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“I wish to be famous, rich, and powerful,” I protest.

“I need you to be an office-worker,” says God.

Reluctantly, I consent. As an office-worker, I must commute five days a week, unwatched by the public, undocumented by the media. Five days a week, I must step out the front door, walk to my car, turn the key in the ignition, back up, and drive to work. I must be an office-worker the way an office-worker would truly be – one who spends most of his day at his desk, answering calls, filing reports, who now and again delivers news to the CEO not by any virtue of his own, but as part of his job.

I return home to spend my evenings with my family, drained. My youngest child observes the world with wonder. Too young to harbor expectations, she enters every moment freshly, and in effect, teaches me that there are no small moments, only people who take their moments for granted.

“How do I take my child’s advice and live my life with wonder?” I ask my wife.

“Do something different, darling. You’ve always loved theater. They’re staging Macbeth this winter. Why don’t you audition for it?”


“I wish to be Macbeth,” I protest.

“I have a Macbeth,” replies the director. “I need a servant.”

Reluctantly, I consent. As a servant, I must deliver difficult news to the king in act five, unheeded by the audience. That is all I must do, nothing more. If I shine, overact, or stand out, I detract from my simple task and play my role poorly. I must be a servant the way a servant would truly be – a simple person, one who spends most of his day waiting at court, who now and again delivers news to his King not by any virtue of his own, but as part of his job.

“Someone must play Macbeth and someone must play the servant,” says my director. “There are no small parts, only small actors.”

How do I take my director’s advice and play an unglamorous part greatly?


My cue has been said. I enter stage-right, advance slowly towards Macbeth, and with my head bowed down, announce: “The queen… my lord… is dead.”

Silence seeps into the audience in the chilling interval before Macbeth’s response. The moment seems eternal. I am overcome by a violent perception. Who is the rich man that is satisfied with his lot? Those who are small desire to be big and those who are big desire to be bigger. Macbeth learns this the hard way, his every advancement rendering him more insatiable.

Stepping off stage suddenly seems invisibly meaningful, as does taking off my costume, removing my makeup, thanking the cast and director, and driving home. The invisibly meaningful feeling persists as I step out the front door the following morning, walk to my car, turn the key in the ignition, back up and drive to work. How rich is the man satisfied with his lot! He has learned to value the simple, unglamorous moments that comprise his life.

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Benjamin Moore as Macbeth. Photo by Jonathan Beth



    1. John Poitras

      Invisibly meaningful is an apt description of the works internal richness that leads to self remembering and self consciousness. The result of fourth way work may may not be visible externally thru material wealth or power but it is a verification that the invisible is often more real than the visible and that is its own reward.

    2. john robert reilly passmore

      I have long held to the attitude that to be happy is to be rich, and recently learned to be rich is to have the epicurean prescription. It is so funny the you used Macbeth in this example, because I(and these things for the first time at 46 years) recently read a few select soliloquies from that play and saw how it is true that to know oneself is to be known. Yesterday it was Plato’s apology of Socrates. The work examines the unexamined life and so, makes it worth living. If there’s love in me, every person is my beloved. =0)

    3. brant smith

      One way we can bring work to our unglamorous moments is to slow down. Most of the time I notice in my self as well I am eager to get to the next place. This mentality brings with it a cynicism to judge and devalue this current moment, because it is a precursor to a more “important” event. This commonly can occur when we are at our jobs and are desiring to, “Get this day over with”. Yet what if we kept that mentality throughout the day, and consequently we rush driving home. After a good amount of cycles of this attitude, it became clear to me, that I do not want to waste my life having a negative attitude whenever I have to do undesirable tasks. Everyone must play their part, and Macbeth could not have happened with out the servant, because who would tell the audience that the queen was dead?

      1. Asaf Braverman Post author

        Thanks for the practical tip of slowing down, Brant. I observe that the root of ‘getting to the next place’ lies in the moving center’s approach to time (and life in general). It sees the day as a set of sequential actions, each of which must be completed to allow for the next in line. Governed by this level of thinking, we never fully ‘arrive.’

