Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:56 am

The Chinese Revolution of 1911
by Office of the Historian
Department of State
Accessed: 11/5/19



In October of 1911, a group of revolutionaries in southern China led a successful revolt against the Qing Dynasty, establishing in its place the Republic of China and ending the imperial system.

Photograph of Revolutionaries in Shanghai

In the Nineteenth Century, the Qing Empire faced a number of challenges to its rule, including a number of foreign incursions into Chinese territory. The two Opium Wars against Western powers led by Great Britain resulted in the loss of Hong Kong, forced opening of “treaty ports” for international trade, and large foreign “concessions” in major cities privileged with extraterritorial rule. After its loss in the Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), Imperial China was forced to relinquish control over still more of its territory, losing Taiwan and parts of Manchuria and ending its suzerainty over Korea. The Russo-Japanese War (1904–05) firmly established Japanese claims to the Northeast and further weakened Qing rule. The combination of increasing imperialist demands (from both Japan and the West), frustration with the foreign Manchu Government embodied by the Qing court, and the desire to see a unified China less parochial in outlook fed a growing nationalism that spurred on revolutionary ideas.

As Qing rule fell into decline, it made a few last-ditch efforts at constitutional reform. In 1905, the court abolished the examination system, which had limited political power to elites who passed elaborate exams on Chinese classics. Faced with increasing foreign challenges, it worked to modernize its military. With its central power weakening, the court also attempted a limited decentralization of power, creating elected assemblies and increasing provincial self-government.

Qing Soldiers

Although the Qing court maintained a degree of control within China in these years, millions of Chinese living overseas, especially in Southeast Asia and the Americas, began pressing for either widespread reform or outright revolution. Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao emerged as leaders of those proposing the creation of a constitutional monarchy. Sun Yat-sen led the amalgam of groups that together formed the Revolutionary Alliance or Tongmenghui. The Revolutionary Alliance advocated replacing Qing rule with a republican government; Sun himself was a nationalist with some socialist tendencies.

Both the revolutionary leaders and the overseas Chinese bankrolling their efforts had their roots in southern China. The Revolutionary Alliance attempted seven or more different revolts against the Qing in the years leading up to the revolution
, most of which originated in south China and all of which were ultimately stopped by the Qing army.

Finally, in the autumn of 1911, the right set of conditions turned an uprising in Wuchang into a nationalist revolt. As its losses mounted, the Qing court responded positively to a set of demands intended to transform authoritarian imperial rule into a Constitutional monarchy. They named Yuan Shikai the new premier of China, but before he was able to retake the captured areas from the revolutionaries, the provinces started to declare their allegiance to the Revolutionary Alliance. Dr. Sun was in the United States on a fundraising tour at the time of the initial revolt; he hastened first to London and Paris to ensure that neither country would give financial or military support to the Qing government in its struggle. By the time he returned to China, the revolutionaries had taken Nanjing, a former capital under the Ming Dynasty, and representatives from the provinces began to arrive for the first national assembly. Together, they elected Dr. Sun the provisional president of the newly declared Republic of China.

Sun Yat-Sen

Sun Yat-sen telegrammed Yuan Shikai to promise that, should Yuan agree to the formation of a republic, the position of president would be his. With the military position of the Qing weakening and provisions made for the maintenance of the royal family at court, the emperor and the royal family abdicated the throne in February of 1912.

The 1911 revolution was only the first steps in a process that would require the 1949 revolution to complete. Though the new government created the Republic of China and established the seat of government in Nanjing, it failed to unify the country under its control. The Qing withdrawal led to a power vacuum in certain regions, resulting in the rise of warlords. These warlords often controlled their territories without acknowledging the nationalist government. Additionally, the reforms set in place by the new government were not nearly as sweeping as the revolutionary rhetoric had intended; unifying the country took precedent over fundamental changes.

International reaction to the revolution was guarded. Foreign nations with investments in China remained neutral throughout the upheaval, though they were anxious to protect the treaty rights they gained from the Qing through the first and second opium wars. Still, the United States was largely supportive of the republican project, and in 1913, the United States was among the first countries to establish full diplomatic relations with the new Republic. Britain, Japan, and Russia soon followed.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:49 am

Esper Ukhtomsky
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/5/19



In establishing the OKR+C, which came to be regarded as the “inner circle” of the Martinist Order, Papus dreamed of uniting occultists into a revived Rosicrucian brotherhood, as an international occult order, in which he hoped the Russian Empire would play a leading role as the bridge between East and West.[10] Papus believed that the vast Russian Empire was the only power capable of thwarting the conspiracy of the “Shadow Brothers,” and to prepare for the coming war with Germany. Papus served Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra both as physician and occult consultant. Through Papus the Imperial family became acquainted with his friend and spiritual mentor, the mystic Maître Philippe who exercised an important influence on the royal family before Rasputin. He was believed to possess remarkable healing powers, as well as the ability to control lightning, to travel invisibly. The purported forgers of the Protocols of Zion were also said to have made use of an earlier version of the work discovered by Papus.[11]

Among these circles, the city of St. Petersburg became a hotbed of plots surrounding the Great Game, of confused British and Russian interests. As reported by Richard B. Spence in Secret Agent 666, in the summer of 1897, Aleister Crowley had also travelled to St Petersburg in Russia, under the employ of the British secret service, aiming to gain an appointment to the court of Tsar Nichoals II.

A key actor in these intrigues was the Lama Agvan Dorjieff (or Dorzhiev), chief tutor of the Dalai Lama XIII, who became his ambassador to the court of the Tsar Nicholas II. In 1898, only a few months after Crowley’s visit, Dorjieff himself travelled to St. Petersburg to meet the Tsar.

Dorjieff’s meeting with Nicholas II was arranged by the Tsar’s close confidant, Prince Esper Ukhtomskii (1861 – 1921). A Theosophist, Ukhtomskii’s closest ally was Count Sergei Witte, Russia’s Minister of Finance and first cousin to Blavatsky. When Ukhtomskii accompanied Nicholas II while he was on his Grand tour to the East, he made contact with Blavatsky and Olcott at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, India, and promised to use his influence to push forward their projects.[12] Hinting at the nature of the Russian ambitions he represented, Ukhtomskii wrote, “in our organic connection with all these lands lies the pledge of our future, in which Asiatic Russia will mean simply all Asia.”[13] As he explained,

The bonds that unite our part of Europe with Iran and Turan [Central Asia], and through them with India and the Celestial Empire [China], are so ancient and lasting that, as yet, we ourselves, as a nation and a state, do not fully comprehend their full meaning and the duties they entail on us, both in our home and foreign policy.[14]

-- Occult Secrets of the Dalai Lama, by David Livingstone

Esper Esperovich Ukhtomsky
Born 26 August 1861, Oranienbaum, Russian Empire
Died 26 November 1921, Detskoye Selo, Russia
Nationality: Russian
Occupation: Diplomat, Courtier, Poet
Spouse(s): Maria Vasilievna Vasilyeva
Children: Dy Esperovich Ukhtomsky
Parent(s): Esper Alekseevich Ukhtomsky; Yevgeniya Alekseevna Greig

Prince Esper Esperovich Ukhtomsky, Эспер Эсперович Ухтомский (26 August [O.S. 14 August] 1861 – 26 November 1921) was a poet, publisher and Oriental enthusiast in late Tsarist Russia. He was a close confidant of Tsar Nicholas II and accompanied him whilst he was Tsesarevich on his Grand tour to the East.


Ukhtomsky was born in 1861 near the Imperial summer retreat at Oranienbaum. His family traced their lineage to the Rurik Dynasty, and had been moderately prominent boyars in the Muscovite period. His father, Esper Alekseevich Ukhtomsky had been an officer in the Imperial Russian Navy during the Crimean War, and had been present at the siege of Sevastopol. He went on to establish a commercial steamship company with routes from Saint Petersburg to India and China. He died when the young Esper was seven. His mother, Yevgeniya (Dzhenni) Alekseevna Greig, was descended from the Greigs, a long line of admirals of Scottish origin, notably Samuel and Alexey Greig. One of Esper's relations, Pavel Petrovich Ukhtomsky, served as a vice-admiral of the Pacific Squadron in the Russo-Japanese War.

Early life

Esper was privately educated by tutors during his early years, and travelled to Europe on numerous occasions with his parents. He received his secondary education at a Gymnasium and went on to read philosophy and literature at the University of Saint Petersburg. He graduated in 1884, winning a silver medal for his master's thesis 'A Historical and Critical Survey of the Study of Free Will.' It was during this period that he began to dabble in poetry, which was published in a number of Russian periodicals.

He got a job in the Interior Ministry's Department of Foreign Creeds, and travelled to Eastern Siberia to report on the Buryats. He then went on to travel as far as Mongolia and China, reporting on frictions between Russian Orthodoxy and Buddhism. He also took note of the effects of Alexander III's policies of Russification. He would later write reports criticising the overzealousness of the local Orthodox clergy in attempting to win converts, and expressed tolerant views regarding Russia's non-Orthodox faiths.

Ukhtomsky was also passionate about Oriental culture and arts. He was the standalone figure in Russian establishment to proclaim himself Buddhist.[1] During his journeys he amassed a large collection of Chinese and Tibetan art, that eventually numbered over 2,000 pieces. They were displayed in the Alexander III Museum in Moscow (now the State Historical Museum), and were also exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, earning Ukhtomsky a gold medal.

Rising fame and the Grand Tour

Ukhtomsky's book, detailing his journey to the east with Nicholas

Ukhtomsky's activities attracted the attention of the Oriental establishment active in Saint Petersburg, and he was elected to the Imperial Geographical Society and began to advise the Foreign Ministry on East Asian matters. His expertise in Eastern matters and his high social standing led to him being selected to accompany the Tsesarevich Nicholas on his Grand tour to the East. Nicholas took a liking to Esper Ukhtomsky, writing to his sister that "the little such a jolly fellow".[2] After returning to Russia in 1891, Ukhtomsky was appointed to the role of court chamberlain, and served on the Siberian Railway Committee. He also began work on his account of the grand tour, entitled Travels in the East of Nicholas II.

The book was written in close consultation with Nicholas II, who personally approved each chapter. It took six years to complete, and was published in three volumes between 1893 and 1897 by Brockhaus, in Leipzig. Despite being expensive at 35 roubles, it still ran to four editions. Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna bought several thousand copies for various government ministries and departments, and a cheaper edition was subsequently printed. The work was translated into English, French, German and Chinese, with a copy being presented to the Chinese Emperor and Empress in 1899 by the Russian envoy.[3]

Ukhtomsky became a close confidante and adviser to the Tsar on matters of Eastern policy and was made editor of the Saint Petersburg Gazette in 1895. He used the paper to promote and emphasise the importance of Russian expansionism in the East as a basis of Russian foreign policy, an approach which sometimes drew fire from right-wing colleagues, and those advocating Westernisation. He continued to converse with Nicholas and used his position to advocate Russian intervention in East Asia, but by 1900 Ukhtomsky's influence was waning.

China and the Trans-Siberian Railway

As chairman of the Russo-Chinese Bank, Ukhtomsky was involved in negotiations with the Chinese regarding the route of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and escorted Chinese statesman Li Hongzhang for negotiations in St Petersburg in 1896.[4] The Russians were keen to secure a route through Manchuria. Ukhtomsky travelled to the Chinese court in 1897 and presented gifts to the emperor, as well as large bribes to officials; he later became the chairman of the Chinese Eastern Railway.[4]

When the Boxer Rebellion broke out in 1900, Ukhtomsky was dispatched to Peking to offer Russian support against the Western powers who might seek to take advantage of the situation and push into China. By the time he arrived in Shanghai, he was too late. The Western powers had lifted the Siege of Peking a month earlier and had occupied the city. Despite offering to represent the Chinese to the occupying armies he was recalled to Saint Petersburg.

Decline and legacy

Following the dismissal of his patron, Sergei Witte from the government, from 1903 Ukhtomsky found himself increasingly isolated. He continued to editorialise about the East for a few more years, taking an especially assertive viewpoint that the Russia should continue the war against Japan until it achieved complete victory.[4] Although he remained active within Saint Petersburg's orientalist community, he mainly concerned himself with editing his paper, which he did until the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917.

He would remain an important social figure far beyond Eastern affairs and his editor's duties, becoming a household name in the house of Leo Tolstoy, and through him establishing ties with Doukhobor leader Peter Vasilevich Verigin. He would publish the works of his University teacher Vladimir Solovyov [Solovev], and after the latter's death, became one of key figures of Solovyov [Solovev] Society that would among other issues discuss the necessity of equal rights for repressed Doukhobors and Molokans, Jewish and Armenian people.

Examining Soloviev's writings, [20] one realizes that he could not, however, be considered a blind Judophile. In the first place, he shared the belief of many anti-Semites that the mission of the Jews had been to prepare the way for Christianity and that once Christ appeared, their refusal to follow Him was a betrayal of this mission. [21] Soloviev further agreed that in contrast to their ancestors, the majority of Jews during the time of Christ had failed to subject nationalistic and materialistic concerns to religious principles. As a result, they had not been able to understand the necessity of accepting the cross of Christ; i.e., the rejection of exclusive nationalism and of a disproportionate concern with material welfare. In addition, Soloviev felt that the Jews had failed to appreciate that salvation had to come, not only from the appearance of a Messiah, but also by the personal transformation of each individual. Concerning specific charges against the Jews of his day, especially in Russia, Soloviev did not reject them all. He admitted, for example, that a number of Jews might be guilty of exploiting the peasants. [22]

What distinguished Soloviev's attitude was that he did not dwell on the negative aspects of the Jews, but tried to see the positive side also....

In fact, in his "The Jews and the Christian Question," he expresses the idea that universal theocracy is the aim of both Christians and Jews and that it is only in a theocratic context that the "Jewish problem" could be solved....

Soloviev seemed to feel that it was God's will that man spiritualize matter, that he transform and prepare the whole world, man and nature, so that God would be willing to cooperate with man in inaugurating the millennium and the resurrection of the faithful foretold in the Apocalypse (20:4-5). The establishment of a universal, free theocracy was to be a means toward this end. The theocracy would contain three elements: 1) the priestly, 2) the kingly, and 3) the prophetic. [26] The first would be supplied by an ecumenical church reunited under the Catholic pope -- the Orthodox Russians had to be the first to reunite with their Catholic brethren. The second element would be furnished chiefly by the Russian Tsar, who would voluntarily exercise his authority in accordance with the principles of the spiritual power. The third element would be supplied by those moved by the Holy Spirit. It would be the task of the prophets to work in harmony with the other two powers and to point the way towards man's final goal.

And where in this picture would the Jews fit? Once the Christians were reunited and had begun to put their Christianity into practice, Soloviev felt that the best Jews would enter the Christian theocracy....

Soloviev thought that upon entering the theocracy the Jews would have a most valuable contribution to make toward the economic reconstruction of society.... Soloviev hoped that, along with the Polish landowning class, an unhampered Jewish business class could provide the social and economic leadership needed to prevent the further ruination of the Russian land and economy....

Soloviev's position on the Jews remained fairly consistent from the early 1880s until his death. [31] He always differed from men like Aksakov and Istomin in the means by which he wished to lead the Jews to Christianity. He was thoroughly convinced that this would occur only after Christians began acting like Christians. This was why he stated that the Jewish problem was primarily a Christian problem. [32]

-- Vladimir Soloviev and the Jews in Russia, by Walter G. Moss

He survived the revolution, and having lost his son in the First World War had to support himself and his three grandchildren by working in a number of Saint Petersburg's museums and libraries, as well as by odd translation jobs before dying in 1921.

His collection of art was taken from him by the Bolsheviks in 1917 and now forms a significant part of the East Asian holdings at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, as well as some other museums.

Ukhtomsky is primarily remembered for his account of Nicholas's Grand Tour and for his role in promoting Eastern affairs in Russian society in the later years of the Russian empire.


Ukhtomsky married Maria Vasilievna Vasilyeva, the daughter of a peasant. They had one son, Dy Esperovich Ukhtomsky (1886 - 1918), who became a Fellow of the Russian Museum in 1908. Dy Ukhtomsky married Princess Natalia Dimitrieva Tserteleva (1892 - 1942), daughter of philosopher and poet Prince Dimitri Nikolaevich Tsertelev (30 June 1852 - 15 August 1911) and had three children: Dmitri, Alexei (1913 - 1954), and Marianne (1917 - 1924). Dmitri (1912 - 1993) served as a foreign intelligence officer in Iran during World War II and later became a noted photographer and photojournalist.


1. Johnson, K. Paul. Initiates of theosophical masters.(SUNY series in Western esoteric traditions/Suny Series in Political Party Development). SUNY Press, 1995. ISBN 0-7914-2555-X, 978-0-7914-2555-8 page 125
2. Nicholas Aleksandrovich to Grand Duchess Ksenia, letter, Nov. 4, 1890, GARF, f. 662, o. 1, d. 186, l. 41.
3. Schimmelpinninck, p. 49
4. Kowner, Rotem (2006). Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War. The Scarecrow Press. p. 403. ISBN 0-8108-4927-5.
• Prince E. Ukhtomskii, Travels in the East of Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia When Cesarewitch 1890–1891, 2 vols., (London, 1896), II.
• E. Sarkisyanz, Russian Attitudes towards Asia in 'Russian Review', Vol. 13., No. 4 (Oct., 1954), pp. 245–254.
• D. Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Toward the Rising Sun: Russian Ideologies of Empire and the Path to War with Japan, (Illinois, 2001)
• Khamaganova E.A. Princes Esper and Dii Ukhtomsky and Their Contribution to the Study of Buddhist Culture (Tibet, Mongolia and Russia) // Tibet, Past and Present. Tibetan Studies. PIATS. 2000: Proceedings of the Ninth Seminar of the International Tibetan Studies. Leiden, 2000. Brill, Leiden-Boston-Koln, 2002, pp. 307-326.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:43 am

Sergei Witte
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/5/19



Sergei Yulyevich Witte
Серге́й Ю́льевич Ви́тте
Sergei Witte, early 1880s
Prime Minister of Russia
In office: 6 November 1905 – 5 May 1906
Monarch: Nicholas II
Preceded by New Post: (Himself as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers)
Succeeded by: Ivan Goremykin
Chairman of the Committee of Ministers
In office: 1903–1905
Monarch: Nicholas II
Preceded by: Ivan Nikolayevich Durnovo
Succeeded by: Post abolished (Himself as Prime Minister)
13th Finance Minister of Imperial Russia
In office: 30 August 1892 – 16 August 1903
Preceded by: Ivan Vyshnegradsky
Succeeded by: Eduard Pleske
14th Transport Minister of Imperial Russia
In office: February 1892 – August 1892
Preceded by: Adolf Gibbenet
Succeeded by: Apollon Krivoshein
Personal details
Born: Sergei Yulyevich Witte, 29 June 1849, Tiflis, Caucasus Viceroyalty, Russian Empire (now Tbilisi, Georgia)
Died: 13 March 1915 (aged 65), Petrograd, Russian Empire
Cause of death: Brain tumor
Resting place: Alexander Nevsky Monastery, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Nationality: Russian
Alma mater: Novorossiysk University

Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte (Russian: Серге́й Ю́льевич Ви́тте, romanized: Sergéj Júl'jevič Vitte, pronounced [ˈvʲitɨ];[1] 29 June [O.S. 17 June] 1849 – 13 March [O.S. 28 February] 1915), also known as Sergius Witte, was a highly influential econometrician, minister, and prime minister in Imperial Russia, one of the key figures in the political arena at the end of 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century.[2]

Witte was neither a liberal nor a conservative. He attracted foreign capital to boost Russia's industrialization. Witte served under the last two emperors of Russia, Alexander III and Nicholas II.[3] During the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) he had risen to a position in which he controlled all the traffic passing to the front along the lines of the Odessa Railways. As Minister of Finance Witte presided over extensive industrialization and the management of various railroad lines. He framed the October Manifesto of 1905, and the accompanying government communication, but was not convinced it would solve Russia's problem with the Tsarist autocracy.

On 20 October 1905 he became the first Chairman of the Russian Council of Ministers (Prime Minister). Assisted by his Council he designed Russia's first constitution. Within a few months, he fell into disgrace within court circles as a reformer. He resigned before the First Duma assembled. Witte was fully confident that he had resolved the main problem—providing political stability to the regime,[2] but according to him the "peasant problem" would further determine the character of the Duma's activity.[4]

He has been described as the 'great reforming finance minister of the 1890s',[5] 'one of Nicholas's most enlightened ministers',[6] and the architect of Russia's new parliamentary order in 1905.[7]

Family and early life

Witte's father Julius Chistoph Heinrich Georg Witte was from a Lutheran Baltic German family of Dutch origin[8] and converted to Russian Orthodoxy upon marriage with Yekaterina Fadeyeva. He became a member of the knighthood in Pskov, but moved to Saratov and Tiflis as a civil servant. Sergei was raised on the estate of his mother's parents.[2] His grandfather was Andrei Mikhailovich Fadeyev, a Governor of Saratov and Privy Councillor of the Caucasus, his grandmother was Princess Helene Dolgoruki. Sergei had two brothers (Alexander and Boris) and two sisters (Olga and Sophia),[9][10] and the mystic Helena Blavatsky was their first cousin. He entered a Tiflis gymnasium, but he took more interest in music, fencing and riding than in studying. Sergei finished Gymnasium I in Kishinev[11] and commenced studying Physico-Mathematical Sciences at the Novorossiysk University in Odessa in 1866 graduating top of his class in 1870.[12]

Witte had initially planned to pursue a career in academia with the aim of becoming a professor in Theoretical Mathematics. His relatives took a dim view of this career path as it was considered unsuitable for a noble at the time. He was instead persuaded by Count Vladimir Alekseyevich Bobrinsk, then Minister of Ways and Communication, to pursue a career in the railroads. At the direction of the Count, Witte undertook six months of on the job training in a variety of positions on the Odessa Railways in order to gain a practical understanding of Ukrainian railways operations. At the end of this period, he was appointed chief of the traffic office.[13]

After a wreck on the Odessa Railways in late 1875 cost many lives, Witte was arrested and sentenced to four months in prison. However, while still contesting the case in court, Witte's Odessa Railways made such extraordinary efforts towards the transport of troops and war materials in the Russo-Turkish War—he devised a novel system of double-shift working to overcome delays on the line[14]—that he attracted the attention of Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, who commuted his term to two weeks.

In 1879, Witte accepted a post in St. Petersburg, where he met his future wife. He moved to Kiev the following year. In 1883, he published a paper on "Principles of railway tariffs for cargo transportation", in which he also spoke out on social issues and the role of the monarchy. Witte gained popularity. In 1886, he was appointed manager of the privately held Southwestern Railways, based in Kiev, and was noted for increasing its efficiency and profitability. Around this time, he met Tsar Alexander III but came into conflict with the Tsar's aides when he warned of the danger in using two powerful freight locomotives to achieve high speeds for the Royal Train. His warnings were proven in the October 1888 Borki train disaster, which resulted in the appointment of Witte to the position of Director of State Railways.

Political career

Witte in the 1880s

Mathilda Witte, picture by Karl Bulla


Witte worked in railroad management for twenty years, starting out as a ticket clerk.[5] He served as Russian Director of Railway Affairs within the Finance Ministry from 1889 to 1891; and during this period, he oversaw an ambitious program of railway construction. Until then less than one-fourth of the small railway systems was under direct state control, but Witte set about making the railway service a monopoly of the State. Witte also obtained the right to assign employees based on their performance, rather than political or familial connections. In 1889, he published a paper titled "National Savings and Friedrich List", which cited the economic theories of Friedrich List and justified the need for a strong domestic industry, protected from foreign competition by customs barriers. This resulted in a new customs law for Russia in 1891, which spurred an increase in industrialization in Russia towards the turn of the century.

Tsar Alexander III appointed him acting Minister of Ways and Communications in 1892.[12] This gave him control of the railroads in Russia and the authority to impose a reform on the tariffs charged. "Russian railroads gradually became perhaps the most economically operated railroads of the world.".[15] Profits were high: over 100 million gold rubles a year to the government (exact amount unknown due to accounting defects). In 1892 Witte became acquainted with Matilda Ivanovna (Isaakovna) Lisanevich in a theater.[9] Witte began to seek her favour, urging her to divorce her gambling husband and marry him. The marriage was a scandal, not only because Matilda was a divorcee, but also because she was a converted Jew. It cost Witte many of his connections with the upper nobility, but the Tsar protected him.

Minister of Finance

In August 1892, Witte was appointed to the post of Minister of Finance, a post which he held for the next eleven years. (Until 1905 matters pertaining to industry and commerce were within the province of the Ministry of Finances.) During his tenure, he greatly accelerated the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. He also paid much attention to the creation of an educational system to train personnel for industry, in particular, the creation of new "commercial" schools, and was known for his appointment of subordinates by their academic credentials instead of political connections. In 1894, he concluded a 10-year commercial treaty with the German Empire on favorable terms for Russia. When Alexander III died, he told his son on his deathbed to listen well to Witte, his most capable minister. In 1895, Witte established a state monopoly on alcohol, which became a major source of revenue for the Russian government. In 1896, he concluded the Li–Lobanov Treaty with Li Hongzhang of the Qing dynasty. One of the rights secured for Russia was the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway across northeast China, which greatly shortened the route of the Trans-Siberian Railway to its projected eastern terminus at Vladivostok. However, following the Triple Intervention, Witte strongly opposed the Russian occupation of Liaodong Peninsula and the construction of the naval base at Port Arthur in the Russia–Qing Convention of 1898.

Gold standard

In 1896, Witte undertook a major currency reform to place the Russian ruble on the gold standard. This led to increased investment activity and an increase in the inflow of foreign capital. Witte also enacted a law limiting working hours in enterprises in 1897 and reformed commercial and industrial taxes in 1898.[16] In summer 1898 he addressed a memorandum to the Tsar[17] calling for an agricultural conference on the reform of the peasant community. This resulted in three years of talks about laws abolishing collective responsibility and facilitated the resettlement of farmers onto lands on the outskirts of the Empire. Many of his ideas were later adopted by Pyotr Stolypin. In 1902 Witte's supporter the Minister of Home Affairs Dmitry Sipyagin was assassinated. In an attempt to keep up the modernization of the Russian economy Witte called and oversaw the Special Conference on the Needs of the Rural Industry. This conference was to provide recommendations for future reforms and the data to justify those reforms. By 1900 the growth in the manufacturing industry had been four times faster than in the preceding five-year period and six times faster than in the decade before that. External trade in industrial goods was equal to that of Belgium.[18] In 1904 the Union of Liberation was formed demanding economic and political reform.

