How to work with life’s circumstances through primary causation or relative first cause
Most of us are always busy attempting to change effects, trying to change distressful situations without discovering the causes behind them and make very little progress in life, if at all. When one experiences suffering in one’s life, one should be aware that this has precise causes that most of the time one cannot perceive nor understand, but in all cases one should never struggle nor fight with the effect which is manifesting, because this will reinforce those original causes making the whole process more painful. The most important thing in the process of cause and effect is not so much the event itself manifesting which can be joyful, neutral or painful, but it is one’s reaction to what is manifesting. The way we react to any event determines whether we are able to use the event skillfully to our own advantage and therefore as an opportunity to develop awareness and set positive new causes or otherwise become passive victims of our own ‘destiny’ whether it be good or bad.
And this is probably the most difficult thing to do for most of us, as we have the ingrained tendency to either fight painful events or become attached and addicted to joyful events and circumstances and therefore passive to them.
For example when some unexpected distressful event manifests in our life if we react with anger and strong rejection we set new causes for further anger to arise in our mind first, which in due time will manifest as more distressful events causing more anger and so on in a chain of events extending infinitely. On the other hand if we use the opportunity to practice awareness, patience, generosity, empathy and compassion for oneself and other beings which suffer similar circumstances we would be starting a chain of new relative first causes for our own future joy and well being. Likewise in case of joyful events if we missed the opportunity to use these events in virtuous ways, we would be missing the precious opportunity to set fresh new causes for further and even greater joy in the future and instead we would be setting in motion a new chain of negative causation with the consequence of future and suffering. The same holds true for one’s birth circumstances, in fact it is evident how some people are born in powerful and wealthy families and then end up as beggars or even suicide, and some others which start from very low positions in society are able to build an empire for themselves. We are always free to choose how we react if have enough awareness at the time of the event; always remembering that every life’s failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success, and every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage. Knowing this, one should focalize in the positive seed aspect during a momentary failure or negative circumstance, and be aware of the seed aspect of suffering during temporary happy circumstances. In a nutshell, instead or reacting aimlessly and haphazardly to whatever manifests as events and circumstances always complaining of negative conditions as they have been or as they are, and getting attached to positive conditions like a glue on a stick and always wanting more, one should always do one’s best to start new primary causes which in turn will manifest in due time as the desired joyful effects, and this can only be achieved with the use of presence and awareness.
To commit negative actions and still hope for happiness is to bring ruin on yourself, like someone swallowing poison and hoping to enjoy the experience.
Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam 1303-1363