“When I left for Paris, I had not slept for several days, I had lost a great deal of weight, had no appetite and was in a state very close to what I would have to call a form of madness. Even now, while I can remember the long train trip vividly (all the railway lines had been bombed and we were shunted backwards and forwards over a large part of Belgium and France in order to reach Paris) I remember, especially, my conviction that unless I managed to see Gurdjieff I would not be able to go on living. After an interminable ride, and thanks to a sergeant in the carriage with me who managed to force coffee and brandy down me and keep me wrapped in blankets during the night, we finally reached Paris. In one way, Paris itself—which I had learned to love as a child—was a kind of tonic and gave me a spurt of energy, at least enough to help the sergeant find a hotel room and to start me on my search for Mr. Gurdjieff, as I had no idea where he lived. The telephone book and the "Bottin" were of no help to me and, in my peculiar psychological state, I began to despair. I managed, somehow, not to lose my head, and did eat a good dinner. After that, I set out methodically to try and remember the names of some of his students whom I had known in the past and who might be in Paris then.
“I had arrived in Paris at about four o'clock in the afternoon and it was not until after nine that evening that I finally located an older woman who had been at the Prieure when I had been there as a child. She not only assured me that Mr. Gurdjieff was in Paris and that I would certainly be able to see him the following day, but also offered me a room for the night. I accepted gratefully and talked with her until very late, which relieved my nervousness to some extent. Even so, I was still convinced that I had to see him before I could relax and did not sleep very well that night.
“I had to spend most of the morning—fidgety and anxious —in the company of my benefactress, as she assured me that I would not be able to locate him—I no longer remember why—until about noon. At eleven o'clock, she gave me two addresses: one of a cafe where he habitually had coffee in the late morning, and the other of his apartment. I went to the apartment first, but he was not there. I then went to the cafe and he was not there, either. I became very irrationally upset and began to think that I had lost my way in Paris (if not my mind), so I telephoned the lady, telling her where I was and that I had been unable to locate Mr. Gurdjieff. She did her best to reassure me and suggested that I go back to his apartment—I had not, she was able to assure me, lost my way—and wait for him there. I followed this suggestion and went back. I could not get in to the apartment, but the aged concierge, who seemed alarmed at my desperate appearance and manner, brought an armchair into the hall and placed it so that it faced the entrance, and told me to try and rest—that he was sure to arrive very shortly.
“I waited for what seemed to me an interminable length of time, forcing myself to remain seated in the armchair, staring at the entrance. It was probably not more than about one hour later when I heard the sound of a cane tapping on the sidewalk. I stood up, rigid, and Gurdjieff—I had known it must be he, although I had never known him to use a cane—appeared in the doorway. He walked up to me without the faintest sign of recognition, and I simply stated my name. He stared at me again for a second, dropped his cane, and cried out in a loud voice, "My son!". The impact of our meeting was such that we threw our arms around each other, his hat fell from his head, and the concierge, who had been watching, screamed. I helped him retrieve his hat and cane, he put one arm around my shoulders and started to lead me up the stairs, saying: "Don't talk, you are sick."
“When we reached his apartment, he led me down a long hall to a dark bedroom, indicated the bed, told me to lie down, and said: "This your room, for as long as you need it." I laid down on the bed and he left the room but did not close the door. I felt such enormous relief and such excitement at seeing him that I began to cry uncontrollably and then my head began to pound. I could not rest and got up and walked to the kitchen where I found him sitting at the table. He looked alarmed when he saw me, and asked me what was wrong. I said I needed some aspirin or something for my headache, but he shook his head, stood up and pointed to the other chair by the kitchen table. "No medicine," he said firmly. "I give you coffee. Drink as hot as you can." I sat at the table while he heated the coffee and then served it to me. He then walked across the small room to stand in front of the refrigerator and watch me. I could not take my eyes off him and realized that he looked incredibly weary—I have never seen anyone look so tired. I remember being slumped over the table, sipping at my coffee, when I began to feel a strange uprising of energy within myself—I stared at him, automatically straightened up, and it was as if a violent, electric blue light emanated from him and entered into me. As this happened, I could feel the tiredness drain out of me, but at the same moment his body slumped and his face turned grey as if it was being drained of life. I looked at him, amazed, and when he saw me sitting erect, smiling and full of energy, he said quickly: "You all right now—watch food on stove—I must go." There was something very urgent in his voice and I leaped to my feet to help him but he waved me away and limped slowly out of the room.
“He was gone for perhaps fifteen minutes while I watched the food, feeling blank and amazed because I had never felt any better in my life. I was convinced then—and am now— that he knew how to transmit energy from himself to others; