Gorham Munson

Gurdjieff International Review

The Strange Cult of Gurdjieff

An Insider’s Story of the Most Mysterious
Religious Movement in the World

by Armagnac

What has usually been printed about Gurdjieff, who has tried to translate Eastern knowledge into Western psychology, has been highly fanciful and mostly tosh. Practical Psychology Monthly here presents an article, not by a journalist hastily writing up the impressions of a single interview with Gurdjieff, but by a student who for twelve years was a member of the cult1 that attracted so much attention in Paris, London, Berlin and New York. The subject has never before been so thoroughly covered in a magazine article. [Editors of Practical Psychology Monthly]

Probably you have never heard of G. I. Gurdjieff. It’s largely because the man shuns publicity. The newshawks have descended upon him from time to time; there have been stories in the New York newspapers and in the news-magazines. But the pickings have been scanty. There have been a few articles about his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man when it was functioning at Fontainebleau, France, but they have been written by visitors who stayed there for only a very brief time. Recently a book2 devoted to modern religious leaders carried a chapter about this enigmatic teacher of psychology, but this chapter like most that has been written about Gurdjieff is highly fanciful.

But if little has appeared in print about this man (or superman, as some of his followers think), much has been gossiped about him in the great capitol cities, Paris, London, New York and Chicago. The fantastic tales I have heard! Usually, without a speck of truth in them. But Gurdjieff is like that—a legendary figure. Many people have called him a charlatan; some think he is a hypnotist who exploits his followers; some, including very shrewd and highly intelligent persons, say frankly that he is the greatest man alive. To the present writer Gurdjieff is an enigma, a strange individual about whom it is impossible to make up one’s mind.

The present writer has followed at firsthand Gurdjieff’s career for twelve years. He belonged to the Gurdjieff groups in New York City. He spent one summer at Gurdjieff’s chateau at Fontainebleau. He has read and re-read the big book written by this Caucasian Greek which is entitled The Tales of Beelzebub to His Grandson. He has learned to do some of the sacred dances performed by pupils of Gurdjieff.

These are his credentials for claiming that for the first time in English something like a true account of the Gurdjieff movement is being written—exclusively for the readers of this magazine. Of his own knowledge, the writer can say that practically all that has heretofore appeared in print about the Gurdjieff cult is inaccurate and superficial. Those on the inside have always laughed at the extravagant reports that have been published. Quite possibly this writer will also make mistakes, but a twelve years’ study enables him to check most of his facts; when he is doubtful, he will say so.

Naturally you will want to know first who is Gurdjieff. He is about seventy, but looks considerably younger. Swarthy skin. Bald, the head handsomely domed, the face adorned with fierce mustaches. Piercing commanding black eyes. A powerful body, now corpulent. You would mark this Oriental looking man in a crowd of thousands, so fearless is he in bearing, so virile and magnetic in presence.

He is said to be a Caucasian Greek—“a Pythagorean Greek,” one of his old acquaintances once told me—born at Alexandrople in Asia Minor. About 1895 he left Russia in company with a group of scientists called The Seekers After Truth, and went into Asia to work for years, checking up, so it is said, on Madam Blavatsky’s statements about masters of esoteric knowledge in the East. His opinion, I understand, of Madam Blavatsky’s accuracy is low.

It is claimed that on this mission he went to Tibet, and rose to be Chief Political Officer under the Dalai Lama, a most difficult position for a foreigner to achieve. But the post gave Gurdjieff access to all the monasteries of Tibet, which was a privilege he wanted. In history books his name appears as Dorzhieff (I have been informed there is no “g” in the Tibetan alphabet), and he is described as a Russian political agent in the land of the Dalai Lama.

This was around 1904 when the Younghusband Expedition invaded Tibet. The gossip3 is that Gurdjieff advised the Dalai Lama to evacuate Lhassa, let the British sit down in an empty city, and count upon their nervousness about the approaching winter which would close the pass back to India to make them willing to negotiate a favorable peace. His advice was followed. It’s an interesting footnote to history that at the time Gurdjieff was operating in Lhassa, the short story writer, Achmed Abdullah, was shadowing him for the British Secret Service. Years later the two men met in New York where Gurdjieff tipped Abdullah a huge wink.

It’s a far cry from the plateau of Tibet to skyscraper New York where Gurdjieff at the head of about forty pupils appeared in 1924. His pupils exhibited their temple dances and sacred gymnastics at the Neighborhood Playhouse, Carnegie Hall, and other halls in New York, and then gave performances in Chicago, Boston, and other cities. The dancers, men and women, included several teachers of Dalcroze and a beautiful Montenegrin girl who subsequently married the famous American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.

