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This is a bit of extra reading for those interested in the mystical origins of the Enneagram, particularly the idea of three centers as the basis for human personality (and the creation of a fourth). If you're interested in this as a spiritual teaching, rather than as further background on the Enneagram of Personality, I'd like to point out that several reputable reviewers have argued that Gurdjieff's teachings are similar to (and don't really go beyond) Buddhism.

Here's two books you can download:

In Search of the Miraculous (~400pgs; 110KB) - A documentation of Gurdjieff's thoughts and teachings by one of his students, Ouspensky. Arguably the best book on the subject and provides a good overview of the early roots of the Enneagram of Personality. Highly recommended as a starting point for understanding the Fourth Way.

Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson (~1100pgs; 6MB) - Gurdjieff's own, esoteric presentation of the Fourth Way. "Reading this is itself an act of G's 'conscious labor'." Covers his teaching through a story-myth. Expect a dense, difficult read.


I think, unfortunately, there needs to be a disclaimer to Gurdjieff's teachings, which is to say that much of it cannot be taken literally. Gurdjieff calls his work a form of esoteric Christianity, and esoteric Christianity strictly downplays literal interpretations of the Bible (and other spiritual texts) in favor of allegorical and mythical interpretations. I've seen some people take literally some ideas from Gurdjieff, like "food for the moon," so to avoid that happening here, I'd like to cover briefly the divide between mythos and logos.

In premodern times, many teachings were focused on the spirit of the people, meaning that they functioned as lessons of meaning rather than explanations of empirical truth. The latter was the domain of logos. Much of history during this time was seen as subordinate to the creation of a mythos for that society, and many events were deliberately mythologized for this purpose.

To get an overt idea of the implications of this, you may wish to peruse the following:

Esoteric Christianity - An elucidation of early Christianity by Annie Besant. This book aims to reintegrate Gnosis and mysticism back into modern Christianity, claiming that modern Christianity has "vulgarised" Christianity from how it was originally intended. Several passages of the Bible are reinterpreted, and following how these readings are taken beyond the literal may help illuminate how Gurdjieff's ideas were intended to be read.


I'll be reading more of these over the next few weeks, and I encourage discussion of all books mentioned.
 

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I'd like to add the commentaries of Nicoll on Gurdjieffs teaching:

Volume one

Volume two

Volume three

Volume four

Volume five


I'll add more as i progress.

The Work is real weird in its effects on those who first encounter it. One can either 'get' it or not. If one doesn't its all a bunch of baloney. But if one does, there is a whole new world waiting to be discovered, and indeed much more than a world.
 

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Awesome. I have Beelzebub's Tales, In Search of the Miraculous and the Fourth Way and a bunch of others by his students. In Search of the Miraculous and the Fourth Way are the more readable of the bunch. But still couldn't maintain the interest to finish them. Guess I needed some kind of context keep the interest alive. May be in a later time.
 

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Awesome. I have Beelzebub's Tales, In Search of the Miraculous and the Fourth Way and a bunch of others by his students. In Search of the Miraculous and the Fourth Way are the more readable of the bunch. But still couldn't maintain the interest to finish them. Guess I needed some kind of context keep the interest alive. May be in a later time.
Fourth Way is not something to be just read about. It is a living breathing thing and ultimately it will have to take the place of life itself so that one Works in and through life. In work terms, life itself is nothing but a school. The Work reaches out to the true seeker who feels deep within that there is much more to be found than just material life.

The ideal approach is to do the following in conjunction:

1. Read the books
2. Always take time to digest and think and extrapolate on everything you have read. Also link it to things you already know from outside its context.
3. Use and exercise what you have found throughout every day. Practicing self awareness is stage one because without that you can not Work. After that comes work on the centres. Everything of course to be done along the lines set out by Gurdjieff.
 

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Here's a personal account of meeting Gurdjieff:

It's been a while since I last paid attention to him, after some of the critical commentaries I've read about his works.
 

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We need to realise that Gurdjieff himself, even if he had progressed significantly beyond most of his contemporaries, was still a man. In terms of his own work, he found a better balance between C influences from higher levels and A influences from the material world, but that did not make him superhuman.

None of that, however, needs to devalue the Work he popularised in the west. It is also important to realise that in the final analysis, all esoteric traditions will lead to the same end goal. They simply use different roads to get there.

Esotericism in general is a way to help us fulfil our destiny. But the exact chosen path can be different for every seeker on that path.
 
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