“We work hard to disown the parts of our lives that were painful, difficult, or sad. But just as we can’t rip chapters out of a book and expect the story to still make sense, so we cannot rip chapters out of our past and expect our lives to still make sense. Keep every chapter of your life intact, and keep on turning the pages. Sooner or later you’ll understand why every scene, every chapter was needed.”

Sandra Kring

Indirajaal – Indira’s net

“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 indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the net’s every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of 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 the process of reflection is infinite. The Hua’yen school [of Buddhism] has been fond of this image, mentioned many times in its literature, because it symbolizes a cosmos in which there is an infinitely repeated interrelationship among all the members of the cosmos. This relationship is said to be one of simultaneous mutual identity and mututal intercausality.”

~ Francis H. Cook, Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra

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Also see: Atharva Veda 8.8.8

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Some three thousand years ago or more, this ancient numinous
image of the Cosmos was first expressed in the sacred Indian text of the
Atharvaveda and termed Indra’s net; it was the means by which the Vedic
deity Indra, god of the heavens, created the appearance of the whole
world. Now, its revelation of integral reality and self-reflection at all
scales of existence is being rediscovered and restated in a less poetic but
equally majestic and scientifically based language.

Jude Currivan, The Cosmic Hologram

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There are several aspects of Indra’s Net, that signify it as a crystal clear allegory of reality:

  1. The Holographic Nature of the Universe

Long before the existence of the hologram, the jeweled net is an excellent description of the special characteristic of holograms: that every point of the hologram contains information regarding all other points. This reflective nature of the jewels is an obvious reference to this.

This kind of analogy has been suggested by science as a theory for an essential characteristic of the cosmos, as well as as the functioning of the human brain, as beautifully described inThe Holograpic Universe by Michael Talbot.

  1. The Interconnectedness of All Thingss

When any jewel in the net is touched, all other jewels in the node are affected. This speaks to the hidden interconnectedness and interdependency of everything and everyone in the universe, and has an indirect reference to the concept of “Dependent Origination” in Buddhism. Additionally, Indra’s Net is a definitive ancient correlate of Bell’s Theorum, or the theory of non-local causes.

  1. Lack of a substantive self

Each node, representing an individual, simply reflects the qualities of all other nodes, inferring the notion of ‘not-self’ or a lack of a solid and real inherent self, as seen in the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism and Buddhism in general.

  1. Non-locality

Indra’s Net shoots holes in the assumption or imputation of a solid and fixed universe ‘out there’. The capacity of one jewel to reflect the light of another jewel from the other edge of infinity is something that is difficult for the linear mind, rational mind to comprehend. The fact that all nodes are simply reflections indicates that there is no particular single source point from where it all arises.

  1. Innate Wisdom

The ability to reflect the entirety of all light in the universe attests to the inherent transcendant wisdom that is at the core of all nodes, representing all sentient beings, and to the inherent Buddha Nature.

  1. Illusion or Maya

The fact that all nodes are simply a reflection of all others implies the illusory nature of all appearances. Appearances are thus not reality but a reflection of reality.

  1. Universal Creativity

A familiar concept in various high dharmas is one of an impersonal creative intelligence that springs forth into reality through the instruments of all living beings.

  1. The Mirror-like Nature of Mind

The capacity to reflect all things attests to the mind being a mirror of reality, not its basis. This is a common thesis among various schools and religions.

Source: http://www.heartspace.org/misc/IndraNet.html

Forgiveness

“There is one only defect in forgiving persons, and not another; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues all in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the saber of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on a grassless ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities. Righteousness is the one highest good, and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment; and benevolence, one sole happiness.”

Vidura speaking in Udyoga Parva of the Mahabharata (Parva 5 Chapter 33)

Fields and reality

The world is really made out of fields. Sometimes the stuff of the universe looks like particles, due to the peculiarities of quantum mechanics, but deep down it’s really fields. Empty space isn’t as empty as it looks. At every point there is a rich collection of fields, each taking on some value or another—or more precisely, due to the uncertainty that accompanies quantum mechanics, a distribution of possible values we could potentially observe.

