Zen Wisdom 166

It might be easy to confuse the principle of causes and conditions with that of causes and consequences. In fact, the two principles are intimately connected with each other, and it is difficult to talk about one without mentioning the other. From the standpoint of causes and conditions, we have said that one event happens now, and another event happens later. From the standpoint of causes and consequences, we can say that the earlier event is the cause and the later event is the consequence. One event leads to the next.

Conversely, when no event occurs, then no succeeding event will take place. For example, parents lead to children. Parents are the cause and children, the consequence. When there are children, there must be parents, but when there are no parents, there can be no children.

A cause, however, cannot turn into or lead to a consequence by itself. Something else must occur, must come together with the cause, so that it may lead to a consequence. This coming together of events and factors is referred to as causes and conditions. A man and woman together do not automatically lead to children. Other factors must come together in order for the cause (parents) to lead to the consequence (children). Parents, children, and the other factors involved are all considered causes and conditions.

Hypothetically, if there were a cause standing alone, and no other condition came along to interact with it, then there would be no consequence. If a cause could remain static and not lead to a consequence, it could not even be considered a cause, since "cause" implies movement toward something else. In such a case, there is no relationship of causes and conditions. Therefore, one can say that causes and consequences are dependent upon the coming together of causes and conditions.