The Jewel Net of Indra
Written by {ga=Admin}    Friday, 26 March 2010 04:13   
Spirituality & Religion

An Andean condor, an indigo sapphire, the Gobi desert, a giant redwood, Crater Lake, the Temple of Luxor: listing all the things you see in the world could take a very long time. All we could capture by this litany of life on earth is a lengthy abstract of appearances. Then the list grows exponentially longer as we distinguish among all the individual birds, gems, temples, lakes, deserts, trees and humans. For shorthand, the Chinese philosophers called this multiplicity “the ten thousand things.” It seems as if each among the almost endless recognizable array of the ten thousand things exists separately from all else. That’s how it seems to our senses. It also seems as is every single thing we see or experience is solid. So it seems, but it’s a working illusion.

The solidity that is apparent to touch and sight may be consistent with common experience, but is at odds with particle physics. There is so much space between the atomic and subatomic particles of our bodies, for instance, that if the all that empty space were squeezed out, just a thimbleful of solid matter would remain. Why is it that when our everyday mind encounters what is predominately empty and open, it insists that it is solid? With the sense of solidity comes all the outer evidence to lead us to conclude that each of us is separate. Bodies and external objects are all distinctly separate only as grossly interpreted through the senses. Subtle sense and mind reveal a much different world.

Does our culture possess the knowledge to prove that the subtle world is more primal than gross appearances? We have Einstein’s and subsequent physicists’ work connecting matter and energy in one whole. That should be enough to unsettle solidity and separation, but proof exists only for those who are willing to prove it for themselves in the laboratory of their own experiences. The method of spiritual inquiry and cultivation by many Eastern traditions starts by revealing the great truth, then encourages each practitioner to verify the truth in the immediacy of his or her own life.

The image of the jewel net of Indra sets out the great truth. There is a vast, multi-dimensional net that stretches across the known and imagined universe. At each node of the net, there is a brilliant, multi-faceted gem. Each gem and all its facets reflects all the other gems in the vast, interconnected net. Light and reflections beam from all the facets of all the gems as endless mirrored surfaces refract and reflect one-another infinitely. What you see depends on your point of view and what relationships you are viewing. It is hard to distinguish among the dazzling reflections and their sources. The vast net is Indra’s, king of the gods, yet Indra is not outside controlling the net, but rather is somewhere inside at a gem node reflecting in all directions.

For the jewel net of Indra, holistic and simultaneous interconnection is primary. Shapes, colors, textures, and qualities dance in ever-changing complexities and durations until replaced by newer forms and energies in different arrays. What any of us experiences in the constant flow depends not on Indra’s net, but on the clarity, subtlety and breadth of our own perception. And just like Indra, we are not outside controlling the net, but positioned within at a gem node, reflecting and refracting gems both close by and distant. We are inescapably caught within Indra’s glorious web of endless interactions and infinitely shifting interconnections. It is open and empty and spontaneously active.

If we choose to refocus our perceptions, instead of seeing ten thousand things, we can behold the ever-changing flow of ten thousand inter-relationships. All the individual and separate seeming things are aggregated in layers moving from the sub-atomic to cosmic scale. All the individual things are interrelated, dynamic sets of relationships. At each level of organization, the thing we see, whether a liver, a human, a tribe, a nation, a world or greater, functions within its own order.  At each increasing scale, things are members of a whole that have different rules, processes and outcomes than things on its own level. There’s really no things at all, just endless relationships.

Any and all points on Indra’s jewel net are centers of relationships. To be a center is to be empowered to radiate through the whole. The natural state of being aware of the beauty, complexity, and dynamics of the infinite web of relationships is the mind of interdependent empowerment.

By Johndennis Govert



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