In yesterday’s post on “Success,” I referenced Indra’s Net as a metaphor for the interconnectedness of all beings (and really all phenomena). It also serves as an exceptional metaphor for the Dhamma because the description of the Net, which comes to us from about the third century CE, perfectly describes what I and others have called the holographic nature of the Dhamma. This is the principle that, like a hologram, when any piece of the teaching is fully penetrated, we can see the whole.
Alan Watts has described Indra’s Net in this way:
“Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.”
The metaphor of Indra’s Net can give us insight into the nature of karma. Because we are the center of our own universe, we tend to believe that karma is personal. In fact, though, each of us is but one jewel in the net, affecting and affected by the law of cause and result. We look at single causes and single results, but actually each is both. That is, every cause is also the result of some other cause and so on. It is an impersonal process, empty of self.
For more about the implications of karma to law and human events, visit the Two Minds Meet blog.