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International Review

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.

Our Latest Two Issues

Pupils of Gurdjieff II & Pupils of Gurdjieff III

In these two issues, we continue with the theme we introduced back in Vol. III No. 2, Gurdjieff’s first generation of pupils. We expand our coverage to include other pupils of this first generation. Those who have written for this issue—the pupils of this first generation—describe their teachers with candor and deep affection.

An Introduction to Gurdjieff

During his lifetime, Gurdjieff was almost unknown outside his circle of followers. From the 1950s onward, however, his ideas have began to spread both through the publication of his own writings and through the testimonies of his pupils. This issue provides an introduction to, and a selection of excerpts from, Mr. Gurdjieff’s writings and talks.

Excerpts from the Talks and Writings
of G. I. Gurdjieff

These selected excerpts on philosophy, religion, science, and psychology are drawn from key passages of Gurdjieff’s writings and notes on his talks.

Gurdjieff, G. I.
by Michel de Salzmann

Dr. de Salzmann provides an informed and thoughtful synopsis of Gurdjieff’s life, writings and influence as “an incomparable ‘awakener’ of men” and spiritual teacher who “left behind him a school embodying a specific methodology for the development of consciousness… The Gurdjieff teaching has emerged … as one of the most penetrating spiritual teachings of modern times.”

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1877–1949)
by P. L. Travers

Travers—author of the Mary Poppins books—combines a historical account of Gurdjieff’s search and teaching with a pupil’s personal impressions of “this man whose life has the air of authentic myth.” She emphasizes that Gurdjieff “had come not to bring peace but a special kind of inner warfare and that his mission in life was to destroy men’s complacency and make them aware of their limitations. Only by such means, by what he called ‘conscious labours and intentional sufferings,’ was it possible to bring about their inner development. The Work, as his method came to be called, had, as it very soon appeared, been only too accurately named.”

Gurdjieff: The Unknown Man
by Kenneth Walker

Dr. Walker’s vivid account, particularly of his first visit to Gurdjieff’s Paris apartment in the late 1940s, is distinguished by his keenly trained powers of observation as a physician. “Gurdjieff used to say that a man revealed himself most clearly in his reactions to sexuality and to money. I could add yet another signpost to a man’s personality, namely, his reaction to Gurdjieff himself. Many reactions were possible, but it was impossible to be indifferent to him or to forget that he was there… Whatever he was, he was something on a much bigger scale than one had ever seen before, or is ever likely to see again.”

The Patriarch Goes West
by William Segal

Segal compares Gurdjieff to a Zen Patriarch and points out that his teaching has a timely appeal to Westerners, especially for those who are “hungry for deeper, more authentic modes of life.”

To Recognize a Master
by Henriette Lannes

Madame Lannes describes the powerfully unsettling and awakening impact that Gurdjieff’s person and teaching had on her. She emphasizes that Gurdjieff’s legacy is the possibility, through his teaching, of realizing that “We have to recognize a master in ourselves.”

All and Everything
by G. I. Gurdjieff

In these first two pages of Gurdjieff’s All and Everything, the author concisely describes the scope and purpose of his writings which were “All written according to entirely new principles of logical reasoning.”

An Introduction to the Writings of G. I. Gurdjieff
by J. Walter Driscoll

This synopsis is drawn from the author’s Gurdjieff: a Reading Guide. It briefly sketches the contents and publication history of Gurdjieff’s writings and the notes that have been published of his talks.

Gurdjieff Observed
by Roger Lipsey

Drawing on excerpts from the lesser known but “unexpectedly rich secondary literature,” Lipsey assembles a vivid composite portrait of Gurdjieff and the ontological challenge he presented to everyone around him. In so doing, he provides an excellent introductory survey of the anecdotal literature about Gurdjieff.

G. I. Gurdjieff and His School
by Jacob Needleman

Professor Needleman surveys those aspects of Gurdjieff’s “life and teaching that are of signal importance for anyone approaching this influential spiritual teacher for the first time.” He traces how Gurdjieff’s influence is becoming a factor in contemporary civilization and describes the international activities of The Gurdjieff Foundation.

Gurdjieff as Survivalist
by James Moore

Moore’s introduction to the second edition of his biography offers an astute appraisal of the currents swirling around Gurdjieff’s emerging cultural influence and reminds us of the obvious fact that Gurdjieff was “that rarest of creatures, a man who knows what he is talking about.”

Let Us Not Conclude
by Henri Tracol

Tracol characterizes what is essential in the Gurdjieff teaching as a call to “place myself interiorly in relation to what presents itself from the outside.” He emphasizes that this teaching guards against dependence on credulity, dogma and subjectivity.

About This Publication

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.

“Gurdjieff had a very wide range of knowledge, which embraced modern Western scientific theories as well as the special knowledge he had learned in his years of wandering in the East. But it was not so much what he said or what he did that impressed as what he was. Gurdjieff was a living example of the outcome of his own teaching, which he summed up in the words ‘the harmonious development of man.’”

Kenneth Walker

“No doubt there is a profound connection between Zen and the teaching of Gurdjieff, in that they both propose that only with tough disciplines and practice is it possible to relate to a ‘changeless self.’ Theory without practice, words without an immediate connection to experience, is for followers of both Zen and Gurdjieff as fruitless as ‘pouring from the empty into the void.’”

William Segal

With him, you had an extraordinary impression… It’s something that everyone, to some extent, has a taste of—this potential which is impossible to realize by oneself—it appeared when you saw that man, when you saw him in himself, complete, missing nothing that was happening, noticing even the tiniest details.

Maurice Desselle

He was a danger. A real threat. A threat for one’s self-calming, a threat for the little regard one had of oneself, a threat for the comfortable repertoire where we generally live. But at the moment when this threat appeared, like a ditch to cross, a threshold to step over, one was helped to cross it by his presence itself.

Michel de Salzmann

“There are two struggles—inner-world struggle and outer-world struggle, but never can these two make contact, to make data for the third world. Not even God gives this possibility for contact between inner- and outer-world struggles; not even your heredity. Only one thing—you must make intentional contact between outer-world struggle and inner-world struggle; only then can you make data for the Third World of Man, sometimes called World of the Soul.”

G. I. Gurdjieff

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Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing

June 1, 2019