Gurdjieffian Fourth Way Groups
Gurdjieffian Fourth Way Groups
c/o Arica Institute, Inc.
10 Landmark Ln., PO Box 645, Kent, CT 06757
The Arica School was founded in 1968 by Oscar Ichazo as a School of Knowledge. The school provides a contemporary method of enlightenment, which employs biology, psychology, and physics in order to clarify human consciousness with modern knowledge that produces freedom and liberation.
The knowledge that the Arica School teaches, originated by Ichazo, is called the protoanalytical theory, system, and method. Protoanalysis refers to the analysis of the complete human being, starting from the lowest aspects of the human process and progressing systematically to the higher states of consciousness, where enlightenment may be attained. The Arica School provides a clearly defined map of the human psyche to assist each person to discover the basis of his or her ego process and to transcend this process into a higher state of consciousness that can be found in every individual. This state of being is a person’s True Essential Self, which is experienced as an internal state of great happiness, light, and liberation, according to the school.
The Arica School presents nine levels of trainings and practices designed to clarify, step by step, the shared human processes, while at the same time introducing knowledge to assist in attaining the higher states of the True Essential Self. Each level defines, analyzes, and processes the psychological aspects of the human psyche or ego by which one gains perspective and understanding about one’s self and others. The school teaches that, from this perspective, it is possible for individuals to clarify their own life experiences, which produces a state of self-observation and nonattachment. When the mind is stabilized through perspective, understanding, and self-observation, then meditations enable the transcending of everyday experiences into the higher states of mind, where enlightenment and real freedom can be attained.
While Ichazo’s teachings are best known for their relationship to Georgei Gurdjieff’s teachings, he has an eclectic background and studied with a variety of spiritual masters prior to founding Arica. In 1991, he was given the Award of Excellence by United Nations Society of Writers.
Arica Day of Unity Report.
Arica School. www.arica.org
Ichazo, Oscar. Arica Psycho-Calisthenics. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976.
———. The Human Process for Enlightenment and Freedom. New York: Arica Institute, 1976.
———. The 9 Ways of Zhikr Ritual. New York: Arica Institute, 1976.
Interviews with Oscar Ichazo. New York: Arica Institute Press, 1982.
667 Huyett Rd., Charles Town, WV 25414
John Godolphin Bennett (1897–1974) met Georgei Gurdjieff in 1921 in Constantinople, where Bennett was serving in the British Army. He continued his off-and-on relationship with Gurdjieff until the latter’s death in 1949. Bennett subsequently authored a number of books that discussed his work with Gurdjieff and advocated Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way system. However, he was not bound by Gurdjieff, and in his mature years he also became enthusiastic about both Subud (discussed elsewhere in this chapter) and the yoga of Shivapuri Baba, an Indian teacher. He wrote an important book introducing both to the English-speaking world.
Bennett claimed that Gurdjieff had left him a commission to serve as a teacher of the Gurdjieff system to the world. Philosophical material of interest originating outside of Gurdjieff’s teachings was seen through the prism of the Fourth Way system. Bennett’s interest in Subud, for example, was prompted by his belief that Bapak Subuh, it founder, was identical with Ashiata Shiemash, a coming prophet of conscience spoken of in Gurdjieff’s book All and Everything. Bennett came to believe that humanity had reached the point in evolution at which individuals could assume responsibility for humanity’s future course. Through spiritual training, individuals could become transformed and in the process begin to transform the world.
In 1971, to put his ideas into action, Bennett founded the International Academy for Continuous Education at Sherbourne, Gloucestershire, near Oxford. The core of the program at Sherborne House consisted of a 10-month resident intensive based directly on Gurdjieff. Bennett died in 1974, and the following year the center was closed.
