of truly understanding the aim and purpose...
of our lives is rooted in our personal experience, in what we ourselves
have lived through and know first-hand. While it's also true that
all real religions are based on the idea of an ordered, intelligent
universe, a hierarchy in which each level is related to levels above
and below in reciprocal dependence, until ideas become real, they
are just possibilities.
perhaps without understanding why we know it, that we long for something
beyond ourselves, something possible, yet something that is most
of the time awfully far away from our ability to "know"
it. But what we do know is also right here, in the world of nature,
the world of human relations and interactions, the world of art,
part of these intersecting worlds, Caesar's world and God's world,
Mother Nature and Heaven -- everything high and low.
ordinary state of development, we do a lot of thinking and feeling,
and most of us leave it at that, turning to religious ideas, to
friends who really know little more than we do, looking for comfort
when times are tough. Then when life settles down, we carry on with
our plans and dreams, living pretty much with our personalities
as our only compass, living, again, in reaction to what life seems
to throw our way and what we toss back in response.
people, this reactive cycle isn't very hopeful or fulfilling. And
thus the importance of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, doubt. When
we have real doubt about how unfree we are, how bound by all manner
of conditions, from our physical to our emotional and mental reactions,
we know all too well that real consciousness starts with seeing
ourselves as creatures who simply are not completely free.
Real religion is based on this kind of disillusionment and dissatisfaction:
My life really isn't going towards freedom; I imagine, when times
are flush and good, that I am free -- until something adverse brings
me up short of the information I need in order to do what would
start to free me is having a practical way to wake up to reality
and also know what to do when I wake up to reality. The truth of
things is that I do have to live on earth, in a body, in a social
setting, within traditions of thought and education.
real effort to go beyond ordinary life as children of Nature takes
me into higher levels where I grow up, over time, by dint of my
own efforts. Real work is not escape from the ordinary conditions
of my life, but a willingness to live here and be here and make
use of ordinary life in a transformative process scarceley noticable
to anyone who is not working to awaken. The results of what I achieve
nobody can take from me -- because nobody but me can do it for myself.
Real work means real responsibility for my life, from top to bottom,
with all the inner divisions, moods, conflicting thoughts, and desires.
I work to be whole, harmonious, as well as free.
to becoming whole is self-knowledge. True self-knowledge is possible
only through impartiality, the direct experience and acceptance
of what I am in total. Impartiality and its partner objectivity
can be developed by the method of waking up that Gurdjieff left
us, called Work on Oneself. The Tucson Gurdjieff Group exists to
foster this method and help anyone with a sincere desire to wake
Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866-1949)
born in Armenia and grew up within sight of the biblical Mt. Ararat.
His life reflected an intense desire to decipher the mysteries of
human existence. He traveled extensively throughout Central Asia
and the Near East where he encountered centers of Sufi, Buddhist,
esoteric Christian, and possibly Taoist origins. It is undoubtedly
from these journeys that Gurdjieff collected and recorded the vast
repertoire of temple dance choreography and sacred music that he
and Thomas de Hartmann later transcribed for piano. Gurdjieff arrived
in Russia in 1912, where he began to develop and teach his theory
and practice of human development. In 1922 he established the Institute
for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Chateau du Prieure,
Fontainebleau, near Paris. Music and sacred gymnastics, or "Movements"
as they became known, were vital components of his work. Gurdjieff
stated that he wanted to be remembered as a teacher of temple dancing.
He died in Paris in 1949.
known for his clarity and seriousness as an early student of Gurdjieff
in America. He applied Gurdjieff's teaching in his life and reached
a level of development recognized by all who met him. He always
placed the emphasis on Gurdjieff's own teachings and books, with
little reliance on secondary material. In particular, he stressed
the importance of making efforts to understand All and Everything,
Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, and insisted that the book be
read three times exactly as Gurdjieff indicated. He also taught
the specific methods for Working on oneself which he had learned
from A. R. Orage and Gurdjieff, and that it was necessary to actually
apply Gurdjieff's methods of Work in daily life rather than merely
thinking and feeling about the Ideas.
was born in Holland, and came to the United States as a young man.
He heard Gurdjieff speak on his first trip to New York in 1924,
and became part of the original Orage group that Gurdjieff set up
in America. From then on, he remained an active student and stayed
in close contact with Gurdjieff for the next 25 years, both when
Gurdjieff visited America, and when Mr. Nyland and his wife Ilonka
Karasz visited France. The Nylands were the first Americans to visit
Gurdjieff after the Second World War, and at that time Gurdjieff
asked Mr. Nyland to start a group in New York, for which he would
receive special material from Gurdjieff every week.
died in 1949, Mr. Nyland was one of the original founders and trustees
of the Gurdjieff Foundation. Later, around 1960, he started his
own group, eventually with branches in New York City, Boston, Santa
Fe, San Francisco and Seattle, and with various smaller groups elsewhere.
group was begun under the direction of Willem Nyland. Since 1972,
weekly meetings have been conducted in Tucson to discuss the practical
application of Gurdjieff's method of inner development (known as
"the Work") to everyday life. If you have been touched
by the ideas of G.I.Gurdjieff and wish for a deeper connection,
contact Wayne at 520-360-7340.
to go to Gurdjieff.org
further information, contact:
1997, Institute for Religious Development.
Photo of Mr. Nyland: Copyright 1970, Ron Chamberlain
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