By Swami Satchidanand
Gurdjieff died in 1949, about the same year as Ramana Maharshi.
Gurdjieff essentially synthesized ancient esoteric teachings and made them approachable and applicable to the lives of rational Western individuals. His concepts and methods are still seminal in the spiritual work of the west.
A seeker will find in his teachings an immeasurable treasure, the essence of so many other teachings, both spiritual and psychological, on the inner life.
This Gurdjieffian extraordinary system of thought, which ranges from the most intimate, psychological insights to a grandiose cosmology linking the individual with the universe, is a synthesis of practices and teachings known as The Fourth Way.
Then there is the man himself. Gurdjieff was the archetypal Master, beaming with extraordinary psychic powers developed in secret schools and monasteries somewhere between the Caucasus and the Himalayas; brutal soul-shattering insights; marvelous humor which was both ribald in the extreme and breathtakingly penetrating.
Gurdjieff also had a capacity for love that was matched only by his ability to express rage. He was a master hypnotist, a master actor, a master healer.
Those who encountered him often had opposite ideas of who he was, usually as a result of his own intentional behavior.
Like many Masters, Gurdjieff sometimes gave the impression of being a charlatan or mad to arrogant egotistic individuals, while to others he was the most enlightened man they would ever encounter.
His radiant energy, the Buddhafield of the Master, always acted on people's negative energies to send people with a lot of it away, and attracted people with a lot of good, positive Soul energy.
In such a way, as with all Masters, Gurdjieff consciously separated the evil weeds from the good grain!
This powerful Master Gurdjieff, with eyes that pierced to the depths of the soul was also an old man whose pockets were full of candy for the children.
He worked by many methods, to bypass the mind he worked with dance, Gurdjieff said, "I am a simple teacher of dance". Devi Dhyani has given performances of "The Sacred Dances of Gurdjieff" in order to radiate her Buddhafield more strongly, to throw out the bad and energise the good.
And when he explained the theory of the evolution of substances like hydrogens and oxygens in Ouspensky's book, "The Fourth Way", Gurdjieff was just tricking him, taking a very long winded intellectual theory to say to intellectual Ouspensky and to anyone else reading it, to bypass the mind, "You need the radiation of a Master to quicken your evolution!"
His major concepts were Buffers or Energy Blockages, Mechanical people, Sub Ц Personalities and the Soul Personality or Essence.
Mechanical People. For Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, mechanical persons are the mass of humanity and are asleep to their true condition and virtually incapable of change. "By himself, he is just an automaton with a certain store of memories of previous experiences, and a certain amount of reserve energy."
Everything happens to us as to puppets pulled by invisible strings.
Sub Personalities. Another central idea of Gurdjieff is that the individual is not one. We have no permanent "I" or Ego. Every thought, feeling, sensation, desire is an "I" or sub Ц personality which believes that it is the whole person.
Yet none of these "I's" are connected and each depends on the change of external circumstances. To make things worse, there are often impenetrable defenses between each "I" which the Work calls "buffers" or "Energy Blockages" separating these sub - personalities or Alters from one another.
Gurdjieff states that one of our most important mistakes we make is our illusion about our unity. Gurdjieff writes: "His "I" changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings, and moods, and he makes the profound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person; in reality he is always a different person, not the one he was a moment ago."
Our every thought and desire lives separately and independently from the whole. According to Gurdjieff, we are made of thousands of separate I's, often unknown to one another, and sometime mutually exclusive and hostile to each other.
The alternation of I's is controlled by accidental external influences. There is nothing in us able to control the change of I's, mainly because we do not notice it. Each separate I calls itself "I" and acts in the name of the whole person. This explains why people so often make decisions and so seldom carry them out.
Gurdjieff healed alcoholism and drug addiction Ц the addictive sub Ц personalities in rich young men by means of hypnotism, and was once paid an oil tanker for his work by the family of one such. But to remove ALL the sub Ц personalities and access the one Soul Personality in Enlightenment requires much more conscious work of the student.
