In the tutorial on “Consciousness,” we listed the three parameters by which consciousness can be measured: frequency, duration, and depth. In the tutorial on “The Many “I”s,” we studied our multiplicity, and created external shocks to remind us to Be, in effect increasing frequency. In the tutorial on “Self-Observation,” we added the element of observing ourselves to each moment we remembered to “Be,” in effect adding depth. In this tutorial, we will add duration. We will attempt to prolong consciousness by focusing on a small unit of time and increasing the frequency in it so much that the many sparks unite into a single flame. We will draw from the Hindu myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean as a description of how duration can be attained by pulling against habit. And we will set specific aims to pull against the habits we observed last week.


  1. Asaf Braverman Post author

    In the spirit of setting small aims, let’s set the aim to avoid a specific subject of imagination in the coming week. Photograph a particular topic that is habitually occupying your mind these days. Set the aim to make efforts to Be, each time that topic arises.

    Share your experiences below.

    1. brant smith

      The specific subject of imagination I choose to struggle against this week is the imagination of the future. What with current events it is a unprecedented week for material. This imagination seems to take its hold whenever I loose my sense of presence to the moment, after repeated observations it is clear how persistent this tries to creep into our heart and mind. It really is like a hypnosis where by starting to contemplate the future, it spreads until we are wholly engulfed in its manifestation. Worrying about some event that may or may not happen, we slowly and subtly through our imaginations of the future we give ourselves wrong impressions. We have to distinguish imagination when it occurs because if we don’t then we might spend half a day thinking about what this person will do or say. These dreams give an unrealistic view of the world, because imagination blends if not caught, into our expectations of the future. Possibly derailing our aim to be, because we imagined so solidly an event that it became real to us, and if we are anticipating possible outcomes then when the time comes to pass we are disappointed maybe even irritated of its execution or nonexecution. Overtime if not observed and reconciled with this starts to distort our image of ourselves.

      A Gurdjieff quote, from In Search of the Miraculous, sums up my point, “In reality Kundalini is the power of imagination, the power of fantasy, which takes the place of a real function. When a man dreams instead of acting, when his dreams take the place of reality, when a man imagines himself to be an eagle, a lion, or a magician, it is the force of Kundalini acting in him. Kundalini can act in all centers and with its help all the centers can be satisfied with the imaginary instead of the real. A sheep which considers itself a lion or a magician lives under the power of Kundalini” (227).

  2. Melissa Sweet

    I have been working, for quite some time, on slowing down. I seem to have made some progress but the I who is constantly in a rush, still has the upper hand. In observing this, last night, I discovered that there is a deeper, more significant layer to this. I witnessed, very clearly and directly, an I who is very impulsive. I have an idea, see something which needs to be done, wish to talk with someone or go somewhere, Before, I allow myself the time needed to consider, this impulsive I jumps into action. My moving center takes charge and off I go. Today, as I notice this, over and over again, I am “pulling against” by sitting still, not moving, and, therefore allowing my King of Diamonds to have a voice.
    This feels very significant to further my large Aim which is to be Free.
    until I

      1. Melissa Sweet

        This is an important question. It is generic. I don’t remember being this way as a child. I think it began when I was a mother of several children ( 6 ). I had no help. My husband traveled often for his job.
        There was so much which needed to be done, I was constantly, it seemed, in motion. It was necessary then but is no longer. I think this particular I doesn’t want to give up a function which, at one time, was imperative.

      2. Melissa Sweet

        In regard to my earlier comments, something more has occurred to me which I’d like some input on. This summer, I read the book Human Types by Susan Zannos. I have no doubt that my type is Mercurial. This is the fastest of all the types. Could it be that my tendency of haste is a part of my inborn temperament? I stated earlier that I don’t remember being this way as a child. On further consideration, I can see that I was. There is an I who has immense enthusiasm to experience life to it’s fullest. This translates into squeezing as much as possible into each day. Obviously, this brings quantity but not necessarily quality.

