Thursday, 26 January 2012

Indra's Net: A Mystical Metaphor For Your Own Office

Indra’s net is a Buddhist metaphor, used to illustrate the interdependent nature of the universe. In the crudest sense it is a cosmic net of jewels, cast and thrown together into limitless expanse. Each jewel displays multiple sides, which reflect their own essence onto their neighbouring jewel, hence affecting their presentation within the nets interconnected continuum. The metaphor works on both a phenomenal and psychological level (which in their own right are inseparable from one another). I shall use the example of a man driving his car to illustrate both these factors of dependent origination. On a phenomenal level, there is no intrinsic existence in or of the car itself. The ‘car’ is a collection of parts, such as an engine, wheel and door, which are bound together for the purpose of transporting people. The car’s design is blue printed by various people and then manufactured through the machinery and natural resources required to produce the parts. The actual production of the vehicle could connect into an infinite number of sources and resources, hence ensuring that the ‘car’ is inseparable from the universe itself, and does not exist by way of its own nature. Bob, who is sat swearing to himself, is driving the car and he is late for a meeting. Bob’s psychological state is inseparable from its own continuum of existence. Bob has inherited an aggressive temper from being raised by a violent father. This psychological trigger has manifested in tandem with Bob being stuck in traffic, and also being under increasing pressure from his job. Once again, there is nothing inherent in Bob’s psychological state. The emotions are simply a series of ephemeral thoughts, memories and behavioural conditioning coming together at a specific time through certain causes and conditions.  In a mysterious way, we often live our lives like Bob, being magnetically drawn to people and situations that illuminate the conditioning of our psyche. Western culture seems to be less inclined in having individuals think analytically about their experience. Within this, we have come to resent the seeming ‘inconvenience’ of emotions such as depression and anxiety, which really are just expressions of the minds deeper nature trying to liberate itself from painful conditioning on both a personal and cosmic scale. It is down to the individual to ‘hear’ the messages of their own experience however.

Our work environment can be a wonderful opportunity for people to realise their psychological conditioning and take measures to rectify it if needed. Just like Indra’s net the office carries a myriad of styles and personalities reflecting upon one another. Within this there is likely to be emotional triggers elicited for individuals that will reflect back messages from their own minds mirror. For example we could have Ted, who was ruthlessly undermined as a child and has sought out positions of power to consciously undermine his feelings of inferiority. As a result of this he is unconsciously being controlling of his surroundings, as this is the only thing that makes him feel safe. Ted is the manager of Jenny, who was raised in a hippy commune and is naturally free spirited. Jenny has her own unique style of working, which leaves Ted frustrated and angry. Jenny is affected by the office and its formality. It carries none of the human freedoms of her upbringing, and she often becomes anxious in the meeting rooms. The sterile nature of the office seems unnatural to her, and this makes her more determined to be free spirited as an unconscious motivation to be close to her roots. This in turn exasperates Ted more who disciplines her endlessly. We can see that just like Indra’s net, the office, social conditioning and personality styles are inseparable in shaping the subjective experiences of the people in the environment. Sadly, this would typically lead individuals to enter power struggles with one another, to attempt to validate their unconscious needs and desires. The difficult emotions of Ted and Jenny’s experience however are acting as a psychological trigger for them to evolve into more conscious human beings. If Ted could look at his anger objectively he could begin to understand the needless suffering he is causing himself and others because of the unresolved issues of his past. In turn Jenny could better explore her own anxiety, to see if she needs to change her career or understand the potentially unrealistic idealism that was conditioned in her from her youth. Our minds are ‘speaking’ to us on a daily basis, guiding us to clear away unneeded trauma and suffering. The more conscious we become, the more the cosmic net of interdependence can benefit as we begin to offer increasingly clear reflections to our friends, neighbours and colleagues.

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