G. I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky


"George Ivanovich Gurdjieff Russian,January 13, 1866 – October 29, 1949) was an influential spiritual teacher of the early to mid-20th century who taught that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”, but that it is possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. Gurdjieff developed a method for doing so, calling his discipline “The Work”, (connoting “work on oneself”) or “the Method”. According to his principles and instructions,. Gurdjieff’s method for awakening one’s consciousness is different from that of the fakir, monk or yogi, so his discipline is also called (originally) the “Fourth Way”. At one point, he described his teaching as being “esoteric Christianity”.


"Peter D. Ouspensky Russian, March 4, 1878 – October 2, 1947) was a Russian esotericist known for his expositions of the early work of the Greek-Armenian teacher of esoteric doctrine George Gurdjieff, whom he met in Moscow in 1915.

He was associated with the ideas and practices originating with Gurdjieff from then on. In 1924, he separated from Gurdjieff personally, and some, including Rodney Collin among others, say that he finally gave up the (Gurdjieff) “system” that he had shared with people for 25 years in England and the United States, but his own recorded words on the subject (“A Record of Meetings,” published posthumously) do not clearly endorse this judgement, nor does Ouspensky’s emphasis on “you must make a new beginning” after confessing “I’ve left the system”. All this happened in Lyne Place, Surrey, England in 1947, just before his demise. While lecturing in London in 1924, he announced that he would continue independently the way he had begun in 1921. All in all, Ouspensky studied the Gurdjieff System directly under Gurdjieff’s own supervision for a period of ten years, from 1915 to 1924. "

The following quote are from Ouspenky’s book In Search of the Miraculous is a recounting of what Ouspensky learned from Gurdjieff during those years. All so interesting, and for your reading pleasure, nothing more.

"The intelligence of the sun is divine," said Gurdjieff. "But the earth can become the same; only, of course, it is not guaranteed and the earth may die having attained nothing."
"Gurdjieff's answer was very vague.

"There is a definite period, " he said, "for a certain thing to be done. If, by a certain time, what ought to be done has not been done, the earth may perish without having attained what it could have attained."

"Is this period known?" I asked?

"It is known," said Gurdjieff...

It has been said before that organic life transmits planetary influences of various kinds to the earth and that it serves to feed the moon and to enable it to grow and strengthen. But the earth also is growing; not in the sense of size but in the sense of greater consciousness, greater receptivity. The planetary influences which were sufficient for her at one period of her existence become insufficient, she needs the reception of finer influences. To receive finer influences a finer, more sensitive receptive apparatus is necessary. Organic life, therefore, has to evolve, to adapt itself to the needs of the planets and the earth. Likewise also the moon can be satisfied at one period with the food which is given to her by organic life of a certain quality, but afterwards the time comes when she ceases to be satisfied with this food, cannot grow on it, and begins to get hungry…This means that in order to answer its purpose organic life must evolve and stand on the level of the needs of the planets, the earth, and the moon.

We must remember that the ray of creation, as we have taken it, from the Absolute to the moon, is like a branch of a tree - a growing branch. The end of this branch, the end out of which come new shoots, is the moon. If the moon does not grow, if it neither gives nor promises to give new shoots, it means that either the growth of the whole ray of creation will stop or that it must find another path for its growth, five out some kind of lateral branch. ...

If organic life on earth disappears or dies the whole branch will immediately wither. The same thing must happen, only more slowly, if organic life is arrested in its development, in its evolution, and fails to respond to the demands made upon it. The branch may wither. ...

General growth is possible only on the condition that the 'end of the branch' grows. Or, speaking more precisely, there are in organic life tissues which are evolving, and there are tissues which serve as food and medium for those which are evolving. Then there are evolving cells within the evolving tissues, and cells which serve as food and medium for those which are evolving. In each separate evolving cell there are evolving parts and there are parts which serve as food for those which are evolving. But always and in everything it must be remembered that evolution is never guaranteed, it is possible only and it can stop at any moment and in any place.

