Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermeneutic Study

Author: Mohammad H Tamdgidi

Foreword: J. Walter Driscoll

Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermeneutic Study explores the life and ideas of the enigmatic twentieth century philosopher, mystic, and teacher of esoteric dances George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1872?-1949), performing a hermeneutic textual analysis of all his published writings to illuminate the place of hypnosis in his teaching.Human enlightenment and liberation, mystics have long advised, require spiritual awakening from the hypnotic sleep of everyday life. This book explores the life and ideas of the enigmatic twentieth century philosopher, mystic, and teacher of esoteric dances George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1872?-1949), performing a hermeneutic textual analysis of all his published writings to illuminate the place of hypnosis in his teaching. The hermeneutic approach captures both the aim for an in-depth textual analysis, and the notion that the intent is to interpret the text using its own symbolic and meaning structures.

Systematically explored for the first time is Gurdjieff’s “objective art” of literary hypnotism intended as a major conduit for the transmission of his teachings on the philosophy, theory, and practice of personal self-knowledge and harmonious human development. In the process, the nature and function of the ‘mystical’ shell hiding the rational kernel of Gurdjieff’s teaching are explained—shedding new light on why his mysticism is “mystical,” and Gurdjieff so “enigmatic,” in the first place.

Mohammad Tamdgidi is the Founding Director of OKCIR: The Omar Khayyam Center for Integrative Research in Utopia, Mysticism, and Science (Utopystics). He has been an Associate Professor of Sociology teaching social theory at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The book includes a Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll, a major bibliographer and scholar of Gurdjieff studies.

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (New York, London)
5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches, 288 pages, 15 figures, index
Publication Dates: hc 2009/pb 2012 (rel. 10/2/12)
hc: ISBN: 978-0-230-61507-6, ISBN10: 0-230-61507-4
pb: ISBN: 978-1-137-28243-9, ISBN10: 1-137-28243-6
eb: ISBN 978-0-230-10202-6

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“Tamdgidi sets a benchmark for Gurdjieff Studies in relation to two recognized but insufficiently explored areas, his writings as a unified field and his exploitation of hypnosis in its broadest sense. His compact interpretation of Gurdjieff emphasizes—for the first time—a search for meaning based on recognizable keys within about 1,800 pages of Gurdjieff’s four texts as a single body of work, with particular focus on subliminal and subconscious dimensions of impact and interpretation, an approach which might be termed the ‘Hermeneutics of Gurdjieff.’ Thus, Tamdgidi’s work is an important original contribution to the constructive, independent, and critical study of Gurdjieff’s four books. Anyone who has seriously attempted to read Beelzebub’s Tales or Meetings with Remarkable Men can vouch for their intentionally beguiling or ‘hypnotic’ effect. These readers will appreciate Tamdgidi’s interpretive virtuosity and focus—he keeps each tree and the entire forest in sight throughout.” —From the Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll, independent scholar and bibliographer; editor and contributing author, Gurdjieff: A Reading Guide, 3rd Ed. (2004); contributing editor, Gurdjieff International Review (1997-2001); co-author, Gurdjieff: An Annotated Bibliography (1985).

“A wondrous odyssey and extraordinary argumentation! Nothing in the corpus of writings on Gurdjieff’s works goes near to matching this masterful reading. Each time one looks back into the text, one finds more gold, no dross.” —Paul Beekman Taylor, Professor Emeritus at the University of Geneva, and author of G. I. Gurdjieff: A New Life; Gurdjieff’s Invention of America; The Philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff; Gurdjieff & Orage: Brothers in Elysium; and Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer

“In the ocean of literature on Gurdjieff, the brilliant book of Mohammad Tamdgidi has a very special place. It is the first serious academic attempt at a hermeneutics of Gurdjieff’s texts, taking as key the core of Gurdjieff’s teaching—the enneagram. Of course, Gurdjieff’s teaching cannot be understood apart from its practice. But it is also true that this teaching cannot be understood without a rigorous study of the writings of Gurdjieff himself.” —Basarab Nicolescu, author of Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity


viii—List of Figures
viii—List of Abbreviations
ix—Foreword by J. Walter Driscoll
1—Introduction: Gurdjieff, Hypnosis, and Hermeneutics
28—Chapter One: Philosophy: Ontology of the Harmonious Universe
52—Chapter Two: Philosophy: Psychology of a “Tetartocosmos”
70—Chapter Three: Philosophy: Epistemology of “Three-Brained Beings”
88—Chapter Four: The “Organ Kundabuffer” Theory of Human Disharmonization
113—Chapter Five: The Practice of “Harmonious Development of Man”
137—Chapter Sex: Life is Real Only Then, When “I AM” Not Hypnotized
177—Chapter Seven: Meetings with the Remarkable Hypnotist
207—Chapter Eight: Beelzebub’s Hypnotic Tales to His Grandson
224—Conclusion: Gurdjieff’s Roundabout Yezidi Circle
237—Appendix: Textual Chronology of Gurdjieff’s Life