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G.I.

Gurdjieff&the HiddenHistoryofthe Sufis


BYVICTORIALEPAGE
ufismbelongsinspirittothemodernage.Ithasanaffinity withititisintunewithsecularism,withthemodernthirst forobjectiveknowledge.YettheSufitraditionisimmensely old.Insomequartersabeliefstillpersiststhatitisamystical offshootofIslam,butmostreliablesourcesclaimitisfarolderthan theMuslimreligion.

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Evidenceisemergingthatsuggeststhetentaclesofthebrotherhoodreachoutto manyreligionsandculturesandextendthousandsofyearsintothepast,andthatits memberswereoncebetterknownastheFriendsofTruth,theBuilders,theMasters, thePeopleoftheWayandnumerousotherappellationsthathadbeencirculatingforfar longerthanthelifetimeofIslam.TheFriends,itissaid,werealreadypresentinMedina duringMuhammadslifetimeandadoptedthenameSufiaftertakinganoathoffidelity totheMuslimcause. 1 AnumberofderivationsofthewordSufihavebeenputforward,including AinSoph , theKabbalistictermfortheunknowable,and Sophos ,meaningWisdom.Thisisinline withtheviewheldbymanystudentsofSufismwhoclaimthatitcorrespondswiththe hiddenesotericwisdom dimensionthatunderliesallreligions.ThustheBritishSufi fellowtravellerandauthorErnestScottbelievestheSufitraditionhasimpregnated Westernculturetoadegreewerarelyrealise,leadinghimindeedtocallittheInvisible Tradition.Itscovertinfluence,hesays,hasbeenstronginManichaeismandtheCathar faith,intheTroubadourandJestertraditionsofmedievalEurope,intheevolutionof JewishKabbalah,inalchemyandinChristianityitself.ScottquotestheAfghanSufi teacherIdrisShahassayingthatthereisevidencethatatthedeepestlevelsofSufi secrecy,thereisamutualcommunicationwiththemysticsoftheChristianWest. 2 ScottfurtherquotesHakimJami,atwelfthcenturySufimaster,asimplicitlydenying Sufism sIslamicoriginbydeclaringthatPlato,Hippocrates,PythagorasandHermes layonanunbrokenlineofSufitransmission,thusmakingacausalconnectionbetween SufismandtheGreekMysteryschoolsofantiquity. 3TheBritishesotericistJ.G.Bennett goesfurther,claimingthattheSufisarethedescendantsandspiritualheirsoftheold mastermagiciansofAltai,andthatCentralAsiahasbeentheirheartlandforforty thousandyearsormore.HesaysthatitwasfromtheAltaicshamansthattheSufis inheritedthereligioustolerance,supremelypracticalexpertiseanddemocraticideals thataretheirhallmarktoday.AnditwasfromtheSiberianschoolsofwisdomthatthey learnedtheiruniquewayofsurrender,thewayoftotalobediencetoahigherprinciple thanmanwhichhasearnedthemthesoubriquet theslavesofGod.4 BennettgainedmuchofthisknowledgeofSufismshiddenhistoryfromhis mentorGeorgeIvanovitchGurdjieff(18771949),theArmenianGreekmysticand spiritualteacherwhotravelledextensivelyintheCaucasusandCentralAsiaandwho receivedSufitraininginthedervishschoolsheencounteredthere.In TheMastersof Wisdom, Bennettrecounts: Subscribe Subscribetoour announcements list:

Gurdjiefftoldmethathehadlearnedabouttheseancientschoolsofwisdom fromresearcheshehimselfhadmadeincavesintheCaucasianmountains

spiritualteacherwhotravelledextensivelyintheCaucasusandCentralAsiaandwho receivedSufitraininginthedervishschoolsheencounteredthere.In TheMastersof Wisdom, Bennettrecounts:

Gurdjiefftoldmethathehadlearnedabouttheseancientschoolsofwisdom fromresearcheshehimselfhadmadeincavesintheCaucasianmountains andinthegreatlimestonecavernsoftheSyrDaryainTurkestan.Ihavesince learnedthatthereisaSufitraditioninCentralAsiathatclaimstogobackforty thousandyears. 5

