More on Gurdjieff and the Moon

Note of 4 March 2022

When I wrote this piece in March 2019, I thought that the piece on the Moon and consciousness of sensation, had probably been written by Ouspensky. I am now as certain as I can be without direct proof: consider the terms of what Ouspensky has on p.317 of In Search, in the paragraph commencing: “G. arrived only at the beginning of February 1917.” This part is exactly where the passage belongs.


Part One

Further to the post of four days ago about Storr’s misunderstanding of Gurdjieff, and his mocking of Gurdjieff’s cosmology, consider this passage. This previously unpublished piece, reporting something said by Gurdjieff, is found at pp.110-111 of Christian Wertenbaker’s The Enneagram of G.I. Gurdjieff, Codhill, New Paltz.

“On another occasion, G. explained the idea of Moon from a wholly new direction. “Up to now we have talked about the Moon as the growing branch of the cosmos, as the end, or destination, of the Ray of Creation, which originates in the Absolute.

There is another level at which you must understand this idea: Given that man is the microcosm that replicates all that exists in the cosmos, this line from the Absolute to the Moon also exists in man. The representative of the Absolute in man is full consciousness, about which our knowledge is incomplete. We do know, however, that the effort to free oneself from identification creates a corresponding amount of free attention. The presence of free attention in man is a second order representative of the Absolute: it is a foretaste of what he might eventually come to know as full consciousness.

“The Moon-in-man is sensation. It is that broken part of the original consciousness of man, and it is that part towards which a man who wishes to work has a primary responsibility; for sensation in man is the growing part of his inner cosmos. The Ray of Creation inside man extends from free attention to sensation.”

In response to a question about the relationship between the growth of being and the growth of sensation, G. explained: “Just as the Moon in the sky requires vibrations from Earth for the growth of its atmosphere, sensation is the atmosphere of being. No growth of being will take place without a corresponding growth in sensation.

“Of course, when we apply the term growth to sensation, we must understand that it refers to growth of the roots not the leaves, that is, sensation is not only of a man’s skin, which we might think of as leaves, but of the entire inner structure, which includes the skeleton, muscles, and organs as well. In lifting his arm, everything on the other side of intention is sensation. A man must be able to radiate particles of free attention from the moment an intention enters his bloodstream and neurological system.

“The work on sensation is the infrastructure of being.”

Part Two

The piece is not just powerful, it is stunningly deep. And yet, it was always implicit in what we have read in In Search of the Miraculous. This is the reason why I think it is probably an accurate report of a conversation with Gurdjieff. Who else could be so simple and so profound? I understand that people in the New York Foundation and Paris Institut accept is as authentic, but do not know who wrote it. I respect their view, but I don’t rely on it. I am basing myself on my own assessment. I wonder if they made enquiries when they received it.

I am fairly certain that it was written by Ouspensky. It might just possibly have been Orage, but I would put my money on Ouspensky. The flow, how it is set out, (e.g. the way he says: “On another occasion G. explained …”) reminds me of no one so much as Ouspensky, together with the use of “G” rather than the fuller “Gurdjieff”. The simplicity and precision of the prose together with the fact that Gurdjieff had been speaking about the Ray of Creation and the Moon, makes me think, with some small reservations, that it must be one of those two. To whom else could Gurdjieff have been speaking about the Moon from any perspective at all, and could then have gone on of his own volition to teach them about the Absolute and the Moon? Orage and Ouspensky did discuss these difficult questions with Gurdjieff. They were around when Gurdjieff was either speaking about them (in Russia) or in writing (see Orage’s commentaries on Beelzebub for some very deep remarks on the Moon to which I shall be returning to in future posts, God willing). 

A friend of mine objects that the word “infrastructure” entered the English language relatively recently. My Shorter Oxford Dictionary has no instance of it before 1927; further, it was an abstruse word for quite some time after that. It had apparently entered French beforehand, and from there migrated to English. But that was soon enough for the translator of the text. It seems that Ouspensky wrote the text in Russian, and it was translated into English, over a period of years. Few details of when  and by whom the translation as made are publicly known: it may be that the the editing of this passage, or its translation, or both were late, by which I mean up to any time before Ouspensky’s death in 1947. It does sound like Ouspensky, and even more, it sounds as if it was in a draft of In Search. Its style fits In Search better than anything else.

