Being Cause in the Matter

This is the place from which I and many friends strive to live our lives: being responsible. It’s taken me many years to hear something new in the word responsibility, something other than “blame”. It requires listening with the “ears of the heart”, to use Father Mike’s phrase. Can you hear it too?

Werner Erhard Quotes

To take a stand that you are cause in the matter contrasts with it being your fault, or that you failed, or that you are to blame, or even that you did it.

That you are the cause of everything in your life is a place to stand from which to view and deal with life – a place that exists solely as a matter of your choice. The stand that one is cause in the matter is a declaration, not an assertion of fact. It simply says, “you can count on me (and I can count on you) to look and deal with life from the perspective of my being cause in the matter.”

When you have taken the stand (declared) that you are cause in the matter of your life it means that you give up the right to assign cause to the circumstances, or to others. That…

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4 thoughts on “Being Cause in the Matter

  1. Responsibility, or being the cause or instrument of an outcome by virtue of an act of your own will, inevitably carries the risk that others will blame you if that outcome is a negative one. You cannot control another’s judgment.

    One person may regard an outcome negative, of course, and another judge it positive. Likewise, some will see you as the cause or instrument, others not.

    If you discover that you are at fault, then you owe it to whoever is damaged by your act to admit to it and take the consequences. That is very hard, and more often than not we find some way of excusing ourselves.

    If we are able to admit fault, that is enormously liberating, for we acknowledge that we are human and not gods. Sometimes we are forbidden to make any such admission.

    Accepting risk and responsibility is a life-enhancing feature of love itself, for without it we can achieve no good. The strength to do good, however, and the wisdom to distinguish between what to do and what not to do, derive from a higher power. Even then we make mistakes, but an honest mistake is no reason to destroy ourselves, despite the opinions of others, unless our motives are wrong or we fail to learn by the mistake or we are unwilling to bear the consequences.


    • You’ve recreated perfectly the paradigm of blame and fault in which we live, the paradigm we’re born into as human beings. What I’m pointing to is something outside this paradigm. To hear outside the paradigm can take years of being open to the enquiry, the deepest kind of existential, philosophical enquiry there is. And then an act of grace is required. I know a woman who told me a good story about it. She trains executives in this kind of enquiry and one time years ago she told a man to enquire on the following statement: “If I am willing to be responsible for the smallest atom in the furtherest reaches of our galaxy, then what I do, here and now, will be different. It matters. I matter.” The man was puzzled and she said, “Just dwell in it.” Many years later, he rang her out of the blue. “I get it!”, he said, “I understand!”

      It is this kind of situation Heidegger is referring to when he talked about the necessity of doing “violence (gewaltsamkeit) whether to the claims of the everyday interpretation, or to its complacency and its tranquillised obviousness.”


  2. I defer to you, of course, Narelle on matters of deep philosophic significance.

    May I, with your forbearance, occupy a little of your space with two Zen stories.

    Here is the one:

    Nothing Exists

    Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

    Desiring to show his attainment, he said: ‘The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realisation, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received.’

    Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

    ‘If nothing exists,’ enquired Dokuon, ‘where did this anger come from.’

    and this the other:

    The Stone Mind

    Hogen , a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day four travelling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves.

    While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them and said: ‘There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?’

    One of the monks replied: ‘From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind.’

    ‘Your head must feel very heavy,’ observed Hogen, ‘if you are carrying a stone like that around in you mind.


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