JANUARY 26 — GEORGE GURDJIEFF QUOTES
HE WANTED ME TO BE MY “OWN MAN”
“The automatic assumption of most readers or people who know that I had a relationship with Gurdjieff [as a young boy and young man], is that I have some special knowledge or information that I, in my turn, have either the obligation or the need to pass on to them. This assumption may or may not be true — but whatever it is — there are a good many “holes” in it. People who meet me for the first time — this is a good enough example - more or less take it upon themselves to offer me Armagnac on the assumption that I automatically like Armagnac because that’s what Gurdjieff habitually drank. This is both inaccurate and presumptuous. I drink it once in a while, but I am an American and what I like to drink is whiskey. This is not a digression - it is an attempt to point out a misconception that many people fall into unconsciously: that Gurdjieff in some way cast his pupils or students into what might be called his “mold”.
“Nothing could be further from the truth, in spite of the fact that many group leaders are imitative in that they “act” like Gurdjieff in many ways. Jean Toomer, who led a group in Chicago for many years, began to speak in a Russian accent — an extreme example of being imitative. What is sad to me about such manifestations is that while Gurdjieff taught by example frequently, the imitation of him is nothing more than just that: it is outer and pointless. Gurdjieff, again, in my opinion, taught something very different. He wanted me to be my “own man” not an imitation of him. I didn’t cross the Gobi Desert on stilts; I didn’t study in Tibet; I know nothing about the Middle East, the Caucasus, etc., etc.
“It seems to me that it should be almost blatantly obvious that what Gurdjieff really transmitted was knowledge — not physical, habitual behavior. Some people think it would be more appropriate for me to have a bald head and a beard. In other words, I don’t fit their conception of what a “son” of Gurdjieff ought to look like and my behavior also puzzles them so that they had a hard time getting used to me, as I am. This is a roadblock in human relationships. So far as I know what I received — at least in part — from Gurdjieff was a certain discipline, a capacity for hard work, the ability to concentrate, a sense of humor, a mania for truth, and so on. But these things are part of my equipment, not a version of his.”
~ Fritz Peters "Balanced Man"
YOU HAVE THE POSSIBILITY OF CHANGING
“Here Gurdjieff suddenly changed his manner of speaking, and looking, at me very directly he said: "You have the possibility of changing, but I must warn you that it will not be easy. You are still full of the ideal that you can do what you like. In spite of all your study of free will and determinism, you have not yet understood that so long as you remain in this place, you can do nothing at all. Within this sphere there is no freedom. Neither your knowledge nor all your activity will give you freedom. This is because you have no..." Gurdjieff found it difficult to express what he wanted in Turkish. He used the word varlik, which means roughly the quality of being present.”
~ JG Bennett “Witness”
G. IS, IN FACT, INDESCRIBABLE
“In September, after Paquet's visit to the Prieuré, I wrote: G. [Gurdjieff] was horrified that you compared him to Plato. After my explanation, everyone (except Gurdjieff who indeed knows it better) appreciated how much truth there was in the comparison. Even so, everyone agreed it is impossible to compare him to anyone or anything. G. is, in fact, indescribable.”
~ Louise Goepfert March “The Gurdjieff Years”
IN THE EXPECTATION THAT WE, THE LISTENERS, WOULD TAKE IT UP AND ENLARGE ON IT
“From time to time it would happen that Gurdjieff would throw out some brief condensed statement in the expectation that we, the listeners, would take it up and enlarge on it. Once, I recall, he did so with a nod in my direction which meant that I had to develop his suggested idea in its different aspects and in all its visible and invisible ramifications.”
~ Anna Butkowsky "With Gurdjieff in St. Petersburg and Paris"