The evolving part of organic life is humanity. Humanity also has its evolving part. ... If humanity does not evolve it means that the evolution of organic life will stop and this in its turn will cause the growth of the ray of creation to stop. At the same time if humanity ceased to evolve, it becomes useless from the point of view of the aims for which it was created and as such it may be destroyed. In this way the cessation of evolution may mean the destruction of humanity. ...

Examining the life of humanity as we know it historically we are bound to acknowledge that humanity is moving in a circle. In one century it destroys everything it creates in another and the progress in mechanical things of the past hundred years has proceeded at the cost of losing many other things which perhaps were much more important for it. Speaking in general there is every reason to think and to assert that humanity is at a standstill and from a standstill there is a straight path to downfall and degeneration. ...

We see that a balanced process proceeding in a certain way cannot be changed at any moment it is desired. It can be changed and set on a new path only a certain 'crossroads.' In between the 'crossroads' nothing can be done. At the same time if a process passes by a 'crossroad' and nothing happens, nothing is done, then nothing can be done afterwards and the process will continue and develop according to mechanical laws; and even if people taking part in this process foresee the inevitable destruction of everything, they will be unable to do anything. I repeat that something can be done only at certain moments which I have just called 'crossroads.'

Of course there are very many people who consider that the life of humanity is not proceeding in the way in which according to their views it ought to go. And they invent various theories which in their opinion ought to change the whole life of humanity. ... All these theories are certainly quite fantastic, chiefly because they do not take into account the most important thing, namely, the subordinate part which humanity and organic life play in the world process.

Intellectual theories put man in the center of everything; everything exists for him…And all the time new theories appear evoking in their turn opposing theories; and all these theories and the struggle between them undoubtedly constitute one of the forces which keep humanity in the state in which it is at present.

Everything in nature has its aim and its purpose, both the inequality of man and his suffering. To destroy inequality would mean destroying the possibility of evolution. To destroy suffering would mean, first, destroying a whole series of perceptions for which man exists,and thus it is with all intellectual theories.

The process of evolution which is possible for humanity as a whole, is completely analogous to the process of evolution possible for the individual man. And it begins with the same thing, namely, a certain group of cells gradually becomes conscious; then it attracts to itself other cells, subordinates others, and gradually makes the whole organism serve its aims and not merely eat, drink, and sleep. This is evolution and there can be no other kind of evolution. In humanity as in individual man everything begins with the formation of a conscious nucleus. All the mechanical forces of life fight against the formation of this conscious nucleus in humanity, in just the same way as all mechanical habits, tastes and weaknesses fight against conscious self-remembering in man.

"Can it be that there is a conscious force which fights against the evolution of humanity?" [Ouspensky] asked.

"From a certain point of view it can be said," said G[urdjieff].

"There are two processes which are sometimes called 'involutionary' and 'evolutionary.' The difference between them is the following: An involutionary process begins consciously in the Absolute but at the next step it already becomes mechanical - and it becomes more and more mechanical as it develops; an evolutionary process begins half-consciously and conscious opposition to the evolutionary process can also appear at certain moments in the involutionary process. From where does this consciousness come? From the evolutionary process of course.

The evolutionary process must proceed without interruption. Any stop causes a separation from the fundamental process. Such separate fragments of consciousnesses which have been stopped in their development can also unite and at any rate for a certain time can live by struggling against the evolutionary process. After all, it makes the evolutionary process more interesting.

Instead of struggling against the mechanical forces there may, at certain moments, be a struggle against the intentional opposition of fairly powerful forces though they are not of course comparable with those which direct the evolutionary process. These opposing forces may sometimes even conquer. The reason for this consists in the fact that the forces guiding evolution have a more limited choice of means; in other words, they can only make use of certain means and certain methods. The opposing forces are not limited in their choice of means and they are able to make use of every means, even those which only give rise to a temporary success, and in the final result they destroy both evolution and involution at the point in question. ...

