Interview - George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was born in 1866 in Aleksándropol in present-day Armenia. His mother was Armenian and his father was of Greek origin. He was a mystic teacher, writer, he spoke Russian, Turkish, Greek and Armenian, he made a trip to Asia, where he met several people with whom he forms a group called The Seekers of Truth.

With a mysterious and charismatic personality, he was wondering the world and he captured the attention of many to guide them towards a possible spiritual evolution. His main work was to make known and transmit the teachings of the Fourth Way in the Western world.

In 1912 he arrived in Moscow after spending more than 20 years traveling, and began to gather a group of students to immediately establish the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. In 1922, Gurdjieff and his students bought the mansion Château du Prieuré (Fontaine Blue) in the city Fontainebleau in France, they conditioned the construction to carry out their practices. Those people under his supervision were working consciously towards awakening...

Ladies and Gentlemen, 
it is my honor to present our guest for tonight... 
Mr. George Ivanovich Gurdjieff!!!

My first question is, what did you teach to your followers?

I taught them to love their work, to strive, to know themselves, to develop their will, to take responsibility for their actions, assuming the consequences of these, to express their feelings, to seek the truth within their being, to focus their attention and to form their conscience, for each day to be better and to be able to face the vicissitudes of life in a positive way.

And you call that - spirituality?

To begin with I must say that practically never in history has spirituality stood at so low a level as at the present time. It has lost all touch with its origin and its meaning so that now it is even difficult to define the term spirituality: that is, to say what spirituality is and what it studies. And this is so in spite of the fact that never in history have there been so many spiritual movements, theories and so many spiritual writings.

Spirituality is sometimes called a new age science. This is quite wrong. Spirituality is, perhaps, the oldest science, and, unfortunately, in its most essential features a forgotten science. The spirituality, except in modern times has never existed under its own name. For one reason or another spirituality always was suspected of wrong or subversive tendencies, either religious or political or moral and had to use different disguises...

Spirituality is the study of the principles, laws and facts of man's evolution - the evolution of human consciousness.

So what does evolution of man mean?

Man as we know him is not a completed being; nature develops him only up to a certain point and then leaves him, either to develop further, by his own efforts and devices, or to live and die such as he was born, or to degenerate and lose capacity for development.

We must understand that all men cannot develop and become different beings. Evolution is the question of personal efforts and in relation to the mass of humanity evolution is the rare exception. It may sound strange but we must realize that it is not only rare, but is becoming more and more rare.

Why cannot all men develop and become different beings?

The answer is very simple. Because they do not want it. Because they do not know about it and will not understand without suffering what it means, even if they are told. To become a different being man must want it very much and he must see that he is not free. A passing desire or a vague desire based on dissatisfaction with external conditions will not create a sufficient impulse.

And here we come at once to a very important fact. Man does not know himself. He does not know his own limitations and his own possibilities. He does not even know to how great an extent he does not know himself. He has all sorts of wrong ideas about himself. First of all he does not realize that he is actually in a prison.

What does it mean that man is in a prison?

It means that he has no freedom whatsoever. He is in a prison which is brought into motion by external influences and external impacts. All his actions, words, ideas, emotions, moods and thoughts are produced by external influences. By himself, he is just an automaton with a certain store of memories of previous experiences, and a certain amount of energy.

Man cannot move, think or speak of his own accord. He is a marionette pulled here and there by invisible strings. If he understands this, he can learn more about himself, and possibly then things may begin to change for him. But if he cannot realize and understand his utter mechanicalness or if he does not wish to accept it as a fact, he can learn nothing more, and things cannot change for him.

We must understand now that spirituality really means self-study. This is the real definition of spirituality.

Thank you Mr. Gurdjieff.