However, following Bennett’s American tour in 1971 and the subsequent circulation of his books in the United States, a cadre of American students had arisen. In 1975 some of those students, seeking to continue the work of Sherborne House, created the Claymont Society and School in West Virginia. Under the leadership of Pierre Elliot, who had worked with Gurdjieff’s prime student Peter Demainovitch Ouspensky and then with Bennett for many years, the Claymont Society has established a community and continued the work begun by Bennett. Beginning with Gurdjieff’s and Bennett’s teachings and methods, the group has incorporated a variety of techniques, especially those of Sufi teachers of Central Asia known as Khwajagan.
The Society is designed to function as a “Fourth Way” school, that is, as a community whose members are working together toward human transformation. This transformation is to be achieved within the context of building a community capable of surviving under harsh economic and social conditions and educating others to do likewise. The Society is seeking to become self-sufficient economically and organizationally through farming and various cottage industries and the school for interested outsiders it manages. This school, the Claymont School, provides the basic 10-month program developed for Sherborne House, plus a variety of more inclusive programs offered by other teachers from compatible Sufi, Hasidic, and Eastern perspectives.
In the United Kingdom, Coombe Springs Press continues from the Sherborne House establishment as publishers of Bennett’s books and other literature with a related perspective. These publications are distributed in the United States by Claymont Communications, who also distribute Bennett material published by others.
Not reported. While the society has the potential for supporting 200 families on its present West Virginia acreage, fewer than 100 people currently reside there.
Claymont Society for Continuous Education. www.claymont.org.
Bennett, John G. Creative Thinking. Sherbourne, U.K.: Coombe Springs Press, 1964.
———. Enneagram Studies. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1983.
———. Gurdjieff: Making a New World. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.
———. Is There “Life” on Earth? New York: Stonehill Publishing Company, 1973.
———. Witness. Tucson, AZ: Omen Press, 1974.
The Fellowship of Friends, founded in San Francisco in 1970 by Robert E. Burton, is a school of spiritual development in the Fourth Way tradition. The Fourth Way, a psychological system that has existed, in one form or another, for thousands of years, was expounded in the twentieth century by Georgei Gurdjieff, and developed and continued by Peter Demainovitch Ouspensky and Rodney Collin. Central to the tradition is self-remembering, an active form of meditation in which students attempt to become more aware of themselves and their surroundings in each moment of their daily lives. Ouspensky wrote that man, as he is, “is not a complicated being; that nature takes him only up to a certain point and then leave him, to develop further by his own efforts and devices, or to live and die such as he was born.” According to the Fourth Way, individuality, consciousness, conscience, free will, and an immortal soul are attributes that man mistakenly believes he already possesses, but that must instead be acquired by special work within a group of people who share the same aim.
Apollo, the main center of the Fellowship of Friends, is a 1,250-acre site in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. About a third of the fellowship’s members live at Apollo. Other members live in more than 60 fellowship centers worldwide.
At Apollo students have opportunities to apply and verify the truth of the teachings. Such opportunities often include meetings, dinners, concerts, theater, and practical labor in the gardens, vineyard, or kitchens. The fellowship emphasizes the arts, and students come to understand how higher spiritual states can be created through beautiful and harmonious forms. This emphasis on the arts inspired, among other projects, the Apollo Opera, which draws most of its participants from Apollo, with guest singers and musicians from across California and the nation.
The fellowship owns Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, one of the largest mountain wineries in North America. Fellowship members cleared the 365-acre vineyard and planted the vines; they continue to prune vines, harvest grapes, and produce fine wines. The award-winning winery now produces approximately 20 to 30,000 cases per year.
In 2002 the fellowship had approximately 2,200 members, of whom around 700 lived at Apollo. There are 60 centers in cities in more than 40 countries, including ones in Taipei, Venice, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Paris, London, and Mexico City.
Fellowship of Friends. www.beingpresent.org.
Burton, Robert E. Self-Remembering. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1991, 1995. 216 pp.
