Fourth Way groups require careful evaluation by students, both those already in a group and those interested in looking for a group.
More modern groups may utilize material from psychotherapy, may have psychotherapists (licensed and unlicensed) as leaders, members, or both.
If any group becomes socially isolated and uses powerful methods of inner work and self disclosure, it may despite collective good intention and excellent material, take on characteristics of what has been termed a 'psychotherapy cult' (See article by Temerlin cited in the thread listed below)
--for more information on this general topic go here (The thread has two pages, so make sure to backtrack and start on page one)
and 'Problems in Small Groups' here:
**If a group requires members to disclose sensitive information about themselves, the leader and group members should make it clear that this material will remain confidential and never be used against anyone.
Background info on Alex Horn here:
Traditionally, G practitioners have not responded to controversy & are NOT supposed to recruit--Gurdjieff contended that aspirants had to reach a certain level of maturity that would prompt them to look for, and be able to recognize a true Work group. This meant that interested seekers were (and are) supposed to take the initiative and look for a group and teacher.
If a group calls itself Fourth Way and does any sort of outreach, its a very good idea to ask questions and ask, 'Who is your leader and what's your lineage--and who were your teacher's teachers?'
This reticence on the part of established Fourth Way groups, plus the mystique of Gurdjieff himself, has left the field wide open for almost any person to start a group.
It is possible to do excellent work in a small group. But if there is no outside source of accountability or to a verifiable lineage, and the teacher functions as sole arbiter of reality, then there's no reference point in case things begin feeling dysfunctional.
*If a group and its teacher have integrity, the student will be taught as soon as possible to acquire discernment skills so that he or she can outgrow the need to 'take someone's word for it' and will know how to test things for him or herself.
] ('Evaluating Spiritual and Utopian Groups)
Constantly taking someone's word for it keeps people stuck in a depedent position in relation to authoritiy figures, long after they're capable of growing up.
A group that is excellent for one student may not be a good practice environment for other persons.
Some groups may become blind alleys for nearly all participants --especially if crucial information is concealed from new members and prospective recruits.
**It is therefore up to the seeker [b:9090eb6e27]to remain able [/b:9090eb6e27]to determine whether his or her group continues to support personal develoment or no longer probides such support --and to [i:9090eb6e27]always remain able to leave[/i:9090eb6e27] after it has become clear that the group has served its purpose in that student's journey--like knowing when you've outgrown a pair of shoes and need to move up to a larger size.
A good group will enable students to retain and develop critical faculities; problematic groups undermine this capacity and pressure students to become long-term inmates.
In the best outcomes, students identify what is not working, salvage what was of benefit, and are able to depart without sustaining trauma or too much derailment to outside careers and relationships.
In very best cases, former students respond altruistically after leaving a group. When they become teachers, they will show their own students how to recognize which groups are helpful, how to identify and avoid pitfalls ---which generously smooths the path for the next generation to follow.
Theodore & Rebecca Nottingham were students of Robert Burton, (mentioned in a 1991 article in [i:9090eb6e27]Gnosis [/i:9090eb6e27]magazine) then left him. Currenly they are working to demonstrate the common ground between the Fourth Way and Orthodox Christianity. They have also published valuable online material about an excellent, highly reliable spiritual philosopher, Karlfried Graf von Durckheim.
In 1991 , Mr. Nottingham published a translation of one of Durckheim's books, [i:9090eb6e27]Dialogues on the Path of Initiation[/i:9090eb6e27]--well worth reading.
Editorial correction** In an earlier version of this thread I mentioned that the end page of 'Dialogues' listed as a resource for further reading Robert Burton's meditation book, 'Self Remembering', a manual considered misleading by legitimate Gurdjieff scholars.
It turned out that this was at the instigation of the publisher, [i:9090eb6e27]not [/i:9090eb6e27]the author's decision. In a communication dated (10-23-04) Mr Nottingham wrote
'I would like to point out that the reference to the Burton material was not mine but rather the publisher of the Durckheim book who happened to also be publishing Burton's work.
'I would agree that suggestion there is value in Burton's teaching or group after personal experience of its distortions would be inappropriate. Any reader of our materials, particularly those listed at
will find that we strongly urge seekers to beware of schools that have seriously deviated from the path. With a little searching, you will find specific reference to a statement on the Burton group in particular.' ([i:9090eb6e27]Communication from Mr. Nottingham[/i:9090eb6e27])
IMO the Fourth Way is a practice path for very mature persons who are determined to remain grown up--another reason why genuine groups are supposed to avoid recruitment and why it is up to each student to 'find the Work'.
