There’s an ancient Jewish teaching that if you’ve saved one person’s life, you’ve saved an entire world. Why? Because for that person, if they’re gone, the entire world is gone.

What’s your world made of? Take the sum total of everything that has ever influenced or affected you. That’s your world. Take the sum total of everything that affects the other guy. That’s the other guy’s world. Take everything that affects a cow, and that is the world of the cow. Or even an axe. When you pick one up, that sharp gadget is not just part of your world, you’ve made yourself part of the axe world. The same thing with anything and everything.

That’s a very different view of reality than we’re used to. It means that each person or thing really is the entire world.

It goes further than that:

Who sits at the center of your world? You do. Who sits at the center of the other guy’s world? He does (or she does). And the cow, too, sits at the center of its world. When you walk into someone else’s life, be aware that in this world, someone else sits at the center.

And yet we are all in the same world.

That sounds pretty wild, because if you or I would design a world, we wouldn’t do it that way. We would have one center and spread things out from there.

But this world was created by an infinite consciousness. Kabbalists call it the Infinite Light. When infinity generates a finite world, that world can have infinite centers—one for every existence within it.

You can’t really wrap your head around the idea of infinity, but you can get a handle on what it’s like to see our world from a different dimension:

Think of the surface of a sphere. Now ask: Which point is the center of the surface of a sphere? Well, any point you want. And every point. So too, each one of us is the center of all of reality.

Knowing this, you’ll realize that nothing in your world could possibly be without meaning. If you see it, hear about it or even just know about it, it’s telling you something. And you need to do something with that.

Which explains something taught by Maimonides, a Jewish teacher who lived in Egypt 800 years ago. “See yourself as though the entire world is held in balance,” he taught “and any one deed you do could tip the scales for you and the entire world to the good.”

Now that makes a lot of sense. When you’re faced with an opportunity to do something that could benefit the world—or do the opposite—everything in your world is pulling or pushing in some direction. A decision of this sort means you’re now in the driver’s seat. It’s your turn to turn to be the active party in your universe and do something with everything else.

So that when you say, “I’m not taking the easy way out. I’m not following the flock. I’m going to do what’s right!”—you’re carrying an entire world along with you.

As another ancient Jewish teaching goes, “Every person has to say, ‘The whole world was created with me in mind.’” Meaning, for me to tip the scales. For me to make the entire world the way it was meant to be.

Because you are the world.

Based on Reshimot, 44.