azize
Few scholars and writers in the world today have the experience and in-depth knowledge that Father Joseph Azize has of G.I. Gurdjieff's Fourth Way work. In this new interview with the author of Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation and Exercises, we explore a range of issues : Have students and organizations based on Gurdjieff's work watered down and distorted what the great teacher wrote and instructed? At what point do ideas - in an attempt to make them more "accessible" - lose their power and potency altogether? And by contrast, what does it look like when integrity is maintained?

This week on MindMatters we discuss these issues as well as some more of the specially designed exercises Gurdjieff prescribed for his pupils that we began to explore with Fr. Azize in our first interview. Looking specifically at the mystic's "Second Assisting" and "Web" exercises we examine what they were intended to do for the practitioner - as well as what the larger implications and possible benefits that such work had, and has, for humanity as a whole. Join us as Joseph Azize gives a number of very nuanced and informed explications of Gurdjieff's ideas, and what value they hold for those seeking to climb the staircase of one's own being.


Running Time: 01:52:54

Download: MP3 — 103 MB


Links to Father Azize's writings: Here's the transcript of the show:

Harrison: Welcome back to Mind Matters everyone. Today we are pleased to have Father Joseph Azize joining us again. For those of you who haven't listened to our first interview with Father Azize, check that out. He is a Maronite priest and author of this book, among others, Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplate and Exercises available from Oxford University Press. Today we are going to be discussing, in addition to parts of that book, a series of articles that Joseph has been putting up on his blog - we'll include a link to that below - on what is called the New Work.

First of all Joseph, welcome back to the show and maybe we can just launch right into it. What is the New Work, first of all?

Joseph: The New Work is something which I first came across after the death of Mr. Adie. Mr. Adie died in 1989 and in 1990 our group was advised by Paris that we should make contact with a gentleman named Jim Wyckoff who was coming out from New York. When we met Jim and had meetings with him, we were very surprised by a significant difference in emphasis so that instead of working we were told, "You can't work. You can be Work. Instead of doing, you can't do anything but you can listen for something going on." It was very surprising.

It was quite different in that the emphasis had changed from formulating an aim, Jim Wyckoff used to say, "I can have an interest but not an aim. An aim is too fixed. Rather than making efforts, as it were, one had to be passive, open, receptive. That's over-simplifying it a little bit because it wasn't that Jim said you don't make effort. It was more that he was saying that the efforts we make are, as it were, too active. They're not enough passive, enough receptive and that we try and plan things in too much detail. "There's nothing to do," he would say. "I'm just open. I have to listen. Who says I'm not Working? Even when I sleep I might be Working."

It was a very, very different emphasis. The idea of having an aim and then working on specific features such as negative emotions, chief feature, all that, disappeared. Again, it was a question of emphasis. It wasn't that Jim didn't believe that there were such things as negative emotions. He said there were and he said the negative emotions don't have the force that we believe they do, but it was how you went about working with it.

So Jim would always be coming back to the sensation. "I need to be present to my sensation" and that is an absolutely fundamental part of the Gurdjieff method. But as we are, we're not aware that we have any sensation. We are almost lost in our heads, as it were. There's no organic contact between our centers - our mind, our feeling and our bodies. He would stress sensation and then he would stress being open and there wasn't really much else. The idea of specifying negative emotions, making plans to deal with them and particularly chief feature, he wouldn't entertain questions about chief feature which I think is central to Gurdjieff's practical methods. Gurdjieff said so himself.

That was out the window and he didn't even like having schedules. He used schedules when he wanted to, but apart from that, you couldn't do it. You couldn't plan. You couldn't fix things so that, for example, when I was in New York working with his group while he was alive, they had to move a whole wall of items into storage and then they were going to put them back. I said, "Well let's make a schedule of what goes where." "Oh no, you can't do that. That's too fixed. Lord Pentland said you only write things down so that you can forget them. Don't write anything down. Don't make a plan."

Anyhow, I made my sketch {laughter} but afterwards when they were trying to return things to where they belonged on the wall, they couldn't remember where they fitted and then they were desperately looking for my sketch so that they knew where things went. It's a little bit subtle. I'm aware I'm not communicating it as clearly as I'd like to but it's a difference in emphasis, so that the emphasis is not on me formulating a plan, an aim, having a method, a strategy and working towards it. It's on being open, receiving something.

This shows itself very clearly in the exercises so that Mr. Adie was using Mr. Gurdjieff's exercises where you know the skeleton of the exercise. You make a definite effort. I will receive the air. I will digest the air this way, that type of thing. With Jim Wyckoff and the New Work it was more just maybe to sense oneself but to be open to what was happening and they would improvise what was being said.

Now, it's not that there's no improvisation when the Gurdjieff exercises are brought. There must be, otherwise what are you doing? Just repeating something parrot fashion? But there's a definite schedule, a definite sort of skeleton, a path, a framework. Something is known. With the New Work, there's a de-emphasis on what is known and an over-emphasis on searching. So I'm always searching. I would say that the search only has meaning because we're hoping to find something. "Oh no, no. You're being too concrete, too definite, too rigid." Well as soon as you speak about finding something, you have an idea of what you're going to find.

It was very difficult. We were genuinely taken by surprise and a lot of people left the group and I think it was mainly because of the sudden shift in emphasis, the abandoning of something which was clear and really a work as something with a definite aim and a definite effort in that direction, for something which was formless. One of the people in our group described the sittings that Jim Wyckoff was bringing. She said it's like meditating on the endlessness of the universe. {laughter}

Now, when you compare that with the exercises in the book, you can see the point. Exercises like the ones Gurdjieff was bringing, were suddenly no longer being used anymore. The exercises in use from Life is Real weren't being used. They weren't being used. Even the exercises that Mr. Adie brought, again, no longer being used. With the preparation - you'll see there's a chapter in the book on the morning preparation which Gurdjieff brought - now they still do something in the morning but not with the clarity, not with the structure which Mr. Adie brought.

So it was a difference in emphasis. It took a long time to be clear about what was happening, that this was a change. At first I was thinking, "Well it's the same Work only it's coming from a different aspect." And that's not actually entirely wrong but the longer I went on with it the more that I saw that it wasn't the same Work. The emphasis on being passive was so great a difference in emphasis that there was effectively a breach in continuity. When our people went to France in 1990, Ken Adie and Mrs. Adie went to Paris in 1990 just before Madame De Salzmann died and one of the main people there, Pauline de Dampierre, said to them, "Madame De Salzmann brought a new influence in the Work. She brought a feminine influence."

At the time I was thinking, "But how could this be? Gurdjieff had brought what was necessary. Are they saying that she actually changed the Work?" I think that's what happened. It was actually changed. And there are hints of this in the literature. There's a book by one of the chaps from America saying, "I asked Madame De Salzmann 'Are you saying the ideas no longer matter?'" and he said, "She didn't answer me." But that's effectively what happened. The ideas, particularly the ideas found in In Search of the Miraculous were sidelined.

So the idea of beginning with a name, formulating a plan and a strategy to Work went out the window. I remember once I was in Los Angeles and someone said to Lady Pentland, "I don't care about negative emotion. I don't care about working on those things. All I want to do is sit and receive this higher energy." I don't wish to disparage the memory of Lady Pentland. On one occasion I spoke with her. She was very kind. She was very gracious. But what she said was - and this is the truth, this is what she said - she said, "When one has learned the language one no longer needs the dictionary."

I think what she's saying is that once you've achieved the state you don't need to be thinking about negative emotions and things like that. But although it's difficult to say that's actually wrong, I do think it is wrong because it's very wrong on emphasis. We can't achieve a better state and a permanent state, a more conscious state, unless we are also working to make our negative emotions passive!

So when someone says, as this young man did, "I don't care about negative emotions. I don't care about any of that stuff," he's throwing out the only way that one can become more conscious because you can't become conscious and just, as it were, bask in the glow of some higher energy which descends {laughter} unless I have done the Work, working against my negative emotions. For that I need to understand what my negative emotions are! I need to know the ways of working against negative emotions. I need to know how to use habit. I need to understand chief feature, at least be engaging with chief feature. At least with chief feature, the struggle with chief feature saves us a great deal of time and enables us to work on the axis of all our weaknesses at once.

Ideas such as sacrificing my suffering, is not to be found in the New Work and yet if you look at In Search of the Miraculous and the people who were with Gurdjieff in those early days, like Nicholl, sacrificing my suffering is an absolutely key element of the practical Work. So in a nutshell, that was how I came across the New Work and eventually I had to reject it.

Harrison: I have a few comments on what you've said so far. In reference to the anecdote about that young guy talking to Lady Pentland and her response that when you've learned the language you don't need the dictionary any longer, like you said, there can be, in a sense, a truth in that in that perhaps at that high level, that may be true. When you know it you no longer necessarily need those symbols or images for it, but the danger of it, like you said, is that it ignores the pathway to get there because I'm sure there's almost a 100% chance that this young man asking this question wasn't at that level.

So what is the point in saying that to someone who needs to learn the dictionary? Like you said, those ideas and those tools are necessary if that is the goal to achieve that goal. It's almost as if, like you said, there was a total shift in the emphasis. One thing I'm curious about is when this occurred, if this was a gradual thing, as far as you know, over time, because Gurdjieff died in 1949 and some of the events you've talked about were early 1990s. I can't remember if it was James Moore that said he encountered these kinds of things in the UK groups in the 1980s?

Joseph: Yes.

Harrison: But as far as you know was there a sudden shift at a specific point in time or was it more gradual?

Joseph: It was gradual but the ground was prepared. In Witness, Bennett mentions that in the 1950s when he was introduced to a passive way of Working by the Subud method, the latihan (the process of surrendering to the power of God) which is far more passive, he said he tried to interesting Madame De Salzmann and Henri Tracol and they rejected it. In Witness Bennett says, "I can understand it. They weren't used to this passive, receptive side of things." But then at some point - I don't know whether it was the 1950s or the 1960s - Bill Segal is interviewed in the book and the interview is in his Voice From The Borders Of Silence.

William Segal says that he introduced Madame De Salzmann to Zen and Zen sittings and she started to introduce them in the 1960s and it is known that she was interested in a number of Zen and Buddhist figures. So in the 1960s Madame De Salzmann starts to introduce, particularly in the USA and in France, this type of Zen-influenced sitting and starts to scale back what she had from Gurdjieff, particularly with the Gurdjieff exercises. But it wasn't terribly advanced in England because in England Madam Lannes was a very formidable force and not only Madam Lan but also Jane Heap.

One of the people who knew Madame De Salzmann and Lord Pentland and all those figures said to me that Madame De Salzmann was scared of Jane Heap. Jane Heap died in 1964. He said she wasn't going to do anything like that while Jane Heap was alive. Even with Madam Lannes, she was not going to take Madam Lannes on directly. It was more subtle. What she did - I was told this by someone who was with Madam Lannes all this period and knew Madame De Salzmann and Maurice Desselle and Henri Tracol, knew all these people - said to me that while Madame Lannes was alive, Madame De Salzmann would have what she called special advanced Work for some people but Madam Lannes was never a part of it. After Madam Lannes died, that work became the work for everybody. That's what happened.

So it seems that in the 1950s Madame De Salzmann is rejecting something similar or at least something which is described as passive. Incidentally, what Bennett said is that he began with this passive way with Subud and then he found that although it opened him up in many interesting ways, he started to become will-less. He started to lose the strength of will that he'd had so he had to go back to Gurdjieff's more active methods.

Now that's also what I found. I found that with the Jim Wyckoff New Work you feel a certain opening, you feel 'This is much easier, this is lighter. Why was I so heavy before? Why was I so ponderous?' But then you start to find that you lose a certain mental ability, a certain mental strength. And in fact, my memory started actually weakening under the influence of this stuff, "nothing to be done, no effort to be made" and this type of thing. It's a little bit of a detour but in the 1950s Madame De Salzmann rejects it. In the 1960s she comes to it via Zen. It's introduced first in New York and Dushka Howarth spoke to me about that as well. Dushka said the same thing happened. She said Lord Pentland was converted to it and started letting other things go, displacing them in order to do this.

But it was only after Madam Lannes died in the 1980s that it was introduced in England. Now what I'm saying is conjecture. I'm not certain of this. It's conjecture. But it's based on certain things I've been told by people in England and also the experience of Mrs. Staveley because Mrs. Staveley was introduced to the New Work gradually in New York by Madame De Salzmann, at one stage actually accepted it but then rejected it. It seems to me that the New Work was introduced gradually in Paris and in New York in the 1960s and then built up steam but was introduced almost without any preparation in England after the death of Madam Lannes, which is what James Moore says.

But as I mentioned earlier, that has to be a little bit nuanced. Someone I know that was there told me it wasn't as overnight as James Moore gives the impression of. He may not have been part of the small group but there was a small group in the late 1970s in England who were being given the New Work separately from everyone else.

Elan: So at least on the surface it seems antithetical to what we have come to understand as the Gurdjieff Work, the battle between yes and no, the friction of the I's, the struggle to forge something and seeing what our resistance is to certain work on ourselves and doing certain things. On the other hand it sounds very nice. If you can empty your cup a little bit it might be fuller. So there is that argument I guess for why it might be a nicer Work or a productive Work, but certainly at the expense of this more active type of Work that would seem to facilitate a forging in ourselves of greater strength, will and cognitive power, as you were saying. It sounds as though it's a misdirection. I could almost understand including it as an adjunct or a counterpoint, or just a balancer or supplement to the rest of Gurdjieff's work. But for this movement to come into prominence seems a bit odd to me, almost like a distortion in the way that your analysis of the New Work's distortion of Beelzebub's Tales occurred.

