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The Mystic and the Priest: The Gurdjieff Ensemble Performs Komitas – Armenian Weekly

Posted: September 19, 2019 at 6:43 am


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Gurdjieff Ensemble (Photo Andranik Sahakyan)

Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies.G.I. Gurdjieff

At first blush, it may seem like an odd pairing: Gurdjieff and Komitas. The father of modern Armenian music, Komitas Vartabed the itinerant priest who recorded thousands of Armenian ballads before the onslaught of the Catastrophe and G. I. Gurdjieffthe mystical guru of experimental notation, part fakir and yogi, Buddha and charlatan, the man with the famously thick moustache and shaved head, inventor of a supposed Fourth Way. The son of a Pontic Greek father and an Armenian mother, Gurdjieff was born in cosmopolitan Gyumri in 1866. His writings were esoteric like those of his contemporaries such as the anthroposophists Anna Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner, and they drew their inspiration from Christian, Hindi and Muslim traditions from the proverbial East and West. And while his music was itself minimalist and mystical, his personality was outsized: he was a great teacher but also prone to fits of rage. A description of his living quarters that I remember reading about in my late teens made a great impression on me, like some garish mixture of an opium den and a Middle Eastern bordello lined with oriental carpets. I remember looking around sheepishly at my freshman dorm room and thinking how sparse they seemed in comparison, how dreadfully boring!

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The Yerevan-based Gurdjieff Ensemble was founded in 2008 by music director Levon Eskenian in order to play Thomas de Hartmanns ethnographically authentic arrangements of the composers wonderfully esoteric music. In addition to Eskenian, other ensemble members include Davit Avagyan, Armen Ayvazyan, Norayr Gapoyan, Eduard Harutyunyan, Emmanuel Hovhannisyan, Mesrop Khalatyan, Avag Margaryan, Aramayis Nikoghosyan, Vladimir Papikyan and Meri Vardanyan. The group has won consistent praise in the music press; their first album Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff on ECM Records was awarded the prestigious Edison Award in the Netherlands. In the September 27 concert A Night to Honor Komitas at New Yorks Symphony Space, the Gurdjieff musicians, accompanied by Lusine Grigoryans gorgeously plangent piano soloswill perform a few of his works including The Spinners, Trinity, and Asian Songs and rhythms, Numbers 11 and 40, as well as Narekatsis lovely tenth century Havik and Tagh, both transcribed by Komitas.

150 Years of Komitas

As the program title indicates, the bulk of the evening will honor the lilting and beautifully sonorous works of Komitas Vartabed. Many of these pieces can be found on the Gurdjieff Ensembles second album Komitas (also on ECM Records), which explores the ties that bind Armenian sacred and secular music. Born Soghomon Soghomonian in 1869, Komitas was also an ethnomusicologist, choral conductor and teacher. He miraculously survived deportation, but he suffered greatly from the horrors that he witnessed during the Armenian Genocide. He was interned for the last 15 years of his life in a mental hospital in Paris. The songs that he collected in his youth describe simple lives of work, love and family life in Western Armenia before the dreadful events. It is no exaggeration to say that much of Armenian music history would have disappeared into the conflagration of the Medz Yeghern had it not been for Komitas painstaking work of transcription and interpretation.

More than Just Kanonikal

The Gurdjieff Ensemble will perform a full program of Komitas classics, including the popular Kele, Kele and Antsrevn egav (The Rain Arrived). Several dances from the Shushi region are also included (Shushi Unabli and Shushi Marali) as are Karouna and the lovely Msho shoror from the Mush region. Like Komitas before him, Eskenian is especially committed to keeping the original character and sound of these compositions alive, so the Gurdjieff Ensemble renditions are in a very real way a voyage back through time: I would like to emphasize that the program we are playing besides being musically pleasant to the ear is also historically informative, Eskenian explains. Take Msho Shoror, for example, a series of pieces that used to be played at pilgrimages to St. Karapet Monastery, one of the main Armenian pilgrimage sites before the Genocidethis is something that every Armenian should have the chance to hear at least once in their lives. To achieve this unique sound, the Gurdjieff ensemble plays over 16 instruments: some like the duduk, the oud and the dohl will be familiar to listeners knowledgeable in Armenian and Middle Eastern music. Then there are others still, which carry such wonderfully resonant names as the tmbuk and the pku. The least that can be said when listening to these delicately-rendered compositions is that whatever these Armenian-trained musicians are doing, it works!

