The ‘calmswan’ G group

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:26 pm

Welcome back to MBFM. Great link. Get us back to the ‘gurdjiff con’ business. nemo (I hope to continue with the Bennett/DU debriefing at some point. We can’t abandon the people mired in that book)
We should try to save in some form since these things tend to disappear.
Comment on Labyrinth of self:http://www.gurdjieff-con.net/2009/05/23/the-labyrinth-of-self/comment-page-1/#comment-34905


mybrainisafleamarket said,
24.05.09 at 11:28 am ·
Hi nemo.

I found this item recently when doing a google search. It purports to be a chronicle by someone who spent years of his or her life in what sounds like a very long lasting, lavishly run ‘Gurdjieff’ group. Its identity is concealed under a pseudonym ‘calmswan’


The essay is over a hundred pages long and is not split up into paragraphs which will make it hard for most readers and require a lot of editorial formatting after conversion to a Word document.

But it appears to be quite a detailed account by an insider who is in the conflicted situation of remaining loyal to ‘the system’ but very critical of the culty dynamics of the group he or she was in–making that account all the more painful to read.

This was a somewhat unusual G group in that it actually did utilize the music, the so called ’sacred dances’ included Beelzebub’s Tales, which means that die hard Gurdjieffians cannot dismiss it as a fake group.

Despite this being a so called real group, it still sounds from the authors description as though it was an expensive, despotic waste of time, talent and energy, laid at the feet of the leaders who ran it as a petty fiefdom, leaving it out of step with the needs of the present world where human dignity and liberty need to be affirmed and maintained, not abdicated in service to a pseudo spiriutal and delusional agenda.


  1. mybrainisafleamarket said,

    05.26.09 at 5:23 pm

    It is not clear quite at which dates the author served time in ‘calmswan’, but internal evidence and some clues suggest that it was a Gurdjieff Foundation group.

    And…to me what stuck out was that the author’s own initiative and creativity as a musician were sidelined, vampirized for the service of the leaders of the group.

    This repeats what to me is the chief feature of G work itself–that people with genuine original talent but who do not have the confidence and self knowledge to protect their own treasure, are easily persuaded to consider thier genuine and original talent as sleep or mere egotism and to let some G work leader vampirize the recruit’s creativity to keep the fossilized system going.

    Gary Lachman made a persuasive case that Ouspenksy had a more original talent than Gurdjieff did and made the tragic mistake of subordinating his own insights and his own personality to Gurdjieff’s.

    My take is that the best way to describe Gurdjieff and anything that spins off from him is that all this stuff is parasitic–it can keep going only by filching vitality and creativity from others–and often by conning persons with genuine talent into believing that their genuine talent is an impediment to their spiritual development–and, when a person disowns his or her talent–co-opting their energy to serve whatever Fourth Way entity has lied to them.

    IMO, Gurdjieff was incurably ego driven. He had no creativity of his own, but envied originality in others. All he could do was steal from others richer than he.

    His sytem was just a gimmick he created from bits and pieces of traditions that were distorted the instant Gurdy touched em, and glued together with fat gobs of disinformation and cognitive double binds. The closest thing Gurdy came to art was to live his own life as a performance artist, using bits of ancient truth to conceal a life of deceit and confusion mongering.

    Gurdy had not talent of his own, and it may be that he got a kick out of conning genuinely talented people into devaluing what Gurdy himself longed to possess but did not possess–creativity.

    Thomas de Hartmann had real promise as a composer, had already published compositions that showed originality, yet he sacrificed his own creativity to take dictation for Gurdjieff’s own nutty music.

    The vampirizing is still going on.

    Take home lesson is—Artists and creatives–beware. No matter what your own self doubt, be aware there are persons who prey on creativity, and who get off on trying to get creative people to doubt themselves.

    Safeguard your talent from all creativity-envying vampires, Fourth Way or otherwise, who have no life force of their own and who want to trick you into disowning your own treasure.

