Karma in Three Times
San means three, ji means time and go means conduct. In this case, sanji means three kinds of time lags and go means both conduct and its effects. As you know, belief in cause and effect is a very important theory in Buddhist philosophy. So Master Dogen wrote a chapter of Shobogenzo titled Shinjin-inga, or “Deep Belief in Cause and Effect.” He insisted that all things and phenomena in the Universe are governed by the law of cause and effect, perfectly and without any exception. According to this theory, we should deny the existence of any indeterminate event. But in our daily life it often seems that such accidents happen. So if Buddhism insists that the law of cause and effect is totally perfect, it is necessary for Buddhism to explain the apparent existence of many accidents. Buddhism explains such apparent accidents with the theory that there are three kinds of time lag between our conduct and the effect of our conduct. After we act, sometimes the effect manifests itself at once, sometimes the effect manifests itself with a short time lag, and sometimes the effect manifests itself with a very long time lag. In the second and third cases, people usually doubt whether the law of cause and effect perfectly governs this world. But if we recognize the three kinds of time lag between conduct and its effects, we can affirm the existence of the law of cause and effect in all cases without exception. Master Dogen explained this problem in the following chapter.