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OCTOBER 2005 • Vol 2, No 10
Presence • Awakening • Higher Centers • The Beloved • God
Being Present

a publication of the Fellowship of Friends

Higher Centers

All efforts to divide attention and be present revolve around one aim: to reach higher centers and experience higher states of consciousness. This is represented in esoteric literature as the ‘second birth’ and the ‘mystical inner marriage’.

When we are not dividing attention, we exist externally but we are not present internally. Our awareness is being drawn out of us and diffused as imagination and identification. The value of divided attention—where we become aware of ourselves and our surroundings at the same time—is that it lifts the veil of imagination and replaces identification with presence. As a result, we start to see things more vividly. This is the higher emotional center beginning to emerge in the third state of consciousness.

The third state can happen in flashes when you find yourself in a new place or when something unexpected happens, like suddenly meeting a friend you have not seen for years. The newness or awkwardness of the situation prompts you to be more aware of yourself in your surroundings. This is the third state, and if it is deep enough you never forget it because it is a higher state of consciousness that exists out of time.

There is also another state—the fourth state—which can occur, for example, in moments of danger. People who have had life-threatening experiences often describe a state of extreme clarity, the perception of time halting, and an unusual ability to perceive what is happening in the moment. These are perceptions from the higher intellectual center in the fourth state of consciousness. But they, too, are usually very short and cannot be sustained.

Although we call them ‘centers’, the higher centers differ from the lower centers in every way. They are a different order of creation, just as the sun is a different order of creation from the earth. Higher centers do not produce ‘I’s. They are wordless and conscious. They are the divinity within us. This is why esoteric schools throughout history referred to the lower centers as ‘earth’ and the ‘world’, and referred to higher centers as the Beloved, God, or Lord.

Robert Earl Burton often reminds us that the presence of higher centers is the hidden meaning of life on earth. Yet most people, not knowing about higher centers, search for meaning in their lower centers. For example, the intellectual center looks for truth in books while the emotional center looks for faith in religions. The instinctive and moving centers pursue physical achievements and strive for well being through things like diet, yoga, and meditation. Meanwhile, the higher meaning they are all searching for is inside us. It is our true Self—the divine presence of our own higher centers.

The purpose of esoteric schools has always been to distinguish higher centers from lower centers and to use lower centers to promote the presence of higher centers. This is the symbolism of card XXI in the Tarot where the instinctive and moving centers (taken as one) are represented by the bull, the emotional center is represented by the lion, and the intellectual center is represented by the eagle. The angel symbolizes the steward, which is a part of the emotional center that guides all our efforts to be present. Governed by the steward, the intellectual parts of centers are promoting the presence of the higher emotional center in the third state of consciousness.

When the steward initiates divided attention, we turn from the upside-down state of imagination and identification (card XII) to a state of clear presence. This prepares the way for higher centers which gradually become stronger, appear more often, and stay for longer periods of time (card XXI).

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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— An introduction to the system
• The system is ancient, objective knowledge
• The microcosmos man can transcend himself
• Schools use precise methods for awakening

2— The four lower centers (requires lecture 1)
• Observing how the lower centers function
• Recognizing when lower centers displace presence
• Using lower centers to reach higher centers

3— Promoting and prolonging presence
(requires lecture 1 and 2)
• Developing the steward and intellectual parts of centers
• The instinctive center as the ‘mind behind the machine’
• Methods for promoting and prolonging presence

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.

Card XII (the Hanged Man) and Card XXI (the World) from the Marseilles Tarot deck.

Thoughts on higher centers
The aim is to reach higher states of consciousness and to be able to work with higher centers. All the rest is for that, in order to achieve that.
Peter Ouspensky
The steward emulates higher centers while understanding that it is designed to serve one’s own master, a state without words. We are not the many 'I's. Even the steward is not real. However, the wordless higher centers it produces are real.
Robert Earl Burton  
Indeed the whole world is imagination while God alone is the true reality.
Shah Nimatullah (14th century Sufi)
I am the silence that is incomprehensible.
Nag Hammadi text
The man married to the world is like someone chained hand and foot.
John of the Ladder 
When you find the one you seek, abandon the world and let it go.
Do everything you do in order to come close to your lord.
Ibn Arabi
There is no other satisfaction, save in the encounter with the Beloved.
I am going to my Lord from one state to a better state and from one station to a higher station.
I am born in love now. I am more than myself, for I have been born twice.
You seek after a great rarity.
The Arabian Nights

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