Gurdjieff's Search for Esoteric Knowledge
G.I. Gurdjieff has been described as one of the most fascinating and remarkable men of the 20th century.
He possessed immense personal magnetism and profound esoteric knowledge of human transformation, and he brought a spiritual teaching of vast scope and power to the Western world.
Yet, throughout his life Gurdjieff was an enigma even to his closest students and was widely misunderstood by observers, critics and the public.
Gurdjieff – Sexual Beliefs and Practices
By all accounts Gurdjieff was a vigorous, charismatic man with a robust sexual nature, described by biographer James Webb as “a sensual man who enjoyed the pleasures of the bed as much as those of the table.”
Gurdjieff's sexual conduct shocked many people in the 1920s and 1930s, especially in conservative America.
There were rumours that he had a highly varied sex life and was involved in unusual sexual practices.
Some claimed he was a master of exotic Tantric sexual teachings learned in the East.
The Sly Man and the Devil
The Sly Man and the Devil — Something Different?
Is it possible the Fourth Way is but another limited hangout?
It undoubtedly was a release of previously hidden information, but was it done in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details? If so, what are the missing details?
Could there possibly be missing information that is even more important for a seeker to understand than the fundamental concepts of self-remembering, identification, unnecessary talk and negative emotions?
Here we examine the story The Sly Man and the Devil. — Gurdjieff's reply to questions about the origins of the Fourth Way. The story can be found under the...
A rich and multifaceted literature has been created over the years from the pens of Gurdjieff, his direct students (first generation), pupils of his students (second generation), scholars and researchers, journalists and critics, and biographers.
At best these writings (Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, In Search of the Miraculous) are works of ‘objective art’ which convey, on multiple levels, great spiritual truths and ideas with an undeniable impact on the reader.
At worst they are shallow, ill-informed and misleading, as they attempt to define Gurdjieff and his teachings through the lens of subjectivity, preconception and dogmatic bias.
Taken as a whole, the...
Sources of Gurdjieff's Teachings
From the beginning of Gurdjieff’s teaching mission in the West, a number of questions have fueled an ongoing debate about the source of his teachings and practices.
Where did he learn his powerful system of psychological and cosmological ideas?
What particular spiritual teachings form the foundation of his work?
Which teachers inspired and influenced his development?
The Inner Circle of Humanity
The source of Gurdjieff's teachings has never been conclusively established by either scholars or students of Gurdjieff.
However, some have speculated that he contacted and learned from esoteric schools that were custodians of ancient spiritual teachings on the evolution of humanity.
Gurdjieff spoke in general terms about esoteric schools directed by a circle of evolved human beings who have guided the spiritual development of humanity throughout history.
Gurdjieff's Cosmological Ideas
The system of knowledge that Gurdjieff taught has a psychological side and a cosmological side, which form twin halves of a comprehensive whole.
Study of the psychological ideas is helpful in understanding the cosmological concepts, and vice versa.
To a certain extent, a thorough grounding in Gurdjieff’s basic psychological ideas is a prerequisite to approaching his complex cosmology.
Law of Reciprocal Maintenance
This law is defined in Tales.
When His Endlessness (God) realises that his dwelling place, the Sun Absolute, is vunerable to time, he creates the universe into which he expels time.
The Law of Reciprocal Maintenance (called by Beelzebub 'the trogoautoegocrat') functions so that the universe is nourished by an exchange of substances, and this protects the Sun Absolute from the destructive results of time: i.e. change, decay and death.
The fundamental purpose for the existence of men and the other three-brained beings of the universe is to serve as apparatuses through which cosmic substances are transmuted for the...
Contemporary status of the Work
Although more than half a century has elapsed since Gurdjieff's death, his life and teachings continue to challenge and intrigue contemporary seekers of spiritual wisdom.