"Are we able to say for instance that life is governed by a group of conscious people? Where are they? Who are they? We see exactly the opposite: that life is governed by those who are the least conscious, by those who are most asleep.

"Are we able to say that we observe in life a preponderance of the best, the strongest, and the most courageous elements? Nothing of the sort. On the contrary we see a preponderance of vulgarity and stupidity of all kinds.

"Are we able to say that aspirations towards unity, towards unification, can be observed in life? Nothing of the kind of course. We only see new divisions, new hostility, new misunderstandings.

"So that in the actual situation of humanity there is nothing that points to evolution proceeding. On the contrary when we compare humanity with a man, we quite clearly see a growth of personality at the cost of essence, that is, a growth of the artificial, the unreal, and what is foreign, at the cost of the natural, the real, and what is one's own.

"Together with this, we see a growth of automatism.

"Contemporary cultures requires automatons. And people are undoubtedly losing their acquired habits of independence and turning into automatons, into parts of machines. It is impossible to say where is the end of all this and where the way out - or whether there is an end and a way out. One thing alone is certain, that man's slavery grows and increases. Man is becoming a willing slave. He no longer needs chains. He begins to grow fond of his slavery, to be proud of it. And this is the most terrible thing that can happen to a man.

"As I pointed out before, the evolution of humanity can proceed only through the evolution of a certain group, which, in its turn, will influence and lead the rest of humanity.

"Are we able to say that such a group exists? Perhaps we can on the basis of certain signs, but in any event we have to acknowledge that it is a very small group, quite insufficient, at any rate, to subjugate the rest of humanity. Or looking at it from another point of view, we can say that humanity is in such a state that it is unable to accept the guidance of a conscious group."

"How many people could there be in this conscious group?" someone asked.

"Only they themselves know this," said G[urdjieff].

"Does it mean that they all know each other?" asked the same person again.

"How could it be otherwise?" asked G. "Imagine that there are two or three people who are awake in the midst of a multitude of sleeping people. They will certainly know each other. But those who are asleep cannot know them. How many are they? We do not know and we cannot know until we become like them. It has been clearly said before that each man can only see on the level of his own being. But two hundred conscious people, if they existed and if they found it necessary and legitimate, could change the whole of life on the earth. But either there are not enough of them, or they do not want to, or perhaps the time has not yet come, or perhaps other people are sleeping too soundly... 

Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous


If you are able, Diane, grab a copy of Carroll Quigley’s ‘Tragedy and Hope’ [this may be very difficult to obtain though]. This will give a viewpoint somewhat similar to Gurdjieff’s, especially as it relates to a small coterie of individuals doing exactly what it is he has outlined - actually, it goes into somewhat more detail on how this was and will be carried out. I can’t remember the date of publication, although I am thinking here it may well have been towards the end of these gentlemen’s lives (not sure on that one as I no longer have a copy of the book).

One thing I found missing was the concept of devolution (relatively modern, I know), although I can see several references to something similar. Could this concept also be included in Mr Gurdjieff’s dissertations?

Not having read any of these works, could the concept of crossroads referred to in the text mean something akin to critical mass?

Thank you for putting this excerpt up.

"There are periods in the life of humanity, which generally coincide with the beginning of the fall of cultures and civilizations, when the masses irretrievably lose their reason and begin to destroy everything that has been created by centuries and millenniums of culture.

Such periods of mass madness, often coinciding with geological cataclysms, climatic changes, and similar phenomena of a planetary character, release a very great quantity of the matter of knowledge. This, in its turn, necessitates the work of collecting this matter of knowledge which would otherwise be lost. Thus the work of collecting scattered matter of knowledge frequently coincides with the beginning of the destruction and fall of cultures and civilizations.

This aspect of the question is clear. The crowd neither wants nor seeks knowledge, and the leaders of the crowd, in their own interests, try to strengthen its fear and dislike of everything new and unknown. The slavery in which mankind lives is based upon this fear. It is even difficult to imagine all the horror of this slavery. We do not understand what people are losing. But in order to understand the cause of this slavery it is enough to see how people live, what constitutes the aim of their existence, the object of their desires, passions, and aspirations, of what they think, of what they talk, what they serve and what they worship.

