False Prophets Part III



False prophets, teachers, and gurus





Cults and Deteriorated Spiritual Teachings


            ‘Counterfeit gold exists only because
             there is such a thing as real gold’  Rumi


   In many countries in the contemporary world, especially in the West, there are representatives of virtually every religion, spiritual teaching, cult and metaphysical system in existence. How can the earnest spiritual seeker distinguish between an authentic teaching and a cult, between a real and a false spiritual teacher? What are the salient characteristics of a genuine spiritual group or organization and what are the warning signs for detecting a spurious or misguided one? Psychiatrist Arthur Deikman provides a succinct working definition of a cult:


The word cult refers to a group led by a charismatic leader who has spiritual, therapeutic or messianic pretensions, and indoctrinates the members with his or her idiosyncratic beliefs. Typically, members are dependent on the group for their emotional and financial needs and have broken off ties with those outside. The more complete the dependency and the more rigid the barriers separating members from non-believers, the more danger the cult will exploit and harm its members. (1)


(1) Deikman, The Wrong Way Home (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994), p. 1.






Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way:


A Critical Appraisal





Almost from the beginning of Gurdjieff’s teaching mission in the West, he was surrounded by controversy, rumour and speculation.


Critics, outside observers and even some of his own students questioned his intentions, credentials as a spiritual teacher, methods, traditional attitudes and beliefs, use of alcohol, sexual behavior and validity of the ideas he presented.


Was he a genuine spiritual teacher or a charlatan, an ‘Emissary from Above’ or a ‘black magician’?



Real and False Spiritual Teachers



 Further Explorations







Forest Temple of Hard Work
and Rough Food.


by E. C. Bowyer



Journalist E. C. Bowyer spent a week visiting Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Fontainebleau France, five months after it opened. He begins with an account of the Study House and the student’s spartan daily life. Bowyer interviews his guide, A. R. Orage and describes the various stages of instruction at the Institute, the participation of children, the practice of movements, and the occasional feasts enjoyed by everyone. Returning to London, Bowyer interviewed P. D. Ouspensky. His reports were serialised on front pages of the Daily News (London) 15-19 February, 1923. The word ‘cult’ did not then have a pejorative connotation.  J. W. D.





In the following article a Special Correspondent of the Daily News reveals some of the leading facts relating to a remarkable new cult which has attracted to itself many Englishmen and Englishwomen bearing well-known and even famous names. The leader of the movement is Gurdjieff, an Eastern philosopher-mystic, and the article describes the “Study House” in the historic Forest of Fontainebleau, some 40 miles from Paris, where his disciples follow a course of hard work and harder fare.


Daily News Editor


bowyer new-cult



The Forest Philosophers


C. E. Bechhofer Roberts



Carl Eric Bechhofer Roberts first met Gurdjieff in Tiflis in 1919 and visited Gurdjieff’s Institute several times but “preferred to remain an intimate and disinterested spectator.” The English spelling Gurdjieff / Gurdjiev was not yet fixed.  J. W. D.



Of all the mystics who have become prominent in Europe during the last twelve years or so, and especially since the war, when their numbers have been doubled, I cannot recall that any has attracted so much interest in so short a time as George Ivanovitch Gurdjiev, the founder of the “Institute for the Harmonic Development of Man” at Fountainebleau, near Paris . . . I shall endeavour to set down here the main theories that underlie Gurdjiev’s methods and the form they take in practice. 


roberts forest-philosophers



A Visit to Gourdyev


Denis Saurat


Professor Saurat visited the Prieurè for a weekend in February 1923. He describes contradictory impressions of Gurdjieff who appears alternately contemptuous, provocative, irritable then finally serious and “extraordinarily courteous.” This skeptical article stimulated discussion about Gurdjieff among French intellectuals and journalists. Saurat eventually revised his opinion of Gurdjieff and came to recognize Beelzebub’s Tales as a major work. The English spelling of Gurdjieff’s name was not yet fixed and is here given as ‘Gourdyev’ in keeping with the Russian pronunciation.


Saturday morning, February 17th 1923. The Fontainebleau station.
    Orage comes to meet me when I arrive by train from Paris. Orage is a big Yorkshireman of vague French descent; hence his name is taken from the French word for storm. For fifteen years he has been a power in English literary circles. He owned a half-literary, half-political weekly review, the New Age, which was the most lively intellectual organ in England between 1910 and 1914.
    Orage might have been the greatest critic in English literature, which has produced few critics, and which is dying of that lack, though it revives every time a writer of genius emerges and joins a great tradition. But Orage sold the New Age and went to Fontainebleau: literature interested him no more.
    I am surprised at his appearance. . .



P. 7

    The disciples add that [Gourdyev] has defined himself as a disseminator of solar energy, which they pretend not to understand.
    Is there a God? I ask.
    ‘Yes and Gourdyev is in communication with Him. Almost like an independent, obstinate minister with his king.’  Women, they say, have no real possibility of acquiring a soul except by contact and sexual union with men.

saurat visit to gourdyev



From gurdjieff-bibliography.com/Current/index.



I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.


• Susan B. Anthony, in an address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1896)





Colin Wilson writes about “Gurdjieff’s reputation for seducing his female students. (In Providence, Rhode Island, in 1960, a man was pointed out to me as one of Gurdjieff’s illegitimate children. The professor who told me this also assured me that Gurdjieff had left many children around America).”


Although no evidence or documents have certified anyone as a child of Gurdjieff, the following seven people are believed to be his children:

  • Cynthie Sophia “Dushka” Howarth (1924–2010); her mother was dancer Jessmin Howarth. She went on to found the Gurdjieff Heritage Foundation.
  • Sergei Chaverdian; his mother was Lily Galumnian Chaverdian.
  • Andrei, born to a mother known only as Georgii.
  • Eve Taylor (born 1928); the mother was one of his followers, American socialite Edith Annesley Taylor.
  • Nikolai Stjernvall (1919–2010), whose mother was Elizaveta Grigorievna, wife of Leonid Robertovich de Stjernvall.
  • Michel de Salzmann (1923–2001), whose mother was Jeanne Allemand de Salzmann; he later became head of the Gurdjieff Foundation.
  • Svetlana Hinzenberg (1917–1946), daughter of Olga (Olgivanna) Ivanovna Hinzenberg and a future stepdaughter of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.


In the early 1930s, Gurdjieff publicly ridiculed one of his pupils, Alfred Richard Orage. In response, his wife Jessie Dwight wrote the following poem about Gurdjieff:


    He calls himself, deluded man,
    The Tiger of The Turkestan.
    And greater he than God or Devil
    Eschewing good and preaching evil.
    His followers whom he does glut on
    Are for him naught but wool and mutton,
    And still they come and sit agape
    With Tiger’s rage and Tiger’s rape.
    Why not, they say, The man’s a god;
    We have it on the sacred word.
    His book will set the world on fire.
    He says so – can God be a liar?
    But what is woman, says Gurdjieff,
    Just nothing but man’s handkerchief.
    I need a new one every day,
    Let others for the washing pay.


Wikipedia / George Gurdjieff



From Episodes with Gurdjieff © 1973 by Edwin Wolfe


In 1939


I was alone with Mr. Gurdjieff at a table in Child’s Restaurant on Fifth Avenue near 57th Street. It was almost dusk of a winter day. The Child’s Mr. Gurdjieff called his night office. Another Child’s over on Columbus Circle was his day office.

We sat for awhile in silence. He seemed to be looking out the front window at the people passing by in the waning light. It was beginning to snow.

“Wolfe,” he said, “tell. How your handkerchief?”

“Mr. Gurdjieff,” I said, “I’m going to ask you to not speak about Dorothy like that. We are trying to live a good life together. A decent life. We are even trying to learn how to love one another. So, please, don’t call her my handkerchief. Please.”

“I not promise,” he said.

But he never called her that again.




From Gurdjieff on Sex: Subtle Bodies, Si 12, and the Sex Life of a Sage


By Johanna J. M. Petsche


. . . This chapter will begin with a brief background to Gurdjieff and his teaching. Gurdjieff’s views on the sex center, which governs mechanical behavior but can potentially liberate individuals, will then be examined and positioned within the context of his “three-octave” system of food transformation outlined in Pyotr Demianovich Ouspensky’s (1878-1947) In Search of the Miraculous (1949). Following this, Gurdjieff’s views on heterosexuality, homosexuality, masturbation, and gender, with a focus on his contentious statements about women, will be assessed within the context of his teaching. Finally, Gurdjieff”s own flamboyant and controversial sex life will be considered.1

Gurdjieff’s own writings, transcriptions of his talks, and the memoirs of close pupils, particularly those of J. G. Bennett (1897-1974) and Fritz Peters (1913-1979), will be utilized throughout this chapter. The two main texts used are Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (henceforth Tales), which constitutes the first part of his trilogy All and Everything, and pupil Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous (henceforth Search). Brief accounts of these texts follow.



GURDJIEFF ON SEX  – pp. 135-47


. . . Certainly, in many spiritual and esoteric systems, the orgasm is considered to be a critical moment in human consciousness and the key to magical power and contact with divine energies. American spiritualist Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825–75) saw the orgasm as “the most solemn, energetic and powerful moment . . . on earth,” where “the souls of the partners are opened to the powers of the cosmos and anything then truly willed is accomplished” (Urban 2006, 8–9, 67). For Randolph, if the orgasm is directed toward a higher spiritual end, it leads the soul upward to higher states of spiritual transcendence, but if it is directed toward careless or selfish ends, it leads the soul downward to lower depraved states of corruption and results in psychological and spiritual destruction—to madness, criminality, and damnation (Urban 2006, 67, 73). Gurdjieff commentator James Webb suggests that Gurdjieff derived much of his material from Randolph (Webb 1980, 532–33), whose work on sex magic had a profound impact on later Western esotericism (Urban 2006, 66–67). Interestingly, similarly to Gurdjieff, Randolph explained his teaching as deriving from his travels through the Middle East, particularly from interactions with the Brotherhood of Eulis, groups of fakirs or Sufis, as well as the Ansairi and other Eastern masters among the Arabs, Turks, Syrians, Armenians, and Egyptians (Urban 2006, 66–67).


For Gurdjieff, sexual abstinence can also aid the process of food transformation, as long as the other centers also abstain, and the sexual energy saved is managed consciously and correctly (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 256). Sexual abstinence must also create space in the organism and a shock, as it breaks the cycle of mechanical behavior. In Tales Gurdjieff speaks of sex energy in terms of “exioëhary,” or sperm, produced by both males and females, which has the potential to nourish higher bodies and which can be used productively but also harmfully through practices of sexual abstinence (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 806–10). In one of the most influential compendia of tantric ritual and iconography in northeast India, the Brihat Tantrasara, composed in the late sixteenth century in Bengal, sexual fluids are similarly considered a source of spiritual power. The goal of the tantric practices it expounds is not pleasure, but rather the harnessing of this power, which is considered potentially dangerous. This power can only be awakened through highly esoteric rituals (Urban 2006, 88–91).


In Gurdjieff’s system of food transformation, there is, however, a barrier that most people encounter. As stated earlier, the sex center rarely operates with the fine energy of si 12 due to the typically dysfunctional state of the human organism. Human beings live in a mechanical condition where their centers are off-kilter, which means that the potent sexual energy they produce flows into the wrong centers. Rather than feeding the higher bodies, or producing a child, this energy pours into useless activities such as fighting, disputing, criticizing, playing sport excessively, and acts of destruction (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 258). This is detrimental to one’s health; in Tales Gurdjieff explains that when sexual energy, exioëhary, cannot evolve in the system of spiritual transformation, it “involves,” creating illnesses and short life spans (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 793). This is why Gurdjieff told Fritz Peters that if one could not use one’s sexual energy in the right way, there is a proper sublimation of sexual energy, and that is to use it for other equally creative activities (Peters 1978, 41; Peters 1976, 164, 227). One finds a similar teaching on the sublimation of sexual energy in Theravada Buddhism (Humphreys 1971, 113).


Thus Gurdjieff viewed sex as both a tool for spiritual transformation and as playing a tremendous role in feeding one’s mechanical behavior. Indeed, he stated that sex is “the chief form of slavery and it is also the chief possibility of liberation” (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 255). The harmonizing of the centers and proper use of the sex center are imperative to Gurdjieff’s teaching and to the process of spiritual transformation, to the point where he even stated, “Only a person who is completely normal as regards sex has any chance in the work. Any kind of ‘originality,’ strange tastes, strange desires. . .must be destroyed from the very beginning. Modern education and modern life create an enormous number of sexual psychopaths. They have no chance at all in the work” (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 257). What Gurdjieff considered “normal” and “strange” in regards to sex will now be examined.



Views on Sexuality and Masturbation


For Gurdjieff, sex should simply serve the two intentions of nature—to produce children and to produce energy for spiritual development—and it is “perversion” if it performs any other role (Peters 1976, 227–28). Gurdjieff vehemently advocated sex education for children so that these principles could be known and followed from a young age (Gurdjieff [1963] 2002, 54–57; Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 1032–41; Gurdjieff 1984, 126–27). The ideal sexual union was a heterosexual and honest one, where sex was “conscious of itself ”: “When sex is clearly conscious of itself and does not cover itself up by anything else it is not the mechanicalness about which I am speaking. On the contrary sex which exists by itself and is not dependent on anything else is already a great achievement. But the evil lies in this constant self-deception!” (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 254–55).


In Tales Gurdjieff describes ideal, perfect beings existing on the planet Modiktheo, who consciously conjoin to produce offspring. These beings exist as three different sexes—Martna, Spirna, and Okina—but a unique form of conception occurs when the beings of each of these different sexes unite. First, they each independently experience a period of gestation where they perform “Partkdolg duty” (where they conduct themselves consciously and intentionally), and then, when the time of birth approaches, they “press close to each other and ultimately almost grow on to each other,” mutually giving birth to offspring with already-formed higher being-bodies. According to Gurdjieff, this conscious, purposeful approach to sex was ignored by human beings, who preferred the pursuit of pleasure, which is detrimental to spiritual growth (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 276–79, 771–73, 791–93).


Gurdjieff condemned the notion of sex for pleasure, as this is contrary to the twofold purpose of sex as outlined above, and thus denounced masturbation, contraception, and prostitution. His aversion to masturbation may have been influenced by advice given to him as a child by 70-year-old “Dean Borsh,” a most influential figure in the young Gurdjieff’s life when he undertook his schooling in Kars, Turkey. Gurdjieff reports that Dean Borsh had lectured him on sexual matters and had said that if, before adulthood, one yields, even once, to the temptation to “gratify lust,” he will lose the possibility of ever being a real man of real worth (Gurdjieff 2002[1963], 54). In line with this view, Gurdjieff stated to pupils that the reason why sexual associations interfere with spiritual work is because of infantile masturbation (Patterson 2000, 46), and in Tales Gurdjieff described masturbation as a harmful affliction and an evil. He even claimed that people were transformed into “psychopaths” by the practice, and endorsed male and female circumcision as a means to prevent masturbation in youth: “‘children’s onanism’ is scarcely met with among the children of those threebrained beings there who observe this custom of ‘circumcision,’ whereas all the children and youths of the beings who fail to observe this custom are without exception exposed to this same sexual abnormality” (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 977–78). Gurdjieff’s negative views on masturbation reflect widespread beliefs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which were based on the idea that sexual fluids contained precious, vital energy. Unnecessary waste of these fluids through self-gratification was considered a tragic loss for the organism (Urban 2006, 66, 72).


Gurdjieff also denounced homosexuality, which is perplexing considering that, in Paris in 1936 and 1937, he taught an all-female and mostly lesbian group called “The Rope.” The name came from Gurdjieff’s explanation that to mount the slopes of consciousness group members must be tied together on a cordeé, or rope (Beekman Taylor 2008, 191–92). The group had close, almost daily contact with Gurdjieff, with meetings held in restaurants or at his apartment. Gurdjieff taught them through readings of his texts, assigning exercises, and identifying members’ “inner animals” (Patterson 1999, 92). It is reported that he said to the group in relation to their sexuality, “You very dirty . . . but have something very good—many people not got—very special” (Patterson 1999, 249). And to one member, Solita Solano, he stated, “Something wrong your sex. Sex very important thing is, like light, like air you breathe, food you eat. If you are in five parts, two of your five parts depends from sex. You must more normal live” (Patterson 1999, 138). Pupil Fritz Peters maintained, “He was puritanical, even a fanatic, about homosexuality, and condemned it vigorously . . . He felt that homosexuality—as a career—was a dead-end street; and perhaps, further, one of Nature’s defences against overpopulation . . . He frequently reminded me that Nature would manage to ‘get even’ with Mankind if we continued to fight against rather than with the laws of the Universe” (Peters 1978, 43). Gurdjieff’s views on homosexuality must relate to his firm belief that both male and female components were necessary to create balance, as they contributed active and intellectual (male), and passive and emotional (female) elements. This type of polarity is common to various strands of Western esotericism, from Kabbalah to the Renaissance magic of Marsilio Ficino and the Enlightenment mysticism of Emmanuel Swedenborg; the union of male and female was regarded as the earthly reflection of the union of active and passive aspects of the Godhead (Urban 2006, 1–2). This dichotomous view of the sexes accords with Gurdjieff’s Law of Three, where every phenomenon in the universe is the result of the interplay between three forces; active and passive forces are neutralized by a third force, which creates something new. For example, a male (active force), female (passive force), and sexual force (neutralizing force) can produce a child (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 278). However, two active or two passive forces cannot lawfully operate in this way. Randolph expounded a similar theory, where the sexual instinct is the most fundamental force in the universe as it represents the natural attraction between active and passive forces (Urban 2006, 67).


