Considering Fragments by Allan Lindh In the decades since George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff's death, many books have been

written about the man, and the teaching he brought to Europe and America from Central Asia. Since today many people's first contact with this teaching is via the written word, the question naturally arises as to which of these books can best serve as an introduction to these ideas? His own masterwork, All and Everything: Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, is somewhat difficult. His other two books: Meetings with Remarkable Men, and Life is Real Only Then, When I Am, while seemingly less difficult, present definite challenges of their own. Gurdjieff confides to the reader in the Introduction to Meetings with Remarkable Men: [1] But since, little by little, I had become more adroit in the art of concealing serious thoughts in an enticing, easily grasped outer form, and in making all those thoughts which I term 'discernable only with the lapse of time' ensue from others usual to the thinking of most contemporary people, I changed the principle I had been following and, instead of seeking to achieve the aim I had set myself in writing by quantity, I adopted the principle of attaining this by quality alone. (p. 7) Given the inherent difficulty of Mr. Gurdjieff's writings, the question naturally arises as to whether any of the other written material that has grown out of his legacy has the real stamp of authenticity? Of particular note in this regard is P.D. Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, [2] which for many people has served not only as an introduction to the ideas Mr. Gurdjieff brought, but an introductory guide to their practical application as well. However, given Ouspensky's early break with Gurdjieff, questions naturally arise as to how reliable Fragments is as an introduction to work on oneself. After all, the conversations Ouspensky records -- more than two-thirds of Fragments consists of direct quotes from Gurdjieff -- took place in Russian almost a century ago. Yet Fragments is written in refined, and rather philosophical English. Not only did Ouspensky have to remember his conversations with Gurdjieff -- note-taking during meetings was forbidden -- but he had to translate his personal notes into a language that he learned late in life. Fortunately we have published appraisals of Fragments from some of Mr. Gurdjieff's most senior students. In a discussion of the Gurdjieff literature, Dr. Michel de Salzmann provided his strong endorsement: "…there is now only one book, except for the books of Gurdjieff himself, which can be considered, without prejudice, really useful for followers of the teaching. This is In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky. Gurdjieff's pupils have always felt deeply indebted to Ouspensky for this as yet unrivaled contribution to his work. Besides being a fascinating narrative, it is a brilliant, honest, and faithful exposition of the author's memory of what was transmitted to him. The feat of memory is all the more remarkable when one realizes that note-taking was rigorously forbidden. Although it corresponds to an initial stage of Gurdjieff's teaching, both in time (1915 to 1923) and as regards the pupil's preparation, it retains a remarkable strength and freshness in orienting an active questioning in those who are now working in this way. Ouspensky's qualifications and motives were doubtless exceptional, but the secret quality emanating from his book comes precisely from the fact that it takes us as close as possible to the conditions of oral teaching, in which the Master's presence brings about an "incarnation" of the ideas, and reveals them in a wholly new dimension. [3] In an introduction to Jean Vayse's book Toward Awakening, John Sinclair (Lord Pentland) -- who worked closely with Ouspensky for about a decade, and with Gurdjieff at the end of the 1940s -- provided his evaluation of Fragments. "In Search [his reference to Fragments] was written and meticulously revised by Ouspensky over a period of at least ten years in order to give as honest and objective an account of the teaching as possible. Probably his achievement will never be equaled. In any case it was intended to preserve the teaching in as pure and impersonal a form as possible. [4] In addition, we have accounts by several people of the circumstances under which the decision to publish

he praised Ouspensky for the accuracy of his reporting. and her recollections were later published by one of her students. it was a verbatim report of Gurdjieff's talks. which the American publishers stupidly dubbed In Search of the Miraculous. He remained undecided about the latter for some time. and when I finished he said: "Before I hate Ouspensky. saying that he was writing down all that he could remember of what Gurdjieff had said to him.' 'I may publish it -. 'But you will surely publish this?' I asked. Louise March kept a journal during the visit. To my question 'Why?' He did not answer. were eaten with the fingers when the Armagnac was poured. now I love him. 'Is too liquid. Gurdjieff never permitted flowers as table decorations. 243) In his autobiography. 205) Two additional accounts of meetings with Gurdjieff. friends sent them from South America… After every luncheon a chapter from a draft of Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous was read. said that Ouspensky in this respect was a good man. and Gurdjieff. Good memory.Fragments of an Unknown Teaching. 'Very exact is.Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson and had been asked by Madame Ouspensky to decide whether or not Ouspensky's own book. The only table decoration was a glass filled with tarragon. after the obligatory fresh herbs. who was a student of Gurdjieff's for over thirty years. he tell what I say. though he would never stay there. Nott. This very exact. He listened with evident relish. and A New Model of the Universe. When avocados couldn't be found in the New York markets. shed more light -.Fragments was made. He had written down what he had heard from him.from a somewhat different perspective -. It was eventually published. Truth. every meal began. hearing it read. was so. 106-107) Later in the same book.' . 'Nonsense of flowers spoils food.' Mr.S. (pp. He stormed. and sometimes with olive oil as well. On the other hand. New York. Witness. and resumed the daily luncheons and dinners that he held in his rooms at New York's Hotel Wellington during previous visits. He finally agreed on condition that it should not be published in advance of his own book. along with all kinds of smoked fish. from which the following is drawn: [7] "Meals at Gurdjieff's New York table were as ceremonious as ever. during the last year of his life. … Gurdjieff frequently complained that Ouspensky had ruined his pupils by his excessively intellectual approach. When he asked my opinion of it I said that it was wonderful stuff. after Gurdjieff's death -. based on his time with him in New York and Paris in 1949: "He had just taken the final decision to publish the volume of All and Everything -. melons were served regardless of the season. on this last visit.' (p.' Sometimes Gurdjieff was dissatisfied. Mme.but not if Gurdjieff publishes Beelzebub's Tales. pointing out when he heard it read aloud that certain of his ideas were far more clearly and strongly expressed in Beelzebub. it's the most interesting collection of Gurdjieff's sayings and doings that could possibly be got together. 1948-9 Gurdjieff returned to America in December of 1949. it was in a different vein from Tertium Organum. much higher on the scale of ideas. and that he did better with people who came to him with no preparation at all. C. Madame had presented him with the complete typescript of Fragments of an Unknown Teaching. Once I read aloud in front of him an early chapter of In Search of the Miraculous. Gurdjieff himself still went shopping. As before. Gurdjieff praised it often. exactly: 'It is as if I hear myself speaking. (p. Now. [6] John Bennett provided a first person account of Gurdjieff's reaction to Fragments. Ouspensky had sent it to Mr.on his evaluation of Fragments as an introduction to the teaching he brought. Lost something. dill. Nott described the situation in the winter of 1948 when Gurdjieff first received a copy of the Fragments manuscript: "Gurdjieff himself visited Mendham to see Madame Ouspensky. Winter. recorded an exchange with Ouspensky in the mid-1930s in his book Further Teachings of Gurdjieff: [5] "Some time later he gave me a typescript to read. with avocado halves served with salt and pepper. Gurdjieff with the question. Fragments of an Unknown Teaching should also be published. at the fresh meat and vegetable markets. and spring onions. as he had done on his previous visits. 'Should it be published?' Mr. 'Apart from Beelzebub's Tales and the Second Series. The ritual of the toasts to the idiots still accompanied every meal. The herbs.

exercises which were and still are of greatest value to us. Dryn and Lucien. (p. Walker provided another perspective on the teaching as transmitted by Ouspensky. We all know. declared it to be an accurate account of his own teaching and gave instructions that it should be published forthwith. Vera Daumal.D.…We went on till midnight. possibly -. …In the evening he listened with great enjoyment to the reading of Fragments. and then for 'sensing' the various areas in our bodies. Summer. The reading would last for one or two hours and then we would go to the dining room for lunch. Mr. But he died before his teacher. G immediately taught us a number of exercises in muscle-relaxing and in what he called 'body-sensing'. We were told to direct our attention in a predetermined order to . There was always a reading aloud of some part of Gurdjieff's own writings. his eyes snapping. some English whom I don't know and various members of the French group.. Bell and Miss Crowdy. and Page began to read Chapter XIII of Fragments. Stewart. about the right use of sex energy -. but in our ordinary state of waking-sleep we receive few or no sense-impressions from these. and it was upon Gurdjieff that the responsibility then lay of deciding whether or not Ouspensky's much-revised typescript should be sent to a publisher. Dr. 14-15) However. 13) July 31st. She states in the Foreword that. We read Fragments. Walker. There was a large crowd there: the Woltons. when some of us went over to Paris to study under G himself. or occasionally from P. [9] published in 1957. the manuscript is untouched. His patience was remarkable. and Page began to read at 8:30. besides those sixteen who had been on the trip…. Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous. Kenneth Walker provided another account of Gurdjieff's reaction to the Fragments manuscript. a head and a trunk. the Jaloustres. He had a much better command of English than had Gurdjieff and a methodical and tidy mind which imposed order on the latter's less systematized method of teaching. but I have cut out one or two passages too personal to be of interest to anyone but the writer. leaning forward with his elbow on his knee and his cigarette-holder in his hand. 15) August 2nd …In the evening he was enjoying the reading from Fragments so much -. "At a very much later date the great importance of the faculty of attention in our work was again brought home to us. called throughout the diaries Fragments. (pp. which years later she published. as Idiots in Paris. "I have added nothing to the text. a reference to Ouspensky's original choice of a title. 