What is the taste of reality?
Each moment is fresh. We grasp this when we are present. This fine blade-edge of presence separates us from the past and the future. What can help us stay on this edge and remain awake?
In the natural world to which we belong, no tree, bird, nor breath of air remains unchanged from one moment to the next. Likewise we are in flux, with different moods, motions and desires which sway and tilt our attention. Observing our multiplicity can create the tension necessary to remain awake, the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ that Gurdjieff found so vital.
Every breaking of habit produces a change in the machine.”
Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
Setting an aim is a good way to see ourselves, our different parts and their divergent interests. We can set simple alarm clocks to awaken, like starting the day with an effort to divide our attention, to avoid sugar or a second cup of caffeine, or to be present to each phone call. An aim highlights our lack of unity, and jolts us awake when we remember it. For work on consciousness is also work on will—where we must deny ourselves what does not belong to our aim—and unity, where we rejoin what surrounds us, right here, right now.
Returning to the knifepoint of attention is a first step. While a student of the Fourth Way may develop tools to understand his subjective inner world, it is the real world that ultimately attracts us when we are ready. Reality presses in, blasting our preconceptions with the charge of the present instant.
Witnessing the reality of the present moment, we can remain on the knife-point.
Reality is both touched by time and beyond time, and being present to a moment in time is the door to reality.
produced in man by the struggle between 'yes' and 'no.' If a man gives way to all his desires, or
panders to them, there will be no inner struggle in him, no 'friction', no fire. But if, for the sake
of attaining a definite aim, he struggles with desires that hinder him, he will then create a fire,
which will gradually transform his inner world into a single whole.”
Peter Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous