Causa Causam

For me, one of the major reasons to move beyond just the planting of trees was that I have tendency to look at the causes of a problem. We often preoccupy ourselves with the symptoms, whereas if we went to the root cause of the problems, we would be able to overcome the problems once and for all.” – Wangari Maathai

There are a great many causes to which you can dedicate your life. You can save the whales, the earth, feed the poor, immunize the vulnerable, teach the poor to read, convert the savages and much much more, but at the end of the day the root cause of the imbalanced state we have come to accept as normal will have yet to have been addressed.

We human beings like to convince ourselves that we are doing a great deed by resolving the symptoms of deeper problems. The tools of this approach are medicine, money and good deeds, and we work tirelessly alone and together to wipe the symptoms of the underlying disease from the earth.

The trouble with this approach, of course, is that the beast that rules this state is a Lernaean Hydra, an ancient many-headed chthonic water beast that grows two heads for every one that is cut off. The Greeks were familiar with this beast and every great civilization since then has been plagued by its noisome and quarrelsome presence. The more you struggle with it – internally or in relation to the world around you – the stronger and more fearsome it grows.

If you fail to right the underlying imbalance in any unhealthy, unwholesome or cursed state, the symptoms will continue to reappear, typically in increasingly complex ways. When an underlying cause is not addressed, the cause may even be driven deeper as the natural laws governing the system work to compensate for the weakness or lack of harmony.

Continue to strike at the heads with the cold steel sword of knowledge and you may win the battle, but you will ultimately lose the war. Only the golden sword of wisdom ensures a deep and lasting victory. There is but one immortal head on the beast of which I speak and it is kept alive by one fruit: judgment. Cease judging and the beast within you will starve to death and lose its control over your vital forces.

Dedicating your life to a higher cause is admirable, for many waste their lives in the passionate pursuit of comfort and self-aggrandizement. Saving the whales, fighting for the rights of man and cleaning up the environment may help to cauterize the regrowth of future heads on this beast, but there is literally no point to any of these if great care is not taken to deal with the causa causam, otherwise known as “judgment.”

Happy the man who has been able to learn the causes of things.” – Virgil

8 thoughts on “Causa Causam

  1. Kai Newell

    This is such an excellent post! Having been a high school teacher for a number of years, I have seen many trends for causes that have called for the dedication of time and resources, but you are right about the underlying cause being the same. I am never opposed to anyone showing interest in helping people and the environment beyond themselves, but how essential to see it in context and to retain a clear sense of personal identity, value and sense of purpose, that one person can make a difference through the integrity of their everyday living and not be swallowed up in the futility of these repeating cycles of symptoms.


  2. Vincent

    I noticed this morning a report of emerging research on male baldness (always guaranteed to raise male attention levels!) The research indicates that a certain protein may need to be inhibited in order to alter the onset and progression of male-pattern baldness. No doubt the solution to this, like so many others, will be to interfere with this protein through some kind of pharmaceutical enzyme manipulation. Mega-money to be made! But this is why so many drugs have a short paragraph outlining effects and pages outlining side effects…

    It has been apparently so convenient to remain fixed on effects, I suppoe partly because the cause is closer to home. As you say, take a real, personal look at the core of judgmental function and we can begin to move from the cause outward to the effects instead of the other way around.


  3. MMc

    We get entangled and ensnared in our judgements. We can look on our past and realize our judgement has often been faulty. The older we get the more we can look back and see we did not have enough information or the correct information to accurately judge. Most of us only see a puzzle piece at a time, not the whole thing. The reason for all of this is we are not built with that mechanism. We are equipped to do many things that are crucial to the balance of this world. If we do those I think we wouldn’t feel the compulsion to judge.


  4. Alyssa B

    Really excellent post and this really is the root of everything! I love the truth of what is being said here and will seriously be looking at my own motivations in this area. Thanks for outlining this problem and solution so practically.


  5. Colin

    I think you have very clearly pinpointed that while there is always a new cause de jour, the world seems to find new ways of clothing old problems that never seem to be resolved. Think about what a world without the interaction of judgement would be like. And to any who say it’s not possible, each of us have direct control only of ourselves. It is possible for me to kick the habit of judgement, and the opportunity exists for any who are willing to take it.


  6. Joshua

    With the cause rightly exposed in this day, I give thanks.
    Let those who possess the courage to wield Excalibur do so.
    That together we rightly be done with the nasty curse that has plagued our fellow man for centuries.
    Stay thy hand.
    Let the wisdom within deal with it.


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