Worsening relations with Japan in 1890s

Witte controlled East Asian policy in the 1890s. His goal was peaceful expansion of trade with Japan and China. Japan, with its greatly expanded and modernized military easily defeated the antiquated Chinese forces in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95). Russia now faced the choice of collaborating with Japan (with which relations had been fairly good for some years) or acting as protector of China against Japan. Witte chose the second policy and in 1894 Russia joined Britain and France in forcing Japan to soften the peace terms it imposed on China. Japan was forced to cede the Liaodong Peninsula and Port Arthur (both territories were located in south-eastern Manchuria, a Chinese province) back to China. This new Russian role angered Tokyo, which decided Russia was the main enemy in its quest to control Manchuria, Korea and China. Witte underestimated Japan's growing economic and military power while exaggerating Russia's military prowess. Russia then concluded an alliance with China (in 1896 by the Li–Lobanov Treaty), which led in 1898 to an occupation and administration (by Russian personnel and police) of the entire Liaodong Peninsula and to a fortification of the ice-free Port Arthur. Russia also established the Russian-owned Chinese Eastern Railway, which was to cross northern Manchuria from west to east, linking Siberia with Vladivostok. In 1899 the Boxer Rebellion broke out with Chinese attacks on all foreigners. A large coalition of all the major Western powers and Japan sent armed forces to relieve their diplomatic missions in Peking. The Russian government used this as an opportunity to bring a substantial army into Manchuria. As a consequence, Manchuria became a fully incorporated outpost of the Russian Empire in 1900, and Japan made ready to fight Russia.[19]

Loss of power

Witte, in a memorandum, tried to turn the reports of the zemstvo presidents into a condemnation of the Home Office[20] In a conflict on land reform Vyacheslav von Plehve accused him being part of a Jewish-masonic conspiracy.[21] According to Vasily Gurko Witte had dominated the irresolute Tsar and this was the moment to get rid of him. Witte was appointed on 16 August 1903 (O.S.) as chairman of the Committee of Ministers, a position he held until October 1905.[12] While officially a promotion, the post had no real power, and Witte's removal from the influential post of Minister of Finance was engineered under the pressure from the landed gentry and his political enemies within the government and at the court. However, Nicholas V. Riasanovsky states that Witte's opposition to Russian designs on Korea caused him to resign from government in 1903.[22][23]

Diplomatic career

Negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905) -- from left to right: the Russians at far side of table are Korostovetz, Nabokov, Witte, Rosen, Plancon; and the Japanese at near side of table are Adachi, Ochiai, Komura, Takahira, Satō. The large conference table is today preserved at the Museum Meiji Mura in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

Witte was brought back into the governmental decision-making process to help deal with the civil unrest. Confronted with growing opposition and after consulting with Witte and Prince Sviatopolk-Mirsky, the Tsar issued a reform ukase on December 25, 1904 with vague promises.[24] After Bloody Sunday riots of 1905 Witte supplied 500 Rubles, the equivalent of 250 dollars, to Father Gapon in order to leave the country.[25] Witte recommended that a manifesto be issued.[26] Schemes of reform would be elaborated by Goremykin and a committee consisting of elected representatives of the zemstva and municipal councils under the presidency of Witte. On 3 March the Tsar condemned the revolutionaries. The government issued a strongly worded prohibition of any further agitation in favor of a constitution.[27] By spring a new political system was beginning to form in Russia. A petition campaign with a wide variety of proposed changes, like ending the war lasted from February to July 1905. In June mutiny broke out on the Russian battleship Potemkin.

Witte returned to the forefront when he was called upon by the Tsar to negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese War.[12] He was sent as the Russian Emperor's plenipotentiary and titled "his Secretary of State and President of the Committee of Ministers of the Emperor of Russia" along with Baron Roman Rosen, Master of the Imperial Court of Russia[28] to the United States, where the peace talks were being held.

Witte is credited with negotiating brilliantly on Russia's behalf during the Treaty of Portsmouth negotiations. Russia lost little in the final settlement.[12] For his efforts, Witte was created a Count.[9][29] But the loss of the war would perhaps spell the beginning of the end of Imperial Russia.

After this diplomatic success, Witte wrote to the Tsar stressing the urgent need for political reforms at home. Dissatisfaction with the proposals by Bulygin, the successor of Sviatopolk-Mirsky on 6 August (O.S.) creating a Duma as a consultative body only; the elections would not be direct but would be held in four stages, and qualifications on class and property would exclude much of the intelligentsia and all of the working classes from suffrage, resulted in numerous protests, and strikes across the country. During the Russian Revolution of 1905 troops were sent out 2,000 times. The Tsar remained quiet, impassive and indulgent; he spent most of that autumn hunting.[30] Witte told Nicholas II, "that the country was at the verge of a cataclysmic revolution". Trepov was ordered to take drastic measures to stop the revolutionary activity. According to Orlando Figes the Tsar asked his uncle Grand Duke Nicholas to assume the role of dictator. "But the Grand Duke ... took out a revolver and threatened to shoot himself there and then if the Tsar refused to endorse Witte's memorandum." Nicholas II had no choice but to make a number of steps in the constitutional liberal direction.[9] The Tsar accepted the draft, hurriedly outlined by Aleksei D. Obolensky.[31][32] known as the October Manifesto. This promised to grant civil liberties such as freedom of conscience, speech, freedom of association, constitutional order, representative government and the establishment of an Imperial Duma.[14] As the Duma was only a consultative body, the Council of Ministers or the Tsar had the right to block certain proposals, and many Russians felt that this reform did not go far enough;[21] nothing on universal suffrage.

Chairman of the Council of Ministers

Prince Alexey D. Obolensky

The regime's usual 'incompetence and obstinacy' in response to the crisis of 1904–1905 was by Witte called a 'mixture of cowardice, blindness and stupidity'.[33]

Witte and Sviatopolk-Mirsky were approached the 8th of January 1905 by a delegation of intellectuals led by Maxim Gorky, who begged them to negotiate with the demonstrators, as they — after the postings of warnings of 'resolute measures' against street gatherings led by Father Gapon, on 7 January — sensed the coming tragedy. They were unsuccessful as the government believed they could control Gapon.[34] Leaving behind visiting cards to Witte and Mirsky, Gorky was arrested with the other members of the deputations.[35] Father Gapon would in 1906 return to Russia from exile and support Witte's government.[36] On 30 April Witte proposed the Law of Religious Toleration in 1905, followed by the edict of 30 October 1906 giving legal status to schismatics and sectarians of the ROC.[37] Witte argued that ending discrimination against religious rivals of the Orthodox Church 'would not harm the church, provided it embraced the reforms that would revive its religious life'. Although the Church's 'senior hierarchs' may for some time have played with the thought of self-government, Witte's demand that this would come at the cost of religious toleration 'guaranteed to drive them back into the arms of reaction'.[38] Witte had made this demand (self-government for religious toleration) in the hope of 'wooing' the important commercial groups of the Jewish and Old-Believer communities.[38]

Witte was approached by the Tsar's advisers, in an effort to save the country from complete collapse, and on 9 October 1905, Witte arrived to be met at the Winter Palace. Here he told 'with brutal frankness' the Tsar that the country was on the verge of a catastrophic revolution, which he said 'would sweep away a thousand years of history'. He presented the Tsar with two choices: either appoint a military dictator or agree to broad and major reforms. In a memorandum arguing for a manifesto, Witte outlined the reforms needed to appease the masses, and this he brought with him to the Tsar. The reforms he presented were the creation of a legislative parliament (Imperial Duma) elected via a democratic franchise; granting of civil liberties; a cabinet government; and a 'constitutional order'.[30] These demands, which basically was the political programme of the Liberation Movement, was an attempt to isolate the political Left by pacifying the liberals.[30] He also emphasised that repression only would be a temporary solution to the problem, and a risky one, because he believed the armed forces — whose loyalty was now in question — could collapse if they were to be used against the masses.[30] Most of the military advisers to the Tsar agreed with Witte, along with Governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Trepov, who wielded considerable influence at court. Only when Nicholas II's uncle Grand Duke Nikolai threatened to shoot himself if he did not agree to Witte's demands, following the Tsar's request of him taking the position of dictator, the Tsar agreed. This would be a large source of embarrassment for the Tsar, that a former 'railway clerk', a bureaucrat and 'businessman' forced the Tsar to relinquish his autocratic rule.[30][nb 1] Witte himself would later claim that the Tsar's court only were ready to use the Manifesto as a temporary concession, and later return to autocracy when the revolutionary tide subsided'.[39]

Witte was in October charged with the task of assembling the nation's first cabinet government, and he offered the liberals several portfolios (Ministry of Agriculture to Ivan Shipov; Ministry of Trade and Industry to Alexander Guchkov; Ministry of Justice to Anatoly Koni and the Ministry of Education to Evgenii Troubetzkoy. Pavel Milyukov and Prince Georgy Lvov were also offered ministerial posts. None of these liberals agreed to join the government though, and Witte's cabinet had to be made of 'tsarist bureaucrats and appointees lacking public confidence'. The Kadets doubted that Witte could deliver on the promises made by the Tsar in October, knowing the Tsar's staunch opposition to reform.[40]

Witte argued that the Tsarist regime only could be saved from a revolution by the transformation of Russia to a 'modern industrial society', in which 'personal and public initiatives' were encouraged by a rechtsstaat who guaranteed civil liberties.[5]

In the two weeks following the October Manifesto, several pogroms followed. Witte ordered an official investigation, where it was revealed that the police organised, armed and gave the antisemitic crowds vodka, and even contributed in the attacks. Witte demanded the prosecution of the chief of police in St. Petersburg, who was involved in the printing of agitating antisemitic pamphlets, but the Tsar intervened and protected him.[41] Witte believed that antisemitism was 'considered fashionable' among the elite.[42] Witte had once commented in the aftermath of the Kishinev pogrom in 1903, admitting that if Jews 'comprise about fifty percent of the membership in the revolutionary parties', it was 'the fault of our government. The Jews are too oppressed'.[43]

Milyukov once confronted Witte, asking why he would not commit himself to a constitution; to this Witte replied that he couldn't 'because the Tsar does not wish it'.[44] Witte himself was worried that the court were only using him, which emerged in talks with members of the Kadet Party.[44]

After his skillful diplomacy Witte was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers, the equivalent of Prime Minister, and formed Sergei Witte's Cabinet, not belonging to any party, as there were none. No longer was the Tsar the head of the government. "Immediately upon my nomination as President of the Imperial Council I made it clear that the Procurator of the Most Holy Synod Konstantin Pobedonostsev, could not remain in office, for he definitely represented the past" and was replaced by Obolensky. Trepov and Bulygin were dismissed and after many discussions Durnovo became Minister of Interior on 1 January; his appointment seems one of the greatest errors Witte made during his administration. According to Harold Williams: "That government was almost paralyzed from the beginning. Witte acted immediately by urging the release of political prisoners and the lifting of censorship laws."[45] Alexander Guchkov and Dmitry Shipov refused to work with the reactionary Durnovo and to support the government. On 26 October (O.S.) the Tsar appointed Trepov Master of the Palace without consulting Witte, and had daily contact with the Emperor; his influence at court was paramount. "In addition mass violence broke out in the days following the issuance of the October Manifesto. The major source of the unrest was unrelated to the October Manifesto. It took the form of attacks by gangs in the cities on the Jews. In general, the authorities ignored the attacks.[45] On 8 November the sailors in Kronstadt mutinied. In the same month the border provinces were clearly taking advantage of the weakening of Central Russia to show their teeth:

The dominating element of the Empire, the Russians, fall into three distinct ethnic branches: the Great, the Little, and the White Russians, and 35 per cent, of the population is non-Russian. It is impossible to rule such a country and ignore the national aspirations of its varied non-Russian national groups, which largely make up the population of the Great Empire. The policy of converting all Russian subjects into "true Russians" is not the ideal which will weld all the heterogeneous elements of the Empire into one body politic. It might be better for us Russians, I concede, if Russia were a nationally uniform country and not a heterogeneous Empire. To achieve that goal there is but one way, namely to give up our border provinces, for these will never put up with the policy of ruthless Russification. But that measure our ruler will, of course, never consider.[46]

On 10 November Russian Poland was placed under martial law.

Lev Kyrillovich Naryshkin was born in 1905, a portrait by Valentin Serov

Witte's position was not established. The Liberals remained obdurate and refused to be cajoled. The Peasants' Union[clarification needed] asked the Russian people not make redemption payments to the government and withdraw their deposits from bank that might be subject to government action.[47] He promised an eight hour working day and tried to secure vital loans from France to keep the "regime" from bankruptcy.[14] Witte send his envoy to the Rothschild bank; "they would willingly render full assistance to the loan, but that they would not be in a position to do so until the Russian Government had enacted legal measures tending to improve the conditions of the Jews in Russia. As I deemed it beneath our dignity to connect the solution of our Jewish question with the loan, I decided to give up my intention of securing the participation of the Rothschilds."[48] On 24 November by Imperial decree provisional regulations on the censorship of magazines and newspaper was released.[49]

On 16 December Trotsky and the rest of the executive committee of the St. Petersburg Soviet were arrested.[21] The Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Kutler resigned in February 1906; Witte refused to appoint Alexander Krivoshein. In the next few weeks changes and additions to the fundamental laws were made, so that the Emperor was confirmed as the dictator of foreign policies and the supreme commander of the army and navy; the ministers remained responsible solely to Nicholas II, not to the Duma. The "peasant question" or land reforms was a hot issue; the influence of the "Duma of Public Anger" had to be limited according to Goremykin and Dmitri Trepov. The Bolsheviks boycotted the coming election. When Witte discovered that Nicholas never intended to honour these concessions he resigned as Chairman of the Council of Ministers. The position and influence of General Trepov, Grand Duke Nicholas, the Black Hundreds and overwhelming victories by the Kadets in the 1906 Russian legislative election, forced Witte on 14th to resign, which was announced 22 April 1906 (O.S.).

Witte confessed to Polovtsov in April 1906 that the success of the repressions in the wake of the Moscow uprising in 1905 had made Witte lose all influence over the Tsar, and despite Witte's protests, Durnovo was allowed to 'carry out a brutal and excessive, and often totally unjustified, series of repressive measures.'[50]

Member of the State Council

Witte's mansion on Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt in St Petersburg

Witte continued in Russian politics as a member of the State Council but never again obtained an administrative role in the government. He was ostracized from the Russian establishment. In January 1907 a bomb was found planted in his home. The investigator Pavel Alexandrovich Alexandrov proved that the Okhrana, the tsarist secret police, had been involved.[51][52] During the winter season Witte lived in Biarritz and started his Memoirs,[53] but he returned to St Petersburg in 1908.

During the July Crisis in 1914, Grigori Rasputin and Witte desperately urged the Tsar not to enter the conflict and warned that Europe faced calamity if Russia became involved. The advice went unheeded; the French ambassador Maurice Paléologue complained to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sazonov. Witte died shortly afterwards due to Meningitis or a brain tumor at his home in St. Petersburg. His third class funeral was held at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Witte had no children, but he adopted his wife's. According to Edvard Radzinsky Witte wished the title of count to be given to his grandson L.K. Naryshkin. Nothing is known about him.

Witte's reputation was burnished in the West when his secret memoirs were published in 1921. They had been completed in 1912 and kept in a bank in Bayonne, not destined to be published while he and his contemporaries were alive. The original text of these memoirs are held in Columbia University Library's Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture.[3]


• Order of St. Alexander Nevsky
• Order of St Vladimir, 1st degree
• Order of St. Anne 1st degree
• Legion of Honor, Grand Croix, 1901 (France)
• Order of Vasa (Sweden), Grand Cross, 1897
• Order of the Crown (Prussia)
• There is a university in Moscow, Russian Federation named after S. Witte

Popular culture depictions

• Freddie Jones in Fall of Eagles
• Laurence Olivier in Nicholas and Alexandra

See also

• History of the Russian Far East
• History of Sino-Russian relations


1. Not even his abdication in 1917 was considered as big a humiliation than agreeing to the demands.[39]


1. F.L. Ageenko and M.V. Zarva, Slovar' udarenii (Moscow: Russkii yazyk, 1984), p. 547.
2. "Sergei Witte – Russiapedia Politics and society Prominent Russians".
3. Harcave, Sidney. (2004). Count Sergei Witte and the Twilight of Imperial Russia: A Biography, p. xiii.
4. Witte's Memoirs, p. 359
5. Figes, p. 41
6. Figes, p. 8
7. Figes, p. 217
8. His ancestors lived in Friedrichstadt in the Courland Governorate and not in Holstein.[1]
9. "История России в портретах. В 2-х тт. Т.1. с.285-308 Сергей Витте".
10. "Sergei Yulyevich Count Witte". geni_family_tree.
11. (in Russian) Archived 2009-07-10 at the Wayback Machine
12. Harcave, p. 33.
13. Harcave, p. 42.
14. "Sergey Yulyevich, Count Witte - prime minister of Russia".
15. Boublikoff, p. 313
16. B. V. Ananich & R. S. Ganelin (1996) Nicholas II, p. 378. In: D. J. Raleigh: The Emperors and Empresses of Russia. Rediscovering the Romanovs. The New Russian History Series.
17. Witte's Memoirs, pp. 211–215
18. "Witte on economic tasks".
19. B. V. Ananich, and S. A. Lebedev, "Sergei Witte and the Russo-Japanese War." International Journal of Korean History 7.1 (2005): 109-131. Online
20. Ward, Sir Adolphus William (7 August 2018). "The Cambridge Modern History". CUP Archive – via Google Books.
21. "Sergei Witte".
22. Riasanovsky, N. V. (1977) A History of Russia, p. 446
23. Massie, Robert K. (1967). Nicholas and Alexandra (1st Ballantine ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 90. ISBN 0-345-43831-0.
24. Harold Williams, Shadow of Democracy, p. 11, 22
25. Witte, Sergei IUl'evich; Yarmolinsky, Avrahm (7 August 2018). "The memoirs of Count Witte". Garden City, N.Y. Doubleday, Page – via Internet Archive.
26. Williams, p. 77
27. Williams, p. 22-23
28. "Text of Treaty; Signed by the Emperor of Japan and Czar of Russia," New York Times. October 17, 1905.
29. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra P.97
30. Figes, p. 191
31. V.I.Gurko (7 August 2018). "Features And Figures Of The Past Government And Opinion In The Reign Of Nicholas II". Russell & Russell – via Internet Archive.
32. Witte's Memoirs, p. 241
33. Figes, p. 186
34. Figes, p. 175
35. Figes, p. 179
36. Figes, p. 178n
37. Pospielovsky, Dmitry (1984). The Russian Church Under the Soviet Regime. Crestwood: St. Vladimir Seminary Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-88141-015-2.
38. Figes, p. 69
39. Figes, p. 192
40. Figes, p. 194–5
41. Figes, p. 197
42. Figes, p. 242
43. Figes, p. 82
44. Figes, p. 195
45. Williams, p. 166
46. Witte's Memoirs, p. 265
47. Williams, p. 220
48. Witte's Memoirs, p. 293-294
49. "1905 :: Электронное периодическое издание Открытый текст".
50. Figes, p. 201
51. «ПОКУШЕНИЕ НА МОЮ ЖИЗНЬ», «Воспоминания» С. Ю. Витте, т. II-ой, 1922 г. Книгоиздат. «Слово» (in Russian)
52. Покушение на графа Витте (2011-10-15), сканер копии — Юрий Штенгель (in Russian)
53. Design, Pallasart Web. "Count Sergei Iulevich Witte - Blog & Alexander Palace Time Machine".


• Ananich, B. V. and S. A. Lebedev, "Sergei Witte and the Russo-Japanese War." International Journal of Korean History 7.1 (2005): 109-131. Online
• Boublikoff, A.A. "A suggestion for railroad reform". In: Buehler, E.C. (editor) "Government ownership of railroads", Annual debater's help book (vol. VI), New York, Noble and Noble, 1939; pp. 309–318. Original in journal "North American Review, vol. 237, pp. 346+. (Title is misleading. It's 90% about Russian railways.)
• Davis, Richard Harding, and Alfred Thayer Mahan. (1905). The Russo-Japanese war; a photographic and descriptive review of the great conflict in the Far East, gathered from the reports, records, cable despatches, photographs, etc., etc., of Collier's war correspondents New York: P. F. Collier & Son. OCLC: 21581015
• Figes, Orlando (2014). A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891–1924. London: The Bodley Head. ISBN 9781847922915.
• Harcave, Sidney. (2004). Count Sergei Witte and the Twilight of Imperial Russia: A Biography. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-1422-3 (cloth)
• Kokovtsov, Vladamir. (1935). Out of My Past (translator, Laura Matveev). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
• Korostovetz, J.J. (1920). Pre-War Diplomacy The Russo-Japanese Problem. London: British Periodicals Limited.
• Theodore H. von Laue (1963) Sergei Witte and the Industrialization of Russia
• Witte, Sergei. (1921). The Memoirs of Count Witte (translator, Abraham Yarmolinsky). New York: Doubleday. online free
• Wcislo, Francis W. (2011). Tales of Imperial Russia: The Life and Times of Sergei Witte, 1849-1915. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-954356-4.

External links

• Portsmouth Peace Treaty, 1905-2005
• Memoirs of Count Witte
• The Museum Meiji Mura—peace treaty table on display
• Newspaper clippings about Sergei Witte in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Nov 06, 2019 5:16 am

Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/5/19



Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski
Ossendowski in 1933
Born: 27 May 1876, Ludza, Russian Empire (now Latvia)
Died: 3 January 1945 (aged 68), Żółwin, Poland
Resting place: Milanówek
Occupation: Writer, journalist, traveler
Language: Polish
Nationality: Polish
Notable works: Lenin
Cień Ponurego Wschodu

Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski (27 May 1876 – 3 January 1945) was a Polish writer, explorer, university professor, and anti-Communist political activist. He is best known for his books about Lenin and the Russian Civil War in which he participated.

Early years

He was born on 27 May 1876, on his family's manor near Ludza in the Vitebsk Governorate (now Latvia), of Lipka Tatar descent. He studied at the famous gymnasium in Kamieniec Podolski, but he moved with his father, a renowned doctor, to Saint Petersburg, where he graduated from a school in Russian. Then he joined the mathematical-physical faculty of the local university, where he studied chemistry. As an assistant to professor Aleksander Zalewski, he traveled to many distant areas, including Siberia, the Caucasus and the Altay Mountains. During the summer, he was frequently enrolled as a ship's writer on the Odessa-Vladivostok line, a job that allowed him to visit many parts of Asia, including Japan, Sumatra, China, Malaya and Indonesia. For his description of his trip to Crimea and Constantinople, he received his first royalty. His record of a trip to India (Chmura nad Gangesem: A Cloud Over the Ganges) gained the prestigious Petersburg Society of Literature prize.

In 1899, after a students' riot in Saint Petersburg, Ossendowski was forced to leave Imperial Russia and move to Paris, where he continued his studies at the Sorbonne, his professors being Maria Curie-Skłodowska and Marcelin Berthelot. It is possible that he received a doctorate back in Russia, but no documents have survived. In 1901 he was allowed to return to Russia, where professor Zalewski invited him to the newly founded Institute of Technology of the Tomsk State University. There, he gave lectures on chemistry and physics. At the same time he also gave lectures at the Agricultural Academy and published numerous scientific works on hydrology, geology, physical chemistry, geography and physics.

After the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) Ossendowski moved to Harbin in Manchuria, where he founded a Central Technical Research Laboratory, a Russian-financed institution for development of the ore deposits in the area. At the same time, he headed the local branch of the Russian Geographic Society in Vladivostok. As such he made numerous trips to Korea, Sakhalin, Ussuri and the shores of the Bering Strait. In Manchuria, he also became one of the leaders of the considerable Polish diaspora and published his first novel in Polish, Noc (Night). He also got involved in the Main Revolutionary Committee, a leftist organisation that tried to take power in Manchuria during the Revolution of 1905. After the failure of the revolution, Ossendowski organised a strike against the brutal repressions in Congress Poland for which he was arrested. A military tribunal sentenced him to death for conspiracy against the tsar, but his sentence was later commuted to several years' hard labour.

St. Petersburg to China

A plaque commemorating Ossendowski, Grójecka Street, Warsaw

In 1907, he was released from prison with a so-called wolf ticket, which prevented him from finding a job or leaving Russia. At that time he devoted himself to writing. His novel V ludskoi pyli (In Human Dust), in which he described his several years' stay in Russian prisons, gained him much popularity in Russia and was even described by Leo Tolstoy as one of his favorites. His popularity allowed him to return to St Petersburg in 1908. There he continued to write books and at the same time headed the Society of the Gold and Platinum Industry and several newspapers and journals, both in Russian and in Polish. After the outbreak of World War I, Ossendowski published several more books, including a science fiction novel, a propaganda novel on German spies in Russia and a brochure describing German and Austro-Hungarian war crimes.

After the outbreak of the February Revolution of 1917, Ossendowski moved yet again, to Siberia, this time to Omsk, where he started giving lectures at the local university. After the October Revolution and the outbreak of the Russian Civil War, he also got involved in the counterrevolutionary Russian government led by Supreme Governor Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak. He served at various posts, among others as an intelligence officer, an envoy to the intervention corps from the United States and an assistant to the Polish 5th Rifle Division of Maj. Walerian Czuma. In 1918 he was responsible for the transfer of many tsarist and White Russian documents to the Entente, including proofs (many apparently forged) of German support (confirmed later from German archives) for Lenin and his Bolsheviks (so-called Sisson Documents).

After Kolchak's defeat in 1920, Ossendowski joined a group of Poles and White Russians trying to escape from communist-controlled Siberia to India through Mongolia, China and Tibet.[1] After a journey of several thousand miles, the group reached Chinese-controlled Mongolia, only to be stopped there by the takeover of the country led by mysterious Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg. The Baron was a mystic who was fascinated by the beliefs and religions of the Far East such as Buddhism and Lamaism and "who believed himself to be a reincarnation of Kangchendzönga, the Mongolian god of war."[2] Ungern-Sternberg's philosophy was an exceptionally muddled mixture of Russian nationalism with Chinese and Mongol beliefs. However, he also proved to be an exceptional military commander, and his forces grew rapidly.

Ossendowski joined the baron's army as a commanding officer of one of the self-defense troops. He also briefly became Ungern's political advisor and chief of intelligence. Little is known of his service at the latter post, which adds to Ossendowski's legend as a mysterious person. In late 1920, he was sent with a diplomatic mission to Japan and then the US, never to return to Mongolia. Some writers believe that Ossendowski was one of the people who hid the semimythical treasures of the Bloody Baron.

After his arrival in New York City, Ossendowski started to work for the Polish diplomatic service and possibly as a spy. At the same time, in late 1921 he published his first book in English: Beasts, Men and Gods. The description of his travels during the Russian Civil War and the campaigns led by the Bloody Baron became a striking success and a bestseller. In 1923, it was translated into Polish and then into several other languages.

Back to Poland

In 1922, Ossendowski returned to Poland and settled in Warsaw. Immediately upon his return, he started giving lectures at the Wolna Wszechnica Polska, Higher War School and School of Political Sciences at the Warsaw University. At the same time, he remained an advisor to the Polish government and an expert sovietologist.

He continued to travel to different parts of the world, and after each journey he published a book or two. In the interwar period, he was considered the creator of a distinct genre called the traveling novel. With over 70 books published in Poland and translated almost 150 times into 20 other languages, Ossendowski was also the second most popular Polish author abroad, after Henryk Sienkiewicz. He repeated the success of his Beasts, Men and Gods with a book on Lenin in which he openly criticized Soviet communist methods and policies as well as the double face of the communist leaders. In Poland, three of his books were being filmed at the moment World War II started.

World War II

Ossendowski's grave in Milanówek

After the 1939 Invasion of Poland and the outbreak of World War II, Ossendowski remained in Warsaw, where he lived at 27 Grójecka Street. In 1942 he converted to Catholicism (previously being a Lutheran), and the following year, he joined the ranks of the underground National Party. He worked in the structures of the Polish Secret State and cooperated with the Government Delegate's Office in preparation of the underground education in Poland during World War II and postwar learning programmes.

After the Warsaw Uprising, Ossendowski, now seriously ill, moved to the village of Żółwin, near the Warsaw suburb of Milanówek, where he died on 3 January 1945. He was buried the following day in the local cemetery in Milanówek.


Two weeks after Ossendowski's death, on 18 January, the area was seized by the Red Army. It turned out that Ossendowski was being sought by the NKVD, and was being considered an enemy of the people for his book on Lenin and the Soviet system, which was considered an act of anti-Soviet agitation. The Soviet agents exhumed his body to confirm his identity and that he was really dead.

After the war, the new communist Soviet-led authorities of Poland issued a ban on all books by Ossendowski. Many of his books were confiscated from the libraries and burnt.[citation needed] It was not until 1989 that his books were again published openly in Poland.