Essence, the soul personality and personality. In order to see clearly the roots of our psychological distortions, Gurdjieff's Fourth Way defines two aspects of the individual: essence and the multitude of fleeting sub Ц personalities. Essence, the soul personality, is what a person is born with, sub - personalities are that which are acquired, usually by some traumatic event, usually in childhood which splits the childish sub Ц personality from the Soul stem.
All that is learned, both unconsciously through imitation and through acquired likes and dislikes, constitutes the outer part of the person, that which is changed by outer circumstances. Though personality is necessary, it must not be left to dominate essence or it will produce artificial persons, sub personalities cut off from their true natures, or the soul itself.
"This means that with a quick and early growth of personality, growth of essence can practically stop at a very early age, and as a result we see men and women externally quite grown up, but whose essence remains at the age of ten or twelve." The Energy Enhancement concept of the inner child which needs to be healed before it can grow up.
Through the practice of Energy Enhancement Soul Contact Meditation, we can separate ourselves from the pretenses and imitations which have enslaved us since childhood and return to who we actually are.
Such a return to our essential nature is accompanied by a sense of liberation unlike any other. "To thyself be true" is the first commandment on the way of self-development and the attaining of a higher consciousness.
The fundamental abnormality in human beings lies precisely in the divergence between personality and soul - essence. The more nearly we know ourselves for what we are, the more we approach wisdom.
The more our imagination about ourselves diverges from what we actually are, the more insane we become: Gurdjieff, "Unless a man first finds himself, finds his own essential nature and destiny, and begins from them, all his efforts and achievements will be built only on the sand of personality, and at the first serious shock the whole structure will crumble, perhaps destroying him in its fall."
Examples of shocks are disappointment and bereavement. Only the ego gets hurt. The Soul personality is never affected by disappointment or bereavement. These are two of the tests that this should be so within you!
The soul Ц essence is the totality of the moments of self-awareness during one's life. Yet moments of higher consciousness are very rare and gone as soon as they come. Once again, the reason such self-consciousness is so difficult to attain is that it is dependent on the conscious use of attention.
Gurdjieff required that each person verify the teachings for themselves based on their personal observations and experiences. That is why he rarely mentioned the idea of "God" even though he called his teaching "esoteric Christianity."
His task was to help people free themselves from all that is false and imaginary in order that they might become receptive to their higher self and enter uncharted dimensions of consciousness on their own through liberation from the tyranny of their ego.
It is for this reason that Gurdjieff was so merciless on his students. He crushed the vanity and artifice of the sub - personalities, mocking those who thought they understood something. As we say in Energy Enhancement, "It is only the ego which gets hurt!"
Gurdjieff differentiated between two forms of knowing: knowledge and understanding. The first is of the head, the second is that which takes root in our being and transforms us. He did indeed humiliate many egos stuffed with pride and broke people's confidence in their own importance.
Gurdjieff tore through our most cherished beliefs with astonishing force and irreverence, stung our vanities with brutal honesty, and called us to that ultimate journey toward the consciousness of who we are and who we are meant to be.
His "toast to the idiots" stung the ego but gave great information to the humble on where to start the spiritual work.
Behind the exotic masks of Gurdjieff, the oriental magician-rogue-teacher, was great compassion. Children and animals sensed it, while seekers of all classes and types found healing and new life from his sometimes bizarre requirements.
Gurdjieff came to wake us with uncompromising affection and assist us accessing our deeper selves. No one walks away unchanged from the teachings of this intense Master who has taught us to discover someone even more elusive than himself: the true nature of our being.
Energy Enhancement is ancient, effective, meditative techniques from 5000 years of successful spiritual technology comprising the Kundalini Kriyas, Soul Contact, the Grounding of Negative Energies and Energy Blockages and sub Ц personality Inner Children, and more!