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george gurdjieff
by Alex Burns (alex@disinfo.com) - July 25, 2001
Take the 'wisdom' of the East and the 'energy' of the West and then seek.
~~ Gurdjieff

From his first appearance in Moscow and St Petersburg in 1912, the enigmatic philosopher and memetic engineer George Ivanovich Gurdjieff attracted the interest of occultists and the Western intelligentsia. His teachings (often referred to as the 'Gurdjieff Work' or 'Fourth Way') became widely known through the writings and lectures of his pupil, the famous Russian mathematician and journalist Pyotr Demianovich Ouspensky, and were later propagated by Alfred Richard Orage, John Godolphin Bennett, Rodney Collins, and Dr. Maurice Nicoll.

Utilizing 'stolen' teachings from a wide range of groups that he had encountered (including the Yezidis, the Russian Orthodox Church, and Sufi 'Bektashi' and 'Naqshbandi' sects in the Hindu Kush and Pamir regions), Gurdjieff developed a unique system designed to enable individuals to overcome ingrained cognitice defects, become more conscious, and awaken the seeds of the Higher Self's Objective Conscience.

Recognizing that all spiritual movements eventually succumb to entropy, Gurdjieff ended his masterful use of PSYOPS adversity and confrontation at his 'initiatory laboratory' in Fontainebleu (France), concentrating upon conveying his worldview through the mammoth portable mythos 'Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson' (1950), which developed deeper esoteric themes drawn from Sufi, Zoroasterian, Sumer, and Egyptian literature.

His later work with small groups in Paris during the 1930s and 1940s, the subsequent books, the sacred dances, the piano music composed with musician Thomas de Hartmann, and the now extensive biographical and critical literature serve as a testament to the enduring legacy of this Magus. Many of Gurdjieff's concepts influenced Twentieth Century culture, including the Leary/Wilson/Lilly models of 'conscious evolution', the revitalisation of Gnostic Christianity, scientific research on 'split brain' neurology and 'multiple intelligences', Gaia eco-consciousness and the reciprocal maintenance of natural systems. Popularisations of Sufi Initiation occurred via Oscar Ichazo's 'Arica' Institute, the 'false Sufism' of E.J. Gold, and the stories of Idries Shah.

After his death in 1949, Gurdjieff's legacy was disseminated through many people, coinciding with the fragmentation of groups into secular denominations. It was further obscured by personality cults such as Robert Burton's Fellowship of Friends (Renaissance), and identifications with Gurdjieff at the expense of his ideas. Derivative movements have used isolation, group think, authoritarian power structures, and other 'unmasking psychology' methods for re-programming individuals. No one group can claim absolute control over or knowledge of Gurdjieff's teachings, and the interested practitioner is warned to exercise caution and common sense.

To quote Gurdjieff: "Beware of someone who wants to teach you something." The first rule of many 'Fourth Way' groups is: "There is nothing compulsory. One is not asked to violate cherished beliefs or accept any of the ideas presented. Rather, a healthy skepticism is encouraged."

more information  

Gurdjieff Music, Movements, and Seminars
Features articles and photographs regarding the Gurdjieff sacred dances and movements, and the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann music. Also some brief material and quotations regarding Gurdjieff's disciple John Godolphin Bennett.

The Summa Foundation
A 'Fourth Way' school located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that conducts lectures, workshops, and has library facilities for members. Includes details of the methods utilised for 'self remembering' and excerpts from a book in progress.

The Gurdjieff Forum
Ongoing online discussion since June 1996 of various aspects of the 'Gurdjieff Work' in contemporary society. Often features engaging thoughts and perspectives not found elsewhere. Forum involvement requires a Promart.com generated password, which also enables access to the site's archives.

SemioPhysics Feldenkrais Training
Journal and training centre that examines the direct influence of Gurdjieff upon the bodywork of Moshe Feldenkrais, which aims to enhance awareness of the instinctive and physical centres. Valuable insights into the possibility of the Gurdjieff Movements as an integrated body-mind psychotherapy.

Journey To Essence
Online newsletter of a 'Fourth Way' group located in Denver, Tampa, and Phoenix (U.S.A.). The usual essays may be useful for the new practitioner.

