George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

Armenian: January 14, 1866? – October 29, 1949) was a mystic and spiritual teacher. He called his discipline "The Work" (connoting "work on oneself") according to Gurdjieff's principles and instructions, or (originally) the "Fourth Way". At one point he described his teaching as "esoteric Christianity".


Gurdjieff claimed that people cannot perceive reality in their current states because they do not possess consciousness but rather live in a state of a hypnotic "waking sleep".
"Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies." As a result of this condition, each person perceives things from a completely subjective perspective. Gurdjieff stated that maleficent events such as wars and so on could not possibly take place if people were more awake. He asserted that people in their typical state function as unconscious automatons, but that one can "wake up" and become a different sort of human being altogether.

Compare "this sleeping state" with Divine Principle expression "Man became ignorant of God because of the fall.
Thus, he became ignorant of the absolute standard of goodness."

Ref: Divine Principle Fall of Man

Gurdjieff argued that many of the existing forms of religious and spiritual tradition on Earth had lost connection with their original meaning and vitality and so could no longer serve humanity in the way that had been intended at their inception. As a result humans were failing to realize the truths of ancient teachings and were instead becoming more and more like automatons, susceptible to control from outside and increasingly capable of otherwise unthinkable acts of mass psychosis such as the 1914-18 war.

Compare DP interpretation of World Wars: DP World Wars

The Fourth Way

refers to a concept used by G.I. Gurdjieff to describe an approach to self-development learned over years of travel in the East that combined what he saw as three established traditional "ways," or "schools" into a fourth way. These three ways were of the body, mind and emotions. The term "The Fourth Way" was further developed by P.D. Ouspensky in his lectures and writings. Posthumously, Ouspensky's students published a book entitled Fourth Way, based on his lectures. The "Fourth Way" is sometimes referred to as "The Work," "Work on oneself," or "The System."

According to this system, the chief difference between the three traditional schools, or ways, and the fourth way is that "they are permanent forms which have survived throughout history mostly unchanged, and are based on religion. Where schools of yogis, monks or fakirs exist, they are barely distinguishable from religious schools. The fourth way differs in that it is not a permanent way. It has no specific forms or institutions and comes and goes controlled by some particular laws of its own."

It always has some work of a specific import, and is never without some task around which and in connection with which it can alone exist. When this work is finished, that is to say, when the aim set before it has been accomplished, the fourth way disappears, that is, it disappears from the given place, disappears in its given form, continuing perhaps in another place in another form. Schools of the fourth way exist for the needs of the work which is being carried out in connection with the proposed undertaking. They never exist by themselves as schools for the purpose of education and instruction.

The Fourth Way mainly addresses the question of people's place in the Universe, their possibilities for inner development, and transcending the body to achieve a higher state of consciousness. It emphasized that people live their lives in a state referred to as "waking sleep", but that higher levels of consciousness and various inner abilities are possible.

The Fourth Way teaches people how to increase and focus their attention and energy in various ways, and to minimize daydreaming and absentmindedness. According to this teaching, this inner development in oneself is the beginning of a possible further process of change, whose aim is to transform a man into what Gurdjieff taught he ought to be.


The tasks assigned to the students were invariably concerned with the actual functioning of the school: gardening, cooking, house-cleaning, taking care of animals, milking, making butter; and these tasks were almost always group activities. As I learned later, the group work was considered to be of real importance: Different personalities, working together, produced subjective, human conflicts; human conflicts produced friction; friction revealed characteristics which, if observed, could reveal "self." One of the many aims of the school was "to see yourself as others saw you;" to see oneself, as it were, from a distance; to be able to criticize that self objectively; but, at first, simply to see it. An exercise that was intended to be performed all the time, during whatever physical activity, was called "self-observation" or "opposing I to it" -- "I" being the (potential consciousness), "it" the body, the instrument.

A one-second lesson and miracle

Posted on March 31, 2012

One of my favorite books that I have read over the years is Boyhood with Gurdjieff by Fritz Peters. It is Peters’ account of spending four amazing years as a young boy under the tutelage of George Gurdjieff.

Many miraculous events have been attributed to Gurdjieff by those who have had direct contact with him—especially as a teacher of human spiritual transformation. Gurdjieff claimed that humans do not comprehend what potential abilities lay undeveloped in them because of the abnormal conditions of contemporary life.

Fritz Peters also experienced some of these “miracles.” Each of these miracles seemed to underscore Gurdjieff’s teachings and prove some point—especially about the human condition and human possibilities.

One particular miraculous event mentioned in the book is, for me, worthy of mention.

Fritz Peters was given the chore of housekeeper in Gurdjieff’s personal room at the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Chateau du Prieure in Fountainebleau-Avon, France.

One day while bringing a tray of coffee and brandy to Mr. Gurdjieff’s room, Peters heard loud and violent sounds of shouting from inside. He knocked on the door but got no response. So he cautiously walked in.

Inside, Peters reports that Gurdjieff seemed to be in a state of uncontrolled fury. He was yelling at A. R. Orage, who was a renowned editor of literature and a top disciple of Gurdjieff’s methods. Apparently, Orage had done something wrong with his own students and Gurdjieff was laying into him. While Orage was a physically bigger man than Gurdjieff, Peters observed that he seemed withered, crumpled and sagging due to Gurdjieff’s tirade. Meanwhile, Gurdjieff looked immense during his seemingly full embodiment of rage.

Peters had to walk between the two men to set his tray on the table. He was shocked and astounded by how Mr. Gurdjieff, a so-called “superior” human, could lose his control so completely. He felt pity for Orage but just as he began to lose his feelings of respect and admiration for Mr. Gurdjieff, something remarkable occurred in the space of an instant. For a split second, Gurdjieff’s whole personality and demeanor changed as he gave the young lad a broad, warm smile that communicated incredible peace and inner quiet. Gurdjieff then waved for the boy to leave the room and resumed his tirade with undiminished force.

Fritz Peters said this event happened so quickly that he did not believe that Orage even noticed the break in the tirade. The boy left the room with his feelings completely reversed. Gurdjieff had done something miraculous.

Peters then realized that Gurdjieff was not identified with, or a slave to, the external anger and shouting of his outburst and was always in complete control and completely conscious of everything from a deeper sacred place. In fact, Gurdjieff had the presence of mind to use the so-called heat of the moment to teach Peters a lesson about human potentials.