Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oriental Concept of Causality

My grandmother has been dead for 40 years now. I have not thought about her much until quite recently. Since I started to write articles and blog posts on Buddhism, Taoism, and Oriental philosophy, I have often recalled what my grandmother told me when she was alive back when I was just a little boy. Today, I remember that my grandmother used to mention about causality. She often said that good things would come to a person if he does good things to others. In contrast, she said that bad things would fall upon those who do bad things.

Asian concept that is largely based on Buddhism theory calls it "Inga Ouhou." The direct translation of this Japanese expression is "causality." The English proverb "What goes around comes around" has the same concept as "Inga Ouhou."

In Hiroshi's neighborhood, there was a vacant house. The house had been empty for several years. Somebody bought the house and started to repair it. In the process of repairing the house, the new resident cut the big tree in his backyard. Hiroshi was not an expert of shamanism. He had minimal knowledge about this spirituality concept. He believed that everything on earth has a spirit. Being a part of the house or the land to which the house belonged, the tree must have a spirit for maintaining balance of nature. Hiroshi hoped that nothing bad would happen to the new owner.

Hiroshi did not exactly know what had happened, but the new owner stopped maintaining the front yard. Soon they stopped cleaning the house walls and the sidewalks in the front yard.

After about a year after the new owner moved in, Hiroshi found the house was vacant again. It appeared as if the new owner ran away from the house. Hiroshi knew there was no logical explanation regarding the causality of the them abandoning their home, but he was absolutely sure it was the result of the new owner cutting down the tree.

The story ends here. My friend Hiroshi still did not know what exactly happened to the new owner. I can imagine my grandmother would tell me there's no doubt the owner's problem was caused by him cutting the tree. My grandmother would say that one never knows what protects the house, land and the surrounding nature. If one destroys the object that gives protection, the protection is lost.

My mother never believed my grandmother's words when she was young. I remember whenever my mother cut wood in her backyard in Tokyo, there was almost always something unusual that happened. Something unusual includes my father breaking his leg or her son (I) failed examination. It was almost as if driven by an invisible and unexplainable causality.

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