Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Fourth Way

George Ivanovich Gurdiieff (1866 - 1949) was a spiritual philosopher whose discipline is called The Fourth Way. He believed the majority of humanity live their lives in a "waking sleep" -- a state of hypnotic trance that requires an awakening of consciousness to achieve full human potential and to discover the purpose in your life

"Awakening is possible only for those who seek it and want it, for those who are ready to struggle with themselves and work on themselves for a very long time and very persistently in order to obtain it." G.I. Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff was born in Armenia, part of the Russian Empire. His father was Greek and his mother was Armenian. He later claimed he was born at the stroke of midnight, at the beginning of New Year's Day.

He grew up in Turkey, was trained as a priest and a physician, and traveled to many parts of the world, such as Egypt, Rome, Constantinople, central Asia, the Middle East. During his travels, he came upon a map of "pre-sand" Egypt, which led him to study the teachings of an esoteric Sufi-related brotherhood based in Asia called the Sarmoung Brotherhood.

On New Year's Day in 1912, Gurdjieff arrived in Moscow. He soon began to attract students with his esoteric teachings of the Fourth Way. Later the same year he married a Polish woman in St. Petersburg.

During the Bolshevik revolution, starting in 1917, Gurdjieff set up temporary training fellowships on the Black Sea coast of southern Russia, where he had many students of his teachings.

In 1919, Gurdjieff established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.

In 1921-22, he traveled through western Europe, including London and Berlin, lecturing about his work. Once again, he established another Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, this time south of Paris near the famous Chateau de Fontainebleau.

In 1924, Gurdjieff had a near fatal auto accident while driving alone from Paris to Fontainebleau. During his long painful recovery he began writing ALL AND EVERYTHING.

He continued teaching throughout World War II and died in 1949.

Gurdjieff believed the existing forms of spiritual teachings had lost their original meaning. They were too narrowly focused which failed to fully integrate the individual.

He believed there were three dimensions to a human beings -- emotions, physical body and the mind. His process, called the Fourth Way, was intended to produce a proper balance of these three dimensions.

"I will tell you one thing that will make you rich for life. There are two struggles -- an Inner-world struggle and an Outer-world struggle... You must make an intentional contact between these two worlds -- then you can crystallize data for the Third World, the World of the Soul." G.I. Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff's teachings stressed humanity's place in the universe and that extensive conscious efforts were required to attain higher levels of consciousness. He made use of ancient texts, including the Bible, as examples of psychological methodology rather than the "religious" meanings commonly given them.

He stressed conscience, which varies from culture to culture. He taught people how to focus their energy and thereby minimize mind chatter or mind wandering. He also believed group efforts surpassed individual efforts in the training -- it keeps the student more aware and alert during the sessions.

"Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot govern himself and will always remain a slave." G.I. Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff gave new life to the ancient teachings of Plato and Socrates -- self-observation, self-discipline. His teachings have had a strong influence on many people, including Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, Frank Lloyd Wright, Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw, Carlos Castaneda, Alan Watts, P.D. Ouspensky, Aleister Crowley, Jane Heap, many others.

Many Gurdjieff Foundations and Societies can be found throughout the world, helping people discover the true meaning of their being, where their completeness is commensurate with their understanding.

Quote for the Day -- "There is a cosmic law which says that every satisfaction must be paid with a dissatisfaction." G.I. Gurdjieff

Bret Burquest is the author of 8 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY, ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS and PATH TO FOURTH DENSITY (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the Road to Bliss is always under construction.

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