The relative obscurity of much of Ossendowski's output means that many books have been published twice under different names or with no date of publication. The following list is an approximate and incomplete bibliography only.

• "Chmura nad Gangesem: A Cloud Over the Ganges"
• "Noc" (Night)
• "V ludskoi pyli" (In Human Dust)
• Beasts, Men and Gods. – 1922 [3][4]
• Black Magic of Mongolia – 1922 [5]
• "With Baron Ungern in Urga" – 1922 [6]
• Man and Mystery in Asia (PDF). – 1923
• From President to Prison – 1925
• The Shadow of the Gloomy East: A Moral History of the Russian People.– 1925
• The Fire of Desert Folk: The Account of a Journey Through Morocco. – 1926
• The Breath of The Desert: Oasis and Simoon: The Account of a Journey Through Algeria and Tunisia – 1927
• Slaves of the Sun: Travels in West Africa – 1928
• Life Story of a Little Monkey: The Diary of the Chimpanzee Ket – 1930
• Lenin: God of the Godless. – 1931

See also

• Vladimir Lenin
• Sławomir Rawicz
• Tiziano Terzani
• Roman von Ungern-Sternberg
• Polish-Mongolian literary relations


1. Ossendowski, Ferdinand (1922). Beasts, Men and Gods. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company.
2. Blurb of Ossendowski, Ferdinand (1922) Beasts, Men and Gods. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company. Page 269 of this book only says "Incarnated God of War." Kangchendzönga is a mountain with five peaks in Sikkim and Nepal, and said to be home to a mountain deity, called Dzö-nga. See Anna Belikci Denjongpa, Kangchendzönga: Secular and Buddhist perceptions of the mountain deity of Sikkim among the Lhopos.
3. Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski (1922). Beasts, Men and Gods. E. P. Dutton.
4. Ferdinand Antoni Ossendowski. Bestie, Uomini, Dei: Il mistero del Re del Mondo. Edizioni Mediterranee. ISBN 978-88-272-2550-9.
5. East and West Association (U.S.). (1922). Asia and the Americas. pp. 556–.
6. East and West Association (U.S.). (1922). Asia and the Americas. pp. 614–.

External links

• Works by Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski at Internet Archive
• Works by Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Beasts, Men and Gods at Google Books
• Ferdinand Ossendowski on YouTube
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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John G. Bennett
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/5/19



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John Godolphin Bennett (8 June 1897 – 13 December 1974) was a British scientist, technologist, industrial research director, and author. He is best known for his books on psychology and spirituality, particularly on the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff. Bennett met Gurdjieff in Istanbul in October 1920 and later helped to co-ordinate the work of Gurdjieff in England after the guru had moved to Paris. He also was active in starting the British section of the Subud movement, and co-founded its British headquarters.

Bennett was born in London, England; educated at King's College School, London; Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; School of Military Engineering, Chatham; and the School of Oriental Studies, London.

He was a Fellow of the Institute of Fuel, London, from 1938 onwards; Chairman, Conference of Research Associations, 1943–1945; Chairman, Solid Fuel Industry, British Standards Institution, 1937–1942; Chairman and Director, Institute for the comparative study of History, Philosophy, and the Sciences, Kingston upon Thames, 1946–1959.

Early life, World War I, marriage

Bennett's parents met in Florence, Italy; they later married. His mother was American and his father was British. In Bennett's infancy, his family were moderately wealthy and traveled frequently in Europe. In 1912, his father, who was a noted traveller, adventurer and linguist, lost all of his money and his wife's in an investment that failed. Bennett later displayed an extraordinary talent for languages, which enabled him to talk with many spiritual teachers in their native tongues. He studied Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian sacred texts in their original languages.

Bennett makes little reference to his childhood in his autobiography, Witness. Elsewhere he credits his mother with instilling in him the virtues of hard work and tolerance.

At school, he excelled in sports and captained the school rugby football team. He won a scholarship in mathematics from Oxford University, but never had the chance to take advantage of this because of the outbreak of the Great War. He continued to play rugby football for the army (against such opponents as the New Zealand national team), breaking his arm once and his collar bone twice.


In the First World War, at the age of nineteen, Bennett served as a subaltern in the Royal Engineers, with responsibility for signals and telegraphy.

In France in March 1918, he was blown off his motorcycle by an exploding shell. Taken to a military hospital, operated upon, and apparently in a coma for six days, Bennett had an out-of-body experience. He became convinced that there is something in man which can exist independently of the body.

"It was perfectly clear to me that being dead is quite unlike being very ill or very weak or helpless. So far as I was concerned, there was no fear at all. And yet I have never been a brave man and was certainly still afraid of heavy gun fire. I was cognizant of my complete indifference toward my own body."[1]

This experience set his life on a new course. He described the return to normal consciousness as the return to a body that was now in some sense a stranger.

In the closing months of the First World War, Bennett undertook an intensive course in the Turkish language at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and was posted to Constantinople. He was assigned to a sensitive position in Anglo-Turkish relations, at the time of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and rise in Turkish nationalism. His fluency made him the confidant of many high-ranking Turkish political figures; it also helped him to develop his knowledge of Turkey and to gain insights into non-European ways of thinking. A notable piece of initiative drew the attention of General Edmund Allenby, and a mention in C-in-C's dispatches. Bennett was recruited to be the head of Military Intelligence "B" Division, with responsibility for the entire Middle Eastern region.

"All day long I was dealing with different races: English, French, Italian, Greek, Armenian, Turkish, Kurdish, Russian, Arab, Jews and people so mixed up as to be no race at all. Each and every one was convinced of the superiority of his own people. How could everyone be right and all the rest wrong? It was nonsense."

Bennett's eighteen months' tenure in this position were so eventful, that he is still regarded as a major figure in the political life of Turkey in that period. Bennett's success resulted in some animosities among his superiors and he was recalled to London in January 1921. He resigned his commission with the rank of Captain and a pension for life. He kept an abiding love for Turkey for the rest of his life.

After the war, Bennett had married Evelyn, with whom he had a daughter, Ann, born August 1920. Evelyn had stayed in England when he was posted to Turkey. Bennett's immersion in Turkish affairs and his relationship with Winifred Beaumont, an English woman living in Turkey, placed increasing strain on the marriage. In 1924, Evelyn Bennett sued for divorce. Bennett later married Beaumont, who was twenty years his senior; they were together until her death in 1958. (He married a third time in 1958, to Elizabeth Mayall.)

Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

After the First World War and the Russian Revolution, many displaced people passed through Constantinople en route to the West. Part of Bennett's job was to monitor their movements. Among them were G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky, whom Bennett met through Prince Sabahaddin. This reformist thinker had introduced him to a wide range of religious and occultist systems, including Theosophy and Anthroposophy. Bennett became determined to pursue the search for a deeper reality. He had been profoundly impressed with Gurdjieff's ideas about the arrangement of the human organism and the possibility of a man's transformation to a higher state of being, and would later dedicate much of his life to the elaboration and dissemination of those ideas.

Gurdjieff and Ouspensky moved on to Europe, and Bennett remained in Turkey, committed to his work and fascinated by the political and social developments in Turkey. The sultanate fell and on October 29, 1923, the Turkish republic was proclaimed. Bennett approved permission for M. Kemal Atatürk to enter Samsun, where he started the Turkish Independence struggle.[2]

Gurdjieff founded his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Château Le Prieuré in Fontainebleau-Avon, south of Paris, in October 1922. Bennett visited in the summer of 1923, spending three months at the institute. This experience further convinced him that Gurdjieff had profound knowledge and understanding of techniques by which man can achieve transformation. Gurdjieff encouraged Bennett to stay longer, but Bennett was short of money and so felt obliged to return to work in England. Though Bennett expected to return to the group soon, he would not meet Gurdjieff again until 1948.

Bennett served the British government as a consultant on the Middle East, and interpreter at the 1924 conference in London intended to settle disputes between Greece and Turkey. He was invited to stand for parliament, but he chose instead to give his personal studies precedence over his public life.

He joined Ouspensky's groups, and continued to study Gurdjieff's system with them for fifteen years. Ouspensky broke off all contact with Gurdjieff himself in the early 1920s.

Coal industry

During this time, Bennett became involved with various coal mining ventures in Greece and Turkey. These were ultimately unsuccessful, but in the process he acquired expertise in mining and coal chemistry. He worked for four years in Greece, where he was also involved in protracted negotiations involving land claims by members of the deposed Turkish royal family.

In 1938, Bennett was asked to head Britain's newest industrial research organisation, the British Coal Utilisation Research Association (BCURA). With the outbreak of World War II, BCURA's research was focused on developing fuel-efficient fireplaces and finding alternatives to oil. BCURA developed cars powered by coal-gas and a coal-based plastic.

Group work

In 1941, Ouspensky left England to live in the United States. By now, Bennett was running his own study groups and giving talks on the subject of Gurdjieff's system. The groups continued and expanded in London throughout the Second World War. Bennett began writing and developing his own ideas in addition to Gurdjieff's. Ouspensky repudiated him in 1945, which proved very painful for Bennett. He had lost touch with Gurdjieff during the war, and believed him to be dead.

"Ouspensky fell under the impression that Bennett was setting himself up as a teacher and plagiarising his lecture material. Instructions were sent to all members of Ouspensky's groups to disassociate themselves from Bennett, who found himself vilified and ostracised, but still supported by a small loyal following. He decided to go ahead with his work of communicating his understanding of the System to people, and to create a society or institute to serve as its vehicle".[3]

Coombe Springs


In 1946, Bennett and his wife founded the non-profit Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences:

"To promote research and other scientific work in connection with the factors which influence development and retrogression in man and their operation in individuals and communities; to investigate the origin and elaboration of scientific hypotheses and secular and religious philosophies and their bearing on general theories of Man and his place in the universe; and to study comparative methodology in history, philosophy and natural science".[3]

The Institute bought Coombe Springs, a seven-acre estate in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, which had housed research laboratories used by BCURA. The Bennetts moved in with ten of Bennett's closest pupils, with the intention of starting a small research community. Coombe Springs became a centre for group work. In addition to the small community who lived there permanently, hundreds of people visited Coombe Springs for meetings and summer schools.

The old laboratories were used as dormitory space; they were known as the "fishbowl" because of the large amount of glass they had. A "new building" was later built for superior accommodation. The main house was used for meetings as well as accommodation. Coombe Springs took its name from an original Elizabethan spring house in the grounds. Until the mid-19th century, it had provided water to the palace at Hampton Court.[4]

Bennett believed that Gurdjieff's system could be reconciled with modern science. He started work on a five-dimensional geometry which included "eternity" as a second time-like dimension, introducing this in his first published book, The Crisis in Human Affairs (1948).

Reunion with Gurdjieff

Ouspensky died in 1947. In 1948, Bennett went to the United States and met Ouspensky's wife, through whom he learned that Gurdjieff had survived the Nazi occupation of France and was living in Paris. Though it was 25 years since they had last met (due mainly to Ouspensky's longstanding veto against Gurdjieff to members of his groups), Bennett quickly decided to renew contact. In the 18 months before Gurdjieff's death (in October 1949), Bennett visited him frequently. He also continued his crowded professional schedule (he was now working for the Powell Duffryn coal company) and his responsibilities towards the group work at Coombe Springs.

A month spent working very intensively with Gurdjieff's group in the summer of 1949 laid the foundation for a significant transformation in his life and spiritual work. At that time, Gurdjieff's apartment in Paris had become a 'Mecca' to the followers of his ideas, who converged from many different countries. Bennett learnt of Gurdjieff's writings, and read Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson for the first time. At the beginning of 1949, Gurdjieff named Bennett as his 'Representative for England'. Bennett later gave public lectures in London on Gurdjieff and his ideas.

This period was described by Bennett's third wife, Elizabeth Bennett (1918-1991), who was part of the study group, in her book Idiots in Paris: Diaries of J.G. Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett, 1949. Her memoir was based on J.G. Bennett's diaries and on her own memories. A third paperback edition was published posthumously in 2017.

Gurdjieff's death in 1949 was a serious blow for all his followers. Disagreements arose within the group, partly as a result of Gurdjieff's having allocated his closest associates with conflicting areas of authority. In Bennett's case, the conflict was exacerbated by his own interpretation and development of Gurdieff's ideas.

After Gurdjieff's death, the various groups looked to Jeanne de Salzmann to give them direction and hold them together, but there was little inherent harmony among them. At this time Bennett was a member of a small group headed by Madame de Salzmann, and he put his work at Coombe Springs under her overall guidance.

In 1950, Bennett was falsely accused of harbouring communists on his staff, during a communist scare in Great Britain, and he was forced to resign from Powell Dufryn. (He later resisted several attractive offers to return to a career in industrial research and administration). He began to concentrate more fully on the group work at Coombe Springs. He lectured frequently, trying to fulfill a promise he had made to Gurdjieff to do everything in his power to propagate his ideas. Friendly relations continued with Madame de Salzmann and her groups throughout 1951 and 1952, but by then Bennett was convinced that his more senior students were not making progress. He believed that he had to learn firsthand whether there still existed an ancient tradition or source from which Gurdjieff had derived his teaching.

Travels in the Middle East

In 1953, Bennett undertook a long journey to the Middle East (West Asia), visiting Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Persia. His search, chronicled in his book Journeys in Islamic Countries (reprinted in paperback in 2001), brought him into contact with Sufis of extraordinary spiritual accomplishment, such as Emin Chikou (1890-1964) (known in Syria as Mohammad Amin Sheikho) and Farhâd Dede[5] (1882-1977), the former of whom led Bennett indirectly to a profound meeting with Shaykh Abdullah Fa'izi ad-Daghestani[6] (1891-1973). Bennett described him as "a true saint in whom one feels an immediate complete trust. With him there were no lengthy arguments or quotations from the scriptures."[citation needed] Their chance meeting on a mountaintop in Damascus is chronicled, albeit briefly, in his book Subud. Bennett concludes that Shaykh Daghestani was in possession of "powers of a kind that I had already seen in Gurdjieff and one or two others, and prepared me to take very seriously anything that he might [have to] say."[citation needed]

During 1954, differences of opinion became more obvious between Bennett and Madame de Salzmann regarding the promulgation of Gurdjieff's teachings. Bennett decided that an effectual working relationship with her groups was not possible. He wanted to execute Gurdjieff's last directives literally, by disseminating his ideas and writings as widely as possible, especially Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, which Madame de Salzmann wanted to keep away from the public eye.

In 1955, Bennett initiated a project to build an unusual nine-sided meeting hall at Coombe Springs for the performance of Gurdjieff's sacred dance movements. This, together with his public lectures in London, completed the rift with Madame de Salzmann. The project took two years to complete. At the opening in 1957, Bennett commented that the real value of such a project was in building a community rather than the building itself.


In 1956, Bennett was introduced to Subud, a spiritual movement originating in Java (an island in the Republic of Indonesia). For a number of reasons, Bennett felt that Gurdjieff had expected the arrival of a very important teaching from Indonesia. In spite of deep reservations, in November 1956 Bennett allowed himself to be 'opened' by Husein Rofé, a native Englishman [7] (1922-2008) who had studied in the East. Rofé used the latihan (the primary spiritual exercise used in Subud).

Bennett regarded the latihan as being akin to what the mystics call diffuse contemplation. He also felt that the latihan has the power to awaken a person's conscience, the spiritual faculty that Gurdjieff regarded as necessary for salvation. Bennett sent an invitation to Subud's founder, Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo (1901-1987) (aka Pak Subuh), to come to England. Pak Subuh came to Coombe Springs, where all Bennett's pupils were given the opportunity to be 'opened'.

It was a highly controversial event. It included the apparently miraculous cure of film star Eva Bartok, but also the violent death of one of Bennett's pupils. The death of Bennett's pupil is described on pages 345–347 of the original edition of Bennett's auto-biography titled Witness: The Story of a Search (1962). The section on the death was excised from later editions of the autobiography, along with some fifty additional pages. Although Bennett admits writing this section from a subjective and self-serving perspective, the incident still showed the dangers of Subud and of putting one's trust blindly in any spiritual teacher or spiritual path.

Soon Bennett was instrumental in spreading Subud practice all over the world. He travelled extensively to spread the Subud exercise, sometimes in the company of Pak Subuh. Bennett translated Pak Subuh's lectures into various languages. His introductory book on Subud, titled Concerning Subud (1959), sold thousands of copies worldwide.

Bennett's deep involvement in Subud meant less participation in the work-group activities and exercises that had been practised until he began this work. The meeting hall was left unfinished without its intended viewers' balcony and its striking pentagonal floor was filled in to allow for latihans. Its original purpose was not to be fulfilled for many years.

Some of Bennett's pupils were dismayed. Subud's spontaneous exercise seemed to some to be the antithesis of Gurdjieff's methods for spiritual awakening, and Bennett's enthusiasm for it served to deepen the divisions within the Gurdjieff groups. Many people left the Coombe Springs groups, but others came in large numbers. For several years Coombe Springs was the headquarters of the Subud movement in Europe, attracting both serious seekers and sensation seekers.

In 1958, monks from the Benedictine Abbey of St. Wandrille,[8] interested in Subud, contacted Bennett. The following year he made the first of many visits to the abbey to teach the monks. These visits brought him into close contact with the Catholic Church. Dom Albert-Jacques Bescond, OSB (1920-1986) was the first monk from the abbey to be 'opened', followed by many others. At St. Wandrille, Bennett first had a deep experience of what he believed was the destined unification of Islam and Christianity. He had given this possibility philosophical expression through his concept of 'essential will', as detailed in his The Dramatic Universe (4 vols). Soon after, he formally entered the Catholic Church.

By 1960, Bennett had concluded that the practice of 'latihan' alone was inadequate, and he resumed the work that he had learned from Gurdjieff. By 1962, Bennett left the Subud organization, feeling that a return to the Gurdjieff method was necessary.

Although he always said that he had derived great benefit from Subud, his departure aroused animosity and dismay from Subud members, and many turned against him.

Meanwhile, the Institute had been largely given over to Subud to the extent, at one time, of instigating a move to forbid the sale of Gurdjieff's books at Coombe Springs. In spite of this, Bennett reinstated lecture courses on psychokinetics, an action that led to increasing conflict among the membership.

A battle of power ensued in 1962 that resulted in Subud acquiring its own organization and Bennett resigning from the Subud brotherhood and his role as leader of the Coombe Springs Community and Director of Research of the Institute.

From 1963, the pattern of exercises that were subsequently followed at Coombe Springs combined the latihan with different techniques such as the Gurdjieff movements. The meeting hall was completed with the fitting of a balcony for viewers and an external access through stairs for spectators. Lectures were held on topics ranging from Sufism to Synchronicity, and Bennett resumed work on the final volumes of his "personal whim", the epic 'The Dramatic Universe', which he had been working on for more than ten years, constantly writing, revising and re-writing.

Shivapuri Baba

Meanwhile, Bennett had made contact with the Shivapuri Baba, a Hindu sage living in Nepal. He had first heard of the Shivapuri Baba in the early 1940s, and now learned from Hugh Ripman (a fellow student of Ouspensky) that the yogi was still alive.[3]

Bennett visited the Shivapuri Baba twice between 1961 and 1963, by which time the Shivapuri Baba was reportedly 137 years old. Bennett was impressed with the vitality and simplicity of the Shivapuri Baba's teaching, and later referred to him as his teacher. Bennett undertook to propagate the Shivapuri Baba's teaching, and made various attempts to incorporate it into his own work.

The Shivapuri Baba died in 1963, shortly after he had approved the draft for his biography, Bennett's Long Pilgrimage - The Life and Teaching of the Shivapuri Baba.


In 1962, Bennett gave a seminar on spiritual psychology in which the various elements he had received (particularly from Gurdjieff, Subud and the Shivapuri Baba) were integrated into a coherent psycho-cosmology. This marked a major step in his understanding of a comprehensive methodology which combined both active and receptive "lines of work".

By this time Bennett was also working with a group of young scientists called ISERG (Integral Science Research Group) headed by Dr. Anthony Hodgson and soon joined by Anthony George Edward Blake, Kenneth Pledge, Henri Bortoft and others. This group investigated educational methods, the nature of science, and similar subjects. The group maintained a contact with physicist and philosopher David Bohm.

Research fellowships were created to enable Hodgson and Blake to concentrate their time on educational work. Out of this came the idea of structural communication which led the Institute into co-operative work with G.E.C. in the field of teaching machines.

In 1963, Bennett launched the institute's journal, Systematics. The journal was designed to spread the ideas of the discipline of Systematics, a practical analytical method based on his own researches into the laws governing processes in the natural world. The journal ran for 11 years with major contributions from all disciplines.

Idries Shah

While the educational work was progressing, Bennett learned of Idries Shah, an exponent of Sufism. When they met, Shah presented Bennett with a document supporting his claim to represent the 'Guardians of the Tradition'. Bennett and other followers of Gurdjieff's ideas were astonished to meet a man claiming to represent what Gurdjieff had called 'The Inner Circle of Humanity', something they had discussed for so long without hope of its concrete manifestation.

Bennett introduced "teaching stories" to his groups on Shah's instructions. These are now widely published and recognized as important teaching materials containing the essence of Sufi knowledge and insight.

It remained unclear as to what the future relationship between the Institute, Bennett and Shah could become. Eventually Bennett decided to put Coombe Springs at Shah's disposal to do with as he saw fit. In October 1965 at an extraordinary General Meeting of the Institute, Bennett persuaded the membership to take this step.

Shah originally indicated that he would take Bennett's psychological groups under his own wing. Bennett welcomed this, as it would allow him to concentrate on research and writing. However, he again found himself unpopular - not only with conservatives within the Institute, but also with other followers of Idries Shah and members of his organisation SUFI (Society for the Understanding of the Foundation of Ideas).

In the spring of 1966, The Institute for Comparative Study donated Coombe Springs to Shah, who promptly sold it for a housing development. The Djamee was destroyed. About half the people who had studied under Bennett were integrated into his groups while the rest were left 'in the air'. The Institute was left with the educational research work as its main focus. The work with the Hirst Research Laboratories of G.E.C. bore fruit in the new teaching machine, the 'Systemaster', and Bennett organised various young people around him to write and develop teaching materials that followed the structural communication method.

Bennett and some of the Coombe Springs residents had moved into a nearby house in Kingston upon Thames, where the family (the Bennetts now had two sons and two young daughters) would live quietly for four years before Bennett embarked on his last great project - an experimental school for passing on techniques for spiritual transformation.

International Academy for Continuous Education

By 1969 the company which had been formed to explore structural communication – Structural Communication Systems Ltd. – was floundering and Bennett's health, too, was in a dangerous state. After his recovery, Bennett looked afresh at the situation and the conviction came to him that he should take up the work that Gurdjieff had started at the Prieuré in 1923 and been forced to abandon. He would start a School of the Fourth Way.

Bennett became very interested in young people, especially those who surfaced from the social and cultural turmoil of the 1960s with serious questions about the significance of life but with few satisfactory answers. As part of his research, Bennett attended the rock music festival on the Isle of Wight in 1970. The outcome was the establishment of an "academy" to teach some of what he had learned in trying to discover the "sense and aim of life, and of human life in particular."

On the twenty fifth anniversary of the Institute, in April 1971, a jubilee celebration on the theme of The Whole Man was held. In a very short time, primarily in the USA, Bennett recruited many students and in October 1971 the International Academy for Continuous Education was inaugurated in Sherborne, Gloucestershire.

Bennett had begun this enterprise with no programme in mind and with only a handful of helpers. Initially, his ideas had involved running a school in the midst of 'life-conditions' in Kingston with two dozen students, but contact with a young representative of the New Age Movement in the USA persuaded him to think in terms of larger numbers and a relatively isolated locale in the countryside. Bennett realized that work on the land (which he considered to be an essential part of teaching the proper relationship between mankind and the rest of creation) would require a larger number. Both Hasan Shushud and Idries Shah made recommendations that, for the most part, he disregarded.

He quickly attracted one hundred pupils, and in 1971, with the support of the Institute for Comparative Study, he inaugurated the International Academy for Continuous Education, in the village of Sherborne, Gloucestershire, England.

The name was chosen "to indicate on the one hand its Platonic inspiration and on the other to emphasise that it was to offer a teaching for the whole life of the men and women who came to it."

As he tells the story in his autobiography, although various spiritual leaders had urged him at various points in his life to strike out on his own path, it was not until near the end of his years that he felt fully confident to assume the mantle of the teacher. Bennett relates how Gurdjieff had told him in 1923 that one day Bennett would "follow in his footsteps and take up the work he had started at Fontainebleau." In 1970, following the promptings of a still, small voice from within that said, "You are to found a school",

Bennett proposed that there should be five experimental courses each of ten months duration. The courses proved fruitful, and many people have continued, as he had hoped, to work with the ideas and methods he presented.

In April 1972, the Sufi Hasan Lutfi Shushud (1901-1988)[9] came to stay for a few months at the Academy. Shushud and Bennett had met in Turkey ten years previously, and Shushud had visited Bennett's Surrey home in 1968, at which time he initiated Bennett into his wordless, universal zikr. Bennett concluded that Shushud's wordless universal zikr produced results similar to those of the latihan, while omitting many of the risks attendant on 'opening' people through Subud. Bennett observed that occasionally there are people 'opened' through Subud who experience some harsh and/or dangerous effects (for which they are unprepared) during the operation of the latihan. This observation led him to have reservations about the supposed absolute safety of the latihan for the general public. As a result of these reservations, Bennett became increasingly attracted to the Khwajagan (Masters of Wisdom of Central Asia) as presented in the teachings of Shushud. In 1973 Bennett’s publisher Alick Bartholomew commissioned Bennett and Shushud to co-write a book whose tentative title was Gurdjieff and the Masters of Wisdom. Before the book was ready for publication Shushud pulled out of the project, telling Bennett that he did not trust the publisher, apparently on the grounds that Bartholomew had deducted state income tax from the advance payment for the book. However, eventually it became known that what Shushud was really objecting to was Bennett's contention in the book that Gurdjieff had established personal contact with the Khwajagan, and that therefore it is very likely that at least some of Gurdjieff's major teachings are based directly on what he had learned from the Khwajagan. Due to Shushud's disagreements with Bennett over this issue, Bennett ended up dividing the proposed book into two separate books, titled respectively Gurdjieff: Making a New World (1973) and The Masters of Wisdom (1975) (not published until after Bennett's death). However, in spite of Shushud's disagreements with Bennett over this issue, it appears that Bennett nevertheless (in the end) borrowed heavily from Shushud's teachings on the Khwajagan (probably against Shushud's wishes), in order to bring his book on that subject (The Masters of Wisdom) to a successful conclusion.

There are a number of mysterious things about Shushud, who certainly had unusual powers. Bennett makes a brief reference to these in his book Witness, and many others have attested to them. While criticising Bennett's methods, Shushud impressed on him that "Your only home is the Absolute Void". However, Shushud eventually agreed that what Bennett was doing for young Western seekers was more suitable for them than his own strict methods of fasting and zikr.

In the same year (1973), Bennett began editing Gurdjieff's Third Series of writings, Life is Real Only Then When I Am, undertaking its publication on behalf of the Gurdjieff family (who were having difficulties in dealing with the Gurdjieff Foundation). He also revisited Turkey, meeting with Hajji Muzaffer Özak al-Jerrahi[10] (1916-1985), the Grand Shaykh of the Halveti-Jerrahi Sufi Order.

During the period of the second course at the Academy, a Theravada Buddhist monk and teacher from Cambodia named Bhante Dharmawara[11] (1889-1999) came to Sherborne at Bennett's invitation. During his visit Dharmawara introduced meditation techniques that continue to be practised by many people.

Other visitors to the Academy were Süleyman Dede[12] (1904-1985), head of the Mevlevi Order in Konya, as well as Süleyman Dede's disciple Reshad Feild (1934-2016). Idries Shah paid a brief visit during the first year, but soon left, with harsh views on the attitudes and disposition of the students.

