In one way Gurdjieff was right: there is a possibility that ‘ancient knowledge’ of some kind has been lost to us.
But one should recommend caution in thinking, therefore, that a little scrounging in the Caucasus or the stomping grounds of sufis, is going to tell us what that is. In any case, we can refer once again to the essay series /gmancon where the outline of history indicated (and in other essays at that domain) puts the question in perspective.
Gurdjieff is filled with traditionalist spiritual illusions, despite his acumen in some respects, and this framework cannot resolve the question of the evolution of religion or the dynamics of civilizational emergence. That process is on a scale that is far greater than any spiritual tradition or school, and indeed transcends even the constructs of Christianity and Islam.
If we examine the ‘eonic effect‘ we see that there is every possibility of some ancient knowledge emerging at an early stage of civilization. The eonic framework shows us directly that the period of the onset of the Neolithic is the seminal era, however primitive still in many ways. Most of what later emerges in civilization has antecedents in that period. It is clear in the case of India that its spiritual tradition goes back to the Neolithic, or rather the epoch just prior to the onset of Dynastic Egypt and Sumer. The equivalent in a Middle Eastern context is a compelling idea, but it takes more than Gurdjieff’s fast and loose thinking to find out what that might be.
Thus the idea of the fourth way is already a very late derivative, probably suffering distortion. Gurdjieff’s way of handling such ideas was all too flawed and for all his posturing about ancient knowledge his treatment of these archaeological ‘artifacts’ was poor stuff, site tampering.
In any case, the local and temporal stream of schools and supposed ‘esoterics’ is a limited one, whatever its promoters say. Clearly Gurdjieff, as with so many New Agers, miscalculated the nature of history, and modernity.
In broadest strokes a study of the eonic effect shows how what we think of as ‘spiritual operations’ (in reality something more general) over time are far far beyond our easy ken. Consider the phenomenon of the Axial Age, and its truly stupendous effects over a period centuries in separate isolated zones of Eurasia, remorphing whole civilizations in its wake.
Compared with this the efforts of isolated gurus, occultists, and seekers is virtually a zero. Such people don’t really understand the nature of religious emergentism, which doesn’t operate via avatars, world saviors, or occult operators. It is way beyond such nonsense, really far beyond it, and doesn’t operate through people in time at all.
There is more to be said about the ‘fourth way’, but the way in which it is portrayed, as some operation of people founding schools and nonesuch suggests something far too limited to be the kind of ‘ultimate path’ it is misleadingly made out to be.
More on this some other time.
Engram and enneagram
I think it is worth quoting the passage from
Due to L. Ron Hubbard’s penchant for plagiarism, the C of S is ripe for numerous copyright infringement actions to be brought against it as well as a qui tam action for defrauding the U.S. government as well as the governments of numerous other countries.
If one does a search of the internet for “Fourth Way Enneagram”—looks a lot like “engram,” doesn’t it?—one discovers that many if not all of the principles that the Scientology religion are founded on, and that the C of S claims exclusive intellectual property rights to, actually first appeared in In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky, which was first published in 1947—3 years before L. Ron Hubbard wrote Dianetics.
Ouspensky claimed that the enneagram was part of the teachings originally presented by G.I. Gurdjieff in Russia during the First World War. Gurdjieff is quoted by Ouspensky as claiming that this form of enneagram was an ancient secret and was now being partly revealed for the first time.
In his early lectures G.I. Gurdjieff described his approach to self-development as a Fourth Way. In contrast to the three eastern teachings that emphasize the development of the body, mind, or the emotions separately, Gurdjieff’s exercises worked on all three at the same time to promote comprehensive and balanced inner development.
Ouspensky documented Gurdjieff as saying that “two or three thousand years ago there were yet other ways which no longer exist and the ways now in existence were not so divided, they stood much closer to one another. The fourth way differs from the old and the new ways by the fact that it is never a permanent way. It has no definite forms and there are no institutions connected with it.
In the book, In Search of the Miraculous, it was noted that Gurdjieff taught that once the initial school with the real teacher is finished, all the other schools which try to continue the work presented by the initial school are no longer real…they are fake.