GurdjieffalsotoldBennettthatthepaintingsintheLascauxcavesintheDordogne, France,whichthegreatauthorityonparietalart,theAbbBreuil,hasdatedtoabout thirtythousandyearsBCE,weretheworkoflaterSufidescendantsoftheshamans. 6 GurdjiefftookthestoryofAtlantisliterally.HeassociateditwithpresandEgyptand believedtheLascauxartistsweremembersofabrotherhoodthatsurvivedafterAtlantis sanksevenoreightthousandyearsago. 7TheywerehighlyevolvedMastersof Wisdom,psychoteleioswhohadlearnedthesecretofimmortality, andwhose centresofinitiationonthenowsubmergedAtlanticcontinentalshelfhaveleftus,intheir paintingsofdeer,bisonandauroch,amagicalmessageofprehistoricspiritualitythat layundecipheredformanythousandsofyears. Inthatpalaeolithicageartandreligionwerestillonesecularandreligious consciousnesshadnotyetseparatedout,andspiritandmatterwerenotyetin oppositionnorwasevilanabsoluteforceseekingtheoverthrowofgood.Allthingsand allattitudestothingswerefilledwiththemagnetic,synthesisingradianceof hypercosmicenergy,whichGurdjieffcalled consciousenergy.Insuchaunifiedworld thegreatInitiatesdevelopedtheuniquetypeofspiritualitythatstilldistinguishesSufism today,whereinthepolarisingactivityofmindissubmissivetotheoverridingSpiritthat everseeksareturntotheOne.Onlyinthelatermorealienatedreligioussystems, Gurdjieffbelieved,dowefindthedivisiveseedsofphilosophicaldualism.

TheSarmounSociety
AttheapogeeoftheSumeriancivilisation,Bennettcontinues,theSufisarebelieved tohavefoundedabrotherhoodcalledtheSarmanorSarmounSociety,which, accordingtoGurdjieff,metinBabylonasfarbackasc.2500BCEandwasresponsible forpreservingtheinnerteachingsandinitiationsoftheAryantraditioninaperiodof religiousdecline.Sarmounisawordmeaning bee inOldPersian,andrefers symbolicallytothepracticeofthebrotherhoodofstoringthehoneyofboththe traditionalwisdomandthesupernaturalenergyor baraka enablingittobeunderstood, andsendingthisdoublenectaroutintotheworldintimesofgreatneed. 8Theword Sarmouncanalsomean thosewhoareenlightened. TheSarmouniarebelievedto havesecrettrainingcentreshiddentothisdayinthemostremoteregionsofCentral Asia. In Gurdjieff:MakingaNewWorld, Bennettconjecturesthataround500BCEthe SarmounSocietymigratedfromancientChaldaeatoMosulinMesopotamia,moving northintotheuppervalleyoftheTigris,intothemountainsofKurdistanandthe Caucasus.ThereitbecameactiveintheriseofZoroastrianismunderthePersian monarchCambysesI.AccordingtoGurdjieff,theSocietylatermovedeastwardto CentralAsia,twentydaysjourneyfromKabulandtwelvedaysjourneyfromBokhara. He[Gurdjieff]refers,saysBennett,tothevalleysofthePyandjeandtheSyrDarya, whichsuggestanareainthemountainssouth eastofTashkent.9AlthoughGurdjieff wasneverexplicitabouthisrelationshiptotheSarmouniorthepreciselocalityofthe monasteriesinwhichhetrainedtowardstheendofhistravels,heprovidesmanyhints insuchautobiographicalwritingsas MeetingsWithRemarkableMen thatthisSarmoun brotherhood,whosemonasteriesweresituatedonthenorthernslopesofthe Himalayas,wasthecustodianofthemostancientwisdomknownandtheprimary sourceofhisextraordinaryesotericknowledgeandpowers. GurdjieffcametotheWestasamanwithamission.Hehadjourneyedextensivelyin theCaucasus,whereitisthoughthefirstenteredthe tekkes oftheYesevidervishesof SheikhAdiintheKurdishfoothillsandlaterthoseoftheSarmouniinAfghanistan, receivinganumberofinitiationsbytheremarkableageoftwentytwo.Thoseclosestto himmaintainthatheremainedintouchwithhiddenSufisourcesthroughouthislifeand receivedhelpandsupportfromthem.Heclearlybelievedthatheactedontheirauthority insettingupschoolsintheWestthattransmittedthecosmologicalandpsychological teachingshehimselfhadlearnedduringhistravels.Yetwhilefreelyrecountinghis

