George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was an influential spiritual teacher of the early to mid-20th century who taught that most humans do not possess a unified mind-body consciousness and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic "waking sleep", but that it is possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. Gurdjieff described a method attempting to do so, calling the discipline "The Work" (connoting "work on oneself") or "the Method". According to his principles and instructions, Gurdjieff's method for awakening one's consciousness unites the methods of the fakir, monk or yogi, and thus referred to it as the "Fourth Way". At one point, he described his teaching as being "esoteric Christianity".
At different times in his life, Gurdjieff formed and closed various schools around the world to teach The Work. He claimed that the teachings he brought to the West from his own experiences and early travels expressed the truth found in ancient religions and wisdom teachings relating to self-awareness in people's daily lives and humanity's place in the universe. The title of his third series of writings, Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Am', expresses the essence of his teachings. His complete series of books is entitled All and Everything.
Gurdjieff was a True Spiritual Master and Mystic of the 20th century, an extraordinary man whose teachings deal with the most important existential questions about the meaning and purpose of human life. He lived during a period of political and social unrest and could realize that most of humanity had long stopped functioning in a harmonious way due to difficult social conditions.
After many years of personal search and spiritual practice, Gurdjieff managed to enter the essence of ancient traditions, and find the lost answers that preexisted all known religions and systems of faith. He presented them in such a way as to make them understandable and more easily accessible to the modern man of the West.
Gurdjieff's spiritual method of self-awareness was called by his student P.D. Ouspensky "The Fourth Way," because in it, Gurdjieff incorporated the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of self-development, instead of separately working on each one of them. In order to achieve this, he not only used lecturing and writing, which appeal to the mind, but also music to wake up emotions, along with dance and movement to stimulate the body. But Gurdjieff was not a theorist. As Dr Kenneth Walker said "Gurdjieff was a living example of the outcome of his own teaching, which he summed up in the words 'the harmonious development of man.'"
His students and followers thought of Gurdjieff as an enlightened man, and when, in his lectures, he referred to Jesus, his students could only think of Gurdjieff, himself as a messenger from God, too. For his students, Gurdjieff was their Jesus, and they felt they were his apostles, who had to spread his teachings all over the world.
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