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September 2006 • Vol 3, No 9
Awakening • Higher Centers • The Beloved • God
Being Present copyright © Fellowship of Friends, Inc.

Not Listening to the Many ‘I’s

Efforts to promote presence are not always successful. Sometimes we are physically tired, or our emotional state is dull. Sometimes we are caught in a momentum and the pull of the ‘I’s is too strong. Or perhaps we are trying too hard in the wrong way to be present; that is, we are identified with the effort itself or with a desired result, or both. In all these cases, there is another kind of effort—a back door, so to speak—that can lead us to presence.

The effort is simply not to listen to the ‘I’s—the daydreams, thoughts, memories, worries, or plans—that are circulating, and to step back from all of them. The idea is, instead of trying to move toward presence, to move away from the ‘I’s. Either way, the outcome is the same: attention becomes divided and presence starts to emerge.

This method of separating from the ‘I’s sidesteps one of their main characteristics. Curiously, the ‘I’s want us to fight and oppose them because this keeps us immersed in imagination. By stepping back from the ‘I’s, we take a short cut to presence. We also circumvent, not just a few ‘I’s, but whole subjects of identification that keep us asleep.

There are many daily situations where the ‘I‘s lead us into imagination and keep us there. For example, while we are eating breakfast or making lunch; when we are washing the dishes or folding the laundry; as we walk to meet a friend or make our way home from work.

All these moments are waiting for us to be present, but we have to be ready for them and be on guard against the ‘I’s that habitually stand between us and presence. As Confucius said, “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door.”

It is a lot easier to listen to the many ‘I’s than it is to separate from them—a lot easier.
Robert Earl Burton  

Each center has its own form of imagination and daydreaming.
George Gurdjieff    

We always speak about ourselves as ‘I’ and suppose that we refer to the same thing all the time when in reality we are divided into hundreds and hundreds of different ‘I’s.
Peter Ouspensky

A single thought can turn a man away from God.

Unless a man maintains the strictest watch he is certain to be fascinated and entangled by the world.

Arm yourselves with great strength lest the robbers find a way to come to you.
Gnostic Texts, Gospel of Thomas 

I have divorced maya from my mind and crushed her under my feet.
Guru Nanak  

Isolate yourself from all, and find union.

The best strategy is to stay safely in your command post.
Ibn Arabi

Few people are really convinced to renounce illusion with determination.

Morn said to Night, “Withdraw and let me shine.”
Arabian Nights

Stone relief of the Buddha in the Gandhara style, 3rd century, Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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