Forging the Spirit through Climate Change Practice

From Green Buddhism: Practice and Compassionate Action in Uncertain Times by Stephanie Kaza © 2019 by Stephanie Kaza. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.shambhala.com 

Master Fa Tsang had been summoned by the empress of China to explain the nature of reality. Though the empress had heard a number of lectures on Buddhist philosophy from the esteemed teacher, she had not yet reached true understanding. Sensing the need to point beyond the limiting nature of words, the master set up a display in one of the royal halls, placing mirrors on the ceiling, floor, and all four walls. In the center he arranged a small Buddha with a candle. When he brought the empress in to see the multiple reflected images, she attained instant enlightenment. Perceiving direct insight, she realized that the Buddha’s energy/mind is infinite in its manifestations throughout space and time.

Indra’s net, a similar teaching metaphor from the seventh century, also points to the multifaceted nature of the universe as core understanding. In the Hua Yen school of Chinese Buddhism, key texts emphasize that the mind of every being is identical with the mind of the Buddha, and that enlightenment depends on this recognition. Spiritual practice is grounded in this insight as the source of all ethics and virtuous action. To picture the net, imagine an enormous web of linked lines stretching horizontally across the vast universe. Now add a second web of similar scope and shape stretching across space vertically. Holding this structure in your mind, add yet another web at each diagonal, observing the clarity and organization of these multiple overlapping nodes. Indra’s net consists of an infinite number of crisscrossing nets, with a jewel at every point of intersection. Each jewel has an infinite number of facets that reflect every other jewel in the net. A truly wondrous conception!

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