Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, and Exercises

I have just read the published volume, and I think it might be worthwhile to note some thoughts which have occurred to me. I shall update this page from time to time.

Helpful Comments

First, on page 4. I note how Mme Solange said “Gurdjieff’s teaching is not a search for religiosity …” I have since noticed that in the notes of meetings with Maurice Nicoll in 1953 he says that Gurdjieff’s work is not a religion, but a teaching. I shall be following this up in the future, because there is an interesting question: what type of teaching is it? After all, there is no reason why a teaching cannot be a religious teaching. When you consider the very last paragraph in the book, you will see that I think the question is a subtle one. By the way, I am, in a humble way, proud of that last paragraph, not because I was allowed to write it, but because precisely because I was privileged to be allowed to write it. I cannot think that Gurdjieff would have disapproved.

On the Gurdjieff’s usage of the terms “meditation” and “contemplation,” I wonder if he did not think of meditation as a mental (i.e. one-centred) activity, and contemplation – or more precisely – his “Transformed Contemplation” as a three-centred activity.

Importantly, on p.111 I refer to the hand movement Gurdjieff showed Benson. Later, Gurdjieff gives that exercise using an imaginatively constructed thread. I have tried it with the hand movement – it is powerful. Perhaps each method can be used.

I draw your attention to the quote from J.G. Bennett’s Sacred Influences on p.236. If this is correct, it may explain why Gurdjieff chose just those four ideals in the Four Ideals Exercise: they really did descend from above, while in some sense remaining – as the Maronite Church says about Jesus – and this explains why Gurdjieff says that the Ideals really do exist. I am still digesting Bennett’s statements, and articulating for myself what the implications. This material is very deep.

The article referred to as Azize (forthcoming) will shortly be published in ARIES 20 (2020). The title will be “Assessing Borrowing: The Case of Gurdjieff.” When I have the page numbers I will post them online.

Brief Explanations

On page 7, footnote 7 refers to the quote from Gurdjieff. The rest of that indented paragraph was written by me.

On pp.86-87, I did not add the materiality of the universe because that is not unique to Gurdjieff. On p.87, my meaning is that no one ever referred to the Enneagram as drawn by Gurdjieff before Gurdjieff, notwithstanding assertions that it was a Sufi doctrine. No Sufis knew this before Gurdjieff.

On p.99, the fact that Shandarovsky referred to an experiment with the Our Father is significant because the Dukes book has that prayer central to his conversations with Prince Ozay.

Errata

On page 51, line 6, “her own” should be “his or her own”.

On page 67, line 7, “his central” should be “the central”.

On p.109, the indenting of the first paragraph should be aligned.

On p.117, line 9, “and external” should be “an external”.

On p.203, 8 lines from the bottom, substitute “It” for “This” and delete “than”, so that it reads “It was harder, he implied, to change them for the better …”

On p.303, line 10, “competed” should be “completed.”

Joseph Azize, 3 January 2020

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