“Divide attention, and the moment
is perfect.” Robert Earl Burton
is always simple and immediate. Wherever
we are, whatever we are doing, it is just
a matter of dividing
attention and being aware of ourselves
and our surroundings at the same time. This
proves to be extremely difficult, however,
because self-remembering has no momentum.
Each few seconds we have to remember to
divide attention again and be present where
As soon as we forget about self-remembering,
attention flows in only one direction at
a time, either toward our inner thoughts
or to something in the outer world. In the
language of the system, we lose awareness
of our selves and fall asleep. It is startling
when, minutes or hours or even days later,
we remember to divide attention. There is
a feeling of suddenly waking up—of
becoming more present and seeing what is
in the present.
As Mr. Ouspensky explains, we cannot control
directly, but we can induce it indirectly
by remembering ourselves, and the key to
this is divided attention. By holding awareness
on two things—ourselves and something
else at the same time—we promote a
wordless state of presence in ourselves.
The more we do this and the longer we sustain
it, the more conscious we become.
on divided attention
purpose of being in a Fourth Way school
is to learn how to divide attention more
often. The teacher introduces methods to
promote and prolong divided attention, and
the school environment reminds the people
in it to remember themselves more often
than they can on their own.
One of the methods we use in the Fellowship
of Friends is something called the looking
exercise. It is based on the fact that we
usually do not see clearly what is right
in front of us. We see things only vaguely
as we rush through the present moment with
undivided attention. The idea behind the
looking exercise is to divide attention
and be present enough to actually see what
is in front of us. The effort this requires
feels like focusing the lens of vision internally
and externally at the same time. As soon
as we realize that our vision has become
cloudy again, this acts as a signal to once
more divide attention and be present.
Suppose, for example, that you are brushing
your teeth. Are you actually aware of yourself
in a room, holding a small brush, feeling
the sensation on your teeth? Or are you
just going through the motion of brushing
as you do something else or think about
something else? In this case, using the
looking exercise would mean dividing attention
and trying to see more clearly where you
are, what is around you, how your hand is
moving, the color of the brush, and so on—all
the while being aware of yourself seeing
these things in the present. This same method
can be used when you are opening a car door,
washing the dishes, or riding in an elevator.
The difference in awareness produced by
divided attention may seem small at first,
but it grows in proportion to how often
and how long we divide attention. The feeling
of being present and seeing what is in the
present gradually becomes more vivid and
more profound. As Robert Earl Burton said
recently, “Through divided attention,
we architecturally build internal presence.”
of interest on our web site
See videos of
Robert Earl Burton teaching
suggested reading about the Fourth Way
See the web site in
your language (home page menu)
Introductory lectures monthly
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-knowledge · Levels of
Man as a machine · Consciousness,
will, and unity
Obstacles to awakening · Three
lines of work
The theory of centers
(requires lecture 1)
Practical ways to seize and prolong presence
The 4 lower centers
The sex center
The soul, the spirit
(requires lecture 1 and 2)
How to introduce and sustain self-remembering
of Friends is a Fourth Way school with
centers worldwide. Membership is monthly.
Find a center nearest you.
Detail of an image on a gold clock. Collection
of the Fellowship of Friends.
Thoughts on divided attention
In an ordinary psychic state I simply look
at a street. But if I remember myself, I do
not simply look at the street; I feel that
I am looking, as though saying to myself:
'I am looking.' Instead of one impression
of the street there are two impressions, one
of the street and another of myself looking
Although controlled attention is very close
to self-remembering, there is a difference.
If you are conscious at the same time that
you observe, the line of your attention will
resemble two arrows, one showing attention
directed on the thing you observe and another
If one is not established in the present,
then one is nowhere and nothing is possible.
In this present moment, remembering oneself,
one can put oneself in contact with a place
outside time. We must squeeze all its contents
out of each moment.
To attend to the matter before you with divided
attention is the reason for existence in the
universe. Each moment offers the same divine
opportunity to be present. Dividing attention
is objectively the only satisfaction possible
for man. When we are present we are using
our time well, whatever we are doing. Divided
attention must accompany one throughout the
day, regardless of the subject at hand.
Robert Earl Burton
See what is in front of you, and what is hidden
will be revealed.
mind often becomes plagued when the great
work of remembrance is forgotten.
We are given this life for no other reason
than to gain access to eternity.
You have to evaluate how you spend every moment:
with presence or in negligence.
Come, return, return to the root of your Self.
Write to us at email@example.com.
forward the newsletter to anyone who
may have an interest in learning more about
the Fourth Way and the Fellowship of Friends.
Go to our
sign up form.
If you have problems printing
If the right margin is cut off, adjust the
"page setup" settings in your
email program. You can also print the newsletter
directly from our web site (go to archives).
If you still have problems,
Send us your comments
Please use our response
See back issues
Go to archives.
(a non-profit religious corporation)
P.O. Box 100 · Oregon House, CA 95962
copyright © 2004 · all rights
No part of this newsletter may be copied,
reprinted, or reproduced in any form without
written permission from the Fellowship of