Mr. Patterson is the founder/director of The Gurdjieff Studies Program and has led groups, as well as given seminars and talks, throughout the United States for many years. He has written nine books on the teaching and directed, written and narrated the award-winning video trilogy The Life & Significance of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, and the just-released video Introduction to Gurdjieff's Fourth Way: From Selves to Individual Self to The Self. A new video talk has also recently been released:William Patrick Patterson Explores The Life & Teachings of Carlos Castaneda.
His latest book is Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission.
Running Time: 01:12:00
Here's the transcript:
Joe: Hi and welcome to SOTT Talk Radio. I'm Joe Quinn and my co-hosts this week are: Niall Bradley, Laura and Harrison Koehli.
Harrison: Hi there.
Joe: Did I say your name right, Harrison?
Harrison: How did you say it?
Joe: Koehli (Kay-lee)
Harrison: That's the technically precise way to say it.
Joe: Excellent. I like to be technically precise. (laughter)
Niall: But I've known him as 'Kee-lee'! It's more Irish-sounding.
Joe: It's not spelt in an Irish way so he doesn't get away with that one. Actually, did everyone say hello? Say hello, Laura.
Joe: Say hello, Niall.
Joe: Did you say hello, Harrison?
Joe: Anyway, this week we are hopefully going to be talking to William Patrick Patterson. Mr. Patterson is a spiritual teacher of the Fourth Way which is an ancient esoteric teaching of Self-Development brought to the West by G.I. Gurdjieff. He is also an author, filmmaker and speaker on spiritual themes, including the Fourth Way, Being and Becoming, Advaita Vedanta, Self-Awakening, Self-Observation, Esoteric Christianity and Cosmic Body Breath Impressions. All of which sound very interesting.
He's also the Founder and Director of the Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation, through which he teaches study groups as well as seminars, workshops and talks on Fourth Way themes. Mr. Patterson also founded and directs the Gurdjieff studies program which allows students living out of the reach of ongoing Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation Groups to participate and study in corresponding seminars and scheduled private meetings.
He has written nine books, the latest is 'Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission'. And for today only, this Sunday September 7th, Mr. Patterson has offered a $10.00 discount on his latest book if you purchase it from his website, which is Gurdjiefflegacy.org.
Those of you paying attention may have noticed I said hopefully talking to Mr. Patterson today because we are currently trying to get him on the line. So it remains to be seen if we will actually speak to him or not. In the meantime, my co-hosts will entertain you.
Joe: That was a musical interlude while we were trying to get Mr. Patterson on the line.
Niall: Same issue we had last week.
Joe: Yeah, but it should be resolved now. So we should have him with us soon. Until then, do any of our co-hosts have anything insightful to say about the topic that we are discussing.
Niall: Mr. Patterson's book 'Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission' is comprehensive. Of all the books, he said he put 10 years of research into it. He had written a lot on Gurdjieff beforehand but this one is probably his magnum opus. We'll get him to confirm that himself. I know you've read it, Harrison.
Harrison: Yes I have.
Niall: What do you think?
Harrison: I quite enjoyed it. It's structured in such a way that it takes you from Gurdjieff's birth until his death. It's completely chronological. It's not necessarily a traditional biography; it takes you through events, anecdotes, little stories culled from all the sources on Gurdjieff. Books written by his students and by outside observers who had a glimpse into this world of Gurdjieff and his work, and so it follows Gurdjieff's teachings, the things he did day-by-day, the phases of his life, and also the lives of some of his major students like Alfred Orage and P.D. Ouspensky and J.G. Bennett. So it follows them, their students, and how all the stories intertwine. So it's quite in-depth. It has a similar structure then some of his other books, for our readers who may have read some of his stuff. He's written Struggle of the Magicians...
Laura: Yeah, I've read that one; great book.
Harrison: And those are structured in a similar way with little anecdotes in chronological order, showing the interaction between these people and the things that they did. So there are some great stories in there and some things I hadn't read before. It's very difficult to read all the material on Gurdjieff. There are hundreds of books, so I think Mr. Patterson did a great service by writing this book and putting all of these little tidbits together to create all of this overarching narrative that shows Gurdjieff's life.
Niall: I love how interspersed - you have a chronology of world historical events going on at the time. Not necessarily related to what Gurdjieff was doing but Mr. Patterson lets you know that 'this' was going on at this time when this happened. And it's very interesting especially since recently we've been looking back and talking about the Russian Revolution; that period of time when there was great change in Russia. Of course, Gurdjieff's work began in that fire of revolutionary activity, and his story about how he eventually got to France and then set up in the US.