Throughout the period of the Institute's existence, Bennett had been toying with the idea of founding a spiritual community. He saw the Sermon on the Mount as a document describing the true community. His contact with Idries Shah combined this in his mind with the possibility of establishing a Power House where 'enabling energies' could be concentrated. He set his sights on some kind of self-sufficient community, populated by Sherborne graduates, to evolve out of the school. He was profoundly influenced by contemporary ideas, such as those of Schumacher, about the need for alternative technology and by the argument of conservationists for intelligent, ecologically sound agriculture. He was also greatly impressed that his spiritual hero and inner teacher, Khwaja Ubaidallah Ahrar (15th century) had turned to farming after his period of training.

The soaring price of land in the UK led to Bennett's interest in starting something in the USA. In 1974, he signed an agreement whereby the Institute loaned $100,000 to a newly formed society for the foundation of a psychokinetic community. He signed this document shortly before his death on December 13, 1974.

The Claymont Society was founded to attempt to carry out Bennett's vision, but without the help of his guidance.

In the summer of 1974, he visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rome to question him about Transcendental Meditation and his interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. Bennett had been initiated into TM several years before and first met the Maharishi in 1959. He disputed Maharishi's presentation of the Gita in which he eliminated the need for sacrifice and suffering.

In the last year of his life, he gradually made it known to those working with him, that his own personal task centred on the creation of a way of religious worship that would be accessible to men and women of the West who were lacking in religious formation. During this period he made experiments with the Islamic namaz and Sufi zikr.

The teachings he developed in his last years were recorded and published in a series of books put together by Anthony Blake. He showed that at last he was independent of Gurdjieff and had his own understanding of the spiritual world, based on a radical questioning of all current assumptions.

Bennett died on Friday, December 13, 1974, shortly after the start of the fourth course. That course, and the fifth, were completed by his wife, working with a few of his most experienced pupils.

With his death the Institute was faced with the typical problems of a body which had been led almost single-handedly by one man since its inception. The decision was taken to continue the Academy's work until the five-year period, originally specified by Bennett, had been completed. The setting up of the USA community at Claymont Court, West Virginia, went ahead.

In the months before he died, Bennett worked to establish an experimental "ideal human society" embodying the methods and ideas that he had developed and derived from Gurdjieff. He made substantial efforts to overcome the rifts that had grown between different groups of Gurdjieff's followers, and was beginning to talk about the development of new forms of worship appropriate for the modern world.


• 1948. Crisis in human affairs. (2e ed. 1951)
• 1949. What Are We Living For? (A critique of western culture)
• 1956. Dramatic Universe, The (A search for a unified vision of reality)
• 1959. Concerning Subud.
• 1961. Christian mysticism and Subud.
• 1962. Approaching Subud; ten talks. And a discussion with Steve Allen.
• 1962. Witness: The Story of a Search (Dharma Book Company, and Hodder & Stoughton)(Autobiography)
• 1964, A Spiritual Psychology (1974, 1999)(a workbook for creating an organ of perception and mode of existence independent from the vagaries of life)
• 1964. Energies: Material, Vital, Cosmic (2e ed. 1989) (exploration of the theory of Universal Energies developed from Gurdjieff's hints)
• 1965. Long Pilgrimage (2e ed. 1983) (The life and teaching of the Shivapuri Baba)
• 1969. Gurdjieff: A Very Great Enigma (The ideas of Gurdjieff and the mystery that surrounded him)
• 1973. Gurdjieff - Making a New World (Biography exploring Gurdjieff's role in bringing ancient wisdom to the West)
• 1974. How We Do Things: The Role of Attention in Spiritual Life (Chapters on Function, Sensitivity, Consciousness, Decision, & Creativity)
• 1974. Sex: the relationship between sex and spiritual development (The relationship between sex and spiritual development)
• 1974, Transformation of man series

Posthumous publications

• 1975. Intimations: Talks with J.G. Bennett at Beshara (talks given to students of Reshad Feild, Bulent Rauf and of the great Sufi Mystic
• 1976. First Liberation, freedom from like and dislike (2002 ed. subtitle: Working with Themes at Sherborne House)
• 1976. Hazard: The Risk of Realization (First book of talks given on ideas found in The Dramatic Universe)
• 1976. Journeys In Islamic Countries (Diaries of Bennetts's search for the sources of Gurdjieff's teachings)
• 1977. Needs Of A New Age Community: Talks on Spiritual Community & Schools compiled by A. G. E. Blake from the unpublished writings and talks of J. G. Bennett. (Includes Bennett's commentaries on 'The Sermon on the Mount')
• 1977. Material objects
• 1978. Creation (Exploration of the idea that man lives in many worlds)
• 1978. Deeper Man (Gurdjieff's ideas applied to the critical condition of 20th century society)
• 1978, Transformation (2003) (The process by which a man can become a 'New Man')
• 1980. Idiots In Paris 1991. 2008. (Diaries of Elizabeth & J.G. Bennett in Paris with Gurdjieff)
• 1983. Spiritual Hunger Of The Modern Child: a series of ten lectures (Bennett, Mario Montessori, A.I Polack and others on the nature of a child's spirituality)
• 1989. Creative Thinking (1998) (The conditions necessary for creative insight)
• 1989. Sacred Influences: Spiritual Action in Human Life (Essays on the qualities of Life, Nature, Doing, Wisdom, God, and Sacred Images)
• 1993. Elementary Systematics: A Tool for Understanding Wholes (Conceptual tool to find pattern in complexity. A handbook for business)
• 1995. Making A Soul: Human Destiny and the Debt of Our Existence (Instruction based on Bennett's view of the fundamental purpose of human existence)
• 1995. Masters Of Wisdom: An Esoteric History of the Spiritual Unfolding of Life on This Planet (Historical study and a vision of the workings of higher intelligence)
• 2006. Way To Be Free. edited by Anthony Blake (Conversations between Bennett & his students on the difference between work done from the mind and work from essence)
• 2007. Talks On Beelzebub's Tales (From Bennett's talks on Gurdjieff's series 'Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson'.

See also

• Systematics – study of multi-term systems


1. Witness: The Story of a Search (Autobiography) (1974: Omen Press, Tucson, Arizona; First U.S. ed.). Hodder & Stoughton. 1962. ISBN 0-912358-48-3.
2. Certificate Photo[permanent dead link]
4. Hampton Court Archived 2015-04-03 at the Wayback Machine
5. Other forms of his name are: (1) Ferhâd Dede (2) Ferhât Dede.
6. Shaykh Abdullah al-Fa'izi ad-Daghestani Alayhi Rahma (December 14, 1891 - September 30, 1973).
7. Husein Rofé (May 3, 1922 - February 2008) - His name originally was Peter Rofé. He was born in Manchester, England, and he died in Singapore.
8. Abbey of St. Wandrille (aka Fontenelle Abbey) - This is a Benedictine monastery located in the commune of Saint-Wandrille-Rançon, near Caudebec-en-Caux, in Seine-Maritime, Normandy, France.
9. Hasan Lütfi Şuşud (Hasan Lutfi Shushud) (June 8, 1901 - January 1, 1988). His year of birth is given in many sources as 1902, which is incorrect. Also, his middle name Lütfi (Lutfi) is misspelled "Lufti" in many sources. See: (1) (2)
10. His name is also spelled: Hajji (Hadji) Muzaffer Özak Ashki al-Jerrahi (1916 - February 12, 1985). Some sources give his year of death as 1986, which is incorrect.
11. Bhante Dharmawara (February 12, 1889 - June 26, 1999) - Other forms of his name are: (1) Bellong Mahathera (2) Mahathera Vira Dharmawara (3) Samdach Vira Dharmawara Bellong Mahathera.
12. Süleyman (Suleiman) Dede (1904 - January 19, 1985) - A more complete form of his name is Süleyman Hayati Loras Dede.

External links

• Official website
• Bennett Books website
• The Gurdjieff's Mission video explores Bennett's enigmatic relationship with Gurdjieff
• John G. Bennett page at Gurdjieff International Review website
• "A Call for a New Society" by Bennett
• Systematics website including original journal articles
• Sabah newspaper from Turkey Bennett's signature from 16 May 1919, Istanbul[permanent dead link]
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Part 1 of 2

George Gurdjieff
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/5/19



George Gurdjieff
Gurdjieff between 1925 and 1935
Born George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, 1866–1877, Alexandropol, Russian Empire (now Gyumri, Armenia)
Died: 29 October 1949 (aged 71–83), Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
School: Fourth Way (the "Gurdjieff Work")
Main interests: Psychology, perennial philosophy
Notable ideas: Fourth Way, Fourth Way enneagram, Centers, Self-remembering
Influences: Not all known; but according to his Meetings with Remarkable Men: his childhood and adult teachers and his father; his book Beelzebub's Tales also mentions Mullah Nassr Eddin;[1] Max Müller (according to modern research)[2]
Influenced: P. D. Ouspensky, Olga de Hartmann, Thomas de Hartmann, Jane Heap, John G. Bennett, Alfred Richard Orage, Jean Toomer, Maurice Nicoll, Frank Lloyd Wright, P. L. Travers, Peter Brook, René Daumal, Katherine Mansfield, Keith Jarrett, James Moore, Philip Mairet, Henry Miller, Barry Long, Arnaud Desjardins, John Anthony West

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (/ˈɡɜːrdʒiɛf/, Russian: Георгий Иванович Гурджиев; 31 March 1866/14 January 1872/28 November 1877 – 29 October 1949[3]) was a mystic, philosopher, spiritual teacher, and composer of Armenian and Greek descent, born in Alexandrapol (now Gyumri), Armenia.[4] Gurdjieff taught that most humans do not possess a unified consciousness and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic "waking sleep", but that it is possible to awaken to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. Gurdjieff described a method attempting to do so, calling the discipline "The Work"[5] (connoting "work on oneself") or "the System".[6] According to his principles and instructions,[7] Gurdjieff's method for awakening one's consciousness unites the methods of the fakir, monk and yogi, and thus he referred to it as the "Fourth Way".[8]


Early years

Gurdjieff[9] (Russian: Гео́ргий Ива́нович Гурджи́ев, Greek: Γεώργιος Γεωργιάδης, Armenian: Գեորգի Գյուրջիև) was born to a Caucasus Greek father, Ἰωάνης Γεωργιάδης (Yiannis Georgiades),[10] and an Armenian mother, Evdokia (according to biographer Paul Beekman Taylor), in Alexandropol (now Gyumri), Armenia, then part of the Russian Empire in the Transcaucasus.[11] The name Gurdjieff represents a Russified form of the Pontic Greek surname "Georgiades" (Greek: Γεωργιάδης).[9] The exact year of his birth remains unknown; conjectures range from 1866 to 1877. Some authors (such as James Moore) argue for 1866. Both Olga de Hartmann, the woman Gurdjieff called "the first friend of my inner life", and Louise Goepfert March, Gurdjieff's secretary in the early 1930s, believed that Gurdjieff was born in 1872. A passport gave a birthdate of November 28, 1877, but he once stated that he was born at the stroke of midnight at the beginning of New Year's Day (Julian calendar). Although the dates of his birth vary, the year of 1872 is inscribed in a plate on the gravemarker in the cemetery of Avon, Seine-et-Marne, France, where his body was buried.[12]

Gurdjieff spent his childhood in Kars, which, from 1878 to 1918, was the administrative capital of the Russian-ruled Transcaucasus province of Kars Oblast, a border region recently captured from the Ottoman Empire. It contained extensive grassy plateau-steppe and high mountains, and was inhabited by a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional population that had a history of respect for travelling mystics and holy men, and for religious syncretism and conversion. Both the city of Kars and the surrounding territory were home to an extremely diverse population: although part of the Armenian Plateau, Kars Oblast was home to Armenians, Russians, Caucasus Greeks, Georgians, Turks, Kurds and smaller numbers of Christian communities from eastern and central Europe such as Caucasus Germans, Estonians and Russian sectarian communities like the Molokans, Doukhobors, Pryguny, and Subbotniki. Gurdjieff makes particular mention of the Yazidi community. Growing up in a multi-ethnic society, Gurdjieff became fluent in Armenian, Pontic Greek, Russian and Turkish, speaking the last in a mixture of elegant Osmanlı and some dialect.[13] He later acquired "a working facility with several European languages".[11] Early influences on him included his father, a carpenter and amateur ashik or bardic poet,[14] and the priest of the town's Russian church, Dean Borsh, a family friend. The young Gurdjieff avidly read Russian-language scientific literature.[15] Influenced by these writings, and having witnessed a number of phenomena that he could not explain, he formed the conviction that there existed a hidden truth not to be found in science or in mainstream religion.

Seeker of truth

In early adulthood, according to his own account, Gurdjieff's curiosity led him to travel to Central Asia, Egypt, Iran, India, Tibet and Rome before he returned to Russia for a few years in 1912. He was always unforthcoming about the source of his teachings. The only account of his wanderings appears in his book Meetings with Remarkable Men. Most commentators[16] leave his background unexplained, and it is not generally considered to be a reliable or straightforward autobiography.[17][18] Each chapter is named after an individual "remarkable man"; many are putatively members of a society of "seekers of truth".

After Gurdjieff's death, J. G. Bennett researched his sources extensively and suggested that these characters were symbolic of the three types of people to whom Gurdjieff referred: No. 1 centred in their physical body; No. 2 centred in their emotions and No. 3 centred in their minds. He asserts that he has encounters with dervishes, fakirs and descendants of the extinct Essenes, whose teaching had been, he claimed, conserved at a monastery in Sarmoung. The book also has an overarching quest narrative involving a map of "pre-sand Egypt" and culminating in an encounter with the "Sarmoung Brotherhood".[19]


Gurdjieff wrote that he supported himself during his travels with odd jobs and trading schemes (one of which he described as dyeing hedgerow birds yellow and selling them as canaries[20]). On his reappearance, as far as the historical record is concerned, the ragged wanderer had transformed into a well-heeled businessman. His only autobiographical writing concerning this period is Herald of Coming Good. In it, he mentions acting as hypnotherapist specialising in the cure of addictions and using people as guinea pigs[21] for his methods. It is also speculated that during his travels, he was engaged in a certain amount of political activity, as part of The Great Game.[22]

In Russia

From 1913 to 1949, the chronology appears to be based on material that can be confirmed by primary documents, independent witnesses, cross-references and reasonable inference.[23] On New Year's Day in 1912, Gurdjieff arrived in Moscow and attracted his first students, including his cousin, the sculptor Sergey Merkurov, and the eccentric Rachmilievitch. In the same year, he married the Polish Julia Ostrowska in Saint Petersburg. In 1914, Gurdjieff advertised his ballet, The Struggle of the Magicians, and he supervised his pupils' writing of the sketch Glimpses of Truth. In 1915, Gurdjieff accepted P. D. Ouspensky as a pupil, and in 1916, he accepted the composer Thomas de Hartmann and his wife, Olga, as students. Then, he had about 30 pupils. Ouspensky already had a reputation as a writer on mystical subjects and had conducted his own, ultimately disappointing, search for wisdom in the East. The Fourth Way "system" taught during this period was complex and metaphysical, partly expressed in scientific terminology.

In the midst of revolutionary upheaval in Russia, Gurdjieff left Petrograd in 1917 to return to his family home in Alexandropol. During the Bolshevik Revolution, he set up temporary study communities in Essentuki in the Caucasus, then in Tuapse, Maikop, Sochi and Poti, all on the Black Sea coast of southern Russia, where he worked intensively with many of his Russian pupils. Gurdjieff said, "Begin in Russia, End in Russia".

In March 1918, Ouspensky separated from Gurdjieff, settling in England and teaching the Fourth Way in his own right. The two men were to have a very ambivalent relationship for decades to come.

Four months later, Gurdjieff's eldest sister and her family reached him in Essentuki as refugees, informing him that Turks had shot his father in Alexandropol on 15 May. As Essentuki became more and more threatened by civil war, Gurdjieff fabricated a newspaper story announcing his forthcoming "scientific expedition" to "Mount Induc". Posing as a scientist, Gurdjieff left Essentuki with fourteen companions (excluding Gurdjieff's family and Ouspensky). They travelled by train to Maikop, where hostilities delayed them for three weeks. In spring 1919, Gurdjieff met the artist Alexandre de Salzmann and his wife Jeanne and accepted them as pupils. Assisted by Jeanne de Salzmann, Gurdjieff gave the first public demonstration of his Sacred Dances (Movements at the Tbilisi Opera House, 22 June).

In Georgia and Turkey

In 1919, Gurdjieff and his closest pupils moved to Tbilisi. There, Gurdjieff's wife Julia Ostrowska, the Stjoernvals, the Hartmanns, and the de Salzmanns gathered the fundamentals of his teaching. Gurdjieff concentrated on his still unstaged ballet, The Struggle of the Magicians. Thomas de Hartmann (who had made his debut years ago, before Czar Nicholas II of Russia), worked on the music for the ballet, and Olga Ivanovna Hinzenberg (who years later wed the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright), practiced the ballet dances.[24] In 1919, Gurdjieff established his first Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.

In late May 1920, when political conditions in Georgia changed and the old order was crumbling, his party travelled to Batumi on the Black Sea coast and then traveled by ship to Istanbul.[25] Gurdjieff rented an apartment on Koumbaradji Street in Péra and later at 13 Abdullatif Yemeneci Sokak near the Galata Tower.[26] The apartment is near the kha'neqa'h (monastery) of the Mevlevi Order (a Sufi Order following the teachings of Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi), where Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Thomas de Hartmann witnessed the sema ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes. In Istanbul, Gurdjieff also met his future pupil Capt. John G. Bennett, then head of British Military Intelligence in Constantinople, who describes his impression of Gurdjieff as follows:

It was there that I first met Gurdjieff in the autumn of 1920, and no surroundings could have been more appropriate. In Gurdjieff, East and West do not just meet. Their difference is annihilated in a world outlook which knows no distinctions of race or creed. This was my first, and has remained one of my strongest impressions. A Greek from the Caucasus, he spoke Turkish with an accent of unexpected purity, the accent that one associates with those born and bred in the narrow circle of the Imperial Court. His appearance was striking enough even in Turkey, where one saw many unusual types. His head was shaven, immense black moustache, eyes which at one moment seemed very pale and at another almost black. Below average height, he gave nevertheless an impression of great physical strength

Prieuré at Avon

In August 1921 and 1922, Gurdjieff travelled around western Europe, lecturing and giving demonstrations of his work in various cities, such as Berlin and London. He attracted the allegiance of Ouspensky's many prominent pupils (notably the editor A. R. Orage). After an unsuccessful attempt to gain British citizenship, Gurdjieff established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man south of Paris at the Prieuré des Basses Loges in Avon near the famous Château de Fontainebleau. The once-impressive but somewhat crumbling mansion set in extensive grounds housed an entourage of several dozen, including some of Gurdjieff's remaining relatives and some White Russian refugees.

New pupils included C. S. Nott, René Zuber, Margaret Anderson and her ward Fritz Peters. The generally intellectual and middle-class types who were attracted to Gurdjieff's teaching often found the Prieuré's spartan accommodation and emphasis on hard labour in the grounds disconcerting. Gurdjieff was putting into practice his teaching that people need to develop physically, emotionally and intellectually, hence the mixture of lectures, music, dance, and manual work. Older pupils noticed how the Prieuré teaching differed from the complex metaphysical "system" that had been taught in Russia.[27] In addition to the physical hardships, his personal behaviour towards pupils could be ferocious:

Gurdjieff was standing by his bed in a state of what seemed to me to be completely uncontrolled fury. He was raging at Orage, who stood impassively, and very pale, framed in one of the windows.... Suddenly, in the space of an instant, Gurdjieff's voice stopped, his whole personality changed, he gave me a broad smile—looking incredibly peaceful and inwardly quiet— motioned me to leave, and then resumed his tirade with undiminished force. This happened so quickly that I do not believe that Mr. Orage even noticed the break in the rhythm.[28]

During this period, Gurdjieff acquired notoriety as "the man who killed Katherine Mansfield" after Katherine Mansfield died there of tuberculosis under his care on 9 January 1923.[29] However, James Moore and Ouspensky[30] argue that Mansfield knew she would soon die and that Gurdjieff made her last days happy and fulfilling.[31]

First car accident, writing and visits to North America

Starting in 1924, Gurdjieff made visits to North America, where he eventually received the pupils taught previously by A.R. Orage. In 1924, while driving alone from Paris to Fontainebleau, he had a near-fatal car accident. Nursed by his wife and mother, he made a slow and painful recovery against medical expectation. Still convalescent, he formally "disbanded" his institute on 26 August (in fact, he dispersed only his "less dedicated" pupils), which he explained as an undertaking "in the future, under the pretext of different worthy reasons, to remove from my eyesight all those who by this or that make my life too comfortable".[32]

After recovering, he began writing Beelzebub's Tales, the first part of All and Everything in a mixture of Armenian and Russian. The book was deliberately convoluted and obscure, forcing the reader to "work" to find its meaning. He also composed it according to his own principles, writing in noisy cafes to force a greater effort of concentration.

Gurdjieff's mother died in 1925 and his wife developed cancer and died in June 1926. Ouspensky attended her funeral. According to Fritz Peters, Gurdjieff was in New York from November 1925 to the spring of 1926, when he succeeded in raising over $100,000.[33] He was to make six or seven trips to the US, where he alienated a number of people with his brash and impudent demands for money. Some have interpreted that in terms of his following the Malamatiyya technique of the Sufis, he was deliberately attracting disapproval.[34]

A Chicago-based Gurdjieff group was founded by Jean Toomer in 1927 after having trained in Prieuré for a year. Diana Huebert was a regular member of the Chicago group, and documented the several visits Gurdjieff made to the group in 1932 and 1934 in her memoirs on the man.[35]

Despite his fund-raising efforts in America, the Prieuré operation ran into debt and was shut down in 1932. Gurdjieff constituted a new teaching group in Paris. Known as The Rope, it was composed of only women, many of them writers, and several lesbians. Members included Kathryn Hulme, Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson and Enrico Caruso's widow, Dorothy. Gurdjieff became acquainted with Gertrude Stein through Rope members, but she was never a follower.[36]

In 1935, Gurdjieff stopped work on All and Everything. He had completed the first two parts of the planned trilogy but only started on the Third Series. (It was later published under the title Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Am'.) In 1936, he settled in a flat at 6, Rue des Colonels-Renard in Paris, where he was to stay for the rest of his life. In 1937, his brother Dmitry died, and The Rope disbanded.

World War II

Although the flat at 6 Rue des Colonels-Renard was very small for the purpose, he continued to teach groups of pupils throughout World War II. Visitors recalled the pantry, stocked with an extraordinary collection of eastern delicacies, which served as his inner sanctum, and the suppers he held with elaborate toasts to "idiots"[37] in vodka and cognac. Having cut a physically impressive figure for many years, he was now distinctly paunchy. His teaching was now far removed from the original "system", being based on proverbs, jokes and personal interaction, although pupils were required to read, three times if possible, copies of his magnum opus Beelzebub's Tales.

His personal business enterprises (he had intermittently been a dealer in oriental rugs and carpets for much of his life, among other activities) enabled him to offer charitable relief to neighbours who had been affected by the difficult circumstances of the war, and it also brought him to the attention of the authorities, leading to a night in the cells.

Final years

After the war, Gurdjieff tried to reconnect with his former pupils. Ouspensky was reluctant, but after his death (October 1947), his widow advised his remaining pupils to see Gurdjieff in Paris. J. G. Bennett also visited from England, the first meeting for 25 years. Ouspensky's pupils in England had all thought that Gurdjieff was dead. They discovered he was alive only after the death of Ouspensky, who had not told them that Gurdjieff was still living. They were overjoyed to hear so, and many of Ouspensky's pupils including Rina Hands, Basil Tilley and Catherine Murphy visited Gurdjieff in Paris. Hands and Murphy worked on the typing and retyping of the forthcoming book All and Everything.

Gurdjieff suffered a second car accident in 1948 but again made an unexpected recovery.

" was looking at a dying man. Even this is not enough to express it. It was a dead man, a corpse, that came out of the car; and yet it walked. I was shivering like someone who sees a ghost."

With iron-like tenacity, he managed to gain his room, where he sat down and said: "Now all organs are destroyed. Must make new". Then, he turned to Bennett, smiling: "Tonight you come dinner. I must make body work". As he spoke, a great spasm of pain shook his body and blood gushed from an ear. Bennett thought: "He has a cerebral haemorrhage. He will kill himself if he continues to force his body to move". But then he reflected: "He has to do all this. If he allows his body to stop moving, he will die. He has power over his body".[38]

[i]The body of Gurdjieff, lying in state, France. 'Every one of those unfortunates during the process of existence should constantly sense and be cognizant of the inevitability of his own death as well as of the death of everyone upon whom his eyes or attention rests'.

After recovering, Gurdjieff finalised plans for the official publication of Beelzebub's Tales and made two trips to New York. He also visited the famous prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux, giving his interpretation of their significance to his pupils.

Gurdjieff died at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. His funeral took place at the St. Alexandre Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral at 12 Rue Daru, Paris. He is buried in the cemetery at Avon (near Fontainebleau).[39]


Although no evidence or documents have certified anyone as a child of Gurdjieff, the following seven people are believed to be his children:[40]

• Cynthie Sophia "Dushka" Howarth (1924–2010); her mother was dancer Jessmin Howarth.[41][42][43] She went on to found the Gurdjieff Heritage Foundation.[43]
• Sergei Chaverdian; his mother was Lily Galumnian Chaverdian.[44]
• Andrei, born to a mother known only as Georgii.[44]
• Eve Taylor (born 1928); the mother was one of his followers, American socialite Edith Annesley Taylor.[40]
• Nikolai Stjernvall (1919–2010), whose mother was Elizaveta Grigorievna, wife of Leonid Robertovich de Stjernvall.[45]
• Michel de Salzmann (1923–2001), whose mother was Jeanne Allemand de Salzmann; he later became head of the Gurdjieff Foundation.[46]
• Svetlana Hinzenberg (1917–1946), daughter of Olga (Olgivanna) Ivanovna Hinzenberg and a future stepdaughter of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.[47][48]

Gurdjieff had a niece, Luba Gurdjieff Everitt, who for about 40 years (1950s-1990s) ran a small but rather famous restaurant, Luba's Bistro, in Knightsbridge, London.[49]


Gurdjieff claimed that people cannot perceive reality in their current condition because they do not possess a unified consciousness but rather live in a state of a hypnotic "waking sleep".

"Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies."[50] As a result of this each person perceives things from a completely subjective perspective. He asserted that people in their typical state function as unconscious automatons, but that a person can "wake up" and become a different sort of human being altogether.[51]

Self-development teachings

Main article: Fourth Way

Gurdjieff argued that many of the existing forms of religious and spiritual tradition on Earth had lost connection with their original meaning and vitality and so could no longer serve humanity in the way that had been intended at their inception. As a result, humans were failing to realize the truths of ancient teachings and were instead becoming more and more like automatons, susceptible to control from outside and increasingly capable of otherwise unthinkable acts of mass psychosis such as World War I. At best, the various surviving sects and schools could provide only a one-sided development, which did not result in a fully integrated human being.

According to Gurdjieff, only one dimension of the three dimensions of the person—namely, either the emotions, or the physical body or the mind—tends to develop in such schools and sects, and generally at the expense of the other faculties or centers, as Gurdjieff called them. As a result, these paths fail to produce a properly balanced human being. Furthermore, anyone wishing to undertake any of the traditional paths to spiritual knowledge (which Gurdjieff reduced to three—namely the path of the fakir, the path of the monk, and the path of the yogi) were required to renounce life in the world. Gurdjieff thus developed a "Fourth Way"[52] which would be amenable to the requirements of modern people living modern lives in Europe and America. Instead of developing body, mind, or emotions separately, Gurdjieff's discipline worked on all three to promote comprehensive and balanced inner development.

