Life Is Real Only Then, When ‘I Am’ and the Question of Individuation
The third part of Gurdjieff’s trilogy All and Everything has not been studied sufficiently or earned any considerable attention by scholars. Its structure seems rather incoherent and circumstantial and its overall message diffused and centerless. However, in the last book Gurdjieff illustrates metonymically the transition from self-consciousness to what he called objective knowledge, a cogitation on the self and the world around it without any psychological projections or emotional transferences. An analogous approach to the question of the personal and collective identities can be found in C.G. Jung’s principle of individuation according to which the individual has to not only appropriate the collective myths of its society but also to see them “objectively” which means as “social objects.” The present paper discusses the process of psychological projection as advocated by Jung—in order to individuate collective representations and experience the objectivity of the real—while delineating Gurdjieff’s response to one of the central principles of depth psychology. Can we individuate reality and yet see it without our own projections? Gurdjieff’s answer is more practical than Jung’s but raises complex questions about the ability of human consciousness to reach beyond its own cognitive limitations. Although Gurdjieff’s last book remained unfinished, certain challenging insights into the meaning of “a veritable, nonfantastic representation of the world as it is” are elaborated by P.D. Ouspensky’s The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution (1950) which essentially attempts to construct a Gurdjieffian theory of the psyche.
G. I. Gurdjieff; C. G. Jung; individuation; Life is Real Only Then, When ‘I Am’; objectivity; psychoanalysis; psychosynthesis; P.D. Ouspensky; self-consciousness; objective consciousness