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Georges Gurdjief

A Documentary Film
Prouced by Jean-Claude Lubtchansky
This French language documentary film, narrated by Pierre Schaefer, is interspersed with
excerpts from interviews conducted by Henri de Turenne. Produced by Jean-Claude
Lutbtchansky with the participation of Philippe Cambessédes, Maurice Desselle, Philippe
Lavastine, Dr. Michel de Salsmann , Henri Tracol, Dr. Jean Vaysse and René Zuber, París, I976,
50 minutes, Broadcast on September 22, 1978 on TFI (Institute National de I'Audiovisuel).
Transcript and translation by Jack Cain and Nicolas Lecerf.

[While the camera explores the above portrait of Gurdjietf, the following quotation from
Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, p. 361, is read by Philippe Cambessedes]

Faith, Love and Hope

Faith of consciousness is freedom


Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity.

Love of consciousness evokes the same in response


Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of body depends only on type and polarity.

Hope of consciousness is strength


Hope of feeling is slavery
Hope of body is disease.

Pierre Schaefer:

In the folklore of Central Asia, there is a popular character named Mullah Nassr Eddin, an
apparently bumbling figure with an unremarkable manner but abundant common sense.
The following story is ascribed to him. One day he is outside bolting in The sand under the
heat and light of the sun for a lost objecL lei's say it's a key. His neighbours ask him: "Are you
sure it's here thai you lost it'.'1' And the Mullah answers magnanimous I y: "I am certain that
it is not here because 1 lost ii al home." So they ask him, "but then why arc you looking
here'/1' The Mullah answers, "Outside there is plenty of light and ,\\ homo it's dark—1 will
find nothing there!"
It is with this image in mind, a vivid image of common sense, full of good-humor, thai I wish
in dedicate tltis program TO the memory of a man for w hom this tale is more appropriate
and closer to his true spirit than the repuiaiion based on spiteful, exaggerated stories that
have been spread about him and which present him as a kind of while or black magician.
Earn sneaking of George Ivanovitch Gurdjief...
The rati is. that in television we need a label in order lo introduce someone and faf
UurdjiciT. people have wed anything and everything h is difficult lo place (lurdiiefTin me
usual . n.rgorii - In he a w-nier. a i- l i n k a poet, a musician, the master ol akrikiuf
philcoophy or a source or spiritual inspiration <iurd|ief is all of these, bur still officially
unnxogni/cd a* such in any or these fields He produced a significant book thai we will talk
about later, published in a peculiar French lh<it was translated from a strange Russian.
GurdjieflT who inspired Rene Daumal and l ue Dietrich, lo mention only those l-icneh
writers »ho are well known—is pooih consideied in I icnch literary circles where he is
referred to only Irom hearsay and w ith mure of a predilection for slander ihan for truih
In fact, ihe memory of Gurujief— a man wln> has never been perceived in hi?, true
dimension has been obscured by shadows that arc growing more and moie dense for a
variety of reasons First of all external appearances were against him. He was a Russian
refugee indistinguishable from many others betw een the two wars, he sported a heavy
Caucasian accent, an originality, a particular manner of aclion and speech, anil a taste tor
well-seasoned food lor which he was rarely forgncn. Can a plnk'Suphcr. a wise man. a
scientist be allowed to cook ;ind regale friends?' Could he really he at the same lime a
guru? An Indian guru is more distinguished 1 The way he conducted himself, as well as ihosc
around him. which included all kinds ol people uras not at all reassuring in speaking of the
various religions, he showed respect for them all but also held them all in question—u hich
meant that his spiritual reputation sulTered accordingly And tlnally. he appeared ail too
modem while at the same tunc being also apparently .injehrnnisiie
He lived with a kind of community surrounding him—people from variuus di>ciplines—
scientist*, doctors, biologist*. He was interdisciplinary, which was most sinking lor (he time,
not as h would be today when we encounter creativity workshops nourishing in California.
We know very well now what it lakes lo live thai way and to be audacious.
\ Voico-owf quoting one erf Ihe aphorisms that worn uamlod on the glass windows of the
Study House in GurdfttH s Institute at ihe Chateau du Pneure al Avon, near Fontainebteau \
Here there are neither Russians nor Fnghsh. Jews nor Christians, but only those who pursue
one aim—to be able to be.
Curujicfl was horn in Armenia, in a family of Greek origin. His lather w as a w ell know n
ttduUtm bard w ho possessed large droves of cattle and lost his lortune through massive
epizootic disease GurdjiclTs upbringing was thoroughly scientific *nui religious, w hile still
young be Iravekd w ilh a mysicrinus group he called the "Seekers of Truth." exploring for
o^er twenty years the inner reaches of India, libel, and the Middle bast—where he prubabh
met >ome of the truths he later presented. His biography is in three parts. The llrst pari, scry
hidden, is evoked in the book A/refm^s with Ri-murkahlf \tvrt which pro* Kiev covertly,
some autobiographical hints and clues Then, starts his public life in Moscow and Si
I'cicnburg, when he w as 37 years old and where he started to transmit .1 teaching of
overw helming, magnitude

