We are so oblivious to cause and effect that it is rarely questioned or scrutinized for their true influence. Being either at the effect or at cause is a decision we unconsciously make as children.
Cause and effect and living an empowered life
Cause and effect are words we all have been hearing for a long time. Let's look deeper into their essence as it relates to healthy living, communication and life itself.
It is accurate to assert that many of us have, at one point or another, found ourselves to be at the effect of someone or something. Real or not, concepts such as action-reaction, cause and effect and consequences are imbedded in our consciousness.
They are seldom discussed as to their origins, implications and applications inside our communication models or every day life.
To me, a context is the enveloping quality, state of mind or atmosphere that transparently contains events of our daily lives. It contains our views, opinions, perspectives, the colors and shapes of our thoughts, feelings, moods, actions, etc.
As a cute example, water is the context for fish and air the context for bird. All that occurs for bird is a function of air — if you take the air out of the equation, all vanishes. It is deeper than air without birds. The concept and reality of bird itself could not exist without air. Water came before fish. Would you have fish without the phenomena of water?
Man, having access to conscious or self-reflected existence, can alter and shift the contexts or atmospheres of his experiences. For instance, a glass half-full can also be viewed as half-empty depending on the context or experience desired.
If you are running out of Whiskey and the glass is half-empty you can see the evening ending badly, “as a context”, or you may see the glass half-full and generate a context for yet another formidable discussion around your favorite philosopher. Both are valid and both will create a different type of experience with a different “content." What is important to note is how much “context generates content (experience).”
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle came up with four distinct “cause and effect” theories. According to him, the first cause and effect observation is material as it is a cause that is physical: stuff we can see, touch, taste and smell. As an example, gold is the material cause of the gold ring I wear — no gold no ring.
Aristotle went further by discussing in position two “the formal cause”, which is that gold was made into a ring but could have been made into a statue or coins.
Next, Aristotle invites us to see the next cause as “the efficient cause.” Using our example, the goldsmith himself is the cause, without whom, we would not get to the first two causes.
Lastly, Aristotle postulates that the “final cause”, which he called the “being cause”, where the goldsmith is preceded by a need to fashion the ring in order to feed his family or to work on a creative project, deliver on a promise to make something beautiful, etc. This last cause is similar to having a purpose in life, which, therefore, also represents a cause.
Cause and effect are two distinct contexts
Cause is intimately connected to origination or beginning. Cause is also in charge while effect is consequential. They are the two sides of the same coin; but only cause is completely active and gives birth to the other.
Cause literally “causes” effect. There must be a cause to see an effect. You might argue that an effect can generate a new cause but something else came first (the new cause).
This relates to communication and specifically in life by understanding that the problems we experience in the arenas of our relationships only occur when we interchange or confuse cause and effect.
As an example, did life come first or did man? If man came first he must be the cause, and so on.
Another example is that we can become accountable for our beliefs, ideas, opinions or choices and become cause. Consequently, I can own what is happening to me. For instance, as I communicate to a group of people at a conference or a meeting, if I “own” my presence there and the fact that I will speak on a topic for thirty minutes, I remain “cause” therefore avoiding the traps of nervousness, which only arise when I switch to becoming effect.
When I work with people, I make sure this important distinction is brought about so, as a result, they can understand why they get nervous or experience issues while speaking in front of groups: they allowed themselves to become effect.
It is true for any life situation!
Problems also arise when we do not realize that we can become cause at any moment and, therefore, restore control. It is the one ontological quality man possesses over the animal kingdom. Man has the potential to recognize cause!
For instance, when we suffer from something we are certain there is a cause. Emotional suffering is also sourced in the belief that we are at the effect of something, beyond our control or not. Being at the effect is in essence being in a lesser position, very much like a victim, and we typically don’t like it. The extremes are: feeling less than what I am, being bothered, disturbed, dislodged, cursed, unlucky, a casualty, a prisoner, a mark, a sitting target, a fool, a wretch, etc.