Interest in Gurdjieff's teachings is also growing in the secular world and many of his psychological and cosmological ideas have influenced various “Human Potential” and “New Age” movements and even entered the cultural and academic mainstream. His name and ideas appear in a surprising array of current cultural expressions:
CDs and Internet downloads of the music of Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann
DVDs and videos of the Movements
The emergence of the enneagram symbol as...
Gurdjieff – Drugs, Alcohol and Food
Anthropological research suggests that human beings in virtually every culture in history have ingested chemical substances to alter their consciousness.
Certain spiritual traditions celebrate inebriation as a metaphor for conscious transformation.
Sufi mystics speak of being ‘drunk with the wine of love.’
The Zen tradition has a history of poets and teaching masters who were spirited drinkers of saké.
Other spiritual traditions have employed certain ‘power drugs’ and psychedelics in sacred rituals and ceremonies as an integral part of their teaching.
What is the Work?
Gurdjieff strongly condemned masturbation, contraception and homosexuality as affronts to the proper order of nature. (LINK)
Perhaps that helps to explain why he was such a prolific procreater. According to Mark Pilkington, "He was highly charismatic and a notorious womaniser, said to have fathered over 100 children."
Much has been written about what "the Work" is (see here, here, and here). My intention is not to restate that which has been well defined.
I've been trying to come up with a suitable allegory for the Work, and what first came to mind is an automobile factory in which new cars are manufactured (new-born human...
Seven primary obstacles to self-awareness
Identification – One of the characteristics of our psychology is that we lose ourselves by becoming absorbed into events, thoughts, and emotions.
Negative Emotions – One of the chief obstacles to awakening is losing energy through the expression of negative and unpleasant emotions.
Imagination – Our imagining that we already possess qualities and abilities that we do not have, and that can only be developed through long efforts.
Lying – Our tendency to talk about things we do not know, or can not know, as though we do know.
Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, who brought an ancient esoteric teaching to the West, was one of the most important spiritual teachers of the 20th century.
The impact of his ideas, teaching methods and powerful personality continue to challenge and fascinate seekers of wisdom more than 65 years after his death.
His teaching, known as ‘the Work’ - which has come to be called the ‘Fourth Way’ - has greatly influenced spiritual seekers throughout the world.
Assessments of Gurdjieff by students, followers, journalists, critics, scholars and fellow spiritual teachers are bewilderingly diverse, ranging from ‘charlatan’ and...
Unusual Assemblage of Syllables
A deliberate and rigorous obscurity … of confusing terms and tangential associations in interminable sentences
Jargon-ridden and intentionally obtuse
For several reasons, including the unique difficulties presented by Gurdjieff’s writing style, little commentary has been written on Beelzebub’s Tales.
Without a determined decision on the part of the reader to make great efforts to understand these writings, without the reader’s constant and conscious participation in the act of reading, little if any sense can be gotten from the Tales.
The psychology of George Gurdjieff: Implications for counseling
Abstract From: Counselling, Psychotherapy and Health
This paper examines aspects of the teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff in the light of the current knowledge base of contemporary applied psychology, and in particular, that of current counselling theory and practice.
It focusses on enunciating relevant aspects of Gurdjieff’s teaching in the idiom of modern day psychology and counselling theory so as to draw out the parallels between some of the ideas of the major schools of thought in
psychology and the coinciding resonances of those same ideas in Gurdjieff’s teaching.
It is argued that there are many such...
Gurdjieff at Lascaux August 1949
Soon after posting How I began "the Work", I began thinking about that title, and the fact that few people would have any idea as to what "the Work" is and means. So, I set about looking for a web page that I could copy which provided a brief and easy to understand definition of what exactly the Work is.
I browsed at least 20 web pages, but did not find what I was looking for. What I see is a repeat of the basic definition as quoted below from The Gurdjieff Foundation:
The Gurdjieff work remains above all essentially an oral tradition, transmitted under...
“Remember yourself always and everywhere.”
These words were inscribed on the walls of the study house of the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Château Le Prieuré, Fontainebleau-Avon, the home of the esoteric teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. They summarised the essence of his teaching and were written there as a reminder to his students.
