top of page



Someone said, ‘I’m not very clear about what you mean by considering.’ Gurdjieff replied, ‘I will give you a simple example. Although I am accustomed to sitting with my legs crossed under me, I consider the opinion of the people here and sit as they do, with my legs down. This is external considering.

‘As regards inner considering. Someone looks at me, as I think, disapprovingly. This starts corresponding associations in my feelings; if I amtoo weak to refrain from reacting, I am annoyed with him. I consider internally, and show that I am annoyed. This is how we usually live; we manifest outside what we feel inside.

'We should try to draw a line between the inner and the outer impacts. Externally, we should sometimes consider even more than we do now; be more polite to people than we usually are, for example. It can be said that what until now has been outside should be inside; and what was inside should be outside. Unfortunately, we always react. But why should I be annoyed or hurt if someone looks at me disapprovingly? — or if he doesn’t look at me, doesn’t notice me? It may be that he himself is the slave of someone else’s opinion; perhaps he is an automaton, a parrot repeating another’s words. Perhaps someone has trod on his corns. And tomorrow he may change. If he is weak, and I am annoyed with him, I am even weaker; and by considering, making a mountain out of a molehill and getting into a state of resentment, I may spoil my relations with other people.

‘It must be understood very clearly and established as a principle that you must not let yourselves become slaves to other people’s opinions; you must be free from those around you. And when you become free inside you will be free of them.

‘At times, it may be necessary for you to pretend to be annoyed; and it does not follow that if someone slaps you on one cheek you should always offer the other. It is necessary sometimes to answer back in such a way that the other will forget his grandmother. But you must not consider internally. On the other hand, if you are free inside it may happen that if someone slaps you on one cheek it is better to offer the other cheek. It depends on the other person’s type; and sometimes a man will not forget such a lesson in a hundred years. Sometimes one should retaliate, other times not. A man can choose only when he is free inside. An ordinary man cannot choose, cannot sum up the situation quickly and impartially, for with him his external is his internal. It is necessary to work on oneself, to learn to be unbiased, to sort out and analyse each situation as if one were another person; only then can one be just. To be just at the moment of action is a hundred times more valuable than to be just afterwards. And only when you can be really impartial as regards yourself will you be able to be impartial towards others.

~ CS Nott “The Teachings of Gurdjieff - A Pupil's Journey”



WE stood before his table waiting for him to look up. He made us wait for an interval that felt like eons, then slowly raised his head and gazed at me with the most beautiful eyes I had ever looked into - even slightly angry as they were, scowling.

"Excusez-moi, Monsieur... êtes-vous Monsieur Gurdjieff?" My voice dwindled as I hurried on to explain that we belonged to a small group meeting each week in Montparnasse to study his teachings with Miss Heap. His eyes narrowed as if regarding something very small, then his glance moved on to Wendy standing taller behind me.

"Geep?" he rumbled. "Mees Geep?" It took me a moment to realize be was repeating Heap with a hard G for the H which his Russian tongue could not aspirate. I said "Oui, monsieur" with my last breath. Then he nodded and said "Sit," in English. He thrust aside his overcoat and made a place for Wendy beside him on the banquette, indicated any old vacant chair for me to pull up and invited us for a coffee, with him or whatever else we might prefer.

Wendy did most of the talking. She told him how we had, stumbled, so to speak, into Miss Heap's circle, how she had made notes (she had copied mine) and had always wanted to meet him since she believed in going direct to a source. She was a businesswoman, she said, as if that explained everything. Hands as well as voice conveyed her delight for the unexpected encounter. He studied her as she chattered confidingly. Did he understand a word of her rapid breathless English? He offered her a long Russian cigarette and placed one in his own short holder made of some sort of briarwood, dark and knotty. He accepted a light from me without looking my way, then said, "Business, aha! I also am businessman."

I know now that we must have caught him in a moment of weariness after writing for hours in the blankbook that lay on the table beneath his brown fingers flattened at the tips like a musician's. Unknown and uninvited, we must have appeared when he needed what he was later to term for us "idiot relief" – a most useful expression for anyone toiling to communicate through the written word. I marveled at the way Wendy chattered on unabashed, then listened to him, seeming to understand his abbreviated English which was not pidgin (as some reports had suggested) but simply nouns without articles preceding verbs without adverbs.

Presently he said to Wendy, "You have car?" and she pointed out the window to the Packard parked at the curb, directly behind his mud-splattered sedan. He looked at the long lowslung roadster, then turned directly to me and said, "You are chauffeur?" I meant to speak up brightly and naturally like Wendy but the full force of his regard caused me to blush and stammer.