85 St. Elmo Way, San Francisco, CA 94127
Georgei Gurdjieff (d. 1949) was a modern spiritual teacher who was greatly influenced by Sufism, but who blended it, with other spiritual teachings, into a unique philosophy that has in the several decades since his death become the springboard for a host of variations. Born in the 1870s in a small town on the Armenian-Turkish border, Gurdjieff studied the mysticism of Greek Orthodoxy and developed an interest in both science and the occult prior to leaving home as a young man. He began a period of wanderings that took him from Tibet to Ethiopia as a member of a legendary band, the Seekers of the Truth, in quest of esoteric wisdom. A significant period was spent among the Turkish Sufi masters.
In 1912 Gurdjieff surfaced in Moscow, where he met his most important disciple, Peter Demainovitch Ouspensky. With his students, he left Russia as the revolution was beginning and settled in Paris, where in 1922 he founded the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. Here, the unknown and the famous gathered to study with Gurdjieff. Among his students were Alexander de Salzmann and his wife Jeanne de Salzmann, author Katherine Mansfield, writer/editor A. R. Orage, and Maurice Nicoll.
Gurdjieff taught that humans are asleep, that they are operated like puppets by forces of which they have no awareness. He looked for individuals who had awakened to their contact with the higher force that brought direct awareness (and hence some degree of control) of the other forces of their environment. Gurdjieff developed a variety of techniques to assist the awakening process. Possibly the most famous were the Gurdjieff movements, a series of dancelike exercises. He also generated considerable controversy by placing students in situations of tension and conflict designed to force self-conscious awareness. The system required an individual teacher-student relationship almost of necessity. It came to be known as the “fourth” way, the way of encounter with ordinary life, as opposed to the other ways of the yogi, monk, or fakir. The way was symbolized by the enneagram, a nine-pointed design in a circle.
Two years after the opening of the Institute, Gurdjieff toured America with his students, presenting demonstrations of the movements. He found a ready audience among people who had read Ouspensky’s book, Tertium Organum (1920), and/or who had been influenced by Orage. The genesis of his American following dates from this trip. Gurdjieff closed the Institute in 1933, but continued to teach and to write for the rest of his life. Most of his writings were circulated privately to his students. Only one book, The Herald of Coming God, was published before his death. His writings include Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson and Meetings with Remarkable Men (which was made into a film in 1979 by Peter Brook).
During his last days, Gurdjieff spent much time with long-time pupil Jeanne de Salzmann, who following Gurdjieff’s death founded the Gurdjieff Foundation in Paris. This became the model for similar structures around the world. Instrumental in the spreading of the work in the United States was John Pentland (1907–1984), who had studied with both P. D. Ouspensky and Madame Ouspensky in the 1930s and 1940s. Pentland became the president of the Gurdjieff Foundation established in New York in 1953 and assisted in bringing forth the English-language editions of Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s writings. He collaborated in establishing Gurdjieff societies in major metropolitan areas in the United States and in 1955 founded the Gurdjieff Foundation of California, of which he was president until his death.
Not reported. The Foundation has centers in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and most major cities.
Gurdjieff Foundation. www.gurdjieff.org/foundation.htm.
Driscoll, J. Walter. Gurdjieff: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1985.
Gurdjieff, Georges I. Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. 3 vols. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978.
———. Life is Only Then, When “I Am.” New York: E. P. Dutton, 1982.
———. Meetings with Remarkable Men. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1963.
Ouspensky, P. D. The Fourth Way. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957.
———. A New Model of the Universe New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931.
Speeth, Kathleen Riordan. The Gurdjieff Work. Berkeley, CA: And/Or Press, 1976.
Speeth, Kathleen Riordan, and Ira Freidlander. Gurdjieff, Seeker of Truth. New York: Harper & Row, 1980.
Webb, James. The Harmonious Circle. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1980.
