Something different?

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates

Font Size

SCREEN

Profile

Layout

Menu Style

Cpanel
You are here You are here: Home Study Psychology & Mind Fourth Way Critical Appraisal
  Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal  

From: Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal



George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, who brought an ancient esoteric teaching to the West, was one of the most important spiritual teachers of the 20th century. The impact of his ideas, teaching methods and powerful personality continue to challenge and fascinate seekers of wisdom more than half a century after his death. His teaching, known as ‘the Work’ - which has come to be called the ‘Fourth Way’ - has greatly influenced spiritual seekers throughout the world.

Assessments of Gurdjieff by students, followers, journalists, critics, scholars and fellow spiritual teachers are bewilderingly diverse, ranging from ‘charlatan’ and ‘black magician’ to ‘extraordinary spiritual master’ and even ‘A Messenger from Above.’

In light of such a conflicting portrait of Gurdjieff there is a real need to examine his life, teachings and influence on the contemporary world based on an objective, balanced approach free from preconceptions or ideological bias.

The intent of this website is to bring together multiple perspectives from a wide range of sources to examine and evaluate the Gurdjieff phenomena, with the hope of stimulating debate and discussion rather than providing any final definitive statement or conclusion.

 Gurdjieff's Search for Esoteric Knowledge    From: A Critical Appraisal

G.I. Gurdjieff has been described as one of the most fascinating and remarkable men of the 20th century.

  • He possessed immense personal magnetism and profound esoteric knowledge of human transformation, and he brought a spiritual teaching of vast scope and power to the Western world.
  • Yet, throughout his life Gurdjieff was an enigma even to his closest students and was widely misunderstood by observers, critics and the public.
  The Inner Circle of Humanity      From: A Critical Appraisal

The source of Gurdjieff's teachings has never been conclusively established by either scholars or students of Gurdjieff.

  • However, some have speculated that he contacted and learned from esoteric schools that were custodians of ancient spiritual teachings on the evolution of humanity.
  • Gurdjieff spoke in general terms about esoteric schools directed by a circle of evolved human beings who have guided the spiritual development of humanity throughout history.

  Sources of Gurdjieff's Teachings      From: A Critical Appraisal

From the beginning of Gurdjieff’s teaching mission in the West, a number of questions have fueled an ongoing debate about the source of his teachings and practices.

  • Where did he learn his powerful system of psychological and cosmological ideas?
  • What particular spiritual teachings form the foundation of his work?
  • Which teachers inspired and influenced his development?
  Authenticity as a Spiritual Teacher      From: A Critical Appraisal

Gurdjieff first emerged as a spiritual teacher in 1908 in Tashkent, Turkestan where he attracted a small circle of pupils.

  • His teaching activity from this initial stage until 1912 is largely shrouded in mystery and cannot be independently verified in any way.
  • Research by John Bennett and biographer James Moore suggests that this period was essentially experimental, as Gurdjieff tested his ideas and teaching methods on a wide spectrum of personality types.
  Gurdjieff – Drugs, Alchol and Food      From: A Critical Appraisal

Anthropological research suggests that human beings in virtually every culture in history have ingested chemical substances to alter their consciousness.

  • Certain spiritual traditions celebrate inebriation as a metaphor for conscious transformation.
  • Sufi mystics have spoken of being ‘drunk with the wine of love.’
  • The Zen tradition has a history of poets and teaching masters who were spirited drinkers of sake.
  • Other spiritual traditions have employed certain ‘power drugs’ and psychedelics in sacred rituals and ceremonies as an integral part of their teaching.
  Gurdjieff – Sexual Beliefs and Practices      From: A Critical Appraisal

By all reports Gurdjieff was a vigorous, charismatic man with a robust sexual nature, described by biographer James Webb as “a sensual man who enjoyed the pleasures of the bed as much as those of the table.” (1)

  • Gurdjieff's sexual conduct shocked many people in the 1920s and 1930s, especially in conservative America.
  • There were rumours that he had a highly varied sex life and was involved in unusual sexual practices.
  • Some claimed he was a master of exotic Tantric sexual teachings learned in the East.
  Gurdjieff's Cosmological Ideas      From: A Critical Appraisal

The system of knowledge that Gurdjieff taught has a psychological side and a cosmological side, which form twin halves of a comprehensive whole.

  • Study of the psychological ideas is helpful in understanding the cosmological concepts, and vice versa.

To a certain extent, a thorough grounding in Gurdjieff’s basic psychological ideas is a prerequisite to approaching his complex cosmology.

  • Gurdjieff generally introduced his students to the psychological ideas and the need for personal self-study first, before he dealt with the cosmological principles.
  • Many students of the Work have reported that they found the psychological component easier to understand than the cosmological.
  Contemporary status of the Work      From: A Critical Appraisal

Although more than half a century has elapsed since Gurdjieff's death, his life and teachings continue to challenge and intrigue contemporary seekers of spiritual wisdom. Interest in Gurdjieff's teachings is also growing in the secular world and many of his psychological and cosmological ideas have influenced various “Human Potential” and “New Age” movements and even entered the cultural and academic mainstream. His name and ideas appear in a surprising array of current cultural expressions:

  • CDs and Internet downloads of the music of Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann
  • DVDs and videos of the Movements
  • The emergence of the enneagram symbol as a type of cultural icon
  • Films, TV documentaries, radio interviews
  • Theatre, dance, drama, literature
  • Books, journals, magazines, periodicals
  • Scholarly study in academic fields as diverse as psychotherapy, ecology, comparative religion and quantum physics
  • Conferences, seminars, weekend workshops
  • Business applications, management training
  • Countless websites
  Evolution      From: A Critical Appraisal

rumi 312

Evolution is defined by science as an orderly and progressive development of organic life governed by certain laws.

From the perspective of science the biological evolution of plants, animals and humans is a series of irreversible transformations of the genetic composition of populations, based primarily upon altered interactions with and adaptations to their environment.

Although many aspects of human evolution based on the Darwinian and neo-Darwinian perspectives have been validated through a variety of scientific findings in many different fields of study, these are primarily related to physical evidence while disregarding the role of mind and consciousness in the evolutionary process.

Critical Appraisal

Prev Next Page:

Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical…

  Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal   From: Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, who brought an ancient esoteric teaching to the West, was one of the most important spiritual teachers of the 20th century. The impact of his ideas, teaching methods and powerful personality continue to challenge and fascinate seekers of wisdom more than half a century after his death. His teaching, known as ‘the Work’ - which has come to be called the ‘Fourth Way’ - has greatly influenced spiritual seekers throughout the world. Assessments of Gurdjieff by students, followers, journalists, critics, scholars and fellow spiritual...

Read more

Gurdjieff's Search for Esoteric Knowledg…

 Gurdjieff's Search for Esoteric Knowledge    From: A Critical Appraisal G.I. Gurdjieff has been described as one of the most fascinating and remarkable men of the 20th century. He possessed immense personal magnetism and profound esoteric knowledge of human transformation, and he brought a spiritual teaching of vast scope and power to the Western world. Yet, throughout his life Gurdjieff was an enigma even to his closest students and was widely misunderstood by observers, critics and the public.

Read more

The Inner Circle of Humanity

  The Inner Circle of Humanity      From: A Critical Appraisal The source of Gurdjieff's teachings has never been conclusively established by either scholars or students of Gurdjieff. However, some have speculated that he contacted and learned from esoteric schools that were custodians of ancient spiritual teachings on the evolution of humanity. Gurdjieff spoke in general terms about esoteric schools directed by a circle of evolved human beings who have guided the spiritual development of humanity throughout history.

