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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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Posted in Gurdjieff — Howarth Gurdjieff Archive

Posted: May 5, 2019 at 5:51 am

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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 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 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.


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 a true expression of compassion towards 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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Fourth Way | George Gurdjieff | Be Community

Posted: December 23, 2018 at 4:47 am

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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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Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermeneutic Study | OKCIR: Omar …

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Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermeneutic StudyAuthor: Mohammad H Tamdgidi

Foreword: J. Walter Driscoll

Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermeneutic Study explores the life and ideas of the enigmatic twentieth century philosopher, mystic, and teacher of esoteric dances George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1872?-1949), performing a hermeneutic textual analysis of all his published writings to illuminate the place of hypnosis in his teaching.Human enlightenment and liberation, mystics have long advised, require spiritual awakening from the hypnotic sleep of everyday life. This book explores the life and ideas of the enigmatic twentieth century philosopher, mystic, and teacher of esoteric dances George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1872?-1949), performing a hermeneutic textual analysis of all his published writings to illuminate the place of hypnosis in his teaching. The hermeneutic approach captures both the aim for an in-depth textual analysis, and the notion that the intent is to interpret the text using its own symbolic and meaning structures.

Systematically explored for the first time is Gurdjieffs objective art of literary hypnotism intended as a major conduit for the transmission of his teachings on the philosophy, theory, and practice of personal self-knowledge and harmonious human development. In the process, the nature and function of the mystical shell hiding the rational kernel of Gurdjieffs teaching are explainedshedding new light on why his mysticism is mystical, and Gurdjieff so enigmatic, in the first place.

Mohammad Tamdgidi is the Founding Director of OKCIR: The Omar Khayyam Center for Integrative Research in Utopia, Mysticism, and Science (Utopystics). He has been an Associate Professor of Sociology teaching social theory at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The book includes a Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll, a major bibliographer and scholar of Gurdjieff studies.

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (New York, London)5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches, 288 pages, 15 figures, indexPublication Dates: hc 2009/pb 2012 (rel. 10/2/12)hc: ISBN: 978-0-230-61507-6, ISBN10: 0-230-61507-4pb: ISBN: 978-1-137-28243-9, ISBN10: 1-137-28243-6eb:ISBN 978-0-230-10202-6

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The various editions of this book are also available for ordering from Palgrave/Macmillan and all major online bookstores worldwide.

Tamdgidi sets a benchmark for Gurdjieff Studies in relation to two recognized but insufficiently explored areas, his writings as a unified field and his exploitation of hypnosis in its broadest sense. His compact interpretation of Gurdjieff emphasizesfor the first timea search for meaning based on recognizable keys within about 1,800 pages of Gurdjieffs four texts as a single body of work, with particular focus on subliminal and subconscious dimensions of impact and interpretation, an approach which might be termed the Hermeneutics of Gurdjieff. Thus, Tamdgidis work is an important original contribution to the constructive, independent, and critical study of Gurdjieffs four books. Anyone who has seriously attempted to read Beelzebubs Tales or Meetings with Remarkable Men can vouch for their intentionally beguiling or hypnotic effect. These readers will appreciate Tamdgidis interpretive virtuosity and focushe keeps each tree and the entire forest in sight throughout.From the Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll, independent scholar and bibliographer; editor and contributing author, Gurdjieff: A Reading Guide, 3rd Ed. (2004); contributing editor, Gurdjieff International Review (1997-2001); co-author, Gurdjieff: An Annotated Bibliography (1985).

A wondrous odyssey and extraordinary argumentation! Nothing in the corpus of writings on Gurdjieffs works goes near to matching this masterful reading. Each time one looks back into the text, one finds more gold, no dross.Paul Beekman Taylor, Professor Emeritus at the University of Geneva, and author of G. I. Gurdjieff: A New Life; Gurdjieffs Invention of America; The Philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff; Gurdjieff & Orage: Brothers in Elysium; and Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer

