Sufism, gnosticism and religion
SK sends me a link from rickross.com and here is the link to some material they incoporate, a significant essay by someone in the Islamic/Sufi world.
This essay, although I neither vouch for nor necessarily agree with it, tells us something about how ‘sufism’ is understood in the Islamic world. It is a revealing essay, if you can understand it.
The depiction of ‘gnosticism’, although not entirely satisfactory, rings a bell here.
In any case we can see that many Moslems are in the same boat as Westerners trying to grasp the nature of sufism inside their culture, save only that it has been adapted to the world of Islam. The Gurdjieff phenomenon is anomalous in many ways, and in any case the question of ‘soul’ is completely confused by all parties. This essay needs further discussion, but I should note that if you followed the discussion at Darwiniana last year you will find my discovery of an analogous viewpoint, expressed differently: that needs explanation.
His discussion of Bennett is also of interest.
This will need another post, let this author speak for himself first (I don’t endorse his views necessarily).
I have never travelled in an Islamic culture, discussions of sufism thus being mostly figments, and this article suddenly shows at a glance some clues.
[The whole rickross page has a profusion of material]
Why Gurdjieff’s “Fourth Way” Teachings are not Compatible with the Mevlevi Sufi
by Ibrahim Gamard, 11/6/04, revised 12/3/05
The Present Confusion
The following article is intended to share information, based on the author’s conclusions after studying this subject for many years. Though it may be controversial, the intent is to stimulate respectful discussion–not angry debate. And the aim is certainly not to blame or condemn individuals currently involved practices based on Gurdjieff’s teachings. After all, a number of contemporary Mevlevis in Western countries were themselves trained through such teachings to some extent, and report that it was quite helpful in preparing them for the Mevlevi dervish path.
There has been much confusion for decades about the so-called “sufi origins” of Gurdjieff’s teachings, beliefs that Gurdjieff himself was a sufi (of the “blame-seeking” [malâmâtî] kind, as some have speculated) and assumptions that the spiritual training he gave to his students was “dervish training” and that the movement exercises he taught were “dervish dance movements.”
This confusion has been increased by some of Gurdjieff’s disciples themselves, such as Ouspensky, who apparently believed that the Mevlevi tradition was the source of Gurdjieff’s teachings1 and J. G. Bennett ,who believed that the Khwajagan sufi masters of Central Asia, the forerunners of the strictly Islamic Naqshbandi sufi tradition, were closely linked with the mysterious source of Gurdjieff’s teachings–the “Sarmân Brotherhood.”2
Others have gone to authentic Muslim sufi teachers and added to the confusion by hoping to find the roots of Gurdjieff’s teachings in the Islamic sufi tradition: as a result, such seekers have been disappointed by finding “merely religious” Islamic mystical teachings. And some Muslim sufi teachers have been confused by such seekers (who sometimes have an impressive level of dervish- like self-development) who have very little interest in Islam or praying and are actually hoping to find “esoteric teachings” or “secret Masters.”
In addition, there are Western sufi teachers, who continue to encourage their followers to combine sufi training with Gurdjieffian teachings and spiritual practices, including some affiliated with the Mevlevi tradition. There are also some “Fourth Way” groups in which members, after being trained to do the complicated Gurdjieff movements exercises, are then taught to do the whirling practice of Mevlevi dervishes as well as the Mevlevi Whirling Prayer Ceremony (Samâ`).
Idries Shah, who wrote numerous books on sufism was another author who contributed to this confusion, by suggesting in many of his books that Gurdjieff’s teachings (as well as most of the esoteric-occult teachings in Europe involving alchemy, numerology, Tarot cards, etc.) had its origins in sufi teachings. Like most Occultists,3 Shah maintained that esoteric wisdom is independent of “mere religion” and often disguised in an “exoteric religious” form. As a result, he taught that sufism is independent of Islam.
Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian and founder of the Arica school of esoteric training (which includes teachings based on the Enneagram, an esoteric symbol first taught publicly by Gurdjieff), originally claimed to be a “Sufi Master” when he began to teach in Chile in the late 1960’s. Ichazo claimed that his teachers were fellow initiates of the same secret tradition contacted by Gurdjieff, the “School of the Bees,” which he also claimed was centered in Afghanistan. Subsequently, however, he stated that his teaching was closely related to the alchemists, the Knights Templar, Martinists, and the Theosophical teachings of Madame Blavatsky 4 as well as to (the mysterious source of) Gurdjieff’s teachings.
Numerous other authors have contributed to the belief that the origins of sufism are to be found in “esoteric-occult” traditions. For example, the former leader of the “International Sufi Order,” Pir Vilayat Khan claimed that sufism originated in the ancient Greek Mystery Schools.5
Another source of confusion is the existence of semi-secret religions in the Middle East whose origins are non-Islamic or incompatible with Islam that are sometimes claimed to be “sufi” or whose members are sometimes called “dervishes.” Some of these are the Mandeans, Druzes, Ismailis, Alevis, Nusayris, Yezidis, Bektashis, and Ahl-i Haqq. Some of these same secret religions were also named by Theosophists more than a hundred years ago as related the source of Theosophical teachings and its “secret Masters.”
Sufism is Islamic Mysticism
First, it needs to be clarified that sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam. To use the word “sufism” to mean a universal spirituality that pre-dates Islam is to rob the term of its meaning and to make it equivalent to the word “mysticism.” Mysticism can be defined as experiential or intuitive understanding of spiritual realities beyond intellectual understanding. Therefore, mysticism can take religious forms (spiritual experiences of feeling close to God) or non-religious forms (such as spiritual experiences involving nature or the cosmos). The mysticism of Islam is a distinct form of religious mysticism that is called “tasawwuf” in Arabic and a Muslim mystic is called a “sufi” (Islamic mysticism was first called “sufismus” in Latin, then “sufism” in English). Traditional sufi orders that are well-known in the West are the Mevlevi, Cheshti, Naqshbandi, Qadri, Rifai, Khalwati, and Shadhili traditions–all of which are Islamic religious-mystical paths.
Although Western academic specialists (called Orientalists) of the past were reluctant (for more than a hundred years) to allow Islam to have its own mystical dimension, and usually claimed that sufism was “borrowed” from other traditions (such as Neoplatonism, Yoga, etc.), most Western scholars of Islam today have been acknowledging that authentic sufism is deeply Islamic and inspired by Qur’anic verses and the Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace).
While few Westerners would accept the idea that the mystical teachings of a Hasidic teacher could be independent of Judaism and the Bible, yet many readily accept the idea that the mystical teachings of a “sufi teacher” can be independent of Islam and the Qur’an. This is because of the negative attitudes about Islam, the Qur’an, and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that have existed in the West since the Crusades. Westerners prefer to believe that the beautiful, profound, and inspiring teachings of sufism are not dependent upon the religion of Islam.
As a result, many people who are involved with Westernized sufi groups affiliated with more “tolerant” Islamic sufi traditions, such as the Cheshti sufi tradition of India and Pakistan (such as the International Sufi Order, the Sufi Movement, and the Sufi Ruhaniyat Society) and the Mevlevi sufi tradition of Turkey and former Ottoman-ruled areas, tend to have little interest in what they view as the “exoteric trappings” of sufism (meaning Islamic beliefs and practices) and are inclined to believe that the mysticism they are studying is something universal that transcends particular religions, and something that pre-dates the Islamic revelation. They tend to view “universal sufi teachings” as not conflicting with ancient esoteric-occult teachings that have been reformulated in recent centuries such as alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Tarot, Theosophy, Gurdjieffism, etc.
At the same time, the authentic Muslim sufi masters (shaykhs) of these same traditions in India, Pakistan, and Turkey have long been hoping and praying that the Western followers of their sufi traditions will eventually become pious Muslims. This has led to major misunderstandings and disappointment.