        At the same time, as long as we inhabit a physical body, we will have a moving center that will generate this approach. Consequently, the new attitude of viewing our moments as ‘ends’ rather than ‘means’ will have to be reaffirmed and reaffirmed and reaffirmed.

    4. Tal

      That’s a great question.
      From my experience if I’m present in every moment, whether it’s pleasant or painful to my sense perception, I’m fulfilling my primary purpose. I’m accepting and grateful. Only if I accept and grateful for what already is can I choose to create a different experience. Preferring a different experience doesn’t have to mean that I’m not grateful for the one I’m having now. I can choose to explore and create any experience as long as I can see it in my mind’s eye. Learn/create the action plan to creating the experience, take consistent action while letting go of thinking about the results, being present in the small, simple actions will endow them with life that is going to create my desired outcome. As long as I live in the present I’m aligned with life itself and I’m not focusing on something I don’t have.
      I’ve learned that we don’t experience what we want. We experience what we are.
      I like this quote by the great teacher,Jesus, “who has a claim against me that I must pay? everything under the heavens belongs to me.” If I truly realize who I am I realize that all material wealth in existence is already mine, there is no reason to addictively desire anything. I am left with the choice of what I wish to experience. I can live in a hut in the woods or on an acreage and have a private jet and a yacht. The material is not inferior to the spirit. It is a part of it. It’s just not primary.
      In essence every moment is meaningful and glamorous because there is only this moment. We just tend to forget it.

  1. Marcella Berardi

    If I could, at this very moment, feel the breath that makes me jump chest, the veins that fill while the arteries are empty, the synapses in my brain that transform the finer matter into commands to all parts of my body, if I could be aware of my cells that alternate in an endless seesaw between life and death, if I was able to photograph in a flash the state of my vessel, only membrane between the inside and outside, if I could gather all this information NOW, there would be nothing else to do, there wouldn’t be any “unglamorous moments”, but only eternal moments like this. But if I were able to do that, I would not even talking about!
    Instead I’m here, working to find the way to reach a shiny state of awareness. The effort moment by moment to counter the mechanical nature that keeps me in hand since about 50 years, stems from the urgent desire to clean, to govern the microcosm that I have in management “pro tempore” and deliver the fruits of my work at the owner of the vineyard.

  2. Charles Rodkoff

    One illusion I’ve observed is the belief that my moments are unconnected to each other. For instance, that making my bed or wiping the kitchen counter top is unconnected to a sales presentation to a prospective customer or prospective investors.

    What ties seemingly insignificant moments to those charged with meaning and consequence is the effort to Be. This seems to be the scale of economy of the fourth way, that efforts made in one area bring results in others.

    The scale of domestic chores and business pursuits are not comparable to those of dividing attention, not expressing negative emotions and transforming suffering. However, bringing as much of my work to the former, informs my efforts in the latter.

    As George Gurdjieff says, if you’re not conscious while you live, what makes you think you’ll be conscious when you die?

  3. Marlene

    I do have some confusion on this issue. I’m a custodian. I try to use the teaching in my work. I consciously work. I try to step back and see what the people who use the building see. And address what needs to be addressed.
    If I am good at my job then the scene will shine.
    I have the same repeated problems that I don’t know how to resolve. This is the problem. When the floors shine beautifully, the bathrooms are not just clean, but detailed, the offices, the labs representing a higher organization in appearance.
    Perceptions are amazing in regards to responses.
    So even though the building I clean is on core campus. And students use the building. No one messes it up. No paper towels on the bathroom floors, trash in the corners. It started out as an area no one wanted because it was to difficult to clean. It is now considered an “easy’ area.
    The scene is the whole picture. Every person in the building once they saw the effort made my vision part of their vision. Every lab started major clean out once they saw the changes. Ask who cleaned out the labs and the answer is they did.
    The offices were remodeled. And now the building is in the process of being locked down from the public.
    My part was going into a building that had very poor service for years, and consciously doing my job.
    The problem is ego. It was my vision and my work. It is their offices and labs. Your writings have been helpful. The play needs the servant to be a servant.
    If done well though, how can the scene not shine?

