, in that it arises in consciosuness and unfolds by seeming causes and effects which might make causal sense if viewed as independent from our consciousness, but once we realize that they are not independent of consciousness, that there is no 'objective reality' outside of our consciousness, then we can't any longer naively imgaine that things happen by cause and effect, even if they might appear that way to us.
The set of views I am essentially arguing against are all views that seek to exclude consciousness and all its levels of experience from consideration. When the commenter mentions that causation "is deeply embedded in our consciousness and it is compelling precisely because it appears to be what happens in our experience moment by moment,"I have to point that this has not always been the case for human beings. It's particularly true in our materialistic era, dominated as it is by scientific thinking, but this has not always been the case. The scientific-minded among us would agree, but would probably argue that this has been a good thing, that previously people were deluded by superstition and magical thinking, and that now we understand cause and effect properly and can see that this is how the world really works. Well, I'd disagree with a lot of that viewpoint. There's certainly been some significant progress in understanding the material plane from a cause and effect viewpoint, but the method of excluding consciousness has actually led to one of the most ignorant eras in human history, not one of the best.
Fortunately, the strict cause and effect viewpoint has not totally dominated our thinking, even if superficially people feel obligated to pay lip service to it. Most people don't actually think like scientists, and they don't actually believe in pure cause and effect. They are pretty clear that we don't really know how we got here, why we got here, or how we got here. In our actual human experience, no one is really a scientist, not even scientists. But there is certainly a kind of formal PC expectation that we all have to have some kind of causal logic for doing the things we do, if someone important asks.The reality, however, is that most people intuitively know that they don't know why they are doing what they do, or why things happen to them. Which is part of the reason why they resort to Voodoo or Pat Robertson.
Scientific answers to our questions never satisfy our consciousness, because consciousness is always excluded from the scientific equation. Even psychology doesn't really get to the bare existential facts of our experience, in part because it all too often tries to find a cause and effect explanation for how our minds work, when that isn't how our minds work at all. Part of the reason I am writing so much about acausality is that I see a whole lot of people feeling deeply unsatisfied by what causal explanations have to offer them, and they literally can't quite grasp what it would mean not to operate that way - this questioner among them. This isn't their fault, and I'd also suggest it isn't even true. We all intuitively know what it means not to operate by cause and effect notions, because we do this all the time in reality. It's actually only in relatively rare moments that we operate by cause and effect - usually when things go wrong and we feel a need to blame someone. Or when we are trying to figure out some practical problem of material mechanics.
Buit even working out practical problems of material mechanics - is even that actually done by cause and effect? Aren't the material problems that confront us arising in consciousness, and isn't the method we come up with also part of our consciousness? Do we really have to allow our consciousness to be dominated by a cause and effect method that excludes consciousness from the equation to figure these things out? Or do the proper thoughts just arise in coincidence with the roblem, when we are in a state of surrendered consciousness?
It's a common experience to everyone, including scientists, that oftentimes the correct solution to a problem simply comes to us after we have given up the struggle to figure it out, but instead merely relax and think of something else, or even go to sleep, and let ourselves dream the answer. There's plenty of famous examples of this sort of thing, but I think it's something everyone has had the experience of, even on a daily basis. Some psychologists will conclude that this is the result of the unconscious working behind the scenes on the problem, but I would suggest that even that isn't quite accurate. The real way these thing work is that when we surrender this effort to cause something to happen, we also simply allow it to happen naturally, by synchronicity. The mind and body simply act in harmony with the situation we are presented with, and the right thoughts, and the right action, naturally flows through us, without our being the cause of it, or even figuring out the cause.
I've mentioned before the example of an Indian devotee of Papaji who was a civil engineer in charge of all kinds of important projects, who described how in the course of the day he never thought of all the technical cause and effect notions of how an engineering project must be done, he just found that through his devotional surrender to Papaji that all the correct words and work flowed from his mouth and hands, without having to even think about it. He moved through all the paperwork that came across his desk, handled it just fine, was praised for his work and given raises and promotions, without ever actually trying to figure anything out. He had no sense of being the "doer" of his actions, and no sense of actually puzzling through the problems he was given to work on. And yet, buildings and bridges and so forth were built on the basis of this work, and all seemed to go well.
So what I'm suggesting is that this kind of thing, which is experienced by all of us to some degree or another every day, is a greatly overlooked principle that we should be making conscious use of,. ratther than constantly feeling obliged to believe in cause and effect. We can and actually do operate by principles of consciousness, which does not actually operate by cause and effect, and which can actually be a more effective way to go about our daily work and business and interactions with other people, because it does not divorce us from the consciousness principle which is our primary experience in life.
