Being Present
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“I began to feel a strange uneasiness, as though I had forgotten something
Being Present © 2008
“I began to feel a strange uneasiness, as though I had forgotten something. And suddenly I remembered that I had forgotten to remember myself.” Peter Ouspensky
November 2008

Peter Ouspensky

A school is a place where people and ideas do not die.


The foundation for a modern Fourth Way school is the system of Peter Ouspensky. As a student of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky put aside his brilliance as a philosophical thinker to make himself a vessel for everything that Gurdjieff could teach him. Ouspensky had quickly
realised that the idea of ‘self remembering’ was central to Gurdjieff’s teachings and he applied it practically to his own life. His experiences with self-remembering are vividly described in his first memoir In Search of the Miraculous. From the strength of his personal work came a series of lectures, published as The Fourth Way. Since the publication of his books, Fourth Way ideas have entered modern culture, and at the beginning of the early twentieth century, directly influenced writers and thinkers of the time, contributing to the flowering of a small but influential circle of Fourth Way pioneers.
Yet the system is an intellectual framework of conscious evolution and no more, a sign pointing to what one can achieve through conscious efforts. Simply learning the system, or comparing it with other intellectual frameworks, would be to stop where Ouspensky had continued. In his first experiments with self-remembering, Ouspensky learned a secret; the practical application of system ideas is the purest and most direct way of learning it. Ouspensky also learned that the observing ‘I’, the nascent Third Eye, provides a rare kind of food, a special understanding that can be shared with others in the work. He understood how this linked a school’s three-lines of work—conscious work for one’s self, conscious work for others, and conscious work for the school—and that the results of conscious work are profound; perceiving eternity in a single moment, experiencing endless love, understanding the subtle responsibilities in awakening. A school develops from developing Third Eye.
While Ouspensky dedicated his life to developing the system as a foundation for a school, when asked, he would not say that his work and his students constituted one; he would refer to his affiliation of students as a ‘group’. From what he understood of conscious work, his efforts and his student’s efforts had not reached a level of intensity that produces a school, especially in attracting what he called ‘outside help’, an invisible, conscious influence that guides a school’s birth and development. Yet as a landscaper plants a tree, knowing that the tree will mature far into the future, Ouspensky planted the system as a seed for a modern Fourth Way. He anticipated that one day a Fourth Way school would transcend the system into presence.
The words ‘Know thyself’, generally ascribed to Socrates, actually lie at the basis of many systems and schools far more ancient than the Socratic.
This system cannot be learnt from books—a school is necessary.
Peter Ouspensky
A true or complete school can only be initiated by a man of conscious spirit.
Rodney Collin