G.I. Gurdjieff, Paris Meetings, 1943, published by Dolmen Meadow Editions in 2017, provides an English translation of French transcripts from sixty-eight group meetings conducted in Mr. Gurdjieff’s rue des Colonels Renard apartment in Paris, France from January 7 to December 30, 1943.
The importance of this text must not be underestimated as a primary source, and Mr. Gurdjieff himself raises the estimation of its importance in an aside to the transcriptionist, addressed here and throughout the text as ‘Prosecutor’:
“Gurdjieff: ‘Prosecutor’, everything must be written in good French. These are abstract things. But if you can remember everything, it will be useful for everyone. I am the author of Beelzebub, neither more nor less. If I find material for myself in what you write, I will be able to do new things with it. Many things for the future humanity depend on you. And it is true, all joking aside.” (p. 306)
With attentive reading, Paris Meetings 1943 can serve as good material especially for teachers of the Work—how meetings were organized, how they were conducted, how exercises are given, how to observe and diagnose symptoms of problems students have, and how to direct students to work on themselves—not automatically but consciously and heuristically—in addition to the contents of the teaching itself, useful to teacher and student alike.
Astute readers may pick up on themes given more significant weight here compared to earlier materials: having remorse of conscience, engaging in the duties of parents and children, the importance of preparation and relaxation before exercises, playing a role in life, and the bringing of sensation, feeling, and thinking into contact and harmony through the use of attention.
A caution to readers: Many exercises, tasks, and much advice is given in this text. Exercises, tasks, and advice given to students by Mr. Gurdjieff is tailored to the individual needs and capabilities of each student. Therefore, it is unwise to undertake exercises, tasks, or advice intended for another student without the guidance of a teacher.
Paris Meetings 1943 is a welcome addition to the primary source texts of Gurdjieff’s teaching. If more transcripts of subsequent meetings still exist, I look forward to the translation and publishing of additional meeting transcripts in the future.
One small thing was lacking from Paris Meetings 1943—an index. I have created one, available for download: