Monday, September 22, 2008

Indra’s jewelled net

"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 it's 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."

--The Avatamsaka Sutra Francis H. Cook: Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra 1977

This last aspect of the jewelled net is explored in a question/answer dialog of teacher and student in the Avatamsaka Sutra. In answer to the question: "how can all these jewels be considered one jewel?" it is replied: "If you don't believe that one all the jewels...just put a dot on the jewel [in question]. When one jewel is dotted, there are dots on all the jewels...Since there are dots on all the jewels...We know that all the jewels are one jewel"

Dr. Fritjof Capra, Nobel Prize winner in Physics writes in his famous book “Tao of Physics”:

"...particles are dynamically composed of one another in a self-consistent way, and in that sense can be said to 'contain' one another. In Mahayana Buddhism, a very similar notion is applied to the whole universe. This cosmic network of interpenetrating things is illustrated in the Avatamsaka Sutra by the metaphor of Indra's net, a vast network of precious gems hanging over the palace of the god Indra."

This is the JIJIMUGE doctrine of the Kegon School of Japanese Buddhism:
"All things are one and have no life apart from it; the One is all things and is incomplete without the least of them. Yet the parts are parts within the whole, not merged in it; they are interfused with Reality while retaining the full identity of the part, and the One is no less One for the fact that it is a million-million parts."

The moral of Indra's net is that the compassionate and the constructive interventions a person makes or does can produce a ripple effect of beneficial action that will reverberate throughout the universe or until it plays out. By the same token you cannot damage one strand of the web without damaging the others or setting off a cascade effect of destruction. So send your positive strokes at every moment of time.

Love to you all


  1. Thank you for a wonderful blog.

    The power of a single negative thought is often underestimated. Whether the thought be internal or externally expressed, it more often than not destroys more than it was meant for. A negative thought often causes pre-occupation and therefore depletes energy.

  2. Thank you Jerome for your appreciation and the sharing.

  3. As mentioned in the article ‘compassionate and constructive interventions can produce ripple effect of beneficial action that will reverberate through out the universe or until it plays out’. Similarly ‘we cannot damage one strand without damaging the others’. Let us see the present day menace ‘terrorism’ as a black dot in Indra’s net. Though it is presently confined to few places, it is going to disturb the equilibrium.

  4. Thank you, Pramod, for your feedback.
    The negative energy generated through hatred can only be oblitrated through the positive energy of unconditionaql love for humanity by every enlightened individual.

  5. The comparison of Indira’s jeweled net and the Japanese Buddist principle of Ji Ji Muge is wonderful. When we achieve something good it’s not ours alone but belongs to the net work. And when our acts are negative it’s impact imprints something not conducive at a macro level.
    Here I am reminded of the famous words of Martin Neimoller which I think make us stand and think in this context

    “In Germany they came first for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionists.
    Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
    Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

  6. Magi! A very appropriate observation. Holistic ecological sensitivity and a highly ethical disposition are very vital for a positive contribution and a more meaningful life on this earth.

  7. "Every Action has got equivalent and opposite reaction"
    But It does not affect all the other action taking place in the world at that time or later.

    It affect the actions which are realated to the particular action. And there are several action which are affected with this.

    Similierly here the jewels which reflect the dot, are linked with the dotted jewel.

    And there may other jewels which are not related to this dotted jewel and they will not reflect this dot.

    Therefore onle the linked jewles reflect the dotted and not the others.

    Barnabas Ramesh

  8. Newton's law operates in the intermediate scale of physical size of matter. It fails to explain observation at the macro or micro level.

    As you probably know general theory of relativity states that space is no longer a Euclidian construct (normal geometry that we learn in school) and we need a different geometry and this makes light to travel in extremely curved path.

    At the very fundamental level of existence the laws and hence the construct of space-time is totally different from what we perceive through our senses. Language has limitations but deeper concepts have to be communicated. So ordinary example of a net is used but this net is special. This is why all nodes (jewels) of Indra's jewelled net have the property to reflect the dots, though they may be perceived to be beyond line of sight or beyond the effect of 'Coulomb's Law' (inverse proportion of distances between to charges).
    The attraction or repulsion is a constant value but each node has the capacity to scale down or scale up the level of attraction or repulsion.