During that period and for many years after, P. D. Ouspensky, both philosopher and
mathematician assembled an exceptional transmission of Gurdjief's ideas, recapturing his
words, as in the following passage from his book In Search of the Miraculous [pp. 66. I44-
I45]:

It may surprise you if I say that the chief feature of a modern man's being which explains
everything else that is lucking in him is sleep. A modern man lives in sleep, in sleep he is
born, and in sleep he dies. .. And if you think about it and at the same time remember that
sleep is the chief feature of our being, it will at once become clear to you that if a man really
wants knowledge, he must first of all think about how to wake, that is, about how to change
his being,...

There is nothing new in the idea of sleep. People have been told almost since the creation
of the world that they are asleep and that they must awaken. How many times is this said in
the Gospels, for instance? 'Awake, 'watch, 'sleep not.' Christ's disciples even slept when he
was praying in the garden of Gethsemane for the last time. It is all there. But do men
understand it? Men take it simply as a form of speech, as an expression, as a metaphor.
They completely fail to understand that it must be taken literally... As he is organized, that is
being such as nature has created him, man can be a self-conscious being. Such he is created
and such ho is born. But he is born among sleeping people, and, of course, he falls asleep
among them just at the very time when he should have begun to be conscious of himself
Everything has a hand in this: the involuntary imitation of older people on the part of the
child, voluntary and involuntary suggestion, and what is called “education”. Every attempt to
awaken on the child's part is instantly stopped. This is inevitable. And a great many eforts
and a great deal of help are necessary in order to awaken later when thousands of sleep-
compelling habits have been accumulated. And this very seldom happens. In most cases, a
man when still a child already loses the possibility of awakening; he lives in sleep all his life
and he dies in sleep....

What were Gurdjief's sources? Where, in what distant parts of the world, did he find this
extraordinary wealth of thought, these allegories which had never before seen the light of
day? This knowledge is so original, connecting at the same time the most modern
discoveries and the most distant, probably lost, sources of inspiration. Much has been said
about these sources. Were, for example, the origins of the main principles of Gurdjief's
knowledge inspired from Indian thought? Some people said that it was closer to Islam, that
he encountered the authentic sources of an Islam now lost or buried somewhere in Persia.
Others that he brought back from Tibetan monasteries the most important secrets of his
Movements: these gymnastic exercises which are somehow a tuning of mind, body and
feeling. Someone has even said that ho rediscovered the teachings of the Essenes, a Judaic
brotherhood that Christ himself had been in contact with 2000 years ago. But all this is of
minor importance since I am not about to enter into an archeology of Gurdjief's thought. It
is already difficult enough to penetrate it, and I must allow his direct pupils to give a taste of
it.
[The follow accounts were related in Interviews conducted by Henri de Turenne.]

Dr. Jean Vaysse:

In really knowing himself, a man can reach awakening and a state of presence in life that is
completely diferent from his ordinary state. Instead of being a puppet reacting to external
events—if one follows what Gurdjief tells us—man would have the possibility to become a
responsible being, fulfilling a destiny which serves values he has come to recognize
completely in himself. It is very extraordinary to see that between 15 and 25 years old, for
instance, teenagers and young adults have this interior sensitivity and questioning that
leads them to reject all the constraints, habits and conditioning of external life. But, very
quickly, the demands of this exterior life become such that they overrun everything, and
people are completely drawn into not losing a job, paying taxes, family problems, children,
and all the usual demands of ordinary life. At 25 to 30 years old, there are very few who
continue to be concerned about these inner questions. Later there are even fewer and
slowly the inner question shrinks and vanishes. Man's awakening—at the time when this
interior question, this inner consciousness starts really to awaken, when all has been done
for it to awaken- would precisely need to be fed so that it can develop and become the
starting point, the interior criteria, the reference point, for all action in life.

