An excerpt from My Buddhist Journal; A Year in the Life of a Buddhist
The other day I stubbed my toe ... hard ... Oh so hard! I actually saw stars. All I could think was, "Why oh why did I bloody well do that!?" So of course this got me thinking about why things happen.
There appears to rarely be one specific thing that causes someone to have something happen to them. It’s almost always a few things. So, here’s a list, off the top of my head, of some things that are the cause of why, things happen to us;
Natural Phenomenon. The wind, waves, gravity, cosmic rays, speed of light, volcanos, etc. Whether or not we “believe” in gravity, we will fall if we trip off the curb. If we stand on the tidal flat and wait, we will get covered in water. These things are pretty self-evident, I think.
Genes and Chromosomes. As mentioned elsewhere in My Buddhist Journal, there are random mutations dropped into our gene pool to help the species experiment with faster, better, smarter versions of ourselves. Sometimes the experiments don’t work and that branch of the species might not last long. If my parents and their parents were prone to a particular disease or condition, then it’s likely I too will be prone to such conditions.
Karma - an ethical component. If we are skillful and practice our living with skill, good things tend happen to us. If we are unskillful and go though our lives harming others, unfortunate things tend to happen to us. Karma is within our control to alter.
Dharma - one’s religious or spiritual practice affects not only the practitioner, but others as well. Everything we do or see will be filtered through one’s religious or spiritual views.
Mind - our mind leads everything. Our mind creates “reality.” Our world isn’t really “out there,” but what’s happening in our mind. If we continue with delusional thinking things will happen to us for no reason that we can divine. When our thinking becomes clear and acute then things happen for a reason. When we don’t understand the nature of a tidal flat, then we get wet. When we know the nature and workings of a tidal flat then we can leave before we get wet.
Random Stuff - Occasionally something happens that just plain and simply makes no sense what-so-ever. Why is it that Puerto Rico isn’t allowed to declare bankruptcy? It’s because of the 1984 Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeships Act, when, mysteriously, the right for the territory of Puerto Rico to access Chapter 9 bankruptcy was suddenly revoked (leaving Puerto Rico in a precarious situation, given it’s level of debt). No one knows why this right was revoked - not even the guy who forwarded the bill, Senator Strom Thurmond. It makes no sense that it was revoked, but it was. Seems it was just tossed into a larger omni-bill that had a lot of unrelated things included.
So, when things happen to us or others, we can’t always just point a finger and say, “Ah ha. See, that, right there, is the specific reason for what just happened.” It’s usually a combination of things – it’s almost always a combination of things. Still, when we clear our mind, think with the right view, develop skills and free ourselves of delusion, we can at least see why things happen.
To get back to my stubbing my toe ... I see a few causes. First, no slippers. I've stubbed my toe before and I KNOW I should wear slippers around the house. Next it was dark. I was getting up very early and I could have just turned on a light. Finally, not really awake and paying attention. Any one of those things might have been enough to stub my toe of course, but when all three combined the odds just increased dramatically.