Welcome to Indra’s Net, an Experience
With “Indra’s Net” it is not my intention to reinvent the wheel. I know probably everything has been said that I will say. So why say it then? Because, it is how I am living those cliches or sayings. I have learned that a cliche stops being a cliche in life for me only when I have come to the conclusion for myself. For example, I know now what it takes to live One Day at a Time. That is not a cliche for me any longer as I once thought it was.
This is the journey of how such apothegms became important to me, enough to sit down and begin this meta-blog that I call “Indra’s Net, an Experience.” That experience for me has been my life and how I have lived it and what I have learned, and how I plan to implement those lessons in my life, living it, One Day at a Time.
Indra’s Net is a Buddhist concept, appropriated from the Vedic religion in that Indra, the Supreme deity of the Vedas, casts a net over Mount Meru, a symbol of the heavenly cosmos above the terrestrial realm. At each nexus of the net is a diamond, or some such precious gem, which reflects all other jewels simultaneously, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.
In Zen meditation, or Zazen, one asks the question, “Who am I?” over and over, until the statement truly arises, “I don’t know.” Only then can the reflection of the self, to Know Thyself, begin.
Who am I?
Who am I?
Who am I?
Who am I?
I don't know...
Greetings, my name is Robert, and I am sitting in a laundry mat, writing about my blog called Indra’s Net. Laundry mats are good places to meditate, read, write, or people watch. Today, while my clothes are drying, I saw two Thai young men come in and put a single baseball hat in a large dryer, put it in for eight minutes, and left. You see strange things in a laundry mat.
Twenty-one years ago, I wrote my first novel, Instant Karma Koffie in Austin, Texas, for the most part in stages each week while I did my laundry, usually in the middle of the night at the laundry mat on 38th street and Speedway, just north of The University of Texas at Austin’s campus. This novel was written when I had decided to “become a writer.” In addition, I wrote about my struggle with a difficult decision to stop competitive swimming at a very high level, as well as my love/hate relationship with America and a strong interest in Americans, at home and abroad. That becoming a writer is still in process, and this blog is the expression of that larger journey.
In a laundry mat, watching the spin cycle, I see the parallels to the concept of Samsara, or the eternal recurrence of life and death that we live each day, the topic of my second novel, Nirvana ad Nauseum, in which the characters live and die infinite lifetimes in a single day.
I wrote this after living a year in Belgium after undergraduate studies in English Literature and pursuing a PhD in Comparative Literature, studying several languages and philosophies, such as Sanskrit and Ancient Greek, in addition to ultimately publishing an academic book on James Joyce while I was a visiting professor at the Univesità di Bologna at Forlì in Italy.
My current project is Theodditty, in which I plan to bring together many of my philosophical inquiries together into a narrative. This is a work in progress whereas the other two novels I am merely editing for bringing them up to date. In it, I am looking at the relationship between the comic and the tragic, and how there can be "evil" in the world, if it is indeed, the best of all possible worlds.
A large part of my professional life with the Language Doc, my translation company has been spent as a teacher in the United States, in Belgium as a visiting Fulbright professor as well as a high school teacher at an international school, in Italy as a visiting professor, as a yoga teacher, a swim coach, a water polo coach, and soon I will be in Indian volunteering with younger children, teaching them English.
Having been living now in Antwerp, Belgium for the past three years, I will soon be making this two-month journey to India, a country that has captured my attention for a very long time and with which I have several affinities, though have not yet been. I relate to the teaching of the Buddha, perhaps the most of any philosophical or religious system I have examined, and for the most part a pacifist, respecting the political views of Gandhi, though also understanding that violence does occur in the world, and it is impossible to turn a blind eye to it. Philosophically, I am highly inclined towards the idea of Advaita Vedanta and Shri Shankaryacara's Vivekacudamani, the "Crown Jewel of Discrimination." I have practiced and taught Yoga for ten years, and after a disappointing lacuna in my life’s practice, have begun it in earnest again. As a teacher, perhaps one of the greatest influences on me are the discourses of Krishnamurti and the usage of the Socratic Method.
I am a proud father, a son, a brother, a friend, a lover, and I have been a husband. All of these diamonds make up part of “who I am,” and are reflected each day with everything that I do.
Not your “normal” blog, so if that is what you were expecting, you will be disappointed.
The philosophy behind this blog is simple: look at the similarities, not just at the differences. It is not about me, that is all I know, so that is who I write about, but there is a part of each of us in everyone.
This blog has is to pick and chose from as some pages may be of no interest, while others may reflect issues or thoughts in your own life. Growing up, I loved the original “Cave of Time” book in which you choose your own adventure. Sometimes you end up being eaten by a monster, other times, your become a king or queen of your very own fantasy land. Life is full of such adventures.
One Day at a Time, some diamonds will shine brightly, others may not.
Welcome to Indra’s Net.
And remember, you may leave if you wish, but I hope that you may stick around for a while.
Indra's Net is a collection of reflections, incidents, anecdotes, humor, satire, fiction, non-fiction, and lots of other writing knick-knacks. Feel free to browse around. Hopefully something will grab your attention.
This page is the clearing house for daily posts on the individual blogs.
The center column are thematic "meta" blogs, with links to individual blogs. Or, you can access the individual blogs directly on the left-hand column.