SheikhAdiintheKurdishfoothillsandlaterthoseoftheSarmouniinAfghanistan, receivinganumberofinitiationsbytheremarkableageoftwentytwo.Thoseclosestto himmaintainthatheremainedintouchwithhiddenSufisourcesthroughouthislifeand receivedhelpandsupportfromthem.Heclearlybelievedthatheactedontheirauthority insettingupschoolsintheWestthattransmittedthecosmologicalandpsychological teachingshehimselfhadlearnedduringhistravels.Yetwhilefreelyrecountinghis manyCentralAsianadventuresinhissearchforwisdom,Gurdjieffmanagedtodrawa permanentveilofsecrecyandambiguityoveralldetailsoftheseintimateencounters withthedervishtradition.ThisofcourseisinlinewiththeextremereticenceoftheSufi ordersthemselves.

GurdjieffandtheMastersofWisdom
Acharismatichypnotist,carpettrader,Russianspyandmystic extraordinaire, GeorgeGurdjieffwasthesonofaGreekArmenianbardandwasdeeplyimpressedby hisfatherssongsconcerningthegreatspiritualluminariesofavanishedpast.Theboy apparentlybeganhissearchforthelostwisdomoftheancientsattheearlyageof fifteen,andmaintaineditathugecosttohishealthandmaterialresourcesuntilhe emerged,nearlythirtyyearslater,amagusofmysteriousyetundeniablycharismatic authority.Possessedofenormouspersonalcourage,duringWorldWarIGurdjieffleda largeposseofRussianfollowersacrossEasternEuropetosafety,throughtheraging battlelinesofBolsheviksandCossacksinturn,eventuallyestablishingaschoolin Fontainbleu,outsideParis,forthestudyandpracticeofmethodsofspiritualself transformation.Thesemethods,revolutionaryintheirday,arebelievedtohaveincluded thesacreddanceandmusicexercisesoftheshamanisticYesevidervishesof Kurdistan,acommunityinwhichGurdjieffseemstohavereceivedhisinitialtrainingin Sufitechniquesofsoul making. TheYezidis,asecretiveKurdishreligioussectfromwhichtheSufiBektashiorder hassprung,livetothisdayinthefoothillsnorthofMosulinIraqiKurdistanpursuinga cultofangels.AccordingtotheBritishbaronessE.S.Drower,whoin1940publisheda detailedpaperonthesect,thechiefYezidiangelisMalekTaus,thePeacockAngelwho hassomelikenesstoLucifer,thefallenangelofChristianfame.Ablackserpentisalso heldinspecialreverenceintheYezidireligionasasymbolofmagicalpotencyno doubtultimatelyasymbolofkundaliniandthespinalsystemofenergieselaboratedin spiritualphysiology.WhilepayinglipservicetotheMuslimfaith,theYezidihavetheir ownuniquecosmogony,mythologyandritualpractices,whichhavemorecommonality withtheMagianorGnosticbeliefsystemsthanwitheitherIslamorChristianity. CeaselesslypersecutedanddestroyedbyKurdishMuslimsandOttomanTurksaswell asIslamicarmiesofbothIraqandIran,theoncepowerfulYeziditribeshavebeen almostwipedoutashereticsofthefirstorder.Onlyisolatedgroupsarenowleft.These includesmallpocketsinCentralKurdistan,theRussianCaucasusandinsatellite communitiesinSyria,Lebanon,AnatoliaandIran. SheikhAdi,anotedmysticofthethirteenthorfourteenthcentury,wasaMedianMagi, andalthoughheisregardedasthefounderoftheYezidifaithandanincarnationofthe PeacockAngel,boththereligionandthetribeareascribedafarearlierdateoforigin. TheyarebelievedtobeheirstoanancientancestraltraditiongoingbacktoNoah. AdrianG.Gilbertcomments:

Itismybeliefthatthey[theYezidis]aredescendedfromtheancient Chaldaeans.TheirowntraditionisthattheymigratedfromtheSouth,andthey maywellbethelostremnantsoftheBabylonianMagiwhodisappearedafterthe timeofAlexanderofMacedon. 10

