4. Who Are We?

baby cuddling puppies.jpg
The historical mission of our times is to reinvent the human —at the species level, with critical reflection, within the community of life-systems
— Father Thomas Berry

In general, we orient ourselves based on a creation story, a story that places us within the Universe and imbues our life with meaning and value. At moments of crises, we tend to question our creation story, if it ceases to explain the changed circumstances. In his recently published monograph, A New Story for a New Economy, David Korten outlined four contrasting creation stories conveying very different understandings of relationships, agency and meaning for human beings and our place in the Universe[1]:

"1. Distant Patriarch: My most important relationship is to a distant God who is Creation’s sole source of agency and meaning.

2. Grand Machine: I exist in a mechanistically interconnected cosmos devoid of agency and possessing no purpose or meaning.

3. Mystical Unity: Relationships, agency, and meaning are all artifacts of the illusion of separation; I am one with the timeless eternal One.

4. Living Universe: I am an intelligent, self-directing participant in a conscious, interconnected self-organizing cosmos on a journey of self-discovery toward ever-greater complexity, beauty, awareness, and possibility."


David Korten proposed that the Living Universe story become the common story that we must all embrace for our future evolution as a species.

However, in the Hindu perspective, all four of these creation stories are valid depending upon the spiritual orientation of the individual human being. In a dialogue related in the Hindu epic, Ramayana, God in the incarnation as Lord Rama, asks his devotee, Hanuman[2],

“What do you think of me?”

And Hanuman replies,

“As this body, I am your servant (Distant Patriarch Story or the Dwaita philosophy of Madvacharya[3]).

As this mind, I am a part of you (Living Universe Story or the Vishishtadvaita philosophy of Ramanuja[4]).

As this spirit, you and I are the same (Mystical Unity Story or the Advaita philosophy of Adi Shankara[5]).”


This is how the ancient Hindus reconciled different creation stories and incorporated them within their own lives. Indeed, since the Hindu Brahman is defined to animate each and every particle in the Universe, the Grand Machine creation story has validity as well. Now, even neuroscientists have confirmed that our thoughts and actions are not born of free will, just as predicted in the Grand Machine story[6].


Sailesh Rao

Dr. Sailesh Rao is an Electrical Engineer, systems specialist, Climate Healer, author of "Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies" and "Carbon Yoga: The Vegan Metamorphosis", and Executive Producer of "The Human Experiment", "Cowspiracy," "What The Health” and “A Prayer for Compassion.