"He invites us to go to Fontainebleau with him this afternoon," Wendy said across the table. "We are to follow his car." Gurdjieff turned his eyes away from me for a moment to study Wendy registering pleasure at the prospect and I got my voice back firm and strong in time to answer his next query: "You can follow?" "Yes Sir," I said, looking straight into his wonderful eyes, "I am very good at following."

He instructed me to come to the cafe at three o'clock exactly. With night bag in the car. "And bring the Thin One," he added, giving Wendy the name which summed her up for him.

We arose, thanked him for coffee and walked from the salle as if emerging from a royal audience. At the revolving doors I looked back. I had to see Gurdjieff once again to believe that the encounter had really happened. With one leg pulled up beneath him Oriental-fashion on the banquette, he looked from a distance like a broad-shouldered Buddha radiating such power that all the people between him and me seemed dead.

~ Kathryn Hulme "Undiscovered Country"



“When the time came to go, I went up with the others to say goodbye and to thank Mr. Gurdjieff. To my great surprise, he took my hand in both of his and said he was happy I would stay and work for him. I was quite overcome and completely inarticulate. There was that in his look that always made me feel like so much melting butter, for a moment absolutely free of all my pretensions. I knew he knew me and he did not judge me for my pretensions – but accepted, as I cannot myself, that I am what I am.”

~ Rina Hands "Diary Madame Egout Pour Sweet"



QUESTION: Can you get past the stop by means of the third force?

GURDJIEFF: Yes, if you have knowledge. Nature arranged it so that air and bread are chemically quite different, and cannot mix; but as bread changes in ‘re’ and ‘mi’, it becomes more permeable, so that they can mix.

Now you must work on yourself, you are ‘do’; when you get to ‘mi’, you can meet help.

QUESTION: By accident?

GURDJIEFF: One piece of bread I eat, another I throw away; is this accident? Man is a factory with three stories. There are three doors by which the raw materials are taken in to their respective storage rooms where they are stored. If it were a sausage factory, the world would only see carcasses taken in and sausages coming out. But in actual fact it is a much more complicated arrangement. If we wish to build a factory like the one we are studying, we must first look at all the machines and inspect them in detail. The law “as above, so below” is the same everywhere; it is all one law. We also have in us the sun, the moon, and the planets, only on a very small scale. Everything is in movement, everything has emanations, because everything eats something and is itself eaten by something.

The earth also has emanations, and so has the sun, and these emanations are matter. The earth has an atmosphere which limits its emanations. Between the earth and the sun there are three kinds of emanations; the emanations of the earth go only a short distance, those of the planets go much further, but not all the way to the sun. Between us and the sun there are three kinds of matter, each with a different density. First-the matter near the earth, containing its emanations; then the matter containing emanations of the planets; and still further—the matter where there are only emanations of the sun. The densities stand in the ratio one, two, and four, and vibrations are in an inverse ratio, as finer matter has a greater rate of vibration. But beyond our sun are other suns which also have emanations and send influences and matter, and beyond them there is the source, which we can only express mathematically, also with its emanations. These higher places are beyond the reach of the sun’s emanations.

If we take the material from the uttermost limit as 1, then the more divisions of matter according to density, the higher the numbers. The same law goes through everything, the law of three—positive, negative, neutralizing. When the first two forces are mixed with a third, something quite different is created. For example, flour and water remain flour and water—there is no change; but if you add fire, then fire will bake them and a new thing will be created which has different properties.

Unity consists of three matters. In religion we have a prayer: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, Three in One—expressing the law rather than a fact. This fundamental unity is used in physics, and taken as the standard of unity. The three matters are “carbon,” “oxygen” and “nitrogen,” and together they make the “hydrogen” which is the foundation of all matter, whatever its density.

The cosmos is an octave of seven notes, each note of which can be subdivided into a further octave, and again and again to the uttermost divisible atom. Everything is arranged in octaves, each octave being one note of a greater octave, until you come to the Cosmic Octave. From the Absolute, emanations go in every direction, but we will take one—the Cosmic Ray on which we are: the Moon, Organic Life, the Earth, the Planets, the Sun, All Suns, the Absolute. The Cosmic Ray goes no further.

Emanations from the Absolute meet other matter and are converted into new matter, gradually becoming denser and denser and changing according to law. We can take these emanations from the Absolute as threefold, but when mixed with the next order of matter they become six. And since, as in ourselves, there is both evolution and involution, the process can go either up or down, and do has the power to transform into ‘si’, or in the other direction into ‘re’. The octave of the Earth needs help at ‘mi’, which it gets from the Planets, to turn ‘mi’ into ‘fa’.

~ "Gurdjieff's Early Talks 1914-1931"

bottom of page