I love religious mythology—its poetry and its gravity.
One of my favorites is the Chinese Hua Yan Buddhist myth of Indra’s net. This tale tells of a wonderful net hung in the heavenly palace of the God Indra. In every eye of the net, everywhere its threads cross each other, a perfectly round and reflective jewel is sewn. Indra’s palace is infinite in size and so the net is similarly infinite, and its jewels are therefore infinite in number. Even more remarkable, though—the net is hung in such a precise way that every jewel reflects every other jewel in the lattice! The effect of this arrangement is awesome: Each jewel reveals and, so, in a sense, contains every other. Altering or removing any individual one changes the entire system of reflections—every other jewel is affected. A natural holism is thus co-created. And the arrangement is completely egalitarian, lacking any hierarchical structure—no start or end points, causes or effects are discernable. Indra’s net simply is.
Buddhists believe Indra’s net is analogous to the true structure and nature of reality.
Both the image and its philosophical implications resonate: Everything is connected. We’re all interdependent. Nothing exists in isolation. And we’re all equally vital.
Recently I was browsing headlines at a cool website called Science Impossible and found a link to a National Geographic article about the IGM—the intergalactic medium. Fascinated by cutting-edge cosmology, I read eagerly. Here are the first two paragraphs of the story:
Much of the missing “normal” matter in the cosmos has been found clustered around wispy ropes of invisible matter spanning the space between galaxies.
The filaments form part of the vast weblike superstructure of the universe, within which galaxies are embedded like sparkling sequins.
The quote’s italics are mine, added to indicate the place in the article where my jaw keeps dropping—this online science story seems to be painting a similar picture of the structure of our universe to that of Indra’s net!
The parallel is beautiful to me. It’s also compelling: scientific observation according with religious intuition.
What happens when metaphors become measurables? For me, wonder increases and life becomes more mystical.