Harrison: And even in France he went through the Nazi occupation.
Joe: Okay, we have Mr. Patterson on the line so we are going to go ahead. Hi.
Teresa: This is Teresa from Mr. Patterson. Are we on now?
Teresa: Okay, please hold on.
Joe: Hi, Mr. Patterson.
WPP: How are you today?
Joe: Pretty good. How are you?
WPP: (laughs) I was wondering if we were going to make it here!
Joe: Yeah, absolutely!
Laura: So were we!
Joe: We usually have a few glitches but we get there in the end. We are live right now because the show has a scheduled start time. We've done a quick bio/intro with the standard kind of stuff for you. And it's myself, Laura, Niall and Harrison on the mics here. We're all interested in the topic so we are going to be putting some questions your way, if that's okay with you?
WPP: Okay, so there's more than two then?
Joe: Yeah, there are four of us. We have these people who are intent... hangers-on! But it keeps it more interesting; different perspectives and different ideas. Anyways, I just want to thank you for being on the show. All of us really appreciate the work you've done in bringing the life, times and teachings of Gurdjieff to the world. Because you are one of the main authors of Gurdjieff works and books on his life. Maybe you could tell us a little bit of how you got involved in the Gurdjieff work and what your history is in that sense.
WPP: Well, it happened in 1963. I went to a bookstore in Manhattan, New York. I was looking at all the books and it felt like I had read them all just by looking at the covers and the titles. I hadn't been drinking, I didn't smoke pot; it just happened. And I stood there for, I don't know how long, and finally the manager came up and said "what are you looking for?" and I said "I don't know. I've already read everything here." And of course there were probably 20,000 titles. And he looked at me like I was a little screwy and he said "oh, you want something seminal?" And I said "yes, that's the word" and he gave me 'Meetings With Remarkable Men.' I went back and read it; that was Friday evening. I went back to the bookstore on Monday after work, and the bookstore was closed. There was nobody there.
It was the strangest book I'd ever read because the author is telling you something but hiding something at the same time so it just leaves you with a question. So at that time, I tried to find people in the Gurdjieff work. Anybody who I met that was interesting; I would ask them. Nobody knew about the Gurdjieff work. Then in 1969, I read 'In Search of the Miraculous.' And this was an amazing book. I was a Major in Philosophy, Psychology and English in college, and every philosopher was wonderful to read but it was like a chess match. The next philosopher made another move, and so on and so forth.
So I realized it wasn't in philosophy and in psychology, the teacher said, all things being equal, this will happen. And I raised my hand and said "when are all things equal?" He said "never." So I walked out. That was it for psychology. I got my degree but I was no longer interested.
I had a magazine in New York; i sold it to a company who then went bankrupt, so I was out of a job; I was another creditor. I was dumbfounded. Every morning I would go and pick up the New York Times and I overheard a man who turned out to be Peter Riley, who wrote 'New Gods In America', and I asked if he ever heard of the Gurdjieff work and he said "Yes, I just spoke to the leader of the Gurdjieff work yesterday", so I said, "could I speak to him?", so he said, "I would have to give you a call." So he did and I called Lord Pentland and he said to me, "what do you want?" and it just stopped me; totally.
I had been looking all these years; what did I want? And he said "you could see me this afternoon, but maybe Monday would be a better time" and having looked all those years I said "no, I want to see you now." So I went down and we talked. He told me a little bit about Gurdjieff and the Work, and he had groups; I wasn't very interested in joining a group, so I went home and I thought Self-Remembering sounds pretty easy to do and I didn't need a group to do it, so I did what Ouspensky says about dividing the attention and experiencing the feeling of the body and what have you.
It was in the winter time and I walked to the door and felt the coldness of the brass handle. I had lived there 3-4 months and I had never experienced that. It wasn't a 'eureka' moment but I was still puzzled that I had never recognized that. I went down the stairs and they creaked; I had never heard them creak. And I got outside and there was a Sikh coming down the street and I wondered whether he carried a knife or not. The next thing I know, I had mechanically gone down and bought the paper, talked to some people, paid for the paper, and I came back. I'm sitting down on the chair and suddenly I realised I've been asleep all this time. And when I looked back at what had happened - I had been thinking about going to India and so when I saw this Sikh, I went into this long association about India and what have you. So I realized I couldn't do this myself, so I called Lord Pentland and there it began.
Niall: You've touched on a couple of things here; this realization that you were asleep. If there is one thing that is really powerful behind Gurdjieff's basic teachings is that he's telling Ouspensky - which he goes into in his book 'In Search of the Miraculous' - is that you are asleep. Ouspensky, and of course anyone who is hearing this would tend to reject this outright.
