George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff on self-inquiry and microcosmos

True, this is not always so. Not everyone looks at himself so superficially. There do exist enquiring minds, which long for the truth of the heart, seek it, strive to solve the problems set by life, try to penetrate to the essence of things and phenomena and to penetrate into themselves. If a man reasons and thinks soundly, no matter what path he follows in solving these problems, he must inevitably arrive back at himself, and begin with the problem of what he is himself and what his place is in the world around him. Socrates‘ words “Know thyself” remain for all those who seek true knowledge and being.
George Ivanovitch (G. I.) Gurdjieff in Views from the Real World: Early Talks in Moscow, Essentuki, Tiflis, Berlin, London, Paris, New York and Chicago as recollected by his pupils, (New York: Dutton, 1975), p. 43. First published (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973). Also available as the talk “When Speaking on Different Subjects” in Hazel Silber Bercholz‘s Relationship, Volume 5 of the Maitreya Series, (Berkeley, California: Shambhala, 1974), p. 58.

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

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).