George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

G. I. Gurdjieff sitting on step

G. I. Gurdjieff was born sometime between 1866 and 1877 in Alexandropol (now Gyumri, Armenia), near the Russian-Turkish border. As a young man he trained in Kars as both a priest and a physician and devoted all his energies to searching for fundamental truths: Who am I? What is the purpose of our life? For some twenty years, Gurdjieff traveled in the most remote regions of Central Asia and the Middle East, sometimes gaining entrance to esoteric schools to which few, if any, Westerners had ever been admitted. Afterwards, he set about putting what he had learned into a form that would be understandable and meaningful to the Western World.

Before the First World War, Gurdjieff began to gather pupils in Russia. He continued his work with a small party of followers during the years of the Russian revolution, moving to Essentuki in the Caucasus, and then through Tiflis, Constantinople, Berlin, and London. He finally settled in France and established his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Chateau Le Prieure at Fontainebleau-Avon in October of 1922.

People who met Gurdjieff felt that he was an extraordinary man. He maintained that through the efforts to Work on oneself, a person could develop new faculties which would enable one to know oneself truthfully and to function harmoniously, with fully developed Consciousness, Conscience, and Will.

Gurdjieff died in Paris in 1949. His teachings survive most reliably in the form of his writings (All and Everything: Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, Meetings with Remarkable Men, and Life is Real Only Then, When “I Am”), in his music, in his movements and sacred dances, and in an oral tradition passed down through his older pupils.

More information about Gurdjieff can be found at the Gurdjieff International Review website.