Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: haskellbob ()
Date: December 22, 2006 04:05AM

I am involved with a woman who goes to Gurdjieff groups. I am going crazy, feeling like a voice crying out in the wilderness; what I see and intuit about those groups is that they are VERY twisted and damaging. Gurdjieff himself, to me, was so obviously an inflated ego interested only in wielding power and having others kowtow to him, thus feeding his image of himself and perpetuating it.

I just think the gullibility is incredible, and when I use search engines to try and find reports from the shadow-side, criticisms, intelligent evaluations, I inevitably am barraged by thousands of accounts of the supreme and ultimate beautiful wisdom of the Fourth Way and ...

man, is that ever some bullshit! Can I get a witness, or am I just from another planet (like Gurdjieff) and utterly unable to perceive the Truth?

THe worst thing is that it's a self-perpuating inward spiral and once you're hooked into one of their key concepts, the whole cognitive structure of the way they think proceeds to prove itself in every way, and you can't argue with it, because if you object you just don't GET IT.

And she says, "But my going to the groups doesn't affect YOU."

Oh yeah, right. Like the way you see the world, the lens you use held up to your face by this hypnotist and charlatan, doesn't impinge on me or our relationship at all.

Right. And I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you - cheap. Or some pretty colored canaries....

Sarmoung monastery my ass.

Has anyone seen that movie "Meetings with Remarkable Men"? I was aghast at what for me was a highly disturbing self-absorption there - no doubt because it crystallized something about Celina that bothers me.

The "sacred" dances to me are utterly absurd, and kind of epitomize the movement itself (double meaning). If you're in it and they've got you, then as you move in the dance you are incredibly aware of yourself in an unprecedented way.

But from the outside, they are absurd. Aesthetically, they suck and are bizarre in the extreme. It drives me nuts to think this twisted choreography, no doubt just springing spontaneously from Gurdjieff's imagination (as do his books. And his music.) on one specific day, when his most serious and gifted disciples were more than willing to take it all down and immortalize it, is now most reverently regarded as "sacred" and deeply meaningful.

What is disturbing is the extent to which the spiritual vacuum of our time can be filled with absurdities, without people being aware of said absurdity.

The hardest thing about all this for me is that all my buttons are pushed, all my fraud-alarms are going off (undoubtedly someone will tell me, "well, look into that for a clue. What is missing IN YOU? or: What point of the Enneagram do you correspond with? Inevitable that those who are inside will self-confirm that they are right and arm themselves to the teeth to do so with concepts that are generated by the intellectual vacuum they are in)

So go ahead; I'll consider what anyone has to say. But the ones I REALLY NEED to hear from are any of you who can corroborate or at least commiserate with me.

That's enough for now. You'll undoubtedly see that Gurdjieff's movement pushes all my buttons. A girlfriend deeply and inextricably hooked into it was just the thing to pull me out of lethargies and wake me up to lots of stuff, and just what God intended.

Do you think?


Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: salvage ()
Date: December 23, 2006 04:11AM

Dear H-Bob
Your post brought back similar memories for me. Several years ago I was in a G group. I don't even think it was tremendously 'cultish', but my husband eventually voiced concern. He didn't understand the 'calling', and was uncomfortable about me attending the group. I brought his concern up to the teacher I had, and was advised to quit the group.

I now see that the 4th way is rather silly, and am so glad my husband spoke up.


Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: kath ()
Date: December 23, 2006 08:11AM

I've just run into a group who are into the fourth way. To me it seems like needlessly tying yourself in knots.

Then I went on a site which explained what p'roblem groups' following the fouth way are like. If anyone can explain more please do cos I don't know much about it but is sounds slightly 'wrong.'

Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: haskellbob ()
Date: December 26, 2006 01:33PM

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 []

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.

Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: December 26, 2006 09:49PM

There is [i:1a980affda]a lot [/i:1a980affda]of info on this forum about Gurdieff, Fourth Way, etc. Use the search option at the top of the page.

Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: tomm ()
Date: January 19, 2007 03:22PM

I read the Gurdjieff books years ago.
I found the ideas interesting and beneficial.

Never attended a group.

Unfortunately, what happens is a visionary, or prophet comes along.
They teach for awhile.
After their death, the philosophy immediately starts to degrade.
In the following years people appear, proclaiming themselves as experts, holy men or whatever.

BTW I hope you are not judging the Gurdjieff material by that movie.

Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: haskellbob ()
Date: January 20, 2007 01:26AM

I hate being compelled to be contentious, but I can't accept the rendition of Gurdjieff as a "prophet" - not in my own scheme of thought. Quite apart from the movie, there is plenty of damning evidence of an unbalanced mind cynically manipulating people for egotistical reasons (and rather pathetic at that). In the spiritual vacuum of our times, it seems like just anyone who comes along and claims forcefully enough to have any kind of answer - no matter how absurd, and no matter how uncomfortable the concrete results are for a person who feels compelled to follow him - will attract people with their own spiritual vacuums, and keep them in his tractor beam by pretending to fill those vacuums.

Since they know no higher light, they are dazzled by his inferior one.

Some good references:

Anthony Storr, [i:963a3aecd5]Feet of Clay[/i:963a3aecd5]

Whitall N. Perry, [i:963a3aecd5]Gurdjieff in the Light of Tradition[/i:963a3aecd5]

Gary Lachman, [i:963a3aecd5]In Search of P.D. Ouspensky[/i:963a3aecd5]

Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: tomm ()
Date: January 20, 2007 02:28PM

I didn't say he was a prophet.