I have checked so far as they are available to me, the unpublished drafts of ISM and this passage does not appear there. But are the available drafts complete? If anyone has better information, please share it with me. I am by no means certain about my hypothesis: it sounds to me like a section from a draft of In Search of the Miraculous, authentically representing Gurdjieff’s words. Perhaps Ouspensky did not place it in the book because Gurdjieff  did not explain more about that particular line of work, consciousness of sensation, and without such information, he felt it was an incomplete idea. That is a mere guess: but the ower and significance of this text is evident.


Joseph Azize, 10 March 2019, Part Two revised 16 October 2020



  1. Yes, but Ouspensky was not alone, his wife was in charge of the movements and other exercises on sensations. He dismissed nothing but he was specialist in what he was more developed and let his wife to teach what was more developed in her which was the more appropriate for him. He was not in charge of his undeveloped functions, that’s why his wife was in charge of the sacred dances.

    I suggest this piece of work was more appropriate of JG Bennet because he emphasizes this kind of exercise and sacred movements. Nowadays the group of Bennet are more developed in the movements and exercises while O’s groups are more intellectuals. There’s no other so deep, not even Orage. Orage was more abstract. It’s my opinion I don’t pretend to be absolute so if anyone of you gather more information about is welcome.

    Att. Serafin Arvelo

    1. Thanks. It’s an interesting question. My plan is that the next post will be more from Mr Adie, then I shall return to this extraordinary piece.

  2. People come to the work by as many routes as there are people in the work. The work though, would not exist, indeed could not exist, without Gurdjieff. All others are disciples. The work would not and could not exist without P. D. Ouspensky, Madam Ouspensky, Bennet, Orage, Thomas and Olga de Hartmann, Alexandre de Salzmann, Maurice Nicol.

    No doubt a few others were equally important in spreading Gurdjieff’s work but these few are the names one most frequently hears when influences are discussed. In certain regions of the U.S. Olgivanna Lloyd Wright and Frank Lloyd Wright were decisive.

    After them came a second circle of important influencers. Not naming the second circle will not detract from the point I have yet to make.

    “The work on sensation is the infrastructure of being.” Without working on sensation the materiality of energy cannot be found, thus without finding the locus of this energy within the body, all remains imagination. Permanent change of being is impossible unless one finds help. Only through borrowing something, from those whom have that something, can one begin to taste that something for oneself.
    Gradually one may detect that something’s presence within.

    Only by accumulating those substances can one prove that Mr Gurdjieff’s work could not exist without him. We may never have accumulated a particle of those substances without the few dozen devoted men and women whose acceptance of his influence made his words their own.

  3. I’ve been working recently in yoga associated to somatic practices. There is a clear relation to get profound in the body movement and free association. I read the comments I by “feeling” also would bet in Bennett because he was engineer and infrastructure was part of his language perhaps.

    Anyway, I really don’t care if this is original from G. This is definitely original from the Work and is very observable. Thanks a lot.


  4. NEW YORK, MARCH 1, 1924

    {Question about the moon)

    Answer: The moon is man’s big enemy. We serve the moon. Last time you heard about kundabuffer. Kundabuffer is the moon’s representative on earth. We are like the moon’s sheep, which it cleans, feeds and shears, and keeps for its own purposes. But when it is hungry it kills a lot of them. All organic life works for the moon. Passive man serves involution; and active man, evolution. You must choose. But there is a principle: in one service you can hope for a career; in the other you receive much but without a career. In both cases we are slaves, for in both cases we have a master. Inside us we also have a moon, a sun and so on. We are a whole system. If you know what your moon is and does, you can understand the cosmos.

    [Gurdjieff, Views From the Real World]

  5. “Nature in her foresight has given to man’s machine a certain property, which protects the man from feeling and sensing reality. That is the Kundabuffer.” [Gurdjieff Early Talks 1914-1931]

    In reality Kundalini is the power of imagination, the power of fantasy, which takes
    the place of a real function. [Fragments of an Unknown Teaching]

    The Moon, that is the kundabuffer, the power of hypnosis in man, is that what prevents feeling and sensing. The Moon is not the sensation, it is the power of fantasy, the power of hypnosis.

  6. Thank you, this snippet is extremely useful as a flowchart.

    While I met people in the work, sometimes there was put emphasis on “creation of the new moon”, though it was left for the listener to figure out what that might be.

    For some reason I associate moon with devil, as the minus terminal of a battery. Might be subjective though.

  7. The term “free attention” seems very modern to me. A search of In Search if the Miraculous for that term comes up with nothing and I cannot recall it in any other of Ouspensky’ recorded meetings.
    It is a term used nowadays, but how far back can its use (as understood now) be traced? Certainly doesn’t show up in the Paris Meetings that I have read.

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