i can't really say much about what the groups do; i do know that their originator, George Gurdjieff, espoused some extremely strange ideas about metaphysical things, and that the basic concept is that an individual is not just one thing but rather a whole collection of different "I's", and the goal of the groups is to learn to identify and navigate among them, and thus find the "fourth way" - the way to holiness through everyday activities and a kind of mindfulness.
I personally think Gurdjieff only escaped from institutionalizable madness by virtue of his charisma; he was actually able to convince people to follow him while in fact mistreating them in various ways; always with the rationale that it was in the interests of their enlightenment.
He passed himself off as having been taught mystical secrets at a monastery somewhere - somebody can clarify this point - which no one has been able to locate or verify the existence of and of course only existed in Gurdjieff's fantasy. I just don't know whether he himself believed it. At that monastery he was taught certain extremely stylized and "whirling dervish - ish" dances (they look like the sufi dancing - at times. Much of the time they look bizarre.
They can be seen at [www.youtube.com
I would like for people with experience with these groups to contribute their points of view; what I notice most of all is that the mystique of the groups has my girlfriend in thrall and she doesn't know it or want to be freed from it.
Michael J. Langlis PH.D. has this to say in his review of "In Search of P.D. Ouspensky" (ouspensky having been the most important proselytizer of Gurdjieff)
"In my own meetings with remarkable wo/men over the years, I have never met a more remarkably rigid, mechanical, and unimaginative lot as those who are devotees of Beelzebub, the sly Monsieur Gurdjieff. They are blindly caught in the neurotic-obsessive drive to actualize a superhuman, godlike Self. Their uncomprehending devotion to the religion of spiritual self-idolatry surpasses anything with which I have come into contact. This penetrating and sadly amusing irony escapes no one except his very obedient and unthinking disciples. Now there is an "escape manual" for them to consult.
Also, a rather weird but interesting insight into people in these groups can be found at
Good luck folks. I appreciate, by the way, the entry from "salvage" telling of how she was told to stop going. I am told that if a couple is married and one of the spouses objects, the other is required to stop going.
Which would be nice, but she'll have to really want to, or she'd be jonesing for her fix and her stopping going would be almost worse than her going.