Henri Tracol

The real question is: Who am I?


No matter how I ask it, I am always led back to this central point. Who am I?
And it really seems that when this question rises in me, I do nothing but reach for it as it
goes by. Maybe I am here precisely to ask myself this question.
There are other forms of creation which are not destined for self-questioning and are
content to just be. And man not only is not content to just be, he questions the meaning of
his being and it is at that moment of questioning that he tries Jo awaken to what he really
is. And this is the awakening that Gurdjief proposes to us. His method is based in its
entirety on an interior process he calls self-remembering.

[Reading of two of Gurdjief's aphorisms and an excerpt from In Search of the Miraculous,
pp. 64-65.]

When you do something, do it with all your being. One single thing at a time.
The ability to concentrate oneself is the privilege of a real man.
There are two lines along which man's development proceeds, the line of knowledge and
the line of being. In right evolution the line of knowledge and the line of being develop
simultaneously, parallel to, and helping one another. But if the line of knowledge gets too
far ahead of the line of being, or if the line of being gets ahead of the line of knowledge,
man's development goes wrong, and sooner or later it must come to a standstill.
People understand what 'knowledge' means. And they understand the possibility of
diferent levels of knowledge. They understand that knowledge may be lesser or greater,
that is to say, of one quality or of another quality. But they do not understand this in
relation to 'being.' 'Being,' for them, means simply 'existence' to which is opposed just
"nonexistence." They do not understand that being or existence may be of very diferent
levels and categories.

Pierre Schaefer: '

One might ask why Gurdjief did not appear in political events. It seems that his ambition
was greater than that. It seems also that the sources rediscovered by Gurdjief during his 20
years of far-flung journeys, these treasures from a lost civilization, this forgotten wisdom, of
which he may be the only real heir, appeared greater to him than any political activity.
Besides, one is forced to admit that most human endeavors end in failure, become
contradictory and that the results are completely opposite and in a contrary direction to
that of the original expectations.
Gurdjief has a response to this and this response is strangely, a musical allegory. It concerns
the musical scale, which originated in Asia Minor—and is echoed in its name—major and
minor—where the two half tones are strangely located in the architecture of the scale and
color it as we all know more or less, Gurdjief teaches that tins scale is at the same time the
physical support for the music accompanying the Movements, and accompanies the body's
physical engagement in harmony while being also a symbol and even a system of
knowledge. Not only are these two minor intervals, the mi-fa and the si-do. the most
difficult to undergo, they demand an increase of energy, "a super-efort" as Gurdjief says, in
order to carry the scale upwards, otherwise it is diverted from the initial direction so that,
exposed to other scales of Life, on both an individual and collective basis, people are turned
back towards involution and take the opposite direction, go back to their starting point, and
inevitably contradict themselves.
This great allegory may be connected in some way to the most contemporary of ideas—
such as that man is not fully developed, that the human brain has infinite possibilities, that
to escape contradiction dialectic is necessary and that he is in danger of entropy—which is
why Gurdjief's scales rise up, fueled by a necessarily self-imposed gigantic efort called the
Work, an efort in which man finds meaning, the sole efort that justifies, fulfills and renders
man worthy of himself, instead of descending unconsciously towards entropy.

