First Encounter with Mr. Gurdjieff

The first time I can recall learning about Mr. Gurdjieff was in 1995. My wife and I were honeymooning in Vermont. While strolling along Church Street, we wandered into a book shop. There I found a book entitled “The Lucid Dreamer” by Malcom Godwin. At the time, I was fascinated with dreams and with lucid dreaming in particular. The book was full of surreal art, quotes, and anecdotes of persons who in one way or another made some contribution to the topic of dreams and sleep.

One particular sidebar in the book struck me. Pictured in it, nearly in profile, was an old yet strong man, with a shaved head, a white upturned moustache, and dark eyes gazing as if into the distant future.

Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

The sidebar read:

Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was a charismatic teacher, writer, and mystic who maintained that everyone was actually asleep, and only when awakened we would understand that we were only dreaming we were awake.”

For me, this was a new idea, that everyone was asleep and must wake up—everyone including myself! What does it mean that everyone is asleep? The idea stuck with me, though its full weight would not be impressed upon me until many years later.