POSTSCRIPT; MR. GURDJIEFF’S LIFE

POSTSCRIPT; MR. GURDJIEFF'S LIFE
Bryn Thring
Undated
(Published in The Enneagram # 7, September 1976)

Various things suggest that Mr. Gurdjieff had medical training. It is reported that during Mr. Bennett's first 1948 visit to him in Paris, G. said he had studied medicine and taken his degree, and that he had always kept his interest in medicine.
During a later conversation, he told Mr. Bennett that he was at the Tiflis seminary at the same time as Stalin. Stalin was born 21st December l879, and was at the seminary from age 14 till expelled on 29 May 1899; according to a Soviet biography, because Marx was found in his room. If G. was born on the Russian New Year's Day on 28 December 1877, now corresponding to our January 9 or 10, he would have been about two years’ senior. For him to change from a priestly to a medical training around 18 does not seem impossible but details would be welcome. It would appear that the "great being efforts" of his youth included intensive ordinary studying.
In God is my Adventure, Rom Landau tells the story that G. spent his "hidden years" in Tibet, nominally a Russian political agent. Miss Ethel Merston, who lived a number of years at the Prieuré, evidently took this for granted as she said casually in conversation, "When the British wouldn't allow him to go back. Where, when? To Tibet in 1911 with the Dalai Lama."
Fritz Peters in Boyhood with Gurdjieff makes us laugh with his stories of Miss Merston, "so English." This she was by education, at the Baker Street High or Canon Holland School, but her father had German Jewish origins and her mother, aristocratic Portuguese ones. Perhaps this is why she looked so splendid in a silk sari, though her warm everyday dress was a long Mexican poncho sewn down the sides.
It seems Mr. Gurdjieff's treatment worked for when she visited Coombe Springs in her seventies (1957) we found her a vivid and attractive person. She was still a gardener. During the war, she became involved in social work in an Indian village near Benares, and left an interesting account of life there. Afterwards when not travelling, she had lived at the ashram*of Ramana Maharshi where she died in 1967. She shocked us hero worshippers by declaring that Ramana was much more advanced than G., perhaps G.'s psychology. (*was a "temporary building," like the Prieuré Study House, which was made from an old aero plane hangar. By contrast, stone was used to build the Turkish bath-house.)
She said she made the first English translation of Beelzebub, working with Mr. de Hartman who turned the Russian into French. In the evenings, the translation was read out to Mr. G. who made them find other words, with active or passive endings, although he knew hardly any English. Orage (1873-1934), to whom the translation is credited, only started it and then gave advice; he was in fact in America much of the time during Mr. Gurdjieff's writing years, running groups and collecting funds.  She told of a pilgrim march from the Himalayas which Mr. G. taught - prostration, draw knees up, get up, down again - while saying "I-wish-to-remember-the-self." She thought the translation "I wish to remember myself" was wrong. Perhaps the self is not mine. She never heard of any complaints of sleeplessness at the Prieuré. They would even fall asleep at meals. When Lady Rothermere came to lunch G. made a great story about cooking home caught trout for her; they were perfectly good herrings. Why did G. disguise the account of parts of his early life? One reason could be that these stories convey better what were really adventures of the mind.
The diagrams Mr. Gurdjieff gave with the first version of his teaching, recorded by Ouspensky in In Search of the Miraculous, leave the impression of a universe of great complexity, not to be easily grasped by the "formatory apparatus."
In all the diagrams - Ray of Creation, Law of Worlds 3 to 96, Cosmoses, the Hieroglyph of Life or Step diagram - there is the idea of many levels. Ouspensky gives 'The Three Octaves of Radiation' and the derivation from it, the first series of 'hydrogen' numbers with the upper levels of matter or energies finer or less dense than those known to science. He does not publish the evocative names which the steps have in this version, called Winds, Waves and Rocks, transmitted by J.G. Bennett.

Do The Absolute                                  }
Si Creation                                           } H 6 The Absolute Creator 
La The Absolute as Creator            }     }
Sol The Union of 3 Forces                                 } H l2 The Law of Three 
Fa Six Triads-(All Laws)                  }               }
- The Great Creation (All Worlds)    } H 24 The Great Creation
Mi The laws of the Universe            }           }
Re All Suns                                                         } H 48 The Sun 
Do The Unmanifested Sun, Point 6}            }
Ti The Sun                                            } H 96 The Sun's Creation 
La The heavenly Host                     }           }
Sol Planets                                                          } H l92  The Angelic World 
Fa The Inner Circle of Humanity     }            }
- Organic Life                                       } H 384 Organic Life 
Mi The Laws of Nature                    }           }
Re Winds, Waves and Rocks                              }H 768 The Life of the Earth 
Do The Unmanifested Earth           }            }
Si The Earth                                    } H l536 The Earth 
La Elementals                                      }           }
Sol Good Karma                                                 }H 3072 Good Karma 
Fa Mechanical Aspect                     }           }
- Mechanicalness                            } H 6144 Mechanicalness 
Mi Evil Karma                                  }           }
Re The Moon                                                      }H l2288 The Moon 
Do Absolute Nothing                                          }

One copy adds "The Recording Angel" to Karma. What would happen if people did think a recorder was taping all their talking and thinking?
"A good man loves father and mother." Then when they die, God will enter into that empty place.'' Dorothy Caruso asked G., "All these people (his regular pupils) have got a soul, why haven't I got a soul?" …"Inwardly you are a rabbit," he told her; we wondered how he knew …"You must work for your father." "But where is he?" "In the air, all around you."
At a meal in his flat (1948 or 49) Mr. Gurdjieff called for "advice of grandmother”. "Or do nothing, just go to school, or do something no-one else does," Mme. de Salzmann repeated musically. ("Walk contrary to the world in all things," Jakob Boehme, the shoe maker, quoted in Tertium Organum). Afterwards someone gave an explanation which seemed unnecessary then but stuck in memory "By Grandmother he means All Ancestors."

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