WPP: Absolutely; and they should because you have to verify it. Don't accept anything.
Laura: I had spent many years studying esoteric topics; Psychology, Biology, etc. and I was bed-ridden at one point after having my 3rd child, and I had this copy of 'In Search of the Miraculous' that I had picked on a sale table at a book store and it was probably one of the only books around me that I hadn't read. And being bed-ridden, I thought "I'm forced to be in bed so I'll read this book" and I have to tell you that it made me so angry.
I tell people the story how I would read, he would say something, and I would throw the book across the room against the wall. Then I would be so angry and fume about it, then after a while I would start thinking about it "he's probably right." I would then get one of the kids to pick it up and bring it back to me and I would start reading it again. I think I must have thrown it against the wall about 4 or 5 times before I gave up throwing it against the wall and I think I still have that copy held together with duct tape. That was back in the 80's.
Joe: One of the things I find fascinating in the context of some things that Gurdjieff had said, is that a lot of the things he talked about, and the ways he talked about it, like Man being asleep and human beings being machines - unconscious - is that a lot of these ideas are pretty much being proven with cutting-edge cognitive psychology. I don't know if you're aware of different books out there like 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' and 'Strangers to Ourselves', but they basically talk about there being two systems on the psychological and neurological level within human beings and that there is a system behind the kind of conscious awareness that drives motivations and that we are essentially unconscious of it. So in reading those books, I thought it was very interesting that a lot of the details in that, from a scientific point of view, are bearing out what Gurdjieff said 80 years ago.
Laura: Modern Science is proving everything he said was correct. He was light years ahead of everyone else. But, I want to ask you this: my husband and I read 'Struggle of the Magicians' some time ago, probably not long after it came out and we both enjoyed it very much; it was a tremendous book. I haven't read this new one yet though. Harrison has read it, Niall has read part of it and I've read part of it; and of course I looked at all the pictures; but this is a hefty book that has everything. You took 10 years to pull this together, right?
WPP: Yes, but I was writing other books at the time and doing other things.
Laura: Was there anything about this that was particularly difficult? Did you have to do any travels or interview people to write this book?
WPP: We had gone to all the major archives over the years. That was part of it, to assemble this material. That was the major thing to do. After 'Eating the I', which was the first book I wrote; 'Struggle with the Magicians' that was essentially the template for the book that you are talking about now: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission. So it was studying the Work, practicing the Work, going to archives, occasionally talking to people; what you do in producing a book.
Laura: Right. Was there any part of it that was particularly difficult?
WPP: The end (laughter). We had to make it to the printers and all sorts of things were suddenly happening that had never happened in any of the other eight books. People were making mistakes they had never made before. It was like there was something that didn't want this book to be published, and finally when I sent it off, I thought I came down with eye allergies and all sorts of stuff with the stress of putting this out. I thought I had asthma, but I didn't have asthma; I had a 90% blockage in one artery. So when we sent the book off, it wasn't too long after that I went to the hospital and had a two stent surgery. You never know whether you are going to survive anything so my only wish was, if I was going to die, I would hope that I would live long enough to see the book. So I've seen the book and i'm still here, so it's been great.
Laura: Let me ask you: you call it 'The Man, The Teaching, His Mission'. I'd like to approach this from the back end here. What was, in your words, based on everything you've read, studied, learned, heard; what was Gurdjieff's mission?
WPP: Well he said that unless the wisdom of the East and the energy of the West can be harnessed and used harmoniously, the world would be destroyed. The world is functionally awake but there's no real awareness. And because of that, we are very suggestible. And because of that, there is a periodic need for the destruction of other people, which is why we see war after war after war. As Einstein said, 'if there is a third World War, the fourth World War will be fought with sticks and stones'. So Gurdjieff felt that he had to give a major shock to the West and bring this ancient, esoteric, sacred teaching, he had discovered and reformulated, to the West. And decided the entryway would be Russia. He started there in 1912.
Laura: So that's his mission. Now let's go to the next one: the teaching. Can you synopsise for the audience the teaching, and how he went about doing it?
WPP: The teaching, fundamentally, is that we are asleep; we have no will, we can't really do, but we are functionally awake, and some people are highly functionally awake. We basically are living out of one of the three centers; the instinctual/sexual, the emotional, or the mental. And this culture being so mental, most people are living out of the mental in one sense of another. Not the deep mind but the formatory mind; the mind that if people listened to themselves, they would see you're always talking to yourself about yourself because we are all coated with self-love and vanity.
