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Robert Earl Burton - Being Present- The Fellowship of Friends
Teacher Apollo
 
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Robert Earl Burton

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After decades of focusing on the Fourth Way System, it became apparent to Burton that there was a need to go beyond it, to “abandon the system,” in Ouspensky’s words. While acknowledging the brilliance and truth of the Work, Burton also noted that, as Ouspensky said, “The system takes man from birth to death.” If we cannot take our knowledge with us when we die, what can we take? Only our moments of presence. We must internalize our lives, and move away from any focus on external achievements. The busy intellect, our logical mind—and the incessant imagination it produces—is our chief obstacle to presence. The intelligent and civilizing world of an educated heart and mind, which enables us to understand our machines and gain some mastery over them, becomes an impediment at a later point in our development.

He then began seeking for the thread that united all spiritual teachings—the inner truth of Great School, which takes different forms but is ever the same. By isolating that objective truth, he enabled the Fellowship to move from the esoteric to the mystical. He retained the principles of the Fourth Way as a solid foundation, and embraced the mystical core of all traditions,—whether Egyptian, Jewish, Sufi, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Zoroastrian. Moving away from the rigorously logical world of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff and into the silent world of symbol, image, myth, and fairy tale, he enabled his students to evade the wordy intellect and create an empty space for the wordless world of the Self.

Throughout his own evolution as a teacher, his chief work of awakening his “beloved students” has never wavered. On more than one occasion he has said that they are “more than I could ask for; I could not ask for so much.”