It is impossible for me to describe the dances. They were unlike anything ever seen in New York before. The astonishing thing was their mathematical precision; they seemed to bear out the claim that they were ancient dancers constituting an exact language—if only one knew how to read them.

The world of fashion, wealth and the arts attended these performances and its members were agog. Here was something tremendously exciting, even in New York, capital of excitement. But Gurdjieff himself was an exotic personage who was hard to swallow. To many as he stood in the wings watching his pupils, he seemed a sort of Simon Legree. Some went so far as to claim that his dancers were hypnotised. Look at their blank mask-like faces, these critics said.

However, I have since done some of these dances, and I know that one has to concentrate on them. There’s no time for a play of facial expression when your head is going through one series of movements, your arms are following another pattern, and your legs have their own series to execute. But I have run ahead of my story. About 1913, Gurdjieff bobbed up in St. Petersburg where he lectured on The Esoteric Meaning of the Gospels. What had he been doing between his stay in Tibet around 1904 and 1913? It’s all speculative. In his book he says he was once known as “The Tiger of Turkestan.” At Fontainebleau I noted a kind of “diploma” given him by an occult order in Jerusalem. We may say that he was restlessly questing for knowledge during these years.

Once I was sitting with him at the Café de la Paix, in Paris, when someone mentioned American millionaires. Gurdjieff remarked in his broken English that they were millionaires by accident. “One time they become millionaire,” he said. “But I three time been millionaire in east. That not accident. Once maybe. But not three time.”

That is to say, he would set himself the task of making a fortune, dissipate it somehow, and make another fortune. When he appeared in Russia in 1913, he had plenty of money. Very soon he attracted to himself very distinguished persons in Russia, such as Dr. Sternvalle, one of the leading physicians of St. Petersburg, and the composer and conductor, De Hartmann, who in recent years has been teaching in Paris and writing music for special motion picture productions like Goona-Goona. Gurdjieff moved on to Moscow where he staged an unusual ballet, The Contest of the Magicians, and won an important recruit in P. D. Ouspensky.

Many Americans know of Ouspensky, for his mystical book, Tertium Organum, published here, sold for several years like a novel. Ouspensky is a practical mystic, has travelled widely and experimented widely, and is a profound scholar in science and mathematics. A later book of his, also published in America, called A New Model of the Universe, is a good introduction to the ideas of Gurdjieff. There will be more about Ouspensky, wise in the lore of Tarot cards and dream interpretation, at a later point in this narrative.

The Bolshevik Revolution broke out. Gurdjieff’s riches were confiscated, and he trekked south with his followers to Tiflis, where he was joined by a remarkable painter, the late Richard Salzman. But as the Russian Reds and Whites continued their civil war, Tiflis became unsafe, and Gurdjieff led an archeological expedition to the Caucasian mountains to study the dolomites. From there the little company went to Constantinople and then to Berlin.

A number of prominent English people, including the very rich Lady Rothermere, wanted to set Gurdjieff up with an institute in England, but it developed that permission could not be obtained for him to settle in England. Possibly the British Foreign Office remembered Gurdjieff in Tibet. Instead an historic chateau was secured for him at Fontainebleau, and there in 1922 Gurdjieff inaugurated The Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.

It was a lovely chateau with beautiful grounds. At one time it was lived in by the royal mistress, Madame de Maintenon, and was said to have an underground tunnel connecting it with the King’s palace at Fontainebleau. When Dreyfus was finally cleared of the charges against him, the French government had given the Chateau du Prieuré, as it is named, to Dreyfus as recompense for the injustice done him. Dreyfus in turn presented the chateau to his attorney, Lavori, from whom Gurdjieff purchased it.

For the next twelve years very strange doings went on in the historic chateau. Gurdjieff’s Russian followers were soon joined by a flock of Englishmen, prepared for him by Ouspensky who had been lecturing in London. Some of those who came from England were famous. There was the extraordinary short story writer, Katharine Mansfield, stricken with tuberculosis. Lady Rothermere. Dr. James Carruthers Young, one of the foremost exponents of the Jung School of psycho-analysis. A. R. Orage, editor of The New Age, economist, and literary critic.

