Willem Nyland

Gurdjieff International Review

Willem A. Nyland


Mr. Nyland was known for his clarity and seriousness as an early student of Gurdjieff in America. He applied Gurdjieff’s teaching in his life and reached a level of development recognized by all who met him. He always placed the emphasis on Gurdjieff’s own teachings and books, with little reliance on secondary material. In particular, he stressed the importance of making efforts to understand All and Everything, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, and insisted that the book be read three times exactly as Gurdjieff indicated. He also taught the specific methods for Working on oneself which he had learned from A. R. Orage and later Gurdjieff, and that it was necessary to actually apply Gurdjieff’s methods of Work in daily life rather than merely thinking and feeling about the ideas.

Mr. Nyland’s Groups

Near the end of his life, Mr. Gurdjieff asked Mr. Nyland to start a group in America, for which he would receive special material from Gurdjieff every week. After Gurdjieff died in 1949, Mr. Nyland was one of the founders and trustees of the Gurdjieff Foundation. He remained active in the Foundation until he formed his own independent groups in the early 1960s. These groups continue to operate today.

A Remembrance of W. A. Nyland: In the Ear and Eye of the Beholder

Terry Winter Owens, former student of Willem Nyland, notes that “With the passage of half a century since the death of Gurdjieff, it becomes increasingly obvious that there now flourish a number of different threads of the Gurdjieff work… As yet, little has been written about W. A. Nyland although he had a profound impact on many people.”

Mr. Nyland and the Piano

Composer Terry Winter Owens describes what occurred when Willem Nyland asked her to go examine a Steinway grand piano that Timothy Leary had offered as a gift in the early 1960s.

You Will Not Forget Work

One of Mr. Nyland’s pupils describes how she incorporates work into her daily life? “Work in life is a way of life, a practice of the constancy of being in the midst of activity. My day-to-day life is filled with doing things, thinking about everyday affairs, being critical and going through varied and often conflicting emotions. How do I remember work when I am so engaged?”

Mr. Nyland’s Index to Beelzebub’s Tales

“After more than a half century since its conception, the very first Index to All and Everything: Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson is at last emerging from obscurity and making its well-deserved entrée into the literature relating to the Gurdjieff Work... Few people know about the first Index. Begun over 50 years ago, and published in mimeographed format, it was developed by Willem Nyland and his groups. For those who have had access to it, it has proven to be an invaluable help for studying Gurdjieff’s teaching.”

“He Was a Root Man”

Willem Nyland describes Gurdjieff playing the harmonium. “It goes up and down and there is a little melody and there is a repetition. And it is Gurdjieff.”

This webpage © 2009 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Revision: May 28, 2012