is possible in any moment that we remember
attention and be present.
Yet, to actualize the full potential of
self-remembering, we have to do more than
try to be present occasionally. We need
to prolong presence with the aim of making
it more and more continuous.
As Mr. Ouspensky said, “Continuity
is the main thing. Glimpses might happen,
but continuity needs effort. If we want
to have more prolonged periods of self-consciousness
and not merely glimpses, we must understand
that they cannot come by themselves, they
need will action.” He was referring
to the effort made by work
‘I’s to sustain self-remembering
and prolong presence.
We often need only one work ‘I’
such as, “Divide attention”
to bring us back to the present. But one
is usually not enough to keep us there.
To prolong presence, we need a series of
work ‘I’s that together can
overcome the momentum of imagination
and mechanical ‘I’s. For example,
we might generate a series of work ‘I’s
such as, “Be present. Divide attention.
Avoid imagination. Do not identify.
Be where you are. See what is in front of
you. Do not hurry past this moment.”
Work ‘I’s are not complicated
or frantic. They are calm, clear, and steady.
They patiently promote and prolong presence
in the best way possible for the given circumstances.
It is also important to understand that
work ‘I’s themselves are not
the state of presence they promote. In system
language, work ‘I’s are intentional
thoughts produced by intellectual parts
in an attempt to promote the wordless presence
Robert Earl Burton explains that the “Wheel
of Fortune” card (X) in the
tarot deck illustrates how mechanical ‘I’s
turn in us and displace presence. He also
says that work ‘I’s do just
the opposite: they ‘turn’ in
the other direction, not for their own sake
but for the sake of promoting and prolonging
presence. However, this never happens by
itself. As soon as we stop making a conscious
effort to generate work ‘I’s
and be present, imagination immediately
swings back in a mechanical direction and
While speaking about this recently, Mr.
Burton quoted Hafiz who said, “Someone
will steal you away if you do not stay near
the Beloved.” Mr. Burton added, “When
you are not promoting presence, you follow
each ‘I’, each subject of imagination.
Everything comes down to staying out of
imagination moment to moment.”
Being present in one moment is surprisingly
simple, yet prolonging presence moment to
moment is very difficult, as it is supposed
to be. This is what Rodney Collin meant
when he wrote: “When one begins
to see that one can only remember oneself
for seconds at a time, it seems negligible.
But what one must understand is that it
is difficult exactly because it is the beginning
of a new state for us, the key to a new
world. If it were easy and if results came
more quickly it could not have the importance
which it has.”
The way we discover the importance of this
‘new world’ is to return again and again
to self-remembering and then prolong presence
as long as possible. Ibn Arabi said, “My
heart clings to the door of the Divine Presence,
waiting mindfully for what comes when the
door is opened.”
our web site in
Robert Earl Burton teaching
reading about Fourth Way ideas
Esoteric keys to understanding The
We offer a series of free introductory lectures
in cities around the world. To register:
Call our USA information line (1-800-642-0212),
Find a center nearest you.
The foundation of the Fourth Way
Self-remembering · divided
attention · consciousness
Man as a machine · the many
Barriers to self-remembering ·
working in a school
The theory of centers
(requires lecture 1)
Promoting and prolonging presence
The 4 lower centers
The sex center
The soul, the spirit
(requires lecture 1 and 2)
Practical ways to introduce and sustain
of Friends is a Fourth Way school with
centers worldwide. Membership is monthly.
Find a center nearest you.
Bronze fountain. Collection of the Fellowship
Thoughts on Prolonging Presence
As soon as a man awakens for a moment and
opens his eyes, all the forces that caused
him to fall asleep begin to act upon him with
tenfold energy and he immediately falls asleep
As soon as Real I appears it is immediately
squashed. Control means effort at every step.
is very hard even to remember to use this
system. Life has no meaning without presence.
Prolonging presence is the greatest achievement
in the universe.
Robert Earl Burton
Presence is the one we call the Beloved.
your daily practices of remembrance one to
another, like links in a chain.
remembrance produces the gradual transmutation
of the attributes of the lower self into the
Attributes of God.
is the part of a person that can grow into
something more. When it becomes continuous
for him, then he rises up to another, higher
and subtler state.
you have found the Beloved, why do you lose
him again and again? Put all imaginations
away, and stand fast in that what you are.
God has the right to say ‘I’.
is only one thing to be gained in this life,
and that is to remember God with each breath,
and there is only one loss, and that is the
breath drawn without remembrance of God.
Muhammad then moved through one veil after
another until he passed through one thousand
veils. Finally he opened the Veil of Oneness.
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