Like time, causation is merely a concept and has no bearing in reality.
When we see something happen, often a question we ask is “why?”. “Why did it happen?”, “Why did it happen this particular way?”, “What caused it?”, “Why me?”
None of these questions have ever been answered, in any context because the question why itself is meaningless and arises only when there is not a recognition of the whole.
Let’s say you take an object lying on the table and nudge it. It moves. Would you say that your nudging it is what caused it to move? Probably. Would you say that your nudging is the only thing that caused it to move?
In order for your nudging to result in an object’s movement, what is necessary? There are some things we know about from Physics: force, friction, shape of the object. The lack of any ‘external factors’ preventing it’s motion, such as resistance or an opposing force. Is that enough? What ensured that the object and the table have the specific levels of friction that made the object move a certain way? What factors influenced the direction of motion? What is the object made of and what caused the material to be exactly the way it is?
The answer of scientists is normally to ignore factors that seem to be insignificant. But insignificance is determined by us, based on what we think in insignificant. Usually this just means that the means of measurement (i.e. an instrument) or investigation, both of which are created by us, reveal a measurement (perceived by us) to seem to be beyond our ability to understand, usually because it is too small.
For example, when the wind blows and a pencil on a table does not move, we assume that the wind is not a factor in the pencil’s movement or existence. All that really means is that we cannot see the connection and just because we don’t see a connection does not mean it does not exist. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but science makes this leap all the time. In fact, science cannot progress without such selective ignorance, without which the every inquiry would result in the necessity to inquire into the nature of the entire universe as a whole. Science deliberately limits itself to observable manifestations of matter. It does not even concern itself with energy, except through it’s impact on matter.
Most importantly, science does not answer the why behind anything. It can only answer how, and that too it does by mostly naming and labeling observable phenomena that seem to occur together or in sequence and assign causation. Because manipulating an item A leads to effect B and repeating the manipulation of item A leads to B every time, we take it to mean that A causes B. But it could just mean that the observation of B follows observation of A. One has to make the assumption that what is perceived is real for us to conclude that A and B occur in sequence whenever we observe them. And that still does not prove causation. At most, there is an observation of correlation. Few scientists would accept that correlation is causation, but all of science, in fact, does exactly that.
Modern civilization is built on this conceptual framework, which has no bearing in reality. In our culture, we expect people to be able to affect change or cause an outcome, when in fact, no one person can possibly be the cause of anything. Everything depends, in some way, on everything else and the entire universe has to come together to make something happen.
And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
To think that you, as an individual, separate from ‘the world’ can change this or that, is purely delusional and quite arrogant. There is very little effect we have on the universe and whatever effect we do have, happens without our need to expend so much effort.
The above quote is often read as meaning all your desires will be fulfilled. Everyone’s life experience reveals that to be false. What it really means is that the entire universe is involved in achieving something through you. When you understand that, and learn what it is that ‘you want’ as opposed to what ‘you think you want’, you learn to listen to your heart. And when you begin to follow your heart, you end up having the force of the entire universe behind you as it propels you relentlessly towards achieving it’s goals.
To ask why this is so is to fail to see the whole picture and understand that there is no why. It is, as it is. Many find this situation intolerable so we give it names, God being the most common. But simply giving something we don’t understand a name, shape and characteristics does little beyond assign more names to one name and simply confuse everyone into believing that something important is being said.
The truth is that causation does not exist and whatever makes things move and gives life, whether you call it God, Life, Universe, Gravity or Entropy, cannot be expressed in words and cannot be understood by the mind.
The mind takes observations and knits them together into a pattern that makes its own existence viable. The situation isn’t that different from the situation in an office where people create unnecessary work in order to justify their employment. This recognition of a pattern appears to us as causation and we find it pleasing. Hence the desperate attempt by some of us to find reasons behind everything.
The truth is that there is no causation. Everything happens as it happens and everything can be said to be the cause of everything else, which really eliminates the need for the concept of causation. Once this is accepted and taken to heart, the need to find explanations for everything ceases and we can find peace.