Claymont Society For Continuous Education
Legendary seminar and conference centre that continues the Gurdjieff/Bennett tradition of intensive 'continuous education' environments focusing upon sustainable living programs. The site includes a virtual tour of the mansion and Bennett's landmark 1974 essay 'A Call For A New Society.'

By The Way Books
Lists Gurdjieff Work and Fourth Way book titles, including rare and out of print materials. Excellent mail ordering service.

Mountain Wind
Site developed by Dennis Lewis, a member of the Gurdjieff Foundation, and longtime student of Lord Pentland. Resources on the relationship of breathing to health, and related materials dealing with self-transformation.

Theodore J. Nottingham
Nottingham is amongst the most perceptive interpreters of the Gurdjieff Work, and has also translated texts by Karlfried Graf von Durckheim and Meister Eckhart. Amongst the site highlights is a remarkable reply to William Patrick Patterson regarding 'The Mouravieff Phenomenon', and a growing collection of essays and short stories on spirituality for the new millenium.

Praxis Research Institute
A non-profit organization directed by Robin Amis that researches, recovers, and publishes Esoteric Christian texts. Praxis first came to public notoriety with the publication of Boris Mouravieff's remarkable 'Gnosis' trilogy that linked the Gurdjieff Work with the Eastern Orthodox Christian 'Philokalia' doctrines and Mount Athos monastic practices. Amis has subsequently published texts by St. Theophan the Recluse, Archimandrite George Capsanis, Bishop Eugraph Kovalevsky and Evagrius of Pontus.

Tayu Centre
A unique 'Fourth Way' school founded in 1976 by Robert Daniel Ennis, located on a small farm in Northern California. The Tayu Centre reccommends the keeping of a daily diary and monthly dialogue for the serious 'Gurdjieff Work' practitioner. The short essays feature intriguing insights and practices not found elsewhere.

Discovery Institute
Founded in New Paltz, New York in 1980, this Fourth Way school has developed a multi-faceted program based on the philosophy and techniques of Gurdjieff. Founder Frank Cocitto has worked with the Practical Philosophy Foundation and New York's Waldorf School. The site features archives of Cocitto's lectures and articles from the roup's Chronogram magazine.

Gurdjieff Italian Web Pages
Italian web-site on Gurdjieff (with English translation!) noted for its clear, perceptive comments about the possibility of 'degeneration' of his Work in the postmodern era, and lucid short essays on Peter Ouspensky, Louis Pauwels, Rafael Lefort, Fritz Peters and others. Features photographs not often found elsewhere.

Gurdjieff/de Hartmann Music Home Page
An often overlooked aspect of the 'Gurdjieff Work', the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann music compositions have a unique effect on their audience. The authors have perceptive comments on the compositions and their impact on modern music. Features rare liner notes, photographs, essays, and album covers.

The System
Webmaster G.W. Goodwin created this site to disseminate the ideas of Gurdjieff and his disciples Peter Ouspensky and Rodney Collins after dissatisfaction with 'The Gurdjieff Foundation' and Robert Burton's school 'Fellowship of Friends'. Goodwin's insightful comments about the dangers of 'Fourth Way' groups and his own experiences with Gurdjieff's methodologies are riveting reading. The sections on 'self remembering' are also highly recommended. Promises to be an amazing site when Goodwin completes his planned material.

Gurdjieff Studies Group
A 'Fourth Way' group located in London and Brighton (U.K.) that also teaches the sacred dances, the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann music, and the enneagram profiling system. The group also runs the home-page for James Moore, a Gurdjieff biographer and scholar. Of particular interest are the sections on cultural links and Gurdjieff literature.

Experiment In Independent Thinking
This site contains rare original documents (public domain) from the notorious Fellowship of Friends (Renaissaince) group, detailing the psychological make-up of its founder Robert Burton, the style of group dynamics used, and some bizarre internal belief systems. Documents like the 'Slander Journal' are particularly eye-opening. Not authorised, sponsored, or endorsed by the Fellowship of Friends!