In order to understand how the Occult tradition of mysticism is radically different than the Abrahamic religious traditions of mysticism (such as Islamic sufism, Catholic/Orthodox Christian mysticism, Jewish Hasidic mysticism) it is necessary to understand that most teachings of Occultism are based on a secret theology involving Gnosticism.6 This term refers to a very old, secretive, and revolutionary spiritual movement whose theology is so contrary to orthodox religion that it has usually been disguised in different forms . For example, Gurdjieff claimed that his teaching was “esoteric Christianity.”7
The neutral terms “gnosis” and “gnostic” (that have generic meanings of “intuitive spiritual knowledge” and “intuitive spiritual knower” and are equivalent to the Arabic sufi terms ma`rifat and `ârif) should not be confused with the historical term “Gnosticism.” Readers of this article should be aware that they might not comprehend the nature of Gnosticism and the seriousness of its challenge to the Abrahamic religions without studying more about it in encyclopedia articles and books on the subject.
Gnosticism today is the continuation of an ancient “underground” movement that has usually taken the form of Dualism. Followers of Gnosticism who understand its teachings have typically viewed the Creator of the material universe with contempt.8 This contempt was expressed in the dualistic doctrines of Manicheism and “Christian Gnosticism” which taught that Spirit (Light) was opposed to Matter (Darkness), that the physical world and the body are evil, that the Creator of the material world was either an evil or inferior “moon-god” called the “Demiurge” [na`audhu bi-llâh–let us take refuge in Allah and seek His forgiveness for being so explicit about this], and that the true goal of the spiritual seeker is to find a way to escape the “prison of matter” and the “sub-lunar” world and reach salvation in the “Realm of Light” [the Pleroma]. Saviours were periodically sent down from the “Realm of Light” to offer the knowledge of salvation, or “gnosis,” to seekers who had the potential to escape the material world. However, only a tiny minority called “pneumatics” had souls which could survive death and return to the Realm of Light. Some, called “psychics” had the potential to develop such a soul. The great majority of humanity were called “hylics,” and had no hope of survival after death.
In 1875 Madame Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society in America and taught esoteric teachings supposedly inspired by “secret masters” who lived in Tibet. Among the teachings of Theosophy is the assertion that God as worshipped in the Hebrew Bible is an inferior “moon god” [na`audhu bi-llâh]. Theosophists were instructed to cover themselves from the “harmful rays” of moonlight while sleeping. This antipathy toward Judaism was a revival of the attempts by “Christian Gnostics” during the early part of the Christian era to eliminate the Hebrew scriptures from the “Christian Bible.” In many ways, Theosophy is a modern form of Gnosticism (but in a monistic, not dualistic, manner). It is known that the teachings of Theosophy were influential in major Russian cities during Gurdjieff’s life there and that Theosophical ideas are a major part of his teaching.9 Gurdjieff spoke about “secret Masters,” except that he claimed they were in Afghanistan.10
Gnosticism and the Teachings of Gurdjieff
Among the strange teachings of Gurdjieff is the assertion that human beings do not have souls, but have to receive knowledge and training by being part of an “esoteric school” in order to “grow a soul” (or “astral body”) that can then survive death for a period of time:
“You know what the exression ‘astral body’ means. But the systems with which you are acquainted and which use this expression state that all men have an ‘astral body’. this is quite wrong. What may be caled the ‘astral body’ is obtained by means of fusion, that is, by means of terribly hard inner work and struggle. Man is not born with it. And only very few men acquire an ‘astral body’. If it is formed it may continue to live after the death of the physical body, and it may be brn again in another physical body… Fusion, inner unity, is obtained by means of ‘friction’, by the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in man.”11
Gurdjieff taught that most human beings are mere “slugs” with no souls and that following death their remaining psychic energy is “food for the Moon.” This teaching can understood as a reference to the doctrine in Gnosticism that the material world keeps human beings (but not all, just the few who possess “sparks of light”) trapped in bodies so as to prevent escape. The realm of Darkness is depicted as not wanting to let of its captured light to escape back to the realm of Light. Such a follower of Gnosticism seeks to develop an astral body that can escape the “power of the Moon” and become freed from the “sub-lunar” material world.12 This explains another very strange teaching of Gurdjieff: “The way of the development of hidden possibilities is a way against nature, against God.”13 It means that the seeker following the way of Gnosticism must gain secret knowledge and methods in order to escape the control of the “Demiurge.” What Gurdjieff called “the Work” is the goal of spiritual Alchemy, the “Great Work” (Magnum Opus): the separation of light from darkness–or in Manichean terms, the liberation of “sparks of light” from being trapped in the dense world of matter.