ThisiscertainlyinlinewithGurdjieffsbeliefthattherootsofSufismlieinaspiritual traditionofextremeantiquitysuchasisfoundintheYezidifaith,andthatitwasprobably centredintheCaucasusandCentralAsia.Nevertheless,thereismuchevidencethat Sufismcontinuallydevelopedbeyonditsinitialformandamplifieditsteachingsoverthe ages. ThelateHughSchonfield,anotedJewishscholarandauthor,saysthatbythethird centuryCESufischoolswerewellestablishedintheMiddleEast,particularlyinMosul, theheartoftheoldAssyriankingdom,undertheauspicesoftheZoroastrianMagi. TheretheSufiswerejoinedbymanyJewishrefugeesfromEgyptfleeingRoman persecution.AmongtheseweretheTherapeutae,membersofanEsseneOrderof contemplativesstronglyimbuedwitharevolutionaryNewCovenantwithGod.The covenantinvolvedaJudaicreformationthatforbadmilitarismandanimalsacrificeand

theheartoftheoldAssyriankingdom,undertheauspicesoftheZoroastrianMagi. TheretheSufiswerejoinedbymanyJewishrefugeesfromEgyptfleeingRoman persecution.AmongtheseweretheTherapeutae,membersofanEsseneOrderof contemplativesstronglyimbuedwitharevolutionaryNewCovenantwithGod.The covenantinvolvedaJudaicreformationthatforbadmilitarismandanimalsacrificeand embracedtheprinciplesofgenderequalityandanequitabledistributionofwealth.The TherapeutaebroughttotheSufitraditionnotonlytheseenlightenedsocialidealswhich wereactuallyalreadyenshrinedinitsownconstitution,butmuchofthenewHermetic andKabbalisticmysticismfermentinginAlexandria.Thus,saysSchonfield,throughout EgyptandtheMiddleEast

therewerereligiousfusionsandamalgamations,andtheemergenceof spiritualhybridsZoroastrianismandMithraismlenttheircharacteristicsto JewishEsseneteaching,andfoundaGreekexpressionintheHermeticand ChristianGnostic.ThecoverageoftheRomanempirerightroundthe Mediterraneancarriedthecultswithit,andopenedthewaytonewblendings. 11

InthiswaySufismwascontinuallyinvigoratedbynewtrendsandinturninvigorated others.Then,whenintheseventhcenturyCEcivilisationwasindangeroftotalcollapse throughtheravagesofglobalpestilence,war,earthquakesandthesuppressionofall GreeklearningbyByzantineChristianity,theSufimasterstransferredtheirallegiance fromZoroastrianismtoIslam,thelatterofferingthegreaterhopeofrehabilitationfor humanity.ThusthewisdomandscienceofPersia,withitsgreatheritageofGreek learning,passedintotheMuslimcultureandwascarriedbyMuslimsagesintoevery quarteroftheglobe.TheDarkAgeswerehaltedandIslam,supportedbytheSufis, broughtaboutabrilliantrevivaloftheGraecoRomanartsandsciences. 12 TheconquestofSpainbytheMuslimMoorsmeantJews,MuslimsandChristians wereabletolivethereharmoniouslyuntilthefifteenthcentury,creatingacultureof superbbeautyandintelligencewhichlasteduntiltheJewsandMuslimswerebanished toByzantium,andwhichgaveSufismentranceintotherestofbackwardEurope.During thesamecenturiesCrusaderssuchastheTemplarsencounteredtherichSaracen cultureintheHolyLandandsecretlybroughtbackthecreamofSufithoughttoEurope toenrichChristiantheologicalscholarship,artandsciences.