Ouspensky, P.D.; Gurdjieff, G.I. (2012-05-07). In Search of the Miraculous

I’ve just recently become aware of Mr Quigley. He was mentioned in another book I was reading last night. I find coincidences amazing. Now I must read it. thanks Not certain if you think that devolution is a good thing, but it appears that it’s repetitive as the cycle goes, whether it’s a man made occurrence or from natural disasters.

There are less than 200 ‘conscious’ souls, by the way Gurdjieff means by ‘conscious’. Those that do have high knowledge and power have grown considerably weaker and less aware than their fore-bearers, and there is divided opinion in the direction to be taken with the mass of humanity, causing further confusion and loss of control. The hierarchy of these need not be discussed yet.

And yes, there are cycles of birth and decay, but they are not on set time tables and can be extended or shortened given certain circumstances. Gurdjieff is clearly blind about what is shored up, strengthened, and what else is made possible in the times of history where ‘crossroads’ are not met. It is during those times that will determine humanities success or failure at the times when crossroads do appear. This is not a complete determinate, but makes the choice in one direction or the other much more smooth and easier in the inertia of cultural tendencies.

As to whether the next crossroads will be a time of evolution or destruction will have much to do with the few evolving vanguard individuals in humanity. These people will lead the way to the next stage of society’s future, or will be the guardians of knowledge during the rebuilding. Either way, more of these folks are needed now.

So I guess you don’t feel that Gurdjieff possessed a higher consciousness, or was a human being who is fully awake or enlightened. ;D We could always talk about Fulcanelli, now there’s a mystery, complete with him becoming an androgynous being.

I get no comfort thinking that the destruction or evolution of the big blue marble is being decided by a few evolving vanguard individuals who have a divided opinion on the direction that should be taken with the mass of humanity. “You got some ‘splainin’ to do, again Lucy!” I’m just going to change the name Lucy to Len in the future. :wink:

Gurdjieff certainly possessed a higher consciousness than most, but as to being fully awake or enlightened there is plenty of reason to doubt.

Fulcanelli, an androgynous being? Me thinks not, although he had begun this process with his wife. The full realization of such a state is not completed here, and if it is forced beyond the acceptable balance of growth and Earthly laws, disfigures the person attempting it. My oh my Diane, you are fascinated by androgyny, yes? You can get your fingers burned playing this game. It requires its own initiation point that is begun without your conscious force, alongside the natural harmonization processes of two Soulmates. It comes of itself here, attempted otherwise is costly, and will result in something the Seeker did not desire or expect. (An esoteric study of what Manly Hall did to himself in attempting to achieve this alchemical androgyny provides a good example of warning for the above. Those of you not understanding my meaning here will have to privately study the example yourselves.)

Don’t worry about the Earth too much, she can take care of herself very well without us. The direction of humanity is more heavily influenced by the knowledgeable vanguard, and this should not cause you too much upset. The direction of animal, plant, and mineral life is manipulated even by a backwards primitive man. The more evolved and knowledgeable the man, the more power and influence is wielded, both with the lower castes of mankind as well as other forces in his natural dominion. If it bothers people that knowledge+wisdom=power, and that those having a lot of this effects their lives in ways they can’t control, I guess the answer would be to rise yourself up to their level and start evolving. The possibility and success of which is completely our choice. :wink:

I honestly couldn’t say one way or the other. I find his 4th way work fascinating, but no I’m not religiously practicing it.

There is a story of Canseliet having a meeting with Fulcanelli “in another dimension… a point where such meetings are possible.” He said that Fulcanelli appeared to have undergone a curious form of transformation so that he had characteristics of both male and female - he was androgynous. That would fit nicely into your comment that such a state is not completed here. Is that story true? Who knows? It’s a mystery. I enjoy mysteries, that’s all nothing more.