Gurdjieff indicated that there are fake schools where the teacher either:
May be genuinely mistaken and think that he knows something, when in reality he knows nothing.
May believe another man, who in his turn may be mistaken.
May deceive consciously.
Ouspensky quotes Gurdjieff saying that these teachers lead nowhere, except making the students believe that they are going somewhere. He also added that “It is impossible to recognize a wrong way without knowing the right way. This means that it is no use troubling oneself how to recognize a wrong way. One must think of how to find the right way.”
Gurdjieff also noted that there are groups of people who believe they follow his knowledge, but they focus only on one or a few aspects of his teachings, and thus obtain negative or wrong results.
The irony here is that all this applies fairly well to Gurdjieff’s notion of the fourth way. From the way he operated we can see that he was engaged in an eclectic affair in which he had failed to properly document his claims and was pursuing later depictions of something possibly ancient he called ‘the fourth way’. But these claims are just of the type he cautions against, of those exterior to the original, whose name we know not, of whose existence we can’t be sure.
This fact goes a long way toward explaining the difficulties and overall failure of his movement.
engram and enneagram?;
A curious passage from ‘enturbulation.org’.
One of the reasons for this blog, apart from its obvious intent, is to amplify to some degree on some of the issues raised in World History And The Eonic Effect, which has just been listed at Amazon.com. The book discusses the issue of the ‘fourth way’ in world history, and also issues of the ‘new age’, and its mythologies of age periods, a confusion the book clarifies greatly.
The book also exposes the strategy of postmodern anti-modernism that runs rife through the whole of the New Age movement and its ideologies.
In general, the default foundation for whatever we wish to call it, after the term ‘spiritual path’ has been retired, is laid out in a highly generalized historical framework.
More generally the wild claims for ancient knowledge posed by Gurdjieff can be put in a better context, perhaps one without much data, since we have very little, the pronouncements of Gurdjieff providing no remedy for that situation.
This is a comment from sillykitty that I said I would upgrade to a post
sk also gave me this link from rickross.com
update: sk is starting a blog on the gold question: http://ejgoldcon.blogspot.com/
the site reveals that e.j. gold has been busy lately. here is a review of a recent e.j. gold book, ‘darkside dreamwalker’ clearly written by one of his VERY devoted ’students.’ i’m copying it here in it’s entirety even though it is very long, (sorry nemo) because…well…sometimes words speak louder than words: Read the rest of this entry »
A lot of ink has been spilled on Ouspensky’s break with Gurdjieff, in fact, whole books have been written, with a lot of backdated kitbitzing about how Ouspensky was some kind of betrayer of the cause, or that he should have persisted in the great teaching to the end, etc, etc…
The reality would seem a bit different. Consider this from James Webb’s The Harmonious Circle, p.384,
Orage’s explanation of the split is therefore of great interest. He always maintained that it was Gurdjieff’s near rape of Mrs. Y in1923-24 that finally decided Ouspensky. The date tallies and the scandal was of such proportions that the explanation is very plausible. If Orage were right this would explain Ouspensky’s obsession with Gurdjieff’s ‘integrity’ in his conversation with Boris Mouravieff after Gurdjieff’s crash, and why–out of loyalty to his teacher as a ‘member of the same family’ he refused to tell Mouravieff why he had decided to work alone.
Ouspensky suffered a great disappointment, and saw that the whole game was going to suffer failure and collapse, and he was right, although the immense proliferation of Gurdjieffianity he did not foresee.
The ‘work’ was a failed enterprise by 1924, and it is no use blaming Ouspensky.
There is an extensive series of posts on subjects relevant to this blog at Darwiniana.
