Gurdjieff's Biography

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George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1877?-1949) was born in Alexandropol in the Transcaucasian region of Russia. His father was Greek and his mother Armenian. He was trained for both medicine and the priesthood by teachers in the Eastern Orthodox Church. As a young man he was consumed by questions relating to life, death and the meaning of existence. Dissatisfied with the answers given by his teachers, he set out on a search throughout central Asia and the Middle East. After these lengthy travels, described in his book Meetings with Remarkable Men, he reappeared in Moscow in 1913 with a fully developed spiritual teaching. Gurdjieff attracted many students who were drawn to his ideas and explanations of the human dilemma and who wished to work together along the lines he taught.

The Russian revolution forced him and his students to embark on a difficult journey that ended in Fontainebleau, France. There, in 1922, he opened the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, which attracted new students from Europe and America. The principal work of the Institute was focused on waking his students from a life of daydreams and subjective biases. In this teaching, the work towards consciousness requires connecting three fundamental human energies, the energies of mind, body and feeling.

Since his death in 1949, Gurdjieff’s work in the Institute and his teachings have been the subjects of many books by his students. The teachings he offered at the Institute included sacred dances and music, and emphasized an approach to physical work and crafts as a way of spiritual development through practice in the midst of daily life.

Gurdjieff’s source of knowledge remains a mystery to this day, but his teachings ring with truth that can be seen through an honest study of oneself.

 

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