And to what did they come? Somewhat primitive quarters. Backbreaking physical toil about the grounds, roadmaking, building, farm work. Dramatic unexpected life. Hours and hours of doing the esoteric dances. A complete change from anything they had ever done before. An entire breaking away from their habits of life.

So it came about that intellectuals and artists chopped down trees and shoveled manure, and society women spent twelve or fourteen hours in the kitchen. According to Gurdjieff, man has three “centers,” which are, respectively, the mental, the emotional and the instinctive centers. A full life requires living strenuously in all three centers, but the conditions of modern life and differences of psychological type bring about a lopsidedness, so that people live habitually more in one “center” than another. But at Fontainebleau sedentary people had to get out and do, and, be it added, the active physical type were given prolonged mental labors such as translating.

The hours of sleep were short; the hours of labor long. Gurdjieff constantly pushed his pupils past their states of “imaginary fatigue,” and on through their “second wind” to real fatigue.

In 1933 the celebrated writer, Katharine Mansfield, died of a hemorrhage at Fontainebleau. Gossip has always blamed the regimen of the Institute for her death, but the present writer, who has talked with A. R. Orage and with one of the Russian girls who took care of Miss Mansfield, can say positively that she did not die for that reason, but from over-exertion contrary to the regimen under which she lived. Nor was the fault hers.

When the writer visited Fontainebleau, he was shown the little platform in the stable that was constructed for Miss Mansfield’s rest period in the afternoon. The walls had been decorated by the artist Salzman; he had painted a gay jungle peopled by animals who looked like one or another person staying at the Institute. It was very jolly and very restful too.

The most extraordinary building on the grounds was the “study hall,” an old airplane hangar orientalized. Thick rugs on the floor—a huge space for dancing—cabalistic designs covering the walls. Here until two or three in the morning were rehearsed the intricate sacred dances.

Gurdjieff spent considerable time in the Montmartre section of Paris, treating, so it said, rich drug addicts and curing them.

He had magnificent plans for his Institute, which one admirer once told me was to surpass unimaginably the conception of Bacon’s Academy for the Advancement of Learning. There was to be an observatory on the highest point of land which could be seen for miles around. A special organ was ordered. Near the street, there would be a display shop for the handicraft products to be made by the pupils. A little trolley line would be put on the grounds. In short, Gurdjieff aimed to set up an Institute that in modern Europe would be the center of light and influence that the Institute at Crotona, founded by Pythagoras, was in ancient times.

But all these plans were dashed to pieces when in 1924 after returning from his American tour, Gurdjieff was almost killed in an automobile accident. He was driving back late at night from Paris when a car, traveling at high speed, tore down an intersecting road. To avoid being hit, Gurdjieff ran his car to the side of the road and smashed into a tree. The other car fled down the intersecting roadway. That is one version of the accident; there are others. And there is an air of mystery about the accident. Was it brought about intentionally by the other car? A peasant found Gurdjieff unconscious by the roadside some hours later; he was removed to a nearby convent and for eighteen days hovered in a coma between life and death. Eventually he recovered but had to alter all his plans.

The Institute was “liquidated” and he set himself instead to writing books. The principal one is laid on a ship traversing interstellar space and consists of tales told about those “terrestrial pantaloons,” men on earth, by Beelzebub to his intelligent grandson, Hassein. The book is a very strange allegory with many a dash of robust humor. For some years it was read aloud to groups in New York and Chicago. Finally a version of it was mimeographed and distributed to pupils of Gurdjieff, but copies have been carefully guarded from the outside world.

Meantime study groups under the leadership of that brilliant lecturer, the late A. R. Orage, were formed in New York to learn about the psychological method of Gurdjieff. Hundreds of people passed through them. The curiosity of some was quickly exhausted. Others “bit” for a considerable time and then left in anger at Gurdjieff. Others remained faithful to the end. The “God-seekers” were of all types: the president of a boiler works, a life insurance agent, a modiste, a shipping clerk, school-teachers, a credit man, lawyers, housewives, psycho-analysts, a concert pianist, commercial artists, college boys, etc. But there was a very heavy sprinkling of well-known people, of editors, writers, publicists—people that you would never dream would become members of an esoteric cult, people you would ordinarily classify as clever atheists rather than adventurers after God. The late Herbert Croly, for example, came regularly; he was the distinguished editor of the New Republic. The historical novelist, Mary Johnston, who died recently, was another devotee. The famous salon Mistress, Mabel Dodge Luhan, has revealed in her published memoirs that she came often with her Indian husband, Tony, whom I have seen at these meetings sitting wrapped in an Indian blanket.

