Gurdjieff on the way back from Homer

Driving back from Homer to Anchorage takes about five hours. A beautiful drive over Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula with sweeping views of mountains to both east and west and vast outlooks over the Cook-Inlet, the watershed that covers about 100,000 km² of southern Alaska. Several national parks and the active volcano Mount Redoubt are to be found within the watershed, along with three other historically active volcanoes. Cook Inlet provides navigable access, at the northern end, to the port of Anchorage, and further south to the smaller port of Homer. James Cook sailed into the Inlet while searching for the Northwest Passage and it was George Vancouver, who served under Cook who named it after him in 1794.

While driving back to Anchorage I listened to Gurdjieff, Tsabropoulos: Chants, Hymns and Dances by German cellist Anja Lechner and Greek pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos. On this album they interpret the music of Armenian born mystic and spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff.

During his lifetime Gurdjieff used a number of different 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. Gurdjieff became best known for the music he wrote in collaboration with Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann. 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.
interview on npr about this cd

Gurdjieff called his discipline The Work or, originally, The Fourth Way and at one point even referred to his teachings as Esoteric Christianity. His teachings, so he claimed, expressed the truth found in ancient religions and wisdom teachings, relating to self-awareness in people’s daily lives and humanity’s place in the universe. Gurdjieff claimed that people cannot perceive reality in their current states because they do not possess consciousness but rather live in a state of a hypnotic waking sleep. As a result of this condition, each person perceives things from a completely subjective perspective. Gurdjieff stated that maleficent events such as wars and so on could not possibly take place if people were more awake. He asserted that people in their typical state function as unconscious automatons, but that one can “wake up” and become a different sort of human being altogether.

Gurdjieff also argued that many of the existing forms of religious and spiritual traditions 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 the 1914-18 war. At best, the various surviving sects and schools could only provide a one-sided development which did not result in a fully integrated human being. The Work is in essence a training in the development of consciousness. (wikipedia)