Everything is a reference to myself even if I'm doing "good works" and what have you. So it's to become aware of myself and that's the question; how do I become aware of myself if I'm asleep? So the chief practice is self-remembering. And in self-remembering there is self-observation; you observe what? You observe the 'I' of the moment, what you are thinking, feeling, impulses and what have you, and you will easily be able to see and verify that you are not one 'I' but many 'I's.
So over the course of time, because there will be resistance, this idea will suddenly come to your emotional center that you are not one 'I' but you are many 'I's; that you're not an individual and you're not really in awareness, and so forth and so on, and here is a teaching that can bring you through the various psychological and physical patterns to a real 'I'. I might read something here from Fritz Peters 'Boyhood with Gurdjieff'. He says:
"The philosophies, religions and other movements had all failed to accomplish this aim of waking people up and the only possible way to accomplish it was through the individual development of Man. As an individual developed his own unknown potentialities." - and by the way, when he says Man, he means men and women - "Man is the active source. As an individual, developing his own unknown potentialities, he would become strong and would in turn influence many more people. If enough individuals could develop themselves, even partially, into genuine, natural Men, able to use the real potentialities proper to mankind; each such individual would be able to convince and win over as many as 100 other men who would each, in his turn, upon achieving development; be able to influence another 100 or so. Gurdjieff added, rather grimly, that he was in no sense joking when he had said that time was short. Further, he said that history had already proven to us that such tools as politics, religion and any other organised movement which treated Man in the "mass" and not as individual beings, were failures. That they would always be failures, and that separate, distinct growth of each individual in the world was the only possible solution."Laura: Let me back up to one thing you just said a minute ago, and then I want to come back to what Fritz Peters said. You said that your emotional center becomes aware that you really aren't awake?
Laura: It seems to me that that awareness, if you achieve that, should scare the hell out of you. It should be terrifying.
WPP: That's why you have to be in a teaching. If you don't, yes, you will be terrified and you will go to excess in one sense or another. You see people doing that all the time with drugs, drinking and so forth. So you can't wake yourself up.
Laura: Of course not.
WPP: You have to be with a teacher, and he or she will be there to give you support
Laura: To shock you.
WPP: And trust your need to go beyond that, because deeply, if you ask the student: 'What is it that knows that you are now multiples I's?' And he or she won't know, but the answer is that which we all are and always are; developed or undeveloped consciousness.
Laura: The real 'I'. Yeah, because something has to know this; something has to be aware of that.
Laura: And when that awareness comes it's horrifying. It can lay you flat on your back. You can sit there in a state of abject terror for days on end.
WPP: It interested me. I didn't react in that way. I thought 'Wow, this is incredible.'
Laura: I did!
WPP: That I could have all these 'I's' and think that I was an individual all this time. Having recognized the variations in my 'I's', I began to look at other people as I had never looked at them before. Life became even more interesting.
Laura: Getting back to this destruction problem, and obviously Gurdjieff was very concerned about this; concerned enough that he put himself at great risk on many occasions. He lived through a lot of discomfort, he sacrificed an enormous amount in many ways to do what he was doing because he really, really had this mission and here, Fritz Peters mentions it also, that the world will be destroyed, then you mentioned Einstein's comment about if there was a third World War that the fourth World War would be fought with sticks and stones.
WPP: Excuse me a moment, what I was reading was what Fritz Peters wrote about what Gurdjieff said. Fritz Peters didn't say that.
Laura: Right, exactly. I was just referring to it having been written by Fritz Peters. Do you see this imminent destruction before us now?
WPP: Who can see into the future really? But it certainly doesn't look good. The question for each individual; whether there's a large war or not, there's nothing I can do about it. As Ouspensky said: 'they are big creatures.' But what I can do is Work on myself to become more and more available for higher energies and to develop a kesdjan body; some people call it an astral body but it's a little more than that; and eventually a soul.
So whether the world will end with us fighting with sticks and stones or not, I can't tell, and I can't influence, but I can influence my world and develop myself no matter what is happening, and I think that should be the basis for everyone. And in doing that, you receive higher and higher energies and transmit them, and if enough people come to doing that, it will certainly have an influence. Whether it has an influence large enough to avert our suggestibility for reciprocal destruction; I don't know. I hope so.
In 'All and Everything', Gurdjieff talks about the "terror of the situation" and he says if this property, this need to periodically destroy each other's existence is to disappear, then it will be with Time alone; and Time is a capital T; thanks, either to the guidance of a certain being with very high reason to certain exceptional cosmic events. He says no more than that, but that's perhaps reason for not rejoicing but for praying and hoping.
Laura: Yes, indeed.
Joe: What do you think he meant by certain cosmic events?
WPP: I have no idea (laughing).
Joe: Okay, just wondering.
Laura: So let's go to the first item on your list, which is - I'm working backwards here - the Man: if you could describe Gurdjieff, as you have received the impressions of him through interacting with people who knew him; reading his writings, hearing stories about him; what kind of a man was he, in your estimation?
WPP: We have to begin at the beginning. It occurs in 'Meetings with Remarkable Men', the second series of books of his legominism, where he is on an artillery range because of a love rivalry with another young man, and they decide that God will decide who will have the woman. They go out into the artillery range and the shells start falling. They both pull through but Gurdjieff has come to, as he says, the complete sensation of himself, right?
Laura: No doubt.
WPP: We all get sensations; but complete sensation. And then, having come to that realization, he looks around and he sees the suffering and misery of human beings and so he comes to the question; what is the sense and significance of life on Earth; and human life in particular? And this is the question that drives his whole life because to understand this, that first brings him to Ani which is about 30 miles away from where he lives, and he and another person find in an underground passage, a parchment from the Sarmoung Brotherhood, speaking about some very interesting ideas.
He had studied the religion and science of his day but found no adequate answer to his question, but he felt then that the ancient wisdom societies might have the answer and so this was done around where Iraq is today. And on the way down there he stopped in to visit a priest who showed him a map of pre-sand Egypt. He doesn't say what he saw on the map but we know what he did. Pre-sand Egypt means Egypt before 4000 B.C. He immediately goes to the Giza Plateau and there he becomes a guide.
And why does he go there? I believe he went there because on the map he saw the Sphinx. The Sphinx is 2700 B.C. according to most people, but here it was - I believe - or something on the map that took him to Egypt. There, he becomes initiated four times into the ancient Egyptian mysteries. Not the Egypt religion we know today which focuses on animals and so forth, but a science of Being which was the original Egyptian religion.
Over time he recognizes that elements of the teaching have gone northward so he makes a second trip to discover the elements of the teaching that are missing. He finds those going to Tibet and the Hindu Kush and so forth and so on, and he puts it together in a teaching that is modelled for the West and he brings it to Russia in 1912.
In 1911, before doing that, he took a 21 year vow to live an artificial life. In other words, to become a teacher for other people. And anytime you adopt an identity, you can easily become identified with it and become the teacher, the President or whoever you are. So you lose yourself; you fall asleep being a teacher, president or what have you. So he adopted an artificial role of a teacher and brought it to the West.
I might say it's rather interesting that what I said before about his question about the sense and significance of life on Earth and human life in particular, he came to realize that we are part of the organic life on Earth, like the flora and fauna. Our only difference is that we are three-centered beings, not two-centered or one-centered. And everybody is doing just as great Nature wishes us to do just by being alive, moving around and breathing. We don't have to do anything else but we do have the potentiality, because he says we are the images of God, to develop ourselves, and this is the teaching that he brought.
Before that he had gone to several monasteries, he had become a hypnotic healer for four or five years, then he became a 'Professor Instructor of Supernatural Sciences'. And he said these automatized people who have not opened themselves to themselves, but have contented themselves with other peoples fantasies, forming from them illusory conceptions and at the same time, limiting themselves to the point of engaging upon authoritative discussions of all kinds of seemingly scientific but for the most part, abstract, themes.
I'm looking at 'The Herald of Coming Good' and he says there are people who give themselves up to quasi-human knowledge; occultism, theosophy, spiritualism - he later added psychoanalysis; and he said he became an expert and guide in evoking phenomena of the beyond and holding workshops for the perfection of these automatised psychological people.
So that was where he came from, and he of course started the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Russian Revolution drove him to Tiflis. Tiflis didn't work out so he went to Constantinople and then was drawn to Germany, England, and then finally opened up his institute in France in 1922. He had a serious automobile accident in July 24 after returning from America, a tremendously successful trip, and then he closed the institute and decided he would hurl the teaching into the future by writing a legominism: 'All and Everything'.
And I might say, in terms of who he is, when I read in 1963 'Meetings with Remarkable Men', it says in the beginning: "According to traditional conceptions, the function of a Master is not limited to the teaching of doctrines but implies an actual incarnation of knowledge, thanks to which he can awaken other men and help them in their search simply by his presence. He is there to create conditions for an experience through which Knowledge can be lived as fully as possible. This is the real key to the life of Gurdjieff; he is a Master."