21) August 4th …his was French night. In other words. Dr.of publishing them in the form of a book after the latter's death. and resumed meetings in his apartment. 24) In A Study of Gurdjieff's Teaching. with the intention. (p. one that sheds yet another light on Fragments. "We would go to lunch at midday.(p. We finished all we had of Fragments and went on to Impartial Mentation [Chapter 47 of Beelzebub's Tales]. vii) July 30th …We went back to the flat at 10:30 for dinner.. and it was only after we had met G many years later in Paris that we understood how necessary this was. and I am deeply grateful to him for his patient and clear-headed interpretation of Gurdjieff's teaching.Paris. Gurdjieff's apartment during the last summer of his life contains many references to the readings that formed part of the daily routine. But G taught us special exercises first for relaxing our bodies to the fullest possible extent.that we did not start dinner until ten or twelve." [8] Her straight-forward narrative of events in Mr. Hylda. Gurdjieff had a Russian rendering of it read to him. that we possess limbs. 46) . exercises to which reference will be made later in this book. of course. (p. Dr. 1949 Gurdjieff returned to Paris in February of 1949. "…I realize that far too little emphasis was placed by Ouspensky at this time on preparation for selfremembering.chapter XII. (p. later in the same book. Elizabeth Bennett kept a journal of her time in Paris during the summer of 1949. and one or two details of Gurdjieff's illness and treatment. together with her husband John Bennett's journal of that time period. when we started dinner…(p.for he never spoke with certainty about this -. "I owe a great deal to Ouspensky for all he did for me during those earlier years. From 1917 onwards he sought clearer and yet clearer formulations for the ideas he had received from Gurdjieff. 19) August 3rd …Gabo went to do more picture hanging in the dining room. with two children. shaking with laughter at the references to himself. The first step to self-remembering was to come back from our mind-wandering into our bodies and to become sensible of these bodies. (p. we are not really aware of our bodies. This was after Ouspensky's death. Apart from these small deletions. These exercises became of immense value to us and were particularly useful as a preparation for self-remembering. unless we happen to be in pain.

those of the right arm. [unclear] The most important thing I got from Paris was the idea of sensing your body.. for example. But external descriptions of these valuable exercises and of the results obtained from them are quite useless. right hand and so on. We all know.in Beelzebub it [is] an awful mistake. Ouspensky died and actually in 1949 I happened to be in America and they immediately published. Some of them disagree quite a lot. of course. The exercise can. the muscles in that particular area relaxed. what kind of control of attention. the right arm. They can only be understood by personal experience of them." . It is marvelous we have got two different formulations of his teaching. you couldn't do [unclear] but when we went to Paris it was entirely different. everybody to be influenced towards developing themselves as a result of being in contact with him and his emanations. being free of these. if required. And Gurdjieff apparently said that he was delighted with Ouspensky he said 'Now he is my friend' because he had seen…In Search of the Miraculous. a fact which emphasizes once again the impossibility of imparting knowledge of this kind in a book. the moment Ouspensky died rang up Bennett and the people at Lyme Place and so on and said 'Go over to Mr. but somehow it was all hopeless.various sets of muscles. … The point was with Ouspensky. that we possess limbs. and the third that it produces a very definite inner psychic change. But they do together produce a very powerful [impression]. This change can be summed up in the statement that the exercise draws together parts of our mechanism which previously had been working disconnectedly. And we had all the diagrams that are in In Search of the Miraculous and there was quite a lot to go on. and sensation from that region evoked. the top of the head. It was like a world where you were free of all that. Gurdjieff was entirely different from the impression I had from Ouspensky and Bennett it was the impression that I can only describe as Universal Benevolence. and. It wasn't 'cannot do' it was trying to do work. the left leg and so on. they have never been committed to writing. very strong and it has been with me ever since. So I got a taste of what it is all about. "The question may well be asked: 'What benefit can possibly result from learning all these yogi tricks with the body?' This is not difficult to answer. Whilst we were doing this we had at the same time to 'sense' that particular area of the body. You were just concerned with work. until a 'sensation' tour has been made of the whole body. He really wanted you and me. All special exercises of this kind have to be taught by word of mouth. Mme Ouspensky published In Search of the Miraculous which Ouspensky had refused to publish because of Gurdjieff's book. (pp. it was like going into a different world a world in which negative emotions and trivial things…they just weren't there. So I got a taste for what that means.. in other words to become aware of it. There are three reasons for doing such exercises as these: the first is that it is excellent training for the attention. eleven years. And I got hope. be rendered still more difficult by counting backwards. the nose. The