Life is asleep, and we are going against the
stream. Like salmon with a strong homing instinct,
we must swim against the current of life's sleep to
remember ourselves and develop our souls. What is
it to be a man, but to struggle against the current
of the masses, and through great labor and desolate
trials create one's soul? One begins with
self-remembering in the morning and finishes with
it at night. One can never afford to lay
self-remembering aside; one ceases to exist.
You cannot awaken unless you have verified that
you are asleep.
Sleep is so unappealing that it propels one to
awaken. People do not make more efforts to awaken
because they do not understand that their time is
limited. When one deeply and truly understands that
one's time is limited, regardless of one's age, one
will strive to awaken with the mass of one's being.
Higher forces become more serious with one as each
It would be nice to say that the material in
this book is behind me. But self-remembering is
never behind us. It has no momentum of its own and
is always an uphill battle. Leonardo da Vinci said,
"Thou, O God, dost sell unto us all good things at
the price of labor." We are in an extremely
difficult situation. Almost no one realizes the
enormity of what can be gained or lost during his
lifetime. One gains immortality or suffers
oblivion, or worse. Every second you remember
yourself you pierce eternity.
Remember that you are being present for yourself
as well as for your school; everything physical
will perish; you, with divided attention, will not.
We labor to make the incomprehensible,
comprehensible. Self-remembering is a challenge we
have to accept even though at times it seems almost
too much, seems beyond our capacity, our level of
being. We have to do it every day. The answers
required to break through to the present are
simple; the efforts, however, are difficult. Even
so, we are winning.
The poet Rainer Rilke said, "It is tiresome to
be full of retrieving." One keeps trying to
retrieve self-remembering from imagination, and it
is tiring, yet one could not have a more worthwhile
battle on one's hands. There are terrible periods
of imagination and then the strain of
self-remembering returns. In virtually everything
we do, so many of our efforts are toward
self-remembering and are related to culture. The
opportunities to be present remain the same over
One reason we are attracted to self-remembering
is because it is so difficult. It's the only real
challenge that one has met in one's life and the
only thing that is not mechanical. Courage can have
limitations, and awakening requires more
perseverance than courage. It does come to
that-simply enduring-and it is a good place to be.
After having spent the day working for the
school, trying to be present, not expressing
negativity and trying to avoid imagination, one
becomes weary, and yet it is a day well spent.
There can be no gain in abandoning the work. The
plain truth is that there is no alternative to
making efforts to be present, daily, for the rest
of one's life.
Students who enter the way work at a full pace.
Never lay self-remembering aside. Consciousness
cannot be given, it must be earned through one's
own efforts, aided by higher forces.
What does it mean to make extra efforts?
- Cicero said, "There is not a moment without some
duty." If nothing else, we always have the duty to
self-remember. Our work can only be serious in
proportion to our understanding of the depth of our
sleep. The teacher can only communicate knowledge,
the teacher cannot communicate being-it is your own
responsibility to be the words.
Sometimes I speak as if I know, but I am
speaking for myself. I do not expect anything to be
either believed as true, or rejected as false, but
taken neutrally as theory and verified. Still, I
know what I know. So many concepts that students
struggle with are facts for me: body type, center
of gravity, chief feature, alchemy. But until they
are facts for you, you have to struggle. One must
work beyond one's capacities daily to change one's
level of being. This is a law. We are capable of
much more effort, and Influence C must use their
time to squeeze that out of us.
You can't retire from self-remembering. A
seventy-year-old student must make the same effort
to produce higher centers as one who is twenty.
One must never be content to go at the pace of
anyone else. The last words of Peter Ouspensky
were, "Aim, aim; more effort, more effort." Then
his physical body died and his astral body was
released. Aim to remember yourself and place more
effort into remembering yourself. It takes more
effort to awaken than we realize. Shocks help wring
this understanding out of us.