In the colorful cosmological narrative of Tales, Gurdjieff explained that the “first beings,” called “Polormedekhtic” or “Monoentithis” beings, included both sexes in the same individual body. The splitting of the sexes occurred when the original planet Earth splintered into different parts due to a collision by the comet Kondoor. Human beings then became “halfbeings” from a sexual and procreative standpoint, and since then have needed the other half—the opposite sex—to correctly carry out their lives and roles (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 771). This resembles the story in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad, 1.4.3, where Purusha, the first being, wished to have a companion. As he was as large as a man and woman in close embrace, he split his body into two, giving rise to husband and wife. This is why Yajnavalkya states, “The two of us are like two halves of a block (Upanisads 1998, 13–14). It also parallels the biblical story of Adam being split into two when his rib was removed so that God could create a woman (Genesis 2: 21–23). Gurdjieff’s views on the different sexes and their distinct roles and natures will now be further explored.



Views on Gender


Pupils Peters and Bennett describe Gurdjieff carefully separating the sexes at his institute at Fontainebleau. Peters maintains,


There was no mingling of the sexes in any “immoral” sense. The men and women bathed separately at the bath, and different hours were allotted for male and female use of the swimming pool. There was, in fact, a very strict code of morality in this purely physical sense, and we were highly amused when people sent us clippings from the Sunday supplements of various newspapers which “proved” that the Institute was a nudist colony, or a “free-love” group . . . While it was true that we swam without bathing suits, the swimming pool was equipped with curtains which were always drawn whenever anyone went in swimming. It was forbidden, in fact, for even the small children to swim without drawing the curtains. (Peters 1976, 78)


At the Institute, pupils were also housed in a way in which the sexes were separated (Peters 1976, 129), and in the Study House, a large room used for Movements practice and demonstrations, men and women sat on different sides of the room (Bennett 1973, 231). On Saturdays, the men alone went with Gurdjieff to the Russian bath and spoke about things that were not to be repeated to the women. Afterward, they privately dined with Gurdjieff, and Gurdjieff’s ritual toasts to the different types of “idiots” at the table were originally given only to the men, in accordance with traditional dervish practice (Bennett 1973, 231). These toasts were meant to provide a mirror in which pupils could see themselves (Nott 1978, 102).


Gurdjieff believed that the sexes have distinct natures and thus distinct roles to play in life. For example, men have aspiration while women do not. Aspiration compels men to climb mountains, to fly, to write, compose music, and paint, and the fact that women attempt to do these things shows how the world is “mixed up” (Peters 1976, 112–13). Gender roles, according to Gurdjieff, have become confused in contemporary times because women now try to carry out men’s work: “Not necessary for woman do work of man in world. If woman can find real man, then woman become real woman without necessity work. But, like I tell, world mixed up. Today in world real man not exist, so woman even try to become man, do man’s work which is wrong for her nature” (Peters 1976, 113). Gurdjieff stated that a man who does not fulfill his active role, and a woman who attempts to fill this role, are both members of the “third sex,” for whom there is little prospect of transformation (Bennett 1973, 230). At one time he said that a true man and a true woman are not just male and female; they are each a combination of male and female, active and passive (Peters 1976, 113).


In a talk to his pupils, Gurdjieff stated that there are “equal chances” for both sexes in his work (Gurdjieff 1984, 87). However, this is at odds with other statements he made about women and their lack of potential for spiritual development. For example, Denis Saurat reported that Gurdjieff said that women could scarcely hope to come by souls except through sexual contact and union with men (Perry 1978, 76). Similarly, Gurdjieff asserted to Fritz Peters that women did not need his work because the nature of women was such that “self development,” in his sense of the phrase, was something that they could never achieve. The only hope for women to develop, “to go to Heaven,” is with a man (Peters 1976, 112). This view is reminiscent of Asian, Hellenic, and Hebrew traditional lore where, during sex, the woman is thought to draw from the man something of his power (Beekman Taylor 2006, 233). The idea was, however, criticized by Jessmin Howarth, a female pupil who bore Gurdjieff a child: “Why does there seem to be this growing idiocy, the idea that no woman can hope to gain a ‘Body Kesdjan’ unless she has had sexual intercourse with a ‘Master?’” (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 224)


Gurdjieff made other contentious statements about women. He said to Orage that “the cause of every anomaly can be found in women” (Beekman Taylor 2001, 243), and in Tales he cites wise Sufi philosopher Mullah Nassr Eddin’s repeated assertion that “the cause of every misunderstanding must be sought only in woman” (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 274). He even said to Peters that most relationships were merely that of man and “handkerchief.” “For him,” he said, “this very convenient; he suddenly feel need or wish to blow nose—and always he have this handkerchief with him” (Peters 1976, 216). There is also a bizarre story in Tales where men and women were separated for a time: the men turned to onanism and pederasty, and the women sought sexual activity with beings of other forms. This led to the existence of the species of apes, which resemble human beings, and their psyches resemble that of the female sex (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 274–81).


In any assessment of Gurdjieff, one must constantly be mindful of the fact that his teaching was based on the belief that people need to be severely “woken up” and challenged if they have any hope of transforming spiritually. He demonstrated an ongoing interest in creating opportunities for pupils to struggle and face conflict so that they could understand his teachings experientially. Thus any of the above statements could have been meant as shocks, or appeals, for pupils to stay alert and keep on their guard, actively questioning everything. He did, after all, warn pupils not to take him literally (Nott 1978, 75). In any case, the above statements seem at variance with the fact that at the end of his life, Gurdjieff’s chosen successor was a woman, Jeanne de Salzmann, and also that he probably had more female than male pupils. Gurdjieff certainly encouraged women to commit themselves to his work, and many of his female pupils later played significant roles in perpetuating the teaching, particularly the Movements. Bennett even states that Gurdjieff’s female pupils were among the most successful of all the pupils, some occupying very important and decisive positions, and attained perhaps more than most of the men (Bennett 1973, 231).



Gurdjieff’s Own Sex Life


Gurdjieff’s conservative, uncompromising views on sex might appear to conflict with his famously flamboyant character, vulgar sense of humor, and liberal relationships with women, some of them his pupils. There is a well-known incident recounted by sculptor and writer Rom Landau, who met Gurdjieff in New York in 1934. Landau was dining with a female friend, while Gurdjieff was seated at another table. He pointed Gurdjieff out to her, and Gurdjieff immediately caught her eye and suddenly began to inhale and exhale in a particular way. Landau’s friend turned pale and had an orgasm. She claimed to have been “struck right through my sexual centre. It was beastly!” (Landau 1935, 244).


Of Gurdjieff’s sex life, Bennett states,


His sexual life was strange in its unpredictability. At certain times he led a strict, almost ascetic life, having no relation with women at all. At other times, his sex life seemed to go wild and it must be said that his unbridled periods were more frequent than the ascetic. At times, he had sexual relationships not only with almost any woman who happened to come within the sphere of his influence, but also with his own pupils. Quite a number of his women pupils bore him children. (Bennett 1973, 231–32)


It is known that pupils Jessmin Howarth, in 1924, and Edith Taylor, in 1928, bore Gurdjieff daughters, and Elizaveta de Stjernvall, in 1919, and Jeanne de Salzmann, in 1923, whose husbands were working with Gurdjieff at the time, bore him sons. His affair with the married Lili Galumian produced a son in 1927. There is also some evidence that Gurdjieff made sexual advances to pupils Olga de Hartmann and Jessie Orage in 1930. Paul Beekman Taylor, who lived with Gurdjieff as an infant at the Prieuré in the 1920s, and worked with him in 1948 and 1949, states that in his presence Gurdjieff spoke of ten children, though in interviews he boasted of over one hundred (Beekman Taylor 2008, 18–19, 233).


Accounts given by pupil Jessmin Howarth and her daughter to Gurdjieff, Dushka Howarth, indicate that there was camaraderie between Gurdjieff’s children and between the mothers (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 204, 206). They paint Gurdjieff as a fairly generous, kind, and protective father (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 204–205, 248). On one occasion Gurdjieff told Dushka that he would not allow pupil Alfred Etievant to fall in love with her because she was “Miss Gurdjieff” and was too good for him. She was to treat him like a “louse that one makes chik” (crushes between one’s thumbnails). When she questioned this, Gurdjieff was adamant that he was her father and expected obedience, to which Dushka replied that she had only known him (Gurdjieff) for three weeks and had learned to be independent in her 24 years. Gurdjieff had apparently informed her casually one day that he was her father (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 204–205). It seems that some of the mothers of Gurdjieff’s children, such as Jessmin Howarth, Edith Taylor, and Jeanne de Salzmann, preferred to withhold this information from the children, while Gurdjieff was eventually upfront with them about it (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 205, 207, 213). Amusingly, Dushka admits that she and Petey Taylor, another of Gurdjieff’s daughters, had found Michel de Salzmann the most attractive man they had ever met, until it was revealed to them several days later that he was their half brother (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 213).


To the mothers of his children, Gurdjieff was variable. Jessmin Howarth reports that at one Saturday lunch, “Edith and I would be put through the same old routine of disapproval. We were not to call our daughters ‘Petey’ and ‘Dushka’ (but Eve and Sophia)! One time we would be shouted at ‘Svolotch!’ ‘Balda!’ [approximately: ‘lowest of the low!’ and ‘dullard!’] Another time treated with much special attention, extra food and commands to the girls to ‘love their mothers’” (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 206). At the time of some of his affairs with pupils, Gurdjieff was married to the Polish Julia Osipovna Ostrowska, who was around twenty-three years his junior. Ostrowska’s background is unknown; she may have been a countess and lady-in-waiting to Alexandra Feodorovna, or even a prostitute (Moore 1991, 67–68). According to de Hartmann she was tall and beautiful, “but not at all like those women of the cultured class who habitually interest themselves in new philosophical teachings. Our first impression was that she was rather remote from her husband’s affairs. But we came to see how deeply and seriously she valued the Work of Mr. Gurdjieff. We grew to love her, deeply and sincerely” (de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 17, 19). Gurdjieff and Ostrowska were married from around 1909 to her death in June 1926, though she never took the name of Gurdjieff, always remaining “Madame Ostrowska.” Gurdjieff commentator James Webb posits that this was because they were never legally wed and that Gurdjieff already had a wife living somewhere in Central Asia (Webb 1980, 137). Beekman Taylor discounts this, stating that in Russian society married women frequently retained their maiden names after marriage for informal use, and that on occasion she was listed as “Gurdjieff” on official documents (Beekman Taylor 2008, 18, 40).


Gurdjieff had deep affection for Ostrowska (Gurdjieff 1999, 36–40; Peters 1976, 76–77), and she occupied a privileged position in his work, taking lead roles in his Movements. He was devastated by her death to cancer at age 37, as is revealed in a story in Tales that reflects the circumstances surrounding Ostrowska’s death. In the chapter “The Bokharian Dervish Hadji-Asvatz-Troov,” Gurdjieff tells of a European man whose wife was diagnosed with cancer. This man himself had discovered a cure for cancer, but had a road accident, which prevented him from putting his cure into effect in time. When he recovered, it was too late to use his method on his wife, so he decided not to spare himself and channeled his energies into his wife’s body to slow down the cancer, managing to keep his wife alive for two years (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 910–14). Gurdjieff was attentive to his wife when she was ill and explained that, even though doctors had put her under sentence of death, he had been able to extend the time limit through his own efforts. Olga de Hartmann claimed that once during Ostrowska’s last days, Gurdjieff caused a marked improvement in her condition by making her drink a glass of water that he had held for a few minutes in his hands (Webb 1980, 315–16).


When Ostrowska died, Gurdjieff retired to his room, shattered, seeing no one for two days. However, his behavior in the period that followed confused pupils. Gurdjieff devoted the day of the funeral to embarrassing the archbishop and preventing expressions of grief over Ostrowska’s death. He described to pupils what he considered a traditional funeral custom from more enlightened times, where the friends of the deceased spent three days remembering the evil deeds their acquaintance had committed and concentrating on their own mortality. At the funeral feast, Gurdjieff repeatedly cursed God (Webb 1980, 316). Further, shortly after Ostrowksa’s death, Gurdjieff was living with a married woman, whom he made pregnant (Peters 1976, 114). Beekman Taylor suggests that this was pupil Lili Galumian, who gave birth to her son Sergei in 1927 (Beekman Taylor 2006, 132).


Gurdjieff displayed a reverential and protective attitude toward his wife, mother, and other female blood relatives, and seems to have associated Ostrowska with his mother. He described them as being in rapport with nature and communicating in a silent language (Gurdjieff 1999, 36–39). They were buried together in Avon in Fontainebleau. Ostrowska was, perhaps, somewhat of an Earth Mother figure to Gurdjieff and to his pupils, a similar role to that played by L. Ron Hubbard’s third wife, Mary Sue, for Hubbard and members of the Sea Org. Ostrowska must have turned a blind eye to Gurdjieff’s affairs. She never bore Gurdjieff a child, and accounts suggest that they had separate rooms at the institute in Fontainebleau (Peters 1976, 28; de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 248).


As discussed, Gurdjieff displayed quite a different attitude toward other women in his life. In his memoirs Fritz Peters is candid about Gurdjieff’s promiscuity, stating that at the institute there were rumors that “a great deal more went on in his rooms other than drinking coffee and Armagnac. The normal state of his rooms after one night indicated that almost any human activity could have taken place there the night before. There is no doubt that his rooms were lived in, in the fullest sense of the word” (Peters 1976, 28). At times Gurdjieff used sex to shock individuals and demonstrate something of his teaching. Peters describes a dinner party that Gurdjieff held in 1933 at his New York apartment for 15 well-mannered New Yorkers. Over dinner Gurdjieff made provocative remarks about sex and gave accounts of his own sexual abilities and highly imaginative mind, declaring that he was capable of sustained sexual acts of incredible variety. He then launched into a detailed description of the sexual habits of various races and nations. The night resulted in an orgy (it is unclear whether Gurdjieff took part), and Gurdjieff then stated that he would gladly accept from them checks and cash in payment for this lesson, which demonstrated the soundness of observations he had made earlier that evening concerning the sexual motivations of Americans. Apparently, Gurdjieff received several thousand dollars that night (Peters 1976, 201–206).


Pupil Thomas de Hartmann recounts his first meeting with Gurdjieff, which took place, on Gurdjieff’s suggestion, in a café frequented by prostitutes, where Gurdjieff made the coarse observation, “There are usually more whores here” (de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 8). Gurdjieff must have known that de Hartmann was a Guards officer at the time, and had he been seen at the café, he would have had to leave his regiment (de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 7). According to de Hartmann, Gurdjieff did everything he could to create unfavorable conditions for this meeting, interpreting this as a technique in compelling de Hartmann to remember his “true aim” (de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 74). Fritz Peters also states, “Gurdjieff frequently used sex as a kind of shock factor in dealing with individuals,” remembering a time when Gurdjieff wished for an egotistical woman at his institute to leave. At three in the morning, he propositioned her, and, utterly insulted, she immediately left the institute (Peters 1976, 228–29).


Although on matters of sex Gurdjieff taught the conservative values that he must have felt would benefit his pupils, personally, he clearly preferred not to live by them. In a study of the sexual behavior of contemporary spiritual teachers, American teacher of Vipassana meditation Jack Kornfield interviewed a broad cross-section of spiritual teachers from a variety of traditions and found that their sex lives, preferences, and experiences reflected those of the average person. He concluded that “teachers are likely to have active and complex sex lives. We have to re-examine the myth that enlightenment implies celibacy, and that sexuality is somehow abnormal or contrary to the awakened mind” (Kornfield 1985, 28).


This apparent contradiction between Gurdjieff’s theory and practice could be considered within the broader context of his life and teaching, which can essentially be viewed as continual experiments and improvisations; Gurdjieff commentator Peter Washington views improvisation as vital to Gurdjieff’s method (Washington 1993, 254). That is, all accounts of his life reveal that he was highly unpredictable and adaptable, constantly testing new methods of teaching, and using to the fullest any person, situation, and opportunity that came his way. This approach to life reflects his teaching aims; improvising his way through life might well have been Gurdjieff’s attempt at living “consciously” and keeping his movements challenging and unpredictable, for himself and his pupils. His sex life, “strange in its unpredictability,” as Bennett describes it (Bennett 1973, 231), could be considered in this way.





