Gurdjieff And The Soul

It would be impossible for anyone to be alive without a soul – the spark of energy that gives the body life.

It has been suggested that Gurdjieff said humans are born without a soul but that is not exactly what he taught.

unknowable gurdjieffMargaret Anderson, a student of George Gurdjieff, in her book “The Unknowable Gurdjieff”, sheds light on his teaching on the subject.

She had recurring questions “Why do we work with Gurdjieff? Why do we do the ‘exercises’ (physical, emotional, mental) he gives? What are they really for?”

The author writes “The answer traced back to a statement of his – a statement he never ceased to repeat and which was, to most people, the most antagonistic of all his pronouncements: ‘man has not soul; only the potentiality.’

She goes on to say “….. you can’t say a man is born with a soul any more than you can say he is born with an art. A man may be born an artist – that is, with an art tendency – but he won’t have an art until he has worked at art, developed it through an organic process of growth. He must have a life of Art. In the same way, a man can’t have a soul until he has lived a life of the Soul.

She continued “So I began to understand at last – after how many years? – the reason for the Gurdjieff ‘exercises’; you work with them to make the soul function just as a painter works with colour and design to make his painting function. This ‘great discovery’ seems so simple that you can’t imagine why you haven’t always known it, especially since it has been suggested to you from the beginning. But when it strikes you as a piece of original thinking – as it struck me that long-ago morning – it’s as if you had solved that whole mystery of the world.”

In summary, humans have souls but they remain rudimentary unless prolonged and appropriate efforts are made to develop them.

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George Gurdjieff & The Fourth Way

George Gurdjieff. Image credit: author unknown.
George Gurdjieff. Image credit: author unknown.

Early in the twentieth century, the Greek-Armenian, George Gurdjieff (1872-1949) reputedly journeyed through Central Asia, in pursuit of esoteric knowledge of the full potential of man.

In this twenty-first century, the psychological teachings of George Gurdjieff, and his now-deceased chief pupils, J. G. Bennett and Peter Ouspensky, continue to have a global influence.

G. I. Gurdjieff taught a system for balanced, personal development in the tradition of the “Fourth Way”. This method for development of the soul has been variously termed: the way to heaven, enlightenment, consciousness, and self-realization.

The Fourth Way entails developing all sides of one’s being simultaneously (physical, mental, and emotional) yet without having to withdraw from the current circumstances of one’s life as required by other systems of spiritual development – such as the way of the yogi, the fakir and the monk.

Development of the soul occurs as a result of working consistently every day at self-observation, dividing attention, non-identification, and the non-expression and transformation of negative emotions. Consistent efforts deepen self-understanding and gradually bring about a change of being.

“Man is like a house wired for electricity but not yet connected to the mains.” G. I. Gurdjieff

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