Gurdjieff Group – Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I need to join a Gurdjieff group to study the Fourth Way?
A. Reading from the ‘standard texts’ (see books section) can be an illuminating experience, but working alone does not necessarily help in the direction of ‘being’. It is better to work with others who have more experience, so it is better to join a Gurdjieff group.
Q. How do I know if the group is genuine, and not a ‘cult’?
A. Firstly, an introductory Fourth Way group studies the psychological and cosmological aspects of the ‘System’ brought to the West by G.I. Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff’s principal students to help transmit the ideas were P.D. Ouspensky and A.R. Orage. Most Gurdjieff groups work with Ouspensky’s books (see the books link for a list), and are led by someone who has worked on changing their own being according to Fourth Way principles, and who facilitates a harmonious development of the student.
Secondly, a ‘cult’ is an organization which is easy to join, but difficult to leave. A serious ‘group’ on the other hand, is not so easy to join, but one can leave at any time – you must demonstrate a real wish to know more, not to just have an idle curiosity.
Thirdly, a ‘cult’ can arise from a charismatic leader who uses personal magnetism to attract students.
Fourthly, a ‘real group’ has senior people in it who can speak from personal experience – but who practice impartiality.
Lastly, the most important guiding principle is that ‘reason lies above authority’.
Q. Can anyone benefit by studying the Fourth Way?
A. In principle yes. But there is a requirement – you must be ‘disappointed’ with other ways. Ouspensky states this in ‘In Search of the Miraculous‘ (Ch 12):
“It can be said there is one general rule for everybody. In order to approach this system seriously, people must be disappointed first of all in themselves, that is to say in their powers, and secondly in all the old ways. A man cannot feel what is most valuable in the system until he is disappointed in what he is doing, disappointed in what he has been searching for….”