Bennett, J(ohn) G(odolphin) (1897-1974)

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Bennett, J(ohn) G(odolphin) (1897-1974)

Mathematician, industrial research director, and author of books on parapsychology and the paranormal. He was born in London, England, on June 8, 1887, and was educated at Kings College School, London; the Royal Military Academy at Wool-wich; the School of Military Engineering at Chatham; and the School of Oriental Studies, London. He had an outstanding career as a scientist, and in his mature years served as chair and director of the Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy, and the Sciences, (1946-59).

Bennett took a special interest in the work and teachings of Georgei I. Gurdjieff and after Gurdjieff's death he helped launch the British section of the Subud movement at the headquarters at Coombe Springs, Kingston-on-Thames, England. He wrote a number of books including an autobiography, Witness (1962). Although Bennett's major interest was in the philosophy and techniques of Gurdjieff, he also drew upon other techniques of human transformation and self-awareness, the Shivapuri Baba (a Nepalese saint), dervish dancing, and Sufism. Bennett was particularly concerned with group dynamics in the fields of communication and education.

In 1962-63, Bennett visited Shivapuri Baba (then 136 years old) in the Himalayas, a trip described in his 1965 book, Long Pilgrimage. Both Bennett and his wife, Elisabeth, then entered the Catholic faith (see Bennett's Spiritual Psychology [1964]), following contact with the author Sayed Idries Shah, to whose movement the institute donated its estate at Coombe Springs.

This was subsequently sold. In 1971 another estate was acquired in Sherborne, Gloucestershire, and the International Academy for Continuous Education was set up "to achieve, in a short space of time, the effective transmission of a whole corpus of practical techniques for self-development and self-liberation, so that people could learn effectively to direct their own inner work and to adapt to the rapid changes in the inner and outer life of man." This program included a synthesis of such disciplines as mantra yoga, Gurdjieff movements, Sufi teachings, prayers, and dervish dances. Eventually the Sufi community Beshara took over the academy.

Foreseeing chaos, Bennett advocated the establishment of self-sufficient communities of people initiated in the technique of creative transformation whereby the individual transcends almost totally the preoccupation with self to avoid complete elimination. The first such community was established at Clay-mont, West Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Bennett died on December 13, 1974. His work is carried on in the United States by the Claymont Society for Continuous Education, Box 122, Charlestown, WV 25414. In Great Britain his disciples may be contacted at Daglingworth Manor, Daglingworth, Gloucester GL7 7AH, England.


Bennett, John. Creative Thinking. Sherbourne, U.K.: Coombe Springs Press, 1964.

. John G. Bennett's Talks on Beezlebub's Tales. Compiled by A. G. E. Blake. York Beach, Maine: S. Weiser, 1988.

. Enneagram Studies. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1983.

. Gurdjieff: Making a New World. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.

. Is There "Life" on Earth? Santa Fe, N.Mex.: Bennett Books, 1989.

. Long Pilgrimage: Shivapuri Baba. Clearlake, Calif.: Dawn Horse Press, 1983.

. Spiritual Psychology. Lakemont, Ga.: CSA Press, 1974.

. Witness. New York: Dharma Book Co., 1962.

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Bennett, J(ohn) G(odolphin) (1897-1974)

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Bennett, J(ohn) G(odolphin) (1897-1974)