Indra’s Net: The Amplified Universe

There is an old concept from India called Indra’s Net. It envisions the starry skies as made up of a net of gleaming jewels that radiate light. What is particularly profound about Indra’s Net is that the light of each jewel shines in the other, so that it is not possible to say which single jewel is the source of the light. And, because the jewels reflect each other’s light, they amplify the light.

There are many messages embedded in the story of Indra’s Net (some of which I will write about later) but one key idea is that we’re all reflections of each other. We’re shaped by our interactions and exchanges. 

When I was younger, I’d make remixed tapes that I’d share with others as gifts (yes, another form of sushi-making). It took a lot of effort working with a stack of tapes and a double-deck cassette player. What emerged was an expression of myself made from music created by others. It was a way to say this is who I am and here’s what I like. We do this remixing far more easily today via social media. We are constantly consuming and rebroadcasting things. We each are curators telegraphing a point of view via what we choose to share. 

There is something wonderfully democratic and dangerous about this unfettered flow of ideas on social media. Unlike the process of a mixtape which required intentionality and effort, we can broadcast ideas and emotional states with ease on social media. And the ease in which ideas can be rebroadcast — forwarded and retweeted — amplifies some expressions. A retweet is an endorsement of the idea or meme. Some memes rise almost as tidal waves, a surge pushed by thousands of people, descending on us from multiple social media feeds. 

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter watch what we like and share and return more of it to us. We can get caught in echo chambers. There is a story of two dogs who wandered into a house of mirrors at a fair. The first dog, angry and snarling, saw hundreds of snarling dogs facing him. The second dog, happy with a wagging tail, was met with hundreds of friendly dogs looking back. Each exited the tent more agitated or happy than before. This is Indra’s Net in reality too. The power of this amplification is evidenced in the polarization we experienced in recent elections (a theme for another time).   

So, a question for us is what are we tuning in to, remixing, and broadcasting? Can this be a more intentional process? 

Messages of positivity share the light and illuminate the lives of others. Currents of negativity suck us downward. As in the parable of the dog in the house of mirrors and the grand message of Indra’s Net, what we absorb becomes part of us and what we radiate is reflected back on us. With the holidays upon us, it is a time for us to be more aware and intentional in the nets we cast. Let’s amplify the good, let’s be the light we want to see reflected in the universe. 

Also see:

The Idea Behind Spiritual Sushi

I’m not making art, I’m making sushi. — Masaharu Morimoto

This blog is named spiritual sushi because it will serve up bite-sized ideas that I have curated, remixed, and plated to be consumed by myself and others.     

Sushi is an eclectic mix of rice, vegetables, fish and seasonings elegantly wrapped in seaweed or artfully layered into bite-sized pieces that can be savored one at a time. The possibilities for what can be created is bound by the wrap and the imagination. 

I love food, both consuming and creating dishes. I often mix foods from different cultures and traditions. The foods are infused with spices and ingredients, blended to create an experience, an adventure, something to savor and share.  

Preparing food and eating it, however, are but fleeting pleasures. Food is envisioned, created, and consumed… then it is but a memory. Ideas are different.

Like food, I like to collect ideas, put them to use, and merge them into new possibilities. Among these are wisdom and spiritual stories. Unlike the fleeting delights of food, spiritual ideas have staying power. They can be consumed repeatedly and nourish us for life.

Sometimes, they are like comfort foods to console us at hard times. Other times, they provide a burst of energy or a bit of sweetness. Sometimes, they can be complex and dense; sometimes, light and fluffy; sometimes spicy in a way that brings heat to our face and tears to our eyes. Sometimes, they present a reliable and predictable taste. Sometimes, they offer an unexpected medley of flavors that are a revelation. 

I like revelations. It is why I read, listen, travel, and talk to people. And all these things accumulate and accrue into a mental library, where they connect and combine in sometimes novel ways. In writing, I offer the forms these ideas have taken shape in my mind. In expression, they find more concrete form. And like food, they can be served up and shared for others to enjoy. And, perhaps, if found beneficial like a cherished recipe they can be shared with others to try or to recreate into yet new variations. 

In choosing to put these ideas in a blog, I want to make them more easily shared. This is food for thought and life that anyone can partake in or pass it on. So, what’s in your sushi roll?

A batch of sushi balls I made infused with cranberries we bought for Thanksgiving.