Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer

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Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer. Paul Beekman Taylor. This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis A great deal of mystery surrounds G.

Buy New Learn more about this copy. Furthermore, anyone wishing to undertake any of the traditional paths to spiritual knowledge which Gurdjieff reduced to three—namely the path of the fakir , the path of the monk , and the path of the yogi were required to renounce life in the world. Gurdjieff thus developed a "Fourth Way" [52] which would be amenable to the requirements of modern people living modern lives in Europe and America. Instead of developing body, mind, or emotions separately, Gurdjieff's discipline worked on all three to promote comprehensive and balanced inner development.

In parallel with other spiritual traditions, Gurdjieff taught that a person must expend considerable effort to effect the transformation that leads to awakening. The effort that is put into practice Gurdjieff referred to as "The Work" or "Work on oneself". Working on oneself is not so difficult as wishing to work, taking the decision.

Ouspensky from to made the term and its use central to his own teaching of Gurdjieff's ideas. After Ouspensky's death, his students published a book titled The Fourth Way based on his lectures. Gurdjieff's teaching addressed the question of humanity's place in the universe and the importance of developing latent potentialities—regarded as our natural endowment as human beings but rarely brought to fruition. He taught that higher levels of consciousness, higher bodies, [55] inner growth and development are real possibilities that nonetheless require conscious work to achieve.

In his teaching Gurdjieff gave a distinct meaning to various ancient texts such as the Bible and many religious prayers. He claimed that such texts possess meanings very different from those commonly attributed to them. Gurdjieff taught people how to increase and focus their attention and energy in various ways and to minimize daydreaming and absentmindedness. According to his teaching, this inner development of oneself is the beginning of a possible further process of change, the aim of which is to transform people into what Gurdjieff believed they ought to be.

Distrusting "morality", which he describes as varying from culture to culture, often contradictory and hypocritical, Gurdjieff greatly stressed the importance of " conscience ". To provide conditions in which inner attention could be exercised more intensively, Gurdjieff also taught his pupils "sacred dances" or "movements", later known as the Gurdjieff movements , which they performed together as a group. He also left a body of music, inspired by what he heard in visits to remote monasteries and other places, written for piano in collaboration with one of his pupils, Thomas de Hartmann.

Gurdjieff also used various exercises, such as the "Stop" exercise, to prompt self-observation in his students. Other shocks to help awaken his pupils from constant daydreaming were always possible at any moment. Gurdjieff used a number of methods and materials, including meetings, music, movements sacred dance , writings, lectures, and innovative forms of group and individual work.

Part of the function of these various methods was to undermine and undo the ingrained habit patterns of the mind and bring about moments of insight. Since each individual has different requirements, Gurdjieff did not have a one-size-fits-all approach, and he adapted and innovated as circumstance required.

Gurdjieff felt that the traditional methods of self-knowledge—those of the fakir , monk , and yogi acquired, respectively, through pain, devotion, and study —were inadequate on their own and often led to various forms of stagnation and one-sidedness. His methods were designed to augment the traditional paths with the purpose of hastening the developmental process. He sometimes called these methods The Way of the Sly Man [62] because they constituted a sort of short-cut through a process of development that might otherwise carry on for years without substantive results.

The teacher, possessing consciousness, sees the individual requirements of the disciple and sets tasks that he knows will result in a transformation of consciousness in that individual. Instructive historical parallels can be found in the annals of Zen Buddhism, where teachers employed a variety of methods sometimes highly unorthodox to bring about the arising of insight in the student. Gurdjieff's music divides into three distinct periods. The "first period" is the early music, including music from the ballet Struggle of the Magicians and music for early movements dating to the years around The "second period" music, for which Gurdjieff arguably became best known, written in collaboration with Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann , is described as the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music.

Since the publication of four volumes of this piano repertory by Schott, recently completed, there has been a wealth of new recordings, including orchestral versions of music prepared by Gurdjieff and de Hartmann for the Movements demonstrations of — The "last musical period" is the improvised harmonium music which often followed the dinners Gurdjieff held at his Paris apartment during the Occupation and immediate post-war years to his death in In all, Gurdjieff in collaboration with de Hartmann composed some pieces.

Movements, or sacred dances, constitute an integral part of the Gurdjieff Work.

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Gurdjieff sometimes referred to himself as a "teacher of dancing" and gained initial public notice for his attempts to put on a ballet in Moscow called Struggle of the Magicians. Films of movements demonstrations are occasionally shown for private viewing by the Gurdjieff Foundations and one is shown in a scene in the Peter Brook movie Meetings with Remarkable Men.

Gurdjieff wrote a unique trilogy with the Series title All and Everything. At pages it is a lengthy allegorical work that recounts the explanations of Beelzebub to his grandson concerning the beings of the planet Earth and laws which govern the universe. It provides a vast platform for Gurdjieff's deeply considered philosophy.

A controversial redaction of Beelzebub's Tales was published by some of Gurdjieff's followers as an alternative "edition," in And only then can my hope be actualized that according to your understanding you will obtain the specific benefit for your self which I anticipate.


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The posthumous second series, edited by Jeanne de Salzmann is titled Meetings with Remarkable Men and is written in a seemingly accessible manner as a memoir of his early years, but also contains some 'Arabian Nights' embellishments and allegorical statements. His posthumous Third Series, written as if unfinished and also edited by Jeanne de Salzmann Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Am' contains an intimate account of Gurdjieff's inner struggles during his later years, as well as transcripts of some of his lectures. There is an enormous and growing amount written about Gurdjieff's ideas and methods but his own challenging writings remain the primary sources.

