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AUGUST 2006 • Vol 3, No 8
Presence • Awakening • Higher Centers • The Beloved • God

Being Present

A monthly newsletter for putting Fourth Way ideas into practice.


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Giving Up Imagination

Mr. Ouspensky said, “As soon as you try to remember yourself, something in you starts imagination.” He was explaining how the many ‘I’s prefer imagination to presence and how imagination keeps pulling us away from being present.

For example, suppose you set the aim to be present as you step into the shower, or enter the grocery store, or start a business meeting. Almost immediately you meet resistance from the ‘I’s which feel that other things are more important than being present. The instant you follow those ‘I’s, divided attention is lost. And although you continue what you were doing, you become unaware that you have slipped into imagination.

Or perhaps you are walking, or working, or just sitting in a chair. Your thoughts continually lead you into imagination. You keep dwelling on a problem at work, or a conflict with another person. You keep fixating on economic or political issues. You keep worrying about your finances, your future, your family. You keep thinking about sex, or about your next car or house or vacation.

All of these subjects have their rightful place in our lives, yet most of our preoccupation with them is imagination. But until this is pointed out, we do not see it as imagination. More importantly, we do not see it as a distraction from being present.

When you look around with divided attention, you start to see that everybody is almost always to some degree in imagination about what they are doing, what they have done, or what they hope to do—all at the expense of being present now. You then have to look at yourself the same way and become vigilant about not indulging in imagination.

As Robert Earl Burton has said, “If we truly understood what imagination is, we would deflect it instantly.” For that, however, we have to be present. Otherwise imagination feels comforting, reassuring, even entertaining. As Mr. Burton has also said, imagination satisfies all four centers to the point that it is the natural and preferred state of man.

Compared to imagination, presence seems dull, empty, a non-use of time. But this is how it appears to the many ‘I’s because they are being displaced by presence. They are losing their audience, their purpose, their identity—all of which are imaginary. As this happens, they experience a sense of nothingness, and they do not like it.

Meanwhile, presence is learning to exist as a state of awareness without words. This is something new, and it is easily distracted by the protests of the many ‘I’s. Their imagination seems like solid ground, yet it is actually a lure trying to pull us away from the state of simple, sustained presence.

Giving up imagination is not easy because it keeps presenting itself every few seconds. Fortunately, however, being present is simple. As Robert Burton says, “If you want to be a conscious being, all you have to do is give up imagination.”

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Introductory lectures

We offer two introductory lectures in cities around the world. To register:

• Call our USA information line (1-800-642-0212),
Find a center nearest you.

1— An introduction to the system
• The most important thing is being present
• The system is ancient, objective knowledge
• Schools use precise methods for being present

2— The four lower centers
• How the lower centers function
• How the lower centers displace presence
• How to reach higher centers

Membership information

The Fellowship of Friends, Inc. is a school for spiritual awakening with centers worldwide. Membership is monthly. For details:

• Email

- OR
• Call 1-800-642-0212

Image of an angel holding the key to the bottomless pit. (This image is included here for educational purposes only and is not intended for any other use.)

Thoughts on imagination
In order to awaken, the main difficulty is to continuously see what is in the present and not be in imagination. The next I is already in place to keep you in imagination, if it is not a work I.
Robert Earl Burton  
Imagination is a force put into men in order to keep them in their present state.
George Gurdjieff  
Imagination is always ready to work in us and deceive us. It plays a very important part in our life, because we believe in it. It comes by itself and controls us so that we are in its power.
Peter Ouspensky    
Your thoughts are like a camel-driver. And you are the camel.
If you wish to be saved, do not trust your thoughts.
Philokalia, St. Barsanuphius 
The science of sciences and the art of arts is the capacity to master harmful thoughts.
Philokalia, Hesychius of Jerusalem
Let him who wishes to be near God abandon all that alienates him from God.
Withdraw from the house of deception and return to the house of Eternity.

When simplicity arises in your mind, do not follow cleverness, rest in the state of simplicity.

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