Joseph: Yes. That's how I see it Elan. I had a conversation with Jim Wyckoff in New York - I'm pretty sure it was 1994 - and I said to him, "Mr. Wyckoff, Mr. Adie used to give us this preparation and I went through the steps, the relaxation, the sensation, the receipt of the air, the feeling, the affirmation," and he got quite cranky. He said, "Not only Adie did that! Everybody does the same thing." But it wasn't true. They didn't actually do it, not that way, not with that structure. Now it doesn't mean that what the Adies did was invariable, rigid, monolithic. In that book, there are two different preparations: one for Mrs. Adie and one for Mr. Adie and you can see the skeleton is the same but different things went to foreground in each of the preparations. And in the article which I published on the preparation, I used the third transcript and every time I give a preparation it's slightly different.

So it's not really monolithic but I mentioned that because I broached the subject with Jim Wyckoff. I said, "This is what we do but we seem to be doing something different." He said, "No! No!" He wouldn't have it at all. I remember saying to him, "Well Mr. Adie was with Gurdjieff" and he said, "Well Gurdjieff knew a lot of idiots too", which is really no answer because I think the truth of the matter is that although there is some continuity between the Work and what Gurdjieff brought, it is nonetheless a very real distortion and change. It is not the same Work. The emphasis is different enough in sufficient areas for it effectively to be a different species.

People go to a group that's using the New Work and some groups use it more than others, but they'll go to a group that's using the New Work quite significantly and they'll wonder 'is this Gurdjieff?'.

Corey: In your articles you discuss the fact that some extremely important and critical concepts have been stripped out of schools that are utilizing the New Work; concepts like the table of hydrogen, the law of seven, a number of really important concepts are completely absent. It seems to me like Gurdjieff himself was kind of stripped out of the work in the process of making it more Zen.

Joseph: Yes. This is something that Mrs. Staveley was very clear about. She used to say that she had the impression that they were embarrassed by Gurdjieff. Now it's not entirely true, but she was saying that to make a point. There is something in that. Not only those ideas have effectively been removed, and I think the chief reason is because I don't think that was Madame De Salzmann's forte. That type of ideas, the cosmology, was not her forte. Look at Reality of Being. She's not referring to them. She's not speaking about the ray of creation. I'm not saying she wasn't intellectually capable. Clearly she was very capable, but what she knew best were other things. And I think the problem is she then used those things only and she excluded the rest.

But then when they transcribed anything by Gurdjieff, when they translate it, they leave out certain things. It's sanitized as it were. There are some examples. In the Czechevitch book that happens a lot and in my volume, Gurdjieff Contemplation, I mention the way that they leave a lot of things out and change what was actually written. There are some other examples. I'm a bit hesitant to mention them here but there are certain things which Gurdjieff said which are in transcripts and are left out of the transcripts because it was felt they might be a bit indecent or...

Harrison: Controversial.

Joseph: ...or scandalous, or something like that. Yes, that's right controversial. So if anyone wants the details, I can assure them I had them. But some of them were given to me by people who didn't want to be known but they said, "Look, this is what happened. This transcript was produced in this way." So I've got the details but the thing is that a lot of the ideas, particularly the cosmology, the ray of creation, the food diagram, I think the point was to work with them until we found how they were practical. Instead what's been happening is they've been found hard and they've been put aside.

Harrison: The last time we talked Joseph, at the end of the show I think I brought up William James Thompson's thesis on John Bennett and Gurdjieff. After reading that and also reading the stuff on the New Work I thought there was a bit of an irony. You've already brought out the main points of it, that in the 1950s Bennett was, if not cast out, there was a separation that occurred because of Bennett's pursuits, for the reason that he was engaging in these non-Gurdjieffian pursuits and practices, like Subud.

Then Thompsonwas writing his thesis from references, it looks like he was writing in the 1980s. So he wasn't aware at the time, I don't believe, of the New Work. So he's writing an argument that is arguing that Bennett was rejected and was still rejected for this entire period, if you go online and you see discussions of John Bennett, oftentimes there is still a friction between the Bennett camp and the more foundational camp and Bennett is written off as a maverick open to too many different ideas and not a stickler for the Gurdjieffian tradition. But while this has all been going on, the Gurdjieff foundation groups had done essentially what they had accused Bennett of doing and yet to a much greater degree.

As you pointed out, when Bennett was experimenting with Subud, he eventually ended up rejecting it and actually coming back to the Gurdjieff methods to the point where in the 1970s when he set up Sherborne, he was teaching Gurdjieff's exercises and I believe he was teaching 50 of them or something like that, 50+ of Gurdjieff's exercises. I've read a bunch of Bennett - not as much as you, I know you've been reading everything for your new book - but Bennett is usually very clear about where his ideas come from and what's Gurdjieffian and what's not. He'll say, "I got this from Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff told me this." Or if he's talking about something else he'll talk about something else. But he was dedicated to Gurdjieff. The word is escaping me but he was true to Gurdjieff in a way that it seems the foundation groups now are not. I guess you could say he was true not just to the letter but to the spirit of the Gurdjieff Work because he did bring in elements from all over the place. He researched all kinds of things - history and other religions - and he was a voracious seeker of truth.

So you can see that in his work. He wasn't just limited to the system as taught by Ouspenky and then Gurdjieff that he received. He had wider horizons but at the same time was true to it. Then you compare that to what Madame De Salzmann introduced with the groups over the world then adopted from that, which was almost like a turning away from those other methods to something and then giving that more energy, to the point where, like you said, it could cause someone coming to these groups for the first time to wonder, "Is this even Gurdjieff?"

I think in your book in reference to Madame Salzmann's book, Reality of Being and some of the exercises included in there, it's often hard to discern, on the surface of things, what is something that Madame De Salzmann has created or introduced and what she has gotten from Gurdjieff. And we find the same thing in the movements. So maybe we can move to the movements a bit because we find this same phenomenon happening in the transmission of Gurdjieff's movements.

Maybe as an introduction, I'll briefly share my understanding of it and then I'll get you to comment and share what you know as well. You recently posted a review of Wim van Dullemen's book on the movements. I read it last year. I enjoyed the book but there were a few parts that I found somewhat infuriating because what I just said applies to the movements in the sense that - and this is my impression from reading that - when a new student might join a Gurdjieff group today and start learning some of the movements, they will be under the impression that they are learning a movement as taught by Gurdjieff and transmitted since he was alive and after he had died.

Yet the reality is that you won't even be sure that you're receiving the complete movement. You might be receiving a fragment of it and under the impression that it's a complete work and you might not even be sure if Gurdjieff had anything to do with it at all because there have been movements that have been created after his death that are now attributed to Gurdjieff. So maybe using that as a launching off point, can you discuss a bit about how the movements play into the New Work broadly conceived?

