The metaphor of Indra's Jeweled Net is attributed to an ancient Buddhist named Tu-Shun (557-640 B.C.E.) who asks us to envision a vast net that:
- at each juncture there lies a jewel;
- each jewel reflects all the other jewels in this cosmic matrix.
- Every jewel represents an individual life form, atom, cell or unit of consciousness.
- Each jewel, in turn, is intrinsically and intimately connected to all the others;
- thus, a change in one gem is reflected in all the others.
This last aspect of the jeweled net is explored in a question/answer dialog of teacher and student in the Avatamsaka Sutra. In answer to the question: "how can all these jewels be considered one jewel?" it is replied: "If you don't believe that one jewel...is all the jewels...just put a dot on the jewel [in question]. When one jewel is dotted, there are dots on all the jewels...Since there are dots on all the jewels...We know that all the jewels are one jewel"
The moral of Indra's net is that the compassionate and the constructive interventions a person makes or does can produce a ripple effect of beneficial action that will reverberate throughout the universe or until it plays out. By the same token you cannot damage one strand of the web without damaging the others or setting off a cascade effect of destruction.
A good explanation of the Hindu/Buddhist myth of Indra's net can be found in 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 the Indra's Jeweled Net image to what has in modern science become known as 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.
THE TURNING POINT, Chapter 8, Fritjof Capra (1982).
As for bootstrap theories and any relations thereof to space-time please see:
THE BOOTSTRAP PARADOX
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
THE HADRON BOOTSTRAP, AN UPDATE:
More recently, Fritjof Capra now writes, regarding the Hadron Bootstrap, the following:
In the last two chapters of my book The Tao of Physics, I discussed a theory known as “bootstrap theory,” which was very popular in the 1970s, and on which I worked myself during my ten years at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. This theory, proposed by Geoffrey Chew, is based on the idea that nature cannot be reduced to fundamental entities, like fundamental constituents of matter, but has to be understood entirely through self-consistency. All of physics has to follow uniquely from the requirement that its components be consistent with one another and with themselves.
This idea constitutes a radical departure from the traditional spirit of basic research in physics, which has always concentrated on finding the fundamental constituents of matter. At the same time, it can be seen as the culmination of the conception of particles as interconnections in an inseparable cosmic web, which arose in quantum theory and acquired an intrinsically dynamic nature in relativity theory.
The bootstrap philosophy abandons not only the idea of fundamental constituents of matter but accepts no fundamental entities whatsoever — no fundamental laws or equations, and not even a fundamental structure of space-time. The universe is seen as a dynamic web of interrelated events. None of the properties of any part of this web are fundamental; they all follow from the properties of the other parts, and the overall consistency of their mutual interrelations determines the structure of the entire web.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the bootstrap theory was eclipsed by the success of the standard model, which is very different, as it postulates the existence of fundamental fields and their corresponding particles. And today, bootstrap physics has virtually disappeared from the scene. However, if a theory of quantum gravity continues to remain elusive, and if the a priori assumption of the structure of space-time is broadly recognized as the essential flaw of string theory, the bootstrap idea may well will be revived someday, in some mathematical formulation or other.(source)