Personally, I find that my day goes much more smoothly when I simply surrender the effort to motivate myself or think through the cause and effect results of my actions, and instead merely act in harmony with consciousness. I think many people have the same experience, even if they are not able to explain it in the fashion I have tried to do here. And I think it's a shame that there is so much doctrinal and moralistic opposition to this approach, as if I am threatening something that is foundational to human experience, when I am not at all. First, causality is not foundational to human experience, it's a conceptual approach that has some uses as a limited discipline, but it's far from primary to our experience. And second, it's not a threat at all, it's relief to those who are feeling obliged to think of ourselves as causal being in a causal reality, when this only creates tension and stress for us all. And third, its merely an acknowledgment of the reality of how human consciousness operates, which is primary to us all, and thus essential for us all to understand and adapt intelligently to.
If people disagree with any of that, I simply welcome them to observe their own consciousness and see how it actually works. The temptation is always there to impose causal explanations upon our consciousness, such as the belief in witches or demons or karma, but I think if we simply observe our own consciousness, and how it operates, we will find an absence of these, and an absence of causation altogether. We will notice that our consciousness does not actually cause anything to happen. This is not a passive attitude, as opposed to an active one. It's an observation we can make in the midst of the most active of lives, in which we handle all kinds of practical things, such as the engineer fellow I mentioned above.
Of course, it may seem odd for an engineer to operate this way, but many of the brightest people in the world find that it's often best to simply act, and not spend a lot of time thinking about it. And obviously a lot of writers, artists, musicians and creative people of all kinds frequently find this to be the most effective way to work, and that being limited by cause and effect thinking is actually stifling and unproductive. Insights and creative breakthrough come to us most often when we are not trying to cause them, and are not thinking in causal terms. I am simply suggesting that this is a foundational principle for right action, not merely some strange trick to use when we are stuck and unable to break through some cognitive impasse. This is not an "unconscious" solution to our problems of daily life, it's an acknowledgment of how consciousness actually operates for us all.
I'm further suggesting that when we obstruct this acausal approach to thought and action, we actually tend to mess ourselves up, and endup producing result that often vastly differ from their intended results. The Iraq war comes to mind. How'd that turn out? The best laid plans, you know?
Part of the problem with cause and effect thinking, of course, has to do with the chaotic nature of real world events. The invasion of Iraq was expected to last about three months and cost under 60 billion dollars, but the realities of life and consciousness create a chaotic world in which it's almost impossible to operate effectively through cause and effect thinking, and the results therefore almost never correspond to the analysis of the causes involved. Chaos, of course, is just another word for randomness, and randomness is precisely how consciousness appears to operate when looked at in strictly materialistic terms.
When we exclude consciousness from the equation, it doesn't go away, but it reappears in our experience as randomness, which even from the scientific viewpoint ends up ruling all of the material world through quantum effects. It's just that science can't recognize randomness as consciousness re-apprearing in its equations, because it has no means by which to recognize consciousness. And life is the same way. When we are unconscious in any way, consciousness rears its head as some seemingly random event. Nothing, in reality, is actually random, it is merely a part of a pattern in consciousness that we are not fully aware of.
I remember years ago a funny, random event that helped me to think more deeply about this matter of causality.My youngest son was just learning to read actual books of normal length, and he was very proud of his abilities, and was always coming up to me to show me how far he'd gotten in some book. One morning, I was coming out of meditation, and he stopped me in the hallway with a book in hand, and asked me excitely, "guess what page I'm on". I had no idea when he started the book, and I didn't even bother to think about the question. My mind was in a deep state of relaxation, however, and I just blurted out "Ninety-two". He stopped in a kind of wonder, and said that was it exactly. He hadn't really been expecting me to know, and the truth is, I didn't know. You could call that random luck, or maybe psychic mind-reading, but really, I understood instantly that it was none of those things, it was just a matter of being surrendered into the pattern of the moment, and letting the answer simply arise in mind in accord with that moment of my son's question.
Of course, it's hard to live that way all the time, because we tend not to trust ourselves to simply be that surrendered and to freely respond to life as it comes to us. We think we're supposed to add up all the causes and effects, and figure out the right answer that way. And yet, that seldom really works for us all that well. It makes us even more tense and unsurrendered to live that way, and the results are usually disharmonious living that never quite pans out as we think it should. We tend to attribute even the bad things that happen as a result to some cause and effect mechanism, when in reality it is merely due to not living as our consciousness actually operates. So we tend to view even "stress" as a cause of our problems, and try to come up with cures for stress, some cause that we can apply to the problem of stress that will make it all better. And this just tends to make it worse, unless we gain some basic insight into this whole mechanism, and cease to live by cause and effect itself, but instead by a different principle.