The fields themselves aren’t “made of” anything—fields are what the world is made of. We don’t know of any lower level of reality. (Maybe string theory, but that’s still hypothetical.) Magnetism is carried by a field, as are gravity and the nuclear forces. Even what we call “matter”—particles like electrons and protons—is really just a set of vibrating fields. The particle we call the “Higgs boson” is important, but not so much for its own sake; what matters is the Higgs field from which it springs, which plays a central role in how our universe works. Astounding indeed.

Sean Carroll, The particle at the end of the universe

Don’t look: waves. Look: particles.

The physicist John Wheeler once proposed a challenge: How can you best explain quantum mechanics in five words or fewer? In the modern world, it’s easy to get suggestions for any short-answer question: Simply ask Twitter, the microblogging service that limits posts to 140 characters. When I posed the question about quantum mechanics, the best answer was given by Aatish Bhatia (@ aatishb): “Don’t look: waves. Look: particles.” That’s quantum mechanics in a nutshell.

Sean Carroll, The particle at the end of the universe

Notes on “I think, therefore I am”

Original statement: The phrase originally appeared in French as je pense, donc je suis in Discourse on the Method by René Descartes.

Latin translation: Cogito, ergo sum. It appeared in Latin in his later Principles of Philosophy

From Wikipedia: Later translated into English as “I think, therefore I am” , so as to reach a wider audience than Latin would have allowed.

As Descartes explained it, “we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.”

A fuller version, articulated by Antoine Léonard Thomas, aptly captures Descartes’s intent: dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”)

Descartes’s statement became a fundamental element of Western philosophy, as it purported to provide a certain foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt. While other knowledge could be a figment of imagination, deception, or mistake, Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one’s own existence served—at minimum—as proof of the reality of one’s own mind; there must be a thinking entity—in this case the self—for there to be a thought.

One common critique of the dictum is that it presupposes that there is an “I” which must be doing the thinking. According to this line of criticism, the most that Descartes was entitled to say was that “thinking is occurring”, not that “I am thinking”.

View 1:
Essentially, thought cannot end up being the sole provable thing in existence since it has requirements for its own existence.

View 2:
St. Augustine was one of the early proponents of similar thinking. Parmenides 5th Century BC also said something similar.

View 3:
Saiva Siddhantha identifies mind and thoughts as perishing with the body and hence these cannot be associated with the identity of I. The soul is believed to be more subtle than the mind. While energies associated with mental activity can be measured, the soul itself cannot be traced by outside methods.

Hell is Other People

Possible meanings for the phrase “Hell is Other People”

“Hell Is Other People”

Author: Jean Paul Sartre
Novel: No Exit

Common interpretation:
The quote has been hailed as the slogan for introverts and a way to explain any dissatisfaction we encounter with family members, strangers on public transport and our time-stealing co-workers.

However, it cannot be literally true that other people are hellish. Alternate explanations exist based on the context of the novel which has three characters trapped in a room together. Each character wants to escape the watchful gaze of the others. But none can escape because because they’re dead and the room is hell.

Thus, being unable to escape from the gaze of other people who can potentially judge you and assign tags can be a hellish experience.

Alternate Explanation 1:

Without others, I was someone free.
When someone comes along, the new person restricts me with their own idea of what I am.

Alternate Explanation 2:

Once we die, we’re permanently trapped in other people’s interpretations of us.
See also: “Death makes angels of us”

When we are alive we can still do somethings to fix. But once we’re dead, we can no longer speak for our actions.
See also: “History is written by victors”

Aim for the larger good

त्यजेदेकं कुलस्यार्थे ग्रामस्यार्थे कुलं त्यजेत् ।
ग्रामं जनपदस्यार्थे ह्यात्मार्थे पृथिवीं त्यजेत् ॥

Transliteration:
tyajedekaṃ kulasyārthe grāmasyārthe kulaṃ tyajet ।
grāmaṃ janapadasyārthe hyātmārthe pṛthivīṃ tyajet ॥

Meaning:
Give up one person for the sake of the lineage;
For the sake of a village, a lineage can be given up.
Give up a village for the benefit of the region;
For the sake of the soul, give up the pleasures of the earth.