HimalayanWithdrawal
WiththeMongolinvasions,however,camedifficultdaysforEuropeancivilisationas manysourcesofSufiwisdomwithdrew.TheSufiMastersofWisdomknowninCentral AsiaastheKhwajaganlineagewithdrewatthistimetotheTransHimalayas,where theirschoolsstillpersist.TheKhwajaganwereneithersavantsnormysticalecstatics. Theywerepracticalmenwhoassiduouslypracticedthebreathingandmantricexercise ofthe zikr, foughttheirownweaknessesbymeansoftrialsbasedonhumiliationand abasement,andduringtheMongoldepredationsoftheconqueredwesterncitiesbuilt newschools,hospitalsandmosques.SomesaytheseMasters,whomaybe synonymouswiththeSarmouni,havecontinuedtothisdaytoheadtheSufihierarchy whichBennetthascalledtheHiddenDirectoratefromitshiddenTransHimalayan headquarters.Meanwhile,theSufiordersleftbehindcontinuedtostrengthentheirties withotheresotericsystems,suchastheMagiansecretsocietiesinPersiaandthe CoptsinEgypt,andtoextendtheirformidableinfluenceacrosstheworldintoSouth EastAsia. IntheSundaIslandstheyamalgamatedsuccessfullywiththeindigenousshamans, HinduBuddhistsandTaoistsandwereinstrumentalinestablishinginJavaoneofthe mostinfluentialschoolsofTibetanKalachakraTantraintheworld.Theresultwasa chainofhybridsecretsocietiesaroundtheglobewhoserootswereburieddeepina freedomlovingsoilcompoundedofSufism,MagianwisdomandtheSolomonicand HermeticwisdomoftheEgyptianEssenes.Itwasthesepanreligiousamalgamations thatproducedoverthecenturiesinitiaticschoolsliketheTemplars,theChartres masters,theRosicrucians,theIlluminati,theFreemasonsandtheTheosophists,all dedicatedtoworkingforthereligiousandscientificdawningofanewagefreefrom religiousintolerance. ThroughoutthelongSufisaga,theWesthadbeenunawareofinterventioninits affairs,orindeedoftheveryexistenceofapowerfulorganisationinitsmidstthatwas monitoringthecourseofhistoryandatthesametimemaintainingitsownhierarchy, objectivesandworldviewindependentlyofthevisiblepoliticalandreligiousstructures ofsociety.ButtheSufimastersknewthatthisunconsciouscondition,mainlyimposed

religiousintolerance. ThroughoutthelongSufisaga,theWesthadbeenunawareofinterventioninits affairs,orindeedoftheveryexistenceofapowerfulorganisationinitsmidstthatwas monitoringthecourseofhistoryandatthesametimemaintainingitsownhierarchy, objectivesandworldviewindependentlyofthevisiblepoliticalandreligiousstructures ofsociety.ButtheSufimastersknewthatthisunconsciouscondition,mainlyimposed onthepeoplebyrepressiveforcesoutsidetheircontrol,mustend,andthatthetimeof awakeningwasdrawingnear.

SufiMastersandRosicrucianism
ThetwoRosicrucianmanifestospseudonymouslypublishedinGermanyintheearly yearsoftheseventeenthcenturymarkedthefirstSufiventureintothepublicdomain andcausedasensation.Themanifestospurportedtoadvertiseamysteriousorder calledtheFraternityoftheRoseyCrosswhichhadbeenfounded,itwasclaimed,by oneChristianRosencreutzandathirdpublicationcalled TheAlchemicalWeddingof ChristianRosencreutz, writteninhighDutch,cameoutsoonafter.Themanifestos declaredthatFr.Rosencreutzhadobtainedtheinspirationforhisbrotherhoodfrom Arabia,Fez(thehomeofSuficalchemysincetheeighthcentury)andEgypt,allcentres ofSufiactivity.AndRosicruciantraditionhasitthatFr.Rosencreutzwasinitiatedin PalestinebyanArabicsect.ObservesErnestScott:

WhenitisrealisedthattheSufiteacherSuhrawardiofAleppohadateaching methodcalledthePathoftheRoseandthattheSuficwordforadervish exercisehasthesameconsonantalrootasthewordforarose,theSuficorigin oftheRosicruciansmaybeinferredwithsomeconfidence. 13