Have a listen to the Gurdjieff Ensembles heavenly duduks, delectable kanons and a sound that is as rich as it is heartfeltthen rush to Symphony Space to experience it live. Komitas and Gurdjieff: music to be honored, music to be savored.

Christopher Atamian is a noted writer and creative producer of ItalianArmenian background and the grandson of Armenian Genocide survivors. He is an alumnus of Harvard University, Columbia Business School and USC FIlm School, a former Fulbright Scholar. Apart from creative endeavors and professional activities as a senior executive in leading media companies and consultancies (ABC, Ogilvy & Mather, J.P. Morgan), Atamian has concentrated on community activism. He is the former President and a current board member of AGLA New York and in 2004 founded Nor Alik, a non-profit cultural organization responsible for producing the First Armenian International Film Festival. Atamian also co-produced the OBIE Award-winning play Trouble in Paradise in 2006, directed by Elyse Singer, as well as several music videos and short films. Atamian was selected for the 2009 Venice Biennale on the basis of his video Sarafians Desire and received a 2015 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He continues to contribute critical pieces to leading publications such as The New York Times Book Review and The Huffington Post, Scenes Media and The Weekly Standard, while working on other creative endeavors in film and theater.

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:43 am

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For Peter Brook, the Experimental Showman, Nothing Is Ever Finished – The New York Times

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The French windows onto the balcony have been left open. But since it is August in Paris, in a quiet neighborhood, there are none of the usual, urgent noises of urban street life, and when I look out the window from where Im sitting, all I can see is sky.

You know, Mr. Brook says, since Ive been living here I have this uncanny feeling, although what I normally think of as Paris is just a 15-minute drive from here, that Im in another country.

In a way, another country is always where Mr. Brook has aspired to be.

The London-born son of Russian-Jewish scientists from Latvia (his father patented a popular medicine called Brooklax), the young Peter dreamed of becoming foreign correspondent, to have the joy of being sent all over the world, month after month, to dangerous struggle spots anywhere just to say this world is not the little world of middle-class London.

As a student at Oxford University, he also thought he might become a painter, a composer, a pianist and, most particularly, a filmmaker. (He did indeed go on to make movies that include Lord of the Flies and Meetings with Remarkable Men, adapted from a book by Gurdjieff.)

And all the while, he says, he was tasting a bit of everything on offer in culture, in sex, in drugs (though he was blessed, he says, with a natural resistance to addiction) and in religion.

He had been confirmed as a member of the Church of England when he was 16. But this at once led me to think why why is this better than Islam? So I read that, and I read Buddhism. And that led me to India. But all of this was, again: Taste, test, question, and never reach a conclusion.

His supreme affinity, always, was for storytelling, he says. And in the theater, he found its most congenial, and universal, application. At 21, he directed an effervescent production of Shakespeares Loves Labours Lost at Stratford; at 23, he was named the producing director of the Royal Opera House; both his interpretations of Shakespeare and of sleek comedies (The Little Hut), costume dramas (Ring Round the Moon) and even musicals made him the toast of the West End.

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For Peter Brook, the Experimental Showman, Nothing Is Ever Finished - The New York Times

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New to this Work? Start Here – George Gurdjieff | Be Community

Posted: July 31, 2019 at 4:43 am


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Degrees of Attention

We go through our day in varying degrees of attention. Most of our daily tasks call for minimal attention, such as dressing ourselves, eating or interacting with friends and family. Some tasks require more attention; such as reading a book, drafting an email or attending a job interview.

We can perform the first group of actions while simultaneously performing others: dress ourselves while speaking on the phone, eat while chatting with our friends or interact socially while sending and receiving text messages. However, we cannot perform tasks that require attention alongside other tasks without harming our performance. We cannot read a book while speaking on the phone, draft an email while chatting with our friends, or attend a job interview while texting. We function in varying degrees of attention.

