Posts Tagged: Fourth Way


12
Dec 13

Those Who Poison the Fourth Way Well

I think it was Ouspensky who said that everyone will get their “fair share of slander” and Gurdjieff, he said, has certainly gotten his share. Some of it was Gurdjieff’s fault. He was no saint.

But a lot of what purports to be the Fourth Way, aka the Gurdjieff Work–nearly all of it, in fact–is just weird little offshoots, cults, scams. Robert Burton’s Fellowship of Friends is all three: an offshoot, a cult and a scam. People use poor old Gurdjieff’s name and slap it on their personal fantasies and cons. The John Bennett people (don’t blame Bennett) created a money making scheme with a blurred notion of Gurdjieff’s ideas. Ichazo made up a lot of nonsense. Helen Palmer fabricated her enneagram personality foolishness. William Patrick Patterson took a little knowledge and made it into a lot of cultish tomfoolery. “Osho”, aka Rajneesh, had a muddied idea of Gurdjieff’s teachings which he folded into his own cult. On and on it goes.

There’s a reasonably coherent Fourth Way school, in which the original current flows, the one Gurdjieff’s student Jeanne de Salzmann created at his behest: the Gurdjieff Foundation. Also called by other names in other countries. It’s all volunteer, no one makes money off it, no one gets paid. It’s neither big nor small. Few are admitted to it; no one’s life is interfered with; no one is kept from leaving, or even urged not to leave it. It’s an esoteric school. Really, its methods are more or less similar to Vipassana Buddhism, with an admixture of hermeticism. It’s not far from Zen, either, really. It’s not terribly easy to find that school. . .

Gurdjieff shouldn’t be taken too literally on everything he ever said. But I think he was right that we’re prone to be asleep when we suppose we’re awake; that we’re mechanical, reactive, lacking “real I”; that there is a way to freedom from those conditions. He had his methods–NOT taught by people like Robert Burton–and the best Zen people, for example, have theirs, which overlap with the Fourth Way…

Don’t blame poor old George Gurdjieff for all the people who use his name…