The Devil’s Mark


The Evaluation of Evil, the Measurement of Morality,
and the Statistical Significance of Sin


By Robert Stern



An Enlightened Life in Text and Image: G. I. Gurdjieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men (1963) and Peter Brook’s “Meetings With Remarkable Men” (1969)


By Carol Cusack


Introduction (excerpt)


This article considers the ‘autobiographical’ memoir by George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1866[?] – 29 October 1949), Meetings With Remarkable Men (hereafter Meetings), which was published posthumously in 1963 under the aegis of Jeanne de Salzmann, Gurdjieff’s designated successor. Almost all known about the Greek-Armenian Gurdjieff is open to question, from his birth date (variously given as 1866, 1872 and 1877), to the ‘Work’, as his teaching is called. The Work has been jealously guarded as a modern initiatory tradition by first-and second-generation disciples, and is controversial in terms of its sources, meaning and interpretation. The 1979 film, “Meetings With Remarkable Men”, with a script co-authored by Madame de Salzmann, directed by Gurdjieffian theatre and film auteur, Peter Brook (b. 1925), depicts the young Gurdjieff’s spiritual quest reverentially. . .





From Biographies

By Peter Holleran


George Gurdjieff – Mysterious Trickster


Proponent of “The Fourth Way”, George Gurdjieff taught a hard school of self-understanding.

   Gurdjieff evidently had yogic powers of a sort, but controversy exists over his morals and ethics, no doubt due to his use of “crazy-wise” methods. Many students were pushed to extremes of discipline, and a few went over the edge. This might be looked upon as the mark of a good teacher, using forceful means for the benefit of his disciples, but many thought otherwise. Rom Landau wrote:


   “Some of his pupils would at times complain that they could no longer support Gurdjieff’s violent temper, his apparent greed for money, or the extravagance of his private life.” (5)


John Bennett said that


   “(Gurdjieff) spoke of women in terms that would have better suited a fanatical Muslim polygamist than a Christian, boasting that he had many children by different women, and that women were for him only the means to an end.” (6)


   Every teacher has his detractors, particularly those teachers who make bold, dramatic use of the energies of life for teaching purposes, but it is not our intent to criticize character. Teachers can make mistakes, however, and the ways of any one teacher are not necessarily the way for all students. Gurdjieff used strong and shocking means to reveal his students to themselves, and he particularly liked to hit upon the “sex nerve” and the “pocketbook nerve”. He said that “nothing shows up people so much as their attitude toward money”, and through casual incidents he delighted in awakening people to the hypocrisy of their gentile ways. He liked to keep people on the edge of financial ruin, creating one disaster after another, saying that if they felt too comfortable they would not grow.


   The “crazy-wise” teaching methods have a long history, and must always be seen in context. What works for some, may not work for others, and cannot be imitated. What is most important to remember about a teacher, says Arthur Deikman, is this:


   “Teachers will be imperfect. What you need to be able to count on is them doing their job.” (6a)


Gurdjieff apparently had yogic powers, and it is said that he purposely helped to delay the death of his wife a few more days because she was close to enlightenment. Through his help it is claimed that she would not need to come back to this world because she did in fact attain awakening.


   As mentioned earlier, Gurdjieff (because of his obscure writing style) is better understood through his interpreters. Indeed, when writing All and Everything, Gurdjieff continually changed his wording in this long book whenever he saw that disciples understood what he had written! Again, this was an example of his “burying the dog.” He felt that the work was more useful when one was kept in a state of confusion on the level of the mind, forcing one to dig deeper for the truth.


John Bennett summarizes his basic form of argument:


   “You think you know who you are and what you are; but you do not know either what slaves you now are, or how free you might become. Man can do nothing: he is a machine controlled by external influences, not by his own will, which is an illusion. He is asleep. He has no permanent self that he can call ‘I’. Because he is not one but many, his moods, his impulses, his very sense of his own existence are no more than a constant flux…Make the experiment of trying to remember your own existence and you will find that you cannot remember yourselves even for two minutes. How can man, who cannot remember who and what he is, who does not know the forces that move him to action, pretend that he can do anything?” (7)


The “Fourth Way” was Gurdjieff’s term for the way taught in his system. According to him, there are three traditional paths, those of the faqir, the monk, and the yogi. The faqir works on disciplining the physical body with harsh austerities. The monk works on his emotions with prayer, fasting, and meditation. The yogi attempts to discipline his mind and alter his state of consciousness. “The fourth way” is that of simultaneously working on the other three dimensions (which correspond with the three bodies: physical, emotional or astral, and mental (which Gurdjieff called the spiritual) while applying the process of self-observation to make oneself less mechanical. This is the way of the “cunning man”, who thus surpassed the faqir, the monk, and the yogi and came to know the true “I” which was the presiding ego, the ‘divine’ body, the owner of the other three bodies. With this language, almost theosophical in character, one can see the possible limit of Gurdjieff’s teachings in encompassing the higher non-dual philosophy. How many of Gurdjieff’s followers found the Self, as opposed to the “I” or ‘ego-soul’?  How many knew the ‘I AM’?  Did Gurdjieff himself attain such realization?



From Gurdjieff’s HERALD of COMING GOOD: First Appeal to Contemporary Humanity, initially published by the author in Paris and 1933; later published by Samuel Weiser, Inc., NY, 1973


Only now, having prepared, in my opinion, by means of everything already set forth in this booklet, a corresponding, so-to-say, “ground-work” for depicting before the inner eye of every reader different outlines of the essence of this booklet of mine, called by me “The-First-Appeal-To-Contemporary-Humanity”, I consider it right, before other things, to announce in the hearing of all that, although I undertake at last the publication of my writings, I have decided to promote their circulation not by the usual ways, but in accordance with a definite plan worked out by me.

This plan, newly formed by me, consists in taking all possible measures to prevent my writings, with the exception of the first series, from becoming at once property “accessible-to-everybody”.

This decision of mine, made during the last years in the course of my observations of those who listened to the readings of my current work, is the result of long consideration, and is a conclusion contrary to my original hope of the possibility of making some more, generally available contribution to the healing of man’s psyche, which has already become, during the last centuries, almost completely abnormal.



Is There “Life” on Earth? An Introduction to Gurdjieff © 1973


By J. G. Bennett


From Chapter 2, Gurdjieff – The Man and His Work


Gurdjieff came more and more clearly to see that the ways of helping people which have been used in the past are no longer applicable — because modern man cannot even listen to what is most necessary for him to hear. Notwithstanding so many years of profound study of the human psyche, Gurdjieff reached the conclusion, as late as 1927, that a new and more penetrating approach to the problem must be undertaken. He accordingly imposed on himself a way of life that would, as he says, “cause each person to take off the mask kindly provided by their papa and mama,” and disclose the depths of his or her nature. The procedure adopted he describes as “finding the most sensitive corn of each person from whatever class or race he might come and whatever position he might hold, and treading on it rather violently.” It can well be imagined that such a procedure made him many new enemies and even scandalized many old friends. Since he carried his procedure into every kind of relationship, it is not surprising that stories of a most damaging nature should have begun to spread at his expense.


Very few people were able to see the necessity or sense of his actions and there is no question that many obstacles were created to the acceptance of his teaching. Nevertheless, for anyone who has felt the obscurity of the human psyche, it is obvious that what he did was indispensable – partly to establish the facts which it was necessary to know and partly, also, for the further aim – equally important and necessary – namely, to try and recover his own health.  Not only was his bodily strength almost destroyed by the automobile accident, but he carried the results of many serious diseases contracted in the course of his travels in different parts of the world.


In 1931, he again visited New York and, before the outbreak of the Second World War, paid several further visits to America. The Prieurè was finally closed down in 1932, and in 1934 he settled in Paris.


The period from 1939 to 1948 was one of utmost difficulty and privation for himself and his work. Those who were directly in contact with him were fewer in number than in the past, while those who misunderstood his ideas and mistrusted his methods had increased. Very much misunderstanding existed. Only a few who knew him well and had worked closely with him had some understanding of his aim.


So it came about that in the summer of 1948, many people who had not seen each other for many years, and others who had never met at all, began to arrive in Paris and went round to see him in his little flat, re-establishing contact first with him and then with one another. Everything seemed to be going normally as if work with him would continue as before, when again, there was one of these automobile accidents which, with bullet wounds and disease, make a terrifying pattern in his life. Once again, by all ordinary standards, he should have been killed.



“I am Gurdjieff. I will not die.” Oct 1, 2017


Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation Archives


Gurdjieff International Review


Gurdjieff – Feed the Wolf  – Feb 24, 2017


Love Your Beast – Jun 17, 2017



The Three Dangerous Magi: Osho, Gurdjieff, Crowley © 2010


By P.T. Mistlberger


Introduction – p. 5


. . . Gurus who are thought to be some sort of emissary from the higher worlds, or even ‘lord’ of the world, or the next messiah, or the messiah, etc., are a dime a dozen. Spiritual or religious leaders who get mired in scandal and are subsequently accused of being corrupt, depraved, or evil, are equally common. Were this to be a book about such gurus it would have to be a ten volume encyclopedia.



Chapter 8: Self-Perfection and the Myth of the Infallible Guru – p. 213


. . . Concerning Gurdjieff’s 1 through 7 scale, Ouspensky, in In Search of the Miraculous, quotes Gurdjieff as follows:


Man number one, number two, and number three, these are people who constitute mechanical humanity on the same level on which they are born. Man number one means man in whom the center of gravity of his psychic life lies in the moving center. This is the man of the physical body… Man number two means man on the same level of development, but man in whom the center of gravity of his psychic life lies in the emotional center, that is, man with whom the emotional functions outweigh all others… Man number three means a man on the same level of development in whom the center of gravity of his psychic life lies in the intellectual center… Every man is born number one, two, or three … man number four is not ready made … he becomes four only as a result of efforts of a definite character. Man number four is always the product of [inner] school work. Man number five has already been crystallized … He has now one indivisible I and all his knowledge belongs to this I … the knowledge of man number six is the complete knowledge possible to man; but I can still be lost. The knowledge of man number seven is his own knowledge, which cannot be taken away from him; it is the objective and practical knowledge of All.



P. 218


A bleak fundamental of Gurdjieff’s teaching is that man is not born with a soul – and that without one, he will ‘die like a dog’. (Gurdjieff’s reference to ‘dying like a dog’ is interesting in that the dog is a symbol of death in many cultures – not least of which was in ancient Egypt, where Anubis, generally recognized as a canine-type god, is a chthonic deity of embalming and death). Consistent with some elements of ancient Egyptian mysticism, he believed that the soul could only be created by working on oneself – by becoming, at the least, a ‘man number four’.












By Anthony Storr


Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff



From Essential SUFISM, edited by James Fadiman and Robert Frager © 1997


CHAPTER 4: The Lower Self (excerpts)


Sufism is concerned with the ways of following a spiritual path and with what gets us off track. There is an element in us, the nafs, that tends to lead us astray. This Arabic term is sometimes translated “ego” or “self.” Other meanings of nafs include “essence” and “breath.”

In Sufism, the term nafs is generally used in the sense of “that which incites to wrongdoing.” This includes our egotism and selfishness, our greed and unending desire for more things, our conceit and arrogance. Perhaps the best translation for this part of us is the “lower self.”

The lower self is not so much a thing as a process created by the interaction of the soul and the body. Body and soul are pure and blameless in themselves. However, when our soul becomes embodied, we tend to forget our soul-nature; we become attached to this world and develop such qualities as greed, lust, and pride.

On the spiritual path and in life in general, we all struggle to do those things we clearly know are best for ourselves and others. We often struggle even harder to avoid those actions we know are wrong or harmful.

Why the struggle? If we were of a single mind, there would be no struggle. But our minds are split. Even when we are convinced of what is right, our lower self tries to get us to do the opposite. Even when we see clearly, our lower self leads us to forget.

How the lower self operates, how to understand it, and how to work with it is vital for our soul’s remembering. If we use it to work on ourselves, this material is precious beyond price.




The lower self is continually subject to notions and whims, both in word and deed. Its movements are arbitrary and unreliable; it is in a hurry to fulfill its desires, acting precipitously. Certain sages have likened it, in its fickleness, to a ball rolling giddily down a slope.


However much the lower self makes a show of virtue and attempts to conceal vice, the latter will be hidden only from the shortsighted and the naive, never from those with insight. It is like a hideous old hag who bedecks herself in fancy, dazzling clothes.


The lower self is constantly preoccupied with the virtues of its attributes, contemplating its states with contentment and reverence. It considers important the least thing it has done for anyone, remembering it for years afterward, being overwhelmed by its own kindness. Yet however great the favors others do for it, it places no importance on them, forgetting them quickly. If, by any chance, the lower self should succeed in attaining what it wants, it will still not be satisfied.


The lower self always wants people to obey moral precepts only as it expounds them, to love it more than anything else. The lower self wants others to fear it in all situations, clinging to hope in its mercy, in the same way that God demands these things from His devotees.


In most situations, the outward aspect of the lower self differs from the inward. It praises people in their presence, feigning honesty to their face, while in their absence it does the opposite.


The lower self is obsessed with presenting itself in ways that gain the good opinion of others. This results in its increase of possessions and pride in them, as well as arrogance, self-importance, and contempt. It avoids or ignores whatever people disapprove of, even though these things might please God.





One of the latent vices and secret maladies of the lower self is its love of praise. It continually enjoins a person to put on pretensions, so that people will compliment it. Indeed, there are many worshipers and ascetics who are thus controlled by the lower self.





Those who are controlled by the lower self must serve it; those who control the lower self serve others.


As long as your lower self rules your heart, you will never lose your love of this world.


If you treat your lower self with affection, you will never be saved from it.


One way to train the lower self is to resist its desires. However, if we wish to resist, we know that we must not resist by opposing or suppressing it; for when we do, it will rear up somewhere else, seeking gratification of its desires.





Whatever possessions and objects of its desires the lower self may obtain, it hangs onto them, refusing to let them go out of greed for more, or out of fear of poverty and need.


The lower self does not want anyone to receive anything from anyone else; and if it is aware of someone receiving a special boon, it seeks to destroy it.


A so-called dragon hunter went to the mountains to trap a dragon. He searched the mountains and finally discovered the frozen body of a great dragon in a cave high up one of the tallest peaks. The man brought the body to Baghdad. He claimed he slew the dragon single-handed and exhibited it on the bank of the river. Hundreds of people came to see the dragon. The warmth of the Baghdad sun gradually warmed the dragon’s body, and it began to stir, coming slowly out of its winter sleep. The people screamed and stampeded, and many were killed. The dragon hunter was frozen in fear, and the dragon ate him in a single gulp.
    Your lower self is that dragon, a savage, bloody tyrant.
    It is not dead, merely frozen.
    Keep your dragon in the snow of self-discipline.
    Do not transport it to the sunshine of Baghdad.
    Let that dragon of yours remain dormant.
    Should it be released, it will devour you.





The lower self is like a thief who sneaks into your house at night to steal whatever is valuable and worthwhile. You cannot fight this thief directly, because it will mirror whatever force you bring against it. If you have a gun, the thief will also have a gun. If you have a knife, the thief will have a knife as well. To struggle with the thief is to invite disaster. So, what can you do?
    The only practical solution is to turn on the light. The thief, who is a coward at heart, will then run out. How do we turn on the light? Through the practice of remembrance, awareness, and heedfulness.


Sheikh Tosun Bayrak



Rumi The Persian, The Sufi: Rebirth in Creativity and Love


By Prof. A. Reza Arasteh




Originally published in 1965.


This volume presents a systematic study of Rumi’s rebirth into a total being. By studying the elements of Persian culture, as well as the unique writings of Rumi, the author reveals the characteristics of maturity, the qualities of final integration in identity, health, and happiness that underlie Rumi’s life and work.




The author has enriched the cultural life of the English-speaking world by presenting the ideas and personality of one of the greatest humanists in such a vivid scholarly fashion… Erich Fromm






From CHAPTER III: The Human Situation and Self-realization – pp. 92-95


    By 1261, the year he began the Mathnawi, Rumi had already integrated his personality. Having resolved the conflicts in his heart, he now experienced oneness with all. He had undergone rebirth numerous times and easily related himself to humanity, for whom he felt a great concern and desire to guide. At the request of a new bosom friend, Husam al-Din (generally known as Ibn Akhi),1 Rumi interpreted the human situation and the seeker’s path to perfection during his nightly dances. To the accompaniment of the reed,2 Rumi related to Husam al-Din the essence of man’s inward state. This practice continued for about ten years.


    1. Rumi dedicated the Mathawi to Akhi, whom he referred to as: “My master, stay and support (who holds) the place of spirit in my body and (who is) the treasure of my today and my tomorrow . . .” (Translation: Nicholson, op. cit.)
    2. In the Mowlavi order the reed became the primary musical instrument, as it both symbolized man’s previous unity when he was united with Nature (or even before the creation of the universe in the form of creative force), and the instrument which when joined to the lover’s lips would disclose the way to the beloved: “It is the comrade of whosoever has lost his union.”



    In the six volumes of the Mathawi, Rumi reveals the innermost activities of man’s soul in quest of certainty. He calls the Mathnawi: “the root of the root of the root of religion in respect to its unveiling of the mysteries of attaining truth and certainty . . . it is as a station and most excellent as a resting place.”1  He now speaks as a guide with none of the emotional instability he revealed in Diwan-e-Shams. In a continuous way he tries to awaken the seekers and bring them out of their present state of disharmony so that they may realize the human situation and regain their harmony. Not only does the Mathnawi explain the human situation in terms of the existing cultural media (forms of communication), but it demonstrates the way of becoming a fully-born man. It thus raises certain questions: What is the human situation as Rumi sees it? What are its forces and tendencies? What is the true way and why?




