Who Was G.I. Gurdjieff?

4 min readSep 18, 2022

The “saint rascal”, as Osho used to call him.

“Gurdjieff”, from the https://opensea.io/collection/generativestars On OpenSea.

Georges Ivanovič Gurdjieff (Gyumri, January 14, 1872 — Neuilly-sur-Seine, October 29, 1949) was an Armenian philosopher, writer, mystic and dance master musician, of Greek-Armenian origin. He lived for a long time in Turkey and France. His teaching combines Sufism, the mystical school of Islam (in particular studies on the sacred dances of the dervishes), and other religious traditions (Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism), esotericism and philosophy, but it cannot be considered a syncretic system. However, for some scholars, such as Dr. Carole M. Cusack (historian of religions), the relationship of the Fourth Way with Sufism has been greatly exaggerated (Sufism and the Gurdjieff “Work”: A Contested Relationship; M. Afzal Upal and Carole M. Cusack; Handbook of Islamic Sects and Movements, Brill, 2021). So much so that Gurdjieff himself defined the Fourth Way as “Esoteric Christianity” (Fragments of an unknown teaching — P. D. Ouspensky; p. 116, chap. VI). His research, in fact, looks at the ultimate goal of all religions and never involves a miscellany: the ultimate goal is the development of consciousness and the inner evolution of the human being, to favor the overcoming of the automatisms of the three centers (instinctive / motor, emotional and intellectual) that condition and limit the human being. To better understand this discourse it is necessary to refer to the meaning of “esotericism” according to the specific objective language of the Fourth Way. (Fragments of an unknown teaching — P. D. Ouspensky; p. 344, ch. XV). Gurdjieff’s fundamental teaching is that human life is ordinarily lived in an apparent waking state close to a dream; and to transcend the state of hypnotic sleep he devised a specific method for attaining a higher level of vitality, for attaining self-remembering. His practical techniques are not communicated in the books, but even today they are taught by qualified disciples of his School. In the texts, in fact, only the “theoretical” and “philosophical” part of Gurdjieff’s teaching emerges.

After attracting to himself a large number of students and disciples among whom were people of the Russian philosophical and artistic milieu, Gurdjieff founded a school for spiritual development, called the Institute for the Harmonic Development of Man. Gurdjieff was also known as a teacher of…


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