Read more

Sources of Gurdjieff's Teachings

  Sources of Gurdjieff's Teachings      From: A Critical Appraisal From the beginning of Gurdjieff’s teaching mission in the West, a number of questions have fueled an ongoing debate about the source of his teachings and practices. Where did he learn his powerful system of psychological and cosmological ideas? What particular spiritual teachings form the foundation of his work? Which teachers inspired and influenced his development?

Read more

Authenticity as a Spiritual Teacher

  Authenticity as a Spiritual Teacher      From: A Critical Appraisal Gurdjieff first emerged as a spiritual teacher in 1908 in Tashkent, Turkestan where he attracted a small circle of pupils. His teaching activity from this initial stage until 1912 is largely shrouded in mystery and cannot be independently verified in any way. Research by John Bennett and biographer James Moore suggests that this period was essentially experimental, as Gurdjieff tested his ideas and teaching methods on a wide spectrum of personality types.

Read more

Gurdjieff – Drugs, Alcohol and Food

  Gurdjieff – Drugs, Alchol and Food      From: A Critical Appraisal Anthropological research suggests that human beings in virtually every culture in history have ingested chemical substances to alter their consciousness. Certain spiritual traditions celebrate inebriation as a metaphor for conscious transformation. Sufi mystics have spoken of being ‘drunk with the wine of love.’ The Zen tradition has a history of poets and teaching masters who were spirited drinkers of sake. Other spiritual traditions have employed certain ‘power drugs’ and psychedelics in sacred rituals and ceremonies as an integral part of their teaching.

Read more

Gurdjieff – Sexual Beliefs and Practices

  Gurdjieff – Sexual Beliefs and Practices      From: A Critical Appraisal By all reports Gurdjieff was a vigorous, charismatic man with a robust sexual nature, described by biographer James Webb as “a sensual man who enjoyed the pleasures of the bed as much as those of the table.” (1) Gurdjieff's sexual conduct shocked many people in the 1920s and 1930s, especially in conservative America. There were rumours that he had a highly varied sex life and was involved in unusual sexual practices. Some claimed he was a master of exotic Tantric sexual teachings learned in the East.

Read more

Gurdjieff's Cosmological Ideas

  Gurdjieff's Cosmological Ideas      From: A Critical Appraisal The system of knowledge that Gurdjieff taught has a psychological side and a cosmological side, which form twin halves of a comprehensive whole. Study of the psychological ideas is helpful in understanding the cosmological concepts, and vice versa. To a certain extent, a thorough grounding in Gurdjieff’s basic psychological ideas is a prerequisite to approaching his complex cosmology. Gurdjieff generally introduced his students to the psychological ideas and the need for personal self-study first, before he dealt with the cosmological principles. Many students of the Work have reported that they found the psychological component easier to understand...

Read more

Contemporary status of the Work

  Contemporary status of the Work      From: A Critical Appraisal Although more than half a century has elapsed since Gurdjieff's death, his life and teachings continue to challenge and intrigue contemporary seekers of spiritual wisdom. Interest in Gurdjieff's teachings is also growing in the secular world and many of his psychological and cosmological ideas have influenced various “Human Potential” and “New Age” movements and even entered the cultural and academic mainstream. His name and ideas appear in a surprising array of current cultural expressions: CDs and Internet downloads of the music of Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann DVDs and videos of the Movements The emergence of...

Read more

Evolution: A Critical Appraisal

Evolution: A Critical Appraisal

  Evolution      From: A Critical Appraisal Evolution is defined by science as an orderly and progressive development of organic life governed by certain laws. From the perspective of science the biological evolution of plants, animals and humans is a series of irreversible transformations of the genetic composition of populations, based primarily upon altered interactions with and adaptations to their environment. Although many aspects of human evolution based on the Darwinian and neo-Darwinian perspectives have been validated through a variety of scientific findings in many different fields of study, these are primarily related to physical evidence while disregarding the role of mind and consciousness in the evolutionary process.

Read more

Contents - Critical Appraisal