Indra's Net

By, 04/13/2007

One of the great mythic images of the near eastern traditions is Indra's Net. Indra, one of the chief deities of the Hindu faith is "he who gave being to the Sun and Morning, who leads the waters."* That is, Indra is the creator.

In one hand Indra holds a grand net, which he uses in his eternal battle between good and evil. At each connection of the net's strands is a jewel with many facets. The jewels shine in the sun of Indra's creation, and the light reflecting from each jewel spreads in rays, connecting the others in a vast array multivalent brilliance.

This net is the world, and we each are its jewels. What makes the world is a network of grand interconnectivity, whereby we reflect and reflect again ad infinitum the energies of the cosmos.

This is not just a beautiful metaphor.

Money, markets, economics, governments, civilizations…these do not exist in the world but through the interconnections of mankind. Nature doesn't know what a stock is, what a law is, what a state or country is. They are all our creations.

Physicist Richard Feynman was famous for saying that there is no such thing as psychology, math, and science. It's all just a very human way of dividing separate worldviews...but it's all talking about the same thing.

In a wonderful book entitled Investing: The Last Liberal Art, Richard Hangstrom urges us to see finance, markets, and economics "not as separate disciplines but as a part of a larger body of knowledge, one that also incorporates psychology, engineering, mathematics, physics, and the humanities."

Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway describes this method as a "latticework" for investing. He says, "You've got to have models in your head, and you've got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models."

The point is to align all the different modes of knowing to make vital interconnections between those models and see more clearly how the world works. A single lens, a single discipline, is far too myopic.

In this space we've written on many subjects. We've used history to draw comparisons, psychology to understand market sentiment, economic theories, mathematics and statistics to gauge economic health…even the economic notion of "balance" and "equilibrium" is a page out of biological and physical science.

A true investor, seeking to know what others don't, and further, to see the world differently than others, must embrace this idea. Particularly in this age of burgeoning information, mind-blowing new insights arrive daily that change our worldviews.

This makes capitalism is the only way forward. Market-based free economies are explicitly latticeworks of staggering breadth—bringing all points of view and opinion to the world in a system of unmatched complexity and interconnectivity. Here is an interesting juxtaposition of two views:

Underselling Capitalism
By John E. Tamny, TCS Daily

To reflect the light of Indra's jewels within his vast net means participating in many worldviews, and joining the interconnected economies of the world.

Have a great weekend.

• Notes and quote on Indra from the Rig-Veda.
• Link to Robert Hangstrom's "Investing: The Last Liberal Art.

*The content contained in this article represents only the opinions and viewpoints of the Fisher Investments editorial staff.

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*The content contained in this article represents only the opinions and viewpoints of the Fisher Investments editorial staff.


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