Chapter2-3 : You can do hundreds of push-ups a day, but if you don’t study, it won’t help your grade
What is it that actually determines whether we will be happy or unhappy?
Shakyamuni Buddha teaches that it is the law of cause and effect that determines our destiny: “A good cause produces a good effect. A bad cause produces a bad effect. We create the cause, and we experience the effect.”
The “cause” or “seed” here means our actions.
Thus, good actions produce the effect of happiness, while bad actions produce the effect of unhappiness.
Just as radish seeds produce radishes and watermelon seeds produce watermelons, so good actions produce good results and bad actions produce bad results.
The effects correspond to the causes or seeds (actions).
For example, if you make an effort to maintain a kindly expression on your face and in your gaze, the people you come in contact with will think, “What a pleasant person she seems to be!” or “How kind he looks!” and have very positive attitudes toward you.
Your action of showing regard for those around you will produce the effect of people having positive attitudes toward you.
If, on the other hand, you wear a grumpy expression, no one will want to approach you.
This too is a case of your own actions simply coming back to you.
If you want to be healthy, you have to plant the seeds of health, otherwise you cannot gain the effect of health.
No matter how many tens of books on health sciences you read, if you continue with an irregular, unhealthy diet, you cannot become healthy.
If you want to do well on a test, you have to study.
If you don’t study and spend all your time doing hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups everyday, it will not lead to an improvement in your grades.
We can only gain results that correspond with our actions.
The third thing that Shakyamuni said above—“We create the cause, and we experience the effect”—means that that we must “reap what we have sown.”
He is telling us that, just as our grades will rise if we study hard, so the things we have done will all come back to us.
To sum up: happiness is created by good actions (a good cause produces a good effect); unhappiness is created by bad actions (a bad cause produces a bad effect); one’s personal destiny springs entirely from the seeds that one has planted (we create the cause, and we experience the effect).
If you throw a ball gently against a wall, it will return to you gently.
If, on the contrary, you throw the ball against the wall as hard as you can, it will spring back to you with great force.
The force of the ball that comes flying back at you is nothing more than the force with which you threw it, now returning to you.
So if you want the ball to return gently, you had better throw it gently in the first place.