We quickly saw that we were amateurs talking to a master.

Gurdjieff International Review

Gurdjieff

The Unknown Teacher

by John G. Bennett


Few places exist where East and West blend so intimately that one cannot tell whether the environment is Asiatic or European. I have never seen this fusion more completely realised than in the palace of Kouron Chesme, the home of Prince Sabah Eddin, nephew of the last Sultan of Turkey and deep student of Christian and Islamic tradition.

It was there that I first met Gurdjieff in the autumn of 1920, and no surroundings could have been more appropriate. In Gurdjieff, East and West do not just meet. Their difference is annihilated in a world outlook which knows no distinctions of race or creed. This was my first, and has remained one of my strongest impressions. A Greek from the Caucasus, he spoke Turkish with an accent of unexpected purity, the accent that one associates with those born and bred in the narrow circle of the Imperial Court. His appearance was striking enough even in Turkey where one saw many unusual types. His head was shaven, immense black moustache, eyes which at one moment seemed very pale and at another almost black. Below average height, he gave nevertheless an impression of great physical strength. The prince had apparently known him since before the war but did not tell me anything about their former meetings.…

[The complete text is available in the printed copy of this issue.]

Copyright © 1949 John G. Bennett
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Featured: Fall 1997 Issue, Vol. I (1)
Revision: April 1, 2000