George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff,
a mystery in the form of a Master
During the entire Nazi occupation in Paris, a minuscule flat two blocks
away from the orthodox Russian cathedral of rue Daru was boiling with
emotion and perplexity. Not attracting attention, the windows were
permanently covered with rugs, adhering to the obligatory blackout and
inside it one would lose the notion of time.
There was a Master. Little or nothing was known about him, but whomever
he looked at or whomever he spoke to, even if only once in a lifetime, was
touched forever. It was impossible to have seen him and then forget him. As
well as it was impossible to see him and to not see oneself, touched by a
magic rod - which he called "consciousness."
To meet him was to meet oneself, even though for a brief moment. Perhaps
this was why he was so loved and so feared at the same time. To see
ourselves is his legacy to us - a difficult and frightening legacy, which
however, opens the way that leads to true freedom.
Gurdjieff influenced our present world in three different ways.
Directly, through oral tradition, he trained disciples who, in their
turn, formed groups and continue his Work until now. This was how he taught
Indirectly, in a manner as invisible and anonymous as the heroes of the
French resistance, his seeds were infiltrated in the contemporary
ideological currents about man and the universe.
He was a pioneering environmentalist, showing, in the Ray of Creation,
the place that man occupies in the unique organism of the Organic Life on
The astonishing simplicity of his explanations of the laws governing the
world has been accepted by some of the most obstinate scientific minds.
His methods for Work on oneself, self-knowledge and the harmonious
development of man's three centers (mental, physical and emotional) have
provided new and solid bases for modern psychological therapies and the
entire new science of self-help.
The special music that he composed with Thomas de Hartmann, and the
sacred dances he collected from several sources in Central Asia and
organized into a system, are beginning now, fifty years after his death, to
challenge its anonymity.
His third form of influencing were the books. He wrote a trilogy called
"All and Everything," which he prescribes to be read in the strict order he
indicates - this is understandable, for it is "objective literature," with
intentional action on the reader.
The first series of that trilogy, "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson," in
three volumes, is the most extensive and complex. Written in the form of
scriptures under an external veil of science fiction, with many layers of
meaning, it demands our whole capacity for attention.
The second series, which is easier to read, "Meetings with Remarkable
Men," autobiographical and allegorical, which was the basis for a film with
the same name, is his most known work.
The third series, "Life is Real only then when 'I am'", contains five
talks and a chapter on "The Outer and Inner World of Man," and ends
unexpectedly and mysteriously.