The Seven Hermetic Principles  | 2. Cause & Effect | Part One

The Principle of Mind (All is Mind)

The Principle of Cause and Effect

The Principle of Vibration or Sound

The Principle of Correspondence

The Principle of Polarity or Opposites

The Principle of Rhythm or Cyclicity

The Principle of Gender

The first Principle of Mind could be said to represent ‘the absolute’ aspect of Reality transcendent and immanent at the same time

The other six principles represent the way in which this Mind Principle manifests as ‘the relative’, although in actual fact both the absolute and the relative are indivisible as non dual Reality itself.

Excerpt From “The Seven Laws of Reality and Being 

– Max Corradi

Cause and Effect

“Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; everything happens according to Law; chance is but a name for the  Law  not  recognized;  there  are  many  planes  of  causation,  but  nothing  escapes  the  Law.” 

– The Kybalion


Law, not fate is the axiom of the Hermetic tradition  

In general people have two kinds of beliefs, either they believe that their life is ruled or guided by an external supreme and all knowing being which they call God, able to intervene and shape the affairs of the world or they believe that life is just chance, fate, good luck or bad fortune and that the universe is in a state of chaos or chaotic chance. Talk to a hundred different people and you will find either one of these two points of view regarding Reality or a confused mixture of both. 

According to the Hermetic and, as we will see later, most Western and Eastern philosophical and spiritual traditions, both of these beliefs are wrong views since they are not based on the Laws governing Reality. 

In fact everything manifested in the universe and in each individual’s  life happens according  to unchanging Laws, of which the Law of Cause end Effect is one of the most important, because not only it rules all planes of Reality but is the fundamental Law for the arising of different kinds of phenomena. In the Bible, for example, the Law of Cause and Effect is revealed in the statement:  

‘As you sow, you shall reap’ Galatians 6:7 where we are introduced to the truth that what one wishes for others or does to others sooner or later one will experience himself. 

In fact nothing ever ‘merely happens’, and there is no such thing as chance, in fact a careful examination will show that what we call chance is merely a common  expression regarding causes that we cannot perceive or  that we cannot understand. 

If you toss a coin in the air you might get a ‘heads’ or ‘tails’, but even this single toss comes under the Law of Cause and Effect, because if we were able to examine into the preceding causes, we would clearly see that, given exactly the same causes and circumstances and at the same time and place of the event, it would have been impossible for the coin to fall down other than the way it did. Therefore, given the same causes and the same relative circumstances of time and place to mature or activate such causes, the same result always follows. Nothing ever 

‘happens’ by chance but there is always a ‘cause’, or rather a chain of causes and effects behind it. According to this Principle, what we call good luck or bad luck is really the energetic ‘pushes and pulls’ of primary causes and the circumstantial energy of the time and the place (the Law of Vibration) combined, which give rise to that specific ‘lucky’ or ‘ unlucky’ event we call chance. 


not even a buddha 

who can count the raindrops of a storm

that lasts a thousand years

can understand another persons karma

– anonymous


No event produces another event, but is merely a preceding link in the great orderly chain of events flowing from the creative energy of Pure Being or Mind Principle. There is continuity between all events and also a relation existing between everything that has gone before, and everything that follows. Every thought we think, everything we say and every act we perform, has its direct and indirect consequence which fits into the great chain of cause and effect. 

There is usually a time gap between the cause and the eventual effect which always depends on many secondary conditions in order to manifest. Sometimes secondary conditions favor the activation of more negative causes to manifest and sometimes they favor more positive causes, but sooner or later causes will manifest as effects and shape one’s life circumstances (see also ‘understanding astrology, and the meaning of luck and fortune’). 

In general terms, we can never set any cause in motion without calling forth those effects which it already contains in embryo and which will again become causes in their turn, thus producing a series of causes and effects which must continue to flow on ‘ad infinitum’ until we bring into operation a cause of an opposite character to the one which originated it or we employ a specific method of counteraction (a spiritual or psychological practice of some kind). Whenever a primary cause has been planted, just like a seed in a field, if it doesn’t meet any hindrances, it is definite that it will bring the result, whatever it is. Just like a perfect seed surrounded by the right secondary circumstances will take time to ripe, causes take time to manifest as visible effects. But if the primary cause meets a hindrance, or it is counteracted by a primary cause of  an opposite nature  then it is possible that it won’t bring a result, that one won’t have to experience the suffering or happy effect. A clear example of this is the planting of a seed in a fertile ground, which, even though it has the ability to grow, there is always the chance to disturb the conditions that cause the seed to produce the plant, for example by taking the seed out or to burn it, or by pouring hot water over it etc. 

Not only that, but there are various planes of cause and effect, the higher planes dominating the lower planes, and, as we will see later, we can work with this in order to set new causes in motion and change our circumstances, still  nothing ever entirely escapes the  Law of Cause and Effect. We can obey the causation of the higher planes, and rule the one on the lower planes. Another important fact in understanding causation is that external acts are not the only causative power, but that there is another aspect of the law of causation, namely, that of pure intended-thought, a power which is able to start a new sequence of causation not related to any past actions. 

We should be aware also that the further the causation is from the primary source of Pure Being, the more it is bound by impelling conditions, and the nearer to the primary source, the freer it is. This will become clearer in the eighth chapter where we learn how to employ this principle in order to change one’s circumstances. 

Mind as pure potentiality is beyond time, space and beyond any Laws, but its manifestation is always governed by unchanging Laws.


For  –  Give  –  Ness

no i didn’t forgive you

out of lofty holy reasons

i forgave because i knew

i would need to be forgiven

by someone like me.

and if i kept my forgiveness to myself

in the future

that someone like me

would also keep their forgiveness

and it would

kill me.