Joseph: Yes. There's no doubt except that the movements are very important in Gurdjieff's work and that Gurdjieff considered that each movement was a sort of a book, that the book had to be, as it were, in your bones and you read it not the way we read a script but through direct experience. So there are many things which can only be communicated through the movements, many experiences which you can only have through the movements, or at least will be facilitated through the movements.

I have mentioned before that my first understanding of what feeling was in experience, was in the movements with Mrs. Adie. My own view - I think Bennett says something similar - is that Gurdjieff tried to place in some of the movements, some of the spiritual religious intensity of a religious ceremony and some of them are named after religious ceremonies so that that element of a very focused, very concentrated higher emotion is given continuity in the movement because you're following the body, the mind is attentive and if one is making efforts, a feeling can appear and that feeling can be sustained not only by the movement but also by the music.

So that's the first thing. The movements are very important in Gurdjieff's work and he intended the movements to be known. He intended it. He intended that you learn a movement and you work at it. If you don't work at the movement as a whole, how can you read the book? It's impossible. It's like trying to read a text and you've only got some words from some sentences or this page but not that page.

There are probably 250 movements now which can be reliably attributed to Gurdjieff but not necessarily the complete movement. Gurdjieff didn't ever give people written notes on how to do the movement. He never produced an actual choreography which set out what to do. People had to remember them and then transmit them. You were to learn the movement to know the movement. This has had the inevitable result that there are different versions of different movements and in some movements, parts of it are lost forever. Something has been reconstructed and the reconstructions by Madame De Salzmann are probably the best reconstructions possible but they're still reconstructions. At least Bennett is honest about what he's doing when he's adding things to movements.

Now there are many movements which were very well remembered by Madame De Salzmann and Jessmin Howarth in particular. But there are many other people, countless other people, who worked with the movements. So if you're in a group which is using the Gurdjieff movements, you are at least engaging with them but at some point - and I'm not sure exactly when it was - Madame De Salzmann decided that the movements should not be taught as a whole movement. One should only learn part of the movements.

Now there is a certain point to that. I'm not saying this is completely reprehensible and idiotic. There is a certain point to it. First of all, one nonetheless has the benefit of being on the floor for an hour or thereabouts, working in the present moment with those gestures, postures, displacements and that is something. One can have very, very powerful impression from that. I don't deny that. Maybe that is even the most important part of them, although I don't think it is. You could make a case for that and then it would just be a question of your opinion/my opinion and of course Madame De Salzmann's opinion would have far more weight than mine.

But the other reason she had was that people were learning the movements and then teaching them outside of the foundation in a manner she considered inauthentic. Again, that has to be respected, that she didn't want the movements being taught without the whole of the teaching. That is good. That is right. But what happened is that by trying to protect and preserve the movements - incidentally protect was the word that Jim Wyckoff used to use. He always used to say you have to protect the movements. So you weren't even allowed to study the movements.

I'll come back to that because the Adies wanted us to study the movements. You weren't allowed to practice the movements. The Adies insisted on practicing the movements, which is what Gurdjieff did. By trying to protect the movements with that degree of rigour, what they've effectively done is stop the movements fulfilling what I think is their highest purpose, which is the learning and experience of an entire movement from beginning to end with the group that is studying it.

So let's say movement number one. If there is something in movement number one, if it is a book to be experienced with the whole of myself and not just read with a part of the mind, I have to work at the movement as a whole and not just once but maybe many times and then maybe something will start to crystalize within me. Well that's not being done now. If it is being done, that's the exception. They will work in a movement for a little bit, for a while and then leave it.

So I think that the effort to protect the movements has actually resulted in the loss of the movements.

Harrison: When you were talking about the exercises, you mentioned that when you were doing the more passive Work that you found that your memory wasn't as good. I think it's an interesting coincidence or symbol that there is a problem with memory in all of these phenomena in that the exercises are being or have been forgotten and movements are being or have been forgotten. I think one of the points that van Dullemen makes in his book is that a lot of the teachers teaching the movement fragments aren't aware that they're teaching movement fragments...

Joseph: Yes.

Harrison: ...that a lot of the movements probably have been forgotten within the foundation because like you say, they've been so protective that the teachers themselves haven't had the experience to actually memorize them. So they've actually forgotten what they presumably set out to teach in the first place, which I think is just a tragedy. There's a similar phenomenon in the public presentation of the movements. Probably a big reason that anybody in the 1920s ever found out about Gurdjieff was from his public demonstrations of the movements in Paris and New York and he had done public demonstrations before then when they were in, I believe, Georgia and Turkey. That almost completely stopped after Gurdjieff's death which I think is unfortunate.

There does exist an archival production that Madame De Salzmann worked on for years and years which I think is good. I believe she made seven or eight or something films of various movements including many that included the ones made by students that were actually taught by Gurdjieff himself. So there is a record of a lot of these things but they aren't publicly available and a lot of Gurdjieff students themselves don't see them, or if they have seen them, maybe get to watch them very infrequently. It's not something that you can sit down and study, for instance. It's an experience.

Just as a slight aside, I'm getting out some of the things that frustrate me. Maybe you can correct me if I'm wrong about this Joseph, but apparently Gurdjieff's apartment was intended by, if not Gurdjieff then his family, to be a museum but what it has turned into is almost a museum but only for Gurdjieff foundation members. Where I stand on that should be kind of obvious. I don't want to say anything mean, but I think that the secrecy involved oftentimes has gone a bit too far to the extent that, like I mentioned, things are actually being forgotten and Gurdjieff's legacy and the works that he created haven't I don't think, gotten the attention and the exposure that I think they deserve. What are your thoughts on that Joseph?

Joseph: The question about the apartment, I have read that. I'm fairly sure that Luba Gurdjieff says something like that, that they thought the apartment was going to be available as a museum and then they found it was closed. I've heard some rather odd things about the apartment. I don't know. I've never been there and I don't have any firsthand knowledge. I haven't discussed it with anyone that does have firsthand knowledge.

So all I've heard is the sort of thing that you have heard. But then there are very odd anecdotes like someone was there with Madame De Salzmann - I think I can remember who it is but I'm not 100% certain so I won't mention the person's name - but I do remember the anecdote because it struck me as odd. When they were showing the apartment there was a shelf of books there and Madame De Salzmann said, "Ah, they put books in to make it look as if he read books". That struck me as very odd. How would the books have got there if Madame De Salzmann hadn't approved it? Who would have put the books in or allowed them to remain there with her? So what if there were books in the apartment? Not everyone goes there. Very few people go there. It's not as if it sends the wrong message to the world.

It was just a very, very odd thing and yet this is what's reported. I'm told that there have been changes to the apartment. I don't really know. That's not so critical for me. The really critical thing is what we experienced after Mr. Adie's death, that a New Work had effectively displaced the former Work and there was no transparency about it! It was denied. It was gaslighted. "Oh, Mr. Adie didn't understand."

With the movements, Mrs. Adie taught us four movements a year and by the end of that year, you had really worked at those movements. You had the complete movement. You wouldn't necessarily remember it for terribly long. You'd remember parts of it, but you had had the experience of working at the complete movement precisely. If you took the wrong posture or the wrong gesture, Mrs. Adie would correct it. If there was something wrong with the energy, the force which was being brought to the movement, if it was too rough, too coarse, not sensitive enough or maybe if it was too weak, not vigorous enough, Mrs. Adie would correct it.

It was an experience to work over those four movements during the course of a calendar year. If you don't have that experience then I think the most important aspect of the movements is being denied to you and these are Gurdjieff's pupils. If you are not working with the exercises and the ideas the way Gurdjieff brought them, if you are being told not to formulate an aim or you're not being given help in formulating an aim, you're not being given the most critical part of the Gurdjieff legacy.

As you were saying about Bennett, Bennett has the great virtue of being honest and transparent about what he was doing. And when you read the Bennett exercises - and I have the Bennett exercises - he will say, "This comes from here, this comes from there." Or he will say, "This is from Gurdjieff." And if Bennet says it's from Gurdjieff, it's from Gurdjieff.

Elan: So Joseph, in our last conversation, one of the books that you had recommended highly was Kathryn Hume's Undiscovered Country which I have read since then. This is a fascinating personal account of her instruction by Gurdjieff in his latter years and the exercises that he had given her and that she had faithfully followed that he had tailor-made for herself and some of the women of the rope that they were working with. There were a few occasions in the book where she mentions Gurdjieff's suggestion that she do those exercises with - and I'm paraphrasing, maybe you remember the term, I don't - but I think it was humanity-ness or something to that effect which was that Kathryn Hume should do those exercises with the intention of being or keeping humanity in mind and that her personal work would somehow be of benefit to others...

Joseph: Right.

Elan: ...and when I was re-reading your web exercise today you mentioned the desire that all benefit as a result. So I was wondering Joseph if you can speak a little bit to Gurdjieff's suggestion to his students through the exercises that they imbue their work with the intent to think of others, to think of the betterment of people other than themselves and their group that they're working with.

Joseph: Yes. It was definitely a feature of what Gurdjieff brought and it was not only there. There are other exercises as well which I didn't publish which have something similar and there is an ablutions discipline which he recommended be done every day involving the shock of cold water. At one point when cold water is applied to a certain part of the body, one prays, "Lord, have mercy" and has all of humanity in mind.

From what I can see, this is something which Bennett picked up very well and developed very well. I'm not saying other people didn't but I know that Bennett did it and I can say that. Again, I think that Gurdjieff intended his Work to have an impact on life, that is life in general, not only within the Gurdjieff groups. The Gurdjieff groups were not meant to be little silos of illumination, separated from the greater darkness or something like that.

Now I'm not saying that that was anyone's attitude, but this actually making a connection, even in intention, is something Gurdjieff had very much. Madame De Salzmann in the New Work does have something about the energy being received, the higher force coming down because the planet needs it and that's good. Full credit for that.

But I think there's also something more specific in exercises like the web exercise. Sorry, I'm going to take something a little bit out of turn now but it is related. It's the idea of holding the thought for someone else. There are transcripts where Gurdjieff says to people, "You can help these people. You can wish to help them. You can say, 'I wish to Work so that I may be and that you and all humanity will benefit'. And he says if you Work that way with that wish, the wish will be answered. He says the person won't go 10 steps before they find someone who helps them. Mrs. Staveley brought this very well, the idea of wishing for someone. Mr. Adie had it but not as clearly as Mrs. Staveley.

Mr. Adie would give it to you as personal advice, to hold the thought for someone else, that connection with someone else and he would say "What are they connected to? Are they connected to an evolving part of creation or are they connected to someone who is asleep?" He was stressing the influences, that we are influences, even the way we leave a room influences the next person who comes into the room. How I am influences you, how you are influences me. Our influences are entering one another reciprocally. In fact on some occasions Mr. Adie would say a person's life is his influences, those which he receives and those which he imparts.

The web exercise is an extraordinary exercise which I had never known in that form from anyone, not from Mr. Adie, Mrs. Staveley, Jim Wyckoff or anyone. A group, a real group, make a connection on a higher level and they hold that connection and he says that the connection between those people, if they're in a city such as Paris, can form a network and it's a real network and a force and energy can flow along that network and even have the effect of warming the city.

Now it's an extraordinary idea. Maybe the idea is more important than the question of whether it's literally true or not. I can't say that I have any knowledge that this sort of work can have an effect upon the city although certainly I would not reject the idea and I would like to believe that we could work at such a level. But I can say this. I've entered a room eight hours after a group has left it and the influence of that group in that room has been so strong it was as if I could see the people there. I could still sense them. I almost had a hallucination that the people were still in that room, so strong was the influence.

I've had connections with people in the Work so strong that space has not mattered. I won't say time hasn't mattered. Space hasn't mattered. The connection with them is absolutely immediate. And other people tell me that they've had experiences where even time has disappeared.

So there is something very real here. What it is and how far it can go is something for us to discover. But I feel that this element, that what we do has to be able to be a positive influence in the world, is one of the aspects of Gurdjieff's legacy which we should be exploring and developing. Now it needs prudence but we should be having an effect in the world and how do we do that? Well one way is person-to-person. I'm a priest. I meet a lot of people. What sort of influence am I? My being is going to be the chief determinant of that. You have your occupations. You have your lives. You meet people. You're influenced in that way.

You can assemble people, you can have the same assemblage every week and it won't be a group, it won't be an organic unity with an identity of its own. Maybe a real group could do something more. Why not have a hospital or a school or something like that? There are some schools begun by people using Gurdjieff's ideas and by all accounts they have a real value to the communities that they're in. Maybe more could be done along those lines. But I think that something like the web exercise could be used by a group to bond the group, to make the group stronger, to lift its level, never forgetting humanity as a whole.

Harrison: Joseph, could you describe the web exercise briefly or would you like to read it or have me read a section from it so that our listeners can know what we're talking about?

Joseph: I'll speak to the essence of it. With the essence of it, there is a group of people who are meeting regularly for the purposes of self-development and we come to an agreement. We take it as an exercise that when we're not together, we nonetheless hold the thought of one another. We try and sense some connection and visualization is an important part of this. I actually visualize the other members of the group.

Now there are different ways to do it. We can try and choose the same time or we can try and certainly make it a daily thing. But we represent the other members in the group and I have the feeling of myself in relation to you so that I am here, you are there, but I have your faces before me, I have a feeling of myself in relation to you, I sense a connection maybe. I don't invent it, but something starts to appear within me. My feeling starts to change. There's something more real to you now. This connection is no longer purely theoretical. It exists in my feeling which is where it will feel and the longer I remain before it, the more the feeling spreads, the more it changes my actual being state.

And if this effort is sustained by all of us, we become related almost as a living being of a higher form. That's how I would put the essence of it. Then if people wish to know the details it's in the transcripts. They've been published. It's also in the book with commentary.

