In March, we pruned our psychology. We observed which ‘I’s habitually drained our energy during the first hour of our day. This placed our habits in a more impersonal light: instead of taking them at face value, we examined them as energy leaks. We sought to catch their first manifestations – the first ‘I’s they generated – and instead of permit them freedom of expression, nip them in the bud.
Students reported various levels of success. One said the task helped her notice and disarm the leaks, so that rather than draining constantly, they opened and closed. Another confessed that whatever he did, and no matter how much he tried, they found a way out. Regardless of how well we were able to plug our morning leaks, focusing on the first hour of our day made us ever more conscious of our inner landscape. It showed us how vigilant we must become to maintain consciousness for an hour.
Armed with this deeper understanding of ourselves, we now enter the April labor. Our farmer presents us with two seedlings, one wilted, the other robust. These are seeds sown last November, that sprouted in early spring and are now ready to be transplanted into fields. The farmer, based on each seedling’s development, can tell which are sufficiently vital to mature into plants and which must be discarded. The fourth way practitioner, based on their trials and errors, can tell which efforts are sufficiently effective to repeat and which must be abandoned. The farmer’s acreage is land; the fourth way practitioner’s acreage is time. A farmer fills land with individual plants; a fourth way practitioner fills time with small efforts.
“Generally speaking, we miss the opportunity of making small efforts,” says Peter Ouspensky. “We disregard them, do not consider them important enough, Yet we can increase our capacity for making efforts only by making these small efforts which we disregard.” By this token, the April labor invites us to expand the discipline we established during March, into other patches of time that comprise our day. These will be patches of unassuming moments, moments of routine, of transitioning from one chapter of our day into another, moments we might normally discard as unimportant. But the farmer’s acreage is limited and so is our time. We must prudently cultivate each corner of our being in order to change our level of being. “Events of trifling appearance are often pregnant with high importance,” said Sophocles; “The prudent man neglects no circumstance.”
So our April labor invites us to turn routine into ritual. Observe your day. Which barren areas of time are routinely wasted? How can you sow fresh efforts into them? Share your observations in the commentary below.