In Mithraism, an ancient form of Gnosticism, this gnosis involved knowing the “magical passwords” necessary for the soul to pass the planetary guardians (“archons”) at each celestial level traveled through the heavens. During later centuries, followers of Gnosticism cultivated a revulsion toward the Creator as worshipped by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. An early example is the writings of followers of “Christian Gnosticism” (such as the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Nag Hammadi) are full of such scorn, and they delight in what may be called “Gnostical reversal”: such as by interpreting the serpent (Satan) in the Garden of Eden as the hero of the story in the Book of Genesis–the Giver of Light (Lucifer) who tries to give the gnosis of Salvation that would elevate humanity to “be as gods,” meaning to surpasses the rank of the “God of the Jews,” who is depicted as an oppressor [na`audhu bi-llâh] who acts to prevent such “liberation.”14
Gnostical doctrines may have developed in a Jewish form prior to the Christian era; some of these doctrines have continued in esoteric Jewish teachings called Qabbalah (for example, the doctrine about a cosmic disaster (the “breaking of the vessels”) that caused particles of light to be trapped in darkness, and the need to liberate “trapped light”) associated with the school of Isaac Luria (beginning in the 16th century). The well-known psychiatrist, Carl Jung, was a modern believer in Gnosticism; he revealed his antipathy to Christian worship very frankly.15
J. G. Bennett, a follower of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, wrote extensively about the “Demiurge.” He also taught the strange doctrine (also found in some teachings of Qabbalah) that God needs the help of human beings in order to liberate light from matter and to defeat the power of evil [na`audhu bi-llâh]. He wrote:
“The very high intelligence I am postulating is neither human nor divine. It is neither perfect nor infallible, but its vision and its powers far transcend those of the wisest of mankind. I shall call it the Demiurge… By keeping the word Demiurge for the postulated spirit of the earth, we can put aside, as beyond our grasp, the idea of a deity that created and rules the entire universe. In doing this, we should breathe a sigh of relief… The truth is that the omnipotence of God is a silly idea thought up by men with narrow, logical minds. It must be obvious to anyone whose feelings have not atrophied that love and omnipotence can never be united.”16
He also wrote, following the viewpoint of ancient “Christian Gnosticism”: “We might even venture to say that the God of the Old Testament was the Demiurge, whereas Jesus looked beyond to the source of Divine Love.”17
A student of J. G. Bennett, A. M. Hodgson, wrote:
“The Demiurge has only an indirect connection to the Source, since it is concerned with long term evolution, not with the state of ‘jivanmukti’ or ‘liberation within one lifetime.’…. In fact, spirituality is of two distinct kinds which we call ‘Liberational’ and “Demiurgic’. Teachings which point this out do exist on the planet. They are placed there by conscious sources but generally they are restricted and suppressed by the Demiurgic Intelligences because their implications are too upsetting to the status quo.”18
Another student of J. G. Bennett was Pierre Elliot, formerly the Director of Studies of (the Gurdjieffian training center called) the Claymont Society in West Virginia. In the late 1970’s, Suleyman Hayati Loras Dede, an important Mevlevi shaykh from Konya, Turkey, visited Claymont. He was so impressed by Pierre Elliot that he initiated him to be a Mevlevi shaykh. Suleyman Dede must have seen demonstrations of Gurdjieff’s movements exercises there and probably assumed that it was a kind of “dervish training.” In October 1979, Suleyman Dede wrote a letter to Mr. Elliot stating, “Ã¤because at the same time my brother Sheikh Pierre Elliot is bringing the way of Mevlana together with the path of Mr. Gurdjieff and Mr. Bennett. Allah wishes that these paths should always be together, and I hope that it will be so.”19
As Idries Shah wrote (under a pseudonym or perhaps borrowing someone’s name): “Gurdjieff had taught ‘movements’, a stylized dance technique which requires extended energies of attention. The association of the G ‘movements’ and the Mevlevi whirling was perhaps unavoidable, but we shall find reason to suspect presently, that the ‘movements’ have a different source, although G. dressed his disciples in Mevlevi outfits, perhaps for ‘misdirection’ purposes.”20 In another book, written using a pseudonym, Idries Shah mocked the beliefs of Gurdjieffians about Mevlevi origins by claiming that an ancient “Babylonian” mannikin with moveable arms and legs used to teach “ancient temple dances” that Gurdjieff claimed to have seen at a “Sarmân monastery” in Afghanistan21 was hidden in a secret underground room of the Mevlevi lodge where Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi is buried in Konya, Turkey.
