Indra's Net



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Indra - Vedic God of being or life, king of the Devas in Devlok

Indra the ancient Hindu Sky God became incorporated into Buddhism, wherein his weapon - the Vajra, was turned into the definitive symbol of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism:    Indra's Vajra (thunderbolt - Diamond-Indestructable) weapon was altered by Buddhist thought by bending the prongs into a rounded point - to symbolize peaceful means.

Indra's Vajra became a weapon of a different kind in Buddhism, but, in Tantric Martial Arts, the original meaning and use of the 'thunderbolt' is retained in tandem with its more orthodox Buddhist application.

Indra's Net, refers to the palace or heaven of Indra:

           References, definitions of "Indra's net"

The following parable from the Buddhist canon provides a beautiful visual metaphor for the interdependence and interpenetration of all phenomena.

Suspended above the palace of Indra, the Buddhist god who symbolizes the natural forces that protect and nurture life, is an enormous net. A brilliant jewel is attached to each of the knots of the net. Each jewel contains and reflects the image of all the other jewels in the net, which sparkles in the magnificence of its totality.

When we learn to recognize what Thoreau refers to as "the infinite extent of our relations," we can trace the strands of mutually supportive life, and discover there the glittering jewels of our global neighbors. Buddhism seeks to cultivate wisdom grounded in this kind of empathetic resonance with all forms of life.

- from "Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship", a lecture given by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda at Columbia University on June 13, 1996.

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The Hindu myth of Indra's Net provides an allegory of this interdependent organization. This net exists in Indra's palace in heaven and extends infinitely in all directions. At each node of the net where threads cross there is a perfectly clear gem that reflects all the other gems in the net. As each gem reflects every other one; so are you affected by every other system in the universe.

As the threads of Indra's net bind the gems to the net so do our physical bodies bind our minds and other physical entities bind other systems to the universe. Through the threads we reach each other, passing information across the expanses of space. Yet how did this ballet of information ever come about? You see new systems constantly spring to life, arising out of near chaos creating a small pattern that presents a new random twist to that thread of existence.

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Net, Network, Web Metaphor:

Net- Indira's Net - from Hindu Mythology:

A good explanation of the Hindu/Buddhist myth of Indra's net is found in, of all places, The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra: "...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. In the words of Sir Charles Eliot:


In the Heaven of Indra, there is said to be a network of pearls, so arranged that if you look at one you see all the others reflected in it. In the same way each object in the world is not merely itself but involves every other object and in fact IS everything else. "In every particle of dust, there are present Buddhas without number."

The similarity of this image to the hadron bootstrap is indeed striking. The metaphor of Indra's net may justly be called the first bootstrap model, created by the Eastern sages some 2,500 years before the beginning of particle physics." Fritjof Capra --Chapter 8 of The Turning Point - Fritjof Capra (1982)

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