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“All work begins with the control of attention, and in this connection much can be learned from the Movements.” (Mme. Ouspensky)

Attention & Concentration

One of the paramount things we need to learn in the Work is the control of our Attention. Everything can be said to depend on this one skill alone. One of the first things that Ouspensky said about Self Remembering was that it involved dividing the Attention. He uses the analogy of a double pointed arrow indicating a division of Attention between our inner and outer worlds. Since our inner world consists of three centers of experience, physical, emotional and intellectual, we need to learn to divide our Attention in four directions at minimum. Another way to think of Attention is as a sphere of consciousness. The more we expand the sphere, the more our Attention can embrace. We could also think of it is as a spot light which can be directed where we will and whose beam can be widened or narrowed as required. Coming into contact with our higher centers is a matter of dividing or expanding our Attention to include the experiences occurring in those centers.

Concentration is the ability to keep the Attention focused on the experience under observation for whatever length of time is necessary to observe or absorb the experience. The assimilation of certain experiences may require a lengthy period of Intentional Suffering.

All the Gurdjieff exercises, all exercises from any tradition, require Attention and in the course of doing the exercises, the Attention and Concentration are developed as a matter of course.

There are different types and objects of  Attention - active, passive or neutral. Active attention is when we focus on something specific. Passive attention is when our attention is suddenly caught, say by a loud noise. Neutral attention is open to everything without preference and is free of labeling or identifying. All modes have their uses but Neutral Attention is important when assimilating the Third Being Food of Impressions.


"There is just one method which is obligatory for all : to stand with the attention in the heart. All other things are beside the point and do not lead to the heart of the matter." (Theophan the Recluse)

The Endless Search © 2004 Ian C. MacFarlane