How Best to Prepare for the Unexpected

By Janpha Thadphoothon

There are things in life that we can prepare ourselves for. For example, exams or tests, especially when we know the outline and scope of the tests. However, many things are complex and any preparation needs to be flexible. We also need to prepare for the unexpected.

Professor Ducan Brown has proposed a set of natural laws, and one of which is this:

1. For every action on a complex, interactive, dynamic system, there are unintended and unexpected consequences. In general, the unintended consequences are recognized later than those that are intended.

This first law reflects the fact that most people pay attention to their intended outcomes. The law of nature is not what we have intended. It follows what the Buddha called ‘Pratītyasamutpāda’ or causes. In a treaty called Pratītyasamutpāda, the Buddha said that — all phenomena or Dhammas arise in dependence upon other Dhammas. The dictum goes — “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”.

Nature has its own laws. Human laws are social laws, which may not be the same as those operated by nature. For example, when you clean a room, you will get 50 dollars. This is the law of humans. The law of nature may be simply – when the room is cleaned. It is clean. If we are too attached to the laws of humans, we may be suffered and disappointed. Nature does not yield to human wishes.

How then can we prepare for what is unexpected? This question merits our effort to do some research. The best we can do is to do our best now – at the present time. Do not worry too much about the future, bearing in mind well that phenomena follow the law of nature. We need to develop our perspective of the universe – the Right View.



Summarizing the twenty-four conditions, they are:

root-condition (hetu-paccaya)

object-condition (arammana-paccaya)

predominance-condition (adhipati-paccaya)

proximity-condition (anantara-paccaya)

contiguity-condition (samanantara-paccaya)

conascence-condition (sahajata-paccaya)

mutuality-condition (annamanna-paccaya)

dependence-condition (nissaya-paccaya)

decisive support-condition (upanissaya-paccaya)

prenascence-condition (purejata-paccaya)

postnascence-condition (pacchajata-paccaya)

repetition-condition (asevana-paccaya)

kamma-condition (kamma-paccaya)

vipaka-condition (vipaka-paccaya)

nutriment-condition (ahara-paccaya)

faculty-condition (indriya-paccaya)

jhana-condition (jhana-paccaya)

path-condition (magga-paccaya)

association-condition (sampayutta-paccaya)

dissociation-condition (vippayutta-paccaya)

presence-condition (atthi-paccaya)

absence-condition (natthi-paccaya)

disappearance-condition (vigata-paccaya)

non-disappearance-condition (avigata-paccaya)


The Nine ecological bloodymindedness laws are:

1. For every action on a complex, interactive, dynamic system, there are unintended and unexpected consequences. In general, the unintended consequences are recognized later than those that are intended.

2 Any system in a state of positive feedback will destroy itself unless a limit is placed on the flow of energy through that system.

3. Any sedentary community, by virtue of its sedentism, will encounter problems of sanitation. The manner in which sanitation is managed will affect the manner in which supporting agriculture is managed.

4. For every increment in the agricultural surplus there is a corresponding increment in the volume of urban sewage.

5. Stability or resilience in ecosystems requires that all essential reactions within the system function within ranges of rates that are mutually compatible.

6. The long-term survival of any species of organism requires that all processes essential for the viability of that species function at rates that are co0mpatible with the overall functioning of the ecosystem of which that species is a part.

7. If any species of animal should develop the mental and physical capacity consciously to manage the ecosystem of which it is a part, and proceeds to do so, then the long-term survival of that species will require, as a minimum, that it understands the rate limits of all processes essential to the functioning of that ecosystem and that it operates within those limits.

8. Long-term stability or ‘sustainability’ in ecosystems (including agricultural systems) is dependent in part upon the recycling of nutrient elements wholly within the system or upon their replenishment from a renewable source, provided such replenishment is not itself dependent upon a finite source of energy.

9. If a population continues to grow exponentially it will eventually consume essential resources faster than they can be replenished. The provision of or access to additional resources will extend the ‘life’ of such resources, and hence the duration of growth of the population, only to a very small extent.


1.  Nina van Gorkom “Different Aspects Of The 24 Conditions: Summarizing The 24 Conditions”. Retrieved from

2.  Feed or Feedback: Agriculture, Population Dynamics and the State of the Planet Paperback – October 1, 2003, by A. Duncan Brown (Author)

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