Dr. Michel de Salzmann:

If for example we take a moment to consider our life, it would seem that to put oneself in
question— taking the time to stop and see who one is, what a human being really is—is an
incredible luxury. I term it a luxury because the movement of life is such, its pressure so
great, that the current of never-ending social suggestion and its hypnotic consensus ensures
that everyone is at the mercy of individual as well as collective fantasies. But if this
fundamental questioning ever takes place, it requires attention. With a small amount of
attention there is only a small amount of self-questioning. If we were capable of a complete
mobilization of ourselves, that is, possessing a total attention -including not only our
thought but also our emotion, or feeling, and even our body—perhaps we could, in this act
of general mobilization in which we finally appear; perhaps we could know ourselves and
have a response to the question; 'Who am I?'
And then finally, ultimately, might we get to the bottom of this question: “Who am I?”—
following it to its supreme limit, by being able to completely mobilize oneself—but this, says
Gurdjief, is impossible for us and he explains why this is so.

Question: And doesn't such an experience need an entire life? Is it possible to do something
such as this by oneself?

In theory, it is possible: because one does not need time to know ... but practically, it is a
diferent thing. It we take into account the strength of our conditioning, a counter-current is
needed, another influence of extraordinary strength, in order to oppose one's personal
conditioning resulting from 10. 20, 50, 60 years of habits, or from the general conditioning
of our surroundings, the influence of the milieu in which we live, established through
centuries.
However, this force does exist. In certain moments, a man may, all of a sudden, hear this
question which is inside himself and may realize progressively that it is impossible for him to
stay there, and be involved in life at the same time—this is the main point—because
Gurdjief requested that we not abandon life in order to be, and not only not abandon life
but even not wish to change the conditions of one's own life, saying that everything that
makes up the life of each one of us is the reflection of his person, and therefore a mirror for
self-knowledge.

[Reading of a conversation between Gurdjief and Ouspensky from in Search of the


Miraculous, p. 22,]

Try to understand what I am saying: everything is dependent on everything else, everything


is connected, nothing is separate. Therefore everything is going in the only way it can go. If
people were diferent everything would be diferent. They are what they are, so everything
is as it is. This was very difficult to swallow. 'Is there nothing, absolutely nothing, that can be
done?" I asked? Absolutely nothing. “And can nobody- do anything?”
That is another question. In order to do it is necessary to be. And it is necessary first to
understand what to be means. If we continue our talks you will see that we use a special
language and that, in order to talk with us, it is necessary to learn this language, it is not
worthwhile talking in ordinary language because, in that language, it is impossible to
understand one another. This also, at the moment, seems strange to you. But it is true. In
order to understand it is necessary to learn another language. In the Language which
people speak they cannot understand one another. You will see later on why this is so.

Pierre Schaefer:

How to use this power? Where to find that test of strength where one can at last attain a
level of being which is substantial? Its tempting to say, superficially, that Gurdjief began
with the mobilization of the body—a body which is mobilized strangely, using rhythmic
gestures, where the left arm is taken independently from the right, both arms from both
legs, the head from the whole—and, above this, through extraordinary control, the physical
sustains the thought and creates an arena of opening through which comes, what Gurdjief
considers to be the most subtle: feeling.

[Reading of a text introducing the showing of an excerpt from a film of Gurdjief's


Movements.]

Gurdjief says: Each race, each epoch, each country, each profession, has a definite number
of postures and gestures that are genuinely theirs. Each man has a definite repertoire of
roles. He has a role for each of life's circumstances. All of our movements are automatic and
our thoughts and feelings are as well. All of our moving, emotional and intellectual postures
are connected to each other. One cannot be changed without changing the others. Only a
global and direct knowledge of the movement of this energy can help us to be free of these
automatisms.
The study of movement leads us to discover attitudes based on an interior order which is
diferent. They reveal to us that beneath the narrow circle of our automatisms, exist other
gestures, other attitudes linked with subtler states of consciousness where the mind and
feeling rise to a new perception of reality.

Maurice Desselle:

With him, you had an extraordinary impression. When he was speaking with you, you
continually had the impression that you were, for him, the only person who existed in the
whole world. That is something very rare. One second later he would shift his attention to
someone else and you no longer existed but that was normal. It seemed very normal to us.
It's something that everyone, to some extent, has a taste of—this potential which is
Impossible to realize by oneself—it appeared when you saw that man, when you saw him in
himself, complete, missing nothing that was happening, noticing even the tiniest details. It
was visible in his carriage, in the way lie held himself. He was always very calm, quiet,
completely and precisely corresponding lo what the moment demanded.

