Georges Gurdjieff

Georges Gurdjieff


Geroges Gurdjieff

Writing about Georges Gurdjieff is difficult. A mission was concentrated in him, an extended reflection on existence, a vision. A project that survives his physical death and continues to unite people who resonate on the same note of research and growth.

Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (Alexandropol, 13/01/1872 – Neuilly, 29/10/1949) 

In the photos Georges Gurdjieff has an expression that deeply strikes the beholder; the big mustache hides the upper lip and the intensity of the gaze seems to penetrate elsewhere. Those eyes of him carried a very complex creed based on precise principles, like the one that compares life to a state of mind. The purpose of existence, according to this great mystic, poet and philosopher, would be to break internal mechanisms within us, dictated by laziness, fear, by things that, in the words of Gurdjieff, make us “pigs”, equal to all those who they live without being present to themselves constantly.


Gurdjieff, vehicle of the sacred

Born in Alexandroupolis in southern Russia, to a wealthy sheep farmer who enjoyed great fame as a popular storyteller. Since childhood, Georges Gurdjieff has absorbed the great oral tradition typical of the regions south of the Caucasus where different and very ancient cultures meet. He then embarks on the path of scientific studies, which merges with the profound religious education of Armenian priests. The result is very interesting: spirituality and poetic inspiration are mixed with scientific rigor. After having traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia to collect the scattered fragments of ancient wisdom traditions, he dedicates himself to organically reconstructing the knowledge of the lost truth and transmitting it to Westerners interested in spiritual research.

1924 is the year of this turning point, the year in which Gurdjieff becomes the vehicle of “an unknown teaching” to be communicated to Western civilization. In that year he lands in New York, where he publicly presents his Sacred Movements, also known as Gurdjieff’s Sacred Dances , for the first time . These are gestures full of vitality and “cleansing”, based on the theory that it is the body that receives and transforms energies and, thus seeking balance, brings man into his unity, leads him towards harmony and measure.

Until 1924, Gurdjieff had taught in the oriental way, communicating his ideas to a small group of students, always and only in a direct way both in theory and in practice, without ever allowing them to transcribe the indications received. But that year, following a serious car accident, he felt that the time had come to make known all of his ideas “in a form accessible to all”.

After attracting to himself a large number of pupils and disciples among whom there were people of a certain importance, he founded a school for spiritual development, called the Institute for the harmonious development of man.


Gurdjieff and Ouspensky like Socrates and Plato

Georges Gurdjieff ‘s ideas   spread mainly thanks to the efforts and devotion of his pupil, PD Ouspensky, who transmitted the teaching received directly from Gurdjieff in the book Fragments of an unknown teaching . Ouspensky left us an extraordinary testimony of the work done with Gurdjieff, between the years from 1915 to 1923, and his book has always been considered a genuine trace of this work.

PD Ouspensky was able to admirably convey the teaching of Gurdjieff, a perfect synthesis of Christianity, Sufism and other religious traditions inserted in a system of psychophysical techniques that tries to favor the overcoming of the psychological and existential automatisms that condition the human being .


Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way

In Fragments of an unknown teaching we read:

Verily, only the man who possesses the four fully developed bodies can be called Man in the full sense of the word. Thus, the accomplished man possesses numerous properties that the ordinary man does not possess. One of these properties is immortality. All religions and all ancient teachings contain the idea that with the acquisition of the fourth body man acquires immortality; and all point to ways of acquiring the fourth body, that is, immortality. 

To understand this fragment one cannot ignore the mention of the so-called Fourth Way . What did Gurdjieff mean by Fourth Way?

We imagine man as a being on a journey, constant evolution. Man changes as it happens for everything in nature, but he can blindly abandon himself to this flow or decide to get to know himself better along the journey. Here then he will undertake a precise path, which Gurdjieff studied in depth and structured in a lucid, precise way. The fourth way, or way of the cunning man, works on the three main centers– mental, emotional, motor – at the same time and can be followed without abandoning the life you are leading, as the development of the person must start from the environment where he lives, increasing a magnetic center that leads to his individual path. The conscious effort of self-remembering and re-harmonization is aided by participation in a group of people who help each other stay awake and follow the path.

Gurdjieff did not discredit personal effort , but he was convinced that to overcome certain limits it was essential to join people who had undertaken the same research path. In the Gurdjieffian lexicon, one cannot go too far if one is not included in a group of people engaged in Partkdolg duty , that is, personal development and self-remembering. A 4th level sangha , that is a community of researchers , is necessary to be able to carry out a valid work on oneself, which does not border on fanaticism, rigidity, negative mysticism, illusion on illusion.

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