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Gurdjieff's Ideas and Work Methods
Amsterdam Movements Demonstration

Common Roots

Gurdjieff was a true "Opener of the Way" when he adapted for everyday modern life the fundamental practices of the ancient esoteric traditions he discovered throughout the Middle East during his travels. Drawing from the common roots of these seemingly diverse traditions, he developed a system of Ideas and Methods designed to totally, yet harmoniously, transform the whole Human Being.

Rather than accepting the ideas at face value, Gurdjieff demanded that his followers verify everything for themselves through their actual experience. Information on the spiritual path is useless, he declared, unless applied to one's life -- even harmful if its accumulation substituted for action. Gurdjieff would even go so far as to deliberately appear slovenly, puffing on cigars and belching, so that people would be shocked into evaluating the validity and worth of his ideas on their own merit rather than passively swallowing everything whole just because he was a celebrity. (For such scenes he earned the title "rascal sage".)

Gurdjieff emphatically stated, modern arrogant beliefs to the contrary, that ancient societies not only were not “primitive”, they represented the pinnacle of human spiritual attainment on earth. Gurdjieff states that along with the fall of Atlantis, the collective psyche of humankind began to degenerate, slowly at first, then accelerating with each succeeding generation. Correspondingly, our egotism and arrogance have continued to grow, and now we arrogantly consider ourselves to be the pinnacle. As the sheer number of people increases, the dilution of human essence also increases, furthering our disintegration. We find ourselves spiritually bereft and in poverty, while dreaming we are wealthy beyond measure. We are asleep to our true potential of Consciousness, Individuality and Will, fantastically dreaming that we already possess these attributes.

Stages of Development
The first task, then, is to decondition and depolarize the Mind to restore receptivity, natural inquisitiveness and impartiality. Through the development of an "inner room" from which we can objectively observe ourselves, we learn to discern and detach from automatic reactions so that we may instead respond to life in alignment with the Higher Self. Simultaneously, we begin the task of reconditioning by learning a system of Ideas that, when grasped, totally transforms one's outer and inner worldview, effecting healing and clarity of perception. The ego is dethroned as the grandiose "center" of the universe as we gradually learn to view ourselves in perspective: as miniscule yet integral parts of the awe-inspiring Oneness. We lose our "taste" for dramatizing our everyday life experiences, slowing the drain of vital energies, until we finally begin to accumulate energy. The long process of awakening and opening the Heart begins as we gently - but persistently - apply these Ideas to our lives, much like tuning a drum all around in tiny increments. We learn to work in intelligent cooperation with one another toward the good of the Whole. As we practice relating to others with respect and compassion, we experience the synergy of Love as the fruits of these efforts. The ultimate aim is to attain communion with our own Higher Self, our Spark of the Divine within. Beginning with flashes, we strive to make this state our abode.

Practices
Group Work
Contemporary Gurdjieff Study Groups meet weekly for interactive discussion that develops the fundamental principles upon which all other activities depend. In an atmosphere of mutual respect, group members share questions, observations and experiences that arise as a result of work on the weekly focus, or as a result of spontaneously applying a principle to a life situation. Through dialog, each person is encouraged to arrive at their own understanding of how the principles apply to their individual character and life circumstances.

Community Work
We can have inspiring discussions while sitting calmly in a circle in the peace of the sanctuary. But what happens to our highest aspirations for compassion and respect when we work elbow to elbow with one another? We quickly find to our dismay that the Automaton within us still has the power. Using community work as our living laboratory, we apply what we learn in our studies and discussions while carrying out practical tasks. We share with one another our struggles and insights over a mid-day meal.

Centering Exercise
Noting the difficulties that Westerners encounter attempting to meditate, Gurdjieff developed a series of centering exercises that gently lead our restless minds to stillness. A daily practice of centering exercise is encouraged. Weekly group practices provide ongoing training in this approach, which preceed the community workdays.

Movements / Sacred Dance
Gurdjieff was inspired by the ancient rituals, music and dance, chanting and prayer practiced in monasteries throughout the Middle East. He choreographed a series of preparatory Movements and stylized Sacred Dances designed for Western bodies. The preparatory Movements and exercises stretch and build the attention, the key to transformation. We learn to engage body, feeling and mind together, harmoniously. The Sacred Dances tell a story or represent an aspect of human potential or a cosmic truth, which evoke a sense of the sacred and lead to inner stillness.

Created on 11/03/2005 12:10 AM by admin
Updated on 06/25/2010 11:58 PM by admin
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