A major exercise taught by Gurdjieff is called “self-remembering.” This exercise has been alleged to derive from the sufi practice of “remembering” [zikr]. But there is a major difference between Gurdjieff’s method of self-development via “self-remembering” that dismisses the value of prayer and the Islamic sufi practice of self-effacement via the practice of “God-remembering” [zikru ‘llâh]. This points to an important distinction between these two different paths of mysticism: the tradition of Occult mysticism (based on a secret theology rooted in Gnosticism) emphasizes the development of potential divine powers within a human being while at the same time trying to escape the power of the Creator of the material world and to evolve into something “higher.” In other words, the doctrine of this kind of mystic is, “There is no true divinity except Man.”22
In contrast, the tradition of religious mysticism (meaning here, the Abrahamic religions based on a theology rooted in Monotheism and the revelations given to authentic Prophets of God) emphasizes the nothingness of the worshipper before Almighty God and submission to the Omnipotent Divine Will of the Creator. In other words, the doctrine of this kind of mystic is, “There is no true divinity except God.”
This is why it is hoped that readers of this article will not dismiss the important distinctions described here by concluding, “There are no real differences between mystics/gnostics: mystics of all traditions, religious or Occult are all saying the same thing in different spiritual languages in which the conflicts are only external, not essential.” If readers incline toward this view, then they are strongly advised to study more about Gnosticism23–so that perhaps they may see more clearly how radical and different it is compared to the mysticisms of major world religions. This is not a type of spirituality that offers salvation or enlightenment to most or all of humanity or sentient beings. Rather, it is aimed at the liberation of a very small minority of “elite beings” who have a “spark of light”–and all other humans have no lasting value.
Despite the strong criticism of Gurdjieff’s Gnostical theology expressed in this article, it should be mentioned that some of Gurdjieff’s teachings can be very useful for the sufi aspirant, such as the practice of “sensing” (as an alternative to compulsive thinking), developing will power and concentration, the teaching about objective knowledge and awareness in contrast to a subjective and “sleeping” state, the need to overcome “mechanical habits,” and the necessity of finding access to a “higher source of energy” in order to “awaken.”
In addition, although this article also criticizes Occultism in general, it should be mentioned that many followers of Occult philosophy are idealistic and high-minded individuals who sincerely wish to further the spiritual evolution of humanity. However, many or most of them may be unaware of the secret Gnostical doctrines of Occultism, and they might be unpleasantly surprised to learn about them.
Mawlânâ Jalâluddîn Rûmî’s Teachings about Sleep and Wakefulness
Now let us compare these strange and disturbing teachings of Gurdjieff and his followers with the heart-uplifting teachings of Mawlânâ, our beloved Master. In contrast to “self-remembering,” Mawlânâ taught the “passing away of self” [fanâ] in the remembrance of God [zikru ‘llâh]. And in contrast to “waking up” and attaining a “permanent I-Am” consciousness, Mawlânâ taught the waking up to the Presence of God while being “asleep” to ego and the material world:
“Whosoever is awake (to the material world) is the more asleep (to the spiritual world); his wakefulness is worse than his sleep.
When our soul is not awake to God, wakefulness is like closing our doors (to Divine influences).
All day long, from the buffets of phantasy and from (thoughts of) loss and gain and from fear of decline,
There remains to it (the soul) neither joy nor grace and glory nor way of journeying to Heaven.