In parallel with other spiritual traditions, Gurdjieff taught that a person must expend considerable effort to effect the transformation that leads to awakening. The effort that is put into practice Gurdjieff referred to as "The Work" or "Work on oneself".[53] According to Gurdjieff, "...Working on oneself is not so difficult as wishing to work, taking the decision."[54] Though Gurdjieff never put major significance on the term "Fourth Way" and never used the term in his writings, his pupil P.D. Ouspensky from 1924 to 1947 made the term and its use central to his own teaching of Gurdjieff's ideas. After Ouspensky's death, his students published a book titled The Fourth Way based on his lectures.

Gurdjieff's teaching addressed the question of humanity's place in the universe and the importance of developing latent potentialities—regarded as our natural endowment as human beings but rarely brought to fruition. He taught that higher levels of consciousness, higher bodies,[55] inner growth and development are real possibilities that nonetheless require conscious work to achieve.[56]

In his teaching Gurdjieff gave a distinct meaning to various ancient texts such as the Bible and many religious prayers. He claimed that such texts possess meanings very different from those commonly attributed to them. "Sleep not"; "Awake, for you know not the hour"; and "The Kingdom of Heaven is Within" are examples of biblical statements which point to a psychological teaching whose essence has been forgotten.[57]

Gurdjieff taught people how to increase and focus their attention and energy in various ways and to minimize daydreaming and absentmindedness. According to his teaching, this inner development of oneself is the beginning of a possible further process of change, the aim of which is to transform people into what Gurdjieff believed they ought to be.[58]

Distrusting "morality", which he describes as varying from culture to culture, often contradictory and hypocritical, Gurdjieff greatly stressed the importance of "conscience".

To provide conditions in which inner attention could be exercised more intensively, Gurdjieff also taught his pupils "sacred dances" or "movements", later known as the Gurdjieff movements, which they performed together as a group. He also left a body of music, inspired by what he heard in visits to remote monasteries and other places, written for piano in collaboration with one of his pupils, Thomas de Hartmann.

Gurdjieff also used various exercises, such as the "Stop" exercise, to prompt self-observation in his students. Other shocks to help awaken his pupils from constant daydreaming were always possible at any moment.


"The Work" is in essence a training in the development of consciousness. Gurdjieff used a number of methods and materials, including meetings, music, movements (sacred dance), writings, lectures, and innovative forms of group and individual work. Part of the function of these various methods was to undermine and undo the ingrained habit patterns of the mind and bring about moments of insight. Since each individual has different requirements, Gurdjieff did not have a one-size-fits-all approach, and he adapted and innovated as circumstance required.[59] In Russia he was described as keeping his teaching confined to a small circle,[60] whereas in Paris and North America he gave numerous public demonstrations.[61]

Gurdjieff felt that the traditional methods of self-knowledge—those of the fakir, monk, and yogi (acquired, respectively, through pain, devotion, and study)—were inadequate on their own and often led to various forms of stagnation and one-sidedness. His methods were designed to augment the traditional paths with the purpose of hastening the developmental process. He sometimes called these methods The Way of the Sly Man[62] because they constituted a sort of short-cut through a process of development that might otherwise carry on for years without substantive results. The teacher, possessing consciousness, sees the individual requirements of the disciple and sets tasks that he knows will result in a transformation of consciousness in that individual. Instructive historical parallels can be found in the annals of Zen Buddhism, where teachers employed a variety of methods (sometimes highly unorthodox) to bring about the arising of insight in the student.


Gurdjieff's music divides into three distinct periods. The "first period" is the early music, including music from the ballet Struggle of the Magicians and music for early movements dating to the years around 1918.

The "second period" music, for which Gurdjieff arguably became best known, written in collaboration with Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann, is described as the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music.[63][64] Dating to the mid-1920s, it offers a rich repertory with roots in Caucasian and Central Asian folk and religious music, Russian Orthodox liturgical music, and other sources. This music was often first heard in the salon at the Prieuré, where much was composed. Since the publication of four volumes of this piano repertory by Schott, recently completed, there has been a wealth of new recordings, including orchestral versions of music prepared by Gurdjieff and de Hartmann for the Movements demonstrations of 1923–24. Solo piano versions of these works have been recorded by Cecil Lytle,[65] Keith Jarrett[66] , Frederic Chiu[67].

The "last musical period" is the improvised harmonium music which often followed the dinners Gurdjieff held at his Paris apartment during the Occupation and immediate post-war years to his death in 1949. In all, Gurdjieff in collaboration with de Hartmann composed some 200 pieces.[68] In May 2010, 38 minutes of unreleased solo piano music on acetate was purchased by Neil Kempfer Stocker from the estate of his late step-daughter, Dushka Howarth. In 2009, pianist Elan Sicroff released Laudamus: The Music of Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, consisting of a selection of Gurdjieff/de Hartmann collaborations (as well as three early romantic works composed by de Hartmann in his teens).[69] In 1998 Alessandra Celletti released "Hidden Sources[70]" (Kha Records) with 18 tracks by Gurdjieff/de Hartmann.


Main article: Gurdjieff movements

Movements, or sacred dances, constitute an integral part of the Gurdjieff Work. Gurdjieff sometimes referred to himself as a "teacher of dancing" and gained initial public notice for his attempts to put on a ballet in Moscow called Struggle of the Magicians.

Films of movements demonstrations are occasionally shown for private viewing by the Gurdjieff Foundations and one is shown in a scene in the Peter Brook movie Meetings with Remarkable Men.
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Gurdjieff wrote a unique trilogy with the Series title All and Everything. The first volume, finalized by Gurdjieff shortly before his death and first published in 1950, is the First Series and titled An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man or Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson. At 1238 pages it is a lengthy allegorical work that recounts the explanations of Beelzebub to his grandson concerning the beings of the planet Earth and laws which govern the universe. It provides a vast platform for Gurdjieff's deeply considered philosophy. A controversial redaction of Beelzebub's Tales was published by some of Gurdjieff's followers as an alternative "edition," in 1992. [See Paul Beekman Taylor's' Gurdjieff's Worlds of Words (2014) for an informed account.] On his page of Friendly Advice facing the first Contents page of Beelzebub's Tales Gurdjieff lays out his own program of three obligatory initial readings of each of the three series in sequence and concludes, "Only then will you be able to count upon forming your own impartial judgement, proper to yourself alone, on my writings. And only then can my hope be actualized that according to your understanding you will obtain the specific benefit for your self which I anticipate."

The posthumous second series, edited by Jeanne de Salzmann is titled Meetings with Remarkable Men (1963) and is written in a seemingly accessible manner as a memoir of his early years, but also contains some 'Arabian Nights' embellishments and allegorical statements. His posthumous Third Series, written as if unfinished and also edited by Jeanne de Salzmann (Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Am') contains an intimate account of Gurdjieff's inner struggles during his later years, as well as transcripts of some of his lectures. There is an enormous and growing amount written about Gurdjieff's ideas and methods but his own challenging writings remain the primary sources.

Reception and influence

Opinions on Gurdjieff's writings and activities are divided. Sympathizers regard him as a charismatic master who brought new knowledge into Western culture, a psychology and cosmology that enable insights beyond those provided by established science.[56] At the other end of the spectrum, some critics assert he was a charlatan with a large ego and a constant need for self-glorification.[71] Gurdjieff had significant influence on some artists, writers, and thinkers, including Walter Inglis Anderson, Peter Brook, Kate Bush, Darby Crash, Muriel Draper, Robert Fripp, Keith Jarrett, Timothy Leary, Dennis Lewis, James Moore, A. R. Orage, P. D. Ouspensky, Maurice Nicoll, Louis Pauwels, Robert S de Ropp, George Russell, David Sylvian, Jean Toomer, Jeremy Lane, Therion, P. L. Travers, Alan Watts, Colin Wilson, Robert Anton Wilson and Frank Lloyd Wright.[72]

Gurdjieff's notable personal students include P. D. Ouspensky, Olga de Hartmann, Thomas de Hartmann, Jane Heap, Jeanne de Salzmann, Willem Nyland, Lord Pentland (Henry John Sinclair), John G. Bennett, Alfred Richard Orage, Maurice Nicoll, and Rene Daumal.

Gurdjieff gave new life and practical form to ancient teachings of both East and West. For example, the Socratic and Platonic emphasis on "the examined life" recurs in Gurdjieff's teaching as the practice of self-observation. His teachings about self-discipline and restraint reflect Stoic teachings. The Hindu and Buddhist notion of attachment recurs in Gurdjieff's teaching as the concept of identification. His descriptions of the "three being-foods" matches that of Ayurveda, and his statement that "time is breath" echoes jyotish, the Vedic system of astrology. Similarly, his cosmology can be "read" against ancient and esoteric sources, respectively Neoplatonic and in such sources as Robert Fludd's treatment of macrocosmic musical structures.

An aspect of Gurdjieff's teachings which has come into prominence in recent decades is the enneagram geometric figure. For many students of the Gurdjieff tradition, the enneagram remains a koan, challenging and never fully explained. There have been many attempts to trace the origins of this version of the enneagram; some similarities to other figures have been found, but it seems that Gurdjieff was the first person to make the enneagram figure publicly known and that only he knew its true source.[citation needed] Others have used the enneagram figure in connection with personality analysis, principally with the Enneagram of Personality as developed by Oscar Ichazo, Claudio Naranjo and others. Most aspects of this application are not directly connected to Gurdjieff's teaching or to his explanations of the enneagram.

Gurdjieff inspired the formation of many groups after his death, all of which still function today and follow his ideas.[73] The Gurdjieff Foundation, the largest establishment organization influenced by the ideas of Gurdjieff, was organized by Jeanne de Salzmann during the early 1950s, and led by her in cooperation with other pupils of his. Other pupils of Gurdjieff formed independent groups. Willem Nyland, one of Gurdjieff's closest students and an original founder and trustee of The Gurdjieff Foundation of New York, left to form his own groups in the early 1960s. Jane Heap was sent to London by Gurdjieff, where she led groups until her death in 1964. Louise Goepfert March, who became a pupil of Gurdjieff's in 1929, started her own groups in 1957 and founded the Rochester Folk Art Guild in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Independent thriving groups were also formed and initially led by John G. Bennett and A. L. Staveley near Portland, Oregon.


Gurdjieff's notable pupils include:[74]

Peter D. Ouspensky (1878–1947) was a Russian journalist, author and philosopher. He met Gurdjieff in 1915 and spent the next five years studying with him, then formed his own independent groups at London in 1921. Ouspensky became the first "career" Gurdjieffian and led independent Fourth Way groups in London and New York for his remaining years. He wrote In Search of the Miraculous about his encounters with Gurdjieff and it remains the best known and most widely read account of Gurdjieff's early experiments with groups.

Thomas de Hartmann (1885–1956) was a Russian composer. He and his wife Olga first met Gurdjieff in 1916 at Saint Petersburg. They remained Gurdjieff's close students until 1929. During that time they lived at Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man near Paris. Between July 1925 and May 1927 Thomas de Hartmann transcribed and co-wrote some of the music that Gurdjieff collected and used for his Movements exercises. They collaborated on hundreds of pieces of concert music arranged for the piano. This concert music was first recorded and published privately from the 1950s to 1980s; then first issued publicly as the Music of Gurdjieff / de Hartmann, Thomas de Hartmann, piano by Triangle Records, with 49 tracks on 4 vinyl disks in 1998, then reissued as a 3-CD set in containing 56 tracks in 1989. A more extensive compilation was later issued as the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann Music for the Piano in 4 printed volumes by Schott between 1996 and 2005, and as audio CDs under the same title in four volumes with nine discs recorded with three concert pianists, by Schott/Wergo between 1997 and 2001. Olga de Hartmann (née Arkadievna, 1885–1987) was Gurdjieff's personal secretary during their Prieuré years and took most of the original dictations of his writings during that period. She also authenticated Gurdjieff's early talks in the book Views from the Real World (1973). The de Hartmann's memoir, Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff (1st ed, 1964, 2nd ed, 1983, 3rd ed 1992), records their Gurdjieff years in great detail. Their Montreal Gurdjieff group, literary and musical estate is represented by retired Canadian National Film Board producer Tom Daly.

Jeanne de Salzmann (1899–1990). Alexander and Jeanne de Salzmann met Gurdjieff in Tiflis in 1919. She was originally a dancer, Dalcroze Eurythmics teacher. She was, along with Jessmin Howarth and Rose Mary Nott, responsible for transmitting Gurdjieff's choreographed movements exercises and institutionalizing Gurdjieff's teachings through the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York, the Gurdjieff Institute of Paris, London's Gurdjieff Society Inc and other groups, she established in 1953. She also established Triangle Editions in the US, which imprint claims copyright on all Gurdjieff's posthumous writings.

John G. Bennett (1897–1974) was a British intelligence officer, polyglot (fluent in English, French, German, Turkish, Greek, Italian), technologist, industrial research director author and teacher, best known for his many books on psychology and spirituality, particularly the teachings of Gurdjieff. Bennett met both Ouspensky and then Gurdjieff at Istanbul in 1920, spent August 1923 at Gurdjieff's Institute, became Ouspensky's pupil between 1922 and 1941 and, after learning that Gurdjieff was still alive, was one of Gurdjieff's frequent visitors in Paris during 1949. See Witness: the Autobiography of John Bennett (1974), Gurdjieff: Making a New World(1974), Idiots in Paris: diaries of J. G. Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett, 1949 (1991).

Alfred Richard Orage (1873–1934) was an influential British editor best known for the magazine New Age. He began attending Ouspensky's London talks in 1921 then met Gurdjieff when the latter first visited London early in 1922. Shortly thereafter, Orage sold New Age and relocated to Gurdjieff's institute at the Prieré and in 1924 was appointed by Gurdjieff to lead the institute's branch in New York. After Gurdjieff’s nearly fatal automobile accident in July 1924 and because of his prolonged recuperation during 1924 and intense writing period for several years, Orage continued in New York until 1931. During this period, Orage was responsible for editing the English typescript of Beelzebub's Tales (1931) and Meetings with Remarkable Men (1963) as Gurdjieff' assistant. This period is described in some detail by Paul Beekman Tayloy in his Gurdjieff and Orage: Brothers in Elysium (2001).

Maurice Nicoll (1884–1953) was a Harley Street psychiatrist and Carl Jung's delegate in London. Along with Orage he attended Ouspensky's 1921 London talks where he met Gurdjieff. With his wife Catherine and their new-born daughter, he spent almost a year at Gurdjieff's Prieuré institute. A year later, when they returned to London, Nicoll rejoined Ouspensky's group. In 1931, on Ouspensky's advice he started his own Fourth Way groups in England. He is best known for the encyclopedic six volume series of articles in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (Boston: Shambhala, 1996, and Samuel Weiser Inc., 1996).

Willem Nyland (1890–1975) was a Dutch-American chemist who first met Gurdjieff early in 1924 during the latter's first visit to the US. He was a charter member of the NY branch of Gurdjieff's Institute, participated in Orage's meetings between 1924 and 1931 and was a charter member of the Gurdjieff Foundation from 1953 and through its formative years. In the early 1960s he established an independent group in Warwick NY, where he began making reel-to-reel audio recordings of his meetings which became archived in a private library of some 2600, 90 minute audio tapes. Many of these tapes have also been transcribed and indexed, but remain unpublished. Gurdjieff Group Work with Wilhem (sic-Willem) Nyland (1983) by Irmis B. Popoff, sketches Nyland's group work.

Jane Heap (1883–1964) was an American writer, editor, artist, and publisher. She met Gurdjieff during his 1924 visit to New York, and set up a Gurdjieff study group at her apartment in Greenwich Village. In 1925, she moved to Paris to study at Gurdjieff’s Institute, re-established her group in Paris until 1935 when Gurdjieff sent her to London to lead the group C. S. Nott had established and which she continued to lead until her death. Jane Heap's Paris group became Gurdjieff's 'Rope' group after her departure and contained several notable writers including, Margaret Anderson, Solita Solano, Kathryn Hulme and others who proved helpful to Gurdjieff while he was editing his first two books.

Kenneth Macfarlane Walker (1882–1966) was a prominent British surgeon and prolific author. He was a member of Ouspensky's London group for decades and after the latter's death in 1947 visited Gurdjieff in Paris many times. As well as many accessible medical books for lay readers, he wrote some of the earliest informed accounts of Gurdjieff's ideas, Venture with Ideas (1951) and A Study of Gurdjieff's Teaching (1957).

Henry John Sinclair, 2nd Baron Pentland (1907–1984) was a pupil of Ouspensky's during the 1930s and 1940s. He visited Gurdjieff regularly in Paris in 1949, then was appointed as President of the Gurdjieff Foundation of America by Jeanne de Salzmann when she founded that institution at New York in 1953. He established the Gurdjieff Foundation of California in the mid 1950s and remained President of the US Foundation branches until his death. Pentland also became President of Triangle Editions when it was established in 1974.


Louis Pauwels, among others,[75] criticizes Gurdjieff for his insistence on considering people as "asleep" in a state closely resembling "hypnotic sleep". Gurdjieff said, even specifically at times, that a pious, good, and moral person was no more "spiritually developed" than any other person; they are all equally "asleep".[76]

Henry Miller approved of Gurdjieff, not considering himself holy but, after writing a brief introduction to Fritz Peters' book Boyhood with Gurdjieff, Miller wrote that people are not meant to lead a "harmonious life" as Gurdjieff claimed in naming his institute.[77]

Critics note that Gurdjieff gives no value to most of the elements that compose the life of an average person. According to Gurdjieff, everything an average person possesses, accomplishes, does, and feels is completely accidental and without any initiative. A common everyday ordinary person is born a machine and dies a machine without any chance of being anything else.[78] This belief seems to run counter to the Judeo-Christian tradition that man is a living soul. Gurdjieff believed that the possession of a soul (a state of psychological unity which he equated with being "awake") was a "luxury" that a disciple could attain only by the most painstaking work over a long period of time. The majority—in whom the true meaning of the gospel failed to take root[79]—went the "broad way" that "led to destruction."[80]

In Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson (see bibliography), Gurdjieff expresses his reverence for the founders of the mainstream religions of East and West and his contempt (by and large) for what successive generations of believers have made of those religious teachings. His discussions of "orthodoxhydooraki" and "heterodoxhydooraki"—orthodox fools and heterodox fools, from the Russian word durak (fool)—position him as a critic of religious distortion and, in turn, as a target for criticism from some within those traditions. Gurdjieff has been interpreted by some, Ouspensky among others, to have had a total disregard for the value of mainstream religion, philanthropic work and the value of doing right or wrong in general.[81]

Gurdjieff's former students who have criticized him argue that, despite his seeming total lack of pretension to any kind of "guru holiness," in many anecdotes his behavior displays the unsavory and impure character of a man who was a cynical manipulator of his followers.[82] Gurdjieff's own pupils wrestled to understand him. For example, in a written exchange between Luc Dietrich and Henri Tracol dating to 1943: "L.D.: How do you know that Gurdjieff wishes you well? H.T.: I feel sometimes how little I interest him—and how strongly he takes an interest in me. By that I measure the strength of an intentional feeling."[83]

Louis Pauwels wrote Monsieur Gurdjieff (first edition published in Paris, France in 1954 by Editions du Seuil).[84] In an interview, Pauwels said of the Gurdjieff work: "... After two years of exercises which both enlightened and burned me, I found myself in a hospital bed with a thrombosed central vein in my left eye and weighing ninety-nine pounds... Horrible anguish and abysses opened up for me. But it was my fault."[85]

Pauwels claimed that Karl Haushofer, the father of geopolitics whose protegée was Deputy Reich Führer Rudolf Hess, was one of the real "seekers after truth" described by Gurdjieff. According to Rom Landau, a journalist in the 1930s, Achmed Abdullah told him at the beginning of the 20th century that Gurdjieff was a Russian secret agent in Tibet[citation needed] who went by the name of "Hambro Akuan Dorzhieff" (i.e. Agvan Dorjiev), a tutor to the Dalai Lama.[86] However, the actual Dorzhieff went to live in the Buddhist temple erected in St. Petersburg and after the Revolution was imprisoned by Stalin. James Webb conjectured that Gurdjieff might have been Dorzhieff's assistant Ushe Narzunoff (i.e. Ovshe Norzunov).[87]

Colin Wilson writes about "Gurdjieff's reputation for seducing his female students. (In Providence, Rhode Island, in 1960, a man was pointed out to me as one of Gurdjieff's illegitimate children. The professor who told me this also assured me that Gurdjieff had left many children around America)."[88]

In The Oragean Version, C. Daly King surmised that the problem that Gurdjieff had with Orage's teachings was that the "Oragean Version," Orage himself, was not emotional enough in Gurdjieff's estimation and had not enough "incredulity" and faith. King wrote that Gurdjieff did not state it as clearly and specifically as this, but was quick to add that to him, nothing Gurdjieff said was specific or clear.[citation needed]

According to Osho, the Gurdjieff system is incomplete, drawing from Dervish sources inimical to Kundalini. Some Sufi orders, such as the Naqshbandi, draw from and are amenable to Kundalini.[89]


Three books by Gurdjieff were published in the English language in the United States after his death: Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson published in 1950 by E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., Meetings with Remarkable Men, published in 1963 by E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., and Life is Real Only Then, When 'I Am', printed privately by E. P. Dutton & Co. and published in 1978 by Triangle Editions Inc. for private distribution only. This trilogy is Gurdjieff's legominism, known collectively as All and Everything. A legominism is, according to Gurdjieff, "one of the means of transmitting information about certain events of long-past ages through initiates". A book of his early talks was also collected by his student and personal secretary, Olga de Hartmann, and published in 1973 as Views from the Real World: Early Talks in Moscow, Essentuki, Tiflis, Berlin, London, Paris, New York, and Chicago, as recollected by his pupils.

Gurdjieff's views were initially promoted through the writings of his pupils. The best known and widely read of this is P. D. Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, which is widely regard as a crucial introduction to the teaching. Others refer to Gurdjieff's own books (detailed below) as the primary texts. Numerous anecdotal accounts of time spent with Gurdjieff were published by Charles Stanley Nott, Thomas and Olga de Hartmann, Fritz Peters, René Daumal, John G. Bennett, Maurice Nicoll, Margaret Anderson and Louis Pauwels, among others.

The feature film Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979), loosely based on Gurdjieff's book by the same name, ends with performances of Gurdjieff's dances taught known simply as the "exercises" but later promoted as movements. Jeanne de Salzmann and Peter Brook wrote the film, Brook directed, and Dragan Maksimovic and Terence Stamp star, as does South African playwright and actor, Athol Fugard.[90]


• The Herald of Coming Good by G. I. Gurdjieff (1933, 1971, 1988)
• All and Everything trilogy:
o Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson by G. I. Gurdjieff (1950)
o Meetings with Remarkable Men by G. I. Gurdjieff (1963)
o Scenario of the Ballet: The Struggle of the Magicians ISBN 978-0957248120 by G. I. Gurdjieff
o Transcripts of Gurdjieff's Meetings 1941–1946 ISBN 978-0955909054
o Life is Real Only Then, When 'I Am': All and Everything... ISBN 978-0140195859 by G. I. Gurdjieff (1974)
• Views from the Real World gathered talks of G. I. Gurdjieff by his pupil Olga de Hartmann(1973)

