There are many parallels between Buddhist theories of causation and modern deterministic chaos theory. Deterministic chaos theory is the only modern body of knowledge that has worked out the patterns of behavior described in Buddhist explanations of causality, and so it seems a natural source to draw on. Both to describe those causal patterns and to point out some of their less obvious implications one of which is a Western Buddhist. Important to note when Buddha talked about causality, his notion of causal relations did not correspond to our ordinary, linear, picture of causal chains.
The Buddhas’ s teachings, like the principles they describe, are inter-related in complex ways. There are entry points into the Buddha’s observation and for a Western Buddhist the first is: Master a Skill.
Theories of order: the processes of the universe can be totally explained in terms of physical principles that follow linear causal patterns unaffected by human intervention. The problem with this simple view is the fact that it is possible to learn from mistakes in the course of developing a skill, so that one’s future actions may be more skillful, implies that the cycle of action, result, and reaction is not entirely deterministic, and that acts of perception, attention, and intention can actually provide new input as the cycle goes through successive turns.
Skills can be develop0ed implies that action is not illusory, that it actually gives results. Otherwise, there would be no such thing as skill, for no actions would be more effective thatn oithers. The fact of skillfulness also implies that some results are preferaable to thers , for otherwise ther would be no pint in trying to develop skills.
Anyone who has mastered a skill will realize that the process of attaining maastery requires attention to theree thengs:
1 to pre-existing conditions
2 – to what one is doing in realation to thos conditions
3 – to the results that come form one’s actions. This way, your attention to conditions, actions, and effects allows the results of an action to feed back into future action, thus allowing for refinement of your skill.
By working out the implications of these requirements, the Buddha arrived at the principle of this/that conditionality, in which multiple feedback loops – sensitive to pre-existing conditions, to present input and to their combined outcome0 account for the incredible ciomplexity of the world of experience in a way similar to that of modern theories of Deterministic Chaos.