THE RELATIVE THEORY OF CAUSE AND EFFECT
By Acharya Shree Mahapragyaji
Here is a piece of cloth. The question is-'what is the cloth made of ?' The answer is- 'It is made of cotton.' Where does the cotton come from ?'
'From the cotton plant.' 'What is the cotton plant made of ?' Of the union of the two- the Jiva (soul) of the plant and the matter. This is how the cotton plant comes into existence.
The cause of the cloth is cotton, of cotton the cotton plant and of the cotton plant is the union of the Jiva (soul) and the matter.
It is further questioned- 'What is the Jiva (soul) made of ?' and 'What is the atom (the indivisible particle of matter) made of ?' The questioning stops here. No answer is possible to it. No cause or reason can be assigned to the Jiva (soul), nor can any reason be attributed to the atom. The quest for cause ends at this.
The Jiva is not the effect, nor is there any cause of it. So also and atom is not the effect, nor is there any cause of it. The principle in logic is- search for cause and effect of every thing. It is a gross fact (Sthool Satya). In the practical field, this principle can be applied. But in the subtle and abstract world, the principle of cause and effect has no meaning. In the subtle and abstract world, none is the cause of effect of anything. The Jiva and the atom have their own existence and there is no cause for them. If there is supposed to be any cause for an atom, the series of causes will be infinite, and there will be no end to this. It is called a defect of progression ad infinitum (Anavastha dosha) in logic. Even supposing there to be any cause of the Jiva, the series of caused and effects would know no end.
THE QUESTION OF THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH : The truth is of two kinds absolute and relative. Some philosophers hold that as many truths as are there is Jain philosophy are all relative. There is no absolute truth. The Theists hold God to be the absolute truth. But in Jain philosophy there is no place for the absolute truth. Cloth is the truth but is is a relative truth. That which is cloth now shall be changed into something else in 10days. This all is therefore, relative.
What is, indeed, the absolute truth ? It has been a baffling question. If this question is considered from the metaphysical point of view, it present no difficulty as far as the view of Jain philosophy is concerned. Both the truths are acceptable in it. Panchastikaya (five homogeneous continuums)- Dharm, Adharm, Akash, Kala and Jiva are absolute truths. It is not due to anything expected or due to any cause what so ever. It is a motiveless truth, free from any cause and expectation. No expectation or cause is behind it. It is a truth by its own nature. Existence is natural and here ends the principle of cause and effect.
THE QUESTION OF THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE : A discussion on the series of cause and effect is necessary from the Anekant (non-absolutism) point of view. Many philosophers accept the necessity of cause and effect everywhere. The beginning of the universe is through God. God is the creator and the universe is his creation. Because of this, the question of the material cause gets all the more complicated. Theism and cause and effectism have been corelated. God is accepted on the basis of cause and effection. An argument is put forward, " If the universe is a creation, there ought to be its creator." A pot is a creation. There ought to be its creator. A pot is a creation and someone is its creator and that creator is God." This argument is also far from clear. In this context, many questions arise. Granted that God has created the universe, He did this at his will or with some substance or matter. If the substance or matter was there and the Universe was created. Its creation was due to the integration of the atoms or it was created at his will. God willed it and the Universe was created. The story of Kamaghat (The pot from which we can get whatever we desire) is very popular. A man has chintamani (a precious stone that fulfills every desire). He so desired and the universe came into existence or the thing was got ready. The much -discussed and debated question among the philosophers is whether the universe was created at His will or because of the integration of the atoms.
MATTER IS THE MAIN CAUSE : If the universe is created of matter such as atoms etc., it will mean God is without beginning and the world of the atoms etc. is also without beginning. From this point of view, the creation of the universe is not something special. Just as a potter makes a pot and an architect a statue, so also someone created the Universe. It cannot be considered a unique event.
The question is that of matter, for matter is the main cause. Without regarding it as external (without beginning), the system of the the universe is not possible. This is the clear conviction of the Jains philosophy that every substance (matter) is external. Both things-animate and inanimate are external and without beginning.
CAUSE AND EFFECT IS NOT UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE : The second important postulate of the Jain philosophy is as many matters as were there yesterday are there today and shall remain even in future. Not a single atom will increase nor shall one decrease. As many as they were, they are and shall be in future. It is a fact for all times-past, present and future. No one needs to create it, nor is it expected for any substance to be destroyed. Neither something is made nor destroyed. What happens is, a change, a transformation.
