Monday, February 28, 2011

Indra's net and the Internet

When I look at the statistics for this little blog and discover that people from all over the world are tuning in to my daily ruminations on spirituality, peace and poetry, I am always astonished. It seems incredible that I have kindred spirits in Germany, UK, Russia, Australia, China, Slovenia, Canad, Israel, Denmark, Ukraine, etc, but that's what the stats reveal:

Here are the stats for the past week:

United States------------- 255
United Kingdom----------93
Germany------------------- 40
Canada-------------------- 17
Russia---------------------- 11
China------------------------ 5
India-------------------------- 5
Japan------------------------ 5
Australia-------------------- 4

And here's the stats since I started a year and a half ago:

United States-------------- 8,963

United Kingdom----------- 643
Germany--------------------- 281
Canada---------------------- 275
Netherlands----------------- 220
Russia------------------------ 176
Denmark--------------------- 111
Ukraine----------------------- 105
Australia---------------------- 95
Slovenia---------------------- 78

These stats are mere numbers. I'd love to hear from you personally and find out why you tune into this blog and also what you are doing to promote peace, how your spiritual life is unfolding, and how you express your creativity. I'm sure if we met, we'd have lots to talk about and soon become good friends!

In the age before the internet, Walt Whitman wrote this poignant poem called "To a Stranger."

PASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl with me, 
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has become not yours only, nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

Whitman captures the deep yearing we feel to connect with others because at one one time we have all been connected, in some way. (Did Whitman believe in reincarnation? It would appear so.)

The Internet reminds us we not separate, and never truly alone.

My blog is just one of thousands, perhaps millions of blogs, each interconnected to what is truly a "world-wide web."

Sometimes I think of network as a manifestation of what Buddhists call "Indra's net." Francis Harold Cook describes the metaphor of Indra's net from the perspective of the Huayan school in the book Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra:

“Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each "eye" of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring."

Each of you reading this is, from a Buddhist viewpoint, a facet of the Buddha, or as the theists would say, a reflection of the Divine. Millions of mirrors, mirroring back to each other the miracle of life.

In a Buddhist temple, I once saw this beautifully illustrated: statues of the Buddha had been placed in case with one-way glass facing the viewers and mirrors on the opposite side. This caused the Buddhas to appear as if they were infinite in number, one image reflecting another, with jewels of light. An infinite number of enlightened beings! What a concept!

Will the Internet help us to realize our Buddha nature? Will it help us to become enlightened and  free?

The power of the Internet cannot be underestimated. As we have come to see in Egypt, Tunisia and throughout the Middle East, realizing our interconnectedness has world-wide consequences. No longer can tyrants create hermit kingdoms or closed societies. Nor can Empires or corporations hide their dirty secrets from the world in this age of wikileaks. The internet enables each individual to broadcast the truth world-wide.

And sooner or later, the Truth will make us free...

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