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APRIL 2005 • Vol 2, No 4
Presence • Awakening • Higher Centers • The Beloved • God
Being Present

a publication of Fellowship of Friends

Prolonging Presence

Self-remembering is possible in any moment that we remember to divide 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 of centers in an attempt to promote the wordless presence of higher centers.

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 displaces presence.

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.”

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Links of interest
• Videos of Robert Earl Burton teaching
Suggested reading about Fourth Way ideas
• Esoteric keys to understanding The Bible

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.

1— The foundation of the Fourth Way
• Self-remembering · divided attention · consciousness
• Man as a machine · the many ‘I’s
• Barriers to self-remembering · working in a school

2— The theory of centers (requires lecture 1)
• The 4 lower centers
• The sex center
• Higher centers
• The soul, the spirit

3— Promoting and prolonging presence
(requires lecture 1 and 2)
• Practical ways to introduce and sustain self-remembering

Membership information
The Fellowship of Friends is a Fourth Way school with centers worldwide. Membership is monthly. For details:
Find a center nearest you.
• Email

• Call 1-800-642-0212.

Bronze fountain. Collection of the Fellowship of Friends.

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 again.
George Gurdjieff
As soon as Real I appears it is immediately squashed. Control means effort at every step.
Peter Ouspensky
It 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.
Jalaluddin Rumi  
Connect your daily practices of remembrance one to another, like links in a chain.
Continuous remembrance produces the gradual transmutation of the attributes of the lower self into the Attributes of God.
Consciousness 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.
If 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.
Only God has the right to say ‘I’.

There 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.
Shah Naqshband

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