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Gurdjieff: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas

Overview

Born in the shifting border between Turkey and Russia in 1866. G.I. Gurdjieff brought to the West a spiritual teaching of extraordinary depth and power. Man, Gurdjieff taught, exists in a state of waking sleep. But through rigorous work on himself, there exists hope that an individual, and eventually humanity, can awaken from the slumbering path being beaten toward destruction. In many respects -- from the concept of group meetings, to the mysterious symbol of the enneagram, to the critique of human beings ...
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Overview

Born in the shifting border between Turkey and Russia in 1866. G.I. Gurdjieff brought to the West a spiritual teaching of extraordinary depth and power. Man, Gurdjieff taught, exists in a state of waking sleep. But through rigorous work on himself, there exists hope that an individual, and eventually humanity, can awaken from the slumbering path being beaten toward destruction. In many respects -- from the concept of group meetings, to the mysterious symbol of the enneagram, to the critique of human beings existing as machines -- Gurdjieff's teaching represents the highest expression of the culture of spiritual search that has taken root in the West today. His is a complete teaching one that touches every aspect of the human psyche and of man's life on earth.

Many of those personally influenced by Gurdjieff -- including Frank Lloyd Wright, Katherine Mansfield, and P.D. Ouspensky -- are widely known: yet the sense of the greatness and mystery of Gurdjieff has only deepened with time. In Gurdjieff: An Introduction to His Life and Idens, novelist and storyteller John Shirley offers a lively, deeply felt exploration of the man and his thought. Shirley brings together much of what we know of Gurdjieff's early life and education. Surveying the teacher's methods and the lives of his leading pupils, Shirley delineates the importance of the oral tradition in Gurdjieff's teachings and how it is carried on today. Here is a much-needed, accessible introduction to the life of an enigmatic and incomparably important teacher.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"He was a startlingly rare bird. He was like no other," writes Shirley of G.I. Gurdjieff, one of the most influential and most enigmatic spiritual masters to appear in the West. Born, he said, in 1866 in the Russian-Armenian city of Alexandropol, Gurdjieff spent his life searching for and refining an esoteric teaching that addressed the essential question: what is the purpose of life, including our individual lives? Through his own writings, music, sacred dances and other exercises, which came to be called the "Work," Gurdjieff, who died in Paris in 1949, sought to bring seekers not answers but a capacity for authentic self-realization. Drawing from Gurdjieff's own writings and accounts by his students, SF/horror author Shirley (Demons, etc.) describes bits of the extraordinary expeditions, adventures and experiments that Gurdjieff undertook, seeking to describe how we can learn to strip away the layers of conditioning to touch essence and more-to cultivate true being ("Real being, said Gurdjieff, is fed, and grows, each time we are sufficiently conscious; each time we're genuinely present to ourselves"). By Shirley's account, Gurdjieff's greatest literary effort, his vast and utterly original allegory Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, is a work of being, carefully designed to lead receptive readers to the truth inside themselves. Shirley does not pretend to be able to pack such a punch. Nor does he match the drama and emotional power of firsthand accounts of Gurdjieff, like P.D. Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous. His book, instead, reads like set of notes from a contemporary "Work"-in-progress. Nonetheless, Shirley offers a fresh, contemporary take on what may be a great man and a great teaching, a take that serves as a useful introduction. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781417726318
  • Publisher: San Val
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Format: Library Binding

Meet the Author

Co-screenwriter of The Crow, John Shirley is the author of the novels Demons, Crawlers, Wetbones, A Splendid Chaos, and the Bram Stoker Award-winning story collection Black Butterflies.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 1
1 Where We're At and Where We Wish to Be 11
2 Meeting a Remarkable Man 41
3 The Search Begun 67
4 In Search of the Miraculous 111
5 Three Mirages: Progress, Evolution, and Unity 139
6 Finland and the Miraculous; The Caucasus and Revolutionary Psychosis 167
7 Beelzebub in France and America; G. I. Gurdjieff Beyond 205
8 "Gurdjieff, Not Will Die!" 271
App. A: Farther up the Octave: Bibliographical Suggestions 277
App. B Are We "Food for the Moon"? 287
App. C The Octave and the Ray of Creation - and Theoretical Physics 289
Index 293
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