|A Figure Who Drops Into History|
Over the course of the many years that we have studied ‘the fourth way,’ Chris and I have had ample reason and opportunity to ponder why Gurdjieff’s thought has had such an insignificant impact on Western academic psychology.
Stated most simply, the answer is that almost no one in Psychology has ever heard of Gurdjieff.
That raises, in turn, the question of accounting for his virtual anonymity. The answer, as we have come to understand it, is complicated, and often exceedingly subtle–perhaps more so than we are capable of supposing.
However, I think it can be asserted safely that, as one studies and comes to understand the essentially contrary histories, methods, aims, and functions of modern Western psychology and the esoteric tradition of which Gurdjieff was a part, what originally seems a great, inexplicable mystery soon becomes comprehensible, if not sensible.
|Gurdjieff & Money|
When Mr. Gurdjieff arrived in Russia in 1912 he did not come as a beggar but as a man of some wealth. He came with a million rubles, a fantastic sum at that time; one ruble could feed a lowerclass family of five for about three days. He came as well with two invaluable collections, one of old and rare carpets, and another of porcelain and Chinese cloisonné. He came, as he said, with a “sacred task”1 — to establish the ancient teaching of the Fourth Way in the West.
His plan was to create an institute by which “helperinstructors” would be trained who would spread the teaching throughout the West. Having already solved what he termed “the material question,” he was financially independent in the full meaning of the term. Thus, he had no need to depend upon or cater to anyone. He did not inherit this wealth, nor was it otherwise given to him, but rather with his wits and hard work he earned it. He speaks of how he amassed such a princely fortune in great detail in an “addendum” to the ten chapters that make up the Second Series of his initiatory text All and Everything.
|The Last Hour of Life|
Imagine, that you have only a few minutes, maybe an hour left to live; somehow you have discovered exactly when you will die. What would you do with this precious hour of your stay on Earth? Would you be able to complete all your things in this last hour, do you have a conscious idea about how to do it?
And letting go your last breath would you feel satisfaction from knowing that you have done everything possible in this life to fulfill that you are constantly present, always vibrating, always waiting, like the son is waiting for the father-sailor?
In the manifested world everything has its beginning and its end. In the Real World everything is always present and one beautiful day you will be allowed to forget everything and leave the world “forever”.
GI Gurdjieff (1872-1949) is one of the more interesting teachers to emerge from the so-called "esoteric" tradition in the modern period. You can read a brief bio by clicking on this link.
The cosmological aspects of Gurdjieff's work as presented in the trilogy Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, are intriguing but need to be taken with a grain or two of salt. Beelzebub's Tales reads like science fiction. The protagonist, Beelzebub, reflects upon his life in the Solar System, Ors, where he had been banished by "His Endlessness". While in exile he observes our solar system and develops a keen interest in the planet earth and its inhabitants. Beelzebub relates his tales to his grandson Hassan while they are traveling in the spaceship Karnak.