"If people are not told up front that the plums are being distributed nepotistically then they are being defrauded"
For those who want to pursue esoteric or lodge work, some advice.
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 02:39:26 -080
From: Kevin Langdon
When I was talking with the man who was my first contact with the Gurdjieff Work, I remember asking him whether there were objective tests for "promotion" within the organization, and he assured me that this was in fact the case. Well, of course, I was naive to think that there could be a complete absence of politics in any human endeavor, but his answer was, on the whole, not untruthful.
I think that this is an important consideration in contemplating devoting years of one's life to involvement in any group. If people are not told up front that the plums are being distributed nepotistically then they are being defrauded. It's not just a matter of vanity, wanting to be "important."
This same author warned
But maybe also that he knew them. It is possible to cause a lot of trouble by upsetting the applecart of conventional sexual morality in the context of a spiritual group, as the members of such groups are ready to accept the idea that they are in touch with a higher dispensation. Are you familiar with the sad case of Osel Tendzin?
(Corboy note: Chogyam Trungpa appointed Osel Tendzin his successor. Like Trungpa, Tendzin was sexually promiscuous. Unlike Trungpa, Tendzin contracted HIV. Tendzin believed himself to be at so high a state of realization that he could have sex with students, forgo use of condoms and not infect his partners. Unfortunately, he did. Such are the delusions one has when one believes one has transcended limitations that apply to 'ordinary' people.)
Corboy in no way endorses Fourth Way work. My personal opinion is that it is a dead end, something Gurdjieff himself created. IMO he enjoyed putting people off balance and feeding on their attention.
Better that than becoming one of a myriad of White Russian exiles who had to drive taxi cabs for a living.
Gurdjieff talked a good game about assisting students to become free, but from all that I have read it is my opinion that Gurdjieff talked
freedom but instilled dependancy. The persons who did grow and develop freedom and autonomy did so in spite of him, not because of him.
If you still want to get involved with this stuff, here are some things to read beforehand.
You say you dont have time.
It will take a couple of months at most to read these three books. You stand to lose years of your life and a vast amount of money if you lack background information, take someone elses word for it, and land in a toxic group.
Here are a three of books that can give some excellent background.
Start with Madame Blavatsky's Baboon
, by Peter Washington. Excellent introduction to the entire context. Gurdjieff was not unique. He came from and benefitted from a particular social context.The Harmonious Circle
by James Webb. Fourth Way people often dislike this book, and will either not mention it at all, or damn it with faint praise. James Webb, who died young in 1980, meticulously traced the sources of Gurdjieff's material, and in effect, demystified him.Taking With the Left Hand
by William Patrick Patterson. Written by an author who follows Gurdjieff work, TWLH gives useful overviews of how the enneagram came to market and the origin of the Fellowship of Friends.No Religion Higher than Truth: A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia During the Silver Age
(1875-1921) by Maria Carlson
This item will give you detailed background on the context in which Gurdjieff operated. He used many elements from Theosophy. Professor Carlsons book can be obtained by interlibrary loan from your public library. \
A note on James Webb. Peace be to him.
It is a loss to us that Webb died young.
What is sadder is that cruel rumors were spread that Webb brought madness and suicide upon himself because he presumed to research esoteric material in an objective manner. (Webb noted in his introduction that he had an impression that attempts were being made to recruit him into the Fourth Way, which would have made it impossible to maintain an objective, disinterested stance, necessary for the approach he wished to maintain. He wrote with warmth and sympathy for the need people felt that led them to seek guidance and entrust their hearts to a leader and an esoteric course of study.
The sad truth is that Webb suffered from bipolar affective disorder, which is not caused by a curse, but is a medical psychiatric condition that is genetic. In the late 1970s and by 1980, the year of Webb's self inflicted death, few effective treatments for it were available. Even today many who have bipolar go for years before obtaining a diagnosis.
Webb would have had as much trouble with his condition had he been an accountant or a road sweeper.
His research into Gurdjieff's time in India and Tibet (verified by records in British Intelligence files) is most interesting.
For in the 1990s, Nikolai Grozhni, a young man who studied Tibetan Buddhism reported on a belief held by his Tibetan landlady's grandmother:
Ama-la..held, among other things, that the sun shut down at night like a candle and that the moon cycle was the result of hungry ghosts nibbling at the moon's body, which was really the size and consistencyof a pancake, only a glowing one. Every month, the moon was devoured completely and then restored to its original state by a karmic mechanism designed to keep the moon eating ghosts perpetually hungry.
"Presented with photographic evidence of the moon's harsh, unpancake like surface, Ama-la would look thankfully at the small statue of Manjushri (Goddess of Wisdom), standing on the altar, next to her bed, and cry, "Engie kugpa! (Crazy foreigner!)
Turtle Feet: The Making and Unmaking of a Buddhist Monk, page 84)
Am not sure if this is a belief unique to the one person interviewed by Grozhni, or to her particular ethnic group (Tibet has many) or is a fairly widespread superstition in that area.
Still, it is most interesting that Gurdjieff's odd comment that men are food for the moon is an inversion of that statement.
(Note: to research Gurdjieff, take care to exclude 'Osho' which is the name now given to Rajneesh, the tyrannical trance trickster who collected Rolls Royces, and whose followers tried to manipulate an election in Oregon by putting salmonella in a local salad bar. Rajneesh/Osho appreciated Gurdjieff, and that, to more cautious persons, should serve as a warning. Gurdjieff sowed confusion and instilled dependancy. So did Rajneesh/aka Osho.
Here in this larger essay the comment is made that Gurdjieff allegedly said his ideas could be taken 'seven different ways'.
This is a recipe to be trapped for life. And to need some more highly developed guide to explain it all for you.