Harrison: I've got a question relating to that. The story of him in the artillery field and coming to full sensation of himself and, it seems to me, from his reaction to that, and even through reading how he interacted with people, that he had not only a deep curiousity about humans as lab rats and studying them, but also deep compassion. But at the same time, reading about how he interacted with people in general and his students in particular, some of his methods seemed almost cruel, and I was wondering if you could comment a bit about that and how Gurdjieff actually taught in life with his students.
WPP: First of all, he would not like the word curiousity because it's very mental. How do you wake somebody up from where they are and where they believe they are, and are defending at all costs? It can be a very slow way through Zen meditation, perhaps; I've done a little of that but not very much. His way was to give you the practices of self-remembering and self-observation. These are the guiding principles of life, that people are trying to be there, when they're with him, and in one way or another he will show them where they are identified, and at the same time, he's got this amazing presence and love, but he's pushing your buttons.
So you are caught in-between: you love him, you hate him. And what could you come to, through that? Well, you work it out. Loving; hating; is he a master, etc. But like I said before, what knows that you hate him at the moment and what knows that you love him at the moment? That's what we all are, and that's where we are going, and that's what he is pointing to for everyone.
Laura: I think my favourite story is the one where he was recovering from his injuries and was being cared for by some local tribe's people and he could hear the gunfire in the distance. He would go down and dip himself in the icy cold water and had this marvellous awakening. I don't remember all the exact details of it but that story has stuck in my mind forever.
WPP: That's in the third series 'Life is Real Only Then: When I Am'.
Niall: I think he was shot. Was he shot twice and severely wounded?
WPP: Three times.
Niall: By accidental stray bullets.
Laura: Do you think his story is about where he went, what he did and how he got his information, are all exactly how it really happened or were they, in a sense, veiled or metaphoric? Do you think it happened the way he described it or did he have a different intention in telling the stories?
WPP: I don't think so. I think he's very clear about what happened in going to Egypt; being initiated four times and going to Tibet. The Sarmoung Monastery there, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche represented, and he certainly picked up some of the elements that had come from ancient Egypt there and in the Hindu Kush and other places. He was gathering this material and putting it together into his teaching.
Laura: Has anyone ever followed in his footsteps and gone to the various places? Basically recreated the travels?
WPP: Not that I know of. To some degree, Oscar Ichazo said he went to Asia and then went to the Hindu Kush and what have you. Whether he did or not; I don't know.
Laura: I think it would be a fascinating thing because one of the things that I discovered, interestingly, doing some in-depth research into some of the ancient philosophies and ancient histories, because I'm a historian, there was some really powerful similarities between the Stoic Philosophy and some of the teachings of Gurdjieff. It strikes me as astonishing, amazing and wonderful that there could have been such a tradition that was preserved and handed down, which to me, validates that he must have gotten these teachings from somewhere because when you look into the teachings of the Stoics, you find these key words, elements, phrases and ideas.
WPP: But if you go further than that, you'll go to Pythagoras. And if you go further that, Pythagoras spent 22 years in Egypt. He brought the Egyptian teaching, as it was, to Italy, then to Greece and then in to the Middle East.
Laura: Even before Pythagoras there was Orpheus.
Laura: So it's all tied in together. Walter Burkert considers that Pythagoras and Orpheus were Shamanistic type individuals of the Central Asian variety.
WPP: Well, they started in Egypt. That's all I can say.
Laura: But how did it get to Egypt? (laughter)
WPP: If you read the first series, Gurdjieff speaks about Atlantis and the wise people of Atlantis understood that Atlantis would sink, so they went to Egypt and brought their teaching with them. They gave that to the Egyptians of their time and that created the Egyptian religion.
Laura: Which reminds me, you mentioned a while ago about this pre-sand Egypt map. That it was before the change of climate that turned large parts of Egypt into a desert and the issue of the Sphinx and the currently accepted dating of the Sphinx. If the Sphinx was on this map, which we don't know because we don't know what was on the map; if it was, and it was pre-sand Egypt, then it was older than 2600 B.C.
WPP: Of course.
Laura: And that's been validated in recent years by Robert Schoch who did the geological studies showing that the Sphinx was weathered by rain; by thousands of years of rain. So Gurdjieff was an astonishing man. Absolutely astonishing.
WPP: Let me stop you here with this: a lot of people believe that the teaching is rooted in Sufism and comes from some place in the Hindu Kush. J.G. Bennett, who was a pupil of Gurdjieff's, who spoke Turkish and many languages, is a chief proponent of that idea. But if you read 'In Search of the Miraculous', Gurdjieff is asked, "What is the origin of the Fourth Way?" And he says, and this is in italics in the book, "Esoteric Christianity."