Three different sources are listed for this quote:
Maha Bharata Adi. 115. 36 ; Sabha. 61. 11
Hitopadeśa, Mitralābha
Chanakya Neeti, Neeti 3 Rule 10

Life is precious, don’t waste it

जन्मेदं वन्ध्यतां नीतं भवभोगोपलिप्सया ।
काचमूल्येन विक्रीतः हन्त चिन्तामणिर्मया ॥

शान्तिशतक

Transliteration:
janmedaṃ vandhyatāṃ nītaṃ bhavabhogopalipsayā ।
kācamūlyena vikrītaḥ hanta cintāmaṇirmayā ॥

śāntiśataka

Meaning:
This birth went futile in worldly indulgences.
Alas! A cintāmaṇi has been traded at the price of glass.

Remember, your own soul knows the reasons why you were born in this life. It knows what you need to accomplish in this birth. As a soul, you know what obstacles and challenges you need to face and overcome to grow stronger and conquer past karmic patterns through fulfilling your chosen dharma.

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

Chit-Jada Granthi

In the Verse 24 of “Reality in Forty Verses”, Ramana Maharshi says that neither the insentient body says “I”, nor the sentient, self-effulgent, ever-present Consciousness says “I”. Between them, the Ahamkara (ego-self) rises as “I” and ties both of them together and it is known as Chit-Jada Granthi (Sentient-Insentient Knot). This knot needs to be cut using Viveka, the sword of reasoning and discrimination. The non-emergence of the egoistic “I” is the pure state of being. To destroy the ego, the source of its emergence has to be sought by digging deep and turning the mind inwards. Then the Ahamkara (ego-self) subsides and the experience of the Self emerges as the real “I” – “I” – “I”.

Arun Kumar, Author of “Pearls of Vedic Wisdom to Succeed” on Quora

Last poem of Hoshin

Hoshin dictated:

I came from brilliancy.
And return to brilliancy.
What is this?

The poem was one line short of the customary four, so the disciple said: “Master, we are one line short.”

Hoshin, with the roar of a conquering lion, shouted “Kaa!” and was gone.


Before I was born, there was nothing that distinguished me from the galaxy and after I die there will be nothing to distinguish me from it. But now there is something that separates us, but I don’t really know what it is.


Stephen Damon, a Soto Zen priest who leads a small Zen group in San Francisco writes:

“After settling into a daily home practice and attending monthly one-day sittings for a while I began to sense that the great question of life and death was my question. The question became my “center of gravity” around which the rest of my life—in the Zendo and out in the streets—revolved. Most important, I felt an urgency, not to find an answer but to become more intimate with question, until I became the question. In a very deep sense, I was no longer “Stephen” or “Korin” or a Buddhist, I was the question of what is life and death. Over the years this question has deepened and broadened to include everything. And every time I take my seat at home or in a zendo and every time I pick up a sutra or any book on Zen I am that question.

If a book does not offer a response to the question I file it away, but if it does offer something, or if it does open me up to a place in myself that can respond to the question I keep it close by to come back to often. I will keep Hoshin’s poem in my mind and heart always. While the three lines are powerful, what is even more powerful is the emptiness of the fourth line. Every Buddhist teaching is incomplete and must be completed in oneself. Hoshin’s poem, while eloquent in its succinctness was incomplete until he yelled “KAA!” Perhaps, a death poem should be only three lines to be completed by an expression of a person’s last moment. Some may yell out something, and some may gently and peacefully breathe out one last breath and watch it blend with the air around him or her—into the Great Silence behind everything.”

“As Terence McKenna observed, “Modern science is based on the principle: ‘Give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.’ The one free miracle is the appearance of all the mass and energy in the universe and all the laws that govern it in a single instant from nothing.”

Rupert Sheldrake, Morphic Resonance: The Nature of Formative Causation

If I don’t care for myself, who else will?
If I don’t invest in myself, who else will?
If I don’t create a life I want to live, who else will?
If I don’t pause and reflect on my current state, who else will?
If I don’t develop patience, stillness, and peace in myself, who else will?

Dipanshu Rawal, Quora user

Inwardly be free of all hopes and desires, but outwardly do what needs to be done. Without hopes in your heart, live as if you were full of hopes. Live your heart now cool and now warm, just like every one else. Inwardly give up the idea ‘I am the doer’, yet outwardly engage in all activities. This is how to live in the world, completely free from the least trace of ego.

-Maharamayana

A poor devotee points to the sky and says, ‘God is up there’. An average devotee says, ‘God dwells in the heart as the Inner Master’. The best devotee says, ‘God alone is and everything I perceive is a form of God’.

– Ramakrishna