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Copyright 2001 Realization.org.



G.I. Gurdjieff

1866? - 1949


Photo courtesy Gurdjieff International Review
He appeared in Russia shortly before the First World War from somewhere in Central Asia, a charismatic teller of tall tales, and convinced a circle of people that he had spent twenty years collecting esoteric wisdom from vaguely described monasteries in remote regions.

These people paid him money to have him wake them up by treating them in ways that were, according to one scholar, "shocking, mysterious, frightening, magical, delicately gentle, and omniscient."1

"I wished to create around myself," he wrote, "conditions in which a man would be continuously reminded of the sense and aim of his existence by an unavoidable friction between his conscience and the automatic manifestations of his nature."2

What's known for sure is this: he was a choreographer, excellent chef, author of several odd books that some very intelligent people think are works of genius, founder of a school, and inventor of a complicated system of teachings which is not quite like anything else.

1. Needleman, Jacob, "G. I. Gurdjieff and His School."  This webpage draws heavily on Mr. Needleman's article. Any errors are ours, not his.

2. Quoted in Needleman, Jacob, "G. I. Gurdjieff and His School." 



Born around 1866, probably in Armenia, to Christian parents. Around 1912 a circle of students began forming around him in Russia, including by 1914 the philosopher P.D. Ouspensky, who would later write the clearest book about Gurdjieff's teachings, and shortly afterward Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann, with whom Gurdjieff would later collaborate on musical compositions. As the Russian Revolution approached Gurdjieff and his pupils left Russia and went to Tiflis, where in 1919 Gurdjieff established his school, the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. In 1922 the school moved to a location near Paris, where it attracted writers and literary figures from America and England. In 1924 he nearly died in a car accident; when he recovered, he began writing books, producing three (one of them unfinished) by 1935. In 1932 he moved to Paris, where he died in 1939.






Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson
By G.I. Gurdjieff

This is Gurdjieff's magnum opus, a novel in which he attempts to "destroy, mercilessly... the beliefs and views about everything existing in the world."

Here's a wonderful mini-review by ron_s@verifone.com that appeared on Amazon.com:

"Not for everyone, not a comfortable read, almost an impossible read, yet it can alter your consciousness if you stick with it. Many mechanisms are employed by Gurdjieff to jolt your thinking, and perhaps change it for the better. Good for the inner growth of the spiritual seeker. Vast in scope, unfathomable, irritating, plenty of specialized vocabulary, inconsistent and unclear descriptions. Heptaparaparsimony, gesundheit!! I venture to guess that no one ever has ever read it straight through without long breaks. Its a non bon-ton gem, something to always have around like Finnegans Wake. What kind of a wake do you leave anyway when you walk by? Are you awake? What makes music musical, Rodgers and Hammersteinway?"

On the web for free.

Order from Amazon



Meetings With Remarkable Men
By G.I. Gurdjieff

An autobiographical account of Gurdjieff's youth and early travels, first published in 1963, organized around portraits of men and women who aided Gurdjieff in his journeys in remote parts of the Near East and Central Asia. Interesting accounts of his conversations and interactions with sages.

Order from Amazon



G.I. Gurdjieff and His School
by Jacob Needleman
An excellent overview of his life and teachings by a professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University.

"G.I. Gurdjieff" in The Skeptics Dictionary

By Robert Todd Carroll
A debunking essay that views Gurdjieff as a fraud.


Gurdjieff International Review
Superb online journal devoted to G.I. Gurdjieff. Includes excellent list of links. Published by a nonprofit organization.

Gurdjieff Forum
A moderated mail list devoted to the ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, and their descendants. Message archives go back to 1996.

Gurdjieff Studies
This site offers a good deal of substantive information organized into cogent essays under numerous headings.

Gurdjieff's Teaching
This site maintains a list of links to the best Gurdjieff sites on the web. Published by Sundeep Baldota.



Our page on P.D. Ouspensky
Ouspensky was the foremost proponent of Gudjieff's ideas. Our main page on P.D. Ouspensky is here.


This page was published on January 31, 2000. and last revised on June 9, 2004..



Copyright 2001 Realization.org. All rights reserved.