WPP: And then if you look at the last pages and last chapter, Ouspensky has Gurdjieff saying that Christianity was known before Christ. It was in Egypt, but not the Egypt we know about right through history. So this is the origin. I think it's so plain but people seem to deny that.
Laura: They miss it. And there's another Stoic connection, because if you read Diogenes, Laertius biographies of the various philosophers and citations of their different sayings, you find that there are sayings in there that later ended up in the New Testament being assigned to 'Jesus.' I don't know if we will ever be able to untangle it. I've been working on it for 40 years but it's fascinating.
And now I would like to shift gears just a little bit. Gurdjieff talks about the various worlds, the levels of reality if we want to call them that.
WPP: You mean Cosmoses?
Laura: Right. My husband is a physicist and a specialist in hyperdimensional physics, and he even wrote a book about it.
WPP: He must be really out there huh? (laughter)
Laura: Well yeah. But in any event, he was working on this many years ago and I'd say it was in 1966. What year did you find that book?
Laura: Okay, so you were into it in 63, and I have this thing that I had written down; let me read it to you and I want you to give me a reaction to it. What I had written was:"Now, a curious thing about the teachings of Gurdjieff is that he claimed that Man is food for something other. But there is a lack of really specific information about this 'other'. We have often speculated, and I mean myself and my husband, as to whether Gurdjieff knew about hyperdimensional realities and just simply couldn't bring himself to tell anyone. Or if he did tell some of his students; was this something that only those on the inside knew and held back? My husband met with Henri Tracol in Marseilles, July of 1986. It was a brief meeting in an airport restaurant lasting about two hours.
My husband's interest was in determining if joining with such a school like the Gurdjieff Foundation in Paris would be helpful to his own awakening. He asked many questions, mostly relating to this idea of "being eaten" by something. His assessment - and let me say my husband's assessments are pretty highly developed because he has been a scientist and a professor for many years - his assessment of Mr. Tracol's reaction to this question, was that the man was very uncomfortable about answering. As he recalls it, Mr. Tracol glanced about nervously as though he might be overheard, although there was clearly no one to overhear, and made a somewhat vague allusion to interdimensional beings.
He wrote in his journal - and that is still preserved after this meeting - and this is my husband writing, "I am an energy transformer and converter, that is the essence of my existence; that is my only possible goal. I can choose to serve this goal or not. I can serve only as an energy transformer so it seems to not make much difference what I do; the result will be the same. Or I can serve as a channel. This is the choice between self-will and discipline. What 'I' do, that is 'I' Personality is self-will. What acts through me is not self-will. Thus, I wish to allow that which can act through that which is not self-will. To this end I need to eliminate self-will, but God forbid not to eliminate control. So I wish to eliminate self-will, I wish to eliminate identification; eliminating identification is most important. I wish to self-remember, I wish to plan to account for each and every hour. I wish to get rid of my hump; to cease being a camel. How? Through elimination of identification."
And then he wrote some more. But basically this was a result from his conversation with Tracol inquiring about hyperdimensional beings. So what do you think about hyperdimensional aspects of Gurdjieff's cosmoses? Do you think that his terminology was just different and that we can look at this mathematically?
WPP: If you look at the diagram of every living thing, you'll see that above Man are Angels and Archangels. So wouldn't they be interdimensional beings?
Laura: I would say so.
WPP: But I think that your husband didn't go into the work. Why not?
Laura: Because he was a Director at the University and really couldn't give up his job. But we've been involved with a small group, with ourselves together and others, for many years.
WPP: In other words you were teaching yourself, then?
Laura: Well, not exactly. Like I said, we have a small group.
WPP: But who is teaching you then?
Laura: Gurdjieff is.
WPP: Oh, okay. You're channelling Gurdjieff. (laughter)
Laura: (laughter) We are, more or less. That's silly! Heavenly days!
WPP: Well, why not? He says he is immortal within the Solar System so he is an interdimensional being.
Laura: Yes, I dream about him. And I had one dream one night where he came - I have these dreams where I actually hear voices and everything and I dreamed about him. I was puzzling over a problem for a particular individual for quite some time and he came and said to me "That person has been tortured. That is nothing but torture, and you have to understand this and they have been tortured into having all these different 'I's', in other words: as a result of the torture. It's like whenever I have a problem Gurdjieff comes to me in dreams. I'm sorry, that's so silly; I know it.
Niall: Well, it's not so silly. He's had that kind of impact on people who have met him. And clearly he's had that kind of impact on people who have met him decades after through books like William's, Ouspensky's, and so forth.
Laura: Oh yeah, I read every word. I just eat it up.
WPP: See, books can only take you so far.
Laura: I know.
