Spring 2003 Issue, Vol. VI No. 1
A Well-Prepared Tradition
Today, 50 years after Gurdjieff’s death, there is an increasing risk of being misled into believing that Gurdjieff’s writings, music, and movements stand alone as an expression of his teaching. The call for “harmonious development” demands an integration of these forms, and one clear integrating factor is the well-prepared, oral tradition that Gurdjieff passed on through his pupils.
Hugh Ripman began as a pupil of Ouspensky, then went on to study directly with Gurdjieff in 1948. “After meeting Mr. Gurdjieff, Hugh Ripman began to gather a group of people in Washington, DC to study the ideas together… What he desired to accomplish, externally, was to build something that would have a life of its own and would last after he was gone.” This essay by one of Mr. Ripman’s pupils demonstrates that he was successful in that aim.
This public lecture presented in 1976 at Georgetown’s Grace Church in Washington, DC provides for a lucid introduction and integration of the psychological ideas of Gurdjieff.
In this essay, Hugh Ripman explores the responsibility of leading others to understand the teachings of Gurdjieff. “I realised that I owed a debt to those who had taught me and helped me towards self-knowledge. I could never repay that debt to them directly, but I could make some attempt to do so by trying to pass on what I had received to others, as my teachers had done to me.”
One of England’s leading concert pianists, Helen Adie often visited Gurdjieff in Paris after WW II. There she started to play and write music for the movements. After Gurdjieff’s death, she participated in the London group and in the mid-1960s, moved to Australia and helped establish the Gurdjieff Society of Newport.
This penetrating essay by one of Paul Anderson’s students explores the reasons why Mr. Gurdjieff, on his last visit to America, said of Mr. Anderson that “He not only has eaten one dog, but swallowed whole packs of dogs.”
These previously unpublished talks by Paul Anderson, presented in May/June of 1975, demonstrate how Beelzebub’s Tales can be used as a textbook for practical application of Gurdjieff’s ideas. “One of the very greatest ‘secrets’ of this Work is connected with our experiences with Time and with its durations.”
In the summer of 1950, Louise March wrote an essay for the German audience entitled, “G. Gurdjieff: Ein Hinweis auf Sein Leben und Werk.” Although translated in 1984 by the author, this introductory essay has never before been published in English.
Recorded, with an introduction by Marvin Grossman.
In 1974 the Far West Press published a slim book by Edwin Wolfe entitled Episodes With Gurdjieff. “He was planning a sequel, but it never materialized. However, he did relate a number of further episodes with Gurdjieff during group meetings and work days at his home which, to the best of my knowledge, have never been committed to paper. I have recorded them here in the hope that they will be of some interest and value.”
Gurdjieff advises us to read each of his written expositions thrice, the second time “as if you were reading aloud to another person.” Now, 50 years after its first publication, Beelzebub’s Tales “as read by Dr. [William] Welch, is soon to be released in compact disc format. In this recording, we hear an authentic voice, resonant, powerful, deep and rich.”
“That evening still comes vividly to mind. I was seated at a table on the patio of a favorite haunt of mine in the Village, in Manhattan—an Italian café frequented mainly by locals. It had only been two months since my discharge from military service following the end of WW II, and so I was young and full of hope—and naïve. The evening still held remnants of a soft glowing light—it was early summer—and I found myself in a tranquil state with no concern about the immediate future. At an adjoining table was a rather elderly man whose presence I could not help but feel. He was possessed of a kind of inner authority that emanated a palpable sense of total awareness—and stillness. It was a stillness that unaccountably held me within its embrace in a state of silence, empty of thoughts or concerns about what I might expect next. And then, as if by some inexplicable signal known only to him, I was released from this embrace of his awareness as if to indicate that he was granting me permission to speak.”
“As a person in the Work who speaks some Yiddish, I was quite chagrined to read Gurdjieff say, on page 19 of Beelzebub’s Tales, that ‘contemporary pure-blooded Jewish businessmen’ would call the ‘salt’ of a story, which I took to mean its pith, or essence, its ‘Tzimus.’” Yet, “In Yiddish, tzimus, more properly transliterated as tsimmes, doesn’t mean salt, pith, or essence.”
The Gurdjieff International Review is published by Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing.
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