By Bernie Glassman
Indra was an ancient king of India who thought a great deal of himself. One day he went to the royal architect and said that he wanted to leave a monument of himself, something which all people would appreciate. The king’s architect created an immense net which extended throughout all space and time. And the king’s treasurer placed a bright, shining pearl at each node of the net so that every pearl was reflected in every other pearl. And each single pearl, each person, each event, contains the whole of Indra’s Net, including all of space and time.
When we realize that we are all bright pearls in Indra’s Net, we see that within each one of us the whole body of the universe is contained. Since we are all already connected in Indra’s Net, there are no limits to the possibilities of connecting with other people in our lives and our work.
Still, it’s natural for most of us to begin “networking” with the people closest to our own interests and needs. Accountants network with other accountants, poets with other poets, and social activists with other social activists. This kind of networking certainly has its uses. It’s especially effective, for example, when we need help in solving a very difficult problem. But it is not a very effective overall strategy because it leads to a narrowing instead of a widening of your network. It results in ever diminishing returns. The tax accountants end up talking only to other tax accountants; the free verse poets end up talking only to other free verse poets; and the social activists of one school end up talking only to social activists of the same school.
When we network according to the vision of Indra’s Net, on the other hand, we begin by casting the widest possible net. We do this by defining our mission in the broadest possible way.
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