7 Chardavogne Rd., Warwick, NY 10990
Dr. Willem A. Nyland (1890–1975), a Dutch chemist and founding trustee of the Gurdjieff Foundation, left the foundation in 1960 to found his own group, the Institute for Religious Development. He had studied with Georgei Gurdjieff from 1924 to 1949 and with Gurdjieff’s disciple, A. C. Orage. The group is headquartered in Warwick, New York, where meetings, movements, and work days are conducted. Dr. Nyland died in 1975, and his students now carry on his work. Emphasis is on the practical application of Gurdjieff’s ideas.
Not reported. Affiliated groups can be found in New York City; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Tucson, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; Sebastopol, California; Boston, Massachussets; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are also groups in Australia.
Gurdjieff. G. I. Meetings with Remarkable Men. New York: Akana/Penguin Books, 1991.
Nyland, Wilhem. Firefly. Warwick, NY: The Author, 1965.
Popoff, Irmis B. Gurdjieff Group Work with Wilhem Nyland. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1983.
Box 370, Nevada City, CA 95959
In the early 1960s the Institute for the Development of the Harmonious Human Being (IDHHB) emerged to present the teachings of E. J. Gold. The teachings and practices, which have the theme of voluntary evolution as preparation for service to the Absolute, have been constantly refined and developed over the years through intensive research and work. Among the important, though by no means exclusive, sources that Gold drew upon have been the teachings of Georgei Gurdjieff. The hallmark of Gold’s teachings, as presented in his numerous books, is the representation of the being or Essential Self as neither awake nor asleep, but identified, in ordinary life, with the body, emotions, and psyche—collectively termed “the machine,” which is asleep. In relation to the Essential Self, the machine has a transformational function, but only if it is brought into an awakened state.
The awakened state can be brought about by practices and/or special living conditions within a lifestyle based upon the correct use of attention upon, and attitudes towards, the machine’s psycho-physical activities. Long-term, gradual erosion—the wind-and-water method—are favored by Gold for achieving the awakening of the machine, activation of its transformational functions, and eventual transformation of the Essential Self in accordance with its true purpose. Gold has emphasized the discernment of the waking state, the use of indirect methods to overcome the fixed habits of the machine, and the individual’s study of his/her “chronic,” i.e., a defense mechanism against the waking state acquired by each person in early childhood. Over the years Gold’s students have made a wide application of his teachings in such diverse fields as architecture, psychotherapy, early childhood education, and computer programming.
In 2001 IDHHB reported 750 members, 20 centers, and 50 ministers in the United States and 75 members, three centers, and three ministers in Canada. Other members were to be found in Australia, Great Britain, West Germany, Norway, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, with centers in Spain, Italy, and Norway.
Talk of the Month.
There has been much discussion concerning the relation of Gold and Gurdjieff. While there are obvious differences in their teachings, the inspiration of Gurdjieff is quite evident in Gold’s choice of a name for his work, his use of the enneagram (a nine-pointed symbol used by Gurdjieff) in his institute’s logo, and his picturing a Gurdjieff look-alike on the cover of several books (such as his Secret Talks with Mr. G). Without detracting from the originality of Gold’s work and thought, his reliance, especially in his early years, on Gurdjieff is undeniable. During the 1980s, those influences other than Gurdjieff upon which Gold drew for his own teachings have become more evident in his writing and other work. This broader base is visible in both the new publications and revised editions of older books issued by the institute since 1985, in the wake of which Gold’s pre-1985 writings have been somewhat discounted.
Institute for the Development of the Harmonious Human Being, Inc. www.idhhb.org.
The Avatar’s Handbook. Los Angeles: Institute for the Development of the Harmonious Human Being, n.d.
Christie, David, et al., eds. The New American Book of the Dead. Nevada City, CA: IDHHB Publishing, 1981.
The Gabriel Papers. Nevada City, CA: IDHHB, 1981.
Gold, E. J. Autobiography of a Sufi. Crestline, CA: IDHHB Publications, 1976.
———. The Human Biological Machine as a Transformational Apparatus. Nevada City, CA: Gateways/IDHHB Publishers, 1985.
