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Indra's net
August 10th, 2014

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Indra's net… and Indra's veil

   Initially, one sees trees… then one no longer see trees… then one sees trees again.

   Non-duality is not found in sitting on the fence, nor is it found in "it's all the same",  and even less so in "it has always been like this."  Non-duality is found by tuning into inter-dependence, into the emptiness of essence (of separateness), into causality.

   As rain is pouring down, non-duality does not pretend the weather is the same as, or even similar to, a scorching sun. Both are useful to life, in moderation, but they can still be discerned.

   Floods create havoc, while many deserts (Gobi desert in China, Sahara desert in Northern Africa) are expanding. Often, humans made the situation worse, e.g. by cutting down trees (taking away a protection against landslides) and by overgrazing the land (taking away vegetation trapping moisture).

   As rain pours down, one should not confuse 'equanimity' with its close-enemy 'indifference'. While the mind cannot be dampened by the rain, unless you  'appropriate' the rain as a 'negative', the rain still calls for a different response than a heavy sun if you're to embody love, compassion, empathetic joy in relation to other sentient beings.

Indra's net

   But as the rain pours down, one trained in non-duality can still see the hot sun, which participated in the evaporation process, which participated in the cloud formation… One can see the causal chain: it includes the sun but doesn't confuse effect with cause.

   On the Path, people learn to see the causal chain and, at some point of the journey, they stop seeing the rain, only to see the causal chain…  People see the 'unity' of phenomena. But it doesn't stop there!

   Later, one can see the sun in each drop of water, without the need to refer to some notion, or concept, of causality… without the need to verbalise, to create views —and still with full awareness that rain is not sun as much as it is not separate from sun. One then sees Indra's net, the inter-penetration of all phenomena.

   From the above, verbalisation helps seeing the sun in each drop of rain (helps seeing the sun as cause, and the rain as effect), but can you see the rain in each ray of sun (seeing the rain as cause, and the sun as effect)?

   As long as you cling to the causal narrative, you forget the mind ( and you thus let the narrative obscure the inter-dependence.

Indra's veil

   The mistake that is easily done is that it's all very nice to talk about the sun and the rain, or about the forest and each tree… it's all very bucolic and it does relate to the cultivation of the mind, but it also is quite remote from embodiment!
   If you stop there (clinging to a spiritual feel-good, e.g. to the point of cancelling donations if the feel-good stops, like a disappointed customer of spiritual entertainment), you're not yet practicing Buddhism.

   You're practicing Buddhism the day you can also see how your self  and the conflicts in the world  are inter-dependent, via past, present and future, e.g. via the history of the social groups you belong to, via the way you consume, or via your aspiration for personal safety (at the expense of the safety of others), etc.
   You're practicing Buddhism the day you can see how you influence conflicts and they influence you… and the day you choose  not to perpetuate unwholesome tendencies.

   If seeing your self in the horrors of the world seems overwhelming, you understand the value of 'equanimity' on the Path. Hopefully, you don't just see the horrors though, you also see the generosity, the love, the compassion that you're not alone in cultivating…
   If, to protect your self from the overwhelm, you fall into denial and/or indifference, then you blinded yourself from reality… and Indra's net became Indra's veil, a copout not to engage with the messiness of the world.

   The teachings on Indra's net can feed the delusion of, and craving for, a perfect nirvanic existence separate from saṃsāra. It's up to you to « see reality as it is » (one definition of nirvāṇa…), i.e. to see the shining jewels where they are,  to see the opportunities where they are (instead of wishing them to be more clearly discernible, more easily visible, more quickly mobilisable, instead of wishing simple and well-identified answers. It's up to you to cease the craving for "more, more, more…") and respond appropriately to the situation at hand, ceasing self-centric tendencies and biases on the way.

#Buddhism   #Dharma  
• Desire for enlightenment (
• Spiritual materialism (
• Traceless (
Unattributed photo.