– anonymous


The Law of Cause and Effect or Karma in the Buddhist Tradition Regarding Rebirth

The Buddha explains in the Karma Sutra: 

“Destiny is the aggregate karmic effects from past life. Past Karma determined your present destiny. Present Karmas are to mould your next life. Learn the law of Karma expounded as follows”.   – Shakyamuni Buddha

We can find the Law of Cause and Effect in many spiritual traditions, and many people nowadays are accustomed to word ‘Karma’ which in fact means ‘action’. 

The principle of Karma is well explained in the Hindu and especially in the Buddhist tradition where the Law of Cause and Effect  is a central topic as the Buddha explained it in many major teachings called  ‘Sutras’. 

The Buddha explained that all the feelings of happiness, unhappiness, and neutral feelings (for example boredom) accompany every single moment of each being‘s existence and are due to not knowing the real condition of Reality and the subsequent formation of Karma, or the set in motion of the endless chain of cause and effect through the twelve interdependent links of karmic formation. 

In Buddhism, Karma is not only the physical action, but also the verbal action and especially the mental impulse or urge to act through intention oriented thoughts which brings one in the direction of a particular experience. In a nutshell Karma in Buddhism is motivation and what is motivated. That’s why one can accumulate good and bad Karma just by wishing an outcome with a strong motivation. 

The action itself is a positive or a negative karmic force, which sometimes is called merit or non virtue which, when completed, carries its karmic effect.This then continues with one’s mental continuum as a  karmic tendency or constant habits to repeat the action though body, speech and mind.  

For a complete karmic cause to be set in motion we always need four factors: 

1. the basis of the action or the object at which the action is aimed, 

2. the intention to act based on a motivation which can be positive, negative or neutral, 

3. the action itself needs to be carried out directly or indirectly, 

4. and afterward we need to be satisfied or at least feel no regret. 

If one of these  four factors is not present the karmic consequence will be less potent but that doesn’t mean that there will be no results.  

The ripening of different Karmas 

There are three general rules regarding the ripening of Karma.

The first is the certainty of the result, which means that unless it meets a hindrance or one purifies a negative action or neutralize it with a positive action of the same nature and weight, the result will never disappear until the right circumstances for its ripening present themselves. Connected to this is the fact that the passing of time does not wear off a karmic cause. But even though infinite Karma has been created, there is always the chance to change it and to not experience its result by completely purifying it or counteracting it with a primary cause of an opposite nature, which is like destroying the ability of the seed to grow.

The second rule of ripening is the increase of result which means that from a small action very large results can follow.

The third is that if one has not committed a certain action, one will not experience its results even if the secondary circumstances present themselves, although one would still experience the effect of planned actions which he didn’t actually commit in person, but told someone else to do, like for example paying someone to kill someone etc.

The ‘karmic flood’ 

The most common question in general people have about Cause and Effect is why some sentient beings seem to commit all sorts of negative intending actions and live a seemingly wealthy and healthy life and some others which dedicate themselves to many virtuous intending actions, especially spiritual in kind, seem to suffer from all sorts of obstacles. 

The answer to this has many aspects: first Karma, Cause and Effect is not some kind of ‘justice maker’ which, like in some Hollywood movies sits there and decides who is to get what kind of specific punishment for this or that action; second, causes ripen and manifest into specific effect or effects only when the secondary circumstances are conducive for this to happen regardless of the passing of time, whether it will be a minute or a million years; and third, and most important, Karma sometimes tends to manifest a kind of ‘karmic flood’ for some beings which indulge in extremely positive or negative intending actions. This manifests in a way in which one tends to ‘use up’ all positive or negative store of karmic causes while engaging in an opposite lifestyle to the causes that are manifesting. In other words, someone committing a great deal of negative intending deeds might experience a great deal of positive circumstances and therefore ‘use up’ all meritorious causes with the consequence of  ending up in the most distressful life circumstances and environment for a very long time and many lifetimes; on the contrary, someone which is engaging in skillful and virtuous activities, and especially of a spiritual kind, might experience all sorts of mildly negative circumstances in order to consume all residual negative intending karmic effects until the total consummation of all negative Karma after which he or she would only pass from one joyful event to the next until total liberation and Awakening beyond time, Cause and Effect. This is why one should never envy or compare oneself with pride to other beings, since nobody knows what is going to happen next, which causes one has planted or are about to ripen. 

In most cases, and for most sentient beings, though, Causes and Effects manifest in a more mixed kind of fashion, almost 

‘haphazardly’ because of their depending on specific secondary circumstances for their ripening.

Karma and compassion for suffering 

The knowledge that all events and circumstances unfold due to precise causes should not make one become judgmental and cold hearted toward all suffering beings included oneself.  Quite the opposite, knowing how difficult it is to become aware and be able to change the conditioning of primary causation should inspire one to develop unconditioned love and compassion toward oneself and others. One should also avoid feeling proud, arrogant and complacent when wealth, health and fortune manifest because of past virtuous actions as nobody knows what primary causes one has planted during infinite lifetimes and which one is going to manifest next, the Laws of Rhythm and Ciclicity and the effect of compensation are always at work with unerring precision (see chapter five and six). 

On the other hand by developing a sense of love and compassion for all, one is able to plant more and more primary causes which will definitely result in more joyful events to manifest in one’s life.


”I am the owner of my karma. I inherit my karma. I am born of my karma. I am related to my karma. I live supported by my karma. Whatever karma I create, whether good or evil, that I shall inherit”.  

– Upajjhatthana Sutra -The Buddha

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