Saturday, November 13, 2010

All Jewels Glittering

Recently, an old friend paid me a warm and heart~felt compliment. I watched as her words swept me across continents, funneled me into the rich spiritual heritage of the East, and dropped me right into Indra’s net!

Indra began as one of the most powerful gods of the Hindu pantheon. By the 3rd century A.D., however, in a delightful example of religious cross~
pollination, he appears in a sacred Buddhist text, the Avatamsaka Sutra. Here, though, it is the metaphor of his unique and marvelous net that takes center stage.

Infinite in size and stretching in all directions, Indra’s net is woven through with an untold number of glittering jewels. The true beauty of this image, however, lies in the interplay between these gems, for in the polished and glittering surface of one is reflected every other jewel in the never~ending web. And as author Francis Harold Cook writes, “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.”

This image serves as an elegant illustration of several interrelated concepts central to Buddhist thought~~emptiness, interpenetration, and dependent origination. These rather dry~sounding terms refer to the interconnectedness of all phenomena, and the notion that nothing in this universe comes into existence on its own or has an enduring identity separate from all else.

Sun, rain, air, and the very minerals of our earthly home create and sustain our bodies. Our personalities and ways of perceiving the world blend the inheritance of our ancestors with the particulars of our own history, including every individual who has touched us in ways kind or hurtful, and each event we experience. Every shred of knowledge or wisdom we hold true has been directly or indirectly given us by others, or has been teased out from the rich interplay of our daily encounters throughout life.

The complexity of it all is truly beyond comprehension. Just as jewels in Indra’s net, we stand as a reflection of all that is.

This awareness came to me when Monica offered her compliment. I recognized at least a bit of what she was truly seeing~~my mother, father and ancestors reaching back through time, every person who has shared the beauty of her soul or the pain in his heart, all the joy and hurt I have known, and each of my wise and not~so~wise teachers. And of course, recognized or not, Monica also witnessed her own reflection, for she has been part of my shaping. And shining, too, were all the jewels that she mirrors from within her own life.

My friend’s words did feel good. We are social creatures, and feedback from kindred spirits lets us measure where we stand on the path of our intentions. But her words also pulled me out of myself by enlarging my awareness so I was able to recognize all those non~self elements that comprise me.

I thank Monica for her compliment, but I also savor a sweet gratitude for all the jewels shimmering in my firmament, gracing me with their reflected light. It’s good to remember that none of us stand alone. We are but tiny specks in a vast fabric of reflection. But tiny though we may be, we are, indeed, precious jewels in Indra’s net. Let’s shine our little hearts out!

Shine on!

Loanne Marie


Claire said...

What a de-light-full and en-light-ening post. I was not familiar with Indra's net, yet was immediately reminded of the image on website - a web of lights partially covering the earth. I so love the image of the jewels reflecting jewels reflecting jewels. That image gives me the sense I feel when looking up into the infiniteness of the night sky. From compliment to Indra's net! Thank you for this sharing!

Loanne Marie said...

Yes, it's a beautiful image and one that resonates immediately with so many of us. And I just went to grandmothersspeak and their image seems quite Indra's nettish, though they've portrayed the glittering net covering the earth as a healing, shimmering blanket. Definitely needed!

Thanks for writing, you jewel reflecting jewel, you!

Anonymous said...

You always move my heart and calm my soul!

Loanne Marie said...

Wow! Another compliment that shows me Indra's web, particularly all those who have, directly or indirectly moved my own heart and calmed my soul~~as well as all those who have done just the opposite.

Thank you for taking the time to write. I will do my best to reflect your kindness out to others.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a quilt - all the pieces put together create a beautiful work of art! May we remember always to shine, even on a cloudy day.

Loanne Marie said...

Another of my favorite metaphors! I specifically love the image of a 'crazy quilt', with squares of all different shapes and colors, whose beauty comes from how these disparate pieces are fitted together to make a delightful whole. Take any one away and the whole suffers.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write! Shine, shine, shine!

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Leia Marie