Shakyamuni Buddha did not regard our universe as the handiwork of a creator deity nor the dominion of an omnipotent god, but as resulting from the relationship of cause and effect (dependent origination), by which all phenomena come into existence. “Causation” means a direct cause and a condition combine to produce an immediate effect and a reward. There is not a single thing in our world which is unchanging or fixed in form. All things have a direct cause, and when this comes into contact with a condition (an opportunity or circumstances), the outcome of this contact is a phenomenon that appears as an immediate effect. The immediate effect, moreover, invariably leaves a longer lasting effect, a trace that is referred to as a “reward.” Shakyamuni Buddha concluded, in kind, that all things in the world are the workings of causation. It is due solely to the contact of direct causes and conditions that the phenomena of immediate effects and rewards come into existence. When a direct cause disappears, or even when it continues to exist, if it does not come into contact with the opportunity provided by a condition, it cannot produce an immediate result or reward.
Simply put, all beings and their activities are the outcome of causes and conditions, and of dependent origination. This “contemplation of dependent origination” is the great truth that must always be the basis of our thinking as we study Buddhism and live in this world, so let us impress it firmly in our minds.