World of Facts - World of Possibilities --- read during SUFI SEMINAR IN THE DR -
THE WORLD OF FACTS THE WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES
extract from reading,
There are two worlds. One is the world of facts and the other the world of possibilities. In the world of facts, there are no possibilities; in the world of possibilities, there are no facts.
As I shall have much to say about "possibility" this evening, I want you to realize that I mean by this word something that really exists and is present here and now, even though we can neither see nor touch nor even think about it or know it. The world of possibilities is as real as the world of facts. Indeed, as I shall try to show you later, it is a more substantial world than that of facts, both because it does not change and disappear, as facts do, and also because it is much richer in what it contains.
It is very hard to grasp the truth. that possibilities exist independently of facts and can even have power over facts. Science, for example, thinks that it studies only facts, but it cannot get away from possibilities. In one most remarkable branch of science in which great discoveries have been made during the past century, that is, embryology, everything points to the presence of an invisible and even unknowable factor that determines the way in which a plant or an animal shall be formed from the seed. This is the pattern of its possibilities, and that pattern is always present. Its effect can be studied quite concretely and with much precision in the development of an embryo. It is through this pattern alone that damaged tissues or even complete organs can be renewed. It is this pattern that keeps each plant or animal within the framework of its own species. If we try to think of this pattern in terms of "fact," we get lost, but we are equally lost if we think of it as something immaterial, a mere "tendency," or, as some people might call it, a spiritual or vital agency. The pattern of possibilities is as substantial as the body, but it is made, as I said last week, of potential energy, instead of energy in visible form. Therefore, when I speak of two worlds, I speak of two quite real substantial modes of existence, very different from one another but each equally necessary for us to understand. Between the two, there is a border, a frontier, and across this frontier there can be an exchange, and it is across this frontier also that "yes" and "no" can really mean something. What does it mean to be in the presence of possibilities? I said, that I can choose between turning my head to the right or to the left, if it is possible for me to do either. But when is this possible? It is possible when I am aware that something is pulling me this way and something is pulling me that way. If I am not aware of it, what will happen has nothing to do with me, it has only to do with the working of my functions. I am there to the extent that I experience the presence of possibilities.
Is it one thing to be aware and another thing to have possibilities? Probably you would answer "Yes, one can be conscious without possibilities, and there can be possibilities without consciousness." But I say no, it is not like that. There is no separation between consciousness and possibilities. Consciousness is indistinguishable from the presence of possibilities. Unconsciousness is the same thing as the absence of possibilities.
When I am asleep, I cannot, except to a very limited extent, adapt myself to what is going on around me. My possibilities contract themselves until they become just my vegetative existence. My body continues to function as an organism. That very contraction of possibilities is the change of consciousness. As the possibilities withdraw, consciousness withdraws with them. When possibilities open again, consciousness reappears. This is something that you have to observe and verify for yourself because you have probably been accustomed to using the word "consciousness" as if it meant "knowing" what is going on. If you look. more carefully, you can see that we can know what is going on and yet not be conscious. We do things all the time that would not be possible if we did not know what is going on, and yet we are not conscious of them. This is a simple truth that we can all of us verify as often and as thoroughly as we please, and we should do so because it is the way to understanding something that is most important for us. In Gurdjieff's language, it means that we are "asleep" and that we live our lives almost entirely in "sleep."
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