The one asleep (to spiritual things) is he who hath hope of every vain fancy and holds parley with it.”24
Mawlânâ taught that when one is “awake” to the Presence of God, the physical senses become under control and made to be “asleep.” Then “spiritual senses” become activated so that Heavenly visions and knowledge are granted to the seeker:
“So, when the intellect becomes thy captain and master, the dominant senses become subject to thee.
He (who is ruled by the intellect), without being asleep (himself), puts his senses to sleep, so that the unseen things may emerge from (the world of) the Soul.
Even in his waking state he dreams dreams and opens withal the gates of Heaven.”25
In contrast with Gurdjieff’s Gnosticism which has a derogatory view of God as worshipped by the those of the Abrahamic religions, Mawlânâ affirms the Qur’anic faith in the Omnipotence of God:
“From this you may realise that all these things are but an occasion for the display of God’s omnipotence; that these things are of Him, and that His decree is absolute in all things. The believer is he who knows that behind this wall there is Someone who is apprised of all our circumstances, one by one, and who sees us though we see Him not; of this the believer is certain. Contrary is the case of him who says, ‘No, this is all a tale,’ and does not believe. The day will come when God will box his ears; then he will be sorry, and he will say ‘Alas, I spoke evil and erred. Indeed, all was He; and I denied Him.’”26
While is true that Mawlânâ does make the analogy that the soul is like a bird trapped in the “cage of the body,”27 the difference between his view and the view of Gnosticism is that, as a religious mystic, he teaches that the entry and exit of the soul from the physical body is governed in accordance with the hidden Wisdom and Guidance of God, the Omnipotent Creator– something that the believer should willingly submit to with an attitude of faith, trust and love of God, the All-Merciful.
Remembrance of God in the Qur’an
Muslim mystics, or sufis, have specialized in the spiritual practice of the remembrance of God [zikru ‘llâh] for many centuries. This practice of “recalling” was inspired by verses in the Qur’an, such as the following: “Recollect your God often” (Q.33:41; see also Q.3:41). “Remember your Lord within your soul with humility and in reverence” (Q.7:205). “Remember the name of your Lord” (Q.73:8). “Recollect God standing, sitting down, and (lying down) on your sides” (Q.4:103). “. . .those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction in the recollection of God–for truly in the recollection of God do hearts find satisfaction” (Q.13:28). “Men, whom neither buying nor selling can divert from the remembrance of God” (Q.24: 37). “And don’t be like those who forgot God, for He made them forget themselves. Such are the transgressors” (Q.59:19). “They have forgotten God; so He has forgotten them” (Q.9:67). “Remembrance of God is the greatest [zikru ‘llâhi akbar]”– Q.29:45.
Those who are seeking to be faithful to the inspired teachings of Hazrat-i Mawlânâ Jalâluddîn Rûmî would benefit by practicing the same spiritual practices that he did: the Islamic prayers, fasting, and study of the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in addition to the sufi practice of frequent remembrance [zikr] of God and the cultivation of spiritual love. Those who do not feel ready or willing to do the daily Islamic spiritual practices that Mawlânâ did should at least strive to be faithful to his beliefs and teachings. One should avoid the temptation to “gain more” by combining the Mevlevi Way with teachings and practices from other mystical traditions–especially those that are contrary to the principles and teachings of Hz. Mawlânâ.
1Ernest Scott, “The People of the Secret,” 1983, p. 165.
2Bennett, “The Masters of Wisdom of Central Asia,” 1977.
3There is evidence that Idries Shah was primarily an Occultist who used sufism as a cover, and that he deliberately promoted himself: as the foremost authority on sufism, as a great sufi shaykh, as the leader of the most esoteric circle of the Naqshbandi sufi order. However, the latter is contradicted by the fact that this is a very conservative Islamic sufi order, whereas Shah taught that sufism is an esoteric tradition independent of Islam. Born in India (the son of an Afghan father and an English mother) he was raised from early childhood in England and attended English schools. His first book was on the subject of magic: “Oriental Magic,” 1956, when he was about 32 years old. In his next book, “Destination Mecca,” 1957, he revealed his ignorance about sufism at that time by asserting that the “Dancing Dervishes” were part of the Bektashi Order (when they are a part of the Mevlevi Order). In his late 30’s, he was still involved in Occultism, as is shown in an article written by a Gurdjieffian who wrote a biography of Gurdjieff, James Moore.
