In spite of the war, Ouspensky’s lectures evoked very considerable interest. There were more than a thousand people at each in the Alexandrovsky Hall of the Petersburg Town Duma. Ouspensky received many letters; people came to see him, and he felt that on the basis of a “search for the miraculous” it would be possible to unite together a very large number of people who were no longer able to swallow the customary forms of lying and living in lying. After Easter, these lectures continued in Moscow:
“Among people whom I met during these lectures there were two, one a musician and the other a sculptor, who very soon began to speak to me about a group in Moscow which was engaged in various “occult” investigations and experiments and directed by a certain G., a Caucasian Greek, the very “Hindu,” so I understood, to whom belonged the ballet scenario mentioned in the newspaper I had come across three or four months before this…..It was only after the persistent efforts of one of my new acquaintances, M., that I agreed to meet G. and have a talk with him. My first meeting with Gurdjieff entirely changed my opinion of him and of what I might expect from him.
I remember this meeting very well. We arrived at a small café in a noisy though not central street. I saw a man of an oriental type, no longer young, with a black mustache and piercing eyes, who astonished me first of all because he seemed to be disguised and completely out of keeping with the place and its atmosphere. I was still full of impressions of the East. And this man with the face of an Indian raja or an Arab sheik whom I at once seemed to see in a white burnoose or a gilded turban, seated here in this little cafe, where small dealers and commission agents met together, in a black overcoat with a velvet collar and a black bowler hat, produced the strange, unexpected, and almost alarming impression of a man poorly disguised, the sight of whom embarrasses you because you see he is not what he pretends to be and yet you have to speak and behave as though you did not see it He spoke Russian incorrectly with a strong Caucasian accent; and this accent,
with which we are accustomed to associate anything apart from philosophical ideas, strengthened still further the strangeness and the unexpectedness of this impression.
I do not remember how our talk began; I think we spoke of India, of esotericism, and of yogi schools. I gathered that G. had traveled widely and had been in places of which I had only heard and which I very much wished to visit. Not only did my questions not embarrass him but it seemed to me that he put much more into each answer than I had asked for. I liked his manner of speaking, which was careful and precise. M. soon left us. G. told me of his work in Moscow. I did not fully understand him. It transpired from what he said that in his work, which was chiefly psychological in character, chemistry played a big part. Listening to him for the first time I, of course, took his words literally.”