An effect can cause its own cause if the effect occurs in a higher level of time or beyond time.
For example, the Chassidic Master, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch, explained that the Creator created the world because He was inspired by the deeds of the saintly. The question is asked, “How can that be when the deeds of the saintly weren’t yet performed?”
The answer offered is, “True. However, the Creator is beyond time. All past, present and future happen for Him at once. Therefore, He was already aware of saintly people’s deeds and found in them the inspiration to create the world.”
So here the effect (desirous deeds of) is clearly causing the cause (the creation of the world).
The reason this works is because either beyond or in higher time, the future has already happened. In the case of beyond time, the future is simply no different from the past or present. There’s no time at all. So of course there’s no delay towards the onset of the future. In the case of higher time, there are less limitations. Delays result from limitations. With less limitations, there’s less delay. So it could be that on a spiritual level an effect precedes the physical cause.
As an aside, there’s a commonly held notion among those who study cosmic spiritual dynamics that an event happens spiritually before it manifests physically. I believe that this happens because everything visible continues on into the invisible, i.e. everything physical continues on into the spiritual, where it exists as a spiritual entity. Really, the spiritual and physical are parts of one continuous entity. However, since spiritual time occurs faster than physical time, due to less limitation, the event reaches the spiritual counterpart the entity before reaching it physically.
I remember a time when I was about to receive extraordinarily happy news, which was set to make a real difference in my life for about the next four years. I didn’t consciously know what was about to happen that day. However, I felt an inexplicable immense happiness which seemed to accompany my prayers that morning. Clearly, it already happened in spiritual time. My soul knew and was already rejoicing.
It easily makes more sense to say that the effect of goodness occurs in a higher level of time than beyond time. Saying that an effect occurs beyond time is a bit touchy because at the most rarified levels, time is defined as a sequence of cause and effect. So by definition beyond time needs to be beyond cause and effect. Therefore, there cannot be a real occurrence of an effect beyond time (only in higher time). So what’s really meant is that the “awareness” of a particular effect beyond time can stimulate the manifestation of its cause within time.
So when the creation of the world was inspired by the deeds of the saintly, it was inspired by an awareness of their deeds. Now this awareness may have been partially or almost entirely culled from “effect” having reached the timeframes on the higher spiritual levels, even prior to the deeds being performed.
This is reminiscent of what happens with the ten “sefiros” latent within the Infinite Being. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained how these ten primal powers of creation can occur within the undifferentiated seamless Oneness of the Infinite Being. In Judaism, ascribing multiplicity within the Creator’s Absolute Oneness is possibly idolatry.
So the Rebbe compares the mechanism of the appearance of these ten powers to the pattern described in the verse, “As waters reflect face to face, so is the heart of one person to another.” Water has the property of being able to reflect an image without changing at all. When a person views his or her face in the water, a clear reflection of the face projects back. Yet, nothing at all changed about the water. The fish inside don’t know the difference. The water molecules remain largely the same.
Similarly, the Rebbe explains that a human being is the human below and the ten “sefiros” in the higher realms are the “human above”. Our deeds reshape that “human above”. Good deeds enhance the “human above”. This interaction between the human below and the “human above” is referred to in the latter part of the verse “... so is the heart of one person to another.”; meaning, the change in the heart of the human below (i.e. us) changes the heart of the “human above”.
Then the ten “sefiros” which comprise the “human above” projects upon the Creator’s Infinity. Like water reflecting back the image of a face, the Infinite Being reflects back those ten powers of creation back downward into the higher realms and obviously this reflection ripples furthers downward into our earthly realm. This process is referred to in the beginning of the verse, “As waters reflect face to face ...”; as here the face of the “human above” is being reflected back by the undifferentiated quality of the Infinite Being; which has an unchanging quality which can be compared to water. So the Oneness of the Creator is undisturbed as He’s projecting ten powers; as He’s just projecting back what was culled from the higher spiritual levels.
Now since these ten “sefiros” were tools which the Creator used to create His world and their highest expression ultimately is an expression of the creation, how can they already exist to be used in the process of creation?
The answer is that perhaps they already existed in a beyond time sense, as a result of the deeds of the saintly whose deeds reshaped the “human above” whose spiritual image was projected on the undifferentiated seamlessness of the Infinite Being; a case of the effect stimulating its own cause into being ~ a coming around in full circle.