René Zuber:

It was the first time I met a man: that I was seen by a human being, a human being like
myself, a human being in ordinary life but one who saw me. It was like meeting … like
meeting someone, at the same time, very very close—I will use this classic saying from
Islam: 'closer than the jugular vein in my neck,' very close and yet very distant. To receive at
the same time these two impressions, was something totally unusual. And I can repeat
these two expressions -even if his proximity has increased for me- and say still today that
he is both very close and very distant. He is very distant because his intelligence and the full
scale of his thought are such, that it is difficult to hope Lo completely understand him.

Dr. de Salzmann:

He was not a magus, nor a thaumaturge, nor a philosopher, nor a mystic as some have
claimed. He was something else, at the same time simpler but no less extraordinary. He was
a danger. A real threat. A threat for one's self-calming, a threat for the little regard one had
of oneself, a threat for the comfortable repertoire where we generally live. But at the
moment when this threat appeared, like a ditch to cross, a threshold to step over, one was
helped to cross it by his presence itself. This threat was quickly followed with a sense of well
being. One had set aside the mask; one had sloughed of the weight of one's images and
one felt suddenly free.
For all those who came near him, the meeting was a shock. Three ways to express this:
being stripped, having a new feeling of responsibility and being small. I would say small not
compared to Gurdjief, but small in front of the grandeur of the human condition, if you will,
which was as yet unfathomed and to which one suddenly became attuned. I say ''stripped'
because, as I said a moment ago, all the masks kept falling and "with a new feeling of
responsibility” because suddenly there was the need to respond to this new vision of
human condition, of being human.
[Excerpts of some home movies of Gurdjief are shown while Dr. de Salzmann is speaking.]

I would like to convey the impression I experienced while near him, the impression that
emanated from him: the impression of a permanency. He was always quiet, contained,
regardless of the circumstances, dramatic or otherwise—and there were many such—
whether he was on his way to the market or remaining with his students, presiding at his
table with many guests. There was always this same kind of density of presence as if he
were being seen and as if his own seeing, without judgment, was upon the world, it was
contagious. When one was under the sway of this quietness one had the feeling, all of a
sudden, of seeing things from a distance, from tranquility.
As for the children who were at the Prieuré, each one retained an indelible memory of this
time. I always tell that the meaning of Gurdjief's education, was to give the children, on the
one hand, the sense of a very challenging life, sometimes reduced to the essentials, even to
restriction: and on the other hand to experience the sense of plenitude, the feeling of
having been gratified, completed, and have even more than what had been hoped for. To
have always these two aspects so as not to form beings who are naive—to he neither in a
slate of perpetual demanding nor in a perpetual state of dreaming, without knowing really
the essential reality of life, and its possible hardship,

Henri Tracol:

This path is situated firmly in life and is not something on the outskirts of life—not a sort of
requirement, which is contrary to a presence in life. Presence to oneself and presence to
life; these two correspond to each other and complement each other. The great teacher
continues to be life. It is from life, from her that I can learn everything. It is from her that I
can understand everything. And for that it is necessary to experiment as deeply as possible,
as fully as possible.

Pierre Schaefer:

When Gurdjief died in Paris, on October 29, 1949, at the age of 72, the first voice to speak
up in the world to herald his decisive influence was that of the great American architect
Frank Lloyd Wright who recalled that Rudyard Kipling had announced that the twins. East
and West, will never meet. And Wright said that in Gurdjief they had met and had finally
recognized each other. Perhaps it was indeed in the United States that the image of
Gurdjief was the most quickly and the most ably transmitted, maybe because California
opened the United States to a better understanding of the East...
In France, Gurdjief's teaching was found unappealing, difficult and was muddied by
negative accounts, in particular, the well-known tale of Katherine Mansfield who, with the
recommendation of the famous English writer Orage, was received by Gurujief in
Fontainebleau when she was close to death. She was in the final stages of pulmonary
tuberculosis, and. of course, responsibility for her death was, without any compunction,
entirely laid at Gurdjief's feet.
The well-known French writers, René Daumal and Luc Dietrich, are obviously the closest for
us to Gurdjief's teaching; they are the most approachable, Daumal, was connected to the
Surrealist movement; Luc Dietrich is a kind of reformed bad boy, very moving, a sort of Alain
Fournier of the following generation and it is from them that Gurdjief's influence in France
is the most visible.