Harrison: Wow.

Elan: Well getting back to Kathryn Hume for just a moment, it's fascinating to me, that the sincerity with which she pursued and listened to Gurdjieff's exercises and his suggestions to her for self-Work would result in her being someone who would end up assisting displaced persons after WWII in the numbers of hundreds of thousands of people and she took a leadership role. So while there is a lot of modesty around that fact in her book I think, it's right there. It may be that she had this inner goodness in diamond form prior to meeting Gurdjieff and working hard on herself but it just seems hard to deny that she did find a way to channel all of her self-Work into a very practical outside work with others that was amazing to me.

Joseph: And it's not just what's done Elan, it's how it's done. I can be involved in all sorts of philanthropic activities, but the more present I am, the more feeling I have for myself, the more effective my work will be. I can be the head of a charity and be venal, short-sighted, selfish and the charity will suffer. It's how the charity is given. There can be two nurses who do exactly the same thing or two doctors giving exactly the same prescription but the more spiritual the doctor is, the more genuinely compassionate the nurse is, the more effective and the fuller what they deliver is.

So it's partly what we do but it's also my state of being as I do it, my aim in what I do. That's why Gurdjieff's insistence on aim is so important. I'm seeing where I become selfish. It's something to work against if I'm in those positions. And incidentally, Gurdjieff himself fed a lot of people who otherwise would have been very hungry. Not that much is known about it. Not that much is made of it. I've even read suggestions that he protected Jewish people from the Nazis during WWII. His wife, Julia, was Jewish so he had that personal connection there.

But Gurdjieff was very quiet about what he did but it was very effective. There is a reminiscence. I'm not sure whether it's fiction or whether it's a factual reminiscence in a novel but it's about a woman in Paris who said that it was the example of Gurdjieff which gave her the strength to go on. This was WWII. He did a lot of humanitarian work in his own backyard and that's the thing. It is good to organize things. Here at the church we have works. We have charitable organizations. People go out and feed the homeless. That's very good. It's essential and we all encourage people to join in that sort of thing.

But the first thing is to be able to be present myself so that I see the needs around me. I can be so focused on going next door to brush the teeth of the person next door that I don't see the needs in my own house. And those I can understand better, I can do more with. And then when I'm responsible to keep going out, to keep going further. That's how I see it. As I was saying, I am in favour of philanthropy. We dedicate a lot of resources, we put a lot of effort into it. But I'm only comfortable doing it because I'm able to begin here and find something here, an impulse which I think is cleaner and more genuinely compassionate.

Harrison: Well speaking of that impulse, because you brought up the example of a philanthropist who might not have any significant level of being, who is doing it for selfish reasons, who's short-tempered and a jerk who no one necessarily likes but who maybe for his own ego and because of his riches, can donate a lot to whomever in order to be perceived as a great philanthropist. Of course there have been several personalities like that among the rich and famous over history.

But in contrast to that, you have a genuine impulse to philanthropy. It reminds me of the widow's mite, slightly different context...

Joseph: Yes.

Harrison: ...but a similar principle at work, that there is something to the intention and where that comes from. I think that the exercises and even in a broader context, the contemplative life, is a means of letting those impulses be recognized and be experienced. So the exercises kind of facilitate the reception of those impulses so that they can be experienced and then expressed clearly as opposed to being distorted and filtered through all of the things that you've spoken about in the beginning of the show that have been ignored in the New Work, like negative emotions, pride and vanity and self-importance and all of the things that get in the way of not only doing the right thing but having even the impulse to do the right thing, the genuine impulse.

I'm saying all of this to lead to another exercise because in your book you describe it as one of the foundational exercises. This is in the third series in Life Is Real Only Then When I Am. I wanted to talk about the second assisting exercises as it's called in the book because it does seem to be a foundational exercise which at the same time incorporates elements of simpler exercises that might be a better starting point but this presents a bunch of those together in a unified form. I think that's probably why it's so important.

So I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the second assisting exercise, what some of the elements of it are and maybe we could get into either a specific discussion of this exercise and what purpose it serves or a more general one on what might be the goal of performing exercises like this, to let's say, clear the space for the reception of an impulse like that?

Joseph: So with the second assisting exercise which he put in the third series so that it would be preserved accurately, it incorporates all three centers as it were; the body because, for example I sense my right foot. I'm aware that my right foot is in my boot. The boot is on a carpet and I can sense the foot. The arch in the foot, the toes, the difference between the toes, the sides, where the heel presses the ground. There's a very definite, very informative sensation in the right foot which is in itself something and already having some sensation of one's right foot, your state starts to change.

Incidentally, the tempo of one's entire person starts to change and the change of tempo is very important of course. And then I'm still looking at you. I still see you and we're still speaking but my attention is divided now and as I mentioned in the book, that word "divided" is very important. I'm aware of myself, I'm aware of you. And at the same time something is able to speak.

Now because I'm speaking it's a bit harder for me to be aware of the reception of the breath but nonetheless there is something. I know that the lungs are filling. They're moving and something is starting to settle, to light up in the region of the solar plexus which does happen when one consciously receives the breath. There are higher elements in the air and those elements are received at the same time.

So now I have the sensation of the body localized in the foot. I have some quality of feeling localized in the chest and associated with the air because the air is the specific food for the feeling. And then finally there's a very, very fine intellectual substance which localizes somewhere in the head. When I say intellect, it's a high form of intellect. It's not the intellect we use when we work out our change at the supermarket. And there's a certain substance which accumulates in the head as a result of efforts I've made in the past. It's possible even while I'm speaking with you and have some awareness of the right foot and the chest, for this substance to be moved down into the chest where it mingles with the air and the feeling. It mingles, it brings, it digests and this changes my state of being.

My state of being is now better than it had been. That shows in several ways. I have a better sense of the whole of myself within a feeling of myself being here. The connection with us is as strong as it was when I was describing the web exercise and at the same time I'm able to speak without necessarily going out to the formatory apparatus, that lower part of the brain which finds the words. That part of the mechanism works quite well by itself and something appears behind all these parts which maybe represents the whole and is able to be present as a collected whole while engaged in life.

So now I'm living two lives simultaneously. I'm speaking with you and also this other life is going on. And something similar is happening with yourselves. You are listening to me but there's something higher happening with you that passes along the connection which has been established between us. So it's an extraordinary exercise and we used to use it with Mr. Adie from time to time. Interestingly, I can't work this exercise for too long. But if I have worked at it sincerely, it leaves a very definite trace and I can return to that and then a certain variety is needed. If I try and work this exercise every day for a year, it no longer has the same effect because the organism is designed so that it starts to accustom itself to these things if they're repeated beyond a certain number of occasions.

But then there are other exercises which can be used, the four ideals and so on. So some variety is good. But nonetheless the exercise is there. It was published back in the 1970s. I've extracted it and commented on it and I think that if people could work with it I think they would find it brings a real difference to their lives.

