The Unique Subjective

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

G. I. Gurdjieff called time "The Unique Subjective". Its so interesting to consider that each of us experiences the passage of time differently. We are each individuals sharing a common experience of this moment. But it occurs for us, only as we experience it. And even more so, different age groups collectively experience the same moment, and experience it differently as well. This is because we all experience the presence of the present moment through the filter our own personal past. Considered in this way, it seems obvious that all people cannot have a common experience of this moment. It is because we do not have a common past that we all share. And, we are also influenced by the history that we have personally lived through, and the stories and accounts of others about the times that came before us.

I love to talk to people half my age. I used to say, in my late 40's, that I love to talk to people twice my age as well. However, I have reached an age now, where there is no one alive who is twice my age on the planet, so far as I know. This is the merciless nature of time as well. What Gurdjieff also called, the "The Merciless Hero-Pass" is that quality of time that, as well as being subjective to personal experience, also spares no one from its passage from birth through death. It is a persistent drive that takes us in life from beginning to end. Of the beyond, we cannot actually say, but only speculate. But that is the certain future of all of us, and as we live life, as if by design, we forget that we too will pass on.

What's actually experienced as being "real" in life is thus different, not only for each person, but also for each generation, and yet it is also the same. It is the paradox of the subjective, which we think is a unique experience, yet is at the same time, an objective experience of the passage of time. Because of our ignorance, we only experience a subjective reality. It is not that any age group is right and others wrong about how the world actually is. Or, that universal experiences such as ordinary emotion, life pressures, or hopes for the future are really any different for anyone, either as an individual, or as a member of a generational group.

But, people seem to feel as an individual, that "I" am unique, and only gradually realize that they share a common experience with others. In fact at a certain level we share that common experience with every human being that lives or over has lived. Its only our personal "spin" on it that's unique. This is our unique personal story, which serves as a stable reality to construct our life based on how we assemble the information we take in from the world. There is also the fact that we are part of a group of fellow time travelers, who are flying together through this life. In this regard, we are just like those generations who came before us, who we remember, and also like those coming after us, not even born yet. We forget this fact. It is as if we are designed to forget, and to imagine in our subjective delusion that our own life is simply our experience alone. Yet in life we are individuals sharing a common experience of our humanness.

When I reflect on it, I love seeing that people half my age are doing things, and feeling things that I once did; feeling the feelings that I once felt; and thinking the thoughts that I once thought; when I was half my current age. I can understand them all because I have lived that time of life. I have come to realize that I never could, and still cannot really understand what my elders experience in the same way I experience my own life. This is because I have not lived and passed through the initiation of that stage of life, yet. But having watched a generation that I knew and loved pass into the great beyond, I now understand that I too will experience that great passage. I understand, that life is a progressive series of initiations into a greater consciousness and awareness. It seems unique to me, but in reality most all of it is just the range of possible human experiences that I am destined to experience also. So for everyone, life is really the same, but for anyone, it also seems to be a unique experience. Now that is actually a good definition of subjective, isn't it? Or perhaps the paradox of the subjective, because eventually we see that we all walk the same path in more or less the same shoes.

Photo by Felipe Correia on Unsplash

© Copyright 2006 Robert Fertman, All Rights Reserved

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