In the ocean of literature on Gurdjieff, the brilliant book of Mohammad Tamdgidi has a very special place. It is the first serious academic attempt at a hermeneutics of Gurdjieffs texts, taking as key the core of Gurdjieffs teachingthe enneagram. Of course, Gurdjieffs teaching cannot be understood apart from its practice. But it is also true that this teaching cannot be understood without a rigorous study of the writings of Gurdjieff himself.Basarab Nicolescu, author of Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity

viiiList of FiguresviiiList of AbbreviationsixForeword by J. Walter DriscollxvPrologue1Introduction: Gurdjieff, Hypnosis, and Hermeneutics28Chapter One: Philosophy: Ontology of the Harmonious Universe52Chapter Two: Philosophy: Psychology of a Tetartocosmos70Chapter Three: Philosophy: Epistemology of Three-Brained Beings88Chapter Four: The Organ Kundabuffer Theory of Human Disharmonization113Chapter Five: The Practice of Harmonious Development of Man137Chapter Sex: Life is Real Only Then, When I AM Not Hypnotized177Chapter Seven: Meetings with the Remarkable Hypnotist207Chapter Eight: Beelzebubs Hypnotic Tales to His Grandson224Conclusion: Gurdjieffs Roundabout Yezidi Circle237Appendix: Textual Chronology of Gurdjieffs Life253Bibliography259Index

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G. I. Gurdjieff Famous Mystics Great People

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George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff13 January 1866? - 29 Oct. 1949

Gurdjieff was a True Spiritual Master and Mystic of the 20th century, an extraordinary man whose teachings deal with the most important existential questions about the meaning and purpose of human life. He lived during a period of political and social unrest and could realize that most of humanity had long stopped functioning in a harmonious way due to difficult social conditions.After many years of personal search and spiritual practice, Gurdjieff managed to enter the essence of ancient traditions, and find the lost answers that preexisted all known religions and systems of faith. He presented them in such a way as to make them understandable and more easily accessible to the modern man of the West.

Gurdjieff's spiritual method of self-awareness was called by his student P.D. Ouspensky "The Fourth Way," because in it, Gurdjieff incorporated the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of self-development, instead of separately working on each one of them. In order to achieve this, he not only used lecturing and writing, which appeal to the mind, but also music to wake up emotions, along with dance and movement to stimulate the body. But Gurdjieff was not a theorist. As Dr Kenneth Walker said "Gurdjieff was a living example of the outcome of his own teaching, which he summed up in the words 'the harmonious development of man.'"

His students and followers thought of Gurdjieff as an enlightened man, and when, in his lectures, he referred to Jesus, his students could only think of Gurdjieff, himself as a messenger from God, too. For his students, Gurdjieff was their Jesus, and they felt they were his apostles, who had to spread his teachings all over the world.

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was born in Alexandropol, modern-day Gyumri, in Armenia, Russian Empire, on January 13th, most probably in 1866, but 1872 and 1877 have also been mentioned as the years of his birth. His father, Georgios Georgiadis, who was a carpenter, was of Greek origin and his mother was Armenian. Gurdjieff grew up in the town of Kars and from an early age, he showed a keen interest in the ancient scripts and in the paranormal.

Most of the facts about his first adolescent and adult years come from Gurdjieff's own accounts in his book Meetings with Remarkable Men, which is the second volume of his trilogy All and Everything. The book cannot be considered as purely autobiographical, and Gurdjieff prefers to concentrate on events rather than dates. However, after 1912, when Gurdjieff arrived in Moscow, dates concerning his life are regarded as accurate.

As a young man, he took part in several pilgrimages to holy places, monasteries and saints' tombs hoping to find answers to his questions about human existence, and with the money he earned from working at the railway station of Tiflis, he bought a large number of old Armenian books searching for ancient mysteries. After that, he travelled to Egypt, the Middle East and Central Asia, reaching as far as The Gobi Desert and Tibet, trying to find the hidden knowledge of the ancient sages.

He started teaching in Moscow in 1913, and attracted several students who were interested in his ideas on human nature and his system for spiritual development. Because of the political upheaval of the time, and the Bolshevik Revolution, Gurdjieff had to change several cities in Russia, and in 1920, Gurdjieff, his student Uspensky, and the composer Thomas de Hartmann, moved to Istanbul, Turkey, where they paid frequent visits to the monastery of the Mevlevi Order of Sufis to attend the ceremony of The Whirling Dervishes. From Istanbul, Gurdjieff travelled to various European cities, lecturing and presenting his work, before establishing the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Paris, in 1922.

In 1924 and 1925 Gurdjieff travelled to North America, and large audiences were attracted to his lectures. After the death of his wife in 1926, Gurdjieff stayed in Paris and wrote his trilogy All and Everything. During the Second World War, he remained in Paris and in spite of the hard times, he never stopped teaching and inspiring his students. He died on October 29th, 1949 and was buried at the Fontainebleau-Avon cemetery. His doctor, William Welch said: "I have seen many men die. He died like a king."

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Gurdjieff's ideas cover many different fields of knowledge. He was a mystic, a philosopher, and a psychologist who went deep into the human psyche, and came up with the realization that our apparent limitations are the result of our unwillingness to act and change in such a way as to be able to use the full range of our natural and divine endowment.

