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. Many groups have events on the occasion of Gurdjieff’s death (29 October) and the date taken as his birth (13 January). But what of an electronic meeting on 28 December, his true birthday? It could be as simple as 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 why not?
Our small group has been working in this direction with other people. We have recorded Ken Adie reading the chapter “My Father” from Meetings with Remarkable Men. Ken is one of the small and diminishing number of those with a personal recollection of Gurdjieff. If we broadcast that once or twice on 28 December, for all to see, that would be a start. And, I think, it would be a worthy one.
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.
To repeat, 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.