“If you’re invested in security and certainty,
you are on the wrong planet.” 
– Pema Chödrön


Indra’s Net and Our Interconnectedness – Liên Shutt

Apr 23, 2023

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Rev. Liên Shutt shares thoughts on how to ‘be with’ suffering, such as the harm brought about by climate change.

Liên shares an approach to reframing the 4 Noble Truths as a restorative model for suffering and harm reduction. She describes the Eightfold Path in terms that are actionable and active rather than passive.

Reframing our view in more holistic terms, we can consider Indra’s Net described in the Flower Ornamental sutra. It is a representation of the cosmos, similar to an infinitely large spider’s web, with each living being represented as a multi-faceted jewel at the intersections of the threads, thus connected to and also reflecting all of the other jewels.

Often we over-emphasize the individual jewels and ignore the net of interconnectedness. A jewel may shine so brightly that it obscures the other jewels, or use up so many resources that it swells and weighs down the net itself, perhaps even to the point of breaking. Focusing on the net of interconnectedness rather than the individuals, we can look at how we can restore the connections between us and the well-being of the collective.
Liên Shutt (she/they) is a priest lineage holder in the Shunryu Suzuki tradition. Born to a Buddhist family in Vietnam, she received her meditation training in the Insight and Soto Zen traditions in the U.S., Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. She was a founding member of the Buddhists of Color in 1998 and currently is the guiding teacher of Access to Zen, an inclusive, anti-oppression sangha and non-profit in the SF Bay Area. She lives on Ohlone land, currently called San Francisco, with her partner, exploring waterways and forests as often as they can. Visit AccessToZen.org for ways to connect and practice together.