In Buddhism, one of the metaphors for the inter-connectedness of all things is found in Indra’s Net. In Vedic mythology, the net hangs over the palace of the god Indra. The net is held together by a jewel located at each intersection of the net’s fibers and when the sun shines on one jewel, the reflection of that jewel becomes a part of all the other jewels’ radiance.
Indra’s Net is part of a Buddhist sutra- a teaching- which describes infinite realms of space within infinite realms of space, all connected, all dependent on the others. Developed in the 3rd century C.E., the metaphor attempts to explain not only the spaces which we can see because they are larger than we are, but also the spaces too small to be seen with the naked eye. Before microscopes, before telescopes, there was an understanding of the similarities of spatial realities, no matter what their size, that were only able to be confirmed with electron microscopes and Hubble and Cassini telescopes late in the 20th century!
Those microscopes and telescopes confirmed what the Vedics and other ancient peoples had begun to know: Jupiter is connected to Io is connected to the Milky Way is connected to Alpha Centauri is connected to the Atlantic Ocean is connected to oyster shells, fish gills, snake lungs, the Moon, the Sahara Desert, and human circulatory systems.
Now hear the word of the Lord..
Really. 1 Corinthian 12: 12,13- “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”
In the 13th century, Brother Francis wrote:
“We praise You, Lord, for all Your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun,
who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
of You Most High, he bears your likeness.
We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
We praise You, Lord, for Brothers Wind and Air,
fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.
We praise You, Lord, for Sister Water..Brother Fire..Sister Earth..for Sister Death.”1.
The interconnectedness of all things. The Buddhists also call it the interpenetration of all things: the in-ness of all things within everything else. It is when we deny that wholeness, that completeness and dependency of each thing, each being, on the other, that we are able to conceive, condone, and conduct violence on that which is outside of our own small and self-defined circle of life. We are able to more easily discriminate, stereotype, deny, disregard, ignore, abuse, even destroy that from which we convince ourselves we are forever separate.
And that, as should be more and more apparent to more and more people, has become a frighteningly dangerous way to live. It has brought us to the edge of both nuclear and environmental disaster. And the only way to stop our slide into extinction will be to say with more frequency ,fervency, veracity, and sincerity:
Brother, Sister, Mother, Father..
1.from The Canticle of the Creatures, Saint Francis (1181-1226)