Are you getting all these negative impressions from the original Gurdjieff/Ouspensky material?

Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: haskellbob ()
Date: January 21, 2007 12:15AM

My first reaction to what I was told by my partner was very negative. I delved - not very thoroughly, in the sense of reading an entire book - into what she had by Ouspensky, Nicoll, and Gurdjieff himself - and the book by the de Hartmanns on their life with Mr. Gurdjieff.

I can honestly say my impressions do come from the original material, but I also have to admit I haven't made a thorough study. It smelled fishy to me (as they say) so I went in search of criticism and critique, spurred on even more by how difficult it was to find amidst the onslaught of - how shall I say this - unquestioning? robotic? blind? - websites painting Gurdjieff in a god-like or guru-like way.

I'm sorry if I misunderstood you. You did make a statement about what happens to the teachings of prophets, and I just assumed you felt Gurdjieff was in that category.

Let's not fight though. Rather, I would ask you to refer me to what was for you the most convincing of the original material. Did you not detect strangeness in it, and how did you accomodate that

Allow me to quote from William Everson's [i:149935a11f]Birth of a Poet[/i:149935a11f]:
You channel your energies and you exclude. This sense of exclusiveness which pervades the psyche of the redeemer figure - whether he is a saint, a mystic, or an artist - is localized in the negative factor. “I am not as other people are. I am a man set apart.” He has no real knowledge of why he is set apart, but he believes the truth of it. He is, therefore, both an object of admiration and fear to the people around him who also sense that he is not as they are. We know that same fear when we see such a person and draw back from his touch. Often we speak of a person with a psychic imbalance as one who has been touched. There is almost a religious connotation to it, as if one has been touched by God. We sense in that kind of insanity the power of the negative".

I do feel that Gurdjieff was "touched" in this sense, and furthermore, that if he hadn't had disciples to respond in the reverential way they did and affirm the truth of his delirium.

Even though gurus may feel divinely inspired, "they are not as certain as they look. They need disciples to help them believe in their own revelations".


(this is from a Psychology Today article,
[b:149935a11f][i:149935a11f]Crimes of the soul - the link between gurus and their followers and the sometimes dangerous consequences of their relationships - [/i:149935a11f][/b:149935a11f]
Psychology Today, March-April, 1998 by Jill Newmark, Marian Jones, Dennis Gersten

(the authors are paraphrasing and quoting from the book by Storr (I referred to - [i:149935a11f]Feet of Clay[/i:149935a11f])

"Yet gurus are not actually insane, says Storr. They may be frankly delusional in their beliefs about God and the universe and their exalted role in it, "yet they function very well as long as they have people who believe in them." Storr cites the intricate, many-tiered cosmologies of gurus such as Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff or Rudolf Steiner. "Gurdjieff stated that he'd invented a way to increase the visibility of the planets and the sun. Steiner invented his own history of the universe." These men, and other gurus, says Storr, were narcissistic, isolated, and arrogant, but they did not suffer from the thought disorders prevalent in schizophrenia or actual psychosis -- buffered as they were by adoring disciples".

Now the rest of this is me, Bob Haskell, again. I didn't know I'd go on for so long about this, but I was able to put down more or less coherently what I've been thinking. I hope you'll forgive me for getting carried away. This topic has become quite the obsession with me, coming so close to and actually affecting my life through my ladyfriend..

It is well known that there is a fine line between the shaman and madness, and between the prophet and madness, and between the saint and madness. These types all depend on having people hear and obey them. They have been "touched" for a reason - to go among the collective and effect change. But I do not feel that Gurdjieff was truly touched by God in this sense, or that his vocation was to effect change. Or rather, if that in fact [i:149935a11f]was[/i:149935a11f] his vocation, he was stopped short of truly achieving it by serious personal/psychological disturbances.

In short, he wasn't "legitimate"; i.e., some serious disturbance and disorganization in his own psyche drove him outward - undoubtedly seeking help - from a very young age. But he didn't find an answer or true relief, and became cynical, while he was still driven to go among others for the buffer their credulity placed between his frightened ego and unbalanced forces in his psyche (his madness, in short),

and the result was a corrupted shaman, one who stopped short before attaining a true vision of God and the way the cosmos truly is, but who knew intuitively - by virtue of his true giftedness and capacity (which were aborted for some reason, due to some quirk or flaw in his makeup) -of the possible existence of such a thing, and, not having been able to penetrate it or see it or find relief from his suffering, substituted a highly cynical and very sad cosmology and series of practices from his own diseased imagination, the ultimate purpose of which was to reinforce the very necessary fiction that he, instead of being mad, was inspired.

After all, if I have demonstrable power over others, I must be SOMEBODY SPECIAL. If I was just crazy, this wouldn't happen.

But what a miserable life he must have led.

Gurdjieff a fraud and worse
Posted by: haskellbob ()
Date: January 25, 2007 10:54AM

In the preceding diatribe I left one thought incomplete. It comes after the quote from Bill Everson. I said: "I do feel that Gurdjieff was "touched" in this sense, and furthermore, that if he hadn't had disciples to respond in the reverential way they did and affirm the truth of his delirium".

I meant to say: If he hand't had disciples to respond in the reverential way they did, and affirm the "truth" of what was really delirium, that delirium would have gotten the better of him and he'd have been just another madman completely alone in his private hell (or something along those lines).

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