Hall of Heroes: Gurdjieff
'Knight of the Supremacy of the Will' by Sir. Hassein is an informative essay that examines Gurdjieff's legacy, psychology, and the Enneagram from the context of antinomian spiritual chivalry practices within the Temple of Set's 'Order of the Trapezoid'. 'There is no Truth but Effort, otherwise known as Will' ~ ~ Gurdjieff.

fUSION Anomaly: George Gurdjieff
Introductory profile of Gurdjieff within the context of memetic engineering, with selected quotes. Profile is part of an excellent site!

The Cult-o-Meter
An irreverent Gurdjieff-quoting cult diagnostic tool from the people at 'Suck' that de-constructs cult awareness group rhetoric, cult TV shows, relationships, New Media, and Canadians. Subversive wit at its finest.

G.I. Gurdjieff and Wilhelm Reich
An interesting long overdue fusion: "The purpose of this site is twofold: 1) to introduce the merger of G. I. Gurdjieff's Fourth Way with Wilhelm Reich's orgonomy as a means of becoming more conscious and 2) to share student experiences of this work as applied in practice to daily life situations."

Gurdjieff International Review
Edited by scholar J. Walter Driscoll, this site is an informed source of critical essays, commentaries, and rare documents concerning the Gurdjieff Work and its later mutations. An absolute MUST for Gurdjieff fans. Updated quarterly.

Charles T. Tart
Home-page and virtual library for trans-personal psychologist and academic Charles T. Tart, who has extensively studied and written about the Gurdjieff Work. Useful lectures, notes and related material dealing with altered states of consciousness and anomalous experiences. You can order his classic books 'Altered States of Consciousness', 'Waking Up', and 'Living The Mindful Life' directly.

The Fourth Way Gurdjieff Ouspensky School
One of many 'Gurdjieff-Ouspensky' schools online (caveat emptor!). Useful information on the psychology of conscious evolution and current practices, and an excellent bibliography. Mandatory reading includes the sections 'Errors On The Way' and 'False Schools & Sham Religions.'

Telos Journal Online
The first regular international journal for the Gurdjieff Work, edited by author William Patrick Patterson, who has an orthodox interpretation of the Work's events and cultural legacy. The journal article excerpts feature scathing attacks on 'Fellowship of Friends' founder Richard Burton, and Russian aristocrat Boris Mouravieff, whose 'Gnosis' trilogy linked the Gurdjieff Work with aspects of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Telos often features intriguing applications of the Gurdjieff Work to combat the ruthless toxicity of the postmodern condition.

About Cults: Fellowship of Friends
The 'Fellowship of Friends' (Renaissance), founded by self-styled 'Fourth Way' teacher Robert Earl Burton is one of the most controversial contemporary groups. Burton never studied directly with Gurdjieff or Ouspensky (he did study with Alex Horn), and is not recognised by the Gurdjieff Foundation as a legitimate heir, but has promoted himself as a self-proclaimed 'Teacher' who became notorious when his Edgar Cayce-like prophecy of California falling into the sea due on April 11th 1988 failed to occur (he also claimed to be founding a 'New Civilization' that would survive an Armageddon). The FOF promotes itself by leaving 'Gurdjieff/Ouspensky' Centres bookmarks in stores, despite several disputes with publishers and authors. This site by Stella and Harold Wirk (who met Burton in July 1970 and studied with the FOF until 1982) describes how this esoteric school began to turn into a cult within three years, the group dynamics and 'authoritarian power god' processes underlying this transformation (the school forgets its original aim and exists only to survive/propagate itself), and the inevitably decline that followed. Exercises designed to increase awareness of neuro-physiological, social, and individual limitations became extremely regimented (see the Wirk-Sheet and famous Hell Letter). This site contains letters, e-mail, and distinctive portraits. An important reminder that the Gurdjieff Work does not have obedience, faith, or blind belief!

The Shadows Of Ideas: A Distant Glimpse Of Gurdjieff
John Shirley captures the enigmatic Graeco-Armenian magus George Gurdjieff in this excellent essay, concluding with some invaluable insights on the many counterfeit groups in existence today. Shirley studied in an authentic Work group spearheaded by Jacob Needleman. Highly recommended reading!


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