Gurdjieff International Review

Josée de Salzmann

Marie-Christine Marville


ne Thursday morning October 1954 in Paris Saint Germain des Prés, a heavy green door in front of the Church opens quietly. On the left of the Entrance Hall, in the dark, a large room appears; other children are there standing without a word. An unknown world, and, then, in the silence, the piano begins to sing. Little by little the fear of the unknown disappears and a voice in the back of the room calls us to listen, to listen within and to start walking together ... then the rhythm of the piano changes and the movement begins.

So many years later, beyond time and space, this deep and irresistible call to live still resounds, no longer a machine moving to the right, to the left, forward, back, but to open to a taste of freedom in the moment.

Of course, later on, there was the discovery of names. But, that was not the most important thing. It was this magical moment in the week, this incredible life that was revealed each time in a different way—never to learn movements of the body, of the mind, of the heart, but to be in movement. With Josée de Salzmann, it was the discovery of the true movement of being within ourselves and with others.

What can be said after all these years? It was an opening of the way without actually realizing what was happening. In fact, it was a fundamental encounter, an encounter with a joy of living, a freedom, a demand, a call not to imitate but to sense and feel without words that all these movements had a meaning and had nothing to do with the repetition of forms, rhythms, attitudes in multiplicity and unexpectedness. We were called to learn, little by little, how to open until something was clarified and could be shared; we were asked to learn about our possibilities and limits.

The first challenge was to truly accept, unconditionally, to enter this movement of the body and of the mind in order to allow for a new attention and an inner sensation to appear.

Yes, of course, there were many other influences but that of Josée de Salzmann was, and still is, in the heart of my life. I can now sense and recognize this as I am writing these words down.

Thousands of injunctions, precise indications, come back in order and disorder in my memory. Perhaps a few of them could allow someone else to sense and feel directly what was thus revealed and practiced during these moments of “work” with Josée.

Some Sayings of Josée de Salzmann

And I can also add this text that Josée sent me at a time of despair in my life:


It is neither this nor that

Neither here nor there

Neither above nor below

Neither to the right nor to the left,

And if you search in the middle

You will not find it either,

For it is everywhere and nowhere

It is YOU and you don’t know it,

But above all, don’t think,

don’t think about it.

When you go hiking in the Himalayas, in the mountains, you can sometimes encounter little or big heaps of stones of many types, that accumulate as pilgrims walk by in silent homage. This small text today is just a way to add another stone to this cairn, in the name of Josée de Salzmann.