    1. Thomas Neuschatz

      Hello Marlene, A sincere comment. The ego problem. Taking credit when due. Sometimes we have to change scale to resolve a problem. If your job and the building in it were part of a written play with a writer and director, the satisfaction would be in acting the part well not “my” idea, “my” vision, “my” effort, “my” results – these are all written. The “me” and “mine” and “I” would fade and almost cease to exist and the self awareness would ascend in importance. A curious consequence is that as self awareness ascends the external actions and results take on even more significance; we feel them more strongly and recognize their importance more fully.

    2. Leslie Scott

      I loved your comments about how having a nice pristine environment encourages others to appreciate it and maintain it. Beautiful – and it shows the value and importance of your work. And isn’t it wonderful that the “Work” allows us in any of life’s paths to do our internal work and progress regardless of our so called “station” in life? The simple beauty and elegance of this “Work” always amazes me.

  4. John F. Walz

    After reading the post and question, I saw, internally, the image of myself a few moments before plopping down in my office chair without the slightest bit of attention.
    I can in this moment, divide attention, drop the “I ‘m feeling tired,overwhelmed and harried” attitude that was behind the plopping,
    sit up straight in the chair, put my feet flat on the floor, breathe, be grateful for this opportunity, and with that, then there is a chance I will actually stand up from the chair with Presence.

    1. philippe bitton

      Thanks, be attentive. ..remember the aim, and hopefully draw out enough energy to sustain the attention.
      Most of my time in autopilot I am found. Not only because asleep is the machine, but unable to produce the proper effort to stay awake when the awakenings occur.
      To remember the aim is nice but insufficient. This is maybe where the heart is needed. What value is there in the aim (an aim one chose )?
      The focus cannot be the roles played. These change all the time. The player and its qualities (personality ) are what is observed and used as fuel for the act.
      One day I desire fame and fortune, and another, wisdom and peace. ..
      Peace and Love

  5. Orazio Sorgonà

    I had exctracted from my acquaintance with ‘Stoic Philosophy’ the idea that you have happyness as much as you stay even either to what are regarded as ‘fortunes’ in life, either to what are regarded’misfortunes’, getting not exalted in those, depressed in those others.

    And then you begin to see thet your life is simply ‘one life’: even events plunged in the vast pattern of cosmo; all with the invisible latent possibility of consciousness, which is the very “what there for” for anyone; for the evry stars and galaxies.

  6. John

    Once I was asked to step in and take a part in a play because the actor who had it felt that it wasn’t a big enough part for him. I did, saying exactly that, “There are no small parts…” The experience was unique, we toured the play to three cities here in KY and the role was three characters, each different. I’ve kept this in mind as I audition.

    Pride is the way we want to think we are; Vanity is the way we want others to think we are. Sometimes these can cause us to lose our way in the Work.

  7. Hicham B.

    This post is significant in the current situation I live. I graduated in June 2015 after six year of hard work. I ranked the first student of my promotion which of course was promising at that time. I was expecting job offers from everywhere but it didn’t happen. The fact that my country is so corrupt goes in opposition to that. If you don’t have strong contacts or military support don’t expect to find your dream job. So, from a computer engineer I found myself working in construction plants with manual efforts or selling vegetables in a local market. Now the question is how to bring the Fourth Way in such a situation? I invested six years of time and money and got nothing in return. Is there something I can change? No. Is it going to help me if I express negativity against all these corrupted people or indulge in self-pity etc? No.
    The interesting thing with this Work is the fact that it can be done regardless of the social position. I would say that my situation, if taken consciously, offers many advantages for self study than any other.
    So, non identification with my external situation and the realization that death is inevitable either rich or poor is the true treasure.
    Or am I in the process of creating a new buffer for my internal struggle between Yes and No?