Aswenowknow,theseriesofRosicrucianpublicationswiththeirvisionaryand reformingtalkofaninvisiblecollege,a wingedacademydedicatedtoa commonwealthofman,createdafuroreinEurope.Somesawthepublicationsasa hoax,othersasaGodgivensignofthemillennium.Asever,theSufiswerenotdirectly mentioned:but,sweepinglikearejuvenatingwindthroughProtestantandCatholic landsalike,themovementstirredupbythemysteriousmanifestosbecameapotent thoughshortlivedcatalystforchange.Itinstigatedareligiousandintellectualuprising thatsoughtreformineducation,religionandscience,promisingacomingutopiain whichthedignityandworthofeverymanandwomanwouldberecognised. FrancesA.Yates,aforemostRenaissancescholar,believesthisperiodinthe seventeenthcenturycanrightlybecalledtheRosicrucianEnlightenmentandthatoutof itsgreatreservoirofspiritualandintellectualpower,ofmoralandreformingvision14 cametheRoyalSocietyandtheageofscientificrevolution. FullofChristianmysticismyetalsopermeatedwithHermeticKabbalisticangelology andalchemicalreligiousphilosophy,theRosicrucianteachingsproclaimedthatthis ageofenlightenment,inwhichreligionandsciencewouldnolongerbeantithetical, wasathand.Greatadvancesweretobemadeandareformationofthewholewide worldwouldpresage agreatinfluxoftruthandlightintofallensocietysuchasshone onAdaminparadise.ForatimelargefactionsoftheChurchespousedtheseideas, andtheJesuits,themselvesofoccultandhermeticorigin,tookovermuchofthe Rosicruciansymbolismandemblematics. Yetintheeventthewholeprogrammewasabortedbythefiercelyreactionary responseoftheSpanishInquisitionanditspoliticalally,theHapsburgdynasty,which instigatedtheThirtyYearsWar,forcingthousandsofreligiousdissidentstofleewith theseedsofthenewvisiontotheNewWorld.TheSufiprogrammehadtoincubatein secretforseveralmorecenturies.

SufisReemergeinTwentiethCentury
Notuntilthetwentiethcentury,inamoretolerantandreceptiveage,weretheSufis finallyabletorevealthemselvesopenly.In1921Gurdjieff,theemigrandentrepreneur fromArmenia,wasthefirsttomakethispossible.Hecamewithacrucialmessagefor thetwentiethcenturyand,asweshallsee,forourownerainthethirdmillennium.Of greatpersonalmagnetism,driveandunusualpsychicpowers,Gurdjieffburstuponthe Westernscenewithhisprogrammeforspiritualdevelopment,bringingtotheEuropean cognoscentiforthefirsttimeanawarenessofthesacredritualdancesanddervish exercisesoftheEast.These,hesaid,hadstronglinkswithAltaicshamanismand TibetanandChineseTantra. ButSufishaveneverregardedspiritualexercisesaloneasadequate.Generally

greatpersonalmagnetism,driveandunusualpsychicpowers,Gurdjieffburstuponthe Westernscenewithhisprogrammeforspiritualdevelopment,bringingtotheEuropean cognoscentiforthefirsttimeanawarenessofthesacredritualdancesanddervish exercisesoftheEast.These,hesaid,hadstronglinkswithAltaicshamanismand TibetanandChineseTantra. ButSufishaveneverregardedspiritualexercisesaloneasadequate.Generally speaking,littleissaidinSufiliteratureabout baraka, theeffectivegracethatmakes spiritualdevelopmentonthispathpossible,yetitsimportanceisprimary.Baraka,as transmittedfromteachertopupil,issaidtobeahighemotionalenergyassociatedwith theheartcentre,andaccordingtoBennett,enablesthepupiltodowhatwouldbequite beyondhisunaidedstrength. 15 Itisthisinnerinfusionofconsciousenergyenergyof ahighspiritualnaturethatenablesthe zikhr ,theSufiinvocatoryexercise,tobefruitful. Discipline,austerityandvoluntarysuffering,whichGurdjiefftranslatedasconscious labourandintentionalsuffering,werealsoneeded.Byintentionalsufferinghemeant exposingoneselftopainfulsituationsinordertohelpothers. WhilethesouthernSufiordersembracedthemysticaldoctrineofloveandunion withGod,thesenorthernSufiswerestronglyinfluencedbyBuddhismand,likethe Khwajagan,wereconcernedwithatotalliberationfromselfandtheworldof appearances.TheywereregardedbythemoreconservativesouthernSufisas unorthodox,evenbeingaccusedofmagicalpracticeslearnedfromtheSiberian shamanstothenorth.Nevertheless,GurdjieffsawgreatbenefitfortheWestinthe dervishpractices,disapprovedthoughtheywerebythemorepuristbrotherhoodssuch astheNachshbandiandtheQadiri,andmadehisuniqueprogrammeavailabletoall thosewishingtodeveloptheirhumanpotential. AthisInstitutefortheHarmoniousDevelopmentofManinFontainbleu,Gurdjieff trainedhisstudentsingroupdancemovementssettodervishrhythmsthatdemanded ofthemintensephysicaleffortandcoordinationandwhichraisedthebodytoa high stateofconsciousness conducivetoatransformationofenergies.Healso encouragedhispupilstoobserveintensivelytheirownpsychiccentresofthinking, feelingandinstinctasameansofachievingadegreeofselfgovernmentthatmanat presententirelylacksbutwithoutwhich,Gurdjieffinsisted,itisimpossibleforhimto governandmaintaintheplanet.PublicperformancesofGurdjieffsdervishdances wereputonatvarioustheatres,evenintheprestigiousCarnegieHallinNewYork,and EuropeandAmericamarvelled:nothinglikeithadeverbeenknown.Sacreddances, Gurdjieffsaid,

