We would live a worthwhile life if we spent much, much more time inquiring into the four conditions for what arises. We would then have the capacity to respond wisely to events, personal, social or global. We would lose all interest in fueling suffering.
The four conditions have immense significance influence. They give rise to every ‘thing’ from sub-atomic particles to every event in this world and to the cosmos. Here they are – as taught by Nagarjuna, the 2nd century Buddhist sage.
The Four Conditions for Whatever Arises, Stays (Endures) and Passes are:
1. Stronger condition (s) This refers to conditions that stand out more
2. Supportive This refers to surrounding conditions.
3. Leading up to This refers to what led up to what arises, recent or long past.
4. Universal. This refers to all the conditions, major and minor, known and unknown, for what arises
There is no fifth condition!
If, as human beings, we are going to develop, then we must be willing to give a lot of time to looking into all four conditions for any situation. This includes war or peace, success or failure, having or losing, happiness or unhappiness, health and sickness and so on.
We will look inwardly, and we will look outwardly. Every time we are blaming, angry and violent, our reaction will remind us that we still have some way to go to become civilized human beings.
The conditions themselves also dependently arise. We can treat the four conditions as a conventional view, a costumed truth.
The purpose of looking deeply into causality is to take the suffering out of events or the events that might arise later through wise action.
We may need to seek out the company of the wise.
We label ‘people,’ ‘places,’ ‘views,’ ‘beliefs,’ ‘experiences’ or ‘things.’
We take note of which of the four conditions we tend to focus on.
Do we tend to focus on one or more?
We ask ourselves if there are any problematic desires, any projections or unwise views in our interpretation of events.
Do we honestly believe that our identity is who we are and somebody else’s identity is who they are?
These four conditions refer to past, present and future. We see that nothing has any inherent existence – not religion, not secularism, not wealth, not poverty, not birth, not death, not what arises, what stays or what passes. The world is multi-faced.
There is nothing inherent to grasp onto, not yesterday, not now, not in the future, nor a metaphysic outside of time.
We regularly employ one of these four interpretations when we endeavour to explain what caused something to happen.
We often live in the entrapment of simplistic cause and effect views rather than looking deeper.
Why do we behave in such primitive ways, such as greed and violence after tens of thousands of years of human evolution?
We all pay a heavy price for the views we cling to and propagate.
There is one great freedom and that is the freedom to be wise about causes and conditions and not bound up.
We are at our best as human beings when we go deep into issues without any grasping onto identity, conscious or unconscious.