    As the previous section indicated, Rumi believed that man, as a copy of the universe, originated from the non-phenomenal world, and passed through various stages (primarily plant and animal) to his present life, in which he now possesses infinite potentialities. Arising out of the essence which produced the state of oneness, man passed through the state of “he-ness” to become “I-ness.”2  Beneath these veils man’s essence has remained the same, but he must now unveil it to gain a better union with all. He can only attain this end by allowing himself to be born and reborn.


    1. Rumi: Mathnawi, I.
     2. A century after Rumi, Abdul Karim Ibn Ibrahim al-Jili (Gilani) (d. 1406?) systematized these ideas in a book, Al-Insan al-Kamil Fi Marifati-l awakhir wa’l-awail (the Perfect Man in Knowledge of First and Last Things).


     To Rumi man possesses every kind of being in his unconscious. Rumi compares man’s unconscious to the sea, where every kind of animal, plant, and mineral exists. Like a calm sea, the human soul in its depth carries a sample of the whole creation, which we are unaware of and cannot see. Yet a wave may bring some of the sea’s contents to the surface. Though the source of the wave (motivation) may be the same, the natural forces in man can presumably bring to the surface any creature – a sea dragon, snake, plant, or animal, useful or dangerous, or even a precious pearl. Thus, man has potentially inherited a force which can direct him to a bestial state or elevate him. In an evolutionary sense this force has progressed until it has manifested itself in man’s reason. At this state reason has found itself challenged by man’s animal tendencies; out of its contradictions man must either go beyond reason to attain the state of certainty (Nafs-e-Mutma’inna),1 or fall downward into Nafs-e-Ammara.2  Intuition and the power of spontaneous living comprise the former; evil belongs to the latter. An integrated man possesses Nafs (the natural instinctive force), reason (in the scholastic and Aristotelian sense), intuition, and love.


    1. 2. In modern psychology Nafs-e-Ammara can be compared to impulses and Nafs-e-Matma’inna to “dynamic insight” as expressed in the writings of Freda Fromm-Reichman.


    Indeed, so contradictory is man’s nature that he can rarely harmonize these discordant elements. Disharmony appears most often between the tendencies of Nafs-e-Ammara and reason, reason and Nafs-e-Matma’inna, intuition and reason. Yet ultimately one tendency may come to dominate the others. One might well ask at this point: What kind of character does a man develop when Nafs-e-Ammara becomes dominant, or when reason rules supreme? What happens when the voice of reason fails to give man a satisfactory answer to his existential problem? What happens when the inner voice challenges reason? Rumi takes up all these questions in the Mathnawi, in addition to discussing the corresponding character types which appear in man. He also cites historical examples to arouse man so that he may realize himself.
    When the forces of Nafs-e-Ammara dominate, man reacts in a specific way; he pays no heed to God at all, but worships such things as women, other men, and wealth, while neglecting God entirely. At the next stage he worships only God, but if he progresses still further he attains silence, regardless of whether he serves God or not.1
    The dominance of Nafs-e-Ammara in man’s situation increases his rational insecurity. Relating one’s self to immediate pleasures encourages regressive tendencies. Nafs-e-Ammara gains its dominance by opposing reason, for in the ontogenetic development of the individual and the history of mankind, reason has appeared when impulses have held the controlling power. Therefore, the path of Nafs-e-Ammara is initially the one of least resistance.


    1. Rumi, Fihi Ma Fihi.



When it first appeared in 1964, The Sufis was welcomed as the decisive work on the subject: rich in scope, clearly explaining the traditions and philosophy of the Sufis to a Western audience for the first time.


‘Perhaps the best introduction to the body of Shah’s work, the most comprehensively informative. And one is immediately forced to use one’s mind in a new way.’ – The New York Times


In the five decades since its release, the book has been translated into dozens of languages, and has found a wide readership in both East and West. It is used as a text in scores of leading universities around the world, and the material contained within it has been applied by psychologists and physicists, by school teachers, lawyers, social workers, and by ordinary members of the public.


Ted Hughes wrote of it: ‘An astonishing book. The Sufis must be the biggest society of sensible men on earth’; and Nobel laureate Doris Lessing said of it: ‘I had waited my entire life to read this book.’




The Book of the Dervishes


Chapter in The Sufis (pp. 294-321) by Idries Shah


Read by David Ault, Sep 26, 2016 



If you know not these states, pass on, nor join the infidel in ignorant counterfeit . . . but all learn not the secrets of the Way. (Shabistari, Secret Garden, Johnson Pasha’s version)


If there is any standard dervish textbook it is the “Gifts of (Deep) Knowledge” – the Awarif el-Maarif – written in the thirteenth century and studied by members of all Orders. Its author, Sheikh Shahabudin Suhrawardi (1145-c.  1235) presided over the coalescing of theory, ritual, and practice which took place in his time, established teaching schools close to the courts of Persia and India, and was Chief of the Chiefs of Sufis in Baghdad.


    The book is of interest to us both because it shows the outward and early stages of attraction into the dervish corpus, because it contains the basic contents of thought and action of these mystics, and because of Lieutenant Colonel Wilberforce Clarke. Colonel Clarke was himself a dervish, probably of the Suhrawardi Order. He translated more than half of the Gifts, for the first time, into English, and published it in 1891. Also the first English translator of Saadi’s Orchard, Nizami’s Story of Alexander, and Hafiz’s works, he was a worthy follower of the tradition of distinguished Sufi adapters such as Raymond Lully.


Taken as a whole, Clarke’s work can be seen as an attempt to present dervish thinking to an English audience which was thinking of the dervish as an insane, blood-stained fanatic. Dervishes there were, in the Sudan. They were taken to be some kind of savage. Others were known in Turkey – but Turkey was rather beyond the pale, of course. Clarke brought the original text more up to date with quotations from Sir William Jones, Malcolm, the Secret Garden of Shabistari, Brown’s Darvishes and other available material. He pointed out that the great Hafiz had been “mistranslated and misunderstood” by the poet Emerson and others. He did not shrink from printing parallel extracts showing mistranslation, to the advantage of the dervish, not for his own academic reputation.


Clark attains a great deal of lucidity by rearranging the materials with which he is working in such a way as to reflect, with added information to make the picture intelligible to the English reader, the working of Sufism as a semiorganized activity within the religious context of Islam. It is difficult to see how this could have been better done, given the prevailing need in Britain for religious matters to be presented in a way analogous to the current brand of Protestant practice. This book is now nearly impossible to obtain.


Islam, he noted, forbids monasticism. The people who were later known as dervishes took, in the year 623, an oath of fraternity and fidelity to Arabia. They chose the name of Sufi, which stands for wool (suf), pious (sufiy) and other meanings. These were the nucleus of the Moslem Sufis, the original forty-five contracting individuals of Mecca, together with an equal number from Medina.


The practice of these people was given expression in various ways. The First Caliph and the Fourth (Abu Bakr and Ali) formed special assemblies at which exercises were held. These schools were paralleled by Uways, the founder of the first austere Order, in 657. Buildings were first dedicated to the movement’s use in Syria in the eighth Christian century. Thus far overt expressions of Islamic Sufism.


The parallel Sufic lore which sees Sufism as a continuum, Clarke records, uses the “wine” allegory to show the gradual development of the teaching until it became a more or less public manifestation, before retreating again within itself in the seventeenth century. This is expressed thus:


The seed of Sufism

was sown in the time of Adam

germed in the time of Noah

budded in the time of Abraham

began to develop in the time of Moses

reached maturity in the time of Jesus

produced pure wine in the time of Mohammed.


Quoting attacks made on Sufis for “voluptuous libertinism” and for being derived from external systems, the Colonel affirms its essential unity and individuality. It is not, he says, introduced from Greece or India. He explains the meaning of the dervish claim, “Neither fear we hell, nor desire we heaven,” which sounds so strange from the mouth of one whom every external assessment identifies as a religious man.


He is well aware of the Sufi experience that at every stage of development a new mystery or change in perception and understanding is involved. “Traces of Sufi doctrine,” he says, very bravely for his time, “exist in every country – in the theories of ancient Greece; in the modern philosophies of Europe; in the dream of the ignorant and of the learned; in the shade of ease and the hardship of the desert.”


But enlightement can come only through the rarest of all men, no matter how frequent a patchy illusion of truth may break through the Seeker’s confusion. This teacher is the Perfect and Excellent Guide: “When he exists, to discover him is impossible.” The teacher discovers the disciple, not the other way about. “False teachers and deceived Seekers vainly pursue the desert vapor – and wearied return, the dupe of their own imagination.”


The problem of the would-be Sufi is in recognizing his teacher . . .



Among the Dervishes by O. M. Burke, London 1973


An account of travels in Asia and Africa, and four years studying the Dervishes, Sufis and Fakirs, by living among them.


O. M. Burke’s first-hand account of his modern-day pilgrimage begins in a school built like a medieval rock fortress hidden in northern India. From there he takes the reader to monasteries where ancient lore is still taught, along the pilgrim road to forbidden Mecca and into the heart and mind of Asia.


Burke’s experiences with living Sufis and their teachings, practices and actions clearly dispel the notion of Sufism as a phenomenon of the past.


Speaking several Oriental languages, traveling as a dervish pilgrim, O. M. Burke lived and studied with ancient communities in the Near and Middle East. This first-hand report is no ordinary book of travel.




From CHAPTER TWO – Solo to Mecca – pp. 35-37


Although most historians deal only with individual orders of Sufis, these splinters are not in fact the main centres of Sufi activity. United congregations, their members drawn from several of the fraternities, are today’s rule among the Sufis, whether of Arabia, Africa or Central Asia.


Sheikh al-Jabri was born in Tunisia. After attaining initiation into five or six Orders, he was finally accepted as a teacher of a ‘united lodge’. This Zawiia regarded itself as purged of the drawbacks of the personality-cult Orders and concentrated upon human self-improvement as a part of a combined effort.


It was in this company that I learned about the inner circle in Sufism. In the presence of strangers or members wedded to maintaining the name or identity of any particular Order, the members will behave as if they belong to that Order. They will use its hoary rituals, speak only of its venerated founder, wear its distinctive headgear. But when operating as an inner circle, the entire ‘lodge’ will revert to what they call the ‘activity’ of the original Way, sometimes called the Working of the Foundation, or Fundamental Work. This phrase is extremely difficult to translate, because it can also mean such things as ‘the work of the archetypes’, which means in turn the group regards its activities as being identical with the parallel actions of an extraterrestrial force which guides them.


    Sheikh al-Jabri was learned both in the traditional lore of the Four Ways and also in modern methods of thought. Unlike the saintly type of North African mystic which is so common in the Great Maghreb, his earliest studies had been carried out in Europe, and had not been theological at all. It was only after he was thirty years old that he started to attend the great teaching centres of Kairawan and Mulai Idriss.


    His father had been in Turkish service, and sent the boy to Paris, where he attended school and later the University of Paris. He had absorbed Western ways of thought and graduated in French literature. He knew a great deal of English, besides, because he was an import-export merchant carrying on a flourishing trade with Britain and the Commonwealth.


    The Sheikh was married to a Lebanese woman, and his sons had attended the American University in Beirut.
    He advised me to study not Sufism alone, but the attitudes, opinions and way of life of the people of the East and of the West. This, he said, was because otherwise I would simply equate Sufism with the East. I would not be able to descry the thread of Sufi thought and ‘being’ in both cultures unless I knew what was not Sufism.


    ‘My son and brother,’ he smiled, stroking his white beard and looking at me through brilliant Berber-blue eyes, ‘too many Westerners become orientalised. This is sometimes because they seek spirituality in the East and think that therefore everything in the East is for them or can teach them something. Do not be like them.’
    I asked him what, in the West, we could cultivate and emulate, in order to make our own tradition stronger. He gave me some strange examples. The first was team-spirit. This enabled man to understand what it was to work with others in harmony. The second was not democracy but a preparation for it. This enabled one to value democracy which itself was the prelude to understanding the real equality of man. The third was respecting other people. This, he said, enabled one to respect oneself. ‘But you cannot respect yourself unless you respect others. This is a great secret.’


    I was to be very sure, he stressed, that I realised that these three valuable secrets were points of development which were already deeply rooted in my own culture. It was for me to help them grow, to defend them, to work on them.
    ‘Unless you have the three things in your heart, you are a hypocrite if you say that you are looking for a teacher.’
    We had many talks, and I many times attended the sessions of the Sufis who were with Sheikh Jabri. One day he said to me:
    ‘I cannot teach you, though you sometimes ask me, things which you demand to know . . . But I can help you towards learning some of these things, perhaps by an unfamiliar route. Are you ready to travel?’
    Although I did not really want to leave this companionship I said that I was.
    ‘Very well. See how life is for some of your fellow men. Go to Tunisia, see some friends of mine. Perchance you will see something about man through their eyes.’



From CHAPTER EIGHT – The Followers of Jesus – pp. 109-110


    Sufi Abdul-Hamid Khan, Master of the Royal Afghan Mint and something of a polymath – military engineer, calligraphist, sage and expert on rhythmic exercises – must have been over ninety years of age. A follower of the Mir of Gazarga, he could remember in considerable detail the events which had taken place eighty or more years ago.

    A frequent visitor to Kunji Zagh, he had spent many years in Bokhara, and it was there that he had come across the redoubtable Gurdjieff, whose studies of Eastern metaphysical systems were introduced into Europe about the time of the First World War.
    Although the people of Kunji Zagh called Gurdjieff ‘The Russian Tatar’, Sufi Abdul-Hamid said that he was in reality partly Mongolian, part-Russian, part-Greek.  According to the Sufi, this Jurjizada (Son of George) had once been a Theosophist, had also studied in an Orthodox seminary, and ‘was responsive’ to the Sufic ‘waves’ – could, in other words, contact the mental activity which emanated from the ‘work’ of the dervishes. This, together with a curiosity about the occult, led him to the shrine of Bahauddin, the Naqshbandi teacher in Bokhara.


    Here another Bahauddin, known as Dervish Baha, had taught him certain ‘secrets’. Among them were the ‘sacred dances’ or movements made by the dervishes, the rules of the Order and the ‘inner interpretation’ of the Sufi texts. Then he sent him on a tour of the centres of the Sufis, some in Egypt, some in Syria, some in India.
    Seeing the strange effects of the Sufi practices, Gurdjieff decided that he would find out how they worked. In order to do this, he and a number of friends collected as much of the material used by the Order as they could, and fled with it ‘to the West’.
    ‘Unfortunately,’ continued Abdul-Hamid, ‘Jurjizada was at too early a stage to do anything final with the material. He had not yet learned, for instance, that the exercises and the music had to be carried out with special people at certain times in a special order of events. As a result he propounded the theory of the Complete Man without being able to take it into practice.’
    Further, Gurdjieff tried to make the method work by trying out the exercises on a large number of people. The result?


    ‘Here in Afghanistan we still receive, like faint radio messages, the influence of the minds of the pupils of Gurdjieff, coming from far away. They must still be carrying on the exercises, but they don’t know how, when or with whom to do them.’
    As soon as I got back to Europe, I found that some at least of this information might be true. After the first War, the Russian and a disciple of his, the philosopher Ouspensky, settled in France and England respectively. They set up teaching groups, and – I was told – several of these still existed. But they remained fully secret. Probably, like the custodians of any secret knowledge which had become reduced in quality, they would continue to operate, perhaps for generations . . .



From Gurdjieff International Review


Rodney Collin – A Man Who Wished To Do Something With His Life
By Terje Tonne


Since I first came into contact with Rodney Collin’s writing, his simple and honest approach to life and the Gurdjieff Work has always struck me deeply. Whether it is in his books, collected notes, unpublished manuscripts or his personal letters—it’s always there.


Rodney Collin-Smith was born on the 26th of April 1909 in the coastal town of Brighton, England. His father, Frederick Collin-Smith, had retired early from his business as a general merchant in London and after traveling in Europe and Egypt had settled down in Brighton. There Rodney’s father married Kathleen Logan, much younger than he and the daughter of a local hotel owner. Kathleen was a member of the local Theosophical Society and had a strong interest in astrology, possibly the source of some of Rodney Collin’s later interests. She also worked extensively with transcribing books for the blind.


After boarding school at Ashford Grammar School in Kent, Rodney Collin studied at the London School of Economics, where he received his Bachelor of Commerce degree. He worked as a freelance journalist supplying articles on art and travel to the [London] Evening Standard and the Sunday Referee. In 1930, on a pilgrimage organized by the Christian organization Toc-H, he met Janet Buckley. That same year he read Ouspensky’s A New Model of the Universe. Four years later, Collin and Buckley married in London.


In 1935 Collin and Buckley attended some lectures given in London by Maurice Nicoll.  After meeting Ouspensky in September 1936, Rodney Collin knew instantly that he had found that which he had been looking for in his extensive reading and traveling. Robert de Ropp, at that time also a member of Toc-H, was most likely a source for their developing interest in the Work ideas. Regardless of what perspective one assumes for a description or interpretation of Collin’s work, it is not possible to overstate both the direct and the indirect influence of Ouspensky.




