It seems the universe is in our own minds. It must be. How else could we determine ourselves to be at the center of it?
History and anthropology swell with a variety of origin stories that “explain” the universe. Most, if not all, give undue weight to our role in the narrative. This seems logical, when we’re the ones trying to explain why we exist. Why not devise a story that lands us a protagonist role?
The stories humans create to make sense of the world help us thrive. Those stories can give structure and shape to our lives that tap into our drive to stay alive. The explanations help our minds make sense of our drives.
The stories also shape our actions and decisions. And when they start to do that, it’s crucial that we acknowledge the fictional element in our stories. Otherwise, we might end up thinking it’s righteous to throw all “witches” (distrusted women) onto a pyre. We might end up thinking that it’s our providence to excise all “oddities” in nature. We might end up thinking it’s our job to decide what’s “odd”.
Guess what? History shows that when it’s time to decide what’s odd, we look to ourselves to establish what is normal. That appears, perhaps regrettably, just to be how our minds work.
Thankfully, our minds have many modes of activity. Enough people have stepped out of the tales of their time to query the hard evidence they uncover. We don’t call evidence “hard” because it’s solid. We call it hard because we can trust it. And because even though it is definitive, it can still be difficult to make sense of what it means.
Just like sutra 4.16 tells us (with a little tongue in cheek, to be sure):
Sutra 4.16: If an object were dependent on only one mind for its existence and were not perceived by that mind, would it then exist? Translation by Kofi Busia
And the object is not dependent on a single consciousness; this is unprovable; besides, what could [such an imaginary object possibly] be? Translation by Georg Feuerstein
None of us is at the center of the universe, and thus neither is humanity. Maybe in accepting this, each of us can begin the hard work of looking at the facts. Those who’ve dedicated their lives to looking not only at the truth of themselves but also of the greater universe, have indeed uncovered explanations at once less complicated and more complex than previously imaginable.
The yarns we spin, no matter how valuable they may be to us, can’t support our own truth –nor the universe’s. Though we may imagine ourselves to be at the center of the universe, it continues to exist with or without us.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.