IMO one can get the same benefits with much less confusing mythology if one sticks to practice traditions in which lineage claims can be verified, and one isnt constantly wondering when the teacher is telling the truth or just playing tricks.
But if you feel you must practice within the Fourth Way here are some resources:
Only recently have some Fourth Way groups and authors begun publishing information to assist interested persons to identify genuine Fourth Way teachers.
[b:9090eb6e27]Resources for Research[/b:9090eb6e27]
If you move around the site, you can find some good lists of Fourth Way terminology too.
For material on Gurdjieff from a skeptics perspective:
James Webb's book [i:9090eb6e27]'The Harmonious Circle' [/i:9090eb6e27]is excellent--it provides an exhaustive survey of all the likely sources of G material, backed up by well chosen evidence and careful reasoning. (G loyalists insist that Webb missed the whole point, but thats for the reader to decide.) [i:9090eb6e27]Harmonious Circle [/i:9090eb6e27]is currently out of print and you may need to go to a university library to get it, but the effort will be well worth it.
by Gary Lachman: In Search of P.D. Ouspensky: The Genius in the Shadow of Gurdjieff
([i:9090eb6e27]Mr. Lachman pursued Fourth Way studies for some time, so he writes from an insider's perspective. It is interesting to read the various reactions/reviews of the book. Mr. Lachman has humanized and demystified Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, and for that reason, some will love the book and others will dislike it.)[/i:9090eb6e27]
**It is interesting to read the Lachman book and compare it with this article which describes Thomas de Hartmann and how his career as a composer was affected by his involvement with Gurdjieff. De Hartmann was recruited in a manner similar to Ouspensky. This article was written
5 years before the publication of Lachman's book and its author arrived at a conclusion similar to Lachman--that entanglement with Gurdjieff disrupted an artist's promising career.
Georg Feurstein, in his book [i:9090eb6e27]Holy Madness[/i:9090eb6e27], an examination of various 'crazy wise' teachers, there's a chapter on Gurdjieff.
In his book [i:9090eb6e27]Feet of Clay[/i:9090eb6e27], Anthony Storr has a chapter on Gurdjieff as well.
William Patrick Patterson, who studied with Lord Pentland wrote a book [i:9090eb6e27]'Taking With the Left Hand' [/i:9090eb6e27] which describes what Patterson considers 3 distortions of Gurdjieff work. No everyone may agree with Patterson's conclusions, but his information can be very helpful to persons trying to trace lineages and pedigress of certain teachers and groups.
Patterson's book discusses what he considers 3 distortions of the Fourth Way/Gurdjieff Work:
*The enneagram (when used as a personality typing gadget),
* Robert Burton's group Fellowship of Friends/Renaissance(also aka Oregon House/Apollo). Burton was formerly a student of Alex Horn (See material on the RR.com archives). Other students have in turn left Burton to create groups of their own.
* Mourovieff's attempt to fuse Gurdjieff with Russian Orthodox spirituality.
The Amazon.com reader reviews for [i:9090eb6e27]Taking With the Left Hand [/i:9090eb6e27]are worth a peek.
One reader commented:
'Spiritual transmission is just that, a transmission of material to evoke understanding, an understanding of which mental knowledge is just one part.
'A transmission from a true source also carries a certain vitality. When concepts are suborned to serve another purpose, not only are the ideas now crippled - altered subsets of just the mental aspects - but the vitality is seriously depleted. And, it is this very vitality, however limited, that is of interest to the purloiners. This energy gives dynamism to their "goods," enough to stimulate the intellect and imagination. But those who partake find a poor food, [i:9090eb6e27]sufficient perhaps for years of "exploration," but inadequate for true transformation[/i:9090eb6e27].'
Back to Alex Horn
It appears that a number of non affiliated Fourth Way groups derived from AH's early groups
Alex started his group in Marin in the early 70s.
Later AH affiliated with Sharon Gans & they did Theatre of All Possibilities in San Francisco--Rick Ross has material on that in his archives.
Then Sharon Gans and AH reportedly went in separate directions. Gans created the Sharon Gans group. The Ross Institute database has material on Sharon Gans' group--look under 'G' or do a search for 'Gans'.
So, it appears from inquiries on this and other threads that Alex may still be active as a teacher. He's probably in his late 60s, early 70s.
Another group in this strand is currently called 'Odyssey' and is discussed here:
[b:9090eb6e27]Freelance Fourth Way Groups[/b:9090eb6e27]
1) To continue this pedigree, Robert Burton was an AH student.