Harrison: Thank you. One thing that we didn't discuss in the first part of the show that I want to comment on briefly and get your thoughts on Joseph, is Gurdjieff's writings. One of the articles that you've written is an introduction to the letter that was written by Mrs. Staveley I believe and co-signed by others about the 1992 publication of an alleged new translation of Beelzebub's Tales. You've already alluded to a similar phenomenon that has gone on, has happened to the transcripts of Gurdjieff's talks and the mendacity involved in some instances, like the talks in Chechovitch's book, the translation of it.

So for viewers and listeners who aren't familiar with the story, maybe you could give some background on Beelzebub's Tales and then the appearance of this new translation in 1992, I believe it was or was it 1993? Maybe tell us the story about that and then what it all means.

Joseph: Well as I set out in the book, from the very beginning Gurdjieff was writing. Even when Ouspenski first met Gurdjieff in 1915, a very, very lengthy article, Glimpses of Truth had been written at Gurdjieff's direction by some of Gurdjieff's pupils and it was meant to let people know about Gurdjieff's system and to encourage them to work with him and to work on themselves. I am quite sure, for the reasons given in the book and which were confirmed by Gurdjieff - Gurdjieff mentioned this to Bennett - the agreement was that Ouspenski would write a book which would explain the system to people. That book was In Search of the Miraculous.

The whole story of the reason that In Search of the Miraculous was not published in the 1920s or 1930s as it was to have been has not yet been written. It may never be known. But the point is Gurdjieff wanted a book to be written. That's the point. And he got other people to work on it, first of all the unknown authors of Glimpses of the Truth then Ouspenski and then after the separation from Ouspenski he decided - again the motor vehicle accident was an important part of this - he decided that he would write his own book.

So he wrote a book called Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson. Now he projected three series of books of which Beelzebub's was only the first series. The first series was to be critical to critique our ideas of ourselves and our world. The second series, which was Meetings With Remarkable Men, was to prepare the ground for the third series which would set out the truths which he had learned during his life.

So the first series was critical, the second series was broadly to prepare the feeling of a new world, to prepare one and encourage one to then study the third series and to put those truths into operation in one's life. I've oversimplified it a bit but maybe it's a fair simplification. Incidentally, he may even have begun writing some of the stories which ended up in the second series Meetings With Remarkable Men, before the accident, before Beelzebub. Gurdjieff actually paid more attention to writing than has generally been thought.

Now he worked on Beelzebub with Alfred Orage who was then considered the leading critic in English literary circles. There's no doubt except that Orage was really something of a genius with the language. Gurdjieff called him super idiot which in Gurdjieff's terminology was quite some compliment. He worked with Orage but not only with Orage, also with people like Jane Heap and Jane Turner on this book Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, the second series and also the third series. Orage did definitely work on the second series. I think he worked on the third series as well but Gurdjieff may have lost the original manuscript of it.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short, a version of Beelzebub was prepared and published in very limited numbers for the American group which was Orage's group, in 1931. Gurdjieff did not consider that the final version although he permitted its publication and sale. He continued to work, particularly on Beelzebub's Tales. I'm not sure and I don't know anyone is sure, when the final, complete version of Beelzebub was drawn up. It might be known but certainly I think by about 1939 Beelzebub was in its final form. But he still didn't publish. He arranged for it to be published only in 1949. There were certain questions around the publication. I won't go into those.

But as Mrs. Staveley said, he allowed himself to die when he had corrected the galley proofs of the book and sent the book out. He had spent a lot of time with that final version, reading it, having it read in front of people, observing them, making changes, revising it. He put a lot of work into it and he sent it to the press.

There were certainly typographical errors in the press and he told at least two people that something in the book would have to be sorted out later on. C.S. Nott records Gurdjieff saying, "It's a rough diamond but that will have to be fixed up later on." Someone who knew Madame De Salzmann says that she said to him that Gurdjieff asked her to revise Beelzebub. Okay, I accept that those comments were probably made. The question is, which revisions, what revisions, how far?

So this book on which he had placed a lot of his hopes and with which he had worked with intensively during the last years of his life, having multiple readings of it, he even apparently wanted it to be given out to people for free if necessary. He certainly wanted the price of it to be affordable. He wanted people to be able to take it with them. It was important to him. That book appeared in 1950 and then in 1992 a new revision of the book appeared. Now the English version appeared before the German or the French and when they appeared they were shorter than the English version. In fact the French version was significantly shorter than the English version.

The 1950 edition had gone out of print and then the 1992 edition appeared. There is a bit more history but I'll leave it out for the sake of being understandable. When the 1992 edition appeared, a number of people were horrified. Chief among them and most effective of all, was Mrs. Staveley. {poor audio} ...and some more comments that were interesting. Mrs. Staveley, a little old woman in Oregon, her hair pulled back in a bun, very frail, only her group around her in Oregon and she took on Madame De Salzmann and the international foundation with all its resources, all its many thousands of members and Mrs. Staveley won. {laughter}

And the reason was because she was correct. If Madame De Salzmann had simply corrected the typographical errors - and as I suggest, maybe added some notes on the meaning of some of the Russian words - that would have been fine because there are some issues about what some of the words in Russian mean and how they can be misinterpreted. But don't change the book because the book was written in Russian and Armenian and then translated by those Gurdjieff had trained in accordance with their capacities and the language into which it was to go. And that is the translation which Gurdjieff approved.

It's been said by defenders of Madame De Salzmann - and I'm not criticizing Madame De Salzmann herself. I believe she sincerely had an error of judgment here. It's been said by the defenders that Madame was asked to revise it. I don't believe she was asked to re-write it. I'm sorry. Revise does not necessarily mean to re-write it the way that it was. Gurdjieff had approved it. It was an objective work of art. No one could produce an objective work of art except Gurdjieff. Mrs. Staveley said to me, "How could anybody know better than Gurdjieff what Gurdjieff intended to go out? It's ridiculous!"

And Mrs. Staveley was right. It was ridiculous and people have understood instinctively even, that it is ridiculous. That's why Mrs. Staveley won because much as I respect and even like some of the people who were engaged in the new translation, it was not the right thing to do. The new translation was not prepared by translators by Gurdjieff himself. He did not approve that text. It was not theirs to change. It was Gurdjieff's and none of them had his being. Madame De Salzmann was clearly an astounding woman. Many people whom I respect were tremendously impressed by her, while I never met her myself. But she was not Gurdjieff.

Anyhow, because of Mrs. Staveley's stand, two translations are now available. I don't even think the 1992 translation is readily available. I think that has disappeared. The alternative translation now is one that was made by the Foundation going back to the Russian version. A lady called Lily Galumnian worked very closely with Gurdjieff on the Russian and she by all accounts was an extraordinary woman and she bore a son to Gurdjieff, Sergei Chaverdian, her son was Gurdjieff's natural son. She went back to Armenia after Gurdjieff closed the priory. I don't know what happened to her after that. But her Russian edition, Gurdjieff's Russian edition with her help, was the basis of the new translation.