Consequently, all forms of victimhood are under the absolute dominion of the powerful CONTEXT OF EFFECT. Space, movement, time and of course people are what make things appear as having a cause and an effect. If I kick a ball with my foot, the foot or the decision to kick is the cause; the ball or impact on the ball is the effect. If I get a cold, there was a virus at cause. The cold is the effect.
We are so oblivious to cause and effect that it is rarely questioned, scrutinized or seen for what it is. Being either at the effect or at cause in life is a decision we unconsciously make as children.
It begins early when parents objectify their children as victims. The oppressive or repressive situations mom and dad are in, such as stress, busyness, lack of interest in their children, failed marriage, various difficulties and circumstances, professional, personal or otherwise, end of becoming contexts.
To pity someone is to make them an effect or victim of someone or something. Abuse, drug or other addictions, economic hardship, divorce, molestation, rape, violence, dishonesty, treachery, absence of communication, etc., all potentially develop victims or the “victim syndrome, by making something or someone an “effect.”
The key notion here, is not so much what happens to a person, but rather the context that is generated. Early trauma in life acts as a “contextual force field” that will transform all experiences into a “failure to be at cause.”
Most individuals are not aware of which context operates or is at play in their lives. I like to call these “operating atmospheres.”
Though not such a pleasant example, let me use” helplessness” as an “operating atmosphere.” Such a context makes everything in someone’s life look and feel helpless. Unnoticed, the dominating power is the reality of the given operating context, not the actual content (feeling helpless.)
Conversely, a person who has activated a “winning” operating atmosphere will see a lack of results as a formidable opportunity for growth and success. Someone under the influence of a “helpless operating atmosphere” might end up feeling doomed and may not see a way out.
Collectively, we also believe in disempowering operating atmospheres, certainly in politics and the economy.
Being “at cause” is complete and responsible living. It is whole, highly creative and usually contains elements of playfulness. Most importantly, it is total at all times in all its appearances, intentions, feelings and actions.
Human beings are whole when they are born
All early expressions are whole, total and complete. A baby is fully responsible and at cause within its being. It has not learned to separate cause from effect. If it is feeling discomfort, the discomfort is total, as the entire being “becomes” the discomfort. Cause and effect are one.
Another good example is nature. In its organic expression, a tree is total and so is a lion chasing a gazelle. Everything that happens in nature is undivided. Cause and effect are one or rather, undivided. The tree is total as it receives the wind through its leaves and branches.
Cause and effect are one, whole, undivided and complete. Flow and rhythms dance together.
When we think of human beings, ego is the idea that we have a separate self from nature, the world, circumstances, and consequently, existence. This separate idea begins to run the show from the unique perspective that everything that happens is now divided into causes and effects, not really distinguishing which is which.
The wind in the leaves of the tree is now the cause and the bending branches the effect. Within man, cause and effect are now artificially and psychologically divided. The dance of oneness is gone. Self-consciousness, which is the interruption of life free-flowing harmoniously, sets in.
When I divide anything, I must see all things as separate objects having an effect on other objects. The baby that feels discomfort, who was once whole, will now separate itself from the discomfort. Discomfort (cause) is suddenly happening to it (effect).
Conscious living is the realization that we are cause and that all things are one from this unique perspective. When we are happy and joyful, we have restored cause in our lives at that moment. Conversely, when we are sad, we typically condemn the feeling and we separate ourselves into an effect.
All experiences are total
Depression is the ultimate separation from cause. We are at cause not effect, but all causes carry potential effects. The subtlety is the illusion that cause and effect are two separate phenomena. The healing question then becomes: what are we being at cause of?
All issues of abandonment can be understood better through this paradigm shift in consciousness. In abandonment issues, someone (cause) abandons someone else (effect), then the operating context or atmosphere, is activated.
If my girlfriend breaks up with me or I lose my job, I can still be the cause not the effect, which will bring power and accountability (acceptance) to the foreground. The healing element here is that the two parts were never two separate parts.
The better a relationship feels, the more the two people are joined cause to cause, not cause to effect.