Recently a friend of mine introduced me to an ancient and remarkable concept from Buddhism: "Indra's Net" also known as "Indra's Web."
I only know what my friend told me, plus a bit that I read online. (Evidently a full description can get rather complicated.) The simple explanation describes an infinite, cosmic web of interconnection, where every juncture of the threads is a jewel. And every jewel is so perfect that it beautifully and completely reflects every other jewel in the web. An infinite array of beauty and reflection.
This is a remarkable concept in and of itself but my friend went on to say, "You are one of those jewels. All of us are, each human being. In the broader, deeper reality, we already are jewels."
Whether we know it or not. Whether we act that way or not. We are all infinitely and intimately connected with each other.
What an amazing idea. And maybe scary, or overwhelming, for some of us. As I sit with this image and open just a tiny bit to the possible reality, it helps me to remember that while we all reflect and connect to each other, we are also separate and unique. Perhaps that only increases the beauty...I'll go slowly but deeply with this concept, this dream.
Given our deep roots in celebrity culture these days, we tend to assume that some people are more important than others--those who, for better or for worse, influence thousands, even millions of others. But in this amazing cosmic web my friend described, those of us who are known to only a few are just as important as the bigwigs. Celebrities and common people, all of us perfectly reflect all the other perfect jewels as much as, and no more than, everyone else.
In Perelandra, C. S. Lewis's second book in his "Deep Space" trilogy, he gives Elwin Ransome, his protagonist, a somewhat similar vision:
"He saw the Great Dance. It seemed to be woven out of the intertwining undulation of many cords or bands of light, leaping over and under one another and mutually embraced in arabesques and flower-like subtleties....He could also see...wherever the ribbons or...lights intersected, minute corpuscles of momentary brightness: and he knew somehow that these particles were the secular generalities of which history tells--peoples, institutions, climates of opinion, civilisations, arts, sciences, and the like--ephemeral coruscations that piped their short song and vanished. The ribbons or cords themselves , in which millions of corpuscles lived and died, were things of some different kind....Some of the thinner and more delicate cords were beings that we call short-lived: flowers and insects, a fruit or a storm of rain, and once (he thought) a wave of the sea. Others were such things as we also think lasting: crystals, rivers, mountains, or even stars. Far above these in girth and luminosity and flashing with colors beyond our spectrum were the lines of personal beings, yet as different from one another in splendor as all of them from the previous class....[But then] at the very zenith of complexity, complexity was eaten up and faded, as a thin white cloud fades into the hard blue burning of the sky, and a simplicity beyond all comprehension, ancient and young as spring...drew him with cords of infinite desire into its own stillness." [pp.218-219]
Deep echoes of the inter-relatedness of everything, implied in quantum physics.
Imagine...If we could remember all this, and live into it, even just a tiny bit, how might it change our lives?
And with the release of those first glorious photos from the new Webb Space Telescope in the last few days, who could resist connecting them with the notion of Indra's Web?
And a question: We are all weavers...is there a Weaver?
Until next time,
Spider web, Josef F. Steufer, Wikimedia Commons
Galaxies, from Webb Space Telescope, NASA