    They can keep alive only by conning you into jettisoning your creativity–so that they can steal it after they’ve tricked you into disloyalty to yourself.

    Your own unanswered question is better than someone elses’ Answer.

    Even if you dont understand your own riddle, honor it and dont let anyone
    trick you into devaluing it.

    So what if you cant explain this in a sound bite, or give someone a satisfactory answer at a party.

    And what’s terrible about dying like a dog?

    Dogs are playful, and they are more capable of love and loyalty than Gurdy ever was.

  2. The Gurdjieff Con » Gurus and creativity said,

    05.26.09 at 6:23 pm

    […] Comment:The ‘calmswan’ G group It is not clear quite at which dates the author served time in ‘calmswan’, but internal evidence and some clues suggest that it was a Gurdjieff Foundation group. […]

  3. sirhute said,

    05.27.09 at 12:35 am

    The .doc format at scribd.com is edited into chapters and paragraphs, 200+ pages. Don’t know where mybrainisafleamarket found that unformatted iteration.

    As the Author, I wouldn’t use the term “despotic.” There was no overt cruelty, and the oppression was subtle and voluntary on the part of the oppressed. It was all quite innocent and well-meaning, but highly inefficient toward awakening. The most salient feature was the compulsive sustainment of the status quo above all else.

  4. mybrainisafleamarket said,

    05.29.09 at 10:21 am

    “There was no overt cruelty, and the oppression was subtle and voluntary on the part of the oppressed. ”

    Yawn. That’s the standard BS.

    Groups of this sort recruit people already wounded enough to gravitate toward oppressive power imbalance.

    Anyone with sufficient adult agency to avoid such a group is despised as being egoistic or asleep.

    Anyone unconsciously re-enacting oppressive power imbalances is acting out of a preformatted script learned in childhood. Adult consent is not even possible in such an instance.

    G groups and anything like it just continue the oppression rather than assisting us to wake up enough to break the cycle.

    And for that, G work is not enough. One needs a licensed psychotherapist who has worked thorugh personal counter transferance issues via a training analysis.

    We can only hope to steer clear of the many therapists whose professional formation gets gummed up by instructors who have bought into gurdjieff bullshit and think it can be reconciled with psychotherapy. It cannot.

    Am guessing that a lot of folks in the G world dont like it now that the internet is aiding in disperson of first person reports of time wasted in groups such as Calmswan.

    We dont know how much time we each have to live. Wasted time is a tragedy and not always by conscious consent.

    Again, what is so awful about dying like a dog?

    Dogs reciprocate our love and loyalty, which is more than can be said of operators like Gurdjieff.

  5. sirhute said,

    06.10.09 at 2:29 pm

    With respect, mybrainisafleamarket seems to have an ax to grind. Although I was kicked out of Calmswan after 7 years active membership (the story is in the Essay), I have no ax to grind.

    Of the three Gurdjieff groups with which I’ve had direct participatory contact, and of several other G. groups whith which I’ve had peripheral contact, I can’t think of a single instance in which anyone was “despised” by any person or persons within G-land.

    In fact a principal tenet within G-Land is “non-expression of negativity” in parallel with “non-judgment, ” and “non-identification” with the person whom one has always thought oneself to be. This is immensely freeing, even if in small steps.

    Such an attitude and work is immensely valuable because it frees one to see more nearly pristinely what is going on all about one–uncolored, or less colored, by one’s own attitudes projections, and probable negativities.

    We must allow for “The Varieties of Religious Experience.” Humans vary over an incredibly wide range of proclivities of intellect, body, and emotion. No one flower on the hillside is the ‘Correct Flower.’

    I do not regret my G. experiences, now five years past – in fact I am grateful to have had them. I respect the intent at Calmswan, if not many aspects of the execution.

    What is wrong for mbiafm is not necessarily similarly wrong for all others.

    There are times and seasons. I feel that from Calmswan I have taken the best and left the rest.

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