[A quote is read from René Daumal s symbolic novel that was inspired by Gurdjief's
teaching, Mount Analogue. English translation by Roger Shattuck. Penguin. 1974:]

I am dead because I luck desire;


I lack desire because I think I possess;
I think I possess because I do not try to give,
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;
Seeing you have nothing, you try to give of yourself:
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing;
Seeing you are nothing, you desire to become:
In desiring to become, you begin to live.

Philippe Lavastine:

Besides René Daumal. Gurdjief's impact on these French intellectuals who had already
established a certain career for themselves was very negative. There was only André Breton.
at the end of his life, who thought that Beelzebub s Tales was the greatest book published in
the 20 century André Breton put that in black and white in the foreword of an exhibition by
Fourrier: l'écart absolu...

Question: But was it as a book, did he speak about it as a literary work or ... from what point
of view?

He spoke about at as a book and he spoke about it, as often happens, on the basis of a
complete misunderstanding. He was admiring Gurdjief's for what Gurdjief was not! I
believe that the contrary is true, a lot of people despise Gurdjief for what Gurdjief is not at
all. A man, when he has acquired a certain personality in the positive sense of the word, not
an arrogant personality –Me! Me! Me!—but when such a man lives with more force than
other people then immediately the phenomenon of a legend forms around him. This legend
is, of course, ultra positive or ultra negative and, in this way, one can avoid what is essential.
Which seems...

Question: And what is essential? How would you define Gurdjief if you had to?

He was willing to teach us things much simpler than the realization of the absolute spoken
of by René Guénon. At the lime I knew Gurdjief, I also read René Guenon but for me it
remained completely theoretical. Immediately, it was a question of the superman, the
creation of the superhuman, forgetting an important step that was simply what Gurdjief
was suggesting to us: to become ordinary good people! That seemed quite paradoxical—
aren't there ordinary good people everywhere? Indeed, no; in fact there are very few.

Question. What did he mean by that, an ordinary good man?


Maybe we could say first, a man who would accept not to be God That is, not judging
everything, not thinking a priori that he knows everything.

Pierre Schaefer:

