"he reached a point where he recognized causes"
Public DomainSutra - Credit: Kyoto National Museum

Causality is the relationship between the cause and effect of an event.

Aristotle developed a theory of causality which is commonly known as the doctrine of the four causes. He distinguished the four types of causes as:

  • Material cause resulting in the creation of some thing
  • Formal cause that defines the essence of the thing
  • Efficient cause that is the primary cause of change in that thing
  • Final cause is the end or purpose for which a thing is done

In the classic, Phaedo, Plato stated that the so-called “inquiry into nature” comprised an investigation into “the causes of each thing; why each thing comes into existence, why it goes out of existence, why it exists.

The Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect is a handscroll from 8th century Japan and depicts Gautama Buddha’s search for enlightenment. It begins with the training of the Sakyamuni in his past lives, his freedom from suffering and delusion, and the achievement of enlightenment to became a Buddha.