havealwaysbeenoneofthevitalsubjectstaughtinesotericschoolsofthe EastSuchgymnasticshaveadoubleaim:theycontainandexpressacertain formofknowledgeandatthesametimeserveasameanstoacquirea harmoniousstateofbeing.

Atonetimeitwashisintentiontousethemovementsinthetraditionalwayforwhich theywereprincipallyintendedintheancienttemplesofinitiation thatis,asameans oftransmittingknowledgedirectlytothehighercentreswithoutpassingthroughthe mind,whichisthewayofTantra.ButacaraccidentinwhichGurdjieffsphysicalhealth wasseverelydamagedputanendtohiswiderplansforthemovementsandturnedhis attentiontowritingandtrainingselectedpeopletocarryonhisworkatamore intellectuallevel. Sufiprescience,Sufiaptitudefortherightteachingintherighttimeandplace,iswell attested.Inmanyrespects,Gurdjieffswritingscontributedenormouslytothe familiarisationoftheWesttotheradicalideaofthepsycheorsoulthedynamiccentre thatmediatesbetweenthespiritualandthesensoryfunctions whichatthattime SigmundFreudwasalsobringingtoWesternnotice.Recognitionofthisunifyingcentre ofrelativity,whichmodifiesthetraditionalabsolutesofphilosophyandreligiononone handandthephysicalsciencesontheother,wasjustthenopeningup,andGurdjieffs psychologicalbrandoftheosophy,whichbecamethevogueatthesametimeas Freudianandsocialisttheory,madeaverygreatimpact. TheGurdjieffschoolsofselfdevelopmentspreadtonumerouscountriesandhis ideasbecamecommoncoinageinthenewenlightenmentofthesixties.Throughthe interestarousedinhismethodsandteachings,inwhichthecentralityofindividuation wasparamount,Gurdjieffwasabletogiveoutforthefirsttimeacertainamountof informationabouttheSufi tarekats hiddeninEurasia.Andinhistraincameaschoolof eminentSufiwriterslikeGunon,Bennett,Ouspensky,Schuon,HazratInayatKhanand IdrisShah,allofwhomfurtheropeneduptheworldofSufismtoavastreadingpublic.