The Theory of




Man, The Universe, and Cosmic Mystery


By Rodney Collin





. . . to the ordinary man, interested in his own fate but not particularly in science, it can only be said that perhaps, on closer examination, he may find this book in fact not so ‘scientific’ as it at first appears. Scientific language is the fashionable language of the day, just as the language of psychology was the fashionable language thirty years ago, the language of passion the fashionable language in Elizabethan times, and the language of religion the fashionable language of the Middle Ages. When people are induced to buy toothpaste or cigarettes by pseudo-scientific arguments and explanations, evidently this in some way corresponds to the mentality of the age, and truths must also be scientfically expressed.


At the same time, this is not to suggest that the scientific language used is a disguise, a pretence or a falsification. The explanations given are, as far as it has been possible to verify, quite correct and they correspond to actual facts.3  What is claimed is that the principles used could with equal correctness be applied to any other form of human experience, with equally or more interesting results. And that it is these principles which are of importance, rather than the sciences to which they are applied.


Where do these principles come from? To answer this question, it becomes necessary to acknowledge my complete indebtedness to one man, and to explain to a certain extent how this indebtedness came about. 


I first met Ouspensky in London, where he was giving private lectures, in September 1936. These ‘lectures’ referred to an extraordinary system of knowledge, quite incomparable with anything I had encountered before, which he had received from a man whom he called ‘G’. This system, however was not new: on the contrary it was said to be a very ancient one, which had always existed in hidden form and traces of which could from time to time be seen coming to the surface of history in one guise or another. Although it explained in an extraordinary way countless things about man and the universe, which had seemed hitherto quite inexplicable, its sole purpose – as O. constantly stressed – was to help individual men to awake to a different level of consciousness.
    Any attempts to use this knowledge for other and more ordinary purposes he discouraged or forbade altogether.


    Yet despite the staggering completeness of this ‘system’ in itself, one could never entirely separate it from the ‘being’ of the man who expounded it, from O. himself. When anyone else tried to explain it, the ‘system’ degenerated, lost quality in some way. And although no one could entirely neutralise the great strength of the ideas in themselves, it was clear that the ‘system’ could not be taken apart from a man of a certain quite unusual level of consciousness and being. For only such a man could induce in others the fundamental changes of understanding and attitude which were necessary to grasp it.


3.  Even ‘facts’, however, are not sacred. Of two recognised and reputed scientists, writng in two books published in England in the same year (1950), one states as a ‘fact’ that the moon is moving away from the earth, the other equally categorically that it is moving towards it.


    This ‘system’, in the pure and abstract form in which it was originally given, has been recorded once and for all by Ouspensky himself in his In Search of the Miraculous. Anyone who wishes to compare the original principles with the deductions which have here been made, would do well to read that book first. They will then find themselves in a position to judge whether the applications and developments of the ideas are legitimate. And in fact, from their own point of view, it will be their duty so to judge.


    Personally, I felt myself at a crossroads at the time, and on the first occasion I saw O. in private – at his crowded little rooms in Gwyndyr Road – I told him that I was a writer by nature, and I asked his advice upon the courses which then lay open to me. He said, very simply, “Better not to get too involved. Later we may find something for you to write.”


    It was typical of the strange confidence that O. inspired that this seemed a complete answer to my problem – or rather, I felt that I no longer had to worry about it, it had been taken from me. In fact, as a result of this conversation, for just over ten years I wrote practically nothing at all. There was too much else to do. But in the end O. kept his promise. And the outline of the present book was written in the two months immediately before his death, in October 1947, as a direct result of what he was trying to achieve and show at that time. Later, a second book, continuing where this leaves off, was written after his death.


During the ten years’ interval, O. expounded to us in countless ways – theoretical, philosophical and practical – all the different sides of the ‘system’. When I arrived, many of those with him had already been studying in this way, and endeavoring to penetrate to the result he indicated, for ten or fifteen years, and they were able to help a newcomer like myself to understand very much of what was and what was not possible. O. tirelessly explained, tirelessly showed us our illusions, tirelessly pointed the way – yet so subtly that if one was not ready to understand, his lessons could pass one by, and it was only years later that one might remember the incident, and realise what he had been demonstrating. More violent methods may be possible, but these can also leave scars that are difficult to heal.


    O. never worked for the moment. It might even be said that he did not work for time – he worked only for recurrence. But this needs much explanation. In any case, he quite evidently worked and planned with a completely different sense of time from the rest of us, though to those who impatiently urged him to help them achieve quick results, he would say: “No, time is a factor. You can’t leave it out.”


    So the years passed. Yet although very much indeed was achieved, it often seemed to us that O. was too far ahead of us, that he had something which we had not, something which made certain possibilities practical for him that remained theoretical for us, and which for all his explaining, we did not see how to get. Some essential key seemed missing. Later, this key was shown. But that is a different story.


    O. went to America during the war. In connection with this strange unfolding of possibilities which went by the name of O’s ‘lectures’, I remember how in New York about 1944 he gave us a task which he said would be interesting for us. This was to ‘classify the sciences’, according to the principles which had been explained in the system; to classify them according to the worlds which they studied. He referred to the last classification of the sciences – by Herbert Spencer – and said that though it was interesting, it was not very satisfactory from our point of view nor from the point of view of our time. He also wrote to his friends in England about this task. It was only when the present book was nearing completion, some five years later, that I realised that it was in fact one answer to O’s task.
    O. returned to England in January 1947. He was old, ill and very weak. But he was also something else. He was a different man. So much of the vigorous, whimsical, brilliant personality, which his friends had known and enjoyed for so many years, had been left behind, that many meeting him again were shocked, baffled, or else were given a quite new understanding of what was possible in the way of development.


    In the bitter early spring of 1947 he called several large meetings in London of all the people who had previously listened to him, and of others who never had. He spoke to them in a new way. He said that he abandoned the system. He asked them what they wanted, and said that only from that could they begin on the way of self-remembering and consciousness.


It is difficult to convey the impression created. For twenty years in England before the war, O. had almost daily explained the system. He had said that everything must be referred to it, that things could only be understood in relation to it. To those who had listened to him the system represented the explanation of all difficult things, pointed the way to all good things. Its words and its language had become more familiar to them than their mother tongue. How could they ‘abandon the system’?


    And yet, to those who listened with positive attitude to what he now had to say, it was suddenly as though a great burden had been taken from them. They realised that in the way of development true knowledge must first be acquired and then abandoned. That exactly what makes possible the opening of one door may make impossible the opening of the next. And some for the first time began to gain an idea where lay that missing key which might admit them to the place where O. was and where they were not.


    After this O. retired to his house in the country, saw very few people, hardly spoke. Only he now demonstrated, now performed in actuality and in silence, that change of consciousness the theory of which he had explained so many years.

The story of those months can not be told here. But at dawn one September day a fortnight before his death, after a strange and long preparation, he said to a few friends who were with him: “You must start again. You must make a new beginning. You must reconstruct everything for yourselves – from the very beginning.”


    This then was the true meaning of ‘abandoning the system’. Every system of truth must be abandoned, in order that it may grow again. He had freed them from one expression of truth which might have become dogma, but which instead may blossom into a hundred living forms, affecting every side of life.


    Most important of all, ‘reconstructing everything for oneself’ evidently meant ‘reconstructing everything in oneself’, that is, actually creating in oneself the understanding which the system had made possible and achieving the aim of which it spoke – actually and permanently overcoming the old personality and acquiring a quite new level of consciousness.


    Thus if the present book may be taken as a ‘reconstruction’, it is only an external reconstruction, so to speak, a representation of the body of ideas we were given, in one particular form and in one particular language. Despite its scientific appearance, it has no importance whatsoever as a compendium of scientific facts or even as a new way of presenting these facts. Any significance it may have can only lie in its being derived, though at second hand, from the actual perceptions of higher consciousness, and in its indicating a path by which such consciousness may be again approached.




Lyne, August 1947
Tlalpam, April 1953




Yesterday I was in one of my city’s major bookstores. As I was waiting for some books I had requested, I wandered through the esoteric book section. The shelves held one or two copies of Gurdjieff and Ouspenski’s main titles and, surprisingly for me, three copies of obscure teacher Robert Burton’s Self-remembering. Italy is one of the countries (maybe the only one?) where Robert’s book was translated and published by a local editor.


All the fourth way books had been bookmarked. There were two kinds: the “before makeover” G-O-style ones and the “new look” divine presence ones (“reaching wordless divine presence is the greatest miracle of the universe” !!!!!!!!!!!).


Anyway, before I even thought about it, I found myself pulling all the Fellowship bookmarks out of the books. My understanding is that the Gurdjieff foundation is not happy about them bookmarks either. So it occurred to me that this is a quite easy way to boycott the Fellowship of Friends: take those bookmarks out, again and again, till they get tired or find a better advertising tool. It’s a little considerate gesture that any of us located in a city where there’s a centre can do!


A little addition: as I was researching info for this post, I ran into an Amazon review of a book called Taking With the Left Hand: Enneagram Craze, People of the Bookmark, & The Mouravieff “Phenomenon”, was this mentioned already on the blog? It looks like an interesting read. The “People of the Bookmark” are us, just in case that was not clear.



Kid ShelleenOctober 4, 2007 at 11:57 am




Taking with the Left Hand is by William Patrick Patterson, who was a student of John Pentland’s and supposedly was annointed to lead the Gurdjieff Foundation when Pentland died. The observations he makes about the fof in his book are mild compared to the real deal. His point of view is coming from the “Burton has no legitimate connection to this work and is misleading his students” angle.


Here’s a story:


A couple of years ago, I was in a local book store and saw a poster for one of Patterson’s talks near my home. Just out of curiosity, I went. He talked the fourth way mumbo-jumbo for awhile, had us do some “sensing” exercises, and opened the floor for questions. For fun, I asked a question about self remembering and creating memory. He asked me about my understanding of self remembering and in my answer I used the phrase divided attention. He told me this was a wrong understanding of the idea and then, seemingly out of nowhere, launched into a diatribe about false teachings and corruption of the ideas. On and on it went. At the end, he turns his best Gurdjy steely gaze on me and says, “And this is the story of Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends, is it not,” in an incredibly self-satisfied tone. I almost laughed out loud. Judging from his manner, I believe that he thought that I thought, “Wow, how did this guy read my mind?” I came away from the experience thinking, “Same s#@t, different bag.”


Oh, and his students were a hoot, too. They seemed about as uptight as any group of folks I’ve run into. The woman who introduced him (one of the inner circle, probably), spoke of him as if he were the second coming. After the event, I asked the two people manning the concession stand how many times a week the group met and how many students were in the local area. They stopped, stared at the ground for a moment, looked at each other with a look I’m sure we are all familiar with, and told me they couldn’t answer my question. So it goes.



132. Another NameMay 28, 2008


Like this you tube on spirituality and letting it go from Allen Clements



136. innernaut May 28, 2008


132. Another Name


Thanks for the Alan Clements video. It reminds me of something that happened very early in my FOF time, about 1981.


I was in the Boston center, and at one point I was dispatched, along with two other students, to visit the Yale library in New Haven, Connecticut. Our assignment was to rifle through the “Ouspensky papers,” which had been donated to the university after O’s death.


We drove down there, and signed in. We were ushered to a room, where we could select the boxes we were interested in viewing. There were about 50 of them, mostly meeting transcripts covering 25 years or so, right up to his death. We chose a cross-section, with various dates, and got a few boxes brought to us. We were not allowed to make copies. We had to write down whatever we were interested in, using only a pencil and paper the library issued to us.


The boxes were crammed full of typewritten pages. Mostly just stuff that could have come from “The Fourth Way” — not terribly interesting. But there was one box — the last box, chronologically — that I was really interested in. I had read about O’s last, bizarre meetings, and I was wondering if they were transcribed. They were, so I spent almost my whole allotted time copying down the questions and O’s strange answers.


The gist of what he said is known: he told his students to “abandon the system,” saying that it was basically BS. Even back then, I felt strangely liberated; not that I had the courage to chuck it all aside then, but that one day I would be free of it. I noticed this feeling then, but pushed it aside, because what did that say about the System I had devoted my life to, that I couldn’t wait to be free of it?


After copying down many pages of this very interesting stuff, one of the students did a guilt trip on me, saying we shouldn’t be spending so much time on “unhelpful” material. Hmmm… so party-line. Ouspensky is “good,” and Ouspensky when he finally sounds like he’s a human being and is telling the truth is “bad.”


This experience was probably the beginning of the end for me, in terms of the System, though it would take many years before I had the courage to throw it all out — baby, bath water, everything.


One more thing, which Alan Clements mentioned – getting rid of the notion of enlightenment means being able to live without the certainty that a dogmatic spiritual framework provides. If it helps you live sanely, then more power to you.



One more thing. When I asked the idolized “older students” what they thought Ouspensky meant when he said, “abandon the system,” they had many creative things to say. But in the end, what they essentially said was, “Don’t abandon the system.” That’s right, when O says abandon the system, what he really means is don’t abandon the system.


People sure act funny when their belief system is being threatened.



131. Just the Facts Ma’amSeptember 17, 2016 


I, too, had been to Yale Library to see O’s legacy: http://ow.ly/6PBu304j2Vt


I went several times while living in the neighborhood of the east coast in the 1980’s. The description copied above in Tim’s post is accurate.


I, with limited time allotted, concentrated on the unpublished manuscripts as first priority and, secondarily, published manuscripts. It was interesting to see and experience the documents that O. actually wrote, corrected and handled. You could see the development of ideas, corrections and refinements made, and his handwriting. Also, they would be full of his emanations. Very interesting impressions as I remember – to this day.


Also, I wanted to see what more there was that I did not already know about. Since then, the more obscure matters have become published.



One other thing worthy of note about seeing O’s papers at Yale: They wanted to know why you wanted to access them. I said I was doing research for a forthcoming book: The Life and Times of a Conscious Being.



Gurdjieff & Taking With the Left Hand by William Patrick Patterson © 1998


Prologue (excerpts)


Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, the extraordinary messenger who introduced and established in the West the ancient esoteric teaching of self-development of The Fourth Way, understood that – as with all things in time – gaps, intervals, counter currents would appear that could deflect or distort his teaching from its original direction. There would appear self-appointed teachers who would distort or deflect his message and Mr. Gurdjieff would call them “Candidates for Hasnamuss.” They would “take with the left hand,” as it is said in the East, where the left hand is used when toilet paper is lacking.


He had brought this sacred teaching to the West because he realized, as he said, “Unless the ‘wisdom’ of the East and the ‘energy’ of the West was harnessed and used harmoniously, the world would be destroyed.” Being esoteric in the true sense, the teaching, he said, had been “completely unknown up to the present time.”


The deflections and distortions that have occurred have manifested at the margins of the teaching. However noxious, they have had their use in that they served to test a seeker’s desire for spiritual evolution and knowledge rather than power, beauty and sex. Previously, these “takers of the left hand” have been ignored, for whatever is said only brings them attention. And yet a time comes when so much has been taken that the public—the seedbed of the teaching—must be warned against the false posing as the true.


Robert Earl Burton I have never met. I know of him through newspaper accounts, personal contacts with his former students, and his book Self-Remembering. Burton claims his Fellowship of Friends is a school of the Fourth Way. However, Burton’s only teacher was Alexander Horn, a faux-Gurdjieffian, who tried to enter but was not accepted into the teaching.


Of all Burton’s students I’ve met over the years, the only one of his inner circle was Ed Grieve. He was at the dinner Burton held for Lord Pentland. Pentland had contacted Burton because he was having his students put bookmarks advertising the Fellowship of Friends into Fourth Way books and with the film version of Meetings with Remarkable Men he had students standing outside theaters passing out Fellowship flyers. Grieve told me that Burton believed Pentland was coming to hand over his students to him because he had recognized Burton’s “higher development,” and even bet on this with several students. In fact, Pentland was coming to ask Burton to make a sizable contribution to the film inasmuch as he was falsely profiting by it.


On Pentland’s arrival, Burton presented him with an expensive sleeping pillow, his idea of an esoteric joke. Several of Burton’s close students joined the two for dinner, Grieve was one of the servers. “Watching the two of them together,” Grieve said, “there was just no question of who was awake and who asleep, and I left the next day to become a student of Lord Pentland’s.”


The number of Burton’s students has greatly declined with the continuing sex scandals and lawsuits, but those who believe he is, as he declares, “a goddess in a man’s body,” stay blindly loyal. Always a great merchandizer, Burton has attempted to solve the student problem by creating an online school, headed by a married Israeli student, Burton’s “close friend” Asaf Braverman. So the “esoteric” Fellowship parade continues.



12. Tempus FugitJune 5, 2012


From the “Backstage” section of Braverman’s website on Gurdjieff:


“I encountered the Fourth Way in 1995, joining Burton’s Fellowship of Friends, and am still a member of that organization. I moved to the California headquarters in 2000 and began working closely with Burton on his teaching. In 2007, I was forced to set out on a two year journey, which brought me in contact with the origin of the ancient wisdom that I had been previously studying in theory.”




Could this have something to do with allegations of bigamy noted by Wondering Who’s Watching in Post 6, Page 121 (current page)?





Deadly Cults: The Crimes of the True Believers



True-believer syndrome is an informal or rhetorical term used by M. Lamar Keene in his 1976 book The Psychic Mafia. Keene used the term to refer to people who continued to believe in a paranormal event or phenomenon even after it had been proven to have been staged. Keene considered it to be a cognitive disorder, and regarded it as being a key factor in the success of many psychic mediums.


