Where are the Gurdjieff Groups Heading?

This piece was first published around seven years ago. I have made some minor improvements. I am shortly to follow it up with one entitled “Where We Stop”, which shall, I think, clearly explain an insight which came to me within the last month. (18 December 2016)

 Gurdjieff brought a promise: the fourth way would transform people who were prepared to work (meaning here “make a practical study the ideas and methods, applying them in their lives”). Pupils of the fourth way would be in a school, and in these schools there would be esoteric knowledge. His people would be an ascending people, a people co-operating with the forces of evolution, climbing the stairs to the divine vision explicitly spoken of in “Beelzebub” and implicitly in “Miraculous”. Individual efforts would even have planetary and cosmic effects, a side given some emphasis by Jeanne de Salzmann. In addition to this, there was a social dimension: with his ideas and methods, Gurdjieff would make war on the old world of lies, suggestibility, and “reciprocal destruction”, and all their attendant horrors, and forge a new one.

The vision which we had when we came across the Gurdjieff ideas was that it would be possible to become something like what Gurdjieff had been like: vigilant, aware, resourceful, capable of working in many fields, full of knowledge and feeling. The picture of Gurdjieff in the books, especially de Hartmann and Nott, is of someone always connected with a higher level, so to speak. A life like that would surely be glorious whatever hardships came along, for unconscious suffering would be made conscious. Further, the entire group would be a leavening agent, an esoteric society of brothers and sisters within a host body. And if I chose to join in, I would be one individual in such a group, collaborating like brethren of one family, for a mutually understood higher purpose. 

And why not? There had been extraordinary people in history, and here was Gurdjieff, clearly another one. And besides, religion promised a great deal, but had left us disillusioned. To many of us, being a Christian was too much like being in a French class where no-one could actually speak French, just deliver lectures about the theory, but forgot what they had just said or learned as soon as they left the classroom. As a young person, I never saw a single person change their character for the better except by effluxion of time or after massive shocks, such as a close escape from death. or by leaving the world, perhaps to become a monk or nun. This did not seem right: surely there must have be something transformative there, otherwise, it was a farce, a mockery.

 Gurdjieff promised to deliver in reality. And when I met George and Helen Adie, I realised that even after his death he could deliver. There was no doubt about that all, and I still have no doubt about that.

But did even the Adies ever preside over such a school of ascending individuals growing in consciousness and wisdom? Although the Adies had a great effect on literally hundreds of pupils, not one of us, not excluding myself, is at their level. My experience of the Foundation groups in New York and London, while not the most extensive is still sufficient for me to be sure that it is almost always those who knew Gurdjieff himself who had achieved the most for themselves.

It is as if the real power left the Gurdjieff groups with Gurdjieff himself, and now they have inherited only the memories and the vocabulary (and not always even that). And that is the fact, at least as I see it.

So, I repeat my question, where are the Gurdjieff groups going?

© Joseph Azize, 18 December 2016


  1. Hi Joseph,
    I have found myself asking similar questions. The question I find myself always asking is ‘If Gurdjieff never existed, what else would we have to draw from?’

    I find it difficult to accept that without Gurdjieff we can’t get closer to the truth – whatever that may be. I found Gurdjieff by accident only many many years after I had already been questioning the world, the norms, what I was being told. Then, certain events around my mid 20’s, completely severed off any last strings the ‘normal’ world had attached to me. I had seen enough by then to know that just about everything being told to me was utter BS.

    I have been extremely grateful to have found Gurdjieff, and the fourth way, and maybe it has enabled a short-cut to take place, at least in regards to seeing my own mechanicality, but I also suspect that if he had not existed, my sheer contempt for the economic prison we live in would have probably enabled me to see it eventually, even if it took me to my old age to see it. I had read enough books by philosphers and the like on the subject of economics and law alone, before I even found Gurdjieff, to see that we are simply robots acting under a regime called economics which then manifests into the legislation we know today. What we think is free-will, these philosphers clearly demonstrated to me, does not exist. Gurdjieff simply re-inforced this and at least gave me some hope that maybe there is something I can do about it.


    1. For the work to manifest in me — I have to work. Mr Gurdjieff worked, even amidst the Nazi occupation of Paris during WW ll. He worked for the Work, he worked for others, he worked for himself; the three lines of work.

      He worked with women rather than men, knowing working with men would draw unwanted attention from the Nazis. He passed the ideas on to these women “of the rope” meeting with them, teaching them Movements, and through music and attitude affected them emotionally. This work with women was for the work, preserving a legacy for the future, for us.

      He worked for others, cooking for the poor, the unwell, the old and the destitute; burdening himself intentionally. Incidentally wearing out his body serving “something higher” rather than serving what he called “the debil.”

      He made the Work “active force” instead of life being active force. Life is feeding the moon; a descending octave. Without attention, which we probably would never have discovered, without Gurdjieff’s music, sitting, movements and ideas, life would be the only force we could know. Then we would remain slaves, only serving nature like automatons, more like ants and bees, rather than as awakened beings, consciously serving something higher.

      He worked on himself, for himself. He worked intentionally searching to find an answer to the dissatisfaction he felt. Many feel dissatisfaction. But serve only the moon. They seek satisfaction exclusively in life’s empty promises, as ends in themselves. Buying empty experiences; buying stuff well beyond their needs; seeking attention from others, paying for the empty adulation by sacrificing their lives for it; buying sex in empty marriages, or buying sex vicariously; attaching themselves to various political parties empty promises; making money, money, money, talking about money, money, money, spending , money, money, money — driving the hamster wheel to nowhere.

      Gurdjieff suffered consciously to find evidence of something he felt had been lost. It was within himself where he found the evidence of that something which was there all the time but laid dormant without certain efforts. He searched to find that something in places where it still remained. And consequentially emerged from his search, bringing methods with which to awaken that which tends to lie dormant within each of us. He reconstituted lost methods embedding them in an entire cosmogony.

      One supposes that when Ouspensky saw a wagon load of crutches obviously manufactured to assist men whose limbs would be blown off in future battles his conscience was pricked. The sight served as a shock. It ought to be clear to us today that some men’s entire lives are spent manufacturing ‘crutches’ to help repair the walking wounded among us. Imagining they are serving something higher. Rather than helping themselves and others to wake up to the futility of living without an awakened conscience.

      Mr Gurdjieff reminds us that the only thing we can change is ourselves. And that he tells us is hard enough. But without a conscience we can do nothing. First though we have to feel thoroughly disappointed in life. If one is most fortunate and finds the “work” then one at least has a possibility of obtaining something durable and real.

      1. It’s an interesting comment, if a little long, but one small historical point: the Rope had been in France, before WWII, and I cannot see it had anything to do with men attracting Nazi attention. Otherwise, my forthcoming book “Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, and Exercises” will, I think, have some persuasive re-interpretations of Gurdjieff’s story.

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