4″Interviews with Oscar Ichazo,” 1982.
5Khan, “Toward The One,” 1974.
6This conclusion (that the secret doctrines of Occultism are based on a theology of Gnosticism) is an insight of the author, gained as the result of many years of study of these subjects; therefore, there is no particular book or article to which reference can be made regarding this conclusion. One way of understanding the connection is by contrasting the neo-Manichean movement in Europe (called Catharism) which taught its heretical doctrines so openly and boldly (until it was crushed by the Albigensian Crusade in the 13th century) with the later secret societies in Europe that hid their secret teachings in symbols and disguised forms to avoid persecution from the Church (which suspected that secret societies, such as Masonry, maintained anti-Christian doctrines).
7quoted by Ouspensky, ” In Search of the Miraculous,” 1949.
8For a brief introduction to Gnosticism, see the following article.
See also “The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam,” 1989, by Cyril Glassé (“Dualism,” pp. 105-06; “Manicheism,” pp. 252-56, and “Seveners,” pp. 354-56).
9For further information on the Theosophical roots of much of Gurdjieff’s teachings see the following article by an authority on Occultism, Arvan Harvat.
10Gurdjieff, “Meetings With Remarkable Men,” 1974.
11quoted by Ouspensky, “In Search of the Miraculous,” 1949, p. 31. This was restated by Kabir Helminski in “The Knowing Self,” 1999, pp. 211-12: “The world is a place for fashioning the soul, in the sense that soul is not given to us automatically, despite our assumptions to the contrary. Our interiority, our presence, must be created from within the distractions and forgetfulness of everyday outer life, from within the constant clash of pleasure and pain, happiness and loss.”
12Gurdjieff was also quoted by his student Ouspensky as saying (in “In Search of the Miraculous,” 1949): “Man, like every other living being, cannot, in the ordinary conditions of life, tear himself free from the moon. All his movements and consequently all his actions are controlled by the moon. If he kills another man, the moon does it; if he sacrifices himself for others, the moon does that also. All evil deeds, all crimes, all self-sacrificing actions, all heroic exploits, as well as all the actions of ordinary everyday life, are controlled by the moon. The liberation which comes with the growth of mental powers and faculties is liberation from the moon. The mechanical part of our life depends upon the moon, is subject to the moon. If we develop in ourselves consciousness and will, and subject our mechanical life and all our mechanical manifestations to them, we shall escape from the power of the moon.”
13quoted by his student Ouspensky, “In Search of the Miraculous,” 1949, p. 47.
14For a modern example, see “The Cipher of Genesis,” 1970, by Carlos Suares.
15Jung, “Answer To Job,” 1952. On the subject of Jung, Gnosticism, and Alchemy, see the following article.
16Bennett, “The Masters of Wisdom,” 1977, p. 94)
17Bennett, “The Masters of Wisdom,” 1977, p. 26.
18Hodgson, “Crisis In the Search for Truth,” 1984, pp. 80-81, 85.
19This letter appears on the webpage of a contemporary Gurdjieffian group.
20Ernest Scott, “The People of the Secret,” 1983, p. 164.
21″Teachers of Gurdjieff,” 1966, using the pseudonym of “Rafael Lefort.”
22If some readers think that this conclusion is too narrow, perhaps because of reading in Occult literature positive references to the word “God” together with an emplasis on the latent Divine powers and knowledge within the human being, readers should keep in mind that the author is asserting that this is the secret Gnostical doctrine of Occultism–and therefore something that most Occultists would avoid teaching or writing about directly (that is, if they have known at all about this secret doctrine).
23See the links to articles on the Internet in footnote 8.
24Masnavi I: 409-13, translated by R. A. Nicholson, 1926.
25Masnavi III: 1832-34, translated by R. A. Nicholson, 1930.
26Fîhi Mâ Fîhi, Discourse 45, translated by A. J. Arberry, 1961, p. 182
27See Masnavi I: 389, 1447, 1540.