What is a search today?
What are the dimensions of a serious search for understanding, for wisdom and clarity?
Are there sound methods?
Gurdjieff wrote that what he called the Great Knowledge has been preserved and refined throughout human history by teachers, saints, and initiates. It is a current, more hidden in some periods, more evident in others. To join that current today isn’t only a matter of wishing and reading; it needs practical, wise method. Gurdjieff provides those essential tools.
One of those methods is self-observation in the course of daily life.
Self-observation is a quiet, invisible movement toward oneself that reveals, over time, why and how and what one does—and, above all, who is the doer. Who is there? The result of self-observation is not intellectual information; it is awareness simultaneously of thinking, feeling, and body. This is the beginning of self-knowledge.
A work on self-observation requires much of us: a new attention that strives to unclutter the mind, a new relaxation releasing the tensions that create barriers, sincerity that asks us to be fiercely honest with ourselves, perseverance that recognizes this Work to be a long process, and of most importance, the discovery that we must inhabit ourselves, ground ourselves in the body.
One of the central ideas of Gurdjieff's teaching is that human beings are incomplete, an unfinished creation poised to take responsibility for its own development.
Our development is brought to a certain point by Nature, sufficient for the demands of ordinary life and even for great achievements in science and technology. However, further individual development depends on our active participation, our willingness to take ourselves in hand. As pupils in the Gurdjieff Work, we make a practical study of the ideas and methods and apply them in our lives—for our own development and understanding and in service to others.
Why? To wake up.
Gurdjieff taught that in our ordinary state we are asleep, without an authentic I am, without being. In this constricted state, many of us live our entire lives, automatically, without being aware that more is possible. Methods are needed to reach for deeper self-knowledge and new possibilities. The teaching requires sustained effort—a work on oneself—over some period of time to lay the foundation for a life of inquiry and self-knowledge.
The Gurdjieff teaching, known as the Work, is an oral teaching. Oral teachings live on an edge between their inherited traditions and the need for freshness in thought and practice. The Gurdjieff Society draws on a century of continuous tradition with a rich heritage of ideas, methods, attitudes, and insights. Yet no teaching can flourish solely on the basis of its traditions. It needs to learn from life, to recognize today’s questions and respond.
We live in a time of plenty and poverty, of confidence and fear. Family, a satisfying professional life, friends—all to the good. But for some questing men and women, more is needed. They haven’t lost touch with questions that ride persistently behind our daily lives. The Gurdjieff teaching, from its home in Cambridge (and elsewhere nearly worldwide), is a Way toward oneself, toward living these questions and sharing with a community of seekers.