See also

• In Search of the Miraculous


1. "The 86 Sayings of Mullah Nassr Eddin".
2. Josephson-Storm, Jason (2017). The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences. University of Chicago Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-226-40336-X.
3. James Webb, The Harmonious Circle, Thames and Hudson 1980 pp. 25–6 provides a range of dates from 1872, 1873, 1874, 1877 to 1886.
4. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Edited by Michael Pittman. G. I. Gurdjieff: Armenian Roots, Global Branches. During the early period after Gurdjieff’s arrival in Europe in 1921 he gained significant notoriety in Europe and the United States... In October of 1922, Gurdjieff set up a school at the Prieuré des Basses Loges at Fontainebleau-Avon, outside of Paris. It was at the Prieuré that Gurdjieff met many notable figures, authors, and artists of the early twentieth century, many of whom went on to be close students and exponents of his teaching. Over the course of his life, those who visited and worked with him included the French author René Daumal; the renowned short story author from New Zealand, Katherine Mansfield; Kathryn Hulme, later the author of A Nun's Life; P. L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins; and Jean Toomer, the author of Cane, whose work and influence would figure prominently in the Harlem Renaissance... Numerous study groups, organizations, formal foundations, and even land-based communities have been initiated in his name, primarily in North and South America and Europe, and to a lesser extent, in Japan, China, India, Australia, and South Africa. In 1979, Peter Brook, distinguished British theater director and author, created a film based on Meetings with Remarkable Men.
5. Ouspensky, P. D. (1977). In Search of the Miraculous. pp. 312–313. ISBN 0-15-644508-5. Schools of the fourth way exist for the needs of the work... But no matter what the fundamental aim of the work is... When the work is done the schools close.
6. Nott, C.S. (1961). Teachings of Gurdjieff : A Pupil's Journal : An Account of some Years with G.I. Gurdjieff and A.R. Orage in New York and at Fontainbleau-Avon. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London and Henley. p. x. ISBN 0-7100-8937-6.
7. De Penafieu, Bruno (1997). Needleman, Jacob; Baker, George (eds.). Gurdjieff. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 214. ISBN 1-4411-1084-4. If I were to cease working... all these worlds would perish.
8. "Gurdjieff International Review". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
9. Shirley, John (2004). Gurdjieff: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas. New York: J.P. Tarcher/Penguin. p. 44. ISBN 9781585422876. The Caucasus Greeks of Kars Oblast were generally regarded as Russianized eastern Pontic Greeks and lived in areas and villages with large indigenous Armenian populations, which explains the variant spellings of the surname of Gurdjieff's father and the fact that like many in the Kars region he was of mixed Greek and Armenian parentage. Greek-Russian and Greek-Georgian were also very common combinations in Kars Oblast and Georgiaunder the Tsarist rule.
10. Taylor, Paul Beekman (1969). Gurdjieff and Orage. York Beach, ME: Weiser Books. p. x. ISBN 1-57863-128-9.
11. Challenger, Anna T. (2002). Philosophy and Art in Gurdjieff's Beelzebub: A Modern Sufi Odyssey. Amsterdam: Rodopi. p. 1. ISBN 9789042014893.
12. ... rticle1949
13. John G. Bennett, Witness, Omen press, Arizona 1974 p. 55.
14. Meetings with Remarkable Men, Chapter II. Gurdjieff uses the spelling "ashok".
15. "spirituality – BOOK OF DAYS TALES". Retrieved 2017-09-12.
16. J.G.Bennet 'Gurdjieff – Making a New World'
17. S. Wellbeloved, Gurdjieff, Astrology and Beelzebub's Tales, pp. 9–13
18. "T. W. Owens, Commentary on Meetings with Remarkable Men". 2000-04-01. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
19. Mark Sedgwick, "European Neo-Sufi Movements in the Inter-war Period" in Islam in Inter-War Europe, ed. by Natalie Clayer and Eric Germain. Columbia Univ. Press, 2008 p. 208. ISBN 978-0-231-70100-6
20. Gurdjieff, G.I: "The Material Question", published as an addendum to Meetings with Remarkable Men
21. Gurdjieff, G.I.: Herald of Coming Good, p22
22. Moore, pp 36–7
23. "James Moore, Chronology of Gurdjieff's Life". Archived from the original on 2015-02-19. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
24. Moore, James (1999). Gurdjieff. Element Books Ltd. p. 132. ISBN 1-86204-606-9. What name would you give such an Institute?
25. Thomas de Hartmann, Our Life With Mr. Gurdjieff (1962), Penguin 1974 pp.94–5.
26. "In Gurdjieff’s wake in Istanbul" Archived 2006-10-31 at the Wayback Machine, Gurdjieff Movements, March 2003.
27. "R. Lipsey: ''Gurdjieff Observed''". 1999-10-01. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
28. Fritz Peters, Boyhood with Gurdjieff.
29. Moore, James (1980). Gurdjieff and Mansfield. Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 3. ISBN 0-7100-0488-5. In numerous accounts Gurdjieff is defined with stark simplicity as "the man who killed Katherine Mansfield".
30. Ouspensky, In search of the Miraculous, chapter XVIII, p. 392
31. Fraser, Ross. "Gabrielle Hope 1916–1962". Art New Zealand. Art New Zealand. 30 (Winter).
32. Life is Only Real then, when 'I Am'
33. Taylor, Paul Beekman (2004). Gurdjieff's America. Lighthouse Editions Ltd. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-904998-00-6. What Gurdjieff was doing during the winter of 1925–1926...
35. Faidy, Diana. Diana Faidy - Reminiscences of My Work with Gurdjieff. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
36. Rob Baker, "No Harem: Gurdjieff and the Women of The Rope", 2000. Accessed 10 March 2013.
37. "J. G. and E. Bennett ''Idiots in Paris''". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
38. Perry, Whitall: Gurdjieff in the Light of tradition, quoting J. G. Bennett.
39. James Moore (1993). Gurdjieff – A Biography: The Anatomy of a Myth.
40. Paul Beekman Taylor, Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer (Red Wheel, 1998), p. 3.
41. Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman, The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship (Harper Collins, 2007), page 424
42. Jessmin Howarth and Dushka Howarth, It's Up to Ourselves: A Mother, a Daughter, and Gurdjieff (1998)
43. "Paid Notice - Deaths HOWARTH, DUSHKA - Paid Death Notice -". New York Times. 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
44. Paul Beekman Taylor, Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer (Red Wheel, 1998), page xv
45. "In Memoriam Nikolai Stjernvall – Taylor, Paul Beekman". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
46. Paul Beekman Taylor, Gurdjieff's America: Mediating the Miraculous (Lighthouse Editions, 2005), page 211
47. That Svetlana is considered to be a daughter of Gurdjieff by all his other identified children is cited in Paul Beekman Taylor, Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer (Red Wheel, 1998), page 3
48. Friedland and Zellman, The Fellowship (2006 edition). P.18, citing Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography. "In the winter of 1919, humoring a friend, she (Olgivanna) left her apartment to see a visiting Armenian-born mystic, a man who was said to teach dances that could develop the will. She was, she recalled, 'looking for something beyond the limits of my senses.'"
49. Planet, Lonely. "Thorn Tree - Luba's". Retrieved 2019-02-04.
50. P.D. Ouspensky (1949), In Search of the Miraculous
51. Jacob Needleman, G. I. Gurdjieff and His School Archived 2003-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
52. P.D. Ouspensky (1949), In Search of the Miraculous, Chapter 2
53. "Gurdjieff International Review". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
54. Gurdjieff, George. Views from the real world. E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc. p. 214. ISBN 0-525-47408-0.
55. P. D. Ouspensky (1949). In Search of the Miraculous Chapter 2
56. P. D. Ouspensky (1971). The Fourth Way, Chapter 1
57. Wellbeloved, Sophia (2003). Gurdjieff: the key concepts. Routledge. p. 109. ISBN 0-415-24897-3. ...different psychological terms in which the teaching of the Institute was presented...
58. P. D. Ouspensky (1949). In Search of the Miraculous, Chapter 9
59. "Gurdjieff's teachings were transmitted through special conditions and through special forms leading to consciousness: Group Work, physical labor, crafts, ideas exchanges, arts, music, movement, dance, adventures in nature ... enabled the unrealized individual to transcend the mechanical, acted-upon self and ascend from mere personality to self-actualizing essence." Archived 2008-06-20 at the Wayback Machine, Book review of Gary Lachman. In Search of the Miraculous: Genius in the Shadow of Gurdjieff.
60. P. D. Ouspensky (1949). In Search of the Miraculousm Chapter 1,
61. G.I. Gurdjieff (1963) Meetings with Remarkable Men, Chapter 11
62. See In Search of the Miraculous
63. Petsche, Johanna (2015). Gurdjieff and Music: The Gurdjieff/de Hartmann Piano Music and its Esoteric Significance. Leiden: Brill. pp. 1–279. ISBN 9789004284425. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
64. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (18 December 1999). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 60–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
65. Lytle, Cecil. "Cecil Lytle – List of Recordings". Archived from the original on 25 August 2011. Retrieved 30 May2011.
66. Jazz Discography Project. "Keith Jarrett Discography". Retrieved 30 May 2011.
67. "Hymns and Dervishes Album at AllMusic". AllMusic. Centaur Records. February 12, 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-04.
68. Archived August 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
69. Sicroff discography at AllMusic
70. "Hidden Sources". Archived from the original on 2016-05-21. Retrieved 2017-11-25.
71. Michael Waldberg (1990). Gurdjieff – An Approach to his Ideas, Chapter 1
72. Friedland and Zellman, The Fellowship, pp. 33–135
73. Seymour B. Ginsburg Gurdjieff Unveiled, pp. 71–7, Lighthouse Editions Ltd., 2005 ISBN 978-1-904998-01-3
74. Gurdjieff: an Annotated Bibliography, J. Walter Driscoll and the Gurdjieff Foundation of California, Garland, 1985.
75. Lachman, Gary (2003). Turn off your mind. The Disinformation Co. p. 13. ISBN 0-9713942-3-7. ... a hostile book on... Gurdjieff.
76. Taylor, Paul Beekman (2001). Gurdjieff and Orage. Samuel Weiser. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-609-25311-0. ...Orage revealed Gurdjieff's views of drugs and alcohol as conducive to 'insanity'[permanent dead link]
77. Miller, Henry (1984). From Your Capricorn Friend. New Directions Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 0-8112-0891-5. What I intended to say...
78. Ginsburg, Seymour (2005). Gurdjieff unveiled. Lighthouse Editions Ltd. p. 6. ISBN 1-904998-01-1. Without any doubt the human psyche and thinking are becoming more and more automatic.
79. See The Parable of the Sower
80. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7, 13–14.
81. Ouspensky, P. D. (1977). In Search of the Miraculous. Harcourt Brace & Co. pp. 299–302. ISBN 0-15-644508-5. G. invariably began by emphasizing the fact that there is something very wrong at the basis of our usual attitude towards problems of religion.
82. Archived November 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
83. Henry Tracol, The Taste For Things That Are True, p. 84, Element Books: Shaftesbury, 1994
84. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke Black Sun, p. 323, NYU Press, 2003 ISBN 978-0-8147-3155-0
85. Bruno de Panafieu/Jacob Needleman/George Baker/Mary Stein Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teachings, p. 166, Continuum, 1997 ISBN 978-0-8264-1049-8
86. Gary Lachman Turn Off Your Mind, pp. 32–33, Disinformation Co., 2003 ISBN 978-0-9713942-3-0
87. Gary Lachman Politics and the Occult, p. 124, Quest Books, 2004 ISBN 978-0-8356-0857-2
88. Colin Wilson G. I. Gurdjieff/P.D. Ouspensky, ch. 6, Maurice Bassett, 2007 Kindle Edition ASIN B0010K7P5M
89. Osho, Kundalini Yoga: In Search of the Miraculous, volume I, p. 208, Sterling Publisher Ltd., 1997 ISBN 81-207-1953-0
90. Panafieu, Bruno De; Needleman, Jacob; Baker, George (September 1997). Gurdjieff. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 28–. ISBN 978-0-8264-1049-8. Retrieved 14 April 2011.

External links

• International Association of Gurdjieff Foundations
• Gurdjieff Reading Guide compiled by J. Walter Driscoll. Fifty-two articles which provide an independent survey of the literature by or about George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and offer a wide range of informed opinion (admiring, critical, and contradictory) about him, his activities, writings, philosophy, and influence.
• Writings on Gurdjieff's teachings in the Elizabeth Jenks Clark Collection of Margaret Anderson Papers at Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
• Howarth Gurdjieff Archive at The New York Public Library
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:00 pm

Part 1 of 2

Letters from Rene Guenon to Julius Evola
by (Liber esse, scientiam acquirere, veritatem loqui)
Accessed: 11/9/19



Posted on 2012-07-16 by Cologero
We have 11 letters from Rene Guenon to Julius Evola in the span from 1930 to 1951. In earlier letters to Guido de Giorgio, we saw Guenon’s frustration with some of Evola’s views. Here, Guenon confronts Evola directly, although more politely than in his letters to de Giorgio. Evola claims to have read all of Guenon’s books; nevertheless, it seems he either misunderstood or rejected some significant aspects of Guenon’s view. I believe there is some of both.

For example, Evola does not seem to understand Guenon’s notion of the Intellect and thus shows little interest in ideas like the Supreme Identity. On the other hand, Evola is committed to his own philosophical system which differs from Guenon’s metaphysical writings in important ways. In a letter to Mircea Elide, as we will soon see, Evola points out indeed that his doctrine is contained in his philosophy of the Absolute Individual.

The first of the letters follows:

24 August 1930
Cairo, Egypt

You must have thought that I would not respond to your letter, which reached me in Paris a little more than a year ago.

The truth is that at that time I was quite ill and, subsequently, different unforeseen difficulties and commitments of every type made me always delay every correspondence that was not absolutely urgent. Time flew by quickly and I never succeeded in doing everything I wanted to. I’m taking advantage of the fact that I am close to a little stable in this residence to finally write you, asking you to excuse this excessive delay.

I have to tell you how little I was able to understand at all the interest that you showed in the reading of my books.

Obviously, the point of view you are assuming is quite distinctive and certainly cannot be mine, but I am pleased to see that that has not prevented you from getting rid of the anti-Oriental prejudice that, by your own admission, you used to hold. I wish that many others in the West would have the same attitude and come to understand the ancient doctrines of the Orient.

You ask me about [Jacques] Maritain; notwithstanding everything, I have always had friendly relations with him; as to ideas, we are in agreement especially on a negative point of view, that is, on “anti-modernity”. Apart from that, even he, disgracefully, is full of prejudices against the Orient; at least he was, because it seems that those prejudices since a short time ago have been attenuated; but, something strange, it is fed by a type of fear in the face of what one does not know, and it is a disagreeable thing, because it prevents him from broadening his own point of view.

But permit me to point out to you, from the moment that you read all my books that, after The Crisis of the Modern World, there is another, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, what was published last year.

Currently, I am working on The Symbolism of the Cross that will definitely be published toward the end of this year.

Excuse the briefness of my letter; I would like to be able to more or less get up to date with our correspondence.


Posted on 2012-07-22 by Cologero
The Truth is too high to receive the least insult.

It is unfortunate that we don’t have Evola’s letter to Guenon, although we can surmise what it contained. We see in this dialog, that Guenon is always the master. We have to agree with Guenon that Evola misunderstands certain principles that discolor his work in unfortunate ways. As for the inability to clearly distinguish the esoteric, or metaphysical/initiatic aspects from the religious/exoteric, Evola has created confusion in those whose understanding of Tradition is limited to Evola. It is not a matter of choosing or preferring one exoteric form over another. Hence, there are the mindless debates of paganism vs Christianity that are pervasive in counter-Traditional circles; the very fact of debating itself is an indication of the counter-Tradition.

It also makes Evola’s understanding of the Middle Ages quite confused, since he admires that period as Traditional, yet fails to adequately grasp its spiritual foundation. Yet Evola makes it very clear that what is required is an inner transformation, so this corrective would not radically alter his overall project.

Evola apparently wasn’t clear about the distinction between mysticism and the ascetic or initiatic path, although he referred often to it. For Guenon, they belong to different spheres, so there is not point to criticize mysticism, if that path is proper for a given person. This is also related to the distinction between salvation, which is meant for the majority, and liberation which is restricted to the few. Again, there is no value to disputing this question.

In practice, Evola’s choice seems to lead to a dead end, viz. to “ride the tiger”. Yet that is not at all the goal of an ascetic, heroic, or initiatic path. Rather, it seems to me, a man should devote his efforts toward Liberation, the Supreme Identity, that is, an overcoming of the modern world, rather than an uneasy accommodation to it. The rest of the letter speaks for itself, although I do not know who “P. A.” is.

23 February 1934
Cairo, Egypt

Forgive me once again for being so late in responding to your letter that I received with pleasure after such a long silence. But I have suffered from an acute eyesight weakness, and your letter reached me exactly at the moment when I was able to read it only after a very long time. The quantity of things of every type that had accumulated while I found myself in that impossible situation of working is such that, ever since, I have not yet succeeded in freeing myself from it and to regain that lost time.

I thank you for all your appreciations in regard to my works; and I think that in effect we can find ourselves in agreement, at least, on what concerns the conditions of the current world and the necessity of a return to the tradition and spirituality, if indeed it is still possible for the West, at the point in which things have currently reached.

As far as living far from Europe, I cannot perhaps precisely take into account certain tendencies; I must confess that I do not excessively trust in a “renewal” that, as much as I know of it, remains up to this point very superficial and somewhat confused: above all, except for rare exceptions, it is about vague and poorly defined aspirations, and it is very difficult to say what will result from it. But what is certain, is that we notice in very general lines how the people are no longer so satisfied with their own modern “civilization”, and that some begin to doubt the “progressive” pretense: as far as that goes, it is insufficient, nevertheless it is already at least something …

Regarding the problems brought up in your letter, permit me to tell you with great frankness that these difficulties appear to me especially to derive from the fact that you do not make a very clear distinction between the religious point of view of the one hand, and the metaphysical or initiatic, on the other. Whatever their relationships might be in certain respects, it is never necessary to confuse or mix them, since they refer to totally different domains, and they cannot consequently interfere with each other. The domain that defines religious truth belongs to what Hindu doctrine calls “non-supreme” knowledge; it is sufficient to put everything in its place and in its order because there is no conflict possible. Above all, it is necessary not to forget that mysticism belongs totally to the religious ambit; any comparison is therefore not possible between mysticism and metaphysics.

The two ways, without considering the very relevant differences of their modalities, are not, in reality, absolutely marked out to reach the same goal; and the “mystical union” is not the jivan-mukta, no longer that which “salvation” is not “Liberation”.

Everything that is religious, including mysticism, concerns individual possibilities, in the indefinite extension of which they are susceptible and does not go beyond them; on the other hand that is its reason for being. On the contrary, the reason for metaphysical realization is to proceed beyond [individual possibilities]; and this is why the one can serve as the base of the other. Nor was it the case for Christian esoterism of the Middle Ages, as it was always for Islamic esoterism; and, in this regard, I cited this aphorism that seems to me to be perfectly adapted to the argument: “As long as a man desired Paradise or has fear of Hell, he will not be able to aspire to the least grade of initiation”.

I must moreover bring to your attention the fact that the religious point of view is necessarily tied to certain historical contingencies, while the metaphysical point of view refers exclusively to the order of principles. To speak of “multiple avatars”, is to stick to the domain of appearances; nevertheless, in absolute reality, they are “the same thing”; the Christ principle is not multiple, whatever it can be made of its terrestrial manifestations or other types. The “Mediator”, according to all traditions, is the “Universal Man”, which is also the Christ; whatever the name by which he is called changes nothing, and I do not see what difficulty there can be in regard to this.

The “ascetic” way would be, in its type, more comparable to the initiatic way of what is not mysticism, if only in that it implies a method and a positive effort. Mysticism, for its part, is instead totally the opposite because of it passive character. The ascetic way can therefore be a preparation for a realization of another order, much more that the mystical way, which would even seem even incompatible with that goal.

But I do not think on the other hand that we can assert that some of what passes beyond elementary religion is open to all; asceticism belongs only to some, and mysticism to some other. As to what is beyond the religious domain, it is obvious that it concerns a much more restricted number of persons. Whoever finds his fulfillment at a certain level would make a very great error to try to pass beyond it. That concerns the question of a necessary hierarchy, against which all sophisms of democratic egalitarianism are impotent, though many of Catholics themselves today unfortunately are affected by it: and there are perhaps still a few of them who even suspect it.

In regard to your objection inherent to the domain of pure intellectuality, is it quite certain that it is even what it has as a goal? In that case it is still necessary to make an essential distinction: the texts that you cite are revolts against profane knowledge, not against sacred knowledge; and we absolutely do not confuse what is simply rational with what is purely intellectual. When I speak of profane knowledge, I understand by it, naturally, everything that is philosophy; the less the spirit is blocked from all those things, the better, certainly, and from the initiatic point of view even more than the religious. It would be necessary perhaps to include also a good part of theology, in so far as it contains many useless subtleties and is of a still quasi-philosophical nature. In any case, everything that is discussion and controversy is of a purely profane spirit. That said, it is necessary to add that pure intellectuality eludes on the other hand the religious domain; this is another thing and it stands to reason that sentiment and action have their part in it; yet again, it is necessary to put everything in the place that belongs to them, without allowing them any influence over a domain that is not their own.

Finally, pure intellectuality is in the same way indifferent in regards both to pride and humility, two opposed notions that are of a sentimental order in the same manner; those who pretend the contrary show clearly in that case that they do not have the least idea of what is truly intellectuality.

I see that you consider as valuable the incomprehension of P. A.; it would be somewhat difficult to find a more limited spirit than his; and, in truth, what a fine way of defending Christianity than by continuing to deny that its doctrine reaffirms a higher meaning to the nonsense of moral and social character than what one admits to often see in it! I don’t see in what a similar vulgarity would presuppose the intervention of a superhuman principle; fortunately, I have for my part a better idea of Christianity than his.

It is sad to see how persons of this type look to diminish all that is higher than them … The Truth is too high to receive the least insult.


Posted on 2012-07-30 by Cologero

Here we find Rene Guenon admitting the existence of initiatic organizations in the West, whether derived from Masonry or the Christian Hermetism of the Middle Ages. He himself was “initiated” in a Western form. These organizations may not be known, but it is not out of the question for them to reveal certain things from time to time.

Obviously, Julius Evola was interested in the four men discussed (Eliphas Levi, Meyrink, Bo Yin Ra, and Kremmerz), all of whom Guenon dismisses. I will offer the following comment here, not necessarily as a matter of fact, but as a matter of possibility, and not necessarily to be applied to those men. Guenon is not taking into account that Hermetists are often tricksters, with a cultivated public persona that may be quite different from their real understanding. Esoteric writings are couched in symbols and often contain deliberate contradictions and hyperboles. This was often necessary, in fact, when there was danger of crossing political and religious authorities, to hide the true meaning from outsiders, while being understood by initiates.

As for “speculative” masonry and Hermetism: if they are indeed residues of authentic initiations, there can be value in understanding their doctrines, being cautious of the potentials for misunderstanding without the corresponding “operative” teachings.

See Guenon/Evola Letter 7 Introduction for a more complete introduction.

18 April 1949
Cairo, Egypt

About what you say in regards to Schuon’s book, I don’t see exactly how the affirmation of the metaphysical identity of the possible and the real could be an “error”, actually just the opposite. Nevertheless, if there is anyone to whom this should be attributed, it was I and not he, since, long before him, I devoted a whole chapter (the second) of the Multiple States of Being to this problem.

As to the esoteric character of early Christianity, of which later Christianity was only an exteriorization (i.e., no longer having anything initiatic about it); we have no doubt about that, all the more since the Islamic tradition asserts it explicitly, claiming that Christianity, in its origins, was tariqa [way] and not sharia [law]; and the absence of sharia is in fact evident from the moment that, later, it had to supply it through an adaption of Roman law (whence “canon law” was derived), therefore with the contribution of something that was completely unrelated to Christianity (and it is necessary to note in this regard that the word in Arabic aqnun is still used today, in contrast to sharia, to define every law that is not integrated in the tradition).

After my latest books (especially the Perspectives on Initiation and the Reign of Quantity, since in the Great Triad I only used two or three articles), only there currently remain very few of my articles, as you noted, that have not yet been republished, at least among those that were intended to be copied in Ur. As for the articles on the Fedeli d’Amore, I must say that I had the intention for a long time to include them in a new edition of the Esoterism of Dante; I was not able to find the time to systematize it, but I did not abandon them and moreover it is likely that the edition is about to go out of print very quickly.

On the problem of Masonry, I believe that it will truly be very difficult for us to agree; but there are a few things that astonish me about what you say in this question. First of all, you make me say (without any qualification, for I had made quite clear that it concerned only the West) that “the only initiatic traditional organizations existing are the Compagnonnage and Masonry, and then you assert that I should not logically write that some Masons would seem to not take into account Oriental initiatic organizations, that otherwise exist and among which some have more or less numerous members in Europe itself. It stands to reason that it can at least write also for them. I add, to finish with this subject once and for all, that my writings can furnish to some people, unless they are associated with an initiatic organization, a theoretical knowledge of traditional doctrine that in itself is not unimportant and that otherwise it is unlikely that those, who are truly interested in it and have understood certain thing, do not then seek to obtain an initiation on the one hand or on the other (and, among the letters the I receive, there are many of them that demonstrate how in fact things go in this way). As to the Masons, they have had in this circle, in recent times, many more results than I myself had hoped.

Another thing: I said that in the Western world itself there still survive certain organization tied to Christian Hermetism and dating from the Middle Ages; if I have not stressed this more strongly, it is because they are so closed (one of those that I knew more in depth restricted its membership to just twelve) that the possibility of being admitted is in practice not even to be considered.

I come to another problem; if you make Masonry to be considered , or rather its origin, as an idea similar to what you express, I ask myself how you could have once had, as you had told me some time ago, the intention of developing a work on the rituals aimed at eliminating its anti-traditional elements that were introduced into it. Under these conditions it would be a totally useless task, and there is in that, I confess, something that is absolutely incomprehensible to me. [Before he was injured in Austria, Evola had been doing research on a book on Masonic rituals.]

However, what I would like you to take notice is this: the date of 1717 does not mark the origin of Masonry, but the beginning of its degeneration, something that is quite different; furthermore, because we can speak of a utilization of “psychic residues” in this time, it would be necessary to suppose that operative Masonry had then ceased to exist, something not true, from the moment that it subsists still today in different countries, and that in England, between 1717 and 1813, it participated effectively to complete certain things and to straighten up others, at least in the measure in which that was still possible in a Masonry reduced to being only speculative. In reality, the schism of 1717 involved just four Lodges, while there still existed a number of much higher Lodges that did not take part in it. On the other hand, where a regular and continuous filiation exists, the degeneration did not interrupt the initiatic transmission; it only reduced its efficacy, at least in general lines, because in spite of everything there could always be exceptions. As to the anti-traditional action of which you speak, it would be necessary in this regard to make some precise distinctions, e.g., between the Anglo-Saxon and Latin Masons; but, in any case, that only proves the incomprehension of the great part of the members of one or another Masonic organization, simply a question of fact and not of principle. Fundamentally, what could be said is that Masonry was the victim of infiltrations of the modern spirit, as in the exoteric order even the Catholic Church is in its current state even to a greater degree.

Of course, it is that I do not want at all to attempt to persuade you or anybody, only to make you see that the problem is much more complex than what you seem to believe.

Regarding the “initiatic strains” you mention, without denying at all their existence (and what I just said of certain existent Hermetic groups could otherwise be connected to them), I have to say that, for many reasons, I am very skeptical in the great number of cases, and that even the examples you cited are among those that seem to me to be more than dubious. Eliphas Levi was a Mason, and certain English circles with which he was in relationship were, to summarize, study groups, without a proper initiatic character, and were reserved exclusively to Masons; apart from that, I never found the least proof that he had received any other regular initiation, and all the stories that some have told about this can only be placed in the category of occultist fables.

Meyrink was certainly in the current of very numerous traditional ideas, especially of a Jewish source; but, not to mention that this presupposes precisely an initiation (I do not think that he was able to receive a truly Cabalistic initiation, the only thing without doubt to be taken in consideration in a case of the type), the burlesque manner and caricature with which he often presented these ideas leaves a truly sinister impression (a shame that I cannot tell you by letter all the efforts that I made to remediate certain detrimental consequences of The Green Face). Besides, his relations with the school of Bo Yin Ra (whose true origin I am probably the only one who knows, because I noticed that his own disciples did not know it) are not certainly a very favorable indication.

As for Kremmerz, there would be much to say, and it would require too much time. But what I saw of his writings and even certain rituals that were too clearly “fabricated”, gave me the impression of something of rather scant consistency, and that recalls the worst parts of Eliphas Levi’s work; in any case, the different groups into which his disciples split give the impression of not knowing absolutely how to direct themselves, and some admit to finding themselves at a true impasse.

I will add that, every time that it concerned self-styled Egyptian organizations, there were more serious reasons to be suspicious of them, because nothing authentic is found there and not even, quite often, of any consistency. As for an initiation received outside of the ordinary way of joining a known organization, if there are certainly some examples of them, but in these cases it was a question of extremely rare exceptions, and no one can be confident of finding himself in a similar condition to avoid a normal tie; to think of it differently would be self-delusion in a very serious way. As for me, since the age of 22 or 23, I was attached with some initiatic organization both Oriental and Western, from which you can take account that the supposition you advanced could not in any way be applied to my situation.

The doctrinal question that you speak about at the end of your letter is, fundamentally, less difficult than what it seems at first view: every “true man” has instead realized all the possibilities of the human state, but each one following a way that is congenial to him and thanks to which he differentiates himself from the others. Moreover, if it were not so, how could be there be a place here, in our world, also for other beings that have not reached this level? The same thing can also be applied, at another level, for the “transcendent man” or the jivan mukta; but then it is a matter of the totality of the possibilities of all the states.

Only, what is real, as weird as it can seem, is in fact that beings who have reached the same level can then be, in a certain sense, “indistinguishable” from the outside, even as far as it concerns the corporeal appearance; it happens in effect that they encompass a “type” that no longer has any individuality, and that occurs above all for those who carry out certain special functions: the ”type” is then that of the same function, something can make one believe that it is always the same being to exercise it over the course of a period of several centuries, while the reality is something completely different.


Posted on 2012-08-06 by Cologero

Letter VII repeats the same topics discussed in Letter VIII. I’m sure that Evola’s letters would be more interesting, but they are unavailable, presumably because Guenon’s family was not forthcoming about releasing his personal papers. We still see Guenon’s often curt and condescending tone in addressing Evola.

Evola still does not grasp the notions of the possible and the real; this will need to be explored. We see that Evola was still interested in certain marginal figures (from Guenon’s point of view). Curiously, Evola was interested in Eliphas Levi. Equally curious is Guenon’s admission about the existence of Hermetic organizations and his own “Western” initiation (Letter VII); in East and West, Guenon denied any existence of initiation in the West. My guess is that Evola was fishing for such organizations, but Guenon was not forthcoming on the grounds that (1) he does not give personal advice and (2) his own experience is of no interest to anyone else. Yet, it strains credulity to believe there were only 12 Hermetists in Europe.

Once again, I have omitted discussions about publishing, etc.

13 June 1949
Cairo, Egypt

[Discussions about publishing, etc. omitted]

As you imagine, it’s been quite some time since I had a chance to read your Revolt against the Modern Word. I will therefore make an effort to reread it when I can find some free time, in order to see if there are some points to make as you requested.

NOTE: Evola, at that time, was revising Revolt to be republished in a new edition.

[More discussions about publishing, etc. omitted]

According to what you explained to me this time, it seems that you consider the words “possible” and “real” in the sense of “non-manifested” and “manifested”; if that were so, one could say that it is merely a question of terminology and that, in spite of this expressive difference, we are basically in agreement on the point in question. However, such a use of the words “possible” and “real”, in a sense much different from how we use it, does not seem to be acceptable, because the non-manifested is not only just as real, but even more real than the manifested.

