The Possibility of Possibility is Root of Existence

Updated: Nov 25, 2020


What’s possible exists as a possibility, yet its potential is concealed to us. However, we cannot know if it may ever occur. If it doesn't, it seems to us as if it had never existed. But if it does, occur it is revealed as it is manifested, and it seems as if it was meant to be.


What thus manifests seems to exist as reality, but only once we see it. However, it has always existed as a possibility. It was simply the unborn possibility that it was. Once it happens, it is remembered as the history of what actually happened. The story of the present is altered by it.

We only know what happens in a moment of "seeing." It is in that observing moment in which the experience of living occurs. What we live as life, is what we know we have lived. And our life seems to be an endless flow of moments that happen to us in a sequence that we call time. Our point of view causes us to see it this way. Thus the time for us is subjective. What Gurdjieff called, the "Unique Subjective"


What Do We Know About What Is Possible?

A possibility is a limitless domain of likely or unlikely, probable, or certain occurrences. It is the set that includes any and all possible happenings, as well as their real causes, and the consequential effects of those causes in their actions. Even for those possibilities that never happen, but simply could have happened, but didn't.

Without this domain of possibility, the reality could only be destiny. There could be no freedom, nor the ability to affect an outcome by one's will or actions. The universe in effect would be like a predictable machine and not the dynamic and adaptive world that it actually is. All of our history and all of our future arise from the domain of what is possible. Thus the sum of all possible futures, and all possible pasts, is unknowable, so far as human beings are concerned.

Perception of Spatial Reality and Time

We say that the universe we exist within has dimensions. We know about length, width, and height, which are the three dimensions of space. Geometry tells us that they derive from a point in space, and are created through movement. A point moving in space is a line. A line moving in space is a plane. A plane moving in space is a solid object. The evident movement of a solid object occurs in time.

Time is a dimension as well and is also made evident by movement. We call it the fourth dimension, and we experience it as passing time in the present moment. This fourth dimension is a movement between past, present, and future through which objects exist. This gives us the beginning, middle, and end of all things. So, when that movement stops, does time as well? The duration of time is very different for rock than it is for an amoeba, and likewise for a human being. With regard to the four known dimensions, one can describe death for a living being as a cessation of movement. An organism simply ceases to its self-generating action. But as far as we know, only human beings distinguish it.

Higher Dimensions

The human mind has distinctions of time, the fourth dimension, known as past, present, and future. Their existence we call eternity, which includes all time so far as we contemplate it. So at this particular moment, one can say that the future exists, but the exact future only as a possibility. Likewise, the past also exists, but only as tracing of what has already manifested, and is gone. Yet it still exists in this concept of eternity, despite the fact that only exists in memory. So the evident movement of time is an illusion. It merely seems to us that there is movement in time, but what we actually see is continuous within eternity itself. We perceive it in our reflection upon it, and in our observation of our experience in the present moment.

The fifth dimension is the continuous past, present and future, understood to occur and recur eternally and simultaneously in the present moment. It is the second and higher dimension of time. If you think of time as a time line linear presentation of eternal time, you might say that the fifth dimension of time is the eternal now. In the eternal now, past present and future are all happening now, and the distinction of time as passing is simply the human observation of time, perceiving it as appears to consciousness in the act of observing it in the eternal now.

Thus remains the problem of uncertainty. At any moment, different choices exist for living beings, and different probabilities exist for what is uncertain as possible futures in the world. However, all possible futures can be thought of, and likewise, all possible pasts seen from the visualized fifth-dimensional present moment are implicit. This is because causality always is evident in the flow of observations. Thus the eternal, simultaneous present moment, exists in a dimension of possibility". This sixth dimension is a domain of all possible cause, all possible effect, and therefore of all possible manifestation. It is also the third and final dimension of time. It lets us conceive of higher dimensional realities, and makes it possible to speculate or research into them through science.

Metaphysics of Time and the Mind


So, to the best of our understanding, the hierarchy of existence that exists must contain, three dimensions of time and three dimensions of space are all interpenetrating, and mutually dependent. This would be true at both the most macro and micro levels that we can observe in the universe. The spatial and material domain can only be observed depending on the perception of time. They are thus co-related, at least so far as consciousness is concerned. The lower dimension of space cannot exist in the mind, without the higher dimension of Time that co-arises with it. And likewise, the higher dimension of Time, cannot exist without the lower spatial and material dimension also existing such that a mind can perceive, construct, and cognize it in representation. Thus none of this is possible without the substrate of consciousness to observe and understand it. However, this statement cannot be proved, because the proof requires consciousness, and so it would seem that consciousness itself is the basis for what exists, and we actually have no idea, what that consciousness actually is, or what we are for that matter.

Actually, only the possibility of possibility exists at the source of everything, such that we can know it, including ourselves. We live as expressions of the probabilities that are thus enacted.

Special thanks to the writings of P.D. Ouspensky for the elaboration of these ideas a century ago in his book, Tertium Organum: The Third Canon of Thought, A Key to the Enigmas of the World. This blog was revised from an earlier blog in my archive.


© Copyright 2006 Robert Fertman, All Rights Reserved

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