cause and effect ［因果］ ( inga): (1) Buddhism expounds the law of cause and effect that operates in life, ranging over past, present, and future existences. This causality underlies the doctrine of karma. From this viewpoint, causes formed in the past are manifested as effects in the present. Causes formed in the present will be manifested as effects in the future. Buddhism emphasizes the causes one creates and accumulates in the present, because these will determine one’s future.
(2) From the viewpoint of Buddhist practice, cause represents the bodhisattva practice for attaining Buddhahood and effect represents the benefit of Buddhahood. Based on the doctrine that the ordinary person and the Buddha are essentially the same, it is taught that cause (the nine worlds, or practice) and effect (Buddhahood, or the result of practice) are non-dual and simultaneous. Nichiren (1222–1282) wrote, “Shakyamuni’s practices and the virtues he consequently attained are all contained within the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. If we believe in these five characters, we will naturally be granted the same benefits as he was” (365).
(3) From the viewpoint that, among the Ten Worlds, cause represents the nine worlds and effect represents Buddhahood, Nichiren refers to two kinds of teachings: those that view things from the standpoint of “cause to effect” ( jūin-shika) and those that approach things from the standpoint of “effect to cause” (jūka-kōin). The former indicates Shakyamuni’s teaching, by which ordinary persons carry out Buddhist practice (cause) aiming at the goal of Buddhahood (effect). In contrast, the latter indicates Nichiren’s teaching, in which ordinary persons manifest their innate Buddhahood (effect) through faith and practice, and then, based on Buddhahood, go out among the people of the nine worlds (cause) to lead them to Buddhahood.