Fall 2020 Issue, Vol. XIV No. 2
Welcome to the Gurdjieff International Review—a source of informed essays and commentary on the life, writings, and teachings of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff.
Mr. Gurdjieff was an extraordinary man, a master in the truest sense. His teachings speak to our most essential questions: Who am I? Why am I here?
What is the purpose of life, and of human life in particular?
As a young man, Gurdjieff relentlessly pursued these questions and became convinced that practical answers lay within ancient traditions.
Through many years of searching and practice he discovered answers and then set about putting what he had learned into a form understandable to the Western world.
Gurdjieff maintained that, owing to the abnormal conditions of modern life, we no longer function in a harmonious way.
He taught that in order to become harmonious, we must develop new faculties—or actualize latent potentialities—through work on oneself.
He presented his teachings and ideas in three forms: writings, music, and movements which correspond to our intellect, emotions, and physical body.
As this fourth issue honoring the pupils of Mr. Gurdjieff goes to press, our darkening world has become even darker. In a society harshly divided by politics, which continues to suffer from a deadly virus, and is witnessing the ravages of climate change, we are challenged more than ever to find our footing.
In this issue, we read of the effect our teachers had on our generation by their practice of the Work in our presences.
It is not only what they said to us, it was how they spoke, how they looked at us, and how they caused us to look at ourselves,
that transmitted Mr. Gurdjieff’s work. We received his teaching through our pores.
In this excerpt from her unpublished memoir, Ethel Merston recounts the years she spent with Mr. Gurdjieff at the Prieuré in Fontainebleau from its founding in 1922 until she left in 1927. She carried responsibility for the gardens and the cows and participated in the construction of the Study House. After Mr. Gurdjieff’s near fatal car accident, she worked on the translation of the early drafts of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.
Dr. Michel Conge met René Daumal and Mme. de Salzmann in 1942, and shortly afterwards, Mr. Gurdjieff. After Gurdjieff’s death, Michel formed his own groups in Paris, Vichy, Reims, Strasbourg, Israel and Brazil, and was an active member of the Institut Gurdjieff in Paris.
Pauline de Dampierre spent time with Mr. Gurdjieff during the war years in Paris, when he instructed her to write about his teaching. After his death, Mme. de Salzmann encouraged Pauline to continue writing. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Pauline compiled her Notes on the Work (unpublished) which she worked on in conjunction with study groups on the Movements, music, and on the ideas of the Work.
Michel de Salzmann, son of Jeanne de Salzmann was a doctor of psychiatry. After her death, he was looked to as the leader of the Gurdjieff Foundations worldwide. He and wife Josée held many summer work sessions at Chandolin, in the Swiss Alps which were attended by members of groups from many countries. Michel was instrumental in forming the International Association of Gurdjieff Foundations.
These obituaries, taken from The Gurdjieff Society of London’s yearly internal publication entitled, Report of the Council to Members, honor Nesta Brooking, Helen Entwistle, Hylda Field, Joanna Haggarty, Rina Hands, John Lester, John Mills, and Irene Tilley.
Originally pupils of John G. Bennett, Dorothy Phillpotts and her husband George Phillpotts met Mr. Gurdjieff in 1948. They attended the dinners at rue des Colonels Renard for the following year. After Gurdjieff’s death they nurtured groups in England’s West Country and maintained close contact with the group in London for the rest of their lives.
Michael Currer-Briggs, a film and television producer in London, worked closely with Jane Heap in the late 1930s. During the post-war period, he visited Mr. Gurdjieff in Paris. After Gurdjieff’s death, Michael worked with Mme. de Salzmann and Peter Brook on the production of the film Meetings With Remarkable Men.
Elizabeth Bennett joined John G. Bennett’s group in Coombes Spring in England in 1944 and met Mr. Gurdjieff in 1948. She married Bennett in 1958 and later worked with him for the rest of his life at Sherborne where they received many students. After J.G. Bennett’s death, Elizabeth continued holding courses at Sherborne and supported the community at Claymont in West Virginia.
An accomplished musician, Dorothy Darlington joined the Ouspensky group in London when she was 24 and moved to Franklin Farms in Mendham, New Jersey where she presided over the kitchen. She met Mr. Gurdjieff when he visited Mme. Ouspensky at Mendham. She was devoted to Mme. Ouspensky and cared for her until her death. She then visited Mme. de Salzmann in Paris, who sent her to Australia to mentor the groups and play for the Movements there.
A compilation of personal memories as reported by Michael Currer-Briggs, Helen Entwistle, Ina Lewisohn, Roger Nickalls, Hylda Field, Rina Hands, and Anny Juer.
Margaret Flinsch and William Segal
Small life stories honoring Margaret Capper, Emil Hana, C. Daly King, Fred Leighton, Nancy Pearson, Blanche Rosette, Israel Solon, Stanley Spiegelberg and Barbara Wheeler.
George Cornelius and his wife Mary worked with J.G. Bennett. When it was discovered that Gurdjieff was still alive, they went to France to work directly with him. After Gurdjieff’s death, they formed groups in Kodiak and Anchorage Alaska. In 1981 they formed a work community in Cave Junction, Oregon.
Having become interested in Gurdjieff’s teaching in the 1920s, Lawrence Morris spent time at the Prieuré in the 1930s. He studied with Orage in New York and was an original member of the New York Gurdjieff Foundation in the 1950s and 1960s. He left the Foundation in the 1970s to study and practice the mystical branch of Sufism.
William Segal studied at NYU on a football scholarship and went on to found American Fabrics and Gentry Magazines. A millionaire by the time he was thirty, he turned to painting. In the early 1930s he met Ouspensky, and through him, Mr. Gurdjieff. Strongly attracted to Zen Buddhism, he also studied with Suzuki. He was an active member of the New York Gurdjieff Foundation where he served as Chairman.
A Villanelle for William Segal about the stone lantern on the bank of Silver Lake at the Lake Conference Center in New York “honoring our friend / across the water, underneath the leaves.”
Three stories of seeing Mr. Gurdjieff leave on a journey. The first, on his last visit to St. Petersburg in 1917, at the Nikolaevsky Station, and the other two at the Gare St. Lazare in Paris when Mr. Gurdjieff was on his way to America in 1948.
An index of all the articles about the first generation of Mr. Gurdjieff’s pupils that have been published in the Gurdjieff International Review.
The Gurdjieff International Review is published by Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing. Any information or opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or editors.