Many of the meetings took place in the big room above a garage on East Fortieth Street, New York, where New York’s most brilliant salon hostess, Mrs. Muriel Draper, held court. Let me recall the scene. It is towards nine o’clock in the evening. The room is filling, and by nine there are about seventy persons scattered about in the room’s center on folding chairs or at the edges seated on the furniture of Mrs. Draper, including the King of Denmark’s big golden throne she once acquired from a set used in a production of Hamlet. Many of the people present are in Who’s Who. There is a famous actress from the Theatre Guild. A publicist who has been prominent in third party political movements. A very well known society portrait painter. The former editor of an immensely popular monthly magazine. The divorced wife of a chain store king. The room seems to hum with increased vitality as they chat and wait eagerly for Orage.

Orage enters and begins to talk—on the level of a Platonic dialogue—brilliant inspired discourse. The group is busy with their notebooks. There are questions and repartee. The meeting lasts to midnight.

You would never have called this setting a religious one. Orage has been smoking from the beginning of his talk, and the men and women of his audience have been making the air smoke-laden. The whole atmosphere is smart and worldly. These are the “sophisticates” of New York City. And yet they are very much in earnest about something they call “self-observation,” “objectivity,” “super-consciousness,” and the “soul.”

With what sort of bait had Orage and Gurdjieff hooked these people? We can find out—or could, if the book were not out of print and therefore hard to find—by consulting a little volume entitled Beyond Behaviorism: The Future of Psychology,4 written by a Columbia University advanced student of psychology who chose the pen-name of Robert Courtney. The writing of Beyond Behaviorism was supervised by Orage and the book was intended by him to serve as a primer of Gurdjieffian psychology.

The author begins by remarking that the symbol of Psyche or the soul was for the ancient Greeks a butterfly, and that a butterfly results from a transformation. First, the caterpillar, then the chrysalis, finally the butterfly. He finds significance in this. And in truth the Gurdjieffian psychology is built upon the premise that man can transform himself.

According to Gurdjieff, there are four states of consciousness: 1. sleep, 2. waking, 3. self-consciousness, and 4. cosmic consciousness. We know only the first two. We have to acquire self-knowledge and self-awareness to wake up to the next stage. Again, in the self-conscious stage we must make effort and learn how to achieve cosmic consciousness.

All modern schools of psychology are criticised as deficient in a method for this waking up process. The best school, the Gurdjieffians say, is Behaviorism, which is rigidly deterministic and scientific and which holds that man is a mechanical being. Just so, remark the Gurdjieffians. He is a machine, utterly determined by his history and circumstance in everything he does. He has no will whatever.

This is hard doctrine. It denies that we have an “I.” Yet the psychology of Gurdjieff parts company with Behaviorism, because it asserts that man can acquire consciousness, can create an “I,” can develop a will, can win freedom. “It is necessary,” as Robert Courtney wrote in Beyond Behaviorism, “to insist upon a certain point which has been smothered by wish-fulfilments: in the original doctrine of no single great religion is there any statement that can be twisted justifiably into the assertion that a man possesses a soul. He is, it is true, urged to work for one, and it is made as evident as can be that, unless he does work for one, it is something that he need never expect to receive in some lazy fashion, gratis.”

But how should a man go to work to obtain a soul? Know Thyself, as Pythagoras counseled. The pupils of Gurdjieff were handed a method of observation of their physical behavior. They were to try to be aware as much as possible of what their bodies were doing. The awareness was to be impersonal, without judgment or comment, unaccompanied by the desire to change. As if noting the physical behavior of someone else, they were to be concurrently aware of their facial expressions, their movements, the tones of their voices, the feeling of heaviness or lightness in their limbs, their breathing, etc. Detached observation of the “it,” the body—that was the first duty set for the awakening “I.”

So the new religion came in the guise of a new-old psychology. It appealed to the skeptical because it made so great a point of man’s automatic nature. It appealed to the scientific because it claimed that it avoided by its method of self-observation the fallacies of ordinary introspective thinking. It appealed to the idealistic because it pictured the glories of a higher state of consciousness.

It was held that a man was a pocket edition, a replica, of the universe. If he came to know himself objectively, he knew the universe in miniature form. Self-knowledge, in short, was the basis of God-knowledge.