The only part that really “fascinates” me is while reading I find references to the possibility of this issue of sexuality being what was involved in “the fall”. Could have been that the “fall” meant that 3rd Density, at the time, chose to become “gendered” as in male and female as opposed to the (possible) androgynous state. Again I don’t know. Another mystery to add to the collection of great mysteries.

I’m not an alchemist, (not much patience with the language of the birds). I’m not trying to transmute myself into an androgynous being. I could study the Holocaust, but that doesn’t make me a Jew or a Nazi. I work on myself. I work at recognizing everything is a lesson, and learning from each one. When searching for truth I find that there isn’t any knowledge that’s bad. Of course it goes without saying that certain people could use certain knowledge to do harm. That’s not what I’m talking about, and it is not something I would even consider. If we didn’t ever come across false knowledge how could we ever discern what is truth? If we didn’t see that certain knowledge could harm, then we wouldn’t know how to discern not to use it or do it.

There is a difference between understanding the history of alchemy and understanding actual alchemy; the latter being of greater importance. The Fourth Way cannot be truly grasped by reading about it, it must be understood by practicing it (or practicing similar systems of spiritual advancement). It is through practice that the Mysteries are revealed, only reading about them will not provide a lasting answer, which is only fleeting. The language of the birds, the symbolism of the Masons, the deeper meanings within the parables of Jesus, etc. can only be truly understood for those who have taken on practical application of these systems. This is the manner of finding the true Key to the deeper Mysteries. Without Practice, the Seeker will always be blocked from true understanding.

And I’m sorry to say, that unless you find the patience to learn the language of the birds or practice the Fourth Way, the Mysteries contained therein will elude you. Higher esoteric knowledge has been hidden from the profane, or uninitiated (those not ready), in every culture and in every age of mankind by this manner. The path to the higher mysteries goes beyond cultural and racial difference, and this manner of transmission, however frustrating, is the way these things are learned. Not my rules, but THE RULES…

To respond in all honesty to Len…I don’t have a lot of patience with the language of the birds. That’s what I said, and that’s all I meant. I’m not an alchemist…I mean that I’m not a chemist in that sense of the word. When I think of Fulcanelli, I tend to think about chemistry. Fulcanelli really does frustrate me to no end. Dan is far better at reading his work than I.

As Len already knows my husband is a 32nd Degree Mason. He’s also in the Order Of The Knights Templar. At the present time he’s the High Priest locally. I deal with the language of the birds and symbolism almost daily. I get frustrated, and have no patience at times with it, but that doesn’t mean that I give up. It takes time, work, searching inside yourself and within the pages of a book. I hit a wall, and I have to step back sometimes and just let things happen and search within myself for answers. Yes, I can get frustrated and can be impatient, but mostly with myself.

My dining room table is covered with books. That’s Dan’s study area now that it’s just the two of us at home. Please keep in mind that does not make me a Freemason, I am not. I’m not a member of the Eastern Star. I will take the credit for making all the posters, and making the home cooked sauerkraut, ( for the hotdogs), at the last fundraiser they did for Ronald McDonald house. But that’s the extent of my involvement, other than my involvement with my very own personal Templar Knight who comes home to me every night. And no the Freemasons of my little town in PA are not trying to take over the world. At least not that I’m aware of. :wink: Imagine a Christian Templar Knight and me who’s always peeking outside the box, and you can imagine our conversations.

Dan and I disagree many times while seeking answers. Most of the time though, two heads work better than one. Light bulbs go on for both of us when we discuss each others thoughts and the meanings of certain things. We also teach each other by constantly working on ourselves, and by example. I see things in him I admire and aspire to be more like, and I know he feels the same way about me. nuff said about that.

I think about this story often. I’ve seen all of “The Matrix” Movies, and I can relate it to those. I watch how people hurry home to be able to watch dancing with the stars on TV, their favorite soap opera, or so many other silly shows it crazy. They prefer the illusion to real life, prefer to be entertained even though many have a clue about what might be happening in the real world, they would rather hide themselves in a bubble and only peek out at the bad things going on in the world when they absolutely have to. Not saying one should dwell only on the dark side of things…just maybe be more aware of them.

