Gurdjieff said “there is everything” in his book Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.1 In addition, this book is subtitled “An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man” and has the stated purpose of the merciless destruction of all our long-rooted beliefs and views about everything.
Putting these statements to a small test, I ask a few questions of narrow interest to myself (and I hope others): “What does Beelzebub’s Tales have to say about games? What objective and impartial criticism is offered about games? What ‘merciless destruction’ must our beliefs and views on the subject of games undergo?”
Spring has arrived and the perennials in our garden have begun to leaf, bud, and bloom.
The first signs of color came from the vibrant creeping charlie (glechoma hederacea) that we’ve encouraged to grow as a ground cover for our little backyard food forest.
It is true that creeping charlie is “invasive”. But invasive is what we needed for an attractive replacement cover for the patchy lawn that was once here. And unlike dandelions and violets, creeping charlie has never invaded our raised beds. It also has stood up fairly well to occasional foot traffic.
There are several biographies about G.I. Gurdjieff, of varying quality, from yellow journalism to reasonably verifiable. In my opinion, the following are the better biographies:
- Gurdjieff: The Anatomy of a Myth, by James Moore. Written in a florid prose style— nevertheless, a fairly thorough biography.
- Gurdjieff Reconsidered, by Roger Lipsey. A recent biography from a member of the Gurdjieff Foundation, with some insight into some of the organizations’ missteps after Gurdjieff’s death.
- Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission, by William Patrick Patterson. Less a biography and more of a collection of bare facts, but well-organized and presented with little opinion inserted.
There are many collections of anecdotes of pupils with Gurdjieff. The better ones, in my opinion, are from longtime pupils of Gurdjieff who were reluctant to write them down but were encouraged by those around them to preserve their stories in writing before they passed away.
- Gurdjieff: A Master In Life, by Tcheslaw Tchekhovitch. Followed Gurdjieff from 1920 until his teacher’s death.
- The Gurdjieff Years: Recollections of Louise Goepfert March. Followed Gurdjieff from 1929 until her teacher’s death, translating his writings into German.
Outside of Gurdjieff’s own writings, there are a number of books available that introduce basic work concepts.
- A Simple Explanation of Work Ideas, by Maurice Nicoll. Short and to the point.
- Gurdjieff: A New Interpretation, by Wojciech Konrad Kulczyk PhD. Includes material from Gurdjieff’s own writings rather than relying too heavily on Ouspensky’s exposition.
- Gurdjieff: An Approach to His Ideas, by Michel Waldberg. Similarly includes material from Gurdjieff’s own writings.
- Towards Awakening: An Approach to the Teaching Left by Gurdjieff, by Jean Vaysse. Also short and to the point.
- Gurdjieff: The Key Concepts, by Sophia Wellbeloved. A reference manual of concepts. Includes some short biographies of Gurdjieff’s pupils, various groups that formed after Gurdjieff’s death, and the passive deviation from Gurdjieff’s teaching found in “New Work”.
- The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution, and
The Cosmology of Man’s Possible Evolution, by P.D. Ouspensky, his particular exposition of Gurdjieff’s ideas.
Take these with a grain of salt. Learn what Gurdjieff taught from reading his own writings and working out your own understanding with guidance from a school and instructors rather than relying solely on another’s exposition of Gurdjieff’s teaching.
For familiarizing oneself with Gurdjieff’s writings, the following are a list of the primary texts, first publication dates, and most recent available printings of his works. Hardcover printing is assumed unless otherwise noted.
Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson
All and Everything, First Series.
- 1950 Harcourt, Brace & Company or Routledge & Kegan Paul
- 1993 Two Rivers Press
- 1999 Penguin Compass (paperback)
Meetings with Remarkable Men
All and Everything, Second Series.
- 1963 Routledge & Kegan Paul or E.P. Dutton.
- 1991 Penguin Compass (paperback)
Life Is Real Only Then, When “I AM”
All and Everything, Third Series.
- 1975 E.P. Dutton (private printing, missing the last eight pages contained in later editions)
- 1981 Routledge & Kegan Paul or E.P. Dutton
- 1999 Penguin Arkana (paperback)
The Herald of Coming Good
- 1933 (private printing)
- 2017 Book Studio
Authorized transcripts of group meetings can give the reader additional theoretical knowledge of the problems that students face and how Gurdjieff worked with them.
Paris Meetings 1943
Groupes de Paris, Tome I: 1943 (French edition only)
Groupes de Paris, Tome II: 1944 (French edition only)
- 2020 Éditions Éoliennes (softcover)
Other writings of Mr. Gurdjieff that could be included among primary resources are:
- The Struggle of the Magicians
- The Study House aphorisms
- Reliable meeting notes that have been cross-checked with multiple sources, including Gurdjieff’s Early Talks, 1914-1931.
There are many electronic versions of primary texts available for download but determining their edition or copy accuracy may present problems to the reader.
Some reasonably reliable electronic versions are available at the Spiritual Sun.
Misattributed and Unauthorized Texts
Excluded from the primary text list are texts with misattributed authorship to Gurdjieff, such as In Search of Being: The Fourth Way to Consciousness. Also excluded from the primary text list are unauthorized revisions, such as the 1992 Penguin hardcover version of Beelzebub’s Tales, which was significantly altered from the author’s approved English version.
A little internet housekeeping…. I am selling off xuriel.com and dragonfodder.com. My current domain does its job adequately, and except to prevent a small amount of potential linkrot, I no longer have use for or reasons to keep the other two domains.