The Ten Factors (10-nyoze) is a model for conceptualizing the law of cause and effect as expounded by Gautama Buddha in the 2nd chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This note covers my study on understanding its meaning.
To me, to understand Cause and Effect is to understand the very fundamental aspect of this universe. There is not a single atom or particle in this world that does not interact with any other entity. If there is, then such an entity will be unknown to us.
Lotus Sutra – Cause and Effect.
The Lotus Sutra is the final sermon given by Gautama Buddha – unlike other Sutra who is preached by Buddha to answer a given problem, the Lotus Sutra seeks out to enlighten its audience to the ultimate truth. Lotus embodies Cause and Effect due to its nature – it blossoms and plant it seeds at the same time. This signifies that when a Cause is made, the Effect is determined at the same instant.
The law of cause and effect is NOT a system created by Gautama Buddha – he simply realizes it. And to this day, I have not found anything that defies this law.
- Appearance: the external look that is seen by others, the physical aspect of our entity.
- Nature: our temperament, likes and dislikes and so on – non-physical aspect of our entity.
- Entity: a complete representation of our life as a being, a combination of (1) and (2).
- Energy: the internal drive within that propels it to act.
- Influence: the impact exerted by an entity as a result of the action taken
- Internal Cause: Is the possibility inherent in our life
- External Cause: Manifestation of that possibility through an action (thus creating a tangible cause)
- Latent Effect: Is the effect of the causes made in (7) – that is still unmanifest
- Manifest Effect: Is manifestation of (8) when it becomes tangible
- Consistency from beginning to end: a consistent representation of 1-9 at any given moment, embodying the integrity of the law.
Elaboration through example
Character: Appearance, Nature, and Entity.
let’s take a look at this picture (which I obtained from Google Images by querying: ‘kids playing’)
Appearance (1st factor) is simply the aspect of how one living being appears to other living being who can see/hear/feel it. Here, we can see many children holding hands and playing on a grassy playground, under a blue sky. The one on the left, wearing a red jumper, is smiling and appears to be very happy. This is appearance – very simple. But just by looking alone, can you tell his nature? Why is he wearing a red jumper, as opposed to a blue one? Why is he playing with others, as oppose to staying with his parents?
To understand this is to understand the boy’s Nature (2nd factor). Does the boy like to throw tantrum, or will he listen, respect, and learn from his parents? Does he likes playing in the outdoor, is he social, or is he more of the shy type, who shuns other and prefers the company of their parents? These are aspect of an entity that you can not perceive by just looking at them alone. True, some of us have the gift to perceive a lot of information from just the appearance, but this is why we have the term “appearance can be deceiving”.
Now if you have perceived the boy’s Appearance – and if you have spoken to the boy and understood his Nature, then it can be said that you have understood the boy’s Entity (3rd factor).
In summary: My head, my face, my body, by clothes, my glasses are some of the things that made up my appearance. My fashion taste is part of my nature that made me buy the clothes I am wearing today. My mood and preference is what made me wear those clothes today. So you can say that to understand these 2 factors is to understand my entity, or my character.
Action: Energy, Influence
Made up of the following factors: (4) energy, (5) influence
No living being can stop taking action. It is impossible to NOT take action, unless, you are dead. To hold your breath, or to breathe is an action. In fact, if you are facing a crisis and you decide that you don’t want to take any action – that in itself is an action!
We are not a puppet that is controlled and moved by something outside ourselves. We move our own body. We decide what we want to do and we do what we do. Energy (4th factor) is the fuel that drives a living entity to live. You can also call this Free Will.
When you act, you interact with the world. When you type, your hand touches the keyboard – when you take a glass, drank water, and put it down on the table, your hand interact with the glass, and the glass interacts with the table. This interaction causes things around you to change. In other words, your Action, carried as you are fuelled by the Energy within, have caused an Influence (5th factor) to the things around you.
Thus defines your existence in this world.
Imagine, for example, that you are born into a family with a history of being prone to a particular disease, such as cancer or high blood pressure (Scientist attributes such things to genes).
As you grew up, from a very young age you are raised in an environment that really provokes your interest in music. We can then say that such a person, at any given moment, have the possibility of developing cancer, as well as becoming a rock musician. This possibility is driven by our blueprints, as well as by our everyday life. This possibility is factor (6) – Internal Cause.
These internal cause affects our day to day action. If I have lived a life of negligence and ignorance, I would perhaps not worry about my health at all, and all the more reason to pursue a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll!!
This internal cause of negligence and ignorance would perhaps manifest itself in my decision to take a particular action of drowning myself in drinkin way more than I should drink in a day. But perhaps it would also increases my creativity, and thus my ability to produce better rock music.
When this possibility is manifest in an action, the external cause – factor (7) – is made. And when a cause is made, the effect will follow.
Let’s follow through from the example set in the section above (cause) . Obviously concerned friends and family members would gave sound advice to my over-drinking life, to take it easy and not drink so much. But the moment I decided that I don’t want to listen to them and I want to drink as much as I want to, when I want to, then the inherent effect (factor 8) is already made. No human can calculate what this inherent effect will be – if you can, then perhaps you have attained enlightenment (in which case, congrats!)
Perhaps one day my liver will blow, or perhaps I will get into an accident from drink-driving. All of this are inhenrent, they have not happened yet. But sooner or later it will – it is only a matter of time.
When the inherent effect DID manifest – then it is called the Manifest Event, which is factor number (9). At here, you can say that I have reaped the effect of the cause I have mad ein the past: a life full of over-drinking and not listening to sound advice from friends and family!