Spring 1999 Issue, Vol. II No. 3
A Focus on Historical Essays
This issue contains several historical essays by some of the students of Gurdjieff and his teaching, including those of J. G. Bennett, A. R. Orage, John Pentland, Louise Welch, A. L. Staveley, and others.
Bennetts study was first published in Riders Review (Autumn 1950), London, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of Bennett Books. Bennett grapples with the contradiction of trying to elucidate a book that defies verbal analysis and concludes that Beelzebubs Tales is an epoch-making work that represents the first new mythology in 4000 years. He finds in Gurdjieffs ideas regarding time, Gods purpose in creating the universe, conscience, and the suffering of God, a synthesis transcending Eastern and Western doctrines about humanitys place in the cosmos.
George Bennett (John Bennetts son) recounts the different influences that shaped his fathers search. He recognizes the life-long impact Ouspensky and particularly Gurdjieff had on John Bennett and describes how Gurdjieffs influence shaped the groups Bennett led during the last twenty-five years of his life.
Walter Driscoll reviews Martin Seymour-Smiths last book, The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today. Driscoll observes that Each of the 100 reviews provides a historical background, an overview of the text, the author, and the factors determining the significance of a particular book, as well as analysis of why the book is of enduring significance today. His compilation provides a truly liberal education, especially for independent readers studying outside the shelter of academe.
Chapter 94 from The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today by Martin Seymour-Smith is reproduced in its entirety with the kind permission of Carol Publishing Group. Seymour-Smith points out that Gurdjieffs doctrine is the most convincing fusion of Eastern and Western thought that has yet been seen
This commentary was first published in 1993 as dust jacket notes for the Two Rivers Press facsimile reprinting of the English (1950) first edition of Beelzebubs Tales and is reproduced with the kind permission of Two Rivers Press. Mrs. Staveley comments that This Book is a guide to becoming a real man. Gurdjieff advised us to read, reread and then read this Book again many, many times. Read it aloud with others and read it to yourself. Even if you read it thirty, even fifty times, you will always find something you missed beforea sentence which gives with great precision the answer to a question you have had for years.
Jyri Paloheimo reviews Paul Davies Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature and takes issue with the popular notion that the current science of physics is yet one more Way in harmony with Eastern teachings. In so doing, he draws on Beelzebubs Tales as a source and synthesis of ancient wisdom traditions which are rooted in the idea that the universe has a purpose. This essay was originally published in A Journal of Our Time No. 4, 1986 (Toronto) and is reproduced with the kind permission of the author and publisher, Traditional Studies Press.
Louise Welch, author of Orage with Gurdjieff in America (1982) was in Orages New York Gurdjieff group and was uniquely qualified to write about him. This thoughtful introduction was written for the compilation, On Love and three essays from the Notebook of A. R. Orage, which she edited. It was privately published in a limited edition of 200 copies in 1969 by the Society for Traditional Studies (Toronto) and is reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher.
A. R. Orages My Note Book (October 1933)
The type of verbal formula used by Gurdjieff in All and Everything corresponds precisely to what is regarded by many as the highest ideal of language, in which the meaning of an expression is created by the compulsion of inner experience. In Gurdjieffs hands, this form of language acquires a devastating power.
From the cosmic drama there emerges the miraculous destiny to which man is called if he is willing to pay the price. Since the Universe itself is a perpetual striving, the highest destiny of man is no static beatitude, but the undying fulfillment of an everlasting purpose.
J. G. Bennett
The first important thing to note about this [Gurdjieffs] doctrine is that there is, explicitly, no room at all for anyone in it who does not approach it itself in a truly critical and skeptical spirit.
Gurdjieffs work, his teaching, is not meant for everyoneneither is his Book for everyone. Both the teaching and the Book are meant for those who can and will use them.
A. L. Staveley
The laws which enable the universe to come into being spontaneously seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design. If physics is the product of design, the universe must have a purpose, and the evidence of modern physics suggest strongly to me that the purpose includes us.
I beg myself as well as my readers not to mistake understanding for attainment; and not to imagine, on the strength of their realization of certain truths, that they possess them, or still less, that they can use them. Our being, in which alone truth is possessed, is still a long way behind our understanding.
A man can only think as deeply as he feels.
A. R. Orage
According to Ouspensky, love is the potent force which tears off all masks, and men who run away from love do so that they may preserve their masks.
One can only conclude that hero-worship under the guise of the guru-devotee relationship is just as often spiritually deadening for both sides as it is spiritually enlightening.
In these chapters [The Theory of Celestial Influence], one feels that Collins aim is to join modern mans central interest in the scientific world to his subtler and until now largely orphaned wish to ponder the great meaning of the cosmos and his place in it.
Copyright © 1999
April 1, 1999
April 1, 1999