Clicking on the ‘New Age’ category will also provide some interesting posts
There is already some discussion of Gurdjieff’s mighty tome, a book that would seem overrated. And one that most readers would find offensive if they realized its meaning and intent. It is mostly a lot of rehashed ‘new agism’ of the early twentieth century, and its core set of values is not wholesome. Gurdjieff was clearly an enemy of democracy and the modern establishment of rights. His material on Ashieta Shiemash fails to really make its point because it is unhistorical and therefore in no sense a reliable judgment of history. It seems that the legacy of Zarathustra and the Persian world and empire that competed with the rise of Greece is still stuck in the craw of these people. It is a completely balderdashed view of things. One would be more than happy to see a revisionist view of Zarathustra, if that can be backed up with some real data, but instead we have this pastiche of pseudo-esoteric mythology designed to distort Zarathustra, half reinvent him, and end up a disguised PR mockup of Gurdjieff himself. The true history of Zoroastrianism, I would grant, has not been told, but I long ago began to doubt that Gurdjieff knew what he was talking about here. Zarathustra was finally the template of the plain vanilla monotheist preacher that comes later. The great esoteric mystery behind him just might not be there at all. We don’t need a lot of junk esotericism on this. We need some good historical research, and that has not yet fully gelled in this case, but I find it hard to place an Ashieta Shiemash anywhere in the vacinity, or anywhere else in antiquity. It is unlikely that anyone ever discoursed on the issues the way Gurdjieff does. To backdate that to somewhere between Sumer and the Persian satraps isn’t very helpful. The only reason it is taken so seriously is because noone sees what the Beelzebub tome is about. The hidden fascism of a number of mystic types in the post-Blavatsky era has been well documented. Gurdjieff always cagey didn’t quite show his hand here, but the indirect evidence is clear, and is certainly a part of his succession.
Thus the diatribe against the Greeks and Romans in his work is simply a misunderstanding, evidence that Gurdjieff was always way out of the mainstream. Do people still feel so strongly that the Greeks won the battle of Marathon and founded democracy as an historical first? What a bunch of useless reactionary diehards, really.
I am all for a careful critique of the Greeks, if that’s your view, but in the final analysis their place in history is secure, and critically so. In general, the question of the Axial Age emerges here, to show the real evolutionary progression visible in history, something that Gurdjieff and his ilk simply could not grasp. Thus all their efforts to pull rank, so to speak, with esoteric claims, is mostly a pack of nonsense. And it has wasted a lot of time for a lot of people, as the whole postmodern game of anti-modernism starts to generate more and more chaos.
As for these teachings of Ashieta Shiemash, and the great trumpet for ‘Objective Conscience’, etc…, it is mostly hot air, a ‘good idea’ that never goes anywhere. The legacy of later Gurdjieffianity shows how little interest these people have in really doing any of that. Instead we see the behind the scenes operatives plying a reactionary anti-democratic propaganda operation to serve some very ancient vested interests. They have little interest in the august profundities of this imaginary Ashieta Shiemash.
Comment from ‘sillykitty’, who has previously commented/posted at Darwiniana extensively. He is one of Gold’s earlier victims. We can put some links for all that soon.
This ‘review’ is the typical inhouse promo from another of the suckers going through Mr. Gold’s revolving door. In three years, he will be history.
I passed very briefly along the fringe line of Gold’s circle many years ago, and as I recall I didn’t like him on sight, and he didn’t like me. Perhaps a premonition on his part. You’d think conscious types could have foreseen the Internet, and the undoing of their stealth operations.
Mr. Gold has managed to find the bottom of the ‘sufi/gurdjieff’ trashcan, the result of trying to use violent occult means to destroy all rivals, and even destroy the potential of any youngsters that even hint at being future rivals, such is his paranoia. The ‘new’ material at the site linked to is the umpteenth permutation of his tiresome comedy routine, and its effect on young seekers should be classified with child molestation. Over and over he reshuffles the deck with the same old combination of ripped off gurdjieff, ripped off Tibetan Book of the Dead, adolescent scifi junk, and ‘isn’t this original/cute, wow sufism’ New Age brochuring.
It takes time to grasp that a good stand up comedian can do a pretty good fake of ‘higher consciousness’, if people fall for the ‘zanny’ zen paraphernalia which is actually enough to fool most people.
It would not matter if, claiming to be a sufi teacher and the successor, no less, to Gurdjieff, he had a kind heart. But that’s just the problem: here we have a uniquely vicious predator of young adults trying to find their way through the Gurdjieff deception (already tricky enough), desperate and frustrated because they can’t find a ‘school’, and thus vulnerable to the false trust that is easily exploited by Gold’s predestigation.