"Everything is in its natural form as it is." It is on the basis of this that the principle of non-absolutism. "the doctrine of eternity-cum-transitoriness" developed. From the stand point of 'existence', everything is eternal and from that of 'appearance' it is transitory. According to Jain philosophy, nothing can be termed eternal nor can anything be called transitory. If the atom is eternal, so is also the soul. Likewise, if the atom is transitory so is the soul. If the soul dies, the atom too does and if the atom is immortal, the soul too is immortal. The soul and the atom both are immortal and both mortal. Both are subject to change as also no change take place in them. This the principle of the change or the transformation without beginning or with beginning. Where there works the principle of change, the limits of cause and effect are narrowed. In Jain philosophy, cause and effect are not considered universally applicable. The theory that there should be a cause behind every effect is not acceptable in Jain philosophy. Where there is only a change with beginning this theory can be applicable, otherwise it is of no utility.
THE UNIVERSE : AN IMPORTANT QUESTION OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL WORLD : There is an important question in the philosophical world- What is the Universe ? What is the world in which we are existing ? Its answer is quite simple- the universe is the sum total of all changes with beginning. They are subtle and basic elements. Those which are basic elements are subtle and are being used unseen. The Jiva (soul) is a subtle element so also is the atom. The four homogenous continuums, Dharma (medium of motion), Adharma (medium of rest), Akasha (space) and the Jiva (Santient being) are all incorporeal. Their 'materialisation' is not possible. Matter is corporeal but subtle matter is also infinite.
Here the universe is divided into two parts-visible universe and in-visible. The universe consisting of the four elements is the invisible universe. Kala (time) is also invisible. Only the material world is visible. But all the matter is not visible for us. Changes are of two kinds-interior change and exterior change. The matter whose change is exterior can be seen with eyes. But the matter whose change is interior can not be seen with eyes. Even being visible, they are not subject to visibility through eyes. As and when the power develops, the invisible becomes visible. The things which cannot be seen with naked eyes, can now be seen through micro-mechanical instruments. The ingenuity of our senses increases all the more by means of instruments. An extra ordinary learned person, a clairvoant (Awadhigyani) and a telepathiest (manah paryayagyani) can see the subtle matter. None but an omniscient can see the abstract (incorporeal) substance. A man possessed of clairvoyance, telepathy, spontaneous comprehension. the memory of the past life etc. Can see the subtle matter. The matter which is not the subject of the eyes, can be the subject of extra sensary perception.
WHAT IS THE VISIBLE WORLD ? : The whole of the visible world is divided into two parts-. The one which can be seen with eyes and the other which can be seen through the extra sensary perception. How is the invisible turned visible ? How is the subtle changed into gross ? And who changes the subtle into the gross ? These questions too are very important. The Jain metaphysics has reflected over this very minutely and in it there is no expectation to admit its creation by God. The process of the change of the subtle into the gross continues on its own naturally through the combination of the soul and the matter. It is still continuing.
The whole of the visible world is the world of the body of the soul (Jiva). A piece of cloth is the body of the Jiva that was in the plants. The piece of a stone is the body of earth-bodied Jiva. Water that quenches thirst is the body of the waterbodied Jivas. Fire is the body of the firebodied jivas. Air is the blowing and we know of it touches us. It is the body of airbodied jivas. Man is the body of the mobile jivas. Every visible object in this world is the body of Jivas.
There are two alternatives of the visible world- the body with the Jiva and the body without the Jiva. The whole visible world which is being seen, it is either the body with the Jiva or the body without the Jiva. Every person sees either living body or dead body. These two are the only alternatives of the visible world. It has no third alternative. In Jain philosophy, there are two well known technical terms- animate (sachitta) and inanimate (achitta). The body is which the Jiva or soul is present, it is animate. One whose soul is gone or who is dead, his body is inanimate.
This rule is widely known that all that is the visible world or the concrete world is all the body of Jiva. It is only through the Jiva that it has been mass- formed.
CONCLUSION : In fine, it can be said that according to Jain philosophy, the principle of cause and effect is not at all universally applicable. The quest for cause effectism in case of the Absolute truth is of no avail, though it is meaningful only in cases of relative truths. It is expected of the seekers after the truth that they should follow the path of attainment of Reality in the light of the above principle and get perfection in due course.
Source :- From Souvenir 'Sixth World Jain Conference' (1995)
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