Bodhisattva Fear Cause, Worldly People Fear Effect

Posted by on Jan 22, 2007 in General, Philosophy | No Comments

In Buddhism usually we say “Bodhisattva fear cause, worldly people fear effect”. A Bodhisattva is one whose “being” or “essence” is Bodhi, i.e. the wisdom resulting from direct perception of Truth with compassion awakened thereby. In Mahayana, the Bodhisattva exists in order to help humanity on its pilgrimage. They are often called “Buddhas of compassion”, as love in action guided by wisdom. A Bodhisattva is an awakened, understanding being and is therefore well aware that every single causal action produces an effect.

“Bodhisattva fear cause” because they understand the relationship between cause and effect. They are very careful in their every thought, word and action. This causes them to be fearful that a causal action will become a negative karmic effect in the future for they will certainly have to personally bear the consequences. Unlike Bodhisattvas, worldly people don’t know or don’t believe that every single effect is the result of every single cause. We are not cautious about every thought, word and action so when a bad consequence happens we become aware of it too late to regret.

My aim is to remind people that cause and effect always come together. I think everyone has had the experience of asking oneself “Why did I do that” or “Why did I say that” when a bad consequence has occurred.

Last week I read a news article about Mike Tyson. It said: “Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson was charged Wednesday with drug possession and driving under the influence of drugs, and the Maricopa County prosecutor says he wants to send him to prison. Tyson, 40, was charged with two felonies for drug possession and two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of drugs. If convicted of all four charges, he could be sentenced to between 2 and 7 years….” I can still remember 20 years ago, in 1986, when Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. At 20 years of age he knocked out Trevor Berbic, a professional boxer rated in 1999 by Ring magazine as the fourteenth greatest heavyweight of all time. I regret that he didn’t have the wisdom to go with his excellent boxing skills. In 1992, Tyson was convicted of rape in Indiana. Then six years later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault charges. During his successfully years he made four hundred million dollars but he announced bankruptcy two years ago. His example just makes me remember “Bodhisattva fear cause, worldly people fear effect”. If Tyson was more like a Bodhisattva, prudent in making statements and careful in personal conduct, then he would not be suffering the consequence he has today.

Besides Mike Tyson, some people they think they are smart because they know how to seek profits for themselves, like exploiting flaws in the law, and are successful for the time being. But they are not wise people; they don’t know about the law of Cause and Effect. What we do at this moment we will bear the effect of in the future.

English has a similar saying “You must reap what you have sown.”

–Danny Lai

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