Deconstructing Gurdjieff

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2017-06-13
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions

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Beyond Meetings with Remarkable Men into the truth behind the self-crafted mythology of Gurdjieff’s life

• Reveals evidence that Gurdjieff was a secret Freemason, relying on hypnotism, psychic research and spiritualism

• Explores the profound influence of the Yezidis, esoteric Christianity, and the “gnostics” of Islam, the Sufis, on Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way teachings and the “Work”

• Uncovers the truth behind Gurdjieff’s relations with Aleister Crowley

• Accurately dates Gurdjieff’s real activities, particularly his enigmatic early life

In November 1949, architect Frank Lloyd Wright announced the death of “the greatest man in the world,” yet few knew who he was talking about. Enigmatic, misunderstood, declared a charlatan, and recently dubbed “the Rasputin who inspired Mary Poppins,” Gurdjieff’s life has become a legend. But who really was George Ivanovich Gurdjieff?

Employing the latest research and discoveries, including previously unpublished reminiscences of the real man, Tobias Churton investigates the truth beneath the self-crafted mythology of Gurdjieff’s life recounted in Meetings with Remarkable Men. He examines his controversial birthdate, his father’s background, and his relationship with his private tutor Dean Borshch, revealing a perilous childhood in a Pontic Greek family, persecuted by Turks, forced to migrate to Georgia and Armenia, only to grow up amid more war, persecution, genocide, and revolt. Placing Gurdjieff in the true context of his times, Churton explores Gurdjieff’s roles in esoteric movements taking root in the Russian Empire and in epic imperial construction projects in the Kars Oblast, Transcaucasia, and central Asia. He reveals Gurdjieff’s sources for his transformative philosophy, his early interest in hypnosis, magic, Theosophy, and spiritualism, and the profound influence of the Yezidis and the Sufis, the “gnostics” of Islam, on Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way teachings and the “Work.” Churton also explores Gurdjieff’s ties to Freemasonry and his relationships with other spiritual teachers and philosophers of the age, such as Madame Blavatsky, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Aleister Crowley, dispelling the myth that Gurdjieff forcibly expelled the “Great Beast” from his Institute.

Showing how Gurdjieff deliberately re-shaped elements of his life as parables of his system, Churton explains how he didn’t want people to follow his footsteps but to find their own, to wake up from the hypnosis that drives us blindly through life. Offering a vital understanding of the man who asked “How many of you are really alive?” the author reveals the continuing importance of Gurdjieff’s philosophy for the awakening of man.

Author Biography

Britain’s leading scholar of Western Esotericism, Tobias Churton is a world authority on Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and Rosicrucianism. An Honorary Fellow of Exeter University, where he is a faculty lecturer, he holds a master’s degree in Theology from Brasenose College, Oxford, and is the author of many books, including Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin and Occult Paris. He lives in the heart of England.

Table of Contents


Preface: Caveat Lector

ONE The Enigma Arrives
Meeting the Press

TWO Reviewing the Situation: A Birth
Archival Records
Cattle Plague

War Baby: An Education in Kars

FOUR Dean Borshch and Other Enthusiasms
The Circle of the Yezidi
Bogachevsky and the Flying Chairs

FIVE The Spiritual Question
Spiritualism and Hypnosis

SIX Mad about the Girl: Or How to Get to Tiflis in a Hurry
Fedeev and Blavatsky

SEVEN Books: Furniture of the Mind
The Tradition
The Brotherhood of the Rose-Cross

EIGHT In Search of Brotherhood
The Armenian Question Ani

NINE The Yezidis
The God of the Yezidis
Yezidi Beliefs

TEN Do-It-Yourself Gurdjieff and Unaccountable Journeys Miscellaneous Adventures
The Sufis
Back to Work with Gurdjieff

Traveling Tales and Bullets in the Leg
Soloviev and the Kushka Line
Toward the Sarmoung Monastery

TWELVE Two More Bullets
Trouble in Tibet
The Chiatura Tunnel

THIRTEEN Holy Mother Russia!
Papus in Russia
The Unique Work Brotherhood

FOURTEEN The Struggle of the Magicians

FIFTEEN Octave and Enneagram
From Seven to Eight
Nine in the Circle

SIXTEEN The International Alliance of Ideological Workers

SEVENTEEN Stateless Person
John Godolphin Bennett, Prince Sabahaddin, and Gurdjieff

EIGHTEEN Doctrine: An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man

NINETEEN The Beast 666 and the Black Devil

TWENTY The Long Ascent
Breaking with Old Friends
The War

The Grave with No Name




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