The term “true believer” was used earlier by Eric Hoffer in his 1951 book The True Believer to describe the psychological roots of fanatical groups.



The true-believer syndrone merits study by science. What is it that compels a person, past all reason, to believe the unbelievable. How can an otherwise sane individual become so enamored of a fantasy, an imposture, that even after it’s exposed in the bright light of day he still clings to it — indeed, clings to it all the harder?… No amount of logic can shatter a faith consciously based on a lie. — M. Lamar Keene and Allen Spraggett


~ Wikipedia



1. Golden VeilJuly 28, 2014


Teacher Asaf Braverman is busy adding “pillars” (his term) to his Ark in Time. The text of Being Present First may be instantly translated for Russian readers by the click of a button just after the main body of text.





3. Robert Stolzle July 28, 2014


Golden Veil, et al-
Who is Asaf Braverman and how does he come to be RB’s chosen one? Also, I’ve been reading some of the history and saw a picture of Jim Chisholm and Joel Friedlander. I had passing acquaintances with them back in the old days (70’s). Are they still part of the FOF?



4. nevasayneva – July 28, 2014


re 1. Golden Veil.


just for accuracy, the blog you list




does not appear to be authored by Asaf Braverman. It is authored by another member of FOF. No connection/association to Asaf Braverman’s blogs is mentioned and they may not be connected aside from being blogs from members of the same organization.


FOF like so many organizations uses blogs and other sites such as http://www.meetup.com to express its understanding of the world and to attract interested people to join. Hooray for the first amendment.


“The exclusion of family and other outside contacts, rigid moral judgments of the unconverted outside world, and restriction of sexual behavior are all geared to increasing followers’ commitment to the goals of the group and in some cases to its powerful leader. Some former cult members were happy during their membership, gratified to submerge their troubled selves into a selfless whole. Converted to the ideals of the group, they welcomed the indoctrination procedures that bound them closer to it and gradually eliminated any conflicting ties or information.”


Coming Out of the Cults
Psychology Today, January 1979
By Margaret T. Singer, Ph.D.



Coming Out of the Cults


By Margaret Singer



5. Golden Veil July 28, 2014


3. Robert Stolzle


In answer to your question, “Who is Asaf Braverman and how does he come to be RB’s chosen one?” That’s a question I cannot answer. I don’t know if he should be described as “RB’s chosen one”, but on the Ark in Time it is claimed that Asaf is “expanding the legacies of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.”:


“Asaf Braverman is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Ark in Time network, a collection of blog sites focused on psychological and philosophical teachings.”




“Under the guidance of his teacher, Robert Burton, Asaf incorporated more ancient sources into the Fellowship teaching, in effect, expanding the legacies of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky and engaging in a continuation of their search for the origins of the Fourth Way.”




As for Joel Friedlander, he’s no longer with the FoF but I think that he is a member of the Greater Fellowship and he has an ad there for the Body Types book he wrote while in the FoF. On this blog on November 2, 2007 he had this to say about body types:


“When I wrote the book I was in the Fellowship of Friends. I was programmed, just the way we all were, to see reality through the lens of a learned insanity. Those who still believe that there really are body types, like slow and lazy for a Venusian, active and aggressive for a Martial…have not, to my mind, freed themselves of the madness. It’s simply a learned mental disease. Friends, there are no body types—except metaphorical ones.”


I didn’t see the above until after I bought the book!


4. nevasayneva


“No connection/association to Asaf Braverman’s blogs is mentioned and they may not be connected aside from being blogs from members of the same organization.”


I said, “Teacher Asaf Braverman is busy adding “pillars” (his term) to his Ark in Time.” Yes, the lengthy verbiage of Being Present First is penned by someone else, William Page, but the site is very connected to Asaf Braverman. Take a look at what the links say on the bottom of each page of Being Present First:


Being Present a pillar of the Ark in Time network



22. Tempus Fugit August 2, 2014


Well, well. I just re-discovered this Fellowship of Friends wiki page where Bonita posted her own story in 1997.


Here’s the link:




and here is Bonita’s account. You’ll note she clearly calls out Burton on his dishonesty.


27 May 1997
Tuesday 15:34


From Dec. 1969 to Dec. 1973
By Bonita Hightower
First student of Robert Burton




I left America in Dec. 1973 with the permission from Robert Burton, to be gone for 2 years, then return to America and be with him again, as a student. He had said that if any time in that 2 years I wanted to return and did not have the money to do so, I was just to telephone him, and he would send me the airplane fare to return. In the first weeks of being in another country, I wrote him a letter. In that letter, I said that he surrounded himself with “Yes” men, and that I did not feel it was beneficial for him. It gave him an unreal view of himself, and how things were, in the school. I also asked him why he referred to the students as “his” students, or “my” students. That why couldn’t he just refer to them as students. (I had been a student teacher in Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and Hawaii.)


Soon after that letter was sent to him, a Hawaiian student went against the rules of the school, and contacted me, and told me that Robert had put me out of school.


I did not tell anyone the name of my Teacher, or the name of the “Fellowship Of Friends” to anyone after leaving America. Not even my dear husband, who has been my partner for 16 years.


So, it was not until 1996 that my husband heard those two names, while I was speaking to someone on the telephone and they mentioned them.


Therefore, I would like it to be realized that it is only with a great amount of thought, and a deep realization that the story that shall be told may be of benefit to those that came after me, in helping them to heal old wounds, and giving them a history which is not only my history with the FOF, but is also their history, which they have a right to know. Much of what shall be written has not been told to anyone in all these years.


It is my hope that those who read it may find some of the unanswered questions they may have had, over the years. Also, I deeply hope that it shall in some way, help them to heal.





In Dec. 1969, I was invited to a New Year’s Eve party. It was to be held in Lafayette, California.


I did not know the persons giving the party. They were said to be millionaires. It was my impression that the money was from the woman’s side. It was to be a costume party.


I was 33 years old, a housewife, and was married at the time to my second husband. I had 2 daughters from my first marriage. One was 14 ½ , the other was 13 years old. They were both from my first husband, who had been of German and Choctaw Indian decent. I had been told I was of part English, Scott-Irish, German, and Cherokee Indian decent. We had a long haired German Shepard, named “Muski.” We lived at 511 Kiki Drive, Pleasant Hill, which was close to the town where the party was to be held.


My husband did not wish to attend the party. I told him that I was to meet someone that would be very important to me at that party. I have not considered myself clairvoyant , but sometimes I do seem to know something that is going to happen, before it takes place. This might have been the most definite instance of that type of occurrence taking place. None had told me of the above important person to come into my life. I just knew it.


I had been taking belly dancing lessons in that time period of my life, and had made 2 belly dancing costumes. Therefore, I decided to wear one of them to the party.


The party was held in a large, rambling wooden house, surrounded by lovely trees. The persons who had invited me were the only ones I knew at the party. As I was a passive type person, and rather shy, I sat alone, and watched other people at the party. In time, I sat by the large fireplace, and greatly enjoyed watching the fire, and the glowing embers that came. In time, a man asked me to dance. He was a tall man, with black hair, and was quite good looking. After the dance, we sat down together and began to talk. His name was Robert Burton. After some time, I said to him, “There is something quite special in your eyes. I have never seen it before. Do you know what it is?” I do not remember the response, but we continued to talk for the rest of the evening. Eventually he said that I was the first person other than his own teacher who had recognized that special quality in his eyes. One of the statements he made that evening was, “I have found a God that has no clay feet.”


Robert was a little drunk that evening. I was “high” on some ’60s drug. Probably it was mescaline. There was the feeling of awe, and a quality that was well known by many in the ’60s – that feeling, that “anything can happen”. As I had “known” I would meet someone that would be important to my life at that party, it had not taken long to realize that it was this apparently wise and mysterious man. It was Robert Burton. I had never before met anyone like him.


There was such intensity to our conversations that at times everything and everyone else just seemed to disappear. I had entered a new, wondrous world, full of hidden portent. As the party ended, we each left, going our own separate ways.


On Jan. 1, 1970, at home, after being awake for a time, I suddenly realized I had no way of contacting that man. A sense of horror came over me. How could I have been so dumb as not to have secured myself a means of further contact?


It did not take long to make a phone call to the hostess of the party, with the aim to try and find a way to contact him. The hostess said yes, she knew him. He lived with his mother in Walnut Creek. She gave me his phone number. With great relief, I made the phone call. He was home, and we made an appointment to meet in a restaurant in Berkeley. I do not remember for sure if it was for the same evening, or the evening after. I think, however, that it was for the same evening.


I had my own car, and could drive. It was a little pale yellow Datsun station wagon. However, I had been in a bad automobile accident in 1951, and had never really gotten over some of the trauma of that accident. I did not like to drive. I had not so very often had to drive to a place I did not know. I was somewhat upset that I would have to find that meeting place by myself. Yet, that discomfort in no way took hold of me to the extent that I would even consider not going.


In fact, the night that the meeting was to occur, my brother stopped by, unannounced. It had been quite a long time since I had last seen him. I was ready to leave when he arrived. We spoke a short time together, and I told him I was sorry, but I had a meeting and would have to leave, in order not to be late. I suppose he was rather upset with me at the time, but honestly, I was not in the least concerned with how it affected him. This was too great an event in my life to be concerned with hurting him. I really do not even remember if I had thought about it, at the time. It was only much later, that I realized that I had probably wounded him pretty badly. I had fairly much raised him from the time I was 11, and he was 7 years old, until I left home, when he was about 14 yrs. old.


That had been necessary because my parents had a Spanish/American restaurant in Windsor, California. They worked 6 days and nights a week, and I took care of him after school. They did not return home until after we were both in bed, asleep. My older sister had worked in the restaurant after school hours.


I found the meeting place, and it was perhaps only the second time I had ever driven in Berkeley. Robert was waiting when I arrived. He congratulated me for being on time. At this meeting, he told me of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. We arranged to meet again, the next day, I think, and I was to buy the book, “In Search of the Miraculous” by Ouspensky. He gave me the name of a book store in which to buy them. I think both the store, and the next meeting, were in Walnut Creek.


We sat for hours in a cafeteria or restaurant, and had only coffee. I was worried about what the waitress would think of us spending so much time there, and spending so little money. Robert said I was not to be concerned with such things, and that it was an example of what was referred to “In the Work” as a feature in false personality called, “Inner-Considering”.


That meant that what one did and did not do, were dependent on what other people would think of our action or inaction, instead of acting from what was true in and of ourselves. I seem to recall him saying that we had to be realistic, and realize that we did in fact, not have much money to spend. At that second meeting, I asked him to autograph the book I had bought. He said, “No, it is not me that is important. It is the knowledge that I release that is important. Someday you will autograph for me, a book that you write.” That has not as yet come to pass.


At some point in the meeting, after having had some of the basics of the theories of Gurdjieff / Ouspensky given to me, I quite clearly remember going to a toilet, and trying so very hard to “remember myself”. It might have been the first real attempt I had made to do so, and was apparently somewhat successful, as it has created a memory that lasts to this day, more than 27 years later!


At one of these early meetings, Robert said he had only been with his own teacher for 3 years. He also said that his teacher had increased his payments until he had had to hold down 3 jobs to be able to make the payments to be able to remain with his teacher. Then there had come a time when his teacher had told him it was time for him to leave, and go out on his own. Robert said that he had traveled across the United States, searching for a student that he may be able to teach, and was it not strange that he had come home, and found one (a student) in his own back yard.


The next meeting was held in Pleasant Hill. We were in a “Burger Bar” of some kind, and I ordered a hamburger. Much to my surprise, Robert did not talk. Eventually he said, he would not teach while I was eating. Eating would be a deviation of my attention. Of course, I finished my food as quickly as possible! I made some comment as to the negative appearance of some of the customers. Robert said that to him, they look “just right”, according to their body types.


At one of the early meetings I asked what would be needed for me to become his student. He explained that one could not be considered a student until a payment was made. He said, “What do you consider it would be worth to save your soul?” He said I was to think about those things he had taught me considering payments, and to arrive at the amount I would choose to pay. I chose to pay 90 dollars per month. I paid the amount, and became his first student.


The subject of voluntary sacrifices was spoken of. I told my teacher that I would give up many things, but I would not give up my children.


In a short time, my husband also became a student. From that time, the meetings began to take place in our home, in Pleasant Hill. From the beginning, Robert and I met 6 days a week. When my husband became a student, the meetings became 6 nights a week. The two children had a hard time, as it was necessary for them to be quiet in their rooms up-stairs, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. 6 nights a week. Of course, that was only one of the reasons their life became more difficult. Yet, that is a story for a later time.


As I had the great good fortune to be a housewife, it became possible to increase the teaching periods I had. It became 6 nights a week, plus many extra meetings in daytimes, alone with Robert. I was also given a number of personal exercises which took up a lot of time.


1.  I was fat at the time – weighing perhaps 150 lbs. and 5ft. 3½ inches tall. I had a wardrobe for several different sizes, as I was one of those people who had been on and off diets much of my life. One of the exercises was to make a skirt and a long vest, and a blouse.


2.  I had previously colored my hair, (had a grey streak down the middle from the time I was 15 years old, due to the auto accident) and had gone through the discomfort of letting all the color grow out. I was to color my hair, as an exercise. Robert said the grey – which was no longer confined to the streak in the middle – was a sign that the hair was dead, or dying. (These are not really important, they just might be a source of humor now, to some “who have been there”.)


Quite early, I was given the exercise to make a poster, to advertise the meetings, to acquire more students. It was quite a surprise to me, and I asked “Why shall one advertise a ‘C’ Influence teaching?” It was one of those exercises that gave me a lot of friction. I was so very passive, just the thought of carrying that out took a lot of working against what “came natural” – or, “what was mechanical” for me.


I had 3 months of a teacher to myself, much of the time. So much went on in the day meetings, that I surely felt myself highly privileged, and grateful. Because of the many hours spent together, the time took on another dimension of being taught. That is to say, it could not be considered to be the same kind of a 3 month period for those that came later, and, for example, may have been mostly taught in a group, 3 nights a week.


As I remember it, the 3rd. student was a Doctor. At one time the 4 of us were doing an exercise in our back yard, doing some yard work. It seemed strange to me that I had already noticed a few times when it was necessary for Robert to “separate”, when it was not needed at all for me. I figured out that perhaps it was partly because he was a couple of years younger than I, and had not been married, or had children. Meaning, simply, a lack of experience in family life, which helps one to overcome and accept many things that are not as one would want, if it were only oneself to take into account. Another thought was that perhaps it was just due to our different body types. He was Saturn, with a little Mars. I was Venusian, with a little Mercury.


There came more students. We continued to meet in our home until there came others with a suitable home to have meetings in.


Sometime in the beginning, Robert said he would like me and my husband to make our payments in advance, so he could have enough money to make a down payment on a Volkswagen van. I think he was using his mother’s car, though am not sure. We did not hesitate to do so, to the extent we could manage. The house we lived in made it look as if we had a good amount of money. That was not correct. My husband had saved a large amount of money before we had met, and put an unusually large down payment on the house. Most likely we had the smallest monthly income of any in that housing tract. We did explain that situation to the teacher. He gratefully accepted what we could manage to give him, and he bought the Volkswagen van. In its time, it carried many a student to wonderful excursions. It was sort of the “hippy car” of the time, in the ’60s and early ’70s. Many a hippy lived in their V.W. vans, and many were decorated in wild and beautiful colorful designs. Robert’s was destined to remain its own discrete color, with none of the fancy decorations of the time. It is surely remembered with a touch of nostalgia, for those that can remember the wonderment of the time, without coloring those memories with the disillusionment that came later.


From the beginning, it was made clear that persons that became students and left, were to have no more contact with each other. The teacher said he had devoted himself to work with those persons who wished to evolve, and it was necessary to keep the energy within the group, and not let it “leak” out, to those that left.


At one point I told Robert that I had an opportunity to belly dance at a local bar. It would include being topless, as there were the usual topless dancers there. I was told that it would be o.k. to do so, as it was possible to make the performance, “without being it.” I was delighted. I wanted to experiment with the dancing I had been taught. As I had been a nudist for some years, going topless was not something of concern to me. I invited a couple from San Francisco, who were friends of mine, to be there. I did the deed. It was exciting, but really quite hard work. I changed costumes 3 times, and had a wonderful time on stage. It seemed that doing a strip-tease act was right in my essence!!! Ha Ha. Because that was what I made it into. Between performances, the top-less dancing ladies were to serve drinks. In doing so, one dear customer was so sweet as to ask me to marry him. Oh, my, did that boost my ego! Ha. However, though I felt my performances were rather successful, I did not get the job. So it was my one and only night as a professional topless belly dancer. I was quite proud of myself to have been so bold, and was glad that I would have the story to tell if I ever had grandchildren.


Many years later, in the ’90s, my oldest daughter told me a story concerning the night I had been a topless belly dancer. She said that a boy at her school had asked her about it, because HIS FATHER HAD BEEN AT THE BAR, AND SEEN ME DANCE. Oh, my poor, dear, precious daughter!!! She said she had been horribly embarrassed!!! It was certainly NOT the first time I had embarrassed her badly, for sure, but that time had been particularly difficult for her. In many ways, I was grateful that she had waited so many years to tell me. She had not told me until these later years how difficult it had been for her, due to my “unusual” interests, of a variety of kinds.


