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 Ouspensky once succinctly stated: “We are not trying to found a church or sect, but simply to promote a method of education and study.” Webb, The Harmonious Circle, (1980) 254.

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 multi-centred activity founded on the sensation of the physical body.

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.

At pp.26-27 I refer to Gurdjieff having studied medicine in Athens. In Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope, he tells a story about meeting a doctor with whom he had studied medicine in Russia (p.64).

On p.187, note towards the end of the first paragraph that “this earlier publication” was published in Needleman and Baker (1996).

On p.248, note that Mrs Adie’s version of the exercise does not mention the fourth canon, although I am sure it was not omitted in practice. These notes are an aid to the memory.

The article referred to as Azize (forthcoming) was published in ARIES 20 (2020), 1-30 as “Assessing Borrowing: The Case of Gurdjieff.”

I overlooked this significant passage in J.G. Bennett’s Gurdjieff, Making a New World, 175: “… the new exercises that were being introduced in 1930 and the early part of 1931 seem to have been different from the exercises which he had shown people individually at the Prieure between 1924 and 1929.”

I also missed this from Bennett’s Witness, 96: “Gurdjieff spoke of the Great Eternal Reservoirs, which are connected with Sacred Beings who have come to the earth to help mankind. He then passed to another diagram showing how the Will of God in creation acts through energies of different density of fineness. I could see that such sources of help are really present and was aware of the great mistake that we men have made in breaking the contact that we could have with them.” It should be integrated into the “Four Ideals” chapter.

Of great significance, in the 1931 edition of Beelzebub, 459, he wrote of “Essoaieritoorassnian-will” which in its turn can be obtained thanks to always the same being ‘Partkdolgduty,’ that is, to conscious labours and intentional sufferings.” This is clearly almost the same word as  “Aiessirittoorassnian.,” but the place of two of the root-words “Esso” and “aie” have been swapped. I cannot yet say exactly what it means – maybe there is no “exactly” but it is clearly not an arbitrary word; and now we have these clues: ESSO from Latin “to be” and related to “essence,” while AEI I think is probably from the Greek and means “always.” It has to do with a permanent quality of being, I suggest.

In the 1931 edition of All and Everything, chapter 39, Gurdjieff refers to the spirit as “the body of the soul.”

In Women of the Rope, at the top of p.219, Gurdjieff says: “If you wish help me, every hour you must say I amI, with feeling, am with sensing.” In the same book, and relevant for the Clear Impressions Exercise, at page 59 (middle of the page) he says: “Man has automatic looking (attention). Every man has a certain amount. This must be put to work, be concentrated. During a certain exercise, contact must be established with the outer world while inner world attention intensifies. This gradually makes clear the difference between the two worlds, will teach you to separate them, not look on things like monkeys, your all going out to the object and identifying with it. Then you will not live in the outer world.”


Brief Explanations

On page 7, footnote 20 refers to the quote from Gurdjieff which is given at the end of an indented paragraph written by me. It was only indented to highlight the importance of it: it is an attempted definition of the type of “exercises” which Gurdjieff taught. But the footnote at the end had the unhappy effect of making it all look like a quote.

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.


On p.6, the first paragraph numbered 1, “for the sale” should be “for the sake”

On p.10, first line of the last paragraph should read “definition of …”, that is, add the word “of” 

On p. 10, 12 lines from bottom, it says: “(see Section 4.6)”. It should be “Section 4.5.”

On p.12, second inset, it should be “conscientiously” not “conscientiously:

On p.36, first line of the first full paragraph, “One established” should be “Once established”

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

On p.65, line 5 of the first full paragraph, “least most benign” should be “least benign”

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

On p. 76, endnote 18 is correct, but for consistency should read “Anonymous (2012) 17.”

On p.91, line 4, delete “the” before “Theophan the Recluse”

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.137, third line of the indented quote, insert “is” before “already”

On p. 147, endnote 32 is correct, says but for consistency should read  “Note the clearer example in Gurdjieff (2014) 203-204”.

On p.150, “person of Pure Reason” should be “persons of Pure Reason.”

On p.164, line 4, “uniformed” should be “uninformed”

On p.167, in the table, under “Nicephorus,” read “every thought” for “very thought”

On p.196, the final clause in brackets in point 14 should be “(see the “Four Ideals Exercise” in Section 13.2)”

On p.202, line 4, it should be “all others benefit.”

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.209, endnotes 2 and 4 are correct, but for consistency the Christian name “George” should be omitted.

On p. 217 (at the bottom)  “… a more immediate quality of sensing” should be “a more intense quality of sensing”

On p.251, footnote 11, should refer to pp.235-236 of The Reality of Being, not pp.255-256.

On p.272, third line from the end of the page, “Brockman” should be “Ripman”

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

On the back cover, attribution should be to “Basarab Nicolescu.”


Joseph Azize, 3 January 2020 to 5 May 2021


  1. Hi Joseph,
    I’m interested in purchasing your book after listening to your approach to the Work.

    Given all of these revisions that you just recently pointed out, will there be a Revised version of the Book? Either way, it seems worthwhile!

    1. Thank you. There are plans for a revised edition, but it will take some time. It needs a lot of careful work. To purchase, just go on line. I do not sell it. Regards

  2. Dear Joseph, I wrote an email to your gmail address. I thought it was a current address. I hope you receive it. I hold deep respect for you.

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