Gurdjieff, The 4th Way and Gnosticism

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Gurdjieff, The 4th Way and Gnosticism

#1 Postby kanaloa » Sat Mar 14, 2015 7:26 pm

Hello, I have spent three years in the Gurdjieff Work, also known as the 4th Way. For those familiar with Gurdjieff, he spent much of his life in the middle east and some of Asia in search of a lost path and lost teachings. He came back with a body of teachings and practices that he called "The Work." Although he didn't use Christian language very often and used many metaphors from the science of his time, he sometimes called his approach "esoteric Christianity."

The more I get into Tau Malachi's books, the more I see the 4th Way in it. Such as the play of cosmic forces of involution, evolution, and the divine forces that work to reconcile them as the Law of 3.

Is this lost teaching and way that Gurdjieff was after really a living oral tradition of Gnosticism? I feel that is was and he found it mostly in obscure Sufi orders, eastern Orthodox mystics, and other orders that held together these deeper gnostic teachings.

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Re: Gurdjieff, The 4th Way and Gnosticism

#2 Postby Elder Gideon » Sat Mar 14, 2015 8:48 pm


Gurdjieff and many in his generation were in search of a non-dual vocabulary that is impossible to ground apart from the primacy of love and compassion. While so many principles in any generation overlap, what is most essential, what makes us sane, is love and compassion. This is the foundation of our lineage and its discussion in this forum.

Apart from a consistent empathy with the people and land, apart from a willingness for suffering to stop with me, apart from the needs of others becoming my own, whatever I have to say of anything abstract or transcendental means nothing. Any embodiment of what is transcendent will integrate and align most swiftly by my identification with all living beings. To seek personal power or will in any separation from others brings no progress to the soul whatsoever, only ruin, fragmentation, and oblivion.

The reason love and compassion release and develop us most swiftly is for the secret principle of the emptiness of self. While many talk of love and compassion in sentimentality, its wisdom and subtlety continues to surpass the most eloquent fin de siècle philosophers. Yeshua speaks constantly of emptiness. To strip away any pious sentimentality with which I might have heard the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) growing up reveals a mastery of reality exceeding all twentieth century narratives of power and will. I will never love an enemy. I won't turn the other cheek. It is only by the emptiness of self that an enemy or a opportunity for vengeance can be dissolved.

Emptiness is on what the wise builder figuratively builds their house, their life. Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall! Sand is change. Rock is the changelessness of change: Emptiness.

This emptiness is embodied through acts of love and compassion. I am nothing. My significance is only in what I've said or done to serve others. This is the greater sophistication of the Gospel. Yeshua's most radical statements of 'himself' really aren't starting from his person but another point beyond yet dependent. Consider when he teaches “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:44-45). Who is me? Clearly, it is every other. I am everyone I'm not. I'm everything I'm not. This is still quite contrary to the most acclaimed minds of modern and postmodern times.

The wind blows where it chooses,
and you hear the sound of it,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit
(John 3:8).

Elder Gideon

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Re: Gurdjieff, The 4th Way and Gnosticism

#3 Postby Tau Malachi » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:48 am


Here in our forums and online community we focus our discussions almost exclusively upon the 'Sophian Gnostic Tradition,' it's teachings and practices - our Christian Kabbalah, and we do not tend to venture into discussions of the teachings and practices of various other Western Esoteric lineages and traditions. This helps keep our forums focused and useful to initiates and our friends, and preserves the quality of our online community. So the focus of our forums is much more narrow than many others one might encounter on the internet.

That said, in modern spiritual vocabulary the terms "gnostic" and "gnosticism" have become rather generic and seem to be applied to almost any apparently mystical spirituality that isn't of the far East. That being the case I imagine Gurdjieff and Ouspensky could be call gnostics and their teaching might be considered some forum of gnosticism, just as in much as we can refer to them as mystics and to their teachings as being mystical in nature.

Myself, I've never been drawn into the practice of the Fourth Way, but as a young man I did study the works of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. I can't really say that the thought of some form on Gnostic Christianity or esoteric Christianity came to mind from their teachings. There were elements I view as essential to what Christian teachings are that I did not see present in their writings. However, anyone who actually engages in an adventure in consciousness, exploring the inner spaces of consciousness, seeking self-realization or enlightenment, and engaging in a conscious evolution to this end, will encounter many similar principles and truths that are universal and self-evident. Therefore it's not surprising that very different lineages and teachings can share numerous common points. They can and they do.

I would not be incline to contrast the teachings of our Christian Kabbalah with those of the 'Fourth Way,' but as far as some apparent common points this is what I can share.

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