For a survey of the intellectual movement that is termed traditionalism,
get and read Mark Sedgwick's [i:f11b516c31]Against the Modern World[/i:f11b516c31]. You may need to go either to a university library or a very well equipped public library to get it. Sedgewick has a website and a blog and has done a lot to put this
important but obscure movement on the map.
Traditionalism is worth looking at because it is an ideology that has been a lens through which many persons get exposed to Sufism, Orthodox Christianity, esoteric studies, etc. Unless you know what the features of traditionalism are, persons committed to it may slip its biases into their seemingly objective presentation of the subject matter at hand, making it hard to achieve real academic accountability. Traditionalism tends to be rather secretive--it goes on the assumption that modern society is not actually progressing but actually regressing, and that the only hope is to find an authentic source of true, undistorted wisdom, a group or source capable of giving true intiatition.
The seeker must beware of counter-intiatic groups that masquerade as true sources of wisdom but are actuallly counterfeits that lead the seeker astray. One must search and hope to find a member of one of the elite groups willing to offer the hidden teaching.
Most traditionalist scholars and groups are harmless but it is easy to see how this ideology can attract persons who are at risk of generating group dysfunction. One person told Sedgwick that if you become convinced that modern life means regress rather than progress, there are few persons left whom you can usefully talk to. (ahem..)
G apparently appropriated many, many elements from Theosophy.
[i:f11b516c31]Madame Blavatsky's Baboon[/i:f11b516c31]--Peter Washington It gives a wide angle overveiw of late 19th century spiritualism, Theosophy, Gurdjieff, Bennett, Idries Shah
[i:f11b516c31]Turn off Your Mind [/i:f11b516c31]by Gary Lachman
Lots of information about the influence of Gurdjieff, Crowley, Lovecraft on the ideas and artistic output of the 1960s--including Timony Leary's exposure to G work while running his own communal living experiment (also based on Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game)
In Search of PD Ouspensky by Gary Lachman
Both of these are chock full of information-and if you were too young to live through the 1950s, may fill in some gaps.
Lachman was a student of Fourth Way work and even spent some time in an OTO group. He was also member of the rock group, Blondie, so he knows the rock music culture and artistic process from the inside (Lachman has given interviews in Fortean Times and these can be accessed on line. Look him up on Google--he writes interesting stuff)
James Webb did a very detailed job tracing G's use of Theosophy and occult literature and carefully traces his source. For this, read, [i:f11b516c31]The Harmonious Circle.[/i:f11b516c31] He had access to old files in the British M15 or M16
and found some suggestive clues that Gurdjieff was a spy for the Imperial Russian secret service. This may account for why G was able to do all the travelling he did. And it is probably why he was denied permission to reside in the UK.
Spies live under pressure, they are treated as disposable objects by their handlers, and they live behind a mask, constantly playing a role, manipulating others to extract information from them. Spies use people as objects and are themselves used as objects. They operate from fear and power and cant afford the luxury of intimacy.
So whatever spiritual truths and techniques G acquired, IMO, if he was a spy, these spiritual truths and techniques would have curdled in his hands and become mere tools for manipulation. He had a powerful but needy personality that was in the end, a distraction from his stated goal of waking people up.