Once the Empress Wu asked the Master Fa Tsang if he could possibly give her a practical and simple demonstration of the principle of cosmic inter-relatedness, of the relationship of the One and many, of God and his creatures, and of the creatures one to another.
Fa Tsang went to work and appointed one of the palace rooms so that eight large mirrors stood at the eight points of the compass. Then he placed two more mirrors, one on the ceiling and one on the floor. A candle was suspended from the ceiling in the centre of the room. When the Empress entered, Fa Tsang lit the candle. The Empress cried, ’How marvelous! How beautiful!’. Fa Tsang pointed at the reflection of the flame in each one of the ten mirrors and said, ’See Your Majesty, this demonstrates the relationship of the One and the many, of God to each one of his creatures.’
The Empress said, ’Yes, indeed, Master. And what is the relationship of each creature to the others?’ Fa Tsang answered, ’Just watch, Your Majesty, how each mirror not only reflects the one flame in the centre, each mirror also reflects the reflections of the flame in all the other mirrors, until an infinite number of flames fills them all. All these reflections are mutually identical; in a sense they are interchangeable, in another sense each one exists individually. This shows the true relationship of each being to its neighbour, to all that is. Of course, I must point out, Your Majesty,’ Fa Tsang went on, ’that this is only a rough, approximate, and static parable of the real state of affairs in the universe. For the universe is limitless and in it all is in perpetual multi-dimensional motion.’ Then the Master covered one of the infinite number of reflections of the flame and showed how each apparently insignificant interference affects the whole organism of our world. Kegon expresses this relationship by the formula:
One In All; All In One; One In One; All In All
Then Fa Tsang, in order to conclude his command performance, held up a small crystal ball and said, ’Now watch, Your Majesty, how all these large mirrors and all the myriad forms they reflect are mirrored in this little sphere. See, how in the ultimate reality the infinitely small contains the infinitely large, and the infinitely large the infinitely small, without obstruction! Oh, if only I could demonstrate to you the unimpeded mutual interpenetration of time and eternity, of past, present and future. But alas, this is a dynamic process that must be grasped on a different level...’
Man is not an island; nothing is. All is interrelated, all is interdependent. Independence – the very word – is false, so is dependence. The reality is interdependence. Everything is so deeply connected with everything else that nothing can exist apart. If you can understand a small rose flower in its totality, root and all, you will have understood the whole cosmos, because the whole cosmos is involved in that small rose flower. In the smallest leaf of grass all is contained.
But remember, as Fa Tsang said to the Empress: All illustrations, all descriptions are static, and existence is a dynamic flux. It is a river. Each thing goes on moving into each other thing. It is impossible to draw lines where one thing ends and another begins; there are no demarcating lines – there cannot be. So all distinctions are only for practical purposes, they have no existential value. This is the first thing to be understood. This is very fundamental to the Taoist alchemy. Once this is understood, then the whole alchemy of Taoism becomes comprehensible. Then the lower can be transformed into the higher, because the lower contains the higher already. The baser metal can bet ransformed into gold because nothing is separate – the baser contains the gold already.
As above, so below; as below, so above.
1. The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1 – Osho
3. The Buddhist Teaching of Totality: The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism By Garma C C Chang.
5. Fazang: The Holy Man – Jinhua Chen, University of British Columbia.