“You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.” ~Denis Waitley
Claudius Ptolemy, a first century mathematician and astronomer, imagined the universe as existing in concentric crystal spheres. The earth, residing in the center, was surrounded by eight nested spheres. One sphere held all the stars and the other seven held each of the seven known planets of the day.
The only way the spheres were observable is because they held something humans could see: stars or planets.
Flash forward fourteen hundred years, and Nicolaus Copernicus arrives on the scene with his telescope and an enquiring mind. Copernicus realized that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe and stars weren’t fixed in the firmament. So out goes the theory of the spheres and our centrality in all creation.
Or does it?
Ptolemy had an interesting idea. Applied literally, it fails. But applied as a metaphor, it rings true. How so?
We live our lives as within concentric crystal spheres. We can only feel the sphere we are in. Being crystal clear, we cannot see the spheres beyond the sphere that presently encompasses us.
Periodically in our lives we break out of a sphere. Our world expands and can never return to its past limitations. Everyone has mundane versions of these events: starting school, adolescence, graduating, getting a job, moving out on your own, marrying, becoming a parent…the list goes on. Each time our perspective not only changes, it grows larger.
These breakout events need not be associated with some societal rite of passage. Our awareness can break out of its present container at any time. It can break through many spheres in one event. There is no end. Wherever you are now, there is more, much more for you to experience and comprehend.
So how can you do it? After all, you can only see the sphere you are in right now. The rest are out there in the realm of what you don’t know you don’t know. It’s not merely ignorance. After all, you know you don’t know how to fly a jet. (For you pilots, fine, you know how to fly a jet. But you know you don’t know how to perform a heart bypass. Stick with me here.) This is about the ignorance you aren’t even aware of yet.
If you listen in silence, you can come to know of your ignorance. If you embrace humility, you may see new things for the first time. Listening and humility are the stars in the firmament that allow to realize the presence of a sphere beyond you.
Furthermore, new tools arise. One day you may discover a “telescope” that gives you an entirely new perspective on existence. It might be a book, it might be a mentor, it might be a single saying that reorders your world view. Like Copernicus, it’s not just the tool that will matter but the enquiry that you make with it.
“It turns out you are the center of the universe after all.” click to tweet
Wherever things stand now, there will always be more for you. Your job is to see your sphere, then free yourself from it. Then do it again. Because, in your existence, you are the center of the universe.
What spheres have you passed through? Tell us about it by commenting below.
Photo credit: Stéphane Picot