The main principle that guides your life is
self-remembering. Efforts based upon identification
diminish as you begin to awaken. Self-remembering
must be a perpetual struggle and is the dearest of
all labors, since nothing of value is attained
without effort. You must transform suffering to
appreciate the great simplicities of life.
One way to avoid using words for registering
impressions is to employ the looking exercise. It
is not uncommon to experience a different thought
with each heartbeat. If one shifts one's head
slightly every three seconds to receive a new
impression, one can sever the `I's that wish to
respond to the objects one is viewing. While
walking one can also concentrate one's attention on
an object that is within reasonable distance, and
try not to allow thoughts to manifest until one has
passed that impression. These exercises can serve
to usher you into the present.
Our task is great, greater than anyone knows. It
is to remember ourselves daily, in both commonplace
and trying situations until our last breath. One
must endeavor to remember oneself in the most
humble circumstances because self-remembering has
no momentum of its own. Mr. Ouspensky said that a
man number five can be present when he needs to be,
but even that is a lot of work. When I listen to a
concert, for example, I feel there is as much
responsibility on me to hear every note as there is
on the artist to play those notes.
When `I's circulate that wish immediate results
for one's efforts, one can be assured that one is
not remembering oneself. These `I's can serve,
however, as a useful shock to help one remember
oneself. Negative states initially appear to be a
curse, but later become a blessing as one begins to
transform the negativity. Fortunately,
self-remembering begets self-remembering, and is
its own reward.
How can we act consistently? - If one
could act consistently, one would be acting
consciously, because one would have unity and not
be a different person in different environments. As
one studies people, one will see different groups
of `I's in them that are subject to changing
circumstances. One should expect something reliable
from people in a school since they are trying to be
unified. Consistency is based upon remembering
oneself. To act consistently requires unity; to be
unified requires self-remembering. To remember
yourself you must have the aim to be present.
One must observe whether one experiences the
same personality, and makes the same efforts
privately, as one does publicly. And if one does
behave differently publicly, efforts are founded on
vanity or feminine dominance.
How can we be more in the present when our
machine wishes to plan for future needs?
To everything there is a season. There is a
place to plan for future needs, which is common
sense. Don't prolong the process, and once it is
finished, focus on the present. While planning, use
inconspicuous voluntary suffering by holding the
paper at a slightly odd angle, sitting a little too
close to the desk, and so on.
The `I', "This is not a permanent state," is the
beginning of the end of negative emotions.
I experienced a little difficulty hearing the
music tonight. A work `I' advised me, "You cannot
speak if you cannot listen," in a gentle,
non-judgmental tone of voice. It was a third force
for helping me to listen. Work `I's are precious,
and it is a blessing when they appear when we need
them; unfortunately for a man number four the right
work `I' often comes along when the internal battle
It is important not to cram one's life with
events, but to do well whatever one does. One
should enjoy reading a book and not just try to get
through it. Never allow yourself to be so busy, to
be in such a hurry that you forget your precious
How can we include the element of surrender in
our moment-to-moment effort to self-remember?
We must understand deeply that we have nothing
at all to surrender; we give up nothing for
Never stop making efforts; remember your aim
tenaciously. We change without pressing, and
efforts made in one direction can bring gratifying
results in another. We do not need external events
to urge us to remember ourselves. Self-remembering
has a cumulative effect, and the more you remember
yourself, the more you will be able to remember
It is fruitful to work with people who don't
have to be convinced of the necessity of
remembering themselves. Students get into trouble
because they think they can coast. It may surprise
one to realize that one must work to awaken.
Awakening does not happen to one. Many people never
pass beyond allurement, and they leave a teaching
when they actually have to begin daily work.
We push ourselves to the limit. Keep returning
to self-remembering, keep trying to retrieve it-it
is the only thing worth pursuing.
From the realization that man is a machine, the
real work starts; the moment one verifies one is a
machine, one starts to cease to be mechanical.
In the end, people have what it takes to
continue, or they don't, and it is a rough road,
but the only one worth traveling.
© Copyright Fellowship of
Friends 2001 - All rights reserved.