Following in the relatively fresh footsteps of the Russian seer, tobacco fiend and professionalcharlatan, Madame Blavatsky, first Gurdjieff and then Ouspensky embarked on a nomadic,Oriental search for golden nuggets and priceless jewels of ancient wisdom, for miraculousnotions and alchemical potions, a quest that contributed to their popularity among disaffectedradicals of all sorts, bohemians, beatniks, and hippies. The eclectic product of their adventureswas rendered absurd by its often self-contradictory assortment of ancient lore posing as modernrevelation. Ouspensky's attempt to gloss the Absurd over with rationalizations was taken to heart by persons who found some security in its mechanical or systematic aspect, hence weoccasionally encounter an apparently objective or heartless system that provides for emotion inname only, an awful burnished machine that does not, however, raise consciousness to theclassically harmonious realm purposed by the 'Work' of his fascinating master, Gurdjieff, whomTime magazine referred to as "a remarkable blend of P.T. Barnum, Rasputin, Freud, GrouchoMarx, and everybody's grandfather."
In sum, Gurdjieff's hard ‘Work’ was based on ancient premises and techniques that are by no
means proprietary or unique to his school, but are necessarily platitudinous premises still held.And the related techniques and rituals are still practiced by modern psychologists. Histherapeutic work employed music, dance, rituals, and a sort of psychological shock therapy to prepare the novice for initiation into the version of reality Gurdjieff had became acquainted withon his peregrinations.Gurdjieff stated that his semi-biographical work,
Meetings With Remarkable Men
, was intendedto be "prepatory instructive material for setting of the consciousness of creatures similar tomyself a new world"; that is, a real world instead of an illusory world. He wrote another work,
, "to destroy mercilessly the beliefs and views rooted for centuries in the mindand feelings of men", by arousing unfamiliar thoughts in their minds. Of course he employedmore than words to shock his students out of their wits.Most importantly, Gurdjieff emphasized an artificial, triadic structure of human beingness: In thename of the mind, the body, and the feeling, as One. He supposed that, IF the three centers were brought into triunal harmony, THEN a higher level or state of being-consciousness wouldnaturally follow. Gurdjieff the mystic, by the way, was a composer and hypnotist. AlthoughOuspensky's intellectual analysis of Gurdjieff's Work tends to divorce the mind from body andfeelings and exalt the rational function, Gurdjieff's version of classical Harmony, his harmoniouslevel of being, is an emotional state of being, at least from the perspective of modern psychology.Modern EmotionsWhen a bow is pulled across a string of a musical instrument in just the right way, strife is musicto the ears. When strings conflict in such a way that they insult ears sensitive to an accustomedmusical system, the result is deemed inharmonious. Life itself is a sort of lover's complaint in itswar against nature, and all against all after bliss is left behind and self-consciousness gained.What is love? Love is simply your life, said Swedenborg. So we say each life is a lover'scomplaint because the individual would persist without resistance forever if only s/he could, but