P. D. Ouspensky and George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff on Christian rites and ceremonies

The Coronation of Charlemagne in Saint Peter's Basilica on Christmas Day 800AD
Image credit: Intentional Disciples

The idea was that, beginning with the first words, the liturgy so to speak goes through the process of creation, recording all its stages and transitions. What particularly astonished me in [George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff]’s explanations was the extent to which so much has been preserved in its pure form and how little we understand of all this. His explanations differed very greatly from the usual theological and even from mystical interpretations. And the principle difference was that he did away with a great many allegories. I mean to say that it became obvious from his explanations that we take many things for allegories in which there is no allegory whatever and which ought to be understood much more simply and psychologically. What he said before about the Last Supper serves as a good example of this.

“Every ceremony or rite has a value if it is performed without alteration,” he said. “A ceremony is a book in which a great deal is written. Anyone who understands can read it. One rite often contains more than a hundred books.”

Indicating what had been preserved up to our time, G. at the same time pointed out what had been lost and forgotten. He spoke of sacred dances which accompanied the “services” in the “temples of repetition” and which were not included in the Christian form of worship. He also spoke of various exercises, and special postures for different prayers, that is, for different kinds of meditation; about acquiring control over the breathing and of the necessity of being able to tense or relax any group of muscles, or the muscles of the whole body at will; and about many other things having relation, so to speak, to the “technique” of religion.
P. D. Ouspensky in In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an unknown teaching, (San Diego, California: Harcourt, Inc., 2001), p. 303. First published (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1940).

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff Posted on behalf of on Thursday, December 24th, 2009 under Quotations.

Leave a Reply

You can embed videos and photos in your comments just by including the URL. Here's a list of supported websites and instructions.

You can use these HTML tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>