Indra's net (also called Indra's jewels or Indra's pearls, Sanskrit Indrajāla) is a metaphor used to illustrate the concepts of Śūnyatā (emptiness), pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination), and interpenetration in Buddhist philosophy.
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[Indra's Net is a metaphor for ] the profound cosmology and outlook that permeates Hinduism. Indra's Net symbolizes the universe as a web of connections and interdependences [...] I seek to revive it as the foundation for Vedic cosmology and show how it went on to become the central principle of Buddhism, and from there spread into mainstream Western discourse across several disciplines.
Indra's Net by Rajiv MalhotraThe Avatamsaka Sutra (which means 'Flower Garland') of Mahayana Buddhism uses the metaphor of Indra's Net to explain cosmic interpenetration. This sutra explains everything as both a mirror reflecting all ana an image reflected by all. Everything is simultaneously cause and effect, support and supported. This important sutra was translated from Sanskrit, and its logic further developed in China under the name of Hua-yen Buddhism.
Indra's Net by Rajiv Malhotra p. 13-14The Hua-yen tradition was developed by a series of thinkers, most notably Fa-tsang (CE 643-712). Through him, it passed on to Korea and other East Asian countries, becoming known as 'Kegon' in Japan. Hua-yen is praised as the highest development of Chinese Buddhist thought. D.T. Suzuki called Hua-yen the philosophy of Zen, and Zen the meditation practice of Hua-yen. Francis Cook explains the core philosophy of Hua-yen as follows:'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 infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each "eye" of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering "like" stars in 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 there is an infinite reflecting process occurring.'
Indra's Net by Rajiv Malhotra p. 13-14The Atharva-Veda puts Indra at the centre of the sophisticated concept of Indrajâla, “Indra’s net”. In this net, a diamond in every knot reflects every other diamond knot, and thus the whole. The West needed another four thousand years to develop the similar concept of the “holographic paradigm”.
Elst, Koenraad. Hindu dharma and the culture wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa. Chapter 20.The metaphor of Indra's Net also suggests a creative intelligence which is omnipresent, permeating all life. All appearances of separateness are maya (illusory). The capacity of one jewel to reflect the light of every other within this infinite net is difficult for the linear mind to comprehend, but it serves as an apt precursor to an understanding of multidimensional theories which have emerged in physics and metaphysics.
Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.
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