WPP: They are a B influence at best and if they are B, they'll soon become A. Gurdjieff brought a teaching and to enter into it is to enter a kind of moral suffering because you recognize you aren't what you thought you were and all of your goals, ideals and everything else, are put in question. In living through that, working with self-remembering and self-observation, something develops in you and eventually, out of this suffering and striving, will come an inner separation between what you take to be yourself and what you are. And out of that, a Kesdjan body will begin to develop and the physical will appear in the Kesdjan; not the other way around. So when you are remembering yourself, you're remembering from the Kesdjan and not the physical, and you're Being develops.
Laura: Maybe that's what has happened over these years. We've worked very, very hard. And actually, this radio show is one of the results of that work. We've spent a lot of time and like I said, my particular area is history, research and so forth; trying to find all the pieces to fit together to basically put the picture together. Didn't Gurdjieff at one point say that learning history is part of knowing who you are?
WPP: I don't recall that quote at all. I'm just wondering as you're talking, I can see you are very sincere in what you are saying, but isn't this just another 'I' that is putting off really getting into the Work. You want to know the history of it but not the actual experiencing of it.
Laura: That may be so but at my age it's a little late.
WPP: I'm 77, how old are you young lady?
Laura: I'm 63.
WPP: Oh my! I would love to be 63 (laughter).
Niall: You're a youngun' still, Laura. William, Gurdjieff was actually in the news recently just in passing. I came across this article about a city that you've already mentioned: the city of Ani.
Laura: Oh yeah that was terrific.
Niall: Basically, researchers today are still discovering new underground chambers, cathedrals, tunnels; the city is growing underneath this location where Gurdjieff said there was a city, and the article just mentioned in passing that this lost underground city of Ani was first discovered by G.I. Gurdjieff 135 years ago, and then it moves on. He accidentally found it, or so he says, and that sent him off on his quest.
WPP: He lived there for 3-4 weeks with his friend Pogossian. They found the parchment from the Sarmoung Monastery and realized that the ancient wisdom societies could answer his question of 'the sense and significance of life on Earth', and human life in particular. But look at the answer that he finally comes to that from Nature's perspective, we are doing our duty just by living; receiving energies, transmitting them and what have you. It doesn't matter whether you are driving a cab or you're a Commander In Chief or whatever you are; from Nature's perspective, and when you die - you are going to die - and that will be it unless you have developed yourself to the degree that you have a Kesdjan body which can survive death. That seems to me the aim for everyone unless you don't mind becoming fertilizer; as Gurdjieff says.
Laura: Exactly. Well, this has just been really fascinating.
Niall: It's been really good to talk to you Mr. Patterson. Thank you so much for agreeing to come on and to share some of your stories and insights.
WPP: Oh, thank you.
Joe: I would just like to say that Mr. Patterson's book is available today at a $10 discount. It's 'George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission' it's available from his website which is Gurdjiefflegacy.org and you can get that discount today only.
WPP: A $10 discount.
Laura: So y'all get over there because this is probably the definitive compendium of Gurdjieff. I know that most of our listeners are going to be interested in getting that because we get questions all the time and now we can tell them to go read William Patrick Patterson's book.
WPP: Well thank you very much; I appreciate that.
Joe: Thank you William.
Laura: Thank you so much, it's been a great pleasure.
Joe: Indeed. Take care.
Niall: Wow, he's 77.
Laura: What an absolutely delightful person, and so full of knowledge, depth and insight. He's right on top of everything.
Niall: He's written 11 books. If you go to his website he has a few videos available as well. One of them he produced himself which is similar to his book as in the life and times of Gurdjieff. He also gives some talks. There is a very interesting video where he compares the teachings of Carlos Castaneda with Gurdjieff. And I don't know if he's responsible for this discovery but he does touch on the similarities that Castaneda's Don Juan and the teaching there stem from what Gurdjieff was saying.
Laura: Oh yeah, because Castaneda ripped off Gurdjieff right and left.
Harrison: Patterson wrote a book called 'The Life and Teachings of Carlos Castaneda', but I think he goes through it all and has some pretty definitive links showing that Castaneda was aware of Gurdjieff.
Laura: Absolutely, we know it. I think we even found a connection at one point where we knew that Castaneda was in the right place at the right time to be aware (of Gurdjieff).
Joe: Alright folks, we are going to leave it there for this week. Thanks to Mr. Patterson again, and thanks to our co-hosts, our chatters and our listeners. We'll be back next week with another show. Until then, have a good one. Bye-bye from everyone, from all of us and everything.
Laura: Have a great one!
Niall: All and everything!