Causality, the law of cause and effect, karma, and innen is a relatively easy concept to understand. Good thoughts and actions result in joy, and evil (greed, arrogance, and self love) thoughts and actions result in suffering in the future.
It is said that the path to a joyous life depends on understanding this easy concept. But even when one understands the concept of causality, the path of the joyous life is not assured or easy to follow. In the Tip of the Writing Brush (Ofudesaki) is the following:
This path of true sincerity is a difficult path. Everyone must ponder. 10-35
Over steep mountains, through tangles of thorns, along narrow ledges and through brandished swords, if you come, 1-47
Yet a head a sea of flames, and a deep abyss, you will arrive at a narrow path. 1-48
After following the narrow path step by step, you will come to a path. This is the trustworthy main path. 1-49
Unlike many religious teachings, just understanding God’s truths does not assure you of salvation. We must experience the effects of the law of cause and effect. The steep mountains and brandished swords represent the sufferings and misfortunes as the result of past actions. There is no way that we can escape these tangles of thorns (inconveniences). But if we follow God’s path (narrow path) and accept these inconveniences with sincerity and remove evil from our hearts, we will have planted the good seeds that will flower in the future. These flowers represent the joy that will bloom on the trustworthy main path.
But for many without understanding God’s law of cause and effect, when steep mountains and difficulties arise in life, they become discouraged and sometime turn evil in dealing with these situations. They plant more seeds of sorrow in the future.
Even those who believe in the concept of cause and effect, the elimination of evil (greed, arrogance, and self love) is difficult. Like the dusts that stain the mirrors, evil thoughts are difficult to remove from our minds. That is why even if we think that we know God’s truth and think we have eliminated our evils, sometimes when suffering or misfortunes occurs, we revert to negative thoughts. Yes it would be great if only good seeds sprout, but the bad seeds also sprout. These misfortunes and sufferings sprouting from the bad seeds are difficult to accept; but they give us an opportunity to reflect and ponder over these misfortunes. When we accept them as God’s guidance, they give us an opportunity to plant good seeds.
For those who have less faith, sufferings/opportunities may cause a relapse, causing future sufferings. For those who have faith in a loving God, they will accept these opportunities/sufferings as stepping-stones for spiritual growth resulting in future joy. It is the mind that will distinguish these events as either sufferings or opportunities. It is the mind that will decide to remove evil (greed, arrogance, and self love). It is a difficult path to follow because of the individual mind, but it is a path illuminated by having faith in a loving God.