Gurdjieff International Review
s 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.
As the guest editor of this issue, I find myself turning ever more urgently toward Mr. Gurdjieff’s teaching. I remember how the lessons offered by the first generation of his pupils gave us the opportunity to be acted upon by the great laws contained in this teaching. Perhaps the continued action of these laws is what is most needed today—just as it was needed during the tumultuous decades between and during the two world wars, when Mr. Gurdjieff was formulating his teaching to a growing body of pupils.
At the present time, seeing the disastrous division between extremes which particularly besets America, is there a middle ground in which healing might take place? Might we consider that the toxic standoff between the far right and far left is currently acting as a doubly negative force, and that a lawfully needed positive force might be found somewhere between those extremes? And if that is the case, what would the reconciling force be?
By rereading the accounts in this and the previous three issues about Mr. Gurdjieff’s pupils (Vol. III No. 2, and Vol. XIII Nos. 1 and 2), might we discover what our role is today, as the pupils of those first pupils? What is up to us, what action is needed so that we and our world might survive these dangerous times?
It seems to me that it is not necessarily an outer activism that is needed from us, but an inner one: to practice Mr. Gurdjieff’s teaching the way our teachers did when they were in our presences.
What Jeanne de Salzmann said about the role of men and women on this planet is even truer today than it was when she spoke these words: “Without our work, the world will fall down.” □
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.
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Featured: Fall 2020 Issue, Vol. XIV (2)
Revision: January 1, 2021