Moon for example in In Search of the Miraculous is the growing tip of creation -. But with practice the attention can be thrown on to any part of the body desired. At the word of inner command the right ear is 'sensed'. Meredith Thring in London in 2001: "What I want to say more than anything is that I worked with Ouspensky and Bennett for about twelve years if not thirteen. it was in effect philosophical knowledge we got really. And even then I got the sense of opening oneself and freeing oneself from the thoughts that go on all the time and the associations in the moving centre and the associations in the intellectual centre. and also sitting quietly and sensing your limbs and so on. Gurdjieff at such and such an address' and so they did. so far as I know. a head and a body. The impression I got of Mr. 69-70) Similar recollections are found in an interview with Dr. until we have attained what we feel to be the utmost relaxation possible for us. . It is for this reason that my description of them has deliberately been left incomplete. "Because Mme Ouspensky. the end of '37 to '48. There was no hope there. by repeating strings of words or by evoking ideas at the same moment that the relaxing and sensing is being carried out. relaxing them more and more as we come round to them again. there was a message of hope. and it's very important. then the left ear. but in ordinary circumstances we do not feel or sense them. you knew that you couldn't DO and that you had to 'not express' negative emotions and so on and we worked on these things all those years. the right leg. complete control [of] attention in all the centres is necessary for that. You knew you had 'many 'I's. the second that it teaches a person how to relax. We started doing the movements and I am hopeless at the movements because I am totally un-musical but I got enough of them to realize what kind of work. This was very. always.

" Question: "Do you think he have. this is very interesting because under Ouspensky it was 'Remember Yourself' but when we got to Paris it was 'Do I Am. "All I know is that I didn't get the feeling from Ouspensky that there was a way through and I did get it from Gurdjieff. You've got to be persistent with it. which is very important." . Ouspensky speaks about the first two stages. a French woman Lizelle Reymond.. For all those things he says he will write about he has written about and they are hidden away. back to Europe to find the students of Gurdjieff. the higher and the lower prakriti. and to the question of completeness. Gurdjieff deliberately made his book very difficult. this is very strong in Fragments and he reports it as coming from Gurdjieff…I just wondered do [you] think this feeling of hopelessness is coming from Ouspensky all the time. from Views from the Real World and so on. no. In To Live Within." Question: "And yet Gurdjieff was pleased with Fragments.. I think it was Ouspensky's caste of character that [unclear] in that book. or. you see. "And I think the point about this. These are cleverly hidden in his mythical narrations. (p. he tells of the development of these first two stages and of his experiences with his Master.. The four stages are: plurality of "I's. In all of his subsequent personal teaching." a single "I. Gurdjieff. There is a way and I think I am going to try and communicate it to you." the Void. animated a feeling of hope when he was in Russia…do you think he had that feeling then?" Professor Thring: "I'm sure he had because the message he came back from was.. The following extracts are from that material: "Tantric teaching demonstrates that all life is born from the Void -.the gods and goddesses. do you feel Gurdjieff's teaching changed a great deal from the beginning?" Professor Thring: "I don't think it changed. there is a way! That was his message. sentences a whole page long so that you've got to puzzle over it. you couldn't do anything." no "I.. In the 1950s. in the Second Series he keeps promising to put a whole lot of things in the Third Series it is my view that they are in here. One has access to it by four stages. In his book In Search of the Miraculous. I think we are incredibly fortunate to have had Mr. He remained silent about the last two because he had left Gurdjieff." … ". It is so important that you don't just have one verbal formulation you have different verbal formulations which apparently at first sight disagree and that's the way you get towards something real. wasn't he?" Professor Thring: "Oh yes because Fragments is a very clear account of the theory so to speak beautifully written and it adds a lot to the knowledge and I think that Beelzebub's Tales contains far more if you can get down to it.. she compiled material from his letters and notes of her conversations with him. [10] an extraordinary account of her time with Sri Anirvan." Question: "Do you think…the hopelessness that you say Ouspensky [brought]. The Void is the matrix of universal energy.that's what I am glad to do in my book is to put them together from…references to things from both books and from all the others. which he revised before his death in 1978. hidden away deeply. Far more. open for us the frontiers of the two last stages. You see this is where religions fall down in my opinion." . a Baul master in the Samkhya tradition sent one of his students. in fact when he. Ouspensky was a journalist and he could write quite well and clearly and be easy to understand from that point of view. that there was no hope. The writings of Gurdjieff. they don't tell you a way.' This is a fact!" There is one other commentary on Fragments that speaks frankly to Ouspensky's contribution. on the other hand. Sri Anirvan. 194) . I don't believe Gurdjieff ever taught that it is hopeless.