Opinions on Gurdjieff's writings and activities are divided. Sympathizers regard him as a charismatic master who brought new knowledge into Western culture, a psychology and cosmology that enable insights beyond those provided by established science. Orage , P. Gurdjieff's notable personal students include P. Gurdjieff gave new life and practical form to ancient teachings of both East and West. For example, the Socratic and Platonic emphasis on "the examined life" recurs in Gurdjieff's teaching as the practice of self-observation. His teachings about self-discipline and restraint reflect Stoic teachings.

The Hindu and Buddhist notion of attachment recurs in Gurdjieff's teaching as the concept of identification. His descriptions of the "three being-foods" matches that of Ayurveda, and his statement that "time is breath" echoes jyotish, the Vedic system of astrology.


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  • Similarly, his cosmology can be "read" against ancient and esoteric sources, respectively Neoplatonic and in such sources as Robert Fludd's treatment of macrocosmic musical structures. An aspect of Gurdjieff's teachings which has come into prominence in recent decades is the enneagram geometric figure.

    For many students of the Gurdjieff tradition, the enneagram remains a koan , challenging and never fully explained.

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    There have been many attempts to trace the origins of this version of the enneagram; some similarities to other figures have been found, but it seems that Gurdjieff was the first person to make the enneagram figure publicly known and that only he knew its true source. Most aspects of this application are not directly connected to Gurdjieff's teaching or to his explanations of the enneagram. Gurdjieff inspired the formation of many groups after his death, all of which still function today and follow his ideas.

    Other pupils of Gurdjieff formed independent groups.

    Paul Beekman Taylor

    Willem Nyland, one of Gurdjieff's closest students and an original founder and trustee of The Gurdjieff Foundation of New York, left to form his own groups in the early s. Jane Heap was sent to London by Gurdjieff, where she led groups until her death in Independent thriving groups were also formed and initially led by John G. Bennett and A. Staveley near Portland, Oregon.

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    Gurdjieff's notable pupils include: [74]. Peter D. Ouspensky — was a Russian journalist, author and philosopher. He met Gurdjieff in and spent the next five years studying with him, then formed his own independent groups at London in Ouspensky became the first "career" Gurdjieffian and led independent Fourth Way groups in London and New York for his remaining years.

    He wrote In Search of the Miraculous about his encounters with Gurdjieff and it remains the best known and most widely read account of Gurdjieff's early experiments with groups. Thomas de Hartmann — was a Russian composer. He and his wife Olga first met Gurdjieff in at Saint Petersburg. They remained Gurdjieff's close students until Between July and May Thomas de Hartmann transcribed and co-wrote some of the music that Gurdjieff collected and used for his Movements exercises. They collaborated on hundreds of pieces of concert music arranged for the piano.

    She also authenticated Gurdjieff's early talks in the book Views from the Real World The de Hartmann's memoir, Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff 1st ed, , 2nd ed, , 3rd ed , records their Gurdjieff years in great detail. Jeanne de Salzmann — Alexander and Jeanne de Salzmann met Gurdjieff in Tiflis in She was originally a dancer, Dalcroze Eurythmics teacher. She was, along with Jessmin Howarth and Rose Mary Nott, responsible for transmitting Gurdjieff's choreographed movements exercises and institutionalizing Gurdjieff's teachings through the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York, the Gurdjieff Institute of Paris, London's Gurdjieff Society Inc and other groups, she established in She also established Triangle Editions in the US, which imprint claims copyright on all Gurdjieff's posthumous writings.

    Bennett — was a British intelligence officer, polyglot fluent in English, French, German, Turkish, Greek, Italian , technologist, industrial research director author and teacher, best known for his many books on psychology and spirituality, particularly the teachings of Gurdjieff. Bennett met both Ouspensky and then Gurdjieff at Istanbul in , spent August at Gurdjieff's Institute, became Ouspensky's pupil between and and, after learning that Gurdjieff was still alive, was one of Gurdjieff's frequent visitors in Paris during Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett, Alfred Richard Orage — was an influential British editor best known for the magazine New Age.

    He began attending Ouspensky's London talks in then met Gurdjieff when the latter first visited London early in After Gurdjieff's nearly fatal automobile accident in July and because of his prolonged recuperation during and intense writing period for several years, Orage continued in New York until During this period, Orage was responsible for editing the English typescript of Beelzebub's Tales and Meetings with Remarkable Men as Gurdjieff' assistant.

    Along with Orage he attended Ouspensky's London talks where he met Gurdjieff. A year later, when they returned to London, Nicoll rejoined Ouspensky's group. In , on Ouspensky's advice he started his own Fourth Way groups in England. He is best known for the encyclopedic six volume series of articles in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky Boston: Shambhala, , and Samuel Weiser Inc.

    Willem Nyland — was a Dutch-American chemist who first met Gurdjieff early in during the latter's first visit to the US. He was a charter member of the NY branch of Gurdjieff's Institute, participated in Orage's meetings between and and was a charter member of the Gurdjieff Foundation from and through its formative years. In the early s he established an independent group in Warwick NY, where he began making reel-to-reel audio recordings of his meetings which became archived in a private library of some , 90 minute audio tapes.

    Many of these tapes have also been transcribed and indexed, but remain unpublished.

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