———. The Joy of Sacrifice: Secrets of the Sufi Way. Nevada City, CA: IDHHB, 1978.
———. Practical Work on Self. Nevada City, CA: IDHHB Publishing, 1983.
———. Shakti! The Spiritual Science of DNA. Crestline, CA: Core Group Publications, 1973.
Secret Talks with Mr. G. Nevada City, CA: IDHHB Publishing, 1978.
PO Box 4969, Dept. E, Culver City, CA 90231
Closely paralleling the Gurdjieff movement is the Prosperos, founded in 1956 in Florida by Phez Kahlil and Thane Walker, its present leader. Walker, described by all who have met him as an awe-inspiring, charismatic person, is a former Marine and student of Georgei Gurdjieff. He has modeled himself on Gurdjieff, but has broadened his sources with material from Jung, Freud, modern psychological techniques, and the occult. The group was named after the magician in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It is described as a “Fourth Way” school.
The overarching reality for the Prosperos is the One Mind. Reality is experienced as one views from the perspectives of that One Mind. Both memory and the senses could be one vision, but via fourth way techniques, the self can be identified with the One. Translation is the name given that process. In Translation classes, the pupil is led through five steps: the statement of Being (What are the facts about reality?); Uncovering the Lie (the claims of the senses); Argument, or testing of the claims; Summing up Results; and Establishing the Absolute. Thane relies heavily on Gurdjieff’s technique of disorientation of the pupil and the importance of the pupil-teacher relationship. He creates many kinds of experiences in various classes and intensive seminars. Pantomime, improvisation, body exercises, and singing are all used as aids.
The headquarters of the Prosperos, termed the Inner Space Center, houses Publishing Programs, which produces the monthly Newsletter, instructional materials, and Thane’s book, Not So Secret Doctrine. Leadership is vested in Thane and the Mentors. The Mentors are drawn from the High Watch, an inner circle of advanced students who have completed three classes, submitted two theses, and delivered an oral dissertation. There is an annual Prosperos assembly. In the Midwest, Thane operates through the Institute of Advanced Thinking, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.
Prosperos Seminary, El Monte, California.
Ritley, Mary. Invitation to a Hungry Feast. Santa Monica, CA: Prosperos Inner Space Center, 1970.
4101 Legation St. NW, Washington, DC 20015
Subud was founded by Muhammed Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo (1901–1987), an Indonesian. Acting on prophecy that he was to die in his 24th year, Muhammed Subuh had begun to search for spiritual guidance and had turned to many teachers. To a man, they told him that he was different, that they had nothing to teach him, and that his enlightenment would come directly from God. However, no enlightenment came until 1925, when one evening a ball of light descended upon him, entered through the crown of his head, and filled him with radiant light and vibrations. For the next three years, his body experienced spontaneous occurrences of latihan, a cleansing and purifying process. Finally, in 1933, his true mission was revealed to him, and he was soon contacted by others who had heard of him. Thus, Subud became a movement and was officially established in 1947.
“Bapak”(meaning “respected father”) Subuh quit his job and devoted his life to the spread of the movement throughout Java. His work continued for 23 years. Some Europeans heard of his work and invited him to England in 1956. In England, Bapak soon gained a following, largely built upon former disciples of Gurdjieff. John Godolphin Bennett, the author of the widely read Concerning Subud, was particularly influential. Bennett, a well-known Gurdjieff disciple, had, in 1946, founded the Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy, and the Sciences at Coome Springs, England. The Institute became the initial center from which Subud spread in Europe and North America.
Subud is a contraction of three Sanskrit words: Sulisa, or right living in accordance with the will of God; Budhi, or the inner force residing in the nature of man himself; and Dharma, or surrender and submission to the power of God. The key to Subud is latihan, the process of surrendering to the power of God. It is an individual experience that is practiced in a group, two or three times per week. Applicants must go through several months of probation and establish their sincerity before commencing the latihan. The first latihan happens in the presence of several experienced members (helpers), who are viewed as channels allowing new members to be touched by a divine energy. It is believed by Subud that the power originally given directly to Bapak is transmitted by contact with a person in whom it is already established.
