Gurdjieff was born (c. 1866) in the Caucasus, a region where many peoples and traditions coexisted productively in what remains to this day a border zone between Asia and the West. He recognized in his youth that conventional Western science, philosophy, and religion could not answer his compelling questions about what he called "the sense and aim of human existence." Convinced that answers to his questions might be found in Asia, perhaps in remote religious communities sheltered from the modern world, he formed a group of like-minded associates, the Seekers of Truth, and for some twenty years traveled with them in search of missing knowledge through the Near East, Central Asia, India, and parts of North Africa and the Orthodox Christian world. Early in 1912, he established himself as an independent teacher in Moscow (and the following year also in St. Petersburg) and began to transmit the ideas and practical methods for "work on oneself" that today bear his name.
When the Bolshevik Revolution imposed heavy restrictions on Russian society, he migrated to Paris with a number of pupils. There in 1922, just outside Paris, he founded the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man to which pupils came from the United States as well as many other countries. While Paris and its region remained his residence until his death in 1949, he visited the United States at the beginning of 1924, established groups for the study of his teaching, and periodically returned to work with them through 1948.
After Gurdjieff's death in October 1949, his core group of pupils, guided by Jeanne de Salzmann to whom he had passed the responsibility for his work, undertook to preserve and share the teaching. Experienced and trusted men and women in Paris, London, New York, and soon Caracas founded groups locally and in many other cities in the course of the 1950s. Those groups in turn fostered the work of the next generation, now responsible for groups worldwide, including our group in Cambridge.