When we were still quite a small group, one of the members, named Stella, asked me if there was anything between me and the teacher other than that of teacher and student. I answered, “No, of course not.” I would like to say at this time, so many years later, that I had lied.


My second husband and I had been separated 2 times, for short periods. The final separation and divorce occurred because I told him that I was having an affair with a young man that had come into school. He was a Mormon. My husband could not “take” that information, and we separated and he filed for divorce. It is too long a story to go more into, at this time.


Due to the separation, it was necessary for me to return to work, to earn money. I had begun to work as a practical nurse to earn money, and knew it was a job I intensely disliked. That was because I had taken the education to be able to “give” to other people, and the jobs I had held in “Old People’s Homes” had shown themselves to be a horror to me. The work load was literally impossible to carry out, and it became necessary to jump over many of the functions one was supposed to carry out. To me, it had become a nightmare of being inhuman to those precious persons for whom I had learned to value and care very deeply for. So, when I saw an advertisement to be trained as a masseuse, I quickly applied for the training. I was trained by a registered nurse, and learned the trade. Because I already had a certificate as a practical nurse, I was legally allowed to massage people. I acquired a job as a masseuse.


One day, Robert asked me if I would come to his apartment in Walnut Creek. (He had moved away from his mother as soon as he had enough money from students to get his own apartment.) I gave him the massage in his bed. After, he asked me if I would like to have sexual activity with him. Of course, I was really delighted at the offer. I had been quite curious at what it would be like to have sex with him, a conscious being. He suggested I take a shower first, which I did. We had sex together. Afterwards, he congratulated me on not buffering, by closing my eyes. He also said he had been greedy, as he had attempted to have sex again, after the first orgasm, and had not been able to do so. I had been somewhat disappointed, as it did not seem that he had any special abilities, because he was a conscious being. Also, I did not have an orgasm. There had been no noticeable “foreplay” by him to me, but of course, he had just had an hour of massage, so perhaps that had played the part of “foreplay” for him. In other words, it was just ordinary sex, not exciting or particularly positive. The most positive part of it for me, was that my curiosity was satisfied.


Later that evening, there was a meeting at my house. He seemed much more identified with the fact that we had had sexual activity earlier that day, than I was. He made a statement to the small group, that he was “A bit low on energy that night, due to an unusual expenditure of energy during the day.” I do not think I acted any different to him that night, than at other meetings, but I supposed that I had had a lot more sexual experiences than he. That was just the impression I had had. (As a “liberated” woman of the ’60s, I had experimented quite a lot in the area of sexual activities.)


At some time later, I cannot remember how long, he made a statement to the group of students that he had been celibate since he had been a Teacher. Of course, I knew from personal experience, that it was a lie. It created some confusion in me. I just could not understand WHY he would LIE about such a thing. It would have been so easy just to say he was celibate … without adding the lie, “SINCE I HAVE BEEN A TEACHER.” It did not, however, become a large negative for me, as he had previously taught me, “It can be a legitimate tool, TO LIE. It must not, however, be from mechanical parts that, for example, just want to protect an idea of an identity, or to protect mechanical features.” So, I let it go, and did not, at the time, give much space to thinking about it. It did not in any way make me think he would have sexual activities with others, and also lie about it, still stating he was celibate. Which means, that for me, later, when such statements were made, I believed them, thinking that I had been the exception which for some unknown reason, he did not want to acknowledge. (I never told anyone this story as long as I was in his school, or in America.)


Later, at a school party, he notified me that we would not repeat the sexual experience together, because I did not value him and the experience with him, enough. He also told me not to have sexual activities that did not include a “full relationship”. That is, one in which there [would] be several centers involved, and a wish for a relationship, rather than just a sexual experience. He said that otherwise, it would be “tramp” against myself. That is, not valuing myself enough. Earlier, he had told me that his mother had been married 5 times. Perhaps, in some way, he had wanted to try and spare me that kind of fate, with those suggestions. (As it turned out, I did marry 4 times, anyway. The last marriage became “THE REAL ONE”, FOR ME, THANK GOD!!!)


Quite early Robert had spoken of the future, in which there would be acquired a farm for those students that wanted to devote their life full time to evolution, which included learning to separate from the expression of negative emotions, and learning to “Self-Remember.”


The idea was very interesting to me. I knew I needed and wanted such conditions for myself. Since we were in the process of getting a divorce, my husband and I put the house up for sale. It quickly sold. My husband and I each received 10,000 dollars cash at the sale of the house.


Because it was so very important to me to devote more of my time to evolution, I offered Robert 4,000 dollars to start the account for the buying of a property. He did not want to accept that. He said that it was too large an amount for one person to contribute. I talked and talked to him. Finally, he agreed to accept the money, if it could be considered to be a loan, which would be repaid. I agreed. In a relatively short amount of time he informed the other students that I had made that commitment of money, and there would be a collection made to gather enough to buy a farm. At that time, he said that he would make the decision as to what would be the amount of money which he would require from each student. If one did not make the payment in the amount of time designated, they would have to leave school. At a meeting, envelopes were handed out, telling each student how much they were to contribute. The amount stated in my envelope was 800 dollars. I was surprised, as I had already given the 4,000 dollars. Yet, I paid it, without question.



23. WhaleRiderAugust 2, 2014




What a great read. Bonita seemed like an honest person, and I appreciated hearing a little about her early family life growing up with working parents who were unavailable. I could be wrong, but this appears to be a pattern among cult members, IMO. Bonita seemed to have been so deprived of attention she swayed into exhibitionism.


Her account of burton’s teaching reminded me of how to be a better sociopath in five easy steps:


Rule #1. Learn how to lie.


Rule #2. Do not empathize with other people.


Rule #3. Silence and shun anyone who disagrees with you.


Rule #4. Threaten to withdraw all contact from anyone who does not pay up.


Rule #5 Promise anything.


Here’s how, IMO, to do the opposite and be a better person in five more difficult steps:


Rule #1 Tell the truth.


Rule #2 Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.


Rule #3 Be open to criticism.


Rule #4 Serve someone unconditionally other than yourself.


Rule #5 Only make a promise you can keep.



7. Tempus Fugit July 30, 2014




Animam Recro – Fellowship of Friends – a cult for intellectuals, and Fellowship of Friends Discussion
Part 1 through Part 10




The Fellowship of Friends Discussion – Free speech is a dirty business
Part 11 through Part 33




Fellowship Of Friends/Fourth Way School/Living Presence Discussion
Part 34 through the current page




These links will allow you to access every page of this blog from its beginning in 2006.


Read with an open mind and you will find out the truth about Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends.


And if you are a member of the Fellowship of Friends you may find your path to freedom.



16. Ames Gilbert October 14, 2018


With all this attention on Burton and his shenanigans, let us not forget the ‘school’ organized by his long-time disciple, confidante, and co-inventor of ‘The Sequence’, Asaf Braverman. It looks like Asaf is still running his ‘BePeriod’© ‘school’, both in cyber space and physically. I’m not privy to what goes on in the pages only open to members who join and pay dues, but there is no mention yet of “The Sequence” on publicly viewable pages. Rather, these seem a mixture of the usual Fourth Way basics as promulgated by Ouspensky and Asaf’s own interpretations of religious motifs, written and visual, from around the world. He introduced many of these novel interpretations while still a member of the Fellowship of Friends, before his fall from grace a couple of years ago. I have no idea if he still subscribes to or ‘teaches’ the full panoply of numerology and symbology so beloved by the arch-superstitious Burton. Really, it doesn’t matter.


It is apparent that the guy has a superb memory for Ouspensky’s words. And he likely has a strong belief that Burton’s previous claims that he, Asaf, was destined to become ‘conscious’ actually came true, and thus he is qualified to ‘teach’ the Fourth Way, including the essential transmission of energies that supposedly only someone who has ‘already escaped’ can pass on to the next generation of prospective escapees. But there is no getting away from the milieu that he was submerged in for twenty years, the setting where the Fourth Way was distorted beyond recognition and twisted and shoe-horned into a religion with Burton featuring as the Founding God.


And there is no getting away from the fact that Asaf Braverman was anointed by Robert Earl Burton, the God-Emperor of Oregon House as a “Future Conscious Being”™, and that he enthusiastically assumed the role of ‘leadership’ and ‘teaching’ and fundraising that reflected this important prediction, over many years.


So, he is no innocent bystander temporarily bedazzled by the Grand Charlatan; he shared Burton’s interests, beliefs, income (and possibly, bed), for decades. Not only that, he was centrally placed at the abandonment of the admittedly superficial study of the philosophy known as the Fourth Way and the turning instead to “The Sequence”, a philosophy of numerology, superstition, symbology and practice he co-invented with Burton. This means Asaf Braverman is totally unqualified to teach anything about the Fourth Way, rather, he actively helped Burton poison the well and continues to do so, no matter what he claims or infers—IMHO.



76. Associated PressNovember 1, 2018


It would be good to reflect upon the below in regard to the recent discussion:


From Wikipedia:


“Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These alliances, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System and Law Enforcement Bulletin shows that roughly 8% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome.


[Interesting that 8% is close to the retention rate that the Fellowship of Friends has; 8% of those who join are still members.]


This term was first used by foreign media in 1973 as eponym when four hostages were taken during a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. The hostages defended their captors after being released and would not agree to testify in court against them. Stockholm syndrome is ostensibly paradoxical because the sympathetic sentiments captives feel towards their captors are the opposite of the fear and disdain an onlooker may feel towards the captors.


There are four key components that generally lead to the development of Stockholm syndrome:
– A hostage’s development of positive feelings towards their captor
– No previous hostage-captor relationship
– A refusal by hostages to co-operate with police forces and other government authorities
– A hostage’s belief in the humanity of their captor, for the reason that when a victim holds the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat.


Stockholm syndrome is considered a “contested illness,” due to many law enforcement officers’ doubt about the legitimacy of the condition. Stockholm syndrome has also come to describe the reactions of some abuse victims beyond the context of kidnappings or hostage-taking. Actions and attitudes similar to those suffering from Stockholm syndrome have also been found in victims of sexual abuse, human trafficking, discrimination, terror, and political and religious oppression.”


One might also add to that last sentence: victims of cults.



Which CULT Should I Join?
A Choose-Your-Own Guidebook
for the Spiritually Bereft
© 2017


By Jo Stewart

A lighthearted–but factual–look at some of the craziest cults in modern history.


Do you prefer applesauce (Heaven’s Gate) to Kool-Aid (Peoples Temple)? Do you think carrots are “the food of the Masters” (Church Universal and Triumphant) or that swimming and joking should be forbidden (the Fellowship of Friends)? This is the book for you! We help sort your E.T.-loving Raelians from your Moonies, your snake-handling Church of God with Signs Following from your Branch Davidians.





91. Cult Survivor November 12, 2018




Here are the first 4 minutes of a meeting led by Robert on October 30th, 2016, 9 days after the expulsion of Asaf from the Fellowship of Friends. Robert mentions that Asaf is “going from bad to worse”, that “he is controlled by the lower self” and that “he is going to the end of the Ray of Creation”. Robert also comments on a picture he received of a tombstone with the name “Pierce”, which is the last name of Asaf’s wife indicating that it is a “sign from C Influence”, implying that her departure from the FoF with Asaf is a sinister fact (he also stated a few months later that the death from cancer of Denise, the wife of a person in Italy named Fabrizio that left the FoF to join “Asaf’s school”, occurred because “she was involved in a nasty play” and sent her a personal message inviting her to rejoin the FoF “in order to be saved”). At the end of the video Robert notes the coincidence that the angel that was supposed to wake Asaf up was Abraham Lincoln, the same “secret messenger” that was supposed to wake Miles up, and ends saying that “when you talk about as many things as I do you don’t even have thoughts about getting them all right”.


NOTE: Asaf was very close to Robert during the 18 years he was in the Fellowship of Friends — he was part of the “triumvirate” with Dorian and Alexandr (Sasha) and was the dean of the Fellowship of Friends until June 2016, 4 months before his expulsion.


dropbox.com/s/g96sntuqubhb18e / Mtg Robert 103016.mp4?dl=0



2. ton2uNovember 16, 2018


I finally found time to look at the video clips from the previous page… thanks to cult survivor(s) for a reminder of what I’ve been missing all these years since leaving the Followship of Fools… and I have to thank any “lucky star” or providence, or fate, kismet, common sense, or guardian angels that may have helped me to escape what would have been years wasted in this ridiculous cult-trap.


I say I only got ’round to looking at the video clips – really I did only look… the old saying is true about a picture being worth much more than words… I trust my eyes to tell me more than all the words of the hypnotized and the hypnotizers, the dissemblers, prevaricators, prisoners, poisoners, rationalizers, liars and bullshitters – in other words I didn’t bother wasting time trying to “absorb” or “unpack” any of the verbalized bullshit, I try to avoid it, you know, walk around it – even if it tempts a sort of morbid curiosity on my part.


I went through enough – too many – of these little gatherings called ‘meetings’ with the same tired forms – the pro forma ‘formal attire,’ the group of “leaders” elevated in a ‘superior position’ on the dais above and staring down at the small flock gathered together in the name of…… the topics, the words, even the talking heads may change but the subjects remain the same…. the subjects being the ‘laity’ itself – whether they know it or not, they are the subjects of this project.


The social matrix of the FOF, from the earliest days, has always been based on subjugation and exploitation… adherence of laity to a belief system, thereby aiding, abetting, supporting their own exploitation, complying with their own subjugation…. all hidden behind notions of ‘refinery’ – ‘fine dining,’ ‘good manners,’ ‘nice’ clothing, – while utilizing mental /emotional chains in place of metal chains.


I only needed a brief look at the video clips – and even without listening to the bullshit issuing from mouths, the body language speaks volumes about a very grim state of affairs indeed.



16. Tim CampionNovember 19, 2018
The San Francisco Chronicle’s excellent April 20, 1981 report on The Fellowship of Friends stated:

And of Jones and his suicide colony in Guyana, Burton says confidently: “Mr. Jones was close to the gates of hell. We would hope we are close to the gates of heaven.”

Echoing Ames’ comment #12 above, we in the Fellowship could simultaneously express sympathy for, and dismiss, those poor deluded souls who became entrapped in groups such as The People’s Temple, the Hare Krishnas, Rajneeshpuram, and Scientology. After all, we knew the Fellowship was not a cult.
A few months after the Chronicle article was published, I wrote to my “life family”:

The Fellowship has been receiving a bit of attention lately after appearing in an article on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle recently. It seems that a few former members found that they could capitalize on suspicions that have been cast upon “cults” in the last two years or so. Now we find certain people and some of the media referring to us as a cult, and immediately there are the preconceived notions and the fears that are directed towards such groups. I think though that it will be the people who know us, the merchants, the local citizens that will prove to be our strongest support. As for the rest, they will imagine what they wish – there is not much we can do for that, except maybe try to explain our goals to those who are willing to listen.



49. ton2uFebruary 1, 2019


GV @ 47
Back in the ‘good old days’ when there were still book stores around – I think it was ’92 – I went to a Patterson lecture given at Barnes and Noble in Emeryville, Ca. Essentially a sales pitch followed by a book signing for “Eating the I” – I did not buy the book, was not impressed by the man or the pedantic presentation… but that’s just me – after the FOF I quit the “teacher seeker” game.



4. Just the Facts Ma’amFebruary 18, 2019

If I may be so bold as to give a Fellowship of Friends meeting style angle, bear with me, as you may appreciate the ending:


In: Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching
of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky
by Maurice Nicoll, Volume 3, p. 1089, it says:


“‘The action of the Moon’ Gurdjieff said, in so many words, ‘is like a weight. It controls Organic Life, which covers the surface of the Earth as a sensitive film. It is like a weight on a pendulum. Its influence is to keep everything where and as it is. It uses Organic Life as its food. From this point of view life on Earth is a pain-factory.’”


The Fellowship of Friends, and particularly Robert Earl Burton, has seen to it that he has done everything he possibly can do to be sure that Life on Earth has been, and will continue to be, “a pain-factory.”


However, if you wake up, all bets are off.



11. truthorconsequences44February 18, 2019

4. Just the Facts Ma’am


Regarding Mr. G’s theory that organic life on earth is food for the moon: One wonders what Mr. G would have to say about this idea today, with humanity now having so much more scientific knowledge about the universe and the multitudinous galaxies, suns, planets and moons, dark matter, black holes, etc? His theory doesn’t intellectually resonate for me given the vast number of moons orbiting the even vaster number of planets within just our Milky Way, particularly when almost no planets (thus far seen) appear to have the elements necessary to support organic life in a form that we can imagine.

I also find this theory to be disturbingly similar to the Christian concepts of heaven, purgatory and hell, and the whole Zoroastrian, dualistic cosmology, with its orders of spiritual hierarchies and fear-based control mechanisms. Much of the unnecessary suffering of the world is the result of tribal allegiances to these types of religious beliefs.

At the very least, the theory that ‘organic life on earth is food for the moon’ remains totally theoretical for me, as I see no method for verifying this while still being within this life form on planet earth. Thus, IMO this is a useless and probably harmful construct of the mind, so why not just throw it in the trash or spam folder and then delete it!