  3. Flávia Sardinha

    I have been overwhelmed by a very negative imagination towards a specific person. I already collected some photographs of it: how it proves to be wrong, puts me in a very negative part of myself, acts trough me and prevents me to be present. So my aim is to stop imagination in relation to this particular person. I also want to observe more attentive on what makes this imagination arises.

  4. Hannah K

    I chose to work with the imaginations that I have about the clinic that I work at and I have noticed a few things. Firstly I have noticed how I have imaginary conversations with the manager of the clinic and I repeat the same conversation over and over again like a cracked record. I notice I am doing it, I bring my attention back into the present and before I know it I’m off again with the same conversation again, exact same words and everything. If I do manage to get myself off the subject of the clinic then I find that I have another 2 subjects about which my mind likes to have imaginary conversations and these will then start up. On all 3 of these subjects the tone of my imaginary speeches are aggresive and often sarcastic. To actually acknowledge this to myself has seriously undermined my imaginary picture of myself as a nice, compassionate and friendly person! That’s been quite a shock.
    Another thing I have noticed about all three of my pet subjects is that they stem from an inability to accept what is happening, how things are. The self that is ranting in my head is indignant about the injustice or stupidity of what is happening and firmly believes that it can make the situation better by ranting at whoever it believes is responsible. If I did actually go ahead and say the things that I’m imagining it would in fact make the situation a whole lot worse but pointing this out to the ranting self makes no difference. Within seconds it will be ranting again.
    The last thing I have noticed is that my mind goes into these imaginary conversations mostly while I’m cooking and while I’m driving, both Jack of Spades occupations (We discussed this in one of the workshops I think). Observing this phenomenon has meant that I can be on the alert for the imaginary conversations. I’m training myself to be aware as I walk through the kitchen door that I’m entering a danger zone and to be on my guard for these serpents. With this pre warning I’m able to stay in control a little bit better but it’s still patchy.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks for sharing this keen observation, Hannah. The description that you “repeat the same conversation over and over again like a cracked record…” is evocative of the Tarot Wheel of Fortune card (shown below). We will feature it and discuss it in the workshop.

      Visconti Wheel of Fortune

    2. Jack

      Hannah, I appreciate your observations and sharing. I have similiar
      experiences with Jack and it’s i’s. That is why I am so grateful for this school and the sharing that goes on between us. Your comments have helped me make my aim stronger to be more aware of these imaginary conversations.

  5. Dean Whittingham

    I would repeat Hannahs experience as being very similar to mine, with the addition that often its not just in an employment situation but more often in a social context, i.e. I am constantly having debates in my mind regarding how society itself can produce better ‘good householders’ rather than the approach which is employed today. Often these ramblings manifest into actual conversations, as if the ramblings create a charge which must be released outwardly at some point.

    What I have observed however, is that underlying these conversations rambling on in my head is a need for verification outside of my own self, as if it is not enough to verify something on my own, I need additional verification to support it – I lack a sense of faith so to speak – and my inner imaginations which eventually manifest outwardly are the means by which I am trying to verify something by gaining support form others. I may even go so far as to say that it appears I am trying to cheat the system. I lack the faith in my own verification’s from a higher self (quality) and hence attempt to rely on lower verification’s (by quantity).

  6. Dean Whittingham

    I have observed something else regarding small aims. If I take a simple example of something that happens often (like walking through a door, changing gears in a vehicle etc) and using these as an alarm to awaken, I have observed that if I work on this for quite some time with certain results, and then share my observations with the group, that almost immediately afterwards, the alarm loses its effectiveness – as if by sharing outwardly what I have worked so long to achieve internally, I have somehow negated much of the work or, the master has decided to add extra responsibility on me.

    I even observed this phenomenon before I became a 4th way student. For example, I would always get up around 6am, and then one day I blurted this out to a friend, and the next day I slept in until 8!

