27. 'Manifestation in Dependence on Conditions'
vs 'Cause and Effect'
Most circles in the 'Modern' Science community are subscribing to a mechanistical world view despite saying otherwise. Even though in the past 100 years researchers in physics have shown that Newton's mechanical world view is a crude abstraction of actual processes which will work only under very concise and limited conditions, most people, scientists included, are using the mechanistical 'cause and effect' paradigm in nearly all situation they encounter and are relegating the propostions of Planck, Einstein, Hilbert, and Heisenberg, for example, to the more esoteric questions and to Science Fiction stories.
This mechanistical world view becomes most apparent in medical and political 'sciences': a non-optimum condition is being associated with a single, discrete cause.
In some case, of course, there is a hidden agenda which can be recognized when the presumably single, discrete cause will be stated as a generality that suggests a pseudo-solutions, such as 'too many children are being killed because there are too many guns in the streets', or,'this ailment is caused by a deficiency of hemo-x-beta-y-globulin (which fortunately is now available as a non-prescription drug nationwide)'.
But the prevalence of mechanistical viewpoints in the scientific community is apparent in many more aspects. It is not just a 'scientific' issue. It is deeply rooted in the minds of the researchers themselves.
Overcoming this mechanistical world view is of such a paramount importance for every human being that Gotamo dedicated a considerable part of his teachings to this phenomenon.
He called it 'manifestation in dependence on conditions' and posited that its understanding is the prerequisite to understanding the basic natures of law at large. It is the basic theme of the second one of his four 'noble' truths: the arising of 'dukkha'.
One example out of many that he used as an illustration for this principle has become a synonym for Eastern Religions at large in the Western hemisphere: nibbaana (Sanskrit: nirvaana). Few concepts are so profoundly misunderstood or misinterpreted. Interestingly, the majority of 'Buddhists' have ceased to even talk about it. Most of them are relegating it to a distant future or see it as an unobtainable property, reserved to a select few of 'saints', and beyond the grasp of an ordinary human. All this, of course, in gross violation of Gotamo's call: 'Here and now!' for 'everyone who cares to look'.
His example is that of a burning fire, how it arises, how it ceases to burn (nirvaana means literally 'extinguishment' of a fire), and what can be done to bring the latter about - the 'path', 'bridge', or 'technology' to achieve this.
Obviously, this is an illustration for his four 'noble' truths'.
A 'cause and effect' viewpoint would attribute a fire to an arbitrary single element that precedes its occurence, typically a 'spark' or a person 'causing' it.
This is an improper simplification and is usually not helpful in understanding the much more complex process that is happening when a fire manifests itself. A more comprehensive view is that a fire requires the presence of oxygene, a material that can react with it, and then a way of starting the fire.
For the common American BBQ-party-goer, this is not a problem, of course. After all, there is 'Instant-Lite' coal and someone at the party certainly has a lighter handy.
However, using a lighter is using fire to light a fire and a kind of an incarnation process. Starting a fire from scratch is usually a well-kept secret art of the lonesome cowboy.
In any case, the example serves as a demonstration that a fire can only arise under certain conditions that need to be present in a certain combination.
It is the structure of the arrangement of the elements (which ultimately are also structures themselves) that makes the process possible.
To single out only one of those conditions as the 'cause' of the fire is an improper identification and a short rainfall onto the barbie can spoil the party, seemingly proving the 'cause' to be 'wrong'.
The goal of Gotamo and modern philosophers is to how to extinguish an existing fire. At first glance, there seems to be significant difference in the final evaluation. While Gotamo assumes that someone who woke up completely will not return ever to this Universe, modern thinkers are suggesting a continuing 'game' in some cases.
This difference partially resolves if the primary goal is envisioned as 'total choice' for a Being. Then it is up to the Being what it is 'doing next'.
For the 'path' to there, Gotamo proposed a matrix-approach consisting of eight elements while contemporary approaches are positing a linear strategy ('bridge'). The paradigms are more diverse than it may appear at first.
The 'bridge' approach postulates a ladder-like structure that enables a person to climb up one step (or 'grade') at a time and in many cases asserts that it is impossible to fall back from there.
The matrix approach can be compared to climbing the highest point of a mountain range which may make it necessary to cross some valleys, seemingly going 'down' again temporarily if necessary. Instead of 'grades', landmarks are used to verify the correctness of the approach.
Both approaches use a set of techniques to advance
towards higher heights. The investigation
of these techniques, whether embedded in a
linear or in a matrix structure, is the implicite
goal of this book.
In the process of presenting this investigation, it may appear every once a while that a single cause would be posited instead of a structured condition. This occurence can happen easily because the chapters of this book have been kept as short as possible. Cutting explanations to a simple, basic wording has unpleasant side effects like this one. The reader should, of course, correct any such in appearance of single, isolated causes for him/herself.