Everything is a Part of Itself; We are a Part of the Universe

A few months ago, I listened to one of Alan Watts‘s lectures, where he taught me the concept of how every single human is a part of the universe, and therefore also equal to the universe. The universe exists in its entirety, and it is out of the universe that a human comes from. I remember how I couldn’t stop thinking about how true it was. 

We Are a Part of The Universe

It’s interesting because, in our introspective minds and consciousness, we experience ourselves as distinct from everything around us. It is why we can feel so alone and isolated. We experience ourselves as separate parts of the whole (the universe and everything in it).

As mentioned in an earlier article, I enjoy the metaphor of asking the question: 

“If you take out a drop of water from the ocean, is it no longer a part of the ocean? And if you were to drop it back in, would it once again become a part of the ocean?“

For me, that metaphor can be implied in humans as well.

First, we have the whole of everything (the universe). And, out of the universe, a human individual can start to exist. Is it no longer a part of the universe? What about when this human ceases to exist? The energy and matter that held up this human body and mind are resolved back into the environment. Is it not similar to that of the water droplet?

Everything Is a Part of Itself – Reflexivity Axiom in Philosophy

I was reading Giulio Tononi’s article “The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness; An Outline”, and the theory of reflexivity axiom was very hastily mentioned. But it stuck by me because my brain immediately connected it to what Alan Watts had mentioned in his lecture.

In philosophy, there’s a theory called Mereology, which is the theory of parthood relations. It deals with the questions of: 

What is the relations of part to whole? 

What is the relations of part to part within the whole?

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

There’s a lot of axioms and logical calculations to this, that I don’t want to dive too deep into. But, the main point is that from logical reasoning, the theory states that “part” stands for partial ordering (reflexive, transitive, and antisymmetric relation). The relevant axiom in this topic is the reflexive axiom.

The reflexive axiom states: Everything is a part of itself.

Just as Alan Watts said, that every human, animal, object, etc, is the universe. The universe is what everything in it amounts to (this is the “official” definition of the universe).

The universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy.


As mentioned in earlier writings, I get very excited when I find very clear logical reasonings to theories that I’ve also found in spiritual teachings. I highly enjoy reading spiritual concepts, because it is mind-opening, but at the same time, I’m also a person very grounded in science and rationality. So, for me, finding the science and logic behind spirituality is nice, as it allows me to further entertain thoughts that I otherwise would’ve dismissed as a nice fantasy, but nothing more.

A Beautiful Thought

All in all, I think it’s a very beautiful and sobering notion that we, every single human, and animal, and inanimate object, is the universe. And we are always a part of the whole. Isn’t it a powerful thought and feeling? To let oneself feel as if we are the universe. It is one of the few thoughts that really makes me appreciate my existence.

This thought also helps me when I feel lonely, it reminds me that I am not that distinct and isolated as I may feel. The feeling of loneliness comes from my mind, and it is in a way an illusion, caused by expectations and my ego. Sometimes, allowing myself to really feel into this thought, takes away my entire feeling of loneliness, and I find the beauty in all the things around me. To think that every tree, bird, book, and drop of water is the universe, immediately brings me to a mindful and aware state of mind.

Recommended: Life is Not a Race, It’s an Experience

Wendy Zhou

UX/UI designer from Sweden. I write about design, tech, side projects, personal finance and cyberpunk. Contact: wendyzhou.design@gmail.com

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