So that's my take on it. I read the 1992 translation once. I had a very funny feeling about it. It struck me as being somehow mixed, maybe even a little bit dirty. I don't like to say that but I think that the version Gurdjieff produced has to be understood as a work of objective art, almost as sacred scripture. It was what he approved. So much as I respect any even like some of the people from the Foundation who defend what Madame De Salzmann did, I don't think it's really a question of 'did Gurdjieff have good enough English?', did it accord closely enough with the French, there were typos, that type of thing. What did Gurdjieff intend?

The point is, that was the only edition which Gurdjieff approved in English. No one had his being. No one had his understanding. Although English wasn't his first language he approved it. He believed he understood English well enough to approve it. I can't see anything after that.

Corey: And as you write on your website, I think you said 100 pages were removed from Beelzebub's Tales in the 1992 version and in many passages the entire meaning of sentences and phrases was sometimes flipped and many edits were made in order to make it more readable to the general audience but as you stated, one of the main purposes that Gurdjieff had in recording that in his abstruse style as it was, was to force you to think and to reflect critically upon the strange associations that would bubble up to the surface as you're reading his very alchemical and strange writing style. So as you said, it was an objective work of art and you can't go in and completely change the meaning and gut the book. It was a very fascinating story about Mrs. Staveley standing up for the intentions and the orthodoxy I guess, in the face of that kind of a radical reinterpretation and, as we've been discussing all along, a radical...

Harrison: Distortion.

Corey: ...distortion of the intention, of Gurdjieff's heart and soul that has gone into this work that has fed so many people, literally in his lifetime and also spiritually, intellectually, morally, so many people who gained so much who I guess, especially during the 1990s were just left confused, utterly confused at this radical new reinterpretation and distortion of this message. Just reading your work and the articles, I definitely recommend that everybody check those out because it's no small task to go back and write the history and to set the record straight, to have this mission to restore some of the integrity that has been lost to such a great man and a great tradition. It could be a great tradition.

The exercises that you have can impact people in a way that nothing else could really compare to, especially in a time like today when we need these kinds of impulses towards goodness in humanity, towards goodness towards one another, more than ever.

Joseph: I agree. Thanks.

Harrison: I think one of the core points in what you were just saying Corey about Gurdjieff's legacy and what Joseph is doing with some of these posts that he has put up, and his writing in general, is to simply tell the truth. I suppose that isn't an impulse that everyone has or a value that everyone has, the value for truth, but there are issues, there are areas of gray. Where does mythology fall? Where does scripture fall? Where does a parable fall? In a strict comparison between truth and lies, then a fictional story is a lie because it didn't happen but there's obviously truth to it. Even in Gurdjieff's writing in Meetings With Remarkable Men, how much of that happened literally as he said it did and how much of it was a parable and how much of it was just a joke? A little wink and nod? Even in Beelzebub's Tales?

You can't know that to any degree of certainty. But beneath all that, there is a commitment to a truth even below that level of literal truth or falsehood and I think that conviction in the truth seems to have been missing in a lot of these decisions, whether it was at some level in the chain of bureaucracy within the Gurdjieff Foundation - who knows? - but there is an almost disdain for the truth, at least it seems to be that way when looking in from the outside.

They called the new version of Beelzebub a revised translation, a new translation but I believe it might have been Robin Bloor, but I read an analysis of the 1992 edition, a pretty in-depth one that showed that the base text for the new translation wasn't the Russian original as it says in the notes in the beginning of the book. It was actually the English version that Orage had composed with Gurdjieff. So it wasn't a fresh translation. It was an edit of the original version that had been written and approved by Gurdjieff with Orage and others.

Then like you mentioned, the Chechovitch translations. Another one is the transcripts. Just as another example of this, on top of the movements too and the presentation of certain movements and exercises as being from Gurdjieff or complete when they aren't. So again a total misdirection from what the truth is, is the publication which I adore of the 1943 meetings, a big thick book of a whole bunch of stuff that has never been published before, but in the preface to that it says that there are other versions going around of these talks that have been edited and truncated, but here they are, here are the real ones. And when you compare the two of them, it's the official version that has now been published that is truncated, where entire sections are missing from them as presented and like you said, it seems to indicate an embarrassment of what Gurdjieff actually wrote because from a certain perspective some of these passages might be controversial.

One was about how a man should interact with his wife. Some of the statements that Gurdjieff makes are slightly controversial in our day and age but if you look at what he was actually saying, there's a lot of good-hearted I'd say, and well-intentioned, actually good advice in there and truth in there. But even if he was wrong, you don't have to cover up for Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff put himself out there in such a way as to get a lot of criticism and negative attention but he brought that on himself and he did it intentionally and I think that the best approach is to just be honest about what you're doing and be honest about the past and to present that, from one perspective, as a historian should. "To the best of our knowledge, here's what actually happened."

So that's why I'm really thankful for your work in particular, among others Joseph, to actually attempt to give as much of that true story as possible. "This is what happened and this is what person A says, this is what person B says and this is what seems to have actually been the case." So I just want to thank you for doing that and ask if you have any comments on the last few things we've had to say here.

Joseph: I think that the Gurdjieff system, the methods and the ideas, have a much greater effect when used in their integrity as a whole. I am not saying that people don't receive anything when they go to one of those groups which use more of the New Work, but I don't believe that they are, first of all, receiving something which is authentically Gurdjieff, full stop. There is continuity there but it has been mixed with something extraneous and things which are authentically Gurdjieff are excluded because they would be inconsistent with what's being done.

In particular, the exercises which I think at the end of his life Gurdjieff felt were absolutely critical - in the book I explain why I believe he felt he had to introduce the exercises and once he did he produced many of them - these have to be used in their integrity to have the results. They are the sort of glue that holds all the different elements together. Without the exercises I can have wonderful experiences in movements, I can have good experiences doing this or doing that, but the permanent change of being, a stabilization on a higher level I think needs the exercises. That's my personal view. I could be wrong, but that's my opinion and that's why I think that highlighting what Gurdjieff did with his exercises and showing how it ties in with the mystical tradition of humanity has been important. But the thing is to use them in their integrity.

It doesn't mean you can't read things from other traditions. Bennett showed the way! Bennett even to the end of his life when he was using Gurdjieff's method and went to meet the Shivapuri Baba, he was working with Sufis and dervishes from Turkey. One actually acquires more confidence and more openness to these other traditions because one has a place in one's self which is stable. So I think it's important for people who wish to use Gurdjieff's methods, to use them in their authentic and integral whole.

Harrison: Well I think that's a good point to end the show on. So thank you again Joseph for joining us. It's been a blast.

Joseph: Thank you very much.

Harrison: It's been a blast hearing from you.

Joseph: Thanks Corey, thanks Elan, thanks Harrison.

Elan and Corey: Thank you.