Indra’s Net


You can go on moving backwards, and you will find everything that has happened in existence up to now, had to happen for you to happen.

Otherwise you would not happen. You are so interconnected. You are just a small part of a long infinite chain. All that is is involved in you, all that has passed is involved in you. You are the apex, at this moment, of all that has preceded you. In you the whole past exists. But this is not all. From you will come your children, and their children’s children… and so on, so forth.


From your actions will come the resulting actions, and from the resulting actions other results, and from other results other actions. You will disappear, but whatsoever you do will continue. It will have reverberations, down the ages, to the very end.

So the whole past is involved in you, and the whole future too. At this moment the past and future meet in you, ad infinitum, in both the directions. You hold within you the seed from which the future will arise, just as much as you at this moment are the entirety of the past. So you are the entirety of the future too. This moment is all, you are all. Because the whole is involved in you, the whole is at stake in you. The whole criss-crosses you.

They say: You touch a blade of grass and you have touched all the stars. Because everything is involved in everything else, everything is inside everything else. Zen calls this involvement of the whole into each of its parts jiji muge hokkai.

‘It is illustrated by the concept of a universal net. The net is called Indra’s Net, a great net extending throughout the universe, vertically to represent time, horizontally to represent space. At each point where the threads of the net cross one another is a crystal bead, the symbol of a single existence. Each crystal bead reflects on its shining surface not only every other bead in the net but every reflection of every other reflection of every other bead upon each individual bead.’

Countless endless reflections of one another. This is called jiji muge hokkai.

When Gautam Buddha held the single lotus in his hand, he was showing this jiji muge hokkai. Mahakashyapa understood it. This was the message – that in this small lotus all is involved: the whole past, the whole future, all dimensions are involved. In this small lotus, everything has flowered, and everything else that will ever flower is contained in this small lotus flower. Mahakashyapa laughed; he understood the message: jiji muge hokkai. That’s why the flower was given to Mahakashyapa, as a token of transmission beyond words.

Hence the Buddhist compassion for all, and gratitude for all, and respect for all – because everything is involved in each other.

Osho, Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 2, Ch 1 (excerpt)

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