What I said last time regarding my ties with initiatic organizations (even though I don’t really like to speak of these things that ultimately can be of interest to no one outside of myself) was in response to what you wrote: “most often out of that secret society those capable of greater comprehension with respect to initiatic things were found, something that perhaps was verified in your own situation.”

That made me think you gave yourself the idea that, in my case, it could be a question of one of those pretended initiations without any regular ties, which, in my opinion, I could consider only purely imaginary. By the way, I will point out to you that, in Perspectives, I dedicated an entire chapter to explain the reasons why the word “secret society” is absolutely unacceptable in cases of the type of those which you referred to.

You think that, in Perspectives, we do not speak of Christian Hermetic organizations; but to the contrary, I expressly mentioned them even in the note to which you referenced and, if I didn’t talk about it more, it is because those whose existence I was able to come to know admits such a restricted number of members that they can be considered as inaccessible for all practical purposes. I also see that you have not well understood in what sense I spoke of “complex problems”. I only wanted to say with what in reality they have many more elements than what can be known through a study made “from the outside”; it is therefore totally contrary to something that could be defined as you thought.

As for the source itself of the question concerning Masonry, I clearly mean that I do not at all claim to convince you, and that otherwise you would have no interest in it. You say that in that case, it is a question for you only of the truth, but it is also the same even for me. You know moreover that I have never been concerned to entice anyone to join one or another organization, no more than to distance him from them. I only said in a very clear way that what could not be my role. I never had the time nor the interest to be concerned with individual cases and I always refused to give particular advise to anyone, for this thing as for any other. That said, I must however make two or three observations on what you tell me this time, and first of all on what concerns the other grades, since the true nature of the relationship between those and Masonry seems to elude you. When I speak of Masonry without further clarifications, it is always about Masonry properly called, including only the three grades of Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, to which can only be added the English grades of Mark and Royal Arch, totally unknown in “continental” Masonry.

Regarding the many other grades like those you refer to, it is obvious that internally there are some things of a quite different character, and that the connection which you wanted to establish between the different “systems” is completely artificial. I am furthermore less inclined to question what I myself wrote formally in a recent article; but, as that is the way with which all these things ended up by agglomerating themselves around Masonry, they do not form an integral part of it to any qualification and consequently it is not what is in question. Another point on which I would like to bring your attention is that when you say that the Lodges that had not adhered to the “speculative” schisms were not able to do anything to stop or rectify its consequences, it seems that you do not take into account things that nevertheless cover a certain importance, like the reestablishment of the grade of Master, totally unknown by those of 1717, or the action of the “Ancients’ Great Lodge”, whose independent existence continued up until 1813. To say so frankly, I have the impression that you always think only of what Masonry became at a certain period in Italy and France, and that you have no idea at all what concerns Anglo-Saxon Masonry.

To move on to other issues, I confess that I do not understand at all what realizations you mean concerning Eliphas Levi; in fact, like his filiation (or rather like drawing inspirations in his writings, since he himself died before that), there was nothing other than the occultist French movement of the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX, on whose insignificance I think we find ourselves in agreement.

For Kremmerz, I know well that a very unclear story is concealed underneath, but that it gives rise to many doubts, at least because I was never able to find any proof about the real existence of the organization to which he would have belonged. In any case, even if he had personally received an authentic initiation, that would still demonstrate nothing for the organization he founded, insofar as there were other cases of the same type (e.g., that of Inayat Khan, who belonged to a regular tariqa in India, but whose self-styled “Order of Sufis” corresponded absolutely to nothing); everything that I can say, is that his rituals are more or less “Egyptian” like those of Cagliostro!

There could nevertheless be certain realizations totally within that circle, as you say, but they do not go beyond the psychic domain, something that entails nothing of the truly initiated. I add that, after Kremmerz’ death, the different groups into which his organization divided appear absolutely not to know where to turn. I notice that, concerning Eliphas Levi, I forgot to cite the use of his works by Albert Pike; but in that case it is a matter of an influence exercised (otherwise indirectly) on the interpretation of the other grades of the Scottish Rite, something that does not proceed even in the direction you have seen.

There are certainly cases in which an influence of the counter-initiation is quite visible, and among them, it is necessary to include those in which traditional information is present in a manner of a willful parody; this is above all Meyrink’s case, something that, well intended, does not mean that he was perforce conscious of the influence that was exercised over him. Here is why I am amazed that you seem to have a certain esteem in regard to Meyrink, and all the more than he had besides belonged to Bo Yin Ra’s movement, for which you clearly had no regard.

NOTE: As long ago as 1924, Evola reviewed some of Bo Yin Ra’s works. Although Evola did not render a fully positive judgment, he conceded that his doctrine had some interesting points.

In this regard, it is necessary on the other hand for me to make a rectification: certainly there was in Bo Yin Ra a little bit of charlatanism and mystification, but there was at least still more to him, because he was connected with a very strange organization that had its own headquarters in parts of Turkestan and represented a more or less deviant type of Tantrism. About that, I can certainly be certain (and perhaps I am the only one), at the time when the future Bo Yin Ra was still called Joseph Schneider and studied painting in Paris, some members of the organization in discussion made it known to me one day that he was the only European to be a part of it. Later, I also saw the portrait that Bo Yin Ra had made of his “Master” and that it was perfectly recognizable for me; in such occasions, I was able on the other hand to question whether even his most intimate disciples knew absolutely anything at all about that, and I was very aware of letting them in on what I myself knew of it.

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:27 pm

Part 2 of 2

Posted on 2012-08-13 by Cologero

Main points:

The two correspondents agree to disagree about Masonry
Guenon gets a little snarky about the possible and the real
Guenon considers Inayat Khan to be absurd
Guenon teaches Evola about Islam, including role of Melchizedek, the coming Imam, and the meaning of infallibility and impeccability
Guenon had high regard for Mircea Eliade.
Guenon believed in witches and sorcerors
He tells a strange story about a spell cast on Leon de Poncins. We will have more to say about the latter at some other point.
Guenon tells an even stranger story about a Jewish lawyer, but we are left hanging.
Guenon explains why he never allows photos to be taken of him.
Since Evola neither knew Guenon’s age nor had ever seen a photograph of him, it proves that they had never met each other in person … no matter what others might claim.
2 August 1949
Cairo, Egypt

[Discussions about publishing, translations, and the proofs of Revolt omitted]

Regarding Revolt, you are doubtlessly correct: it will be simpler if you send me the proofs and I send back my observations after reading them, because otherwise you may have already modified something that I had noted.

Inayat Khan, whom I also knew, was regularly associated with the tariqah Chishtiya, one of the most widespread in India and totally orthodox; something that did not prevent the organization he founded to be completely the fruit of his fantasy and lacking any value; the name, “order of Sufis” that he gave it is also truly absurd.

As for the Masonic question, I think like you that it is useless to revisit it again. I only point out that as you say yourself this time, it is good to understand how is not possible to speak of “Masonry” meaning a type of global entity, that in reality does not exist, or rather, if you prefer, exists only in the line of principle and which one cannot attribute it to any more or less exterior action: the refusal by some of its branches to recognize others whose deviations they criticize sufficiently proves on the other hand that there does not exist in this regard any unity.

The problem of the possible and the real seems very simple and obvious to me, but, of course, under the condition of examining it from the metaphysical point of view; it is obvious that, from the philosophical point of view, one can always think anything whatsoever and discuss a problem endlessly without ever reaching a conclusion; it is even what characterizes profane speculation, and I have never been able to entertain any interest for those so-called “problems” that fundamentally have only a verbal existence.

Melchizedek corresponds, in Islamic esoterism, to the function of the Qutb, as I have otherwise explained in King of the World; to the contrary, El-Khider is the Master of the Afrad, which are found outside the jurisdiction of the Qutb and is said that they are not even known by it; in this regard, the Koranic story of the meeting between El-Khidr and Moses (Surat El-Kalif) is otherwise very significant. The way of the Afrad is something absolutely exceptional, and no one can choose it on his own initiative; it is about an initiation received beyond the ordinary means and belongs in reality to another chain (perhaps you can find an article of Abdul-Hadi in which he deals with these two chains, even if his definitions are not perhaps very clear).

In the Jewish Kabbalah, the same distinction is found expressed through the duality of Metatron and Sandalphon.

The invisible Imam is something completely different: those who admit his existence generally think that it is he who has to appear as the Mahdi; he is on the other hand defined as “el-Muntazer”, that could mean, the “expected one”, but that is interpreted almost always as “he who waits”.

Doctrinal infallibility belongs to whoever exercises legitimately a traditional function, naturally within the limits of that same function.

The issue of “impeccability” is quite different, and it is usually considered, at least in orthodox tradition, as reserved to the Prophet: if it happens that he sometimes performs some acts that could seem reprehensible from an exterior point of view, it is only a question of an appearance, and such actions should in reality justify for the reason that elude the understanding of ordinary men.

I can provide yew some news about Mircea Eliade: he published, as you might know, three articles from his journal Zalmoxis, the last of which in 1942; after that, he spent the rest of the war in Portugal, and subsequently he returned to Paris where he still is today. He has had many items published recently: Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, the Myth of the Eternal Return, and the History of Religious Ideas (which I have not yet had time to read), without mentioning the many important articles in the Revue de l’Histoire des Religions. I don’t have his address, but I think I can easily find it out and will then let you know.

As for Leon de Poncins, it is a matter of a rather unpleasant story: shortly before the war, a certain Eve Louguet was his secretary who took part in a group of dangerous sorcerers. He himself was a victim of these people and concerning the people who by chance saw him again around 1940, they reported to me that he seemed to have undergone a true collapse. I never knew what became of him since, but, in such conditions, I have many doubts that he can still be alive. [He actually outlived both Guenon and Evola. ~ ed.]

What is strange is that in the same period, one of the individuals in question tried to start a correspondence with me for some reason. At that time I did not know what it was about, but very soon the affair appeared suspicious to me, so that I immediately gave him a clean break.

I recently had the chance to speak about you with Mr. M., who has for more than a year been representing Argentina in Cairo and he informed me that he had known you at one time.

He intends to translate Man and his Becoming into Spanish; up until now, only the General Introduction has been translated into that language, in a version published in Buenos Aires during the war.

Since you asked me my age, I am 62 years old; I knew that you had to be younger than I, but I didn’t think that the difference was so great. [Evola was 51 at the time.] As for my photograph, I am sorry that I cannot satisfy your request, but the truth is that I don’t have any, and for many reasons. In fact, first of all what could be called a matter of principle that commits me, as you say, to give no importance to anything that is of a simply individual character. But, beyond that, I am also cautious that it could present some danger: about 15 years ago, I was informed that a certain Jewish lawyer was poking all around here to procure one of my photographs, claiming to be willing to pay any price. I never knew what he truly wanted to do with it, but what is certain in any case is that his intentions were not at all benevolent. Since one never knows where a photograph can end up, I concluded from the episode that it was much more prudent to not take one.


Posted on 2012-08-20 by Cologero

Guenon explains more about impeccability
Guenon expands on the powers of sorcerers and that no one is safe from their spells
Guenon offers opinions on Thomas Palamidessi, Carl Jung, Meher Baba, the Golden Dawn, and Aleister Crowley
29 October 1949
Cairo, Egypt

I received your letter of 4 September about eight days ago; I wonder if you were able to reach Eliade, although I rushed to send you his address in Capri. A short time after I wrote you, I knew that he had already returned to Paris; it seems that he did not take a very long vacation.

[Discussions and complaints about publishing and editors omitted]

Abdul-Hadi’s article, which I spoke about, entitled Pages dedicated to Mercury, was republished in “Etudes Traditionnelles”, but I realized that occurred only after the war, which explains the reason why you aren’t familiar with him.

As for “impeccability”, it goes without saying that it must belong equally to all who have reached a certain spiritual level. But, excluding the case of the prophetic mission, the possession of such a state concerns only that same person who received it, and no one else can speak on its merit or care about it, hence the absence of every explicit affirmation in this regard in orthodox doctrine.

If I learn something about Leon de Poncins, I will let you know, but I still don’t know what happened to him. I believed, I no longer know exactly why, that he had to retreat to Switzerland during the war, but I was not able to confirm that.

Regarding evil spells, there is a great difference between true sorcerers like those with which he had to deal with and simple occultists. The latter, notwithstanding all their pretenses, never reach any effective result. There have often been some of them who attempted to do something against me and, also like you, I never heard anything about it at all.

On the other hand, when you think that things of that type should not be able to strike those who have a true spiritual vocation (but I don’t think however that can be said to have been that the case of Leon de Poncins), it is also necessary to make a distinction: if you want to speak of the psychic and mental side, you are absolutely correct, but things are quite different from the corporeal point of view and anyone can always be struck in this regard. Furthermore, since it has been passed down that some sorcerers succeeded in sickening the Prophet himself, I don’t even see who could boast of being secure from their attacks.

Thomas Palamidessi, whose writings you inserted into you letter, is again obviously another charlatan of the type of those who currently abound everywhere. But what is astonishing is that he again appropriated ideas found in your and other’s books, to use them in a way that can only discredit them; in such conditions, the works the he publishes should not require much effort to write.

I heard about Meher Baba in the past and his vow of silence, which does not seem to prevent him from responding in other ways to the questions that are asked of him, but I did not know that he has reappeared in recent times. I do not know if he ever was associated with any regular initiatic organization, but it seems dubious to me because he is a Parsi. Nothing of the type seems to exist among the Parsis of India, who moreover have conserved only rather incomplete fragments of their tradition (I speak of the Parsis of India, because those of central Asia have quite other knowledge, even if they keep it hidden).

I am quite astonished about how much you tell me in regards to Karoly Kerenyi, because I remember that in the past he had spoken very favorably about me; it had to be in 1939 or 1940, and at that occasion he had sent me his book Religion in Antiquity. On the other hand I reviewed it, but because of the suspension of “Etudes Traditionnelle”, I was able to publish it only after its resumption.

As for Carl Jung, his influence unfortunately is gaining ground everywhere, in France as in Italy and Switzerland, and he seems to me still more dangerous than Freud because of his pseudo-spiritual pretense. Recently I had to write an article about the deformations of the very idea of Tradition provoked by his theory of the “collective unconscious”.

The Golden Dawn was a self-styled Hermetic organization that fundamentally did not seem to have a very serious character, because it was from its beginnings an authentic mystification. It is true that this could serve to conceal some rather suspect things. Internally, the principle role was developed by MacGregor and his wife (Bergson’s sister). Only much later was Crowley introduced to it, as he also did in many other things. Even when it was not about rather insignificant pseudo-initiations (perhaps he was not at all the case for the Golden Dawn), his involvement introduced truly sinister influences into it, if from making of it something much more dangerous. The Golden Dawn has ceased to exist, following a misunderstanding among its members, but a part of them followed it up under the name of Stella Matutina.

To come back to Aleister Crowley, what you told me reminds me of the story that turned up in 1931 (I believe at least that was the exact date): while he was in Portugal, he suddenly disappeared. They found his clothes on the border of the sea, something that made them believe he had drowned. But it was only a simulated death, since they were no longer concerned about him and did not try to find out where he had gone. Actually, he went to Berlin to play the role of secret adviser to Hitler who was then at his beginning. It is probably this that had given rise to certain tales about the Golden Dawn, but in reality it was only about Crowley, because it does not seem that a certain English colonel named Etherton, who was then his “colleague”, had ever had the least relationship with that organisation.

A little later, Crowley founded the Saturn-Lodge in Germany; have you ever heard of it? There he called himself Master Therion, and his signature was to mega Therion (the Great Beast), something that in Greek gives exactly the numeric value 666.

"You are my Creator, but I am your Master — Obey!" [Mary Shelley, Frankenstein]

In the Saturn Lodges a definite connection was made between the subject of 'artificial astral beings' and Vampire mythology. The égregore and its incarnate 'tenant', the possessor of the highest degree in the FS, were fuelled by the vital sexual powers of all the lodge members. Both the FS and its successor the Ordo Saturni deliberately tried to create a form of astral vampire, which they hoped eventually to incarnate as a being of flesh and blood. It was a reversal of the Christian Eucharist, where the congregation consumes the supposed flesh and blood of God, in the form of bread and wine. If one believes that Gods are the creation of Man, then it follows that an order-egregore is also a God. To successfully create a Golem might therefore mean that with the Golem even a God could be vicariously destroyed; a dream of omnipotence realised. In the FS the office of Gotos permits a personality to be united with GOTOS UTUIT itself; the Outer Head of the Order (OHO) becomes the Inner Head of the Order (IHO). Deus est Homo - Homo est Deus, as was stated similarly (but unconnectedly) in Reuss and Crowley's Liber Agapé.

In the FS's magical system, the libido during sexual intercourse was transferred from the sexual partner to the astral égregore. In concrete terms, this meant all that heterosexual and homosexual activity was conducted with the use of wordshells/euphemisms (Holy, Logos, Saturn, etc.) to feed the égregore's vitality. These efforts to identify the Saturn Order with an (at least) astral Golem, a Homunculus, an image or statue brought to life, or else some other form of android to build up power, is quite different from the practises of other O.T.O. groups, who are effectively engaged in a quest for the 'Elixir of Life' in the form of psychosexual secretions to gain self-empowerment, or to contact spirits. Nonetheless, this has not prevented some membrs of the so-called 'Caliphate' O.T.O. from joining the Ordo Saturni; in the Saturn lodges this 'elixir' was mostly used for anointing the statue of the GOTOS.

-- Nosferatu's Baby (Much Too Much) Too hot To Handle, by Peter-R. Koenig


Political Platonism
by Cologero
Posted on 2019-11-05

The philosophical background of Guenon and his followers’ traditionalism is extremely close to the Platonic tradition … In other words, traditionalism can be taken as radical Platonism. ~ Alexander Dugin, Political Platonism.

Dugin’s purpose seems to be to make Tradition academically palatable, by couching it in Platonic language. Obviously, as we shall demonstrate, unlike Dugin, there are certainly correspondences with Plato. However, Guenon probably refers to Aristotle and the Scholastics more than to Plato, so we shall also rely on them in developing a “Platonic” political system. Unfortunately, Dugin makes this rather strange assertion:

Traditionalism offers the entire necessary philosophical, ideational, conceptual, and sociological apparatus [to oppose globalization].

Au contraire, Guenon rejected philosophy as now understood; a fortiori, he had no intention of creating any such apparatus, since it would be a symptom of modernity, not its cure. That is because Dugin presumes that Guenon created a “school” called “Traditionalism”. That would make his project just one opinion among many. Now Guenon anticipated that; this is what he wrote about “Traditionalism”:

[“traditionalists” refer] to people who only have a sort of tendency or aspiration towards tradition without really knowing anything at all about it; this is the measure of the distance dividing the “traditionalist” spirit from the truly traditional spirit, for the latter implies a real knowledge … ~ See The Absurdity of Traditionalism

I hate to sound harsh, but those are Guenon’s words. Dugin is not alone; even Charles Upton refers to a “School of Traditionalism”. And they are hardly alone in promoting that misunderstanding. Reputations are built on the ignorance of readers.

Since we are on the topic of Platonism, we must understand the distinction he made between opinion and real knowledge. Guenon is not interested in opinion, since opinions can be mistaken. Most thinkers are, since it is more fun to debate. On the other hand, knowledge is of Being or Reality and cannot be mistaken. Guenon calls the transition from opinion to knowledge as an “intellectual conversion” or “metaphysical realization”. For the soi disant Traditionalists, such knowledge is simply invisible to them, beyond their intellectual horizon, so they fail to understand it, and, worse, don’t even seek it.

Structure of Man and Society

We begin a Platonic political system with an understanding of the Being of man, who is constituted by the three soul forces, and united by a Self:

• Concupiscence (eros)
• Irascibility (thumos)
• Intellect (nous)
• The I

This is not a matter of opinion, but rather true knowledge of man’s Being. When this is applied to political life, we get the idea of castes:

• Workers and producers
• Those holding political power
• Those wielding spiritual authority
• The (one) leader, chief, king, emperor, etc.

Georges Dumezil documented the same socio-political structures in Traditional societies. Hence, those structures are not at all arbitrary, but follow from the Real structure of man and society. Alternative political systems are simply deformations of this. Usually, the political powers and spiritual authorities are not explicitly acknowledged but are illicitly smuggled in.

Being and Thought

As Thomas Aquinas points out in De Principiis Naturae, generation, or Being, requires three principles:

• being in potency which is matter (Prime Matter, or what Dugin calls Chaos)
• non-existence in act which is privation
• that through which something comes to be in act which is form (or essences)

That is, Existence is generated by essences imposing themselves on prime matter. We experience existence, but know essences. Modern dualistic philosophies separate existence and essence. However, there is no duality, even though the modern mind has trouble discerning essences. Spiritual vision must be developed in order to intuit the essences the generate phenomena.

Privation, which is the negation of form, adds a level of difficulty. Privation is known in Thought, but confused in Being. Therefore, care must be taken to distinguish the part of a being that is the manifestation of the form from privation which is the inability of the form to completely manifest itself. Only in God is there no privation, since His existence and essence are identical.

Struggle for Existence

Although some still hope for some Utopian time of peace, the struggle for Existence is part of the fabric of nature. Even in Eden, Adam was expected to work. That means he was incomplete, subject to privation, and still needed to manifest all his possibilities.

Moreover, there was temptation in the Garden in the form of the forbidden fruit and the serpent. Therefore, Adam still had to face the Greater Battle against his lower nature.

There is a persistent idea that the animals had a different nature from what we see now. However, the naming of the animals means that Adam understood their true nature. The beasts are wholly natural beings, with no supernatural graces, so the lions were certainly not dining on Impossible Burgers. Thomas Aquinas offers this rationale:

In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard to man, but also in regard to other animals. But this is quite unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man’s sin, as if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon. ~ Summa Theologica, 1 Q 96

Inasmuch as Man shares in the nature of animals, Man is involved in the Lesser Struggle against material forces and enemies. Work, temptation, and struggle are permanent aspects of life.

Since Traditional political arrangements deal with reality, not speculative thought, the horizontal struggle involves the battle to protect and defend man’s natural life. This includes the family, clan, tribe, and, of course, the City.

For a background on Guenon and Neoplatonism, see There is no God but God


There is no God but God
by Cologero
Posted on 2011-11-06

In Introduction to the Study of Hindu Doctrines, Rene Guenon includes a chapter on the relationship between theology and metaphysics. He writes:

The theological point of view is but a particularization of the metaphysical point of view … it is an application of it to contingent conditions, the mode of adaptation being determined by the nature of the conditions to which it must respond … From this it follows that every theological truth, by means of a transposition dissociating it form its specific form, may be conceived in terms of the metaphysical truth corresponding ot it, of which it is but a kind of translation.

Since everything has a reason for its existence, so does theology. In particular, man as he is a contingent being, will respond and understand theological language, while finding metaphysical language abstract and unapproachable. The other more important factor, de-emphasized or ignored by Guenon, is that metaphysical doctrine itself is secondary and derivative. Specifically, in a book dedicated to the six orthodox schools of Hinduism, which claim to be based on the Vedas, there is no mention of the contents of the Vedas themselves.

The authority of the Vedas derives from their claim to be a revelation from a higher source to rishis or seers in a state of higher consciousness. The Vedas consist of poems, prayers, descriptions of sacrificial rites and rituals, incantations, laws and so on, all things that Guenon might dismiss as “sentimental” when they are actually foundational.

As an example we can consider the metaphysical doctrine “Being is” and its theological equivalent, “God exists“. This equivalence was certainly known in the Middle Ages as we seen from Thomas Aquinas. Since what is Not Being, isn’t, the clear corollary is that there is only one God. Hence, a commitment to monotheism, provided it is properly formulated and understood, is necessary to tradition.

Guenon explicates the metaphysics of Being and non-being most fully in The Multiple States of the Being. Anyone with a logical mind and sufficient powers of concentration can follow his presentation; a fortiori, there is no requirement to be in a state of higher consciousness. For Guenon, Being is not the Infinite, which contains all possibilities. Being consists of all possibilities that are manifested. Non-being, then, consists of non-manifested possibilities as well as possibilities of non-manifestation.

Now Guenon is somewhat inconsistent in his various works. On the one hand in Hindu Doctrines, he makes the rather racist claim that “Westerners, including even those who were true metaphysicians up to a certain point, have never known metaphysic in its entirety.” Yet, he also claims that the Middle Ages knew Tradition and had true initiates. In particular, he writes that Western Neo-Platonism did indeed understand the Infinite. As Gornahoor has pointed out, the intellect of the Middle Ages was formed by the Neo-Platonists Plotinus, Augustine, and Boethius.

If God is the principle of Being, then how can God also be Infinite? Augustine understood the issue at stake. For Augustine, the possibilities in the Infinite are precisely what Plato means by ideas. Then, Augustine places these ideas in the mind of God. Plato, and even Guenon, assume the ideas subsist in a domain of their own. This solution poses a dual conundrum. First of all, their metaphysical status is unclear. For Guenon, unmanifested possibilities do not “exist”, otherwise they would be manifested possibilities. Hence, there is no way to “know” them, although he does claim to know them. Augustine recognizes this problem and solves it by putting the Ideas in the mind of God, so that they appear in consciousness but not in the world of manifestation. Hence, for Augustine God is beyond Being and is identical with the Infinite.

The other conundrum is more subtle and cannot be resolved by doctrine alone. One of the objections to Plato’s philosophy is the lack of an adequate explanation as to how the ideas become real or manifested. This is a question we discussed in our interpretation of Evola’s The Individual and the Becoming of the World. This requires the Will, a conclusion that Augustine also reached; the will is not amenable or reducible to any verbal or intellectual theory.

A final point to be made is the status of the possibilities of non-manifestation. Once, again, we see a complete understanding in the West of these, under the concept of privation. Rather than the trivial examples given by Guenon, Augustine relates this to the concept of “evil”, which, he claims, cannot have a real existence, but is really a privation of the Good. As for Guenon’s examples, the ideas of the Void and of the Silence are certainly known in the West.

Next we will discuss how we can know Being or God.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:43 pm

Aleister Crowley as Political Theorist, Part 1
by Kerry Bolton
Counter-Currents Publishing
September 2, 2010



No, it is not Winston Churchill. It is somebody far less evil.

Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), who styled himself the “Great Beast 666,” is an enduring presence both in the occult subculture and contemporary popular culture. He is hailed by some as a philosopher, magician, and prophet. He is condemned by others as a depraved egomaniac. But, for the most part, he is merely consumed for his shock value and diverting eccentricities.

Yet not much is known about Crowley as a social and political theorist who addressed the problems of industrialism, democracy, and the rise of mass man and society. Crowley’s social and political theory is grounded in a Nietzschean critique of morality and a metaphysical critique of modernity that often parallels the Traditionalism of René Guénon and Julius Evola.

The influence of Nietzsche is evident in Crowley’s aim of creating a new religion that would replace the “slave morality” inherent in the “Aeon of Osiris,” represented in the West as Christianity. A new Aeon of “force and fire,” the Aeon of Horus, “the Crowned and conquering child,” would be predicated on a new “master morality” expressed in Crowley’s new religion of “Thelema,” meaning “Will,” to be understood in Nietzschean terms as “Will to Power”: an endless upward striving to higher forms, individual and collective.

Crowley and Traditionalism

It may be surprising to group Crowley with Evola and Guénon as part of the counter-current to the leveling creeds of materialism, rationalism, and liberalism. Crowley, after all, is generally thought to have emerged from initiatic societies like Freemasonry and the Illuminati that promoted liberal humanism as a new “rationalist” religion, much as communism became a religion with its own saints, martyrs, holy wars, dogmas, rituals, and liturgies, despite its materialistic intentions.[1] Crowley, for instance, included Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Illuminati in his list of “saints” for his Thelemite Gnostic Mass.[2] The vast bulk of Crowley’s followers, moreover, are liberal humanists as well.

