“A man’s latent tendencies have been created by his past thoughts and actions. These tendencies will bear fruits, both in this life and in lives to come.
“So long as the cause exists, it will bear fruits—such as rebirth, a long or short life, and the experiences of pleasure and of pain.” —Patanjali, Yoga Sutras
The twelve-fold chain of causality is the structure of the law of recurrence. All psychological formations are generators of recurrence: repeated events, situations, desires, fears, etc. For us, life is just a series of interlocking, repeating patterns, that we continually react to with ignorance, craving, and aversion, thereby deepening the repetition and ignorance.
Because we are psychologically asleep, we upset the balance of life, and we do not process the energies of life—perceptions, impressions—properly. These energies enter into us and are improperly digested, creating serious mental indigestion. These energies become latent, trapped, but must release their energy in some way: they must produce results, and they will do so in accordance to how they were made.
Anger can never bring contentment.
Lust can never bring satisfaction.
Envy can never give us equanimity.
Fear can never bring us peace.
So long as any such element remains in our mind, the consciousness within it is enslaved by its karmic cage, and is a victim to the churning suffering of the Wheel of Samsara.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’: for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown brings forth death.” —James 1.13-15
To be free of the wheel is only possible when we are free of what belongs to it: all mechanical psychological elements.
So long as we have desire, we belong to the wheel of suffering and mechanicity.
So long as we have craving or aversion or fear or pride or gluttony or self-pity, we will suffer the repetition of the events that sustain them.
“Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin [because he is bound by the consequences of his actions, and will not be free until those debts are cleared].” —Jesus, from John 8.34
If anger is within us, suffering will occur in the form of the repetition of the events that sustains anger. If we react to those events with anger, we deepen the debt and the suffering to come.
If pride is within us, suffering will occur in relation to that pride.
If lust is within us, suffering will occur in relation to that lust.
Thus, anytime we suffer, we can determine the cause of that suffering by analyzing what in us is in pain.
In synthesis, the twelve-fold chain of causality outlines the essential structure of all action and consequence in the world of ignorance. When one comprehends that there is a fixed and determined structure to all ignorant action, one can then begin to use conscious action, upright action, and break the chain of causality.
All beings who have psychological formations (pride, lust, envy, fear, etc) are victims of the Wheel of Samsara.
Even most of the superior beings—whether we call them Angels, Buddhas, Gods—are subject to this wheel, because they remain dwelling in the manifested worlds, and have not reached absolute perfection: entry into the Abstract Space, called Ain in Hebrew, or Sunyata in Sanskrit. Very few have reached that level. That is why the Buddha warned Ananda.
As related in all our ancient mythologies, even the Gods have desire for power or pleasure, thus they too are enslaved by the wheel of cause and effect. The Buddhas of Nirvana, addicted to power and pleasure, have attachment, which will inevitably bring suffering.
Complete freedom from the Wheel of Samsara requires a completely free consciousness, totally awakened and without stain. Every aspirant to the Light must comprehend that in the Light there is nothing of the false self: there is no “I” as we can conceive of it: there is no pride, no desire, no worry, no attachment... To enter into that Perfection we must become like it. We must eliminate within ourselves that which cannot enter there. To do this, it is necessary that we comprehend very well the entire mechanism of suffering, and put in motion three factors that revolutionize our place in the universe.