Thus have we outlined the pivotal themes of Gurdjief's thought and teaching, all of this
accompanied by the discipline of the dances, the dances which where shown publicly, and
probably were completely misunderstood, at the Theatre des Champs Elysées in 1922, and
in New York at Carnegie Hall in 1923. And, a little while after his return from America.
Gurdjief begun to write. The work itself consists of three great series of books, including
the Gurdjieffian masterpiece. Beelzebub s Tales to His Grandson. It is a completely original
kind of what I would call metaphysical fiction. It is a spaceship large enough to contain
Beetzebub and a l l his family. Beetzebub is an angel, somewhat fallen, but with good
feelings. He has repented, and seems to subsume in himself the whole dialectic of good and
evil. He is an angel, subservient to a many-leveled hierarchy of beings who are more and
more elevated, subservient also to cosmic laws and who is striving for his redemption and
had the kindness to care about "the three-brained beings of the planet Earth, who have
taken your fancy" says Beelzebub to his grandson. It is all about us terrestrial beings.
Among Beelzebub's allegories, of which there are many, I will cite only one. Man, according
to Gurdjief, was such an ill-fated being, such a failure, on a planet that could have been
superb, he was a failure perhaps not through his own fault; the responsibility here for
original sin is not ascribed to man at all but to a clumsy angel. Thus man became so
desperate that—in his contradiction, in his ephemeral life, which became intolerable—he
would have been tempted by suicide and because of that, an organ was grafted on to him
by an angel who was part engineer, part surgeon. What was grafted onto him was a sort of
tail that contained an organ of forgetfulness. And later, when they wanted to repair this in
man and get rid of the tail, which was quite unwieldy, the efect of this organ of
forgetfulness, which had been installed in man, persisted through certain regressive side-
efects, so that man is now a being who is oblivious to himself who forgets himself, who
cannot remember that he exists, who never remembers the lessons of his history and turns
in circles, in this spiral that the musical scales, biting their tails, are helping us to understand
better...
That, roughly, is what Gurdjief's work is about and now I would like to present a passage
from Beelzebub's Tales [pp. 1208-1209]. Choosing a passage is always difficult because the
book is a whole, and is difficult to cut into small pieces:
A matt comes into the world like a clean sheet of paper, which immediately all around him
begin vying with each other to dirty and fill up with education, morality, the information we
call knowledge, and with all kinds of feelings of duty, honor, conscience, and so on and so
forth. And each and all claim immutability and infallibility for the methods they employ for
grafting these branches onto the main trunk, called man's personality.
The sheet of paper gradually becomes dirty, and the dirtier it becomes, that is to say, the
more a man is stufed which ephemeral information and those notions of duty, honor, and
so on which are dinned into him or suggested to him by others, the "cleverer” and worthier
is he considered by those around him.
And seeing that people look upon his 'dirt' as a merit, he himself inevitably comes to regard
this dirtied sheet of paper in the same light. And so you have a model of what we call a
man, to which frequently are added such words as “talent" and 'genius.' And the temper of
our 'talent' when it wakes up in the morning is spoiled for the whole day if it does not find
its slippers beside the bed.
The ordinary man is not free of his manifestations, in his life, in his moods. He cannot be
what he would like to be; and for that he considers himself to be, he is not that. Man—how
mighty it sounds. The very name “man” means “the acme of Creation;” but ... does his title
fit contemporary man?
Al the same time, man should indeed be the acme of Creation, since he is formed with and
has in himself all the possibilities for acquiring all the data exactly similar to the data in the
ACTUALIZER of EVERYTHING EXISTING in the Whole of the Universe."
To possess the right to the name “man” one must be one.
And to be such, one must first of all, with an indefatigable persistence and an unquenchable
impulse of desire, issuing from all the separate independent parts constituting one's entire
common presence, that is to say, with a desire issuing simultaneously from thought, feeling
and organic instinct, work on all-round knowledge of oneself—at the same time struggling
unceasingly with ewe's subjective weaknesses—and then afterwards, taking one's stand
upon the results thus obtained by one's consciousness alone, concerning the defects in
one's established subjectivity as well as the elucidated means for the possibility of
combating them, strive for their eradication without mercy towards oneself.

[Another excerpt from a film of Gurdjief's Movements is shown.]

Henri Tracol:

I would like for us, in any case, to sweep away the idea that Gurdjief's teaching runs
counter to traditional teachings. In fact, he refers to what he calls the fourth way and the
fourth way exists in Christianity, in Hinduism, in Islam, in Taoism, in every traditional form,
which tries to establish a direct relation between man and his origin.

Question: So it's a religion, a new religion?—another religion or perhaps the same as...

The fourth way that Gurdjief is referring to is in contradiction with none of these religions
nor is it to be confused with any of them. It is an attempt to deepen what the diferent
doctrines propose. The deepening is situated along the line of knowledge that is, above all,
a knowledge of oneself. The idea is -there is nothing I can know if I don't know the 'knower'
himself, if I don't know the one who seeks to know. When we were speaking a little while
ago of awakening, maybe this is the first step of awakening: Man awakens to himself as
seeker. Man is a born seeker.

Pierre Schaefer:

One will doubtless ask the question—now that Gurdjief is dead, what will remain of his
teaching and what will come after him? Well. I find this question is quite banal and very
Western in character, but the influence which I described in many countries of the world
has clearly continued to grow—in quantity, definitely, but in quality also—by means of a
work which is particularly discreet. I think that if there is a lesson to take from tradition, it is
that when a master dies it frees his disciple, leaves the disciple to his freedom, to his
responsibilities. Therefore, it is up to the disciple thereafter to do something with his own
life. And if one asks finally what is the result of all this, in what can all this he summarized? I
would say—that's it—it cannot be summarized.
We have tried to provide, successfully or not, some elements, some outline of this teaching
—a teaching which is so original, apparently so acrobatic, so contradictory. But perhaps we
need to remember that it is not the answer that matters but the question itself. And so this
introduction is first of all dedicated to those who ask themselves questions and it is also
dedicated to all those who have helped, who have contributed by their presence, by their
experience not so as to answer all these questions but to help those who are searching to
focus and deepen their questioning.