Gurdjieff and Mysticism: The Archaeology of an Eastern Teaching

This is an online publication of article-length excerpt from the second (Gurdjieff and Mysticism: The Archaeology of an Eastern Teaching) chapter of dissertation titled “Mysticism and Utopia: Toward the Sociology of Self-Knowledge and Human Architecture (A Study in Marx, Gurdjieff, and Mannheim) (SUNY-Binghamton, 2002).” The excerpt was published in Gurdjieff: A Reading Guide, edited by J. Walter Driscoll, Third Edition. 29 pages.

In this synopsis of his doctoral dissertation, Tamdgidi argues that presence of hypnotism is not unique to Gurdjieff’s mysticism, and may be considered to be present in most mystical traditions and religions. Only different languages and methods are used there. Instead, we have notions of “devotion,” “intoxication,” “losing” oneself in the teacher, etc. What is unique about Gurdjieff’s teaching is not that he practiced hypnotism, but that he openly talked about it (and in fact raised its paradigmatic status and significance) while claiming that he did and did not practice it. The study of Gurdjieff’s teaching in this regard may then be quite illustrative for the exploration of practices of hypnosis in student-teacher relationships in all mystical traditions, and in fact in all religions. Likewise, the critique of such a practice may be considered to be instructive in terms of developing more critical approaches to the taken for granted teacher-pupil relation modalities dominating the practice of mysticism and religion in general. In Tamdgidi’s view, the recognition of the hypnotic agenda built into Gurdjieff’s life and teaching does not necessarily diminish the value of the philosophical, theoretical, and practical aspects of his findings. On the contrary, it helps us pull away the mystical veil from his life’s work in order to grasp the rational kernel of his contributions to world mysticism and to utopistics.

This synoptic excerpt can be accessed here. The online bibliographic resource by the major scholar and bibliographer of Gurdjieff studies as part of which the article was published can be accessed here.