What Can it Be, to “Unite Beelzebub’s Tribe”?

I think that the further one advances along the Gurdjieff work, the more one feels the desirability of uniting Beelzebub’s tribesmen, so to speak. There are many questions, for example, to what extent can we be united? That is, in what can we share? And then, are some groups beyond the possibility of participation? To put it another way, have some of those who claim a heritage from Gurdjieff, have moved so far or developed in such an idiosyncratic way, that we can no longer speak of them as members of Beelzebub’s tribe?

Let us begin with the feeling, I spoke of. I think that to the extent one senses the value of Gurdjieff’s ideas and methods, and to the extent that one is impartial, the more one wishes that more people could and would participate in the work. There can come a point where, rather than simply being critical of people who see the methods and ideas differently, and practice them differently, one is not so much critical as desirous that what is good in their approach should grow, and what is wrong-headed fall off. I suspect that the more one has an impartial feeling of oneself, the more this attitude will grow. The more one sees, the more one sees one’s own limitations, and is slower to judge.

Another question follows fairly quickly, in what can such unity consist? To try to force two separate groups to join together when there is no right basis for such a joining, is counter-productive; it will only lead to disintegration. What is the right basis, if is not a similarity in understanding of Gurdjieff’s system? It is very clear that there are now different groups, all calling themselves Gurdjieff groups, which do, in fact, have quite disparate understandings of his system.

Yet that is the ground upon which we stand, and we cannot change that fact by any act of will, or by command. So that must be the starting point, and also limiting factor, for any unity. It means in effect that the sort of unification I am speaking of will be limited in time and extent. However, if some effort in a right direction is made, it may be that the limits will expand. So what can be done?

Before I address that question, in concrete terms, it should be clearly noted that, from what we can see, the history of most movements, if not, all, is a history of splitting up, separating, and increasing suspicion and distrust. Any movement towards unification of groups like the Gurdjieff groups is not to be expected without significant effort – without conscious labours and intentional suffering. It may even be that it is against the laws of this plane of existence. But then, it would be in accordance with the laws of a higher world: and this shows its desirability, its value, and something of the necessary direction. I say this because the higher worlds are under fewer laws, and this suggests to me that any efforts towards unification should be based on small efforts, allowed time to develop. This, I think, is something of how creation takes place: incremental changes watched as they operate over substantial periods.

It seems to me, then, that the first moves towards unification would be towards communication. Such communication could not be continuous and of great length. I would conjecture that such efforts would be bound to fail. But they could be small, and initially perhaps, just once or twice a year. For example, why should one or more separate groups not have an electronic meeting on or just before the occasion of Gurdjieff’s death (29 October) or the date taken as his birth (13 January), and be restricted to something like a reading from one of his books, perhaps with some of his music?

Even this would mean that people from different groups would need to consent to someone from one group taking a lead at one point or another. It can be painful to hear others read or play. This could indeed be an intentional suffering. But if that were an issue, then could be a reciprocal arrangement: e.g. you plan 30 minutes before the 13th and we plan 30 minutes before the 29th?

Our small group has been working in this direction with other people. On some occasions, we have found that to choose the 13th or the 29th itself renders the project impossible: groups often have their own activities on those days, and will neither give them up or interrupt them for something as chancy as what I am suggesting. Yet that does not mean that an effort or an overture should not be made. It may not be fruit this year, or the next, but it may in five years, or in ten years. Look at us now, almost 75 years after his death. Such initiatives even ten years ago could be bearing fruit now.

I have just mentioned our group. I am most gratified to say that this year, as last year, we are foregathering on 29 July with some former pupils of the Adies. It does them credit that they accept our invitation, and attend something we have planned; often at considerable inconvenience to themselves. We are “hastening slowly,” a good phrase because it captures something of the sense of the rightness we surely all feel. This is a more substantial undertaking than those I have outlined above (a reading and some music), but then, why not? We first met in the 1970s and 1980s, and now when we foregather the next generation (our pupils) are with us.

As I said at the start, I have found that the greater readiness for such a meeting has occurred because of a deepening sense of valuation for the work and for our common heritage – on all sides.

On occasions, I have made contact with other groups or people, waiting afterwards to see what might occur. Generally, nothing happens, but that is hardly to undo the value of when we did come together.

As I also said above, I think that the laws of higher worlds are a key: there are fewer laws, but they are more productive, allowing for more freedom and flexibility.  This means that the simpler the plan, the more modest the scope, the more chance of breaking through the impediments attendant upon our all too human condition.


    1. I have edited out the bulk of this post because the basis of the comments was unstated and quite unclear. I appreciate the thought and the effort, but if I allow this to become an ordinary blog site, its uniqueness (which I think is valuable) is lost.

    1. Thank you. I do prefer that contributors provide their names, but when this comes to pass, we can “meet up” then.

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