in Gurdjieff: An Annotated Bibliography. Inc. In the final pages of Fragments. . Michel de. (Santa Fe. who was a philosopher.first into Russian. and worked for almost half his life at transmitting what he had received from Gurdjieff to thousands of students via lectures.… "Gurdjieff had this lightly tinted whiteness. But Ouspensky mastered the written English language to a remarkable degree." It seems likely that this was the genesis of In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching. undertook a cultural and linguistic translation and transmission into a western scientific cultural milieu -. Inc. beginning with the solidity of a clod of earth and passing gradually. 3. iii-iv. C. Dutton & Co. 1980) pp. 1962). From the Foreword to Toward Awakening: An Approach to the Teaching Left by Gurdjieff. you will be sent away by the Master. (New York: Samuel Weisner. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. but if you are the disciple responsible for the kitchen. later English and French. that is why fools cry out against him. Petersburg lectures and talks with commentaries of my own. Brace & World. xviii. If so.. Gurdjieff. G. then the apparent differences between the ideas and language of Fragments and All and Everything may be more apparent than real. and was by all accounts possessed of greater being -. New Mexico: Bennett Books. If you refuse to do this. Of course the two works are not on the same level. pp. 257) … All spiritual experiences are sensations in the body. The road to be traveled is long. and group meetings. (p. 5. Gurdjieff was one step closer to the source.I. He never stopped playing with all the colors of life. he was not the original source of the teaching he brought. They are simply a graded series of sensations. Ouspensky describes a conversation with Gurdjieff in Constantinople in 1920. J. "Somewhere about this time I told him in detail of a plan I had drawn up for a book to expound his St.P. NOTES and REFERENCES 1." [11] He received a traditional teaching formulated within the cultures and languages of the Middle East and Central Asia. "Footnote to the Gurdjieff Literature". Of course. by J. Pentland. Ouspensky. (p..the ones who would assume responsibility for the teaching -. and having embodied that teaching. tried to stay in the whiteness he had discovered. Further Teachings of Gurdjieff: Journey Through This World. Even when he must have known in 1949 that he was dealing with his last group of students -.D. 1949). 231) We might consider also that by Mr.. but the evidence suggests that Fragments was considered by Gurdjieff an authentic introduction to the ideas he brought from the East. and this account suggests that Gurdjieff had authorized such an introduction in advance. 1969) 6.a real Master. He agreed to this plan and authorized me to write and publish it. 1985). your duty is to prepare the food. 1969).G. in full consciousness.Ouspensky. Bennett. the written word. (New York: Harcourt. through liquidness and the emanation of heat to that of a total vibration before reaching the Void.S. John . the other a complete mytho-epic statement of the teaching. Nott.. 2. Gurdjieff's own account. P. Meetings with Remarkable Men (New York: E. Ouspensky's introduction.. had an orderly mind and a philosophical bent. 4. "I am small compared with those who sent me. or you will leave of your own accord and your refusal will be a weight that will burden you for years and possibly even crush you. Witness. some 30 years earlier. Walter Driscoll and the Gurdjieff Foundation of California (New York: Garland Publishing. Ouspensky was one of the students who helped with the translation into Anglo-American culture and language. In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of a Unknown Teaching. Inc. with one a very well organized and carefully structured introduction. Salzmann.first-person accounts suggest that he sometimes had them listen to chapters from the manuscript of Mr.

G. 9. 74-75. 1929-1949: Recollections of Louise March (Walworth. p. and E. McCorkle. Kenneth. To Live Within: A woman's spiritual pilgrimage in an Himalayan hermitage. Lizelle. Nott quoting Orage recollecting Gurdjieff. Maine: Samuel Weiser.7. Walker. Nott. 8. in C. Further Teachings of Gurdjieff. Inc. Inc. J. Oregon: Rudra Press) 11. 196?) 10. (London: Jonathan Cape. vii..S. 31. (Portland. 1991) p. A Study of Gurdjieff's Teaching. .. Bennett. The Gurdjieff Years. Idiots in Paris. Reymond. Bennett. Beth. New York: The Work Study Association. (York Beach. pp. 1990).

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