Gurdjieff International Review


Pupils of Gurdjieff

Ellen Dooling Reynard, Guest Editor


s we read about Mr. Gurdjieff’s work with his original pupils in this issue and the preceding one, and as some of us remember those pupils as our teachers, we realize that we may not yet have learned all there is to learn from them. How did they face the daunting task of passing on what they had come to understand to those who came to the Work after Mr. Gurdjieff’s death? Today, we face a similarly daunting task. Very few of us, members of the second generation of pupils, had direct contact with Mr. Gurdjieff, so our sources of this teaching were those members of the first generation written about in these pages. Now that almost all of them are gone, it is our job to pass on what we have learned, to the best of our abilities, to the next generation. Given the state of the world today, the future is not promising, just as the future and even the present were not promising during Mr. Gurdjieff’s lifetime. Yet it was just in the difficulty of those times that the fire of Mr. Gurdjieff’s Work was ignited. What, today, might reignite that flame?

Perhaps our ongoing task is to undertake again the voyage of self-discovery that we began years ago. Is there yet more to see about our lacks and our possibilities, about the blinders that keep us from seeing our inadequacies and the earplugs that prevent us from hearing the call of our potential? We have very little time left to see ourselves as we really are and to live what we have learned along the way. And in order to pass on our understanding, we have first to let go of our misunderstandings, just as our teachers had to do in the presence of Mr. Gurdjieff. And, like them, we have to consider that we are products of the times in which we were born and grew up. We may have considered our teachers to be private, brave, and frugal characters, but what kinds of characters are we? How do we hear Mr. Gurdjieff’s call, today? If he had been born in the 1960s instead of the 1860s, how would he be speaking to us now, and how would we listen to him?

Mr. Gurdjieff’s original teaching remains accessible to us and to the next generations if we and they are able to meet the challenge of opening ourselves to his great legominism, Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson, to continue to study his Sacred Dances, and to listen to the teaching contained in his music. Whether the next generations will accept that challenge and whether the fire of Mr. Gurdjieff’s teaching will continue to burn are great unknowns.

This issue ends with an interview with Alexandre de Salzmann, Michel de Salzmann’s son. Alexandre expresses in today’s language the experience of growing up in the presence of his grandmother, Jeanne de Salzmann. Hearing first-hand how the life of the teaching can be passed on from generation to generation gives hope that Mr. Gurdjieff’s work might continue as a light in the ever-darkening world.

In our previous issue (Vol. XIII No. 1), in this present one, and in former volumes of the Gurdjieff International Review, we have sought to touch upon the lives and the searches of as many of Mr. Gurdjieff’s original pupils as possible. But in spite of many inquiries and much research, we have been unable to find those who could write about some of them, so a number of important people have regretfully been omitted so far. If any of our readers have information about those original pupils of Mr. Gurdjieff whom we have not been able to represent, it is the sincere wish of the editors that you contact us. We will consider original manuscripts, and reprinted or translated material. □

Ellen Dooling Reynard, former editor of Parabola Magazine, is the daughter of Dorothea Dooling and the widow of Paul Reynard. She has been a student of the Gurdjieff Work since her childhood, and currently lives in Nevada City, California, where she is a member of the Sierra Gurdjieff Study Group.


Copyright © 2019 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Spring 2019 Issue, Vol. XIII (2)
Revision: August 20, 2020