So my point is that not only are peace and happiness uncaused, but even ordinary actions we perform every day are uncaused. Nothing just happens on its own, all of it requires consciousness. Even washing our hands requries consciousness. We don't wash our hands because of some cause, we simply do these things consciously, or if we do them unconsciously, we suffer the random intrusions of consciousness in our life as if it comes from outside us. The grease does not come off our hands because of the soap we applied to them, but because we consciously washed our hands - that was part of our conscious experience, like a dream is a part of our experience.
Because of quantum mechanics, even physics is having some serious questions about causality of late, and I have some confidence that many of the new theories meant to address the holes in both QM and relativity will open up the casual window even wider. Just as physics has already demolished all kinds of ordinary assumptions we make about the way things work in the material realm, I feel rather confident cause and effect is also in a weakened state and in need of some serious adjustments, even within science. Beyond science, in the realm of real experience, I think causation is well past its prime, so to speak. If we want to be attentive to the real quality and functions of consciousness, I think it becomes very clear that causation must be put aside, and acausal principle developed to understand how consciousness actually operates, If we have a wrong understanding of how conciousness operates, it's all the more difficult to live a consciously enjoyable life.
This question still requires a good explanation:
Can you explain why simple actions in our reality lead to a consistent regularity of outcomes (i.e. driving my car too fast around a corner (at 80km) under normal conditions causes my car to swerve but slowing to 25km does not cause it to swerve? Do we simply change the verb to "arises"? Then do we say that these events simply arise spontaneously? How do we account for their predictably? I would appreciate your insights here.Yes, using the world "arise" might be a good start, but I think a better way to look at these kinds of regular consistencies is to see them as expressions of an harmonic pattern. Let's use the metaphor of an series of harmonic waves travelling through an uneven medium. If the medium were consistent, the waves would appear the same throughout. But if the medium is bumpy, with some areas that are thicker,and some thinner, the same wave will produce different results in different places. And yet, it will also produce consistently different results wherever the two contrasting mediums are of similar ratios of contrast. Thus, the same wave, coming from the same source, will produce a similar ration of waves as it spreads and encounters contrasting densities in the medium. You will thus see a consistent "result" between two events that are close together, and one could say by observing those results that one event caused the other, when in fact neither caused nor effected the other, they were merely both reflecting the same wave pattern as it manifested itself at the same time, but in consistent ratios that produces results that would appear to an observer as if the one were causing the other, when that isn't really the case at all. In reality they were related to one another only because they each were manifesting the same wave pattern in proximity to one another. Neither actually caused the other, but their harmonic relationship to one another made this appear to be the case.
The actual manifest reality is really nothing more than an infinite patttern of harmonic waves that creates an image, like that of a multi-dimensional movie screen, in which everything is related to everything else by this infinitely complex wave pattern that is the same everywhere, but manifests everywhere in a somewhat different way. If we examine that image in a flat-screen manner, with only one dimension seen, it gives the illusion of a cause and effect pattern of events unfolding, when in reality none of those events are actually causing one another, they are merely appearing harmoniously in relation to one another. So we see the laws of physics appear in a causal manner when we see only one dimension, but when we look at the total picture we see an infinitely dimensional harmonic wave pattern that arises from an infinite source simultaneously, in all places and times at once, and it only appears to be causal in nature from that limited viewpoint. Causation requires time, but in reality even time is multi-dimensional, and thus there is no reality to our notion that one event follows another and is actually separated, Instead, time itself is merely a plastic of consciousness, and it too is a projection of the harmonics of this infinite wave pattern. The reason one moment of time seems similar to the nest is that of harmonics, not causation. Each moment is in harmony with every other moment, and this harmony look to us, when seen in only one dimension, as causation. But seen in its totality, it is pure "harmonic convergence", so to speak.
And perhaps there's a reason why that psychic event, the "harmonic convergence" of 1987, is so named. We are at a time in human history, I think, where this kind of understanding of how consciousness works is coming to the fore, and even ordinary people like you and me are able to ride that train to a deeper grasp of these principles, and perhaps actually live by them. Of course, every moment is in reality a moment of harmonic convergence. We just need to recognize it as such.