ideasbecamecommoncoinageinthenewenlightenmentofthesixties.Throughthe interestarousedinhismethodsandteachings,inwhichthecentralityofindividuation wasparamount,Gurdjieffwasabletogiveoutforthefirsttimeacertainamountof informationabouttheSufi tarekats hiddeninEurasia.Andinhistraincameaschoolof eminentSufiwriterslikeGunon,Bennett,Ouspensky,Schuon,HazratInayatKhanand IdrisShah,allofwhomfurtheropeneduptheworldofSufismtoavastreadingpublic. OneofthecentralstrandsinGurdjieffsbeliefsystemwastheprincipleofworld creationandworldmaintenance,whichhesaidwasderivedfromanoldSumerian manuscript discoveredbyagreatKurdishphilosopher.Thedoctrinecanbesummed upverysimply:Everythingthatexistsmaintainsandismaintainedbyotherexistences. PeculiartoSufismandappearinginnootherreligion,itstatesthatthewholeofthe universeisawebofmutuallysupportingsystems, apparatusesfortransforming energy,eachoneofwhichproducesthemeansofsustenanceforothers. Thislawofreciprocalmaintenancegovernsalloflifeandappliestomanaswellas inhisrelationtoMotherNature.Theworldisnotmadeforman,aswehavebeen taughtbotharemadeforeachother.Mansdestinyandthedestinyoftheearthare interdependent.Theevolutionoftheonedependsontheevolutionoftheother,the survivalofoneonthesurvivaloftheother.Manisnotseparatefromthecosmic processheishimselfpartoftheecosystemheobservesoutthere,andhemustserve theevolutionoftheworldaswellashisown.Thatisthelawofthecosmos,evenasthe palaeolithicshamandefineditmanymillenniaago. FromtheSarmounis,Gurdjiefflearnedthatmanisatpresentanautomaton,amere mechanismdrivenbytheblindforcesofactionandreaction,hissenseofidentity fragmented,hiswillalmostnonexistent.Yetevenworkonhimselfwillnotredeemhim withoutanacceptancethatheisheretoservetheworld.ThroughGurdjieff,therefore, theSufisgaveouttothetwentiethcenturyanewteaching,anewoutlookonlifethatwas revolutionaryseventyyearsago:mancannotadvancespirituallyunlesshefulfilshis obligationtoplanetearth,andthroughplanetearthtothesolarsystem.Hemustpay thedebtofhisexistencebynurturingthatwhichnurturedhim. Formanscrossisatwofoldspiritualdestinytoevolveasanindividual,butalsoto servetheevolutionofkingdomsotherthanhisown,livesotherthanhisown.Outofthe frictiontheseopposeddrivesgenerate,saidGurdjieff,therecomesatranscendental third,thebirthofconscience.Thissufferingofthetensionbetweentheoppositesisthe lawoftruereligionandisalleviatedonlybytheawakeningofthemediatingforce inherentinthesoulthatis,conscienceorlove.TheSufitheoryofworld creationand worldmaintenanceanewmasterideaforthecomingage,asBennettcalledit hasbecomeincreasinglyrelevantastheplanet secologicalcrisishasworsenedover thedecadesandnow,lookingbackfromourvantagepointinthenewmillennium,we seehowithasindeedbecomethehallmarkofourtime,perhapsthekeytoitsessential meaning.Whereverthenextcivilisationiscentreditmustbewherethethirdand reconcilingpowercanoperatewhereconsciencecanfindahome.Thatistheprime Sufimessageforourgeneration,asitwasGurdjieffs.

Footnotes:
1.ErnestScott, ThePeopleoftheSecret, OctagonPress,London,1985,p.45. 2.Ibid.,p.118. 3.Ibid.,p.45. 4.J.G.Bennett, Gurdjieff:MakingaNewWorld, TurnstoneBooks,London,1973,p.94. 5.J.G.Bennett, TheMastersofWisdom, TurnstoneBooks,London,1977,p.40. 6.J.G.Bennett, Gurdjieff:MakingaNewWorld, p.86. 7.Ibid.,p.86. 8.Ibid.,p.57. 9.Ibid.,p.64. 10.AdrianG.Gilbert, TheMagi, Bloomsbury,London,1996,p.49. 11.HughSchonfield, TheEsseneOdyssey, ElementBook,UK,1984,p.166. 12.J.G.Bennett, TheMastersofWisdom,Ch.6. 13.Scott,op.cit.,p.176. 14.FrancesA.Yates, TheRosicrucianEnlightenment, Routledge&KeganPaul,London,1986. 15.J.G.Bennett, Gurdjieff:MakingaNewWorld, p.278.

VICTORIALEPAGE haspublishednumerousarticlesonthenew spiritualparadigmemerginginculturesworldwideandistheauthorof Shambhala:TheFascinatingTruthBehindtheMythofShangri la ,publishedintenforeignlanguages.Herlatestbookis Mysteries oftheBridechamber:TheInitiationofJesusandtheTempleof Solomon .ShelivesinNewSouthWales,Australia,andcanbe contactedthroughherwebsiteatwww.victorialepage.org.

spiritualparadigmemerginginculturesworldwideandistheauthorof Shambhala:TheFascinatingTruthBehindtheMythofShangri la ,publishedintenforeignlanguages.Herlatestbookis Mysteries oftheBridechamber:TheInitiationofJesusandtheTempleof Solomon .ShelivesinNewSouthWales,Australia,andcanbe contactedthroughherwebsiteatwww.victorialepage.org.

Theabovearticleappearsin NewDawnNo.107(MarApr2008)

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