gee whiz, look ma, no teaching...
ByJohn C. Landon March 27, 2018
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I don’t come to praise gurdjieff but to bury him. This interesting book, of whatever status, adds to the long list of attempted bios but gurdjieff remains as obscure as before. It has been a century since ca. 1917/8 and the onset of the public teaching of this faux sufi. Let us recall that it was ouspensky who started the challenge to gurdjieff, calling him a criminal.
The issue is a crisis for many because the toxic seeds of an uncomprehended teaching are producing derelicts in their second rebirth after contact with the confusing and mesmerizing figure. I would say, study gurdjieff historically but never enter its ‘path’. Give it a wide birth. These people are not nice and issues of invultuation, spiritual slavery, cannibalism, black magic, occult warfare, reactionary antimodernism and the couner-entlightenment (a short list) haunt the whole legacy which has produced no exemplars that anyone can point to. A figure like E. J. Gold is no exception and he is as obscure and rogue as Gurdjieff: he understands that figure as little as a beginner and does something else behind a veneer of fake sufism/gurdjieffianity. The question of ‘g’s’ teaching is almost hopeless and one suspects that he didn’t understand the materials he provided: his teaching founders in GIGO material on the bogus enneagram teaching, instant myths of the law of three and law of seven. But to be fair gurdjieff carried a tradition of ancient samkhya that had spread into the occident, becoming a preposterous part of christian theology (all the weird trinity junk) then seems to have passed into sufism whence gurdjieff picked it up with what must have seemed like a great teaching. But it makes little sense. However, J.G.Bennett in his The Dramatic Universe attempts a reconstruction and one done in the context of modern science: finally one has a least some idea of what was intended (his book is however caveat lector with its own confusions). What the status of this is finally is unclear but at least the historical context is clearer and future version as science is indicated, however improbable. So we can see that gurdjieff seems to be trying to make sense of the ‘path of will’ beside the paths of being/enlightenment we see in india.
There is way to make sense of this: one of the ‘tall tales’ of the g-corpus is that of three traditions and their zones, the indian, with its yogas, the egyptian, a mystery but it is worth noting that crowley’s book of the law seems to have an eqyptian source, and the ‘hyperborean’ (i made the term up) a very hidden source in the ‘transcaucasus’ region which is where? precisely the regions stalked by the young g in the turkish/caucasian, aremenian/georgian, ‘sufisheikistan’/afghanistan, etc… Clearly gurdjieff was an experimental front who attempted to resolve this zone/teaching to a ‘path of the will’, which isn’t acknowledged in the indic legacies..In the end gurdjieff was probably as confused as his students but he did explore the whole game/region and pieced together some fragments of a still unknown teaching, but one which is in another way transparent from the way the will in relation to the larger organism is explored. The result is an inmmensely confused/confusing concoction by gurdjieff, mixed with wrong esoteric guesswork, disinformation about occultism/esotericism, but at least a placeholder for an obscure tradition. I would recommed being wary of this morass and giving it a wide birth after a brief and anonymous short tour. It is undecipherable on its own terms. But if you stand back and use the key above you can catch a glimpse of a remarkable mystery.