Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the net’s every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite.
Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra
When the authors of the Vedic texts first described Indra's Net over 2,500 years ago, it almost seems they were describing the mind-numbingly myriad nodes and threads of today's Internet. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, the whole social networking complex is a clumsy, rough-edged facsimile of the infinite sparkling elegance of the net of Indra. Were the ancients spookily prescient? Well, anything's possible. I imagine they were sadhus, exploring the vast inner deep, and giving us a metaphor for what they encountered there: the indescribable unity and inter-penetration of all things.
In other words, they were describing the same truths about humans and the universe that govern us today, and that we are currently manifesting through technology. Some days as I surf Facebook, I've been surprised by a nudge of excitement to be part of the physical manifestation of a long-hidden esoteric principle, our blind striving for unity. We have no choice but to manifest this at this time in history because we are who we are. On one level, we are programmed by evolution to seek connection with other humans: a cellular impulse tells us we’re safer in groups than alone. On another level, quantum physics has shown that we and everything else we see are all momentary flickers in one vast energy field. We are intimately connected because we are all One.
But still, everyday life happens. We must behave as if the illusion is real. Enmeshed in the dazzling net of Indra, we still must do the laundry. And as we do it, invisible lines of energy radiating like the reflections of jewels from total strangers, exert subtle influence on our every decision, turning our paths in new directions. Then we in turn unknowingly alter the lives of others, and the reflections multiply, ripples spreading ever outward in all directions.
I hope my book of stories gives a fleeting glimpse of not only the lives of others like me and you, but also of the sparkling web that weaves us all together.