In the original Star Trek series (a.k.a. TOS), there’s an infamous episode1 in season 3 where Spock wears a new pin to symbolize the Vulcan philosophy of I.D.I.C., or “infinite diversity [in] infinite combinations”. Evidentially, it was Gene Roddenberry’s attempt at a cash grab by promoting a new product, but the catch phrase has taken on a life of its own in the Star Trek universe. You can see references to it in other Star Trek series, especially in the classic Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode featuring a Vulcan baseball team.

To its credit, you get to see Spock sport a neat visor though…

The interesting thing about this philosophy, isn’t just the contribution it makes to the Star Trek universe, it has some interesting groundings in Buddhism as well.

Consider this phrase by the famous Indian Buddhist Nagarjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE):

sarvaṃ ca yujyate tasya śūnyatā yasya yujyate
sarvaṃ na yujyate tasya śūnyaṃ yasya na yujyate

All is possible when emptiness is possible.
Nothing is possible when emptiness is impossible.

Quoted from the book, Nagarjuna’s Middle Way, translated by Mark Siderits and Shoryu Katsura 

Much of Buddhism, especially Mahayana Buddhism, is grounded in the notion that all things, both concrete and abstract, arise through outside causes and conditions, and thus have a contingent existence. This is why all things are fluid, and constantly in flux. It’s also why, as Nagarjuna notes, that all things are possible.

Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, in other words.

1 Among the episode’s many other problems was the creepy way the male cast of the Enterprise are constantly talking about Diana Muldaur’s character’s beauty. TOS always had a problem with sexism, but this was over the top and creepy. It’s not a fault of the actors, just the terrible writing and direction that plagued season 3.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: