One basis for an approach to the question of objectivity is in the question: Can I be objective about myself? Can I see myself for what I am? More to the point, can I see that there may be a profound difference between who I assume that I am and who I am as I might discover from a more objective effort to observe myself?
I went to the local fall fair today. Ferris wheels, cotton candy, greasy food. Because I live in an agricultural town, there was also livestock judging and a petting zoo. There was also a young man drawing caricatures as you might find at many such fairs. I sat, ice cream in hand, and asked for a hand-drawn portrait. The result was quite wonderful. There was produced an image of a man in a baseball cap with ice cream in hand. A somewhat youthful looking face for the years … but what was this? The artist had captured something quite characteristic in the expression, much more so that a photograph would have. After all, a caricature is supposed to capture and exaggerate something of the character. There was a certain weight and tension in the forehead, two simple creases forming something of a cross. The cross of someone who is sitting in the middle of fall fair having his likeness drawn who is thinking too much. Is the man really thinking or is he just carrying around a certain amount of habitual tension in the forehead that is a caricature of thinking? There was a certain reactional disappointment at seeing this captured so well in black and white. Could I have this edited? Yes, I could say that I was squinting into the sunlight, but alas even such excuse-making could not account for these finely drawn lines.
Over the years of truthseeking, more than one wise soul has with subtlety or with definiteness tried to draw my attention to this fact written in the brow of the man sitting at the fall fair. Moreover, I have myself become aware through the kind of active sensing that I have written about in this space of the ball of energy that sits upon my brow. I have worked to use this awareness as a reminding factor to re-focus attention, in my case, into the chest area as a means of becoming present in a more rounded way. Nevertheless, I had to see myself and try hold onto to this seeing in my heart. How often have I been in front of someone who has sensed in this peculiar subjective feature of mine a note of disdain or aloofness? How often has someone parted from me in a state of disarray? Is there a white-bearded being somewhere up there in the clouds of the unknown, the maker of all, with such a mark on his forehead? I cannot even say that this is a more objective effort to observe myself for it came to me ready-made for the low price of $15. And so the work continues.
We are in front of the possibility of this question all the time. Can I be objective about myself? More practically speaking, can I see myself as others see me? One point of the question, sometimes sharper than we can allow, is that there is something in me that can see. I imagine now that it is this perfectly subjective, perfectly hidden “who” who has the only power that can objectively direct this life toward its real sense and purpose. For this, it seems, there is need of the idiot in the middle who must somehow allow for the polishing of the mirror of intelligence in heart and mind to reflect the sacred image of grace.
I wish to finish this post with a quotation from Gurdjieff’s “Meetings with Remarkable Men”, in which he records the teaching of Bogachevsky / Father Evlissi on the topic of objective morality and its revelation through the sacred organ of human cnscience.
Bogachevsky often urged me not to adopt any conventions, either those of my immediate circle or those of any other people.
He said: “From the conventions with which one is stuffed subjective morality is formed, but for real life objective morality is needed, which comes only from conscience.
“Conscience is everywhere the same. As it is here, so it is in St. Petersburg, America, Kamchatka, and in the Solomon Islands. Today you happen to be here, but tomorrow you may be in America; if you have real conscience and live according to it, it will always be well with you wherever you may be.
“You are still quite young; you have not yet begun life. Everybody here may now call you badly brought up; you may not know how to bow correctly, or to say the right thing in the proper manner, but this does not matter if only when you grow up and begin to live you have in yourself a real conscience, that is, the foundation of objective morality.
“Subjective morality is a relative conception, and if you are filled with relative conceptions, then when you are grown up you will always and everywhere act and judge other people according to the conventional views and notions you have acquired. You must learn not what people around you consider good or bad, but to act in life as your conscience bids you. An untrammeled conscience will always know more than all the books and teachers put together. But for the present, until your own conscience is formed, live according to the commandment of our Teacher Jesus Christ: ‘Do not do to others what you would not wish them to do you.’” (p. 76-77)
The golden rule, as it is called, is a teaching to be found in every tradition around the world.