GURDJIEFF AND THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION

"We can only fight to be able to become a Christian."

 

Because Gurdjieff has brought a profound and lifelong teaching to people the question of his attitude towards religion arises. The answer cannot be summarized briefly because, regarding this question, there are many relevant quotations from his enigmatic life and from his body of work.

But it is a fact that religious people who don’t know him and his teachings well would be scandalized by some of his statements. For example, his written body of work is about “All and everything” and the first volume’s title: “Beelzebub’s  tales to his grandson.”

The reader, who may have been scandalized by Beelzebub, must bit by bit realize for himself what a simple picture constitutes our habitual religious conception of the devil. And more importantly he may slowly realize that Gurdjieff sees everything in the world – the human being, mankind and the devil included –in relation to, as he puts it, our All-Loving, All-Merciful and Absolutely Righteous Eternal Creator. 

According to Gurdjieff, it is not enough for a person just to say that he lives and acts as a Christian. First you must be capable of such a life. [1]. Based on the “inner work” proposed by Gurdjieff, the whole world of spiritual life unfolds in the form of concrete tasks and opportunities. Are you able to love a neighbor you don’t like?! Are you able to be present with a whole heart, with a whole soul, at a religious ceremony.. If we are honest we can recognize that, despite our best intentions, our thoughts often wander.

But perhaps there is an even better example: the act of prayer. A prayer which is not only a repetition of words, but which comes from an attentive thought, from the most devoted emotion and from a body that expresses all of this. This is rarely possible, but still…! To approach and  deepen this is made possible, for example, through the prayers of the “sacred dances” brought to life by Gurdjieff. This is also the aim of the silent exercises that unfold through the practice of his teaching: through the evolution of this state the sensation of the body, the breathing and the resignation of thought slowly make the whole being able to open up towards an influence coming from above: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof…”

I can personally declare that I have followed the practice of the Catholic religion and the Gurdjieff School in parallel for decades, and I can now honestly say that as a result, I have gained a more important and deeper understanding of Christian religious rites, scriptures, theological or mystical texts.

Finally, I will tell you an exceptional story. At the Gurdjieff school, I occasionally meet a Catholic parish priest in a rural town. He comes from an atheist family and grew up with this attitude. In a peculiar way, he got his hands on a book [2] about Gurdjieff that grabbed him so much that he approached a group; and the work that he began there then led him to the priesthood…

Yes, despite the superficial appearances, I dare say that Gurdjieff was a true Christian. Anyone can be convinced of this by going deeper into his teachings.

(HL)