    1. Hannah K

      I have observed the exact same thing Dean. If I just keep it to myself then I can keep the momentum going with an exercise but as soon as I share it with someone else it is as if my need for confirmation or admiration has been satisfied and there is no longer enough motivation left in me to continue. At a guess I would say that the Queen, who’s primary need to be understood, has stolen the energy or power from the King, who’s primary motivation is to understand, to learn.

  7. Marcella Berardi

    My body is changing, I reached the age in which the nature wants a women loses what is no more necessary and I have to accustomed to this new transformation. The process was very fast, and I observe my reluctance accepting it. A group of “Is” looks at the imagine reflected by the mirror as an enemy to fight; there is the “I” of vanity, the “I” of self pity and the “I” of fear of time passing, each of them claims an identification. It is clear that these many “Is” attack the emotional centre, the other centres are not influenced by them, my intellectual brain is not interested in this matter at all . My aim is to take an impartial look each time I see the imagine of myself in the mirror as if it was someone else, trying to approach this stranger picture without considering. I want to experiment to go over the looking glass to meet the higher centres who, as we know, are looking at me from an upper level.

  8. Tim

    What trips me is that when I get to a good place I find myself drawn back to my old ways not because of a particular consistent habit of imagination, although that is present, but because I sense void where before there was none. Its like climbing up a sturdy twelve foot ladder: at the base everything is normal and ok, but as I climb to the top all that is familiar thins out and I want to go back down. I understand now that I must die to myself, meaning I must value my associations at nothingness in order for this to really work… so if every historic association of mine is “wrong work” then wouldn’t it be better to take the entire edifice down at once? Why not begin the journey by telling myself my ego is nothing? A long time ago I saw a show where a master sends his student to a mountain top with no resources to survive on his own, as a test. The camera cuts to he master as the student, empty handed, walks towards the mountain, complaining, and the master says, paraphrasing: ‘it is only when you realize you are nothing do you become something’. So for me it’s like a bit of psychological vertigo. If there was something there at the top to greet me I would stay longer, of this I am sure.

    1. Jill M.

      Hello Tim,
      You asked,”Wouldn’t it be better to take the entire edifice down at once?”

      For what it is worth, my experience is that huge, abrupt and REAL changes in me are not very likely. For example, moving to a new town, starting a new relationship, starting a new job — It can feel to me that “here is an opportunity to BE different, to CHANGE” – especially in a situation where no one knows me already — but historically my ‘baggage’ has traveled with me and soon my mechanicality has recreated the problems/situation which were there before.

      You asked, “Why not begin the journey by telling myself my ego is nothing?”

      I have found that even if one “i” states a Truth, way too often in me there is not any “i” present that can realize the true import of this Truth. So I keep coming back to observing what is present in me at the moment, usually some form of identification, imagination, and stepping back from it, not giving it energy, remembering that it will change. The moments when a Truth can really resound in me are a gift.

      1. Tim

        Hi, Jill. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I’ve reflected on your observations. Yes, I agree, taking down the edifice is a big task. Perhaps too big. I guess I was thinking of Eckhart Tolle where, in the beginning of his book the Power of Now, he describes how his personality imploded on itself after he realized there were two of him (one that feels miserable and depressed, and one that sees that he feels miserable and depressed, in his case the healthier of the two wins out).

        I am not miserable or depressed so I am not in the same situation as Eckhart although my aim is his end result. I’ve come to realize that many of my personal historic associations are preventing the recent successes I’ve been having in the work from taking hold. Like the phonograph and needle, I keep finding the ruts of myself, damn quickly. I already know about living in those ruts, I want something new, like higher consciousness.

        I can see identifications now much clearer. One way I think of them is that to identify means to make identical, meaning you try to make your true self identical to whatever occupies your present awareness. But as Bill Harris from says so simply, the map is not the territory.

        It’s the deep seated associations that I have the impede me most. Can anybody point me to the right literature about tackling associations?