During the latihan, the mind and emotions are quieted, allowing the divine force to enter and do its work. During this time, males and females are in separate, darkened rooms. Various body movements and vocal manifestations often occur, and help lead each participant to a deeper understanding of their true inner nature. These phenomena result from the voluntary surrender of the self to the power. People report experiencing states of unconditional love, freedom, and higher levels of consciousness during this time. Healings have also been reported.
After coming to England, Subud spread rapidly. The healing of Eva Bartok in 1957 was a major catalyst of its spread. In 1958, Bapak was invited by John Cooke to the United States, where Subud was soon established and spread rapidly. Though Bapak himself was a Muslim, he asserted that the latihan was available to any person wishing to practice it, regardless of faith, nationality, or background, and was not in conflict with the essence of all religions.
In 2008 there were 430 Subud groups in 53 countries. These groups are members of the World Subud Association (WSA), a nonprofit organization registered in Washington, D.C. Subud’s structure is democratic, and serves to support members in their practice of the latihan and in their various endeavors. A world congress, held every four years, brings together members from around the globe. The WSA has two affiliate associations, Subud International Cultural Association (SICA) and Susuka Dharma International Association (SDIA). SDIA supports social and humanitarian activities, including health services, education, development projects benefiting women and children, and community development. It maintains consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNESCO).
There are 10,000 to 12,000 members worldwide.
Some difficulty in studying Subud has arisen due to the fact that latihan is an experience that is hard to convey in words. Talks given by Bapak Subuh and his daughter, Ibu Rahayu Wiryohudoyo, are published only for members, but a number of books by Subud authors are available for researchers and the general public.
Bartok, Eva. Worth Living For. New York: University Books, 1959.
Bennett, John G. Concerning Subud. New York: University Books, 1959.
Bright-Paul, Anthony. Stairway to Subud. New York: Dharma Book Company, 1965.
Longcroft, Harlinah. Subud Is a Way of Life. Subdud Publications International, 1990.
Muhammad-Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo. Susila Budhi Dharma. Subud Publications International, 1975.
Rofe, Husein. The Path of Subud. London: Rider & Company, 1959.
Vittachi, Varindra Tarzie. A Reporter in Subud. Subud Publications International, 1996.
Box 11554, Santa Rosa, CA 95406
Tayu Meditation Center is a “Fourth Way” spiritual school founded in 1976 by Robert Daniel Ennis. The Fourth Way is the name given to a system of spiritual development expounded by Georgei Gurdjieff that is seen as an alternative to the three other major forms of spiritual life, those of the yogi, monk, and fakir. The name also refers to the claim that, unlike other spiritual traditions that engage only one center of the human organism at a time, the Fourth Way addresses all three simultaneously. More intense in the beginning, it is seen as ultimately more efficient, and is often called the “sly Way.”
The primary Tayu practice is a special form of meditation called Self-observation, designed to accommodate those born in Western culture. It focuses the awareness in turn on each of the three major centers of the human organism—the motor/instinctive, the emotional, and the intellectual. According to Ennis, when sincerely engaged in, Self-observation reveals the true nature and inner workings of the human organism, and opens the way to full and continuous access to True Mind.
Ennis has been recognized as an accomplished spiritual teacher by contemporaries such as Lee Lozowick, E. J. Gold, and Robert DeRopp. He arrived at his level of adeptship on July 4, 1976, having attained the degree of “Reason of the sacred termoonald.” His teaching style has been described as “powerful yet intense, disconcerting for those with preconceptions,” and especially aimed at Westerners. The teaching center is located on a small farm in Sonoma County, California.
The center is a small group, as Ennis has refused to work with more than a few select students who agree to work at their spiritual development on a level that is more intensive than usual.
The Way Fourth: The Journal of Tayu.