Many people attributed impartial objective knowledge to Gurdjieff. He was thought to be able to observe with detachment the minutest physical phenomena of his body, and simultaneously to be aware in the same objective manner of the constant play of his emotions and his mental life. He knew all about the fourth and even higher dimensions. He could read character at a glance. He had powers of clairvoyance, thought-reading and the like. In short, it was claimed for him by some people that he was a veritable God-man.

About all this I do not know. Certainly, he is a man of tremendous energy. He works like a horse, and requires little sleep. He is a profound writer. Music students compare the music he has composed with Bach. He is a humorist and a great actor in life’s every-day little dramas. There’s nothing of the swami or yogi about him, for which I am thankful.

I spent a summer at Fontainebleau and observed him at first hand. It was his custom then to go off on automobile trips of about a week’s duration. He would drive the first car of the caravan, sometimes at high speed, sometimes very carefully. Favored passengers rode with him. Two cars followed, loaded with his pianist, his secretaries, his translators. There was nothing like a time-table. On the trip I took we guessed the destination correctly—one of the old cathedrals of France—but we were not certain of it. Gurdjieff would drive and stop to “coffee-drink” whenever the fancy took him. He would turn down side roads. Always when he stopped he would get out his notebooks and write on The Tales of Beelzebub. At night at the inn we would go to bed and wonder if at some early hour the next morning Gurdjieff would rouse us for a start before breakfast. We never knew in advance the hours of eating and the like. He seemed to be teaching us to take nothing for granted. He seemed to be saying by actions that life is not a time-table affair, but is unpredictable.

The big event of each week at Fontainebleau was the bath on Saturday night and the feast that followed. Gurdjieff had built a Russian bath house and to this on Saturday afternoons the women went, to be followed in the evening by the twenty-five or thirty men, Americans, Russian émigrés, and Britishers, hardened from toil and full of vigor. We went into the “hot room” and sat on “terraces” of the Russian stove, the sweat pouring copiously for twenty minutes or so. Then we repaired to an outer room where we took showerbaths, winding up with cold water. Visitors were massaged. After that we went to the dressing room and reclined for half an hour. Gurdjieff and his favorites reclined upon a platform somewhat higher than the benches we lay on, and they regaled themselves with “anecdotes.” It was all very jovial. Then came the command to go into the hot room again.

The second time in was a mildly terrifying experience. Each man equipped himself with a leafy branch, climbed a little ladder, and sat doubled over on a bench in a sort of tunnel. Waiting. At the far end a valve was opened, and there was a “Bong” as the live steam roared into the tunnel. We sat there watching it approach. Then it enveloped us, and we flicked the scalding perspiration off with our leafy sprays. Surprisingly enough, we all stood this heat for a number of minutes and came to like it. At last we were in the outer room again for a final shower, and then we dressed, feeling clean as never before, and very much invigorated. It was a great experience.

And so was the feast afterwards at the chateau, at which we ate the heads of sheep, including that delicacy, sheep’s tongue, and drank toast after toast of armagnac, the French equivalent to applejack, a fiery drink that somehow was just right after the bath. Gurdjieff sat at the center of the table and behaved like a fantastic character out of a book, a rabelaisian or falstaffian host. He would propose the toasts, and they ran in a series something like this: “Health ordinary idiots;” “health candidates for idiots;” “health compassionate idiots;” “health squirming idiots.” And so on through seven varieties of “idiots.” When Gurdjieff drank a glass of water, he always raised it and said “Health wise man.”

Well, this was almost ten years ago. Today Orage is dead. The chateau has been seized for debts. The Gurdjieff groups have pretty well disbanded. Ouspensky in London has broken with his master and holds group meetings on his own. Gurdjieff is a wanderer in the western world, now turning up in New York, now in Berlin, and now in Paris. The rumors multiply.

Many are connected with how Gurdjieff finances himself. He seems to be alternately very poor and then “flush.” His followers give him money, but does he have outside sources of income? Does he secretly practice psychological healing and is he paid big sums by grateful rich patients? I do not know, but I do know that very soon Gurdjieff strikes the “pocketbook nerve.” Some people are greatly offended by this, saying that a spiritual teacher should not solicit funds in the way Gurdjieff does. But there is another way of looking at this. A shortcut to a psychological understanding of a person is to have money dealings with him. Character comes out like a flash when a wily Oriental is trying to get a person to disgorge a neat sum of money. On the other hand, Gurdjieff flings money around when he has it. In particular, he is an extravagant tipper. Many a poor waitress or peasant has been surprised by his princely lavishness.