There was an evil magician. He lived deep in the mountains and the forests, and he had thousands of sheep. But the problem was that the sheep were afraid of the magician because every day the sheep were seeing that one of them was being killed for his breakfast, another was being killed for his lunch. So they ran away from the magician's ranch and it was a difficult job to find them in the vast forest. Being a magician, he used magic.

He hypnotized all the sheep and suggested to them first of all that they were immortal and that no harm was being done to them when they were skinned, that, on the contrary, it would be very good for them and even pleasant; secondly he suggested that the magician was a good master who loved his flock so much that he was ready to do anything in the world for them; and in the third place he suggested to them that if anything at all were going to happen to them it was not going to happen just then, at any rate not that day, and therefore they had no need to think about it.

He then told different sheep…to some, “You are a man, you need not be afraid. It is only the sheep who are going to be killed and eaten, not you. You are a man just like I am.” Some other sheep were told, “You are a lion – only sheep are afraid. They escape, they are cowards. You are a lion; you would prefer to die than to run away. You don’t belong to these sheep. So when they are killed it is not your problem. They are meant to be killed, but you are the most loved of my friends in this forest.” In this way, he told every sheep different stories, and from the second day, the sheep stopped running away from the house.

They still saw other sheep being killed, butchered, but it was not their concern. Somebody was a lion, somebody was a tiger, somebody was a man, somebody was a magician and so forth. Nobody was a sheep except the one who was being killed. This way, without keeping servants, he managed thousands of sheep. They would go into the forest for their food, for their water, and they would come back home, believing always one thing: “It is some sheep who is going to be killed, not you. You don’t belong to the sheep. You are a lion – respected, honored, a friend of the great magician.” The magician’s problems were solved and the sheep never ran away again. Believe this was originally G’s story transcribed by Ouspensky. It’s in my notes, but can’t find it right now in the book that I have.

It seems you’ve already answered your own frustration with the lanuage of the birds, alchemy, symolism and the like just a couple days ago right here: http://culdiantrust.org/culdianforums/index.php?topic=115.msg1095#msg1095

This type of coded symbolism is meant for very specific types of personalities to ‘unlock’ the secrets contained therein once they are ready. It is the same with the parables of Jesus, meant for another type. And as you said in the James Allen post, “One step at a time”, things click once you have prepared yourself to understand or accept them. There is no use frustrating yourself on things you can neither understand nor accept, at this time. Set those things aside, and come back to them when you are ready with a clearer, calmer mind, working on something in the meantime that fits wherever you are now.

The above is essentially the same as the old Buddhist proverb, “When the student is ready, the master appears.”

Very interesting story at the end there, Diane, and there is much truth to it. Although I would add that there is not just one evil magician, there are many of them. On top of that, there are also many good magicians to counteract the evil ones. Often, to the lay person, what entities, stories, and intentions are good or evil are not at all easy to unravel; for there is trickery, blending of truths with falsehood, manipulation of intention and desires, and many other things to beguile and confuse us as to the nature of reality and truth. But do know good magicians are there, working diligently not to keep the sheep in their pens, but to slowly transmute them into free men and someday gods.

But none of this can happen without continual effort, striving, and hardship on our part.

In response to reply #2 From Diane.
This is what I mean, in my post in another thread, about the Supreme Sprit using the passing of the Destroyer as a re-start button for humanity. Is it not interesting, that in this time, there is much gathering of ancient knowledge, and compiling of text, and re learning of ancient paths ?
And some say, as I believe, that we shall again see the passing of the dreaded Destroyer soon ?
Love, light, and streangth to you all my brothers and sisters.

I think you are clearly sensing a destruction coming, Sha’ul, or at least a transformation. Do not assume that what is coming is necessarily the Destroyer, however, in the proper sense of the term…