Cover design for the prospectus of the Institute for the Harmonious Development of ManDrawn by Alexander De Salzmann

Gurdjieff saw man under the light of his possible evolution. While psychology examines the man in his current state of existence, and tries to heal his weaknesses, Gurdjieff's aim was to help him develop his potentialities, become aware of his real nature, and "wake up from his sleep," by applying the proper spiritual practices which he called "The Work."

Gurdjieff believed that humans, in their normal, everyday state, are extremely mechanized with almost no degree of freedom, and that human activity is mostly reactive to environmental stimuli, thus leaving little margin for originality in actions, thoughts and feelings. He taught that humans who desire to escape this slumbering state, must first become aware of their mechanized nature and then gradually, replace mechanized thinking with true and potent levels of awareness.

According to his teachings humans consist of four different bodies. The first is the physical body which is the one that the fakirs work on, the second is the emotional body which monks use in their search for God, the third is the spiritual body through which yogis try to alter the nature of their consciousness, and the fourth body which is the "Master" or the real "I," is the ultimate goal of Gurdjieff's System, and it is the state of being that will liberate man from mechanization.

His "Work," which was an elaborately designed teaching methodology, included prayers, music and sacred dances, which he learned during his stay as a pupil in a "Sarmoung" monastery in Turkestan, and which he used to make his students increase their attention, fight laziness and daydreaming, and reach higher levels of consciousness. Gurdjieff considered those movements as a very important part of his method and sometimes he referred to himself as a "teacher of dancing." He had also choreographed a ballet called "Struggle of the Magicians," whose music and gestures came from the Tibetan monasteries.

One of the symbols Gurjieff used in his method for harmonious development was the enneagram, whose name comes from the Greek words ennea-nine and grammi-line, and which he believed to be "the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language." Gurdjieff said that all knowledge and all the universal laws can be included in the enneagram, which is now believed to have its origins in the ancient Egyptian religion of the nine deities, as they were presented in the Egyptian cosmogony.

With the use of visual symbols such as the enneagram, the use of music and dance, Gurdjieff wanted to make his students understand that words were not the only means of conveying ideas, and that the concept of man and his place in the universe went beyond the use of language. He applied an esoteric teaching which explained how to restore the lost knowledge and whatever was distorted in religion, and which could help men to develop their essence and get rid of the fake, artificial personality of an automaton, which is just a part of a machine.

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Gurdjieff knew that as long as man is treated "in the mass," world harmony is not possible to be attained. Since the world is a reflection, or an enlargement of the individual world, if individuals do not develop, the world will not be able to live in peace and harmony. Gurdjieff gave humanity his esoteric teaching of The Fourth Way, through which individuals follow the sacred, inner path of self-transformation that will eventually lead to a collective, new awakening.

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George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was one of the most influential spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. In his early years, he participated in expeditions that went in search of ancient teachings, partly documented in his book Meetings with Remarkable Men. His quest led him to a secret brotherhood, from which he seemed to have returned in possession of a unique system.

In 1910, Gurdjieff imported that system to Russia. He translated his eastern knowledge and experience into a language palatable to twentieth century western man. He called hisdisciplinethe Fourth Way, a blend of the three traditional ways of the Fakir, the Monk and the Yogi (read more about the Fourth Way). However, the Bolshevik Revolutionand the first World War forced Gurdjieff to migrate and eventually end up in France, where he opened his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. Gurdjieffs influence extended throughout Europe and as far as America, but the declining social order and World War II prevented him from further formalizing his organization. He was forced to close the institute and spent the latter part of his life writing books:Life Is Real Only Then, When I Am, All and Everything, Meetings With Remarkable Men and Beelzebubs Tales to his Grandson.He died in France on October 29, 1949.

Angkor Wat Temple

Gurdjieff was discreet about the origins of his teaching. He felt no need to reveal his footsteps. For one, he claimed that the wars had obliterated any traces of the schools with which he had come in contact. Moreover,his teaching specifically called, not for academical study, but for turning knowledge into practice. Gurdjieff himself had labored to acquire his teaching and had earned, so to speak, the rights over it. Such rights had to be earned anew by anyone meeting his work for the first time. While knowledge could be given, wisdom had to be earned. Hence, Gurdjieff, who had sacrificed much to obtain his wisdom, was reluctant to hand it over to others except at the price of labor. Once earned by any individual, the knowledge would become his own; he himself would become those ancient truths Gurdjieff allegedly dug up, a reiteration of ancient wisdom, a contemporary expression of a timeless truth.

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