  9. Jack

    My small aim for this week is to limit the energy, time and attention given to the political election going on in my country. Over time strong pictures have developed in my mechanical parts about what is right and wrong for our country. This has brought up strong emotional feelings and negative emotions. In the last few months I have observed it and developed a desire to not let it control me. I am more aware of the pictures now and remember to make efforts to be, more times than not, when these pictures and i’s appear. There have been a couple of occasions when the emotional center reacted to a political comment before I was aware. I also have made conscious effort to mute all political ads. A few I have left unmuted to observe myself and work at not identifying. I have also reminded myself that this is an external event that I have no control over except one little vote. Also, most other Beings on this planet are reacting mechanically to these events. I want to use them and this Aim to be more conscious. I have also meditated on Divine Order in this election for the good of all. I made up my mind to know that for whoever was elected.( This is probably beyond our assignment, but I felt it helped the process)

  10. András V

    One of my small aims is to get read of my morning imaginations. These are usually the worst negative imaginary disputes with my colleagues. I had my meal and listen to music at the same time and the imaginary fights went on in my mind. To support my efforts, I stopped listening to music, since it contributes to my imaginations, and instead I read a few lines of a book that requires my full attention and affects my emotions. It seems to work, however I often observe a strong desire to start the music and fall back to the original imagining state.

  11. Jatinder Singh Joshi

    I have also noticed some favourate imaginary conversations. yesterday i was going to meet my friend by walking and was thinking abt fourth way ideas .Then i found myself 1 km ahead from my friend’s home. I was thinking and thinking about the ideas to be present, but in sleep , and i also noticed that i was walking so fast , that was not my normal speeed of walking. I was fully in the grip of words and machine on default mode. Then i laugh at myself i was just repeating the ideas .I breath 2-3 times deeply with saying ‘i m here’. Then return back 1 km . We must avoid just repetiton of fourth way ideas, because lower centre can satisfied on merely words. This happens frequently with me and i made a small aim , while walking or driving in in these days i have made an aim to be present for very short duration by watch the breathing till that tree then next aim to be present till next pole then till reaching to that place. This is very helpful for me.

  12. anselmo

    I observed that my machine is afraid of the judgment of other people. Because of that i have many “I”s occupying my mind. In the moment i can think: “this person is judging me”, or i daydream about a situation that i think someone was judging me. Also i think: “what that person will think of me if i do this”.
    For example, when i am at work and i say something, an “I” come to my mind: “that person is judging me”. Specially if it is someone that expresses judgment frequently.
    I daydream about past situations that i felt embarrassed. I read that one reason we feel embarrassed is because we are afraid of others people`s thoughts about us.
    I also think: “I won´t wear this clothes because people will judge me.”
    I caught an “I” about this topic and i disregard it. Than another “I”, again and again. An i keep on trying not to be identified. It is like a car that gets stuck over and over again on a muddy road.

  13. MarisaM

    I’m learning to do a set of patterns in a martial sequence. I repeat the moves many times and feel that I know them well. The moment there is any kind of pressure for example someone watching me perform the set I forget the moves. I forget myself under this particular pressure. Imagination i’s feel they know the moves and will remember under any conditions. I photograph myself in imagination believing the patterns are accessible at all times. The only way to avoid this imagination is to perform this set in front of friends.

  14. John

    The small aim of remembering where I put the kitchen cloth, and/or the pot holder, as I engaged in the task of baking about 12 dozen cookies was quite a challenge. I’d noticed in the past that I was always looking for them because I would use one or the other, set it down, go about a related task and then when I needed them, they were no where to be found. Albeit they were always where I’d last set them down, this I couldn’t remember. I had a lot of fun trying to remember them as I went through the baking process for more than an hour and a half.

  15. George Gurdjieff

    The question of aim is a very important question. Until a man has defined his own aim for himself he will not be able even to begin ‘to do’ anything.
    How is it possible ‘to do’ anything without having an aim? Before anything else ‘doing’ presupposes an aim.”