"George Ivanovich Gurdjieff Russian,January 13, 1866 â€“ 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 â€“ 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 himâ€¦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