The story of Fa-tsang, revealing the Universe to Empress Wu

November 01, 2021

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 interrelatedness, of the relationship of the one and the 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 center 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 10 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 other?”

Fa-tsang answered, “Just watch, Your Majesty, how each mirror not only reflects the one flame in the center, each mirror also reflects the reflections of the flame in all the other mirrors until an infinite number of flames fill them all. All these reflections are mutually identical; in a sense they are interchangeable, and in another sense, each one exists individually. This shows the true relationship of each being too its neighbor, 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 multidimensional 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.

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 our mirrored in this little sphere. How 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 the past, present and future. But alas, this is a dynamic process that must be grasped on an entirely different level . . .”

Osho gave a beautiful commentary, the second part of which carries the fragrance of Jiddu Krishnamurti, because of his choice of expression:

"Nothing exists independent of the whole. Everything is interrelated, interconnected, and interdependent. We as individuals are part of the whole, not separate from it. What we each see is slightly different because we live in different realities colored by our past experiences, what we’ve been exposed to, survived, endured, been taught, accepted as truth, and so on. As a result, we never see things as “THEY” are, but as “WE” are. Therefore “reality” is subjective at best because no one else sees the universe through “our” eyes, which as was explained earlier, have a bias. Though we all come from the same source no two people are living in the same reality. Our realities merely overlap. This is why relationships can be such a difficult undertaking. How arduous of a task it is to get someone to see the world through our eyes, share our experiences, and view life through the lens of our thoughts, perspectives, feelings, and opinions, all of which were formed through countless experiences they’ve never had."

Author: Vasil Stoyanov
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