Gurdjieff taught that human beings are divided into two parts: Essence and Personality.
“Essence in man is what is his own. Personality in man is what is ‘not his own.’ ‘Not his own’ means what has come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects...
Lying: Detailed Definition
If a man could be described as a zoological type, he would be described as a lying animal.
People pretend that they know all sorts of things:
about the future life,
about the universe,
about the origin of man,
but in reality they do not know anything, even about themselves.
And every time they speak about something they do not know as though they knew it, they lie.
Evolution: A Critical Appraisal
Evolution is defined by science as an orderly and progressive development of organic life governed by certain laws.
From the perspective of science the biological evolution of plants, animals and humans is a series of irreversible transformations of the genetic composition of populations, based primarily upon altered interactions with and adaptations to their environment.
Although many aspects of human evolution based on the Darwinian and neo-Darwinian perspectives have been validated through a variety of scientific findings in many different fields of study, these are primarily related to physical evidence while disregarding the role of mind and consciousness in the evolutionary process.
The Five Strivings
All the beings of this planet then began to work in order to have in their consciousness this Divine function of genuine conscience, and for this purpose, as everywhere in the Universe, they transubstantiated in themselves what are called the ‘being-obligolnian-strivings’ which consist of the following five… - Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson
I propose to talk this morning about conscious labor and intentional suffering – being-Partkdolg-duty. The phrase, in either form, recurs throughout Beelzebub’s Tales, and it is a key concept in Gurdjieff’s presentation. But I believe it has to be much more than an idea for us. Gurdjieff, through his alter-ego Beelzebub, makes two things crystal clear.
The first is that being-Partkdolg-duty is an obligation for all three-brained beings and
Second, that our planet is in dire straits precisely because we are not actualizing it.
If that is the case, and if we take Beelzebub at all seriously, we need to understand...
Authenticity as a Spiritual Teacher
Gurdjieff first emerged as a spiritual teacher in 1908 in Tashkent, Turkestan where he attracted a small circle of pupils.
His teaching activity from this initial stage until 1912 is largely shrouded in mystery and cannot be independently verified in any way.
Research by John Bennett and biographer James Moore suggests that this period was essentially experimental, as Gurdjieff tested his ideas and teaching methods on a wide spectrum of personality types.
Entropy and the Laws of World-creation and World-maintenance
“In the beginning, when nothing yet existed and when the whole of our Universe was empty endless space ... our Most Great and Most Most Holy Sun Absolute existed alone in all this empty space. . . It was just during this period of the flow of time that there appeared to our Creator All-Maintainer the imperative need to create our now-existing Megalocosmos, that is, our World. . . The Sun Absolute, on which He dwelt with His cherubim and seraphim, was almost imperceptibly, yet steadily, diminishing in volume. As this fact ascertained by Him...
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...
Since Gurdjieff has choosen to present his ideas in part in the form of allegory, one can read those parts of this book simply as fascinating science-fiction.
The story opens aboard the space ship Karnak. Beelzebub is traveling to a conference where his sage advice is needed on matters of cosmic significance. He is accompanied by his grandson, Hassein, and his old and faithful servant Ahoon.
As they travel, Beelzebub regales Hassein with tales about the Earth, about events in the universe, and about cosmological and psychological law. Beelzebub tells Hassein how he happened to become interested in the planet Earth.
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...
Confluence and waking sleep
From: Cassiopaea Glossary
Moravieff uses the term confluence to designate a peculiar hypnotic state in man where he is identified with the mental currents that flow through him and mistaking the thoughts that are engendered from this current as his own thoughts.
Man's submersion into this mental current is what Gurdjieff calls 'waking sleep' or 'relative consciousness' and it is this level of consciousness that an ordinary man is born into, lives his everyday life, and then dies, without ever waking up into more objective states of awareness.
