Gurdjieff International Review

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Syllabus Bookmark for Beelzebub’s Tales

There’s a Beelzebub Syllabus Bookmark available for the original translation. The syllabus was created as a guide for a reading group..

An Introduction to Maurice Desselle

“Maurice Desselle was a pupil of Gurdjieff. After Gurdjieff’s death in 1949 he carried on with the transmission of inner Work, alongside such people as Henriette Lannes, Henri Tracol, and other contemporaries, under the guidance of Mme. de Salzmann. In addition to groups which he took in France, he devoted much of his time and energy to groups in England.”

The First Page of Beelzebub’s Tales

Irv Givot contemplates the first page of Beelzebub’s Tales and in so doing provides insight for our own exploration. “I must have read those opening paragraphs at least twenty times, and I never before suspected anything amiss. I never questioned his conviction. My reaction now seemed analogous to a baseball batter expecting a fastball from the pitcher and being fooled by a curve. Even worse, a batter not even suspecting he’d been fooled. It was a feeling of suddenly realizing that I’d been outsmarted by someone far more clever than me. But these analogies are not quite an exact representation. It’s more like, here in the first sentence of the entire book there is already a teaching but it requires thinking out of the box to grasp it, and I’ve been too oblivious ever to notice it after all these years. What could this teaching be?”

Thus Spake Beelzebub

Richard Hodges compares Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales and Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra. “Nietszche’s übermensch has usually been rendered in English as “superman,” but that term has connotations that do not correspond with Nietzsche’s thought. What he meant, I think, is that the New Man must rise above the unconscious addictions and beliefs inherited from millennia, see them for what they are, and become free of them, and that, with this freedom, he will be able to have powers of action in the world that man is meant to have. This is not so different perhaps than the project and the promise at the source of religious traditions, but without the accumulated baggage. Nietzsche’s idea is similar, I feel, to Gurdjieff’s idea of “man number four,” a man who is working to develop beyond what he is born as and what ordinary culture develops in him.”

Oral Tradition in the Transmission of Ancient Music

Jeffrey Werbock, a performer of the Azerbaijani music known as mugham, looks into the method of transmitting ancient music from generation to generation. “Ancient eastern sacred music embodies a legacy of knowledge which can put us in touch with a current of energy that originated during an epoch when the transmission of wisdom was passed on exclusively in the oral tradition, with no coded symbols to intervene and insulate the listeners from the intent of the masters: transcendence.”

The Possibility to Work

Jack Cain, a long time follower of the Gurdjieff teaching and a certified consulting hypnotist, explores the subject of our subconsciousness and its relationship to our work. “We are not accustomed to think of the work as belonging to the realm of the subconscious... Within the first 25 pages of his 1,200-page opus, Gurdjieff informs us that he will be speaking to both our consciousnesses. In his inimitable, provocative way, he says that our pure waking consciousness is fictitious and that our other consciousness which we call the subconscious is our real human consciousness.”


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Revision: August 25, 2017