Wednesday, May 25, 2022
  Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal      SOURCE
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 ‘black magician’ to ‘extraordinary spiritual master’ and even ‘A Messenger from Above.’

In light of such a conflicting portrait of Gurdjieff there is a real need to examine his life, teachings and influence on the contemporary world based on an objective, balanced approach free from preconceptions or ideological bias.

The intent of this website is to bring together multiple perspectives from a wide range of sources to examine and evaluate the Gurdjieff phenomena, with the hope of stimulating debate and discussion rather than providing any final definitive statement or conclusion.

Gurdjieff – Sexual Beliefs and Practices
Gurdjieff

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.
Gurdjieff – Drugs, Alcohol and Food
Gurdjieff

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.
The Inner Circle of Humanity
Inner Circle

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
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.

Sources of Gurdjieff's Teachings
Sources

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?
Gurdjieff's Search for Esoteric Knowledge
search

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.
Authenticity as a Spiritual Teacher
Authenticity

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.

Evolution: A Critical Appraisal
Evolution

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.

Contemporary status of the Work
Contemporary status

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 a type of cultural icon
  • Films, TV documentaries, radio interviews
  • Theatre, dance, drama, literature
  • Books, journals, magazines, periodicals
  • Scholarly study in academic fields as diverse as psychotherapy, ecology, comparative religion and quantum physics
  • Conferences, seminars, weekend workshops
  • Business applications, management training
  • Countless websites
Annotated Bibliography
Annotated Bibliography

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 Gurdjieff literature forms a composite multidimensional mosaic or portrait of this exceptional teacher, his teachings and his students

Fourth Way

Man Is in a Prison

  Man Is in a Prison     From: fourth way® gurdjieff ouspensky school When I was younger, for my sins, I spent time locked up in several of Her Majesty's prisons. In this Work Mr. Gurdjieff and others have often made use of the analogy that Man is in a Prison, of the need...

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Food for the Moon

Food for the Moon     [Source] “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...

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Gurdjieff, Beelzebub, and Zecharia Sitch…

Gurdjieff, Beelzebub, and Zecharia Sitchin     [Source] 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...

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Who was Gurdjieff?

Introduction Contents   Who was Gurdjieff?   Introduction Below are (12) 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. Contents Introduction Gurdjieff's Biography | From: Gurdjieff Club Who...

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Lying: Detailed Definition

  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 God, about the future life, about the universe, about the origin of man, about evolution, about everything; but in reality they...

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Entropy and the Laws of World-creation a…

  Entropy and the Laws of World-creation and World-maintenance    Source “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...

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4th Way ♦ Soul References

  4th Way ♦ "Soul" References   Below aer excerpts 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. in which "soul" is found in context.

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Structure and Function of the Human Mach…

  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) Sex centre Potential connection with two higher centers (soul & spirit)

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Confluence and waking sleep

  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...

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4th Way ♦ Sex Center References

  4th Way ♦ "Sex Center" References   Below are excerpts from: In Search of the Miraculous Sexuality and the Evolution of Consciousness in which "Sex Center" is found in context.

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4th Way ♦ Organic Life on Earth Referenc…

  4th Way ♦ "Organic Life on Earth" References   Below are excerpts from: The Fourth Way and In Search of the Miraculous in which "Organic Life on Earth" is found in context.

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The Five Strivings

  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...

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Seven primary obstacles to self-awarenes…

  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...

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Remember Yourself

  Remember Yourself     From: gapingvoid “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...

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Implications for counseling

  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...

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Unusual Assemblage of Syllables

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...

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Gurdjieff at Lascaux August 1949

  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...

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What is "the Work"?

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...

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The Sly Man and the Devil

The Sly Man and the Devil The Sly Man and the Devil — Something Different? Previous Introduction    Limited Hangout 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...

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Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography 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)...

Read more

Critical Appraisal

Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography 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)... Read more

Contemporary status of 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... Read more

Evolution: A Critical Appr…

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... Read more

Authenticity as a Spiritua…

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... Read more

Gurdjieff's Search for Eso…

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... Read more

Sources of Gurdjieff's Tea…

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? ... Read more

Gurdjieff's Cosmological I…

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... Read more

The Inner Circle of Humani…

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... Read more

Gurdjieff – Drugs, Alcohol…

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... Read more

Gurdjieff – Sexual Beliefs…

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... Read more

Gurdjieff and the Fourth W…

  Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal      SOURCE 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... Read more