Guénon dubbed the attempts to promote liberalism and materialism in the guise of Tradition the “counter-tradition.”[3] In the words of the well-known 19th Century authority on occultism Eliphas Lévi,[4] a former Freemason[5] and socialist propagandist turned Catholic:

Masonry has not merely been profaned but has served as the veil and the pretext of anarchic conspiracies. . . . The anarchists have resumed the rule, square and mallet, writing upon them the words Liberty, Equality, Fraternity—liberty, that is to say, for all the lusts, Equality in degradation and Fraternity in the work of destruction. Such are the men whom the Church has condemned justly and will condemn forever.[6]

To this day, the French Revolutionary slogan “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is the motto of the French Grand Orient lodge of Freemasons. These anti-initiatic secret societies were engaged in an occult war, with political, social, moral, and economic manifestations.

But this is not the whole story.

Even within these Masonic and illuminist movements, genuine occultists sought a return to the mythic and the re-establishment of the nexus between the earthly and the divine.[7] Pre-eminent among them was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in Britain, where Crowley entered his magical apprenticeship. The Golden Dawn was closely associated with Freemasonry, but it seems likely that its leadership such as Mathers and Westcott identified with a traditionalist and un-profaned form of Masonry.[8] W. B. Yeats’ membership in the Golden Dawn also counts as evidence of a traditionalist current (even though Yeats was in bitter conflict with Crowley).

Surprisingly, Evola himself concedes that Crowley was, at least in part, a genuine initiate. Evola claims that the Golden Dawn, with which Crowley was involved, was “to some extent” a successor “to those of an initiatic character.”[9] Evola also granted that Crowley’s system of “magick” was drawn from traditional initiatic practices: “It is certain that in Crowleyism the inoculation of magico-initiatic applications is precise, and the references or orientations of ancient traditions are evident.”[10] (Given that Evola was writing of Crowley at a time when the world was in political ferment, and Evola was himself very much involved with that ferment as a critical supporter of Fascism, it is notable that even Evola did not explore the social and political implications of “Crowleyism,” especially given that Crowley’s expressed views were largely in accord with Evola’s.[11])

Crowley, therefore, despite some of his associations, should not be counted among the counter-tradition. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” were repugnant to him, and it was frankly absurd for him enroll Weishaupt[12] among the Telemite “saints.” Crowley’s inclusion of Weishaupt can perhaps be explained not by what he was for, but by what he was against. For Wesihaupt directed much of his conspiratorial energy against the Catholic Church, which on a very superficial level might have prompted Crowley’s admiration.

The initiatic Tradition championed by Evola and Guénon is fundamentally and frankly elitist and aristocratic. In Traditional society, “magick” was an integral part of life, a means of harmonizing human life with the cosmos. Thus there is no foundation for equality and democracy, as Lévi writes:

Affirmation rests on negation; the strong can only triumph because of weakness; the aristocracy cannot be manifested except by rising above the people. . . . The weak will ever be weak . . . the people in like manner will ever remain the people, the mass which is ruled and which is not capable of ruling. There are two classes: freemen and slaves; man is born in the bondage of his passions, but he can reach emancipation through intelligence. Between those who are free already and those who are as yet not here is no equality possible.[13]

Crowley rejected democracy for the same reasons as Lévi, Evola, and Guénon. In the Thelemic ‘bible’ The Book of the Law, Crowley writes of democracy: “Ye are against the people, o my chosen;”[14] about which Crowley commented: “The cant of democracy condemned.”[15]

Having rejected democracy and other mass movements as innately alien to the “Royal Art,” Crowley sought to develop the political and social aspects of Thelema, writing an uncharacteristically clear commentary on his ‘bible,’ The Law is for All: An Extended Commentary on the Book of the Law.

The Book of the Law

After Crowley predictably fell out with the leadership of the Golden Dawn, he spent several years traveling. In 1904 Crowley and his wife Rose were in Egypt, where according to Crowley, an event occurred that was of “Aeonic” significance. Crowley claims to have received a scripture for the “New Aeon,” channeled from the “Gods” through a supernatural entity called Aiwas from whom Crowley claimed to have received Liber Legis via automatic writing.[16] What was written by Crowley over the course of three days became the bible of Thelema, a Greek word meaning Will, which the Liber Legis proclaims as the name of the doctrine.[17]

Liber Legis reads in parts like a mystical rendering of Nietzsche, with a strident rejection of herd doctrines including Christianity and democracy. (Crowley lists Nietzsche as a “saint” in his Gnostic Mass.[18])

Under Thelema all doctrines and systems that restrict the fulfillment of the “will” or the “True Will,” whether social, political, economic, or religious, are to be replaced by the Crowleyite religion in a new aeon, the Aeon of Horus, “The Conquering Child.”[19] “Will” is the basis of Nietzschean evolution, and it becomes clear that Crowley was attempting to establish a Western mystical system of self-overcoming along the lines of ancient yogic practices of self-overcoming to achieve higher states of Being.

“Do what thou wilt” is the foundation of Thelema.[20] It does not mean a nihilistic “do what you want,” but “do your will” that is, your “true will,” which must be discovered by rigorous processes. Crowley states that the dictum “must not be regarded as individualism run wild.”[21]

Reflecting the individual “true will,” Thelemic doctrine describes “every man and every woman [as] a star.”[22] That is, each individual is a part of the cosmos but with his or her own orbit;[23] or what one might call an individual life-course.

Liber Legis states, “the slaves shall serve.”[24] Again this is Nietzschean in the sense that many individuals, probably the vast majority, do not have the will to discover and fulfill their “true will.” While everyone is a “star,” some shine brighter than others. In The Star Sponge Vision,[25] an astral revelation, Crowley explained this inequality as reflecting the “highly organized structure of the universe” which includes stars that are of “greater magnitude and brilliance than the rest.”[26] The mass of humanity whose natures are servile and incapable of what Nietzsche called “self-overcoming”[27] will remain as they are, their true wills being to serve the followers of—again in Nietzschean terms—a “master morality,”[28] those whom Liber Legis describes as being “Kings of the Earth,” those whose starry wills are that of rulers.[29] (If some of the prose supposedly dictated to Crowley by Aiwaz sounds remarkably similar to Eliphas Lévi, it might be because Crowley claimed to be reincarnated from, among many sages from ancient to recent times, Lévi himself![30])

Such a doctrine while individualistic is not anarchistic, nihilistic, or even liberal. It is the revival of castes. More here is implied than classes, which are an economic and materialistic debasement; castes reflecting a metaphysical order where each individual fulfils his function according to his true will—or duty, dharma—as manifestation of the cosmic order. To followers of the Perennial Tradition, caste is a manifestation of the divine order and not merely a some economic division of labor for crass exploitation.[31]

Crowley (or Aiwaz) does explain the fundamental anti-democratic and anti-egalitarian doctrine of Thelema in these terms, again reminiscent of Nietzsche:

We are not for the poor and sad: the lords of the earth are our kinsfolk. Beauty and strength, leaping laughter, and delicious languor, force and fire are of us . . . we have nothing to do with the outcast and unfit. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings; stamp down the wretched and the weak: this is the law of the strong; this is our law and the joy of the world.[32]

This hierarchical social order, while in accord with the perennial tradition, postulates a new aristocracy, the old having become debased and beholden to commerce. (Crowley himself was of bourgeois origins, so he ennobled himself with the title of “Sir Aleister Crowley.”[33]) Under the “Aeon of Horus”[34] the new aristocracy would consist of Nietzschean self-overcomers. Crowley specifically refers to the influence of Nietzsche in explaining the Thelemic concept: “The highest are those who have mastered and transcended accidental environment. . . . There is a good deal of the Nietzschean standpoint in this verse.”[35]

However, in contrast to Nietzsche as well as Guénon and Evola, Crowley also draws on Darwinism. After referring to the “Nietzschean standpoint” Crowley states in Darwinesque terms:

It is the evolutionary and natural view . . . Nature’s way is to weed out the weak. This is the most merciful way too. At present all the strong are being damaged, and their progress being hindered by the dead weight of the weak limbs and the missing limbs, the diseased limbs and the atrophied limbs. The Christians to the lions.[36]

Crowley saw an era of turmoil preceding the New Aeon during which the masses and the elite, or the new aristocracy, would be in conflict. Crowley wrote of this revolutionary prelude to the New Aeon: “And when the trouble begins, we aristocrats of freedom, from the castle to the cottage, the tower or the tenement, shall have the slave mob against us.”[37]

Crowley describes “the people” as “that canting, whining, servile breed of whipped dogs which refuses to admit its deity . . . ”[38] The undisciplined mob at the whim of its emotions, devoid of Will, is described as “the natural enemy of good government.” The new aristocracy of governing elite will be those who have discovered and pursued their “true will,” who have mastered themselves through self-overcoming, to use Nietzsche’s term. This governing caste would pursue a “consistent policy” without being subjected to the democratic whims of the masses.[39]



[1] Note for example the embalming of Lenin and his entombment at an edifice reminiscent of the stepped pyramids of ancient priest-kings.

[2] Aleister Crowley, Magick (Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1984), p. 430.

[3] Guénon, René, The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times (New York: Sophia Perennis, 2002).

[4] Pen name for Alphonse Louis Constant.

[5] Lévi makes an allusion to having taken the oath of the “Rosy Cross,” indicating he had been initiated into the quite high degree of Rosicrucian in Freemasonry. Eliphas Lévi, The History of Magic (London: Rider, 1982), p. 286.

[6] Eliphas Lévi, p. 287.

[7] Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1995).

[8] In this writer’s opinion in regard to Freemasonry, it is all a bunch of scabrous bastardy, which should be treated with suspicion, whether in its Grand Orient, “irregular” or United Grand Lodge forms. Westcott, founder of the Golden Dawn, for example regarded the “true religion” of Freemasonry to be Cabbalism. R. A. Gilbert, The Magical Mason: Forgotten Hermetic Writings of William Wynn Westcott, Physician and Magus (Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press, 1983), Westcott, “The religion of Freemasonry illuminated by the Kabbalah,” ch. 21, pp. 114–23.

[9] Julius Evola, “Aleister Crowley,” Mask and Face of Contemporary Spiritualism, (Bocca, 1932), chapter IX, ... r-crowley/

[10] Julius Evola, “Aleister Crowley.”

[11] The most comprehensive examination of Evola’s political and social views available in English translation is Men Among the Ruins, (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1992).

[12] Robison John, Proofs of a Conspiracy (Boston: Western Islands, 1967).

[13] Eliphas Lévi, The History of Magic, (London: rider, 1982), p. 44.

[14] Crowley, Liber Legis (“The Book of the Law”), (Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1976), 2: 25.

[15] Crowley, The Law Is For All (Arizona: Falcon Press, 1985), p. 192.

[16] Crowley was also however to call Aiwaz his own “Holy Guardian Angel,” or in mundane psychological terms his unconscious; therefore Liber al Legis could be regarded as an example of automatic writing, a likely explanation given that the writing styles of Aiwaz and Crowley are remarkably similar.

[17] For an account of Crowley’s occult career and the so-called “Cairo Working” where Liber Al Legis was written, see Colin Wilson, Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast, (Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press, 1987).

[18] Crowley, Magick (Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1984), p. 430.

[19] Part 3 of Liber Legis is the revelation of Horus as the God of the New Aeon , which aeonically follows that of Isis (matriarchy), and the present Aeon of Osiris, the religions of the sacrificial god, including Christianity. Horus is described as the god of war and vengeance. (Liber Legis 3:3).

[20] “There is no law beyond do what thou wilt.” Liber Legis 3: 60.

[21] Crowley, The Law is for all, p. 321.

[22] Liber Legis, 1: 3.

[23] The Law is for all, pp. 72–75.

[24] Liber Legis 2: 58.

[25] Crowley, The Law is for all, pp. 143–45.

[26] Crowley, The Law is for all, pp. 143–45

[27] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1969), pp. 136–38.

[28] “There is a master morality and slave morality…” Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1984), p. 175.

[29] Liber Legis 2:58.

[30] Magick, p. 430. Other “Thelemic saints” listed in the Gnostic Mass from whom Crowley claimed to be reincarnated included Mohammed and Swinburne. Thankfully, Weishaupt is not among the lineage.

[31] Evola, The Hermetic Tradition (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1995), pp. 89–100.

[32] Liber Legis 2: 17–21.

[33] Crowley, Magick, “Gnostic Mass,” “The Saints,” p. 430.

[34] “I am the Hawke-headed god of silence and of strength.” (Liber Legis 3:70).

[35] The Law is for all, p. 175.

[36] The Law is for all, p. 175.

[37] The Law is for all, p. 192.

[38] The Law is for all, p. 192.

[39] The Law is for all, p. 193.


Part 2 of 2.

The Thelemic State

Aleister Crowley, 1875-1947

The form of Thelemic government is vaguely outlined in Liber Legis, suggesting the type of corporatism: “Let it be the state of manyhood bound and loathing: thou has no right but to do what thou will.”[1] Contrary to the anarchistic or nihilistic interpretation often given Thelema’s “do what thou wilt,” Crowley defined the Thelemic state as a free association for the common good. The individual will is accomplished through social co-operation. Individual will and social duty should be in accord, the individual “absolutely disciplined to serve his own, and the common purpose, without friction.”[2]

Crowley emphasized his meaning so as not to be confused with anarchism or liberalism. While his Liber Oz (“Rights of Man”)[3] seems to be a formula for total individual sovereignty devoid of social restraint, Crowley stated: “This statement must not be regarded as individualism run wild.”[4]

In what might appear to be his own effort at a “papal encyclical” on good government, Crowley explains:

I have set limits to individual freedom. For each man in this state which I propose is fulfilling his own True Will by his eager Acquiescence in the Order necessary to the Welfare of all, and therefore of himself also.[5]

Crowley’s rejection of democracy and anything of what might be termed a “slave morality”[6] necessitated a new view of the state. Like others of his time, including fellow mystics such as Evola and Yeats,[7] Crowley was concerned with the future of culture under the reign of mercantilism, materialism, and industrialism. He feared that an epoch of mass uniformity was emerging. He saw equality as the harbinger of uniformity, again drawing on biology:

There is no creature on earth the same. All the members, let them be different in their qualities, and let there be no creature equal with another. Here also is the voice of true science, crying aloud: “Variety is the key of evolution.” Know then, o my son, that all laws, all systems, all customs, all ideals and standards which tend to produce uniformity, being in direct opposition to nature’s will to change and develop through variety, are accursed. Do thou with all thou might of manhood strive against these forces, for they resist change which is life, and they are of death.[8]

This biological rather than metaphysical approach was emphasized by reference to differences among humanity being caused by “race, climate, and other such conditions. And this standard shall be based upon a large interpretation of Facts Biological.”[9]

Referring to the passage in Liber Legis that states: “Ye are against the people, o my chosen!”[10] Crowley explained:

The cant of democracy condemned. It is useless to pretend that men are equal: facts are against it. And we are not going to stay dull and contended as oxen, in the ruck of humanity.”[11]

Thelema and Corporatism

The democratic state as a manifestation of equality and consequent uniformity was to be replaced by what is often termed the “organic state” or the “corporatist state.” This state conception may be viewed both biologically as in the organism of the body (hence “corporatist”) with the separate organs (individuals, families, crafts, etc) functioning according to their own nature while contributing to the health of the whole organism (society), with the state playing the role of the “brain,” the organ that coordinates the separate parts. In England corporatism was called “guild socialism,” among the Continental Left “syndicalism.”

Corporatism also had a metaphysical aspect, being the basis of social organization in traditional societies, including the guilds of Medieval Europe and the corporations of ancient Rome. In traditional societies, guild or corporatist social organization was, like all else, seen as a terrestrial manifestation of the cosmic order, the divine organism, and castes were primarily spiritual, ethical, and cultural organs, as distinct from the economic “classes” of debased secular societies. Hence, corporatism was advocated by Evola as the traditionalist answer to class society.[12]

Crowley’s conception of an organic state is described in De Ordine Rerum:

In the body every cell is subordinated to the general physiological Control, and we who will that Control do not ask whether each individual Unit of that Structure be consciously happy. But we do care that each shall fulfill its Function, with Contentment, respecting his own task as necessary and holy, not envious of another’s. For only mayst thou build up a Free State, whose directing will shall be to the Welfare of all.[13]

Hence Crowley, far from being a misanthrope, was concerned with freeing the individual from being part of a nebulous mass and providing sustenance for his material and thereafter cultural well-being as far as his nature allows. The deliberate cultivation of his image as “evil” must be viewed primarily as a perverse quirk, and in particular a result of his perverse sense of humor, his narcissistic personality, and his strict upbringing among the Plymouth Brethren, where he was delighted to have a mother who called him the Anti-Christ, which seems to have had a lasting effect on his thoughts and deeds throughout his life.

Leisure, the Basis of Culture

Crowley addressed himself to a major problem for unorthodox economic and social theorists, that of the reduction of working hours when a new economic system had secured physical abundance for all, and freed humanity from the economic treadmill.

Once the obligations to the social order had been met, there should be “a surplus of leisure and energy” that can be spent “in pursuit of individual satisfaction.”[14] Sufficient amount of leisure time free from strictly material pursuits is the basis of culture, and a flowering of culture in the Medieval era for example was a product of this, coupled with the spiritual basis of society.

Crowley, like the Social Crediters and certain non-Marxian socialists or social reformers, wished to change the economic system to reduce working hours. His comments about the role of money are astute. Like the Social Crediters, Crowley believed that a change in the role of money is necessary for changing the social and economic system. He was certainly aware of A. R. Orage’s New Age magazine, where the minds of Social Crediters, guild socialists, and literati met. (Crowley referred to the journal in another context in his autobiography.[15]) Crowley rather perceptively set out his economic and financial policy:

What IS money? A means of exchange devised to facilitate the transaction of business. Oil in the engine. Very good then: if instead of letting it flow as smoothly and freely as possible, you baulk its very nature; you prevent it from doing its True Will. So every “restriction” on the exchange of wealth is a direct violation of the Law of Thelema.[16]

Once the material welfare of the citizen is secured, then the energy expended on economic necessities can be turned to the pursuit of culture. Under the Thelemic state the citizen would be directed by the ruling caste to pursue the higher aspects of life leading to the flowering of culture: “And because the people are oft-time unlearned, not understanding pleasure, let them be instructed on the Art of Life.”[17] From this regime would follow a high culture in which each citizen would have the capacity to participate or at least appreciate: “These things [economic welfare] being first secured, thou mayst afterward lead them to the Heavens of Poesy and Tale, of Music, Painting and Sculpture, and into the love of the mind itself, with its insatiable Joy of all Knowledge.”[18]

Under the Thelemic state every individual would be given the opportunity to fulfill his true will. Crowley maintained, however, that most true wills or “stars” would be content with a satisfying material existence, having no ambition beyond “ease and animal happiness,” and would thus be content to stay where they are in the hierarchy. Those whose true will was to pursue higher aims would be given opportunities to do so, to “establish a class of morally and intellectually superior men and women.” In this state, while the people “lack for nothing,” their abilities according to their natures would be utilized by the ruling caste in the pursuance of a higher policy and a higher culture.[19]

Crafts and Guilds

Crowley also addressed the problem of industrialization and the role of the machine in the process of dehumanization, or what might also be termed by Traditionalists desacralisation,[20]:

Machines have already nearly completed the destruction of craftsmanship. A man is no longer a worker, but a machine-feeder. The product is standardized; the result, mediocrity. . . . Instead of every man and every women being a star, we have an amorphous population of vermin.[21]

Consistent with his advocacy of an organic state and with the re-sacralization of work as craft, Crowley expounded the guild as the basis of a Thelemic social organization. The guild was the fundamental unit of his own esoteric order, Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO):

Before the face of the Areopagus stands an independent Parliament of the Guilds. Within the Order, irrespective of Grade, the members of each craft, trade, science, or profession form themselves into a Guild, making their own laws, and prosecute their own good, in all matters pertaining to their labor and means of livelihood. Each Guild chooses the man most eminent in it to represent it before the Areopagus of the Eighth Degree; and all disputes between the various Guild are argued before that Body, which will decide according to the grand principles of the Order. Its decisions pass for ratification to the Sanctuary of the Gnosis, and thence to the Throne.[22]

This guild organization of the OTO thus represents society as a microcosm as the ideal social order that Crowley would have established under a Thelemic regime: “For, in True Things, all are but images one of another; man is but a map of the universe, and Society is but the same on a larger scale.”[23]

In Crowley’s blueprint of the corporatist state, each self-governing profession is represented in a “parliament of guilds.” This corporatist system was widely supported as an alternative to both capitalism and Marxism and was advocated by Evola and D’Annunzio, syndicalists, and Catholic traditionalists. It was embryonically inaugurated under Mussolini. Ironically from a Crowleyan perspective, Dollfuss’ Austria and Salazar’s Portugal embraced corporatism as applications of Catholic social doctrine.

The Hierarchy of the Thelemic State

Crowley calls the mass of people under his system of governance “the Men of the Earth” who have not yet reached a stage of development to participate in government, and would be represented before the Kingly head of state by those who are committed to service.[24] The governing caste comprises a Senate drawn from an Electoral College,[25] those individuals committed to service through personal “renunciation,” including the renunciation of property and wealth, having taken a “vow of poverty.”[26] Of course the universal franchise has no place in the selection of Thelemic government:

The principle of popular election is a fatal folly; its results are visible in every so-called democracy. The elected man is always the mediocrity; he is the safe man, the sound man, the man who displeases the majority less than any other; and therefore never the genius, the man of progress and illumination.[27]

The Electoral College is selected by the King from volunteers who must show acumen in athletics and learning, a “profound general knowledge” of history and the art of government and a knowledge of philosophy.[28]

This corporatist and monarchical system was designed to “gather up all the threads of human passion and interest, and weave them into a harmonious tapestry . . .” reflecting the order of the cosmos.[29]

Crowley and Fascism

The Italian poet and war veteran D’Annunzio might have come closest to the Thelemite ideal with his short-lived Free City of Fiume, a regime governed by the arts that attracted numerous rebels, from anarchists and syndicalists to nationalists.[30] Crowley does not mention D’Annunzio in his autobiography, even though Crowley was in Italy in 1920, and D’Annunzio’s enterprise ended in December of that year.[31]

As for the Italian Fascists, Crowley wrote: “For some time I had interested myself in Fascismo which I regarded with entire sympathy even excluding its illegitimacy on the ground that constitutional authority had become to all intents and purposes a dead letter.”[32] Crowley saw the Fascisti in a characteristically poetic way, describing the blackshirts patrolling the railway as “delightful.” “They had all the picturesqueness of opera brigands.” As for the “March on Rome,” Crowley stated that he thought the behavior of the Fascisiti “admirable.”

Crowley quickly became disillusioned, however, and regarded Mussolini as a typical politico who compromised his principles for popular support. The mass nature of Fascism caused suspicion among many of the literati who had originally supported it, such as Wyndham Lewis and W. B. Yeats. Crowley observed developments in Rome for three days, and was disappointed with Mussolini’s compromises with the Catholic Church, which Crowley regarded as Mussolini’s “most dangerous foe.”[33] Of course such criticisms are common among observers of events rather than participants. Critics from afar can afford the luxury of theorizing without having to test their theories, and themselves, in the practicalities of office.

Crowley moved to Cefalu where he established his “Abbey of Thelema” in a ramshackle house. The death of follower Raoul Loveday resulted in Crowley’s expulsion from Italy in 1923, by which time he had become an embarrassment to the Fascist regime.[34]

However, one eminent individual who must have discerned a proto-fascist element in Thelema, before himself becoming one of the more significant spokesmen of Sir Oswald Mosley’s British fascism was J. F. C. Fuller, who achieved fame as the architect of modern tank warfare and as a military historian. Fuller had heard of Crowley in 1905, and was therefore one of Crowley’s earliest devotees. He was, like Crowley, a Nietzschean with occult interests who regarded socialism as a leveling creed: “the scum on the democratic cauldron.” His opposition to Christianity was likewise Nietzschean.[35]

Fuller met Crowley in London in 1906 and wrote Crowley’s first biography, The Star in the West, which was the winner (and only entrant) of a competition to promote Crowley’s poetry. Although Fuller’s interest in the occult and mysticism was life-long, he had broken with Crowley in 1911, embarrassed by Crowley’s escapades that drew blazing headlines from the tabloid press.

In 1932 Fuller was still writing in Nietzschean terms of socialism and democracy as products of Christianity. Joining the British Union of Fascists and becoming Mosley’s military adviser, Fuller remained a lifelong Mosleyite, even after World War II, but refused any further contact with Crowley.

* * *

While Fascists (particularly “clerical-fascists”), guild socialists, Social Crediters, Distributists, syndicalists et al. attempted to resolve the problems of the machine age, and Evola offered something of a practical plan in his Men Among the Ruins, Crowley’s Thelemic social conceptions remained as otherworldly as his mysticism, and few of his followers seem to have given much attention to the political implications or implementation of Thelema.

Crowley, a poet and a mystic, not an agitator or a politician, had his own conception of historical cycles, albeit somewhat limited, in which the Aeon of Horus, a the new age of “force and fire,” would emerge with Crowley as its “prophet.” As Marx assured us that the victory of communism was the end of an inexorable historical process, Crowley thought the Thelemic world order would arise as a product of inexorable cosmic laws. Nonetheless, like Marx who called upon socialists to become active agents of this historical process, Crowley envisioned that the ordeals demanded by his Holy Order would give rise to Thelemic Knights who would wage jihad against all old creeds:

We have to fight for freedom against oppressors, religious, social or industrial, and we are utterly opposed to compromise, every fight is to be a fight to the finish; each one of us for himself, to do his own will, and all of us for all, to establish the law of Liberty. . . . Let every man bear arms, swift to resent oppression . . . generous and ardent to draw sword in any cause, if justice or freedom summon him.[36]



[1] Liber Legis, 1: 42.

[2] The Law is for all, p. 101.

[3] The Law is for all, p. 321 Liber Oz.

[4] The Law is for all, p. 321

[5] Crowley, The Book of Wisdom or Folly (Maine: Samuel Weiser., Maine 1991), clause 39, Liber Aleph Vel CXI.

[6] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1991), p. 175.

[7] K. R. Bolton, Thinkers of the Right (Luton: Luton Publications, 2003).

[8] The Law is for all, p. 228.

[9] The Law is for all, p. 228.

[10] Liber Legis 2: 25

[11] The Law is for all, p. 192.

[12] Evola, Men Among the Ruins, pp. 224-34

[13] The Law is for all, pp.251-52

[14] The Law is for all, p. 230.

[15] Crowley, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul,1986), p.544.

[16] Crowley, Magick Without Tears (Arizona: Falcon Press, 1983), p. 346

[17] The Law is for all, p. 251

[18] The Law is for all, p. 251

[19] The Law is for all, p.227

[20] Evola, Men among the ruins (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2002), p. 224

[21] Crowley, The Law is for all, p. 281.

[22] Crowley, Liber CXCIV, “O.T.O. An Intimation with Reference to the Constitution of the Order,” paragraph 21, The Equinox, vol. III, no. 1, 1919.

[23] An Intimation, paragraph 1.

[24] An Intimation, paragraph 5.

[25] An Intimation, paragraph 9.

[26] An Intimation, paragraph 30.

[27] An Intimation, paragraph 10.

[28] An Intimation, paragraph 12 and 13.

[29] An Intimation, concluding remarks.

[30] Anthony Rhodes, The Poet As Superman – D’Annunzio (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1959).

[31] Rhodes, p. 221

[32] Crowley, Confessions, p.911

[33] Crowley, Confessions, p. 911

[34] Wilson, Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast, p.133

[35] Anthony Trythall, Boney Fuller: The Intellectual General (London: Cassell, 1977).

[36] The Law is for all, p. 317
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