Organic Life on Earth
Below are excerpts from
The Fourth Way and
In Search of the Miraculous
in which "Organic Life on Earth" is found in context.
Structure and Function of the Human Machine
The human machine has seven different functions.Five ordinarily and two potential.
Four lower functions• Instinctive • Moving • Emotional • Intellectual
(also known as: centers = brains = minds)
Potential connection with two higher centers
(soul & spirit)
A Western Way
While the ways of the East are not closed to Westerners, and the ways of the West are not closed to Easterners, there is much more difficulty than may be commonly realized in adopting another way.
As has been pointed out, for example, a Westerner studying an Eastern teaching like Buddhism often comes across the idea of "nothingness" as a desired state. This, of course, is ridiculous East and West. This word, so dutifully translated, really means "no-thing-ness". More properly translated with a Western term such as "unity".
Also, the idea in the East of, as it is translated "detachment", is...
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...
Methods of Work
The main goals of the International Gurdjieff Club are:
The preservation and the development of Gurdjieff's teaching,
The support of the Gurdjieff Work in various cities of Russia and Ukraine,
Projects of joint work with leaders of Gurdjieff groups in Europe, USA and Canada,
Organization of conferences, seminars and workshops,
Inviting prominent instructors from abroad and
Participation in the international conference "All and Everything" and other international meetings and conferences.
The Future of the Work
After a six-week Intensive in the Gurdieff/JG Bennett Work and a period of reflection, I see that this Work has a further and necessary step to take in order to remain valuable and to fulfill its purpose in the world. The Work, as with every teaching where the initial teacher has died, must keep evolving (as did Gurdjieff himself) in order to remain responsive to the changing needs of the world.
This utility is the key to the parable of the ‘Sower and the Seed’. Man has a necessary role to play, that both of sower and...
4th Way ♦ Soul References
Excerpts related to the word, "soul", taken from:
The Fourth Way — (9) instances of the word soul.
In Search of the Miraculous — (1) instance of the word soul
Beelzebub's Tales — (85) instances of the word soul.
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...
Who was Gurdjieff?
Below are (11) reports on and about G.I. Gurdjieff, ranging from 'hero worship' by various indoctrinated students of the Fourth Way to 'myth-busting' accounts by people not within the Gurdjieff-followers community.
Gurdjieff's personal story about his father (chapter 2 of Meetings with Remarkable Men) is also reprinted here.
Gurdjieff's Biography | From: Gurdjieff Club
Who is G.I. Gurdjieff? | From: Gurdjieff Foundation of Austin
Gurdjieff – The Man and the Literature by James Moore
Black Sheep Philosophers: Gurdjieff – Ouspensky – OrageFrom: Gurdjieff International Review | by Gorham Munson
The Incomparable Mr. G. | From: selfdefinition.org
The Sufi Conspiracy | From: Conspiracy School
Scratch a Magus, Find a Spy...
Excerpts about "Sex Center" from:
In Search of the Miraculous
Sexuality and the Evolution of Consciousness
Gurdjieff, Beelzebub, and Zecharia Sitchin
By P.T. Mistlberger | An Abridged Essay from Appendix III of The Three Dangerous Magi
For a couple of years between 1999 and 2001 I was part of a private and informal online group of researchers from around the world engaged in study of the so-called “secret history” of the human race. This involved looking into ancient scriptures and texts from Sanskrit, Sumerian, and Hebrew sources amongst other things.
Food for the Moon
“For instance, the evolution of humanity beyond a certain point, or, to speak more correctly, above a certain percentage, would be fatal FOR THE MOON. The moon at present FEEDS on organic life, on humanity.
“Humanity is a part of organic life; this means that humanity is FOOD for the moon. If all men were to become too intelligent they would not want to be eaten by the moon.
“But, at the same time, possibilities of evolution exist, and they may be developed in SEPARATE individuals with the help of appropriate knowledge and methods.”– Gurdjieff chapter 3, In Search of the Miraculous