Our attention is subject to our will. If we desire, we can perform any task more attentively.We can bring attention to dressing, sensing the fabric of our clothes,matching the colors of our shirt to our slacks and shoes,etc. We can dine intentionally, tasting each bite, each sip, etc. But we neednt be professionals in any field to verify that we can bring more or less attention to the simplest actions, and this demonstrates that: Our attention is subject to our will.

Dressing inattentively is effortless; dressing intentionally requires effort. Eating inattentively is effortless; tasting the food requires effort. Directing attention through will requires effort.This explains whyGurdjieff called his methods of self-development The Work.

Directing attention is not the end of the Work; it is a means by which, we become conscious. Few teachings make the distinction between consciousness and attention, and this is where the Fourth Way differs from most other systems. The Workis not only about being attentive; it is about being conscious, and consciousness is self-awareness. George Gurdjieff called this self-remembering. Peter Ouspensky called it divided attention. More recently, it has become popularly known as being present.

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Quest The Gurdjieff Society

Posted: May 25, 2019 at 9:47 pm


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The Gurdjieff Work

Why am I here? What is the meaning and purpose of my life? Is there more to life than the life I am leading? You may find yourself asking such questions in a moment of quiet reflection, when you feel that something is missing in your life.

The search for a life of meaning was a quest that Gurdjieff,from a very young age, fully embraced and which was to define and shape the rest of his life.

In this quest, Gurdjieff was to discover that mankind is living a kind of deluded half-life in which we take the false for what is real. He was to discover that there is a real life full of meaning, beckoning, but elusive because of the way we have been taught to think from our earliest age that due to no fault of our own we have been conditioned to believe in a lie.

Gurdjieff also maintains that we are not who we think we are and that what we call "I/myself," is not really the case:

These are radical and shocking ideas that seem to fly in the face of the evidence that one lives ones life in a responsible way, awake and able to make conscious decisions.

Gurdjieff strenuously refutes this belief and goes so far as to maintain that it is in this state of sleep that we make all our decisions, develop relationships, innovate and invent, develop works of art, carry on our business. He insists that everything happens as a result of accidental associations and that we have no real conscious awareness of our self and what is taking place in our lives.

This is a hard pill to swallow and seriously challenges our incredulity. And this very questioning is what Gurdjieff intended. Gurdjieff insists that we must not take his word for anything, that we do not accept any of his ideas on face value and that we verify for ourselves in practice whether there is any validity and truth in what he is proposing:

Gurdjieff implored that we need to get to know our self, who we are and what we have become and that in this endeavour it is crucial to develop our capacity to see to observe frequently, clearly, objectively because in doing so a picture will eventually emerge of our true situation. This picture will not be somebody elses idea of what we are, but what Gurdjieff refers to as the terror of our situation.

When we awaken to this new reality, then and only then can we open to a new question, a question that has the power to transform our being.

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Quest The Gurdjieff Society

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May 25th, 2019 at 9:47 pm

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Gurdjieff’s Teaching of The Fourth Way is The Original Teaching

Posted: May 12, 2019 at 3:54 am


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What has been confusing to many people is that until Gurdjieff introduced the teaching in Russia in 1912 it was not known. Since chronologically all teachings and religions appear before The Fourth Way, it is easily supposed that it is last. This perception, however, is quite linear. Though The Fourth Way does appear last, it is actually first. All esoteric and religious history is thus stood on its head.

We see the world, as Gurdjieff said many times, "topsy-turvy." Original does not mean newly invented, as it is often taken to mean. An original teaching is "of the origin," meaning that the teaching existed first, from the beginning, before other teachings that may derive from it.

In other words, The Fourth Way predates not only Christianity but the Egyptian, Judaic, Persian, Buddhist and Islamic religions.

Gurdjieff tells us that the earliest indications of the teaching of The Fourth Way lie in prehistoric Egyptan Egypt that existed before recorded history, which dates from 3000 B.C. "It will seem strange to many people," Gurdjieff said, "when I say that this prehistoric Egypt was Christian many thousands of years before the birth of Christ."

