Gurdjieff International Review

The Deepening Call

Quotations from Other Pupils of Gurdjieff

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.   –Frank Lloyd Wright

Leonid Stjernvall & Gurdjieff with horses


an has a very special task to fulfill towards nature. Nature is the source of the impressions he needs in order to feel himself part of the universe and to fulfill his part in relation to the whole universe. This is what has been forgotten for a long time, and this is perhaps what we need to come back to. I say this because it is nice to be outdoors and to be among trees and breathing fresh air, but there is something further: not to ignore the immediate impression, but to open to something which is beyond. Otherwise we betray what Mr. Gurdjieff pointed out: the part of man in the process of evolution and the part of man as a conscious evolutive process in the Ray of Creation through organic life on earth—this is what most of the time we completely forget.[1]   –Henri Tracol

One gorgeous morning when, as always, we were up early, I went out towards the beautiful avenue of lime trees and was filled with such a feeling of the beauty of Nature and with such happiness that I lifted my arms high in the air. “What are you doing?” It was the voice of Mr. Gurdjieff behind me. “This is the gesture of a priest before making Holy Communion, to bring the higher forces down. The priests have now surely forgotten what this gesture means and perform it quite mechanically, but it is really a gesture that can bring higher forces down, because our fingers are a kind of antenna.” And he added: “Don’t do it without understanding what you are doing.”[2]   –Olga de Hartmann

I don’t know if you know, but pigs have the highest IQ of all animals. There’s nothing smarter than a pig. Sheep are the dumbest. The sheep is stupider than anything you’ll come upon. Of course a goat is very brilliant. A goat is smart as hell. But I had a saying about pigs: “A dog will look up to you, and a cat will look down on you condescendingly. But a pig will treat you as his equal.”[3]   –Martin Benson

Again, it may sound presumptuous, but being an old man I can say that one finds a network of unity, of oneness. I am not separated from you, or from the animals, from the insects, or even from the stone, from nature. One finds truly a oneness with all things. But I don’t know whether these are just words, “I am,” this wonderful phrase, “I am.” Just this is-ness is wonderful. I don’t have to say I am something—I am. That’s enough. One finds this “I am-ness” through the silence. The silence is, the nothingness is filled with everything. I can’t answer some questions. Words are not very adequate to express what one might find. One finds this moment.[4]   –William Segal

I begin to face the world with this thought, that the world is a world of forces. I begin to depend not on myself but on the reality of these forces. I’m not so much interested now in the old idea that I could bring something to situations. I’m interested in knowing in advance that certain situations will include certain forces—and I need to be there. I’m not struggling with nature any more. I’m trying to be conscious of myself within nature.[5]   –Lord Pentland

In all probability, we don’t really take in how nearly the forces are balanced, that one little effort by you or by me, may change everything. We don’t look at it that way, that one little effort makes all the difference.... Every moment counts, is symbolic, in the unseen war which is a very balanced thing. I am sure you have seen that. You have impressions which lead you to that point of view.[6]   –Lord Pentland

It was during a coffee break at a Gurdjieff meeting near New York. I went out in a courtyard, and there was a copper beech tree there with nothing around it. It was a tremendous tree with all these long branches going out in all directions. It was full, beautiful with color. The sun was glistening off of it. I burst into tears, because I immediately saw it as like the world: all our differences stretched out from a common trunk, a common root, and no branch was more important than any other. It was a vision of overflowing perfection. It was so beautiful that I went over to pick a leaf as a memento of the moment. The first leaf I pulled out had a wormhole in it. Another had another leaf stuck to it. The third had caterpillar damage. I could not find a perfect leaf. And then I had a still deeper moment of vision: this perfect thing was made up of all these imperfections![7]   –Tom Daly

There is so much to say about Gurdjieff and planetary nature that I would not know where to start or stop. Tcheslaw Tchekhovitch records Gurdjieff’s concern with nature at the Prieuré. Recently it has come to light that Gurdjieff was a member of Pyotr Kuz’mich Koslov’s expedition (1900–1901) to the Gobi, Altai and Afghanistan to collect samples of flora and fauna. Gurdjieff had the highest regard for animals. He rode a horse, had a succession of dogs named ‘Philos,’ had cats and peacocks running free at the Prieuré. I recall both Jean Toomer and my mother relating how Gurdjieff enhanced the growth and production of vegetables by talking and playing music for them. He carried melons to New York. At the Prieuré he could read the essential structure of the ground as well as rocks which he alone knew where to strike in order to produce the pieces he needed for constructions. He taught children how to read the qualities of vegetables and flowers. More significant for me was his insistence that words are organic and share the living properties of everything in nature. You see, I could go on and on. I hope your issue will honor Gurdjieff’s engagement in nature.... Fifi was a black mare that Gurdjieff rode often. He had a mule named Dralfit and a donkey named Marishka.[8]   –Paul Beekman Taylor

If we consider life as a planetary process, rather than some separate phenomenon that occurs on a planetary surface, then planetary evolution includes all aspects of the planetary system—core, mantle, crust, ocean, atmosphere and life. Life plays a critical role in planetary evolution, by capturing and storing solar energy in planetary materials, modifying the oxidation states of near surface reservoirs, and influencing all layers of the Earth with which it comes into contact. Life is in turn greatly influenced by the physical processes of planetary and solar system evolution.[9]   –Charles H. Langmuir

Being with the greatness of nature, another quality appears, another self, connected to something outside time and space. The joy you feel—not for you but to connect you, as in prayer.[10]   –Michel de Salzmann

Seeing God’s creation. Contemplation of creation. To really serve. To create such an animation in the world. This would have an action.[11]   –Michel de Salzmann

[1] Henri Tracol, The Real Question Remains (2009) Sandpoint, ID: Morning Light Press, p. 179

[2] Thomas & Olga de Hartmann, Our Life with Mr. Gurdjieff (1992) London: Penguin, p. 249.

[3] Carl Lehmann-Haupt, Martin Benson Speaks (2011) New Paltz, NY: Codhill Press, p. 146.

[4] A Voice at the Borders of Silence: an autobiography of William Segal with Marielle Bancou-Segal (2003) Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, p. 24.

[5] John Pentland, Exchanges Within: Questions from Everyday Life (1997) NY: Continuum, p. 55.

[6] Ibid., p. 276.

[7] D. B. Jones, The Best Butler in the Business: Tom Daly of the National Film Board of Canada (1996) Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 228–229.

[8] Paul Beekman Taylor emails to Greg Loy, dated August 14, 2019 and December 14, 2019.

[9] Charles H. Langmuir and Wally Broecker, How to Build a Habitable Planet: The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind (2012) Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, p. 536.

[10] Fran Shaw, Notes on The Next Attention (2010) New York: Indications Press, p. 302.

[11] Ibid., p. 299.


Copyright © 2020 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Winter 2019/2020 Issue, Vol. XIV (1)
Revision: August 13, 2020