The Universe in a Hairtip

Chapter 30 of the Flower Garland Sutra, which I mentioned in a recent post, has a lot of powerful imagery relating to the inter-connectedness of all things.  The idea is that all phenomena exist without an independent, static self (also known as “no-self” in Buddhism), but the Flower Garland Sutra takes this to the logical extreme and shows that all things that all phenomena relate to all other phenomena.

The popular analogy is the Jeweled Net of Indra.  According to legend, in the palace of Indra, king of the gods in India, has a net with magnificent jewels sown into each knot, and this net hangs from within the palace, such that the light from one jewel is reflected in all other jewels, and their light is in turn reflected and so on.

The Flower Garland Sutra similar describes the same thing in Chapter 30:

Reducing a land to atoms,
Those atoms are measureless, untold;
Boundless lands, as many as these atoms,
Are gathered on a single hairtip.

These lands, unspeakable,
Are together on a hairtip without crowding;
Without causing the hairtip to expand,
Those lands all gather there.

The lands therein
Retain their original form, without mixup;
Just as one land does not disorder the others,
The same is true of all lands.

The realms in space, without bound,
All are arrayed on a hairtip;
These lands on a hairtip
Enlightening beings [bodhisattvas] can tell of in an instant.

The point here, in keeping with the overall theme of the Flower Garland Sutra, is how all things related to all other things, and by extension, all things (both physical and abstract) come into being through other things. Thus, even a single hairtip is said to “contain” all the infinite number of Buddha lands by virtue of this interdependence.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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