Concepts | Indra’s Net

One of a number of new graphics designed to explain core concepts used in the forthcoming sf and fantasy books by Jake Jackson, particularly concerning the beginnings of the universe, and notions of time and space.

These illustrations show three different views of the same concept, which is time as a net, with nodes (time events) strung as knots between ropes, connected above and below.

This dynamic view of time is based on the Ancient Buddhist notion of Indra’s Net, and functions as a metaphor for the transcendental nature of existence. Each node, or jewel is connected, ultimately, with every other node. I use this concept as an intrinsic element of the expanding universe, maintaining the connections of the once super-dense universe, so that even as all matter expands outwards the connections between all elements remain in place. The idea of a net, which can be folded, stretched, added to, allows me to explore time travel between the time events, which, in being connected across all points, from the beginnings of the universe and beyond, facilitates an ever-shifting mode of time travel which undermines our perception of time as a progression of events.

The metaphor of Indra’s Net, in Mahayana Buddhism offers an infinite net of pearls strung across the skies, over the Palace of Indra. To peer into the eye of any one pearl is to see the reflections of all other pearls, thus connecting all points of the net. The net is the universe, the palace is heaven (or at least an eternal dwelling place of living things), in Vedic Hindu scripts Indra is close to the Odin or Thor in Norse mythology and the Zeus of the Greeks. He is a storm-bringer, war-monger, defeater of evil, and defender of all living things. Buddhism, born out of Hinduism took a more philosophical view of Indra, and used the story to speak of interconnectedness and the unity of existence, beyond the transient, temporal homes of our physical bodies.

There is a concept in quantum theory called Hadron’s Bootstrap, which some (including  Fritjof Capra in his The Turning Point) have argued is a modern version of the ancient notion of Indra’s Net. There’s so much to say about this I’ll need to revisit in more depth, in later posts.