G. I. Gurdjieff

Philosopher, Founding Figure

1866 – 1949

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Who was G. I. Gurdjieff?

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was an influential spiritual teacher of the early to mid-20th century who taught that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic "waking sleep", but that it is possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. Gurdjieff developed a method for doing so, calling his discipline "The Work" or "the Method". According to his principles and instructions, Gurdjieff's method for awakening one's consciousness is different from that of the fakir, monk or yogi, so his discipline is also called the "Fourth Way". At one point, he described his teaching as being "esoteric Christianity".

At different times in his life, Gurdjieff formed and closed various schools around the world to teach the work. He claimed that the teachings he brought to the West from his own experiences and early travels expressed the truth found in ancient religions and wisdom teachings relating to self-awareness in people's daily lives and humanity's place in the universe. The title of his third series of writings, Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Am', expresses the essence of his teachings. His complete series of books is entitled All and Everything.

Famous Quotes:

  • A sin is something which is not necessary.
  • Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.
  • Self-observation brings man to the realization of the necessity of self-change. And in observing himself a man notices that self-observation itself brings about certain changes in his inner processes. He begins to understand that self-observation is an instrument of self-change, a means of awakening.
  • It is the greatest mistake to think that man is always one and the same. A man is never the same for long. He is continually changing. He seldom remains the same even for half an hour.
  • A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake.
  • A considerable percentage of the people we meet on the street are people who are empty inside, that is, they are actually already dead. It is fortunate for us that we do not see and do not know it. If we knew what a number of people are actually dead and what a number of these dead people govern our lives, we should go mad with horror.
  • Religion is doing; a man does not merely think his religion or feel it, he lives his religion as much as he is able, otherwise it is not religion but fantasy or philosophy.
  • A man can only attain knowledge with the help of those who possess it. This must be understood from the very beginning. One must learn from him who knows.
  • In properly organized groups no faith is required; what is required is simply a little trust and even that only for a little while, for the sooner a man begins to verify all he hears the better it is for him.
  • Man has the possibility of existence after death. But possibility is one thing and the realization of the possibility is quite a different thing.

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Born
Jan 1, 1866
Gyumri
Also known as
  • George Ivanovich Gurdjieff
  • George Gurdjieff
  • G. I Gurdjieff
  • Γεώργιος Γεωργιάδης
  • Гео́ргий Ива́нович Гюрджи́ев
  • Գեորգի Իվանովիչ Գյուրջիև
  • გიორგი გურჯიევი
  • Georges Gurdjieff
Spouses
Nationality
  • Armenia
Profession
Died
Oct 29, 1949
Neuilly-sur-Seine

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

Citation

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