Being Present
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Copyright © 2008, FOF.
Gurdjieff's key works on the Fourth Way include Meetings with Remarkable Men, Beelzebub's Tales, and Life Is Real Only Then When ‘I Am’.
October 2008


Remember yourself always and everywhere.



Gurdjieff taught self-remembering as a fierce warrior fights in battle. He warred against sleep, and the system that he taught presented human beings as sleeping machines and the radical approach that was needed to awaken. He was a pioneer of self-remembering in the West, while he kept the origin of his teaching mysterious. Yet although his system included a cosmology of universal laws, he rated them below the practical effort of self-remembering. Even during his fascinating, idiosyncratic discussions with his students on ‘man the machine’ and the earth as a ‘pain factory’, Gurdjieff would always remind his students that the Work was for awakening. In one meeting with his students, he pointed out that they had all missed something in their efforts at self-observation. When they could not discover what he meant, he told them, ‘You did not remember yourselves.’


Self-remembering is the central idea of the Fourth Way. In Gurdjieff’s cosmology, the birthright of a human being is to be awake but the psychological condition of sleep prevents it. Because of this condition, humanity is uninterested in awakening, and if a human-being discovers they are ‘asleep’, they will find an excuse to forget or deny it. So Gurdjieff taught self-remembering as an experiment to demonstrate its value and as a way of life. He taught his students the difference between being ‘asleep’ and being ‘awake’. He taught self-remembering as a continual, practical effort, bringing one’s attention to one’s Self at the same time as the activity that one is engaged in.


Gurdjieff created the conditions for the modern Fourth Way and his teachings made it possible for a Fourth Way school to exist in the modern era. By using his practical methods, one lays the foundation for personal work. From this comes the desire for awakening and the valuation for efforts. One looks for a group of like-minded people with the aim to awaken and discovers that a Fourth Way school is rare and there are challenges to awakening. Then comes the inspiration to continue, perhaps from talking with someone else who has the same aim. As the personal struggle continues, one understands that the idea of self-remembering is simple but the effort is difficult. One can balance this understanding with another, as so movingly phrased by Rumi, who says, ‘let the beauty we love be what we do’: the state of being present is beautiful, worth every effort. And worth more.
Only by beginning to remember himself does a man really awaken.
All your work upon yourself is connected with self-remembering and that it cannot proceed successfully without this. And self-remembering is partial awakening, or the beginning of awakening.
Ouspensky, The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution
When one begins to see that one can only begin to 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.
Rodney Collin, Theory of Celestial Influence