He is like a prince too when he entertains. His table groans under exotic dishes which he has himself prepared.

I can’t swear to any occult phenomena performed by Gurdjieff. His dancers performed publicly feats of memory and concentration when they visited New York, but these feats were quite susceptible to rational explanation. There is a mother in New York whose son met with an automobile accident when Gurdjieff was in that city in 1924. The doctors were unanimous for operation. She called Gurdjieff on the telephone and asked his advice. He thought for a little, advised no operation, stated what the injury was. She refused to follow the doctors’ orders; three days later it was discovered that Gurdjieff without seeing the boy had correctly diagnosed the injury and was correct in his advice. Her testimony, not mine. I take such stories with a grain of salt.

An old pupil of Gurdjieff’s is supposed to have been walking with Gurdjieff near the famous Paris church, the Madeleine, early one morning. Gurdjieff said to him: “Walk around the square. Just as you reach a certain point on the opposite side, a taxicab will pull up, and a man”—whom Gurdjieff proceeded to describe—“will alight.” The pupil did so, and sure enough as he reached the other side a cab appeared and a man corresponding to the description got out. Label that one hearsay, if you please. But this is the sort of gossip many Gurdjieffians, eyes wide, with credulity, used to relate among themselves.

One of the older pupils of Gurdjieff, a man who stayed with him for fifteen years, was ill with typhus in Tiflis. He told me that he would certainly have died of the illness but that Gurdjieff’s ministrations pulled him through. “He saved my life,” he said solemnly.

When Gurdjieff was so badly injured in his motorcar accident, it is said that at the beginning he came out of his coma, muttered, “Eighteen days,” and relapsed into coma. As stated before, the coma lasted exactly eighteen days. I do not know if this is true. The rumors multiply. I am interested in all of them, but for the most part they go in one ear and out the other.

What did I get out of it all? That is hard to state. Certainly, I got a great many new ideas—about time, recurrence and reincarnation, immortality, the meaning of life. But Gurdjieff warns his disciples against “philosophizing,” against merely playing around with ideas. I should say that it was more important to be taken out of one’s rut, out of one’s habits. Gurdjieff certainly put one through some rough-and-tumble experiences. Life in his vicinity was always a quickened, and vivid affair, because of the unexpectedness with which things happened. He made life seem fabulous. I certainly learned to take life experimentally and to view myself with at least a tincture of impersonality. Most of all, I learned to be practical. Gurdjieff warned people against dreaming about becoming more conscious and indulging in mystical adventures. What he stressed was the daily routine, the simple everyday facts of life. Begin there, he seemed to say; you are foolish to imagine that until you are masterly in your ordinary activities, you can achieve anything extraordinary.

Others will tell you that Gurdjieff is the Cagliostro of the twentieth century. For me I will only say that the most sensational aspect of his work was a sort of sublime commonsense. I mean that my experiences resembled many times those of the initiate in antiquity who was asked by his friends how he felt when he was told the secrets of an occult brotherhood. “Like a fool,” he replied, “for not having seen for myself the truths they taught.”

But this is not to deny that Gurdjieff in his horseplay, his wangling for money, his marvelous music, his breaking-off with his oldest pupils, his claim to ancient wisdom, and all the other unusual features of his teaching is not the greatest human enigma I have known. Before an enigma one cannot come to any real conclusion.

The culture of the brain must result in the habit of originally examining all the phenomena of life and conduct, to see what they really are, and to what they lead. The heart hates progress, because the dear old thing always wants to do as has always been done. The heart is convinced that custom is a virtue.… The brain alone is the enemy of prejudice and precedent, which alone are the enemies of progress. And this habit of originally examining phenomena is perhaps the greatest factor that goes to the making of personal dignity; for it fosters reliance on one’s self and courage to accept the consequences of the act of reasoning. Reason is the basis of personal dignity.

Arnold Bennett


1 In 1937 the term “cult” did not have the pejorative connotations that it does now. [GIR eds.]
2 Rom Landau, God Is My Adventure, 1935. [GIR eds.]
3 And pure gossip it is, this rumor about Gurdjieff being Dorzjieff has never been substantiated. [GIR eds.]
4 C. Daly King, reissued with the title The Butterfly: a symbol of Conscious Evolution, New York: Bridge Press, 1996. [GIR eds.]

Copyright © 1937 Practical Psychology Monthly
This webpage © 2000 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Spring 2000 Issue, Vol. III (2)
Revision: April 1, 2000