Gurdjieff International Review

Seeing Gurdjieff Off at the Train Station

Nikolaevsky Station, 1917

P.D. Ouspensky


very interesting event took place in connection with his departure. This happened at the railway station. We were all seeing him off at the Nikolaevsky Station. G. was standing talking to us on the platform by the carriage. He was the usual G. we had always known. After the second bell he went into the carriage—his compartment was next to the door—and came to the window.

He was different! In the window we saw another man, not the one who had gone into the train. He had changed during those few seconds. It is very difficult to describe what the difference was, but on the platform he had been an ordinary man like anyone else, and from the carriage a man of quite a different order was looking at us, with a quite exceptional importance and dignity in every look and movement, as though he had suddenly become a ruling prince or a statesman of some unknown kingdom to which he was traveling and to which we were seeing him off.

Some of our party could not at the time clearly realize what was happening but they felt and experienced in an emotional way something that was outside the ordinary run of phenomena. All this lasted only a few seconds. The third bell followed the second bell almost immediately, and the train moved out.

I do not remember who was the first to speak of this “transfiguration” of G. when we were left alone, and then it appeared that we had all seen it, though we had not all equally realized what it was while it was taking place. But all, without exception, had felt something out of the ordinary.[1]

Saint-Lazare Station, 1948

Solange Claustres


urdjieff leaves for America today. Mme. de Salzmann is with him. A group of us go to Saint-Lazare station to be with him and see him off. For us, this is an event, because we have been near him constantly for many years.

We are on the platform, Gurdjieff seems to be as he always is, a simple, calm man, as if he has eternity ahead of him. He climbs into the train with Mme. de Salzmann and disappears. We wait to see him appear in the window of his compartment.

Gurdjieff appears. But he is no longer the same man. Without a change to his outward appearance, he has transformed, he emanates great radiance. His presence is filled with an unusually majestic force which he has never shown us before. He looks at us intensely, as if sending us a message. I am profoundly impressed by what I feel from him.

Then Gurdjieff motions for me to approach him and I come toward him. He describes an exercise that I must give to my comrades at our next meeting: to think of him, of Mme. de Salzmann, and of all of the members of the group, like a network, all relying on one another, even when we are far apart. That very evening, there was a meeting at his apartment on rue des Colonels Renard. I passed the exercise along. This gives us a greater awareness of our relationship with him and with the group.

And I have always kept the feeling and sensation of Gurdjieff’s presence.[2]

Saint-Lazare Station, 1948

Michel Conge


hen [Gurdjieff] took the boat to the USA, I went to accompany him to the train at the Saint-Lazare station. There were so many of us that it was annoying.

We waited in silence, huddled in front of the door to his rail car. From time to time, Mme. de Salzmann said something to someone or other who was standing on the platform. A strange atmosphere prevailed. The people who passed by stopped talking. Everything seemed surreal to us and the crowd shocked us as much as our attitude must evidently have shocked those unknown strangers.

Upon departure, Gurdjieff raised his hand and blessed us. I was towards the back of the group. At the same instant, a stranger came up to me and asked, “Who is that man?” Having no desire to answer and not knowing what to say, I refrained from speaking. “Why don’t you want to tell me? That’s stupid!” It’s true, it’s stupid. But was I going to tell this stranger, “He’s a spiritual master,” or even, “He’s my master?” Anyway, he went on, “I have a clear conscience, I will ask him myself.” And this man, who, as far as I could tell, did not come to take the train, jumped on board. I never knew anything about him. Had he spoken to Gurdjieff? And finally, had he answered his questions?... We will never know.

This scene evoked the scene Ouspensky had described, because when he blessed us, he had cast his gaze from another world… A gaze that few have seen and that often moved me deeply.

If I sometimes had doubt, this gaze and other specific events swept them away. The first time was at the apartment on rue des Colonels-Renard. I had asked Gurdjieff a question about my mother. Instead of answering me, he slowly lowered his gaze and I had the impression that I saw infinity through him. The shock was terrible. I started crying silently and the tears flowed for hours. Not being able to return home in this state, I remember having walked almost all night. I can’t explain what happened. No one will understand who has not reached this “Sun.” But my essence keeps an eternal memory of this meeting.[3] □

[1] P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (1949) NY: Harcourt, Brace & Company, pp 324–325.

[2] Solange Claustres, La Prise de Conscience et G. I. Gurdjieff (2003) Netherlands: Editions Eureka, p. 71. Translated from the French.

[3] Extract from the Archives of Michel Conge. Translated from the French.


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