He said that the principles and ideas constituting true Christianity were known many thousands of years before the birth of Christ. In discovering these, he had "the blueprint," so to say, of the original Christianity.

As he said, "The Christian church, the Christian form of worship, was not invented by the fathers of the church. It was all taken in a ready-made form from Egypt, only not from the Egypt we know but from one which we do not know. This Egypt was in the same place as the other but it existed much earlier."

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Gurdjieff's Teaching of The Fourth Way is The Original Teaching

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archives.nypl.org — Howarth Gurdjieff Archive

Posted: May 5, 2019 at 5:51 am


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GEORGE IVANOVICH GURDJIEFF

George Ivanovich (G.I.) Gurdjieff was a spiritual leader who advocated for achieving a higher state of consciousness through what he called "The Work" which was internal work on oneself. Born in Russia in the late 19th century to parents of Greek and Armenian origin, Gurdjieff taught in Russia, Georgia, Turkey, France, and eventually the United States.

Gurdjieff taught that the way to experience "The Work," was actual physical labor. He emphasized strenuous labor combined with lectures, music, and sacred dance. His focus was to increase mindfulness and minimize daydreaming. Gurdjieff's choreography, called "Movements," was one method he used to help followers clear and focus their minds. The Movements were not intended for performance, but for spiritual contemplation. Practitioners would repeat movements over and over again until they were perfect and second-nature, allowing them to use the Movements as a form of meditation.

His followers included composer Thomas de Hartmann and his wife Olga, who became Gurdjieff's secretary; Jeanne de Salzmann (who founded the Gurdjieff Foundation in 1949); Alfred Orage (who would eventually supervise The Work in New York); P.D. Ouspensky (one of Gurdjieff's earliest followers) and many others. Among his early pupils was Jessmin Howarth, who became an expert on Gurdjieff's Movements and how they should be performed. Other Movement students included Alfred Etievan and Marthe de Gainernon.

JESSMIN HOWARTH

Jessmin Howarth began her career as a dancer in 1912 when she registered at the Institute of Dalcroze Eurythmics in Germany, which eventually led to a job with the Paris Opera in the early 1920s. In Paris, Howarth encountered Jeanne de Salzmann, who introduced her to Gurdjieff. She immediately began studying the Movements and assumed the task of teaching and preserving the Movements as they were created.

On a Movement Demonstration trip to New York in 1924, Howarth discovered she was pregnant with Gurdjieff's child. After giving birth to her daughter Dushka Howarth later that year, she moved to California and then London, returning to the United States at the start of World War II.

After Gurdjieff's death in 1949, Howarth set about compiling accurate Movement notations and recordings and supervised the training of Movement instructors, assistants, and pianists. She travelled to France to assist Jeanne de Salzmann with filming Movements for posterity. She was also a consultant on the 1979 film Meetings with Remarkable Men. She retired from teaching Movements at the Gurdjieff Foundation in 1978, but continued to lead Movement Seminars until her death in 1984.

DUSHKA HOWARTH

Dushka Howarth was raised in the United States and London by her mother and had little contact with Gurdjieff as a child, though she learned of his teachings and the Movements. In 1949, she traveled to Paris with five other young women to train with Gurdjieff in the Movements, and went on to lead Movement classes in London. Howarth also worked as a tour guide in Paris, followed by a career as a folk singer under the name "Dushka, the Jet-Set Gypsy."

In 1986, Jeanne de Salzmann's daughter Nathalie de Etievan (wife of Alfred Etievan) asked Howarth to return to teaching Movements and join her in South America to help supervise and establish Movement classes. Howarth went on to visit South America many times over the next ten years and conducted Movement seminars, trained teachers, and recruited new pupils.

GURDJIEFF HERITAGE SOCIETY

Dushka Howarth was a founding member of the Gurdjieff Heritage Society, which sought to preserve the Movements and Gurdjieff's teachings in their original form. To do this, members gathered original notes, photographs, music, and descriptions of Movements from around the world in order to compile definitive instructions for as many Movements as possible. The Society also lent resources and support to others undertaking Gurdjieff preservation projects, such as Gert-Jan Blom's preservation of Gurdjieff's harmonium recordings. As the artistic director of Netherland's Metropole Orchestra, Blom was also able to produce full orchestra recordings of Gurdjieff's music with assistance from the Society.