12. rich February 18, 2019


Interesting page, including FOF comments:





13.  Four Days of the Fourth StateFebruary 18, 2019


12. rich

John Shirley is a lifelong Gurdjieff Foundation member (is my understanding) which I can personally assure you from direct experience is a deranged cult. They are as cult weird and cult sneaky as anyone else.

In my opinion.


4. Just the Facts Ma’am

“Moreover, in relation to organic life the moon is a huge electromagnet. If the action of the electromagnet were suddenly to stop, organic life would crumble to nothing.” – Gurdjieff (ISOTM)

The moon is not an electromagnet. It has almost no magnetic field at all. Gurdjieff is based on pseudo-science.



98. Ames GilbertFebruary 27, 2019


Solartype, as the spokesperson for one of the competing groups of ‘conscious beings’ in the Fellowship of Friends, could you tell us, was Burton lying then, or lying now? I refer to his prediction that Dorian Mattei would ‘become conscious’ in 2018:




Please, Solartype, I am breathless with anticipation and about to conk out: what is the state of Dorian Mattei’s ‘consciousness’ nowadays, and, either way—how do you know?


Thank you in advance for your consideration, you can be sure that you have somewhat relieved a fellow human’s suffering, even if it is of the unnecessary kind.


Thinking about claims of consciousness that I have come across…
There are the four that ‘William’ referenced, above, the ‘Fab Twelve’ that Solartype represents and advertised on several recent pages, and then the sorry bunch that Cult Survivor has just dug up and published for our benefit—which Solartype says is incorrect, except for two that overlap.


And there is ‘Patricia’, who announced her arrival as a Man #6




And there is Charles Sharp, of course, claiming his rather peculiar brand of ‘consciousness’—the consciousness of the wealthy man, constantly surrounded by fawning idiots desirous of crumbs from his table, perhaps? …


…and Nicolas Walker, who told me personally that he was ‘conscious’ and that C–Influence communicated with him on an individual basis, what, in 1992 or so? At the time, I just took that as further evidence of his kookiness and made sure I was never alone in the same room with him, even though he was, at that point, my brother–in–law. Gads!


But now I’m wondering, vague rumors are reaching me that Walker has a long–time operation going, a ‘school–within–a–school’ (acolytes composed only of women), in the manner of Asaf Braverman with his BePeriod.com.


Of course, I would be remiss to leave out Benjamin Yudin, who has long been fooling around the edges, not quite as bold or ready to take the plunge, as he conducts his classes in ‘Keying Esoteric Bible Symbols’ and such.


Maybe alert readers can remind me of others, there must be many over the last 48 years, apart from those who actually left and went on to form their own debased versions of Fourth Way ‘schools’, like Randazzo or Braverman.


I can understand, it must be mighty tempting to grab a chunk of the action while the going is good and Burton demonstrates his senility and ever more tenuous grasp of reality on a daily basis. The old order is disintegrating, time takes its toll, everything must change, even fossils—or belief systems—become further compressed, or exposed to the weather.


It doesn’t take much to imagine a whole seething mass of power plays going on right now: who is going to inherit the mess when Burton finally descends into the well–deserved hell of his own making, which he calls, “Paradise”?



19. Four Days of the Fourth StateMarch 17, 2019


One of the first set of cult psyops maneuvers the Gurdjieff Foundation fanatics use to establish in the mind of the new person that he or she is the insignificant applicant while the cult handler is the indifferent VIP that you are trying to make contact with is they arrange a meeting at a cafe or some such public place and then fail to show up. The interested applicant naturally reasons there must be some kind of mistake and after 40 minutes or so calls the cult handler who then pretends to not remember anything about the appointment, even though he or she set the meeting time and date. If you don’t show irritation over the phone then the handler casually asks if you’re still interested in meeting. If you do show irritation then they suggest perhaps some other time would be better.


Right away this establishes that the cult is in charge and the interested party is the beggar and that the begging requires persistence.


They are so pleased with themselves over these traditional tricks that they can’t help but inform you of the ruse later, just so you’ll know how clever they are and how susceptible you are in your state of sleep.



20. Robert P. March 17, 2019


Response to #19 (FDFS):


I have been in two different (though related) groups associated with the Gurdjieff Foundation for 10 + years. I have never heard of the “psyops maneuvers” that are described in FDFS’ post. My experience contacting the groups, being interviewed (so to speak), becoming part of an initiatory group and, ultimately, being invited into the main groups was nothing remotely like what FDFS describes. The Foundation groups operate independently of one another. As such, the protocol for admitting new members also varies from group to group and can even vary within each group depending on who is responsible at any given time for meeting with interested persons. In most cases, interested persons will meet in an initiatory group separate from the main body of members. The initiatory groups are headed up by a few senior group members. The initiatory groups can last many months, sometimes more than one year. Those that stick out that process may then be invited to join the main group.



60. 44th WayApril 25, 2019


I have recently left the Fellowship after 27 years and am putting my thoughts together mostly for my own purposes, but they might be useful to others. I am at 44thway.blogspot.com and comments are welcome. Please do not publish my identity which is not hard to figure out.


In friendship (is it still ok to write that?),


44th Way



93. WhaleRiderApril 29, 2019


It dawned on me today that one of the reasons the fourth way works so well not only to recruit followers, but to funnel unsuspecting victims who join the cult directly into burton’s predatory orbit is that Ouspensky’s books focus on both the “efforts” required in the so-called, pseudo-scientific “system” and also a great deal upon Ouspensky’s close relationship with his teacher, Gurdjieff.


To my recollection, Ouspensky doesn’t mention anyone else in his writings in such vivid detail.


It was all about Mr O. and Mr G., with musical accompaniment provided by Saltzman.


(Toward the end of Gurdjieff’s life, apparently it was all about the Benjamins…determining who could pay the most to have direct contact with him, of course after he disavowed any connection with Nicoll’s American extension of his cult. All roads led to Gurdjieff, just like all roads lead to burton, there are no others.)


So as a result of my intense study of Ouspensky’s three main books (required reading according to my center director) that’s what I was led to expect when I joined the so-called “fourth way school” called the Fellowship of Friends…that I eventually needed to have as close a relationship with my “teacher” as Ouspensky did with his – sans the “expression of negative emotions” – in order to “evolve”.


And in order to be a member and be “photographed” in the fourth way tradition or shown just how “asleep” I was, payment was necessary, the perfect setup for burton’s (or other’s) predatory sexual, emotional, and financial exploitation.


IMO, that’s what makes the fourth way and supporting “work language” so incredibly toxic.


The more depersonalized I grew through the practice of “self-observation” of “the machine”, the more compliant I became. Any resistance to burton’s agenda was negatively labeled as “willfulness” or succumbing to “feminine dominance”.


Fourth way ideas are also used by the cult as a self-destructive weapon to turn a person against themself…hence the evolution of “false personality versus true personality” into the FOF’s splitting of a person’s psyche into the “upper self versus lower self”.


Modern Psychology, on the other hand, teaches one to have a more constructive, nuanced, and inclusive relationship with a person’s unconscious parts, generally in an empathetic setting, without mystifying spiritual and delusional superstitious beliefs.


Bear in mind that the language of psychology, i.e. terms like cognitive dissonance, magical thinking, ideas of reference, thought reform, narcissism, ego, personality, sociopathic behavior, etc., are the lens through which the public at large can safely comprehend the cult experience (and many here regularly use to describe and understand our cult experience) without having to join a cult and learn first hand or reduce our cult experiences into a simplistic battle between good and evil.


For example, we look to the work of Margaret Singer, PhD, a Clinical Psychologist, who was a leading expert in the topic, to articulate the underpinning of cult behavior for us.


In other words, psychological language can help a person understand that in order for a pathologically narcissistic personality to thrive as in a cult situation, he or she must be surrounded by people with pathologically accommodating personalities who lack healthy narcissism, myself included at the time…the cult milieu functioning as the arena for the interplay between the selfish and the selfless in all of us, without becoming self derogatory about having joined or simply pointing the finger (or giving the finger in my case) at burton.


And one of the proven methods to deprogram a person from cult indoctrination such as the fourth way is to strongly suggest they “ABANDON THE SYSTEM”…ironically Ouspensky’s famous last words)…and the language associated with it.


(And on the off chance that anyone still in the cult is reading this, that’s your c-influence for today.)



34. Linda JoMay 6, 2019


Gurdieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal





35. Associated Press May 7, 2019


Digging further found:


A project of:
Learning Institute for Growth, Healing and Transformation (LIGHT)





36. Golden VeilMay 7, 2019


35. Associated Press – May 7, 2019


I found it, too. Fellowship of Friends former member Joel Friedlander is quoted [in the part below] footnoted (22) and William Patterson (24) in “Gurdieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal” in the section Contemporary Status of the Work, pages 6 – 17, which I have excerpted below. In footnote (24), the Fellowship of Friends is specifically mentioned.


~ ~ ~


The techniques used by some “teachers” to transmit Work ideas can have a powerful and potentially negative effect on students if not properly employed:


“It has been reported that in an effort to provide the ‘friction’ or difficulties that are deemed necessary to the Work, ‘teachers’ have made their unwitting students endure extreme periods of sleeplessness, fasting, silence, irrational and sudden demands, extraordinary physical efforts, and so on.” (22)


A more extreme distortion of the Gurdjieff group dynamic occurs in the case where the leader manipulates students for ego satisfaction or personal gain.(23) Some of these groups have all the characteristics of a cult. (24) Psychologist Charles Tart warns of the dangers of becoming involved in such groups:


Gurdjieff’s ideas readily lend themselves to authoritarian interpretations that turn work based on them into cults (in the worst sense of the term), giving great power to a charismatic leader. Some of these leaders are deluded about their level of development but are very good at influencing others. Some are just plain charlatans who appreciate the services and money available from devoted followers. It is dangerous to get involved with any group teaching Gurdjieff’s ideas. It may be led by a charlatan, it may be only a social group with no real teaching effect, it may be riddled with pathological group dynamics that hurt its members. (25)


FOOTNOTES for the above:


(22) Joel Friedlander “The Work Today” Gnosis No. 20, Summer 1991, p. 40.


(23) Frank Sinclair, a past president of the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York, with many years experience observing various Work groups, writes in Without Benefit of Clergy (Xlibris, 2005, p. 15) that many group leaders are “subject to weaknesses and sins, not to speak of downright ignorance, appalling self-conceit, unexamined arrogance, and presumptuous elitism: how many there are who profess to have been ‘specially prepared’ and singled out (often only by themselves) to carry the torch.”


(24) An example of a cult masking as a Fourth Way group is the Gurdjieff Ouspensky Center, also known as the Fellowship of Friends. The organization refers to its studies as a Gurdjieff/Ouspensky teaching (although Ouspensky is clearly their major inspiration) and claims that it has expanded the scope of these teachings by introducing cultural and philosophical material from the world’s great spiritual traditions and thinkers. This organization differs from most Gurdjieff groups in their active recruitment of followers; and there have been a number of serious allegations about the organization and in particular the leader of the movement, Robert Burton. See James Moore “Gurdjieffian Groups in Britain” (Religion Today, Volume 3(2), 1986, pp. 1-4), Theodore Nottingham “The Fourth Way and Inner Transformation” (Gnosis No. 20, Summer 1991, p. 22) and William Patterson Taking With the Left Hand (Fairfax, California: Arete Communications, 1998).


(25) Charles Tart Waking Up: (Boston: Shambhala, 1986), pp. 288-289.


~ ~ ~


Word about the Fellowship of Friends does get around! At times, former members even broadcast their own experiences and raise awareness about “The School” without revealing that they, too, were once members.



Dissemination of the Work During Gurdjieff’s Lifetime


P. D. Ouspensky in England and America
A. R. Orage in America
Jean Toomer in New York and Chicago
The Taliesin Fellowship of Wisconsin
John G. Bennett in England


Gurdjieff’s Successors and Teaching Lines


Jeanne de Salzmann and the Gurdjieff Foundation
The Work in England
The Work in America


Contemporary Status of the Work


Current Gurdjieff Groups and Organizations
The Enneagram Phenomenon
Challenges Facing the Work



62. Golden VeilJune 5, 2019


Down the rabbit hole…


A serendipitous search of “Law of Accidents” brought up a link to FourthWaySchool.org which has an inactive forum and may have been created by former Fellowship of Friends students, if the authors of the advertised book are connected to the website.


Under the Community button there is an inactive Forum (where this Discussion is described) and under the Tools button, a page devoted to how one can identify “False Teachers, Fake Schools, and Sham Religions.”





 ex-cult Resource Center



100. InsiderJune 10, 2019


Focusing only on sex is missing the much larger picture. Yes, for those who were forced into having sex with Burton, i.e. were raped by him, that aspect of Burton and the Fellowship may always be the most important with the deepest scars.


For me the bigger picture is Burton as the lying, manipulating, opportunistic cult leader who, at some point in his cult career (whether from before the FF was founded, as I believe, or during the early years of the FF) understood how great, easy, risk-free, and lucrative this cult/religious business would be, and how much fun, in a sick way, it is to lie.


How easy? In those days (early 70s), with “a Guru on every corner” (from Thomas Farber’s Tales for the Son of My Unborn Child), anyone lacking conscience, and with an ounce of “stage presence,” could organize a meeting, and tell the most outrageous lies about him/herself (“conscious being,” “Man No. 5,” whatever), and see how many in the audience bought it. There’s always a small percentage (think Bonita and Linda Kaplan, for example), who would hopefully form the nucleus of a “conscious school.” But no worries, even if no one bites, nothing is lost, except the cost of a few flyers, and the guru-scammer can try again somewhere else. How many people did Burton try to scam before he hooked Bonita?


Not only is Burton not, and never was, anything he has always claimed about himself, it is highly likely that many of the key concepts of the 4th Way itself are erroneous and impossible, such as “becoming a conscious being,” i.e. creating consciousness out of matter. (Not to open a can of worms here. Just sharing a personal belief/understanding that Burton is, at best, a novice in matters he professes to be the highest, greatest expert in.)



Tales for the Son of My Unborn Child


Berkeley, 1966-1969


By Thomas Farber


Getting Religion



23. Just the Facts Ma’am June 18, 2019


Reposting this. Did anyone read the article?
See an additional quote at bottom.


Unmasking the Guru


Our new digital world has made it impossible to believe in infallible teachers. What comes next is up to us.


Interview with Bernhard Pörksen by Ursula Richard
SUMMER 2019 [Tricycle]


Changing cultural attitudes are not the only. . .reason that public revelations of institutionalized sexual abuse have been at the forefront of mainstream consciousness. Abuse is nothing new. What is new is the way it is being revealed to the public—and what the public is doing with the information.


Bernhard Pörksen is a professor of media studies at the University of Tübingen in southwest Germany, with particular research interest in the new media age. His writing regularly appears in both scholarly and popular science publications, and two of his books have been on the bestseller list in Germany. He has written or co-authored books on topics such as journalism, constructivism, and communications and systems theories, and he has received accolades for his direct and engaged appearances as a speaker, talk show guest, interview moderator, and discussion partner on radio and television as well as at conventions and public events.


In the following interview, Ursula Richard of the German magazine Buddhismus aktuell discusses with Pörksen the exposure and aftermath of scandals in Buddhist communities today and how we can understand the emerging role played by digital media.


—The Editors




Or, in print, at a newsstand near you.


Another quote:


“To sum it up: the holy man has become a broken shell, the guru is a sad or pathetic or—worst-case scenario—even criminal figure. And the image of the exalted being has to compete for attention with our personal experience and the online documentation of the guru’s disgrace.”



24. WhaleRiderJune 18, 2019


Just the Facts Ma’am:
Excellent article, thanks for reposting. It brings up an important issue touched upon by Cult Survivor:


In conclusion, is there also a maxim relating to abuse issues? Yes. However difficult and painful it may be, at some point we have to accept the unthinkable as thinkable, in spite of our own experience of beauty, tranquility, and kindness. “See what is different from you, in all its strange-ness and fearfulness” might be the relevant categorical imperative to guide perception. And then investigate carefully and impartially, and act immediately to empower victims and prevent further suffering.


Since burton’s current harem were trafficked presumably from a social, economic or political environment far worse than the opulent environment they are currently living in, and although they have been groomed and manipulated into being burton’s sex slaves and probably living with the fear of deportation and therefore may not complain as a result…has this accommodation of burton’s fraud and sexual mania cleansed the conscience of his followers and alleviated the suffering of his victims?


IMO, only once the guru is unmasked and demystified, so too is the suffering his victims endured unmasked and demystified.



96. Insider July 22, 2019


Here is the link to #79 of The Gurdjieff Journal:





The Gurdjieff Foundation has about two dozen centers, mostly in north America.


There are Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centers in over 30 countries around the world; they are operated by the Fellowship of Friends and are not associated with the Gurdjieff Foundation but with Robert Earl Burton.


See also enneagram and Ouspensky.



In Search of P. D. Ouspensky


The Genius in the Shadow of Gurdjieff  


By Gary Lachman



The Harmonious Circle


The Lives and Work of G. I. Gurdjieff,

P. D. Ouspensky, and Their Followers


By James Webb





An Appreciation of the Life and Work of James Webb


Compiled by John Robert Colombo



   PART  I    II    III