Burton created his own group, Fellowship of Friends, currently known as Renaissance./the Ark/Apollo. The Burton group's outreach literature (brochures and posters) has a conspicuously high artistic standard. The group owns a vineyard and winery and the product is supposedly quite good--info about this is in the RR.com archives.
[b:9090eb6e27]Groups Unrelated to Alex Horn[/b:9090eb6e27]
[i:9090eb6e27]UK-Based Ouspensky groups [/i:9090eb6e27]
Ouspensky, a former disciple of G settled in the UK and led a group. After his death, one or two persons split off to begin independant teaching careers.
The rest of the group managed to stay together under the leadership of Dr. Francis Roles and tried to find the sources of G material. As a result, this Ouspensky group gave some early support to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, then later repudiated the connection.
Another Ouspensky group led by Andrew McLaren continued to use material derived from TM and from these cirmstances, another unafflitiated G group emerged--the 'School for Economic Science', based in London which has aroused some concern, and is described in a book [i:9090eb6e27]'The Secret Cult' [/i:9090eb6e27]by Peter Hounam and Andrew Hogg--its out of print but can be found through book search. It is unclear whether the Roles group and the Mclaren group are independant or have a friendly relationship--Hounam and Hogg supply some data.
(note: the SES also goes by the name School of Practical Philosophy, especially in the US. Many persons who take their courses hoping to learn about philosophy have reported feeling disappointed when they discover that the agenda is supports a single ideology, not an impartial survey of different philosophies.)
More information about the SES/SPP group is available here.
(about the boarding school run by SES in the UK)
(note SES/SPP has have a school for children in the US called the Abraham Lincoln school)
** For information about the Ouspensky group in London just before and after Ouspensky's death, Joyce Collin-Smith's memoir [i:9090eb6e27]Call No Man Master [/i:9090eb6e27]is very, informative. Its available on Amazon.
[b:9090eb6e27]FreelanceFourth Way Material--Human Potential Oriented Groups[/b:9090eb6e27]
Enneagram groups have a different 'pedigree' than that of Alex H, Sharon G and Robert B or the UK based Ouspensky groups. It appears that the enneagram groups were more closely linked to the Human Potential movement, especially that portion which flourished at Esalen in the late 60s and 70s and utilized encounter group work.
**Many persons feel they have learned a lot from participation in groups that use enneagram material. However, as noted above, the seeker [b:9090eb6e27]must [/b:9090eb6e27]retain emotional and intellectual independance/objectivity in relation to the group and be prepared to leave if his or her autonomy is not respected.
Patterson contends that when used a personality typing device, the Enneagram material mis-represents the Fourth Way, because Gurdjieff did not use the enneagram for personality typing purposes.
You can read one perspective on the history of the 'personality type enneagram' and much more, in the chapter entitled 'How the Enneagram Came to Market' in Patterson's book [i:9090eb6e27]'Taking With the Left Hand'[/i:9090eb6e27]
(See this exerpt here)
One hears a lot about the enneagram, esp in connection with Gurdjieff. It was first propagated in South America by Oscar Ichazo who gave various stories about the sources of his material. This URL below gives an an example. He has called his gadget then 'enneagon' then 'enneagram'.
Additional discussion of Ichazo, Arica and debate on sources of the personality enneagram are discussed here:
The enneagram was propagated in Berkeley California in in the late Sixties, and in some social/spiritual venues, remains highly popular to this day. Some Roman Catholic spiritual directors became enchanted with it during the wilder years of Vatican II when almost anything with exotic, non Catholic origins became popular amongst rebellious clergy.
The enneagram is not unique to G work. According to James Webb, it can be found in esoteric works by Raymond Lull and Athanasius Kircher, both of whom used it, as Gurdjieff did, to explain the hidden forces of the universe. (See 'The [i:9090eb6e27]Harmonious Circle[/i:9090eb6e27]' by James Webb)
An essay by a Sufi who had some exposure to persons who had studied with G:
(a search of this very detailed site revealed nothing about the enneagram)
Another person who did enneagram studies in the 1970s and later became intiated as a Sufi offers his own perspective here:
[b:9090eb6e27]Skeptics' Perspectives on the Enneagram[/b:9090eb6e27]
Arvan Harvat, has a skeptics assessment of the enneagram :
Other groups resemble Fourth Way groups, may incorporate some or a great deal of G material and function for decades. Rather than figure out fine points of a group's doctrine it is best to read up on what distinguishes a group whose conditions support your inner development, versus environments which do not support or actually hamper your inner development.
If a group and its teacher do not permit you to remain objective enough in relation to them so as to answer this question for yourself in an unpressured manner--you'll know what to do.