The World Is Yourself

“Let’s think, here we are in the middle of New York City. And you know what happens when New York City goes wrong. When there’s a subway strike, or when the power fails, or when the sewers back up, your life is in danger. Because you are not only constituted by the bloodstream of your veins and the communications network of your nervous system. An extension of your bloodstream, and of your alimentary canal, and of your nervous system, is all the communication systems of this city.” -Alan Watts

The photo above is just one of a seemingly endless list of examples of fractalization in everyday life. A fractal is the phenomenon by which a part of a figure is identical to or representative of the whole figure. Look at a photograph of a microchip, and then at a satellite image of a city zoomed-out. They look quite similar. Look at a tree’s roots, and then at an aerial photograph of a river. The list goes on.

The greatest delusion of Western thinking has always been the pitting of man against nature. The biggest delusion has been pretending that we are external actors on the world, that the world belongs to us. “The world is yours.” It’s not; you are an excretion of the world, but also the world itself. You’re not even a product of it; you are in it and of it. Functions of your body mirror larger functions in nature, and vice-versa.

Perceiving oneself as being outside nature induces a profound sense of dread and anxiety. It makes you feel like an alien, never fully in tune with your surroundings. These reactions loom in the background of every Western philosophical movement, all of which end up being explorations of the “purpose” of living in a “purposeless” world, of exploring semantic dead-ends, finding contentment, or eschewing religion through logic. Logic only goes so far, however, since nature does not function in a fully rational way. Fundamental Western philosophical questions are rooted in a false sense of self.

You don’t have a purpose any more than the universe at large has a purpose. But you cannot be divorced from that of which you’re a part. You’re in it, whether you like it or not. And so nothing that happens is artificial, nothing is unnatural. Things come and go, your mind shifts, and life goes on. The world existed before your birth into human form, and it’ll continue to exist afterwards.

We can try to move away from thinking about the world as individuals, or as agents of change. We are less agents than we are the changes themselves, and our internal struggles represent the age-old struggles of nature. Let thoughts and actions flow through you rather than around you; to resist them is to resist your true nature.