It is a bit late in the day to say so but the basic rule is NEVER get entangled in the baited trap, bait ans switch traps, that Gold plays with. Relax, the odds are in your favor: you will go through the revolving door, and he will forget you. The selected victims, which we need to track down, are even now getting their ‘essence’ destroyed to fuel the consumption of this uniquely hateful vampire of human spiritual energy. This creep has been overheard endorsing the holocaust, and he has secret disciples who have actually done a fascist/nazi group, complete with nazi armbands, this from a jewish kid from Brooklyn. Make a note of it. Saying Heil Hitler is somebody’s idea of the esoteric ‘work’.
Let us remind ourselves as a note in passing that this guy works in duets, with his sidekick the ‘archdruid’, viz. the pornographer/owner of the San Francisco Ball. Whenever this arsehole calls himself a ‘sheik’, remember where they get their money from.
More later. But, sk has raised one of the real issues or questions raised by this blog: the legacy of Gurdjieff is highly toxic, and getting worse. We need a counter tradition of critique that can warn people of the degenerating character of that legacy and the real character of the people who are trying to rip off the work of, well, not Gurdjieff who have little to say, but poor old Ouspensky who got conned into writing one of the best come-on books ever written for a mafia anywhere.
Poor fellow, how very sad that his last instructions insisted that his ‘Fragments of an Unknown Teaching’ not be published. But it was, and the results are coming in: they all stink.
Comment from Danny.
There is a lot of material here, let me just comment first on the phrase ‘negating the will’. That’s an idea that echoes Schopenhauer, perhaps, or else a kind of Buddhist reflection on ‘cessation’. In referring to the path in time and the path beyond time the issue of the ‘will’ must arise, along with our feeling about that, the optimism of the dweller in time, or else his pessimism, as with the first noble truth. You can’t really ‘will’ your passage beyond time! That’s all I meant.
Remarkable, comment from James Moore, author of Gurdjieff, Anatomy of a Myth (and there is also James Webb, with his book on Gurdjieff), a book worth reading. Welcome.
But the information available to those who get lost in Gurdjieffianity is still insufficient for anything except, well, getting lost.
How about some biographical evidence for the shadow sufis who lurk like predators around the Ouspensky troupe, picking off victims with ease?
The issue finally isn’t Gurdjieff but the use made of Ouspensky’s sales tactics for those who come later and invoke both to justify their exploitations.
Good example, E. J. Gold. How about an expose here?
This follows the question in the previous post. Of course, the term ‘occultist’ is highly ambiguous, the creature’s existence mostly denied in modern scientific culture.
We assume anyone in a Gandalf suit like Gurdjieff is going to be a saintly guide for his devoted and uncritical fan club.
But the question stands. Delete from consideration the usual crimes of ‘criminal elements’ (although Gurdjieff was a somewhat shadowy character in that respect) and think in terms of the powers of suggestion.
The real issue in the question, requires another question? Can the occultist track the victim’s next birth cycle, and exploit the allegiance priorly given? Is the predator now a ghost or what?
There’s the trap for the innocent seeker. Sign on the dotted line, nothing bad happens til you are vulnerable in the next cycle.
A tremendous amount of nonsense is written about Gurdjieff by his ‘followers’ (in fact he had none).
It can be useful to induce a bit of skeptical analysis by asking a series of questions which require a kind of tacit response.
The first one is ‘silly’, but will induce the right frame of mind, but probably all sorts of wrong answers, or at least not very useful ones.
Note, in passing, the resemblance to the tale of Frodo the hobbit (and all that jazz).
For more material from rickross.com (a well known ‘deprogramming’ critic of cults) type
into Google. The site doesn’t always load (?), so click on the cache button on google.
An interesting article on Gurdjieff, rickross.com. I was going to merely link to it, but it seems to have gone offline, so I got this from the Google cache.
The Composer, The Cult and The Musical Guru
Washington Post, March 26, 2000
By Philip Kennicott
Read the rest of this entry »