In 2009, the Gurdjieff Heritage Society published Dushka Howarth's book It's Up To Ourselves: A Mother, A Daughter, G.I. Gurdjieff, A Shared Memoir and Family Photo Album. Howarth researched the material for the book over a ten-year period and used her mother's essays, correspondence, photographs, and the accounts of others to piece together the story of Jessmin Howarth's life and her own experiences with Gurdjieff and his pupils. Dushka Howarth continued to work with the Gurdjieff Heritage Society until her death in 2010.

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Gurdjieff Foundation of Louisiana home

Posted: April 28, 2019 at 10:49 pm


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LOVE & COMPASSION FOR OTHERS The work of Gurdjieff is a bridge between a mans present state and a state in which he can remember and love. (Louise March)

Many of us have come to question the meaning of life in the face of the suffering, stress and uncertainty of todays world. Some may belooking for a path that will lead to happiness...to health...to a true expression of compassion towards others...to a clarity as to how one might meaningfully serve...

The teaching of Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff, drawing on a body of knowledge that can be found in varied expression in all the great religious traditions, introduces an all-encompassing cosmology and psychology that may very well offer help to those trying to find their place in the overall scheme of things. Underlying Gurdjieff's writings, music and sacred dances (aka the Movements) is a practical approach through which we may discover the means to playing an active role in our own lives as well as in service to the lives of those around us

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George Gurdjieff | OSHO Transform Yourself through the …

Posted: April 18, 2019 at 12:48 am


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Gurdjieff said, You are nothing but the body, and when the body dies you will die. Only once in a while does a person survive one who has created soul in his life survives death not all. A Buddha survives; a Jesus survives, but not you! You will simply die, not even a trace will be left.

What was Gurdjieff trying to do? He was shocking you to the very roots; he was trying to take away all your consolations and foolish theories which go on helping you to postpone work upon yourself. Now, to tell people, You dont have any souls, you are just vegetables, just a cabbage or maybe a cauliflower a cauliflower is a cabbage with a college education but nothing more than that. He was really a master par excellence. He was taking the very earth away from underneath your feet. He was giving you such a shock that you had to think over the whole situation: are you going to remain a cabbage? He was creating a situation around you in which you would have to seek and search for the soul, because who wants to die?

And the idea that the soul is immortal has helped people to console themselves that they are not going to die, that death is just an appearance, just a long sleep, a restful sleep, and you will be born again. Gurdjieff says, All nonsense. This is all nonsense! Dead, you are dead forever unless you have created the soul.

Now see the difference: you have been told you are already a soul, and Gurdjieff changes it totally. He says, You are not already a soul, but only an opportunity. You can use it, you can miss it.

And I would like to tell you that Gurdjieff was just using a device. It is not true. Everybody is born with a soul. But what to do with people who have been using truths as consolations? A great master sometimes has to lie and only a great master has the right to lie just to pull you out of your sleep.

Osho,The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol. 2, Talk #2To continue reading,click here

Gurdjieff has been much criticized because he was a liar and the lying came from the Sufis; he was a Sufi. He was disciplined in Sufi monasteries and schools. And in the West, in fact, he introduced Sufism in this age in a totally new version. But then it was impossible for the ordinary Christian mind to understand him because truth is a value, and nobody can think that a master, an enlightened master, can lie.

Can you think of Jesus lying? And I know he lied but Christians cannot think about it: Jesus lying? No, he is the truest man. But then you dont know the question of knowledge is very, very dangerous. He lied about many things a master has to, if he wants to help. Otherwise, he can be a saint, but no help is possible from him. And without helping, a saint is already dead. If a saint cannot help, what is the use of his being here? There is no point in it. All that he can attain through life, he has attained. He is here to help.

Gurdjieff was very much criticized because the West couldnt understand, the ordinary Christian mind could not understand. So there are two versions about Gurdjieff in the West. One thinks that he was a very mischievous man not a sage at all, just a devil incarnate. Another is that he was the greatest saint the West has come to know in these past few centuries. Both are true, because he was just in the middle. He was a po personality. You cannot say yes, you cannot say no about him. You can say that he was a holy sinner, or a sinning saint. But you cannot divide, you cannot be so simple about him. The knowledge that he had was very complex.

Osho,Journey to the Heart, Talk #7To continue reading,click here

Gurdjieff says: Go on remembering the observer self-remembering. Buddha says: Forget the observer just watch the observed. If you have to choose between Buddha and Gurdjieff, I suggest choosing Buddha. There is a danger with Gurdjieff that you may become too self-conscious rather than becoming self-aware, you may become self-conscious, you may become an egoist. I have felt that in many Gurdjieff disciples, they have become very, very great egoists. Not that Gurdjieff was an egoist he was one of the rarest enlightened men of this age; but the method has a danger in it, it is very difficult to make a distinction between self-consciousness and self-remembering. It is so subtle it is almost impossible to make the distinction; for the ignorant masses it is almost always self-consciousness that will take possession of them; it will not be self-remembering.

The very word self is dangerous you become more and more settled in the idea of the self. And the idea of the self isolates you from existence.

Buddha says forget the self, because there is no self; the self is just in the grammar, in the language it is not anything existential. You just observe the content. By observing the content, the content starts disappearing. Once the content disappears, watch your anger and watching it, you will see it is disappearing once the anger has disappeared there is silence. There is no self, no observer, and nothing to be observed; there is silence. This silence is brought by Vipassana, Buddhas method of awareness.

Osho,This Very Body the Buddha, Talk #4To continue reading,click here

One old woman became very much impressed by Ouspensky, and then she went to see Gurdjieff. Within just a week she was back, and she told Ouspensky, I can feel that Gurdjieff is great, but I am not certain whether he is good or bad, whether he is evil, devilish, or a saint. I am not certain about that. He is great that much is certain. But he may be a great devil, or a great saint that is not certain. And Gurdjieff behaved in such a way that he would create this impression.

Alan Watts has written about Gurdjieff and has called him a rascal saint because sometimes he would behave like a rascal, but it was all acting and was done knowingly to avoid all those who would take unnecessary time and energy. It was done to send back those who could only work when they were certain. Only those would be allowed who could work even when they were not certain about the master, but who were certain about themselves.

And to surrender to a Gurdjieff will transform you more than surrendering to Ramana Maharshi, because Ramana Maharshi is so saintly, so simple, that surrender doesnt mean anything. You cannot do otherwise. He is so open just like a small child so pure, that surrender will happen. But that surrender is happening because of Ramana Maharshi, not because of you. It is nothing as far as you are concerned. If surrender happens with Gurdjieff, then it has happened because of you, because Gurdjieff is in no way going to support it. Rather, he will create all types of hindrances. If still you surrender, that transforms you. So there is no need to be absolutely sure about him and that is impossible but you have to be sure about yourself.

Osho,Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi, Talk #5To continue reading,click here

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The Enneagram – Gurdjieff Legacy

Posted: April 7, 2019 at 8:51 am


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One of the principal symbols of The Fourth Way is a circle whose circumference is divided into nine parts that are joined within the circle to a triangle and an irregular six-sided figure, the enneagram.

According to Gurdjieff, the enneagram is "the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language." Gurdjieff's use of the word hieroglyph, of course, points to Egypt. In this context, it is interesting to consider the nine deities established at Heliopolis in the Early Dynastic Period as part of the cosmogonic or creation myths. These cosmogonic tenets are given in the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom.

The frontispiece of the Arithmologia by the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher(16011680), published in 1665, shows a figure not identical but somewhat similar to the enneagram. Kircher was a man of the Renaissance in pursuit of origins. His studies in magnetics, acoustics and medicine led him to attempt to decode Egyptian hieroglyphics. According to one source, Kircher regarded the ancient Egyptian religion "as the source not only of Greek and Roman religion but of the beliefs of the later Hebrews, Chaldaeans and even the inhabitants of India, China, Japan and the Americas, colonized in turn by Ham's progeny. Therefore, he believed that by studying these later and better recorded beliefs one could extrapolate the earliest religion of mankind, that of ancient Egypt."

Like The Fourth Way itself, the enneagram has not been known up to the present time. "The enneagram," said Gurdjieff, "has for a very long time been preserved in secret and if it now is, so to speak, made available to all, it is only in an incomplete and theoretical form." This, and the fact that it is a part of a teaching, has not deterred those who have sought to market the enneagram, divested of its deeper meaning and application, as a psychological tool. See William Patrick Patterson's Taking With the Left Hand.

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The Enneagram - Gurdjieff Legacy

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Fourth Way | George Gurdjieff | Be Community

Posted: December 23, 2018 at 4:47 am


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Self-Remembering

Self-remembering is the bridge between knowledge and wisdom. It is an effort to be aware of oneself in the present, to break away from whatever imaginary world one may have delved in a moment ago and return to reality. It is an instantaneous internal reorganization: pushing ones mechanical thoughts and emotions to the background while bringing ones Higher Self to the forefront remembering ones Self.

Gurdjieff introduced self-remembering in one of his early talks with his Russian students, inviting them to share what they had seen by observing themsveles. None had noticed the most important fact: that they didnt remember themselves. Ouspensky, who narrates this discussion, begins experimenting with self-remembering and subsequently realizes its key role in the work towards consciousness.Here, as before, Gurdjieff borrows and translates an old practice. The Upanishads were an extensive treatise on the Self, on the need to remember it and bring it to the forefront. Sufism speaks of Remembrance of God in terms very similar to Gurdjieffs later expression. But the term God had lost its meaning by the twentieth century, associated too deeply with religions connotations that prevented people from relating to it practically. Gurdjieff was translating older systems into language palatable to modern western man.

Hence the difference between the system and the Fourth Way: while the system is Gurdjieffs twentieth-century expression, the Fourth Way is the sum of all past and present expressions of this way the long body of tradition that appeared and disappeared on the stage of mankind.

Earlier expressions of the Fourth Way would not have called themselves Fourth Way. Gurdjieff called his presentation Fourth Way to distinguish it as one of four possible ways to awakening. All four lead to the same end: awakening of consciousness, becoming real, being able to Be. The spiritual paths that lead to that same goal, however, may differ in character, like different roads leading to a similardestination.

We will not expound on the three ways to avoid straying from our main focus. These are well described in In Search of the Miraculous. What isnt clearly emphasized there, however, is that, while Gurdjieff presents three archetypes of ways based on human types, this is true only in theory. In practice, any way will prove a blend of all three ways with a center of gravity on one. The Fourth Way differs from these in that it strives to blend all three ways harmoniously.We say strive, for that is the idea. Normally, though, a teaching will begin as Fourth Way and evolve to place emphasis on one aspect over the others. It may gradually assume an emotional, religions hue; or it may gradually assume an intellectual, academic hue. This seems to have happened in both Gurdjieff and Ouspenskys teachings, where each began at a similar place but gradually gravitated towards an emphasis closer to his own natural tendency; for Gurdjieff it was physical movement, for Ouspensky it was intellectual discussion.

A fundamental aspect of the Fourth Way, absent in most modern practices of spirituality, is that the spiritual evolution of man has to be linked to a scale greater than man. Man does not evolve solely for his own benefit. He is generally not meant to evolve spiritually, but serves organic purposes, for which his normal undeveloped condition is sufficient. Evolution is a rare exception, a going against the stream, an escape from the general law.

The reason spiritual evolution is, at all, possible, is because its benefit to a higher cosmos. Parallel to the downward movement of universal growth of the endless physical expansion of the universe there exists an upwards movement towards consciousness, for which a minority of conscious individuals is indispensable. These are the broad and narrow ways mentioned in the Gospels and likened by Gurdjieff to acorns in a field. Of the billions of acorns produced each year, how many will mature into trees?

The Fourth Way is, therefore, exclusive by definition. It is not for all. It flatters none. Neither is it a path that can be traveled half-heartedly. It is a last resort, a way for those disappointed with everything else, who have sought yet havent found. It is a way for disillusioned people who know too much who know they have nothing to lose.

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December 23rd, 2018 at 4:47 am

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