Monday, November 25, 2013

Interconnected, Interdependent You

The Buddhists use the image of Indra's Net as a symbol of our interdependence:
Photo by Chris Lombardi
“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.” ~Francis Harold Cook
If we are represented by each of those jewels, then we begin to see how each of us relates to the others - connected and reflected, which opens us up to empathy and compassion for our fellow humans.

Most people understand this concept, in this context, but then dismiss it for other settings. 

San Jose hills
Long before I read Francis Harold Cook's words, I understood something about this concept of connection, and it formed the matrix of reality for me as a young child. I remember driving along Highway 101, south of San Jose, where the hills are covered by short grass and scrub, making them appear to be various shades of brown. As we drove through Morgan Hill and Gilroy, I saw cows grazing on those hills, and their hides we similar in texture and color to the hills they stood upon. At some point in my early adolescence, I connected the hills with the cows and asked, "What if the substance that we stand upon is only a larger form of what we are, and we just don't see it because we don't have a big enough perspective to catch the connection?" The cows, after all, wouldn't see the similarity between the hill and their coats unless they saw the scene from a distance - assuming they were creatures who could maintain interest in these things. All they would see was the next clump of grass, the shade tree, etc. What if the entire known universe were something else entirely, but we couldn't understand it because we didn't see the connections from our small perspective?

I read an article recently about how our bones are connected (among other organs) to our minds. You can find the full article here. In the article, French geneticist and physician Gerard Karsenty states, “No organ is an island,” and the article continues to discuss how the bones relate to many different body systems. Western medicine seems to be catching up to ancient beliefs that the all the parts of the body relate to each other in different ways - sometimes obvious and sometimes very subtle.

When we step back and get the bigger picture - no matter the size of the subject, we begin to see that this model of interdependence relates to all things.