Public Citizen ~ Larry Barnett

Larry Barnett Larry Barnett lives in Sonoma where he was elected to three terms on the City Council and served twice as Mayor. He currently serves on Sonoma's Planning Commission. He has been married for 43 years, has two daughters and three grandchildren.


The Universe of Yes

Posted on April 19, 2022 by Larry Barnett

We live in an affirmative universe, the Universe of Yes. The presence of matter is itself evidence, as are all the other forces and fields we’ve discovered. The universe only says “yes,” even to our ability to say “no.” It doesn’t get more affirmative than that.

I wrote an essay a couple of months ago about the power of No, and some readers responded in support of Yes. They felt I had not given enough credit to Yes, but in the Universe of Yes what would I have to add? The case is closed; Yes always wins, it’s the nature of existence.

The Universe of Yes is like a light with no off switch, it’s always on. What looks like off, what we call death – of people, plants, animals, and stars – just looks like going; there’s no alternative to the Universe of Yes. Matter we call dead and energy that seems to disappear get recycled in an endless loop of transformations invisible to us. There’s no escape from the Universe of Yes.

Life rides the endless the wave of Yes. From the simplest, primitively willful viral protein to the full-tilt, willful complexity of sentient beings, the Universe of Yes animates all, and enjoys infinite time to do so. For this reason, I believe that life in all forms pervades the universe, an inherent expression of Yes rather than emergent. So too of consciousness, for there clearly is a force at work behind the ability of the various forms of matter to organize themselves. I’m not speaking of self-consciousness, but of something far deeper from which self-consciousness arises.

We, and all living things are, after all, comprised of seemingly inert elements such as iron, potassium, magnesium, hydrogen, oxygen, etc., and this panoply of elemental combinations is powered by the Universe of Yes. “Yes” you are gold, says the universe, and gold obeys. The animation of inert elements into living tissue and ultimately thoughts about what to eat for dinner is in one sense a miracle, and in another, simply what Yes does. In the Universe of Yes all things are possible.

The illusion of the power of No is uniquely human. This is not to say that other living things don’t attempt to bend the Universe of Yes. Invested with Yes, living things become their own universe, empowered with self-yesness. The universe says “Yes, you will be recycled,” and life replies, “Not if I can stop it.” The clever inventiveness of human beings in trying to stop the Universe of Yes is quite impressive, even if in the end an utter failure. The Universe of Yes is absolute and must be obeyed.

Like riding the current in a swiftly flowing stream, it’s easier to paddle in accord with the Universe of Yes than to oppose it. You know, going with the flow. Sometimes that flow takes us to places we don’t want to go, and at that point we need to examine our own intentions and motivation. Are we driven by attachments to outcome, grasping by ego, fear or loathing? Is it possible to let any and all of that opposition go and relax into the Universe of Yes?

I was deeply touched this week by a powerful decision. An acquaintance of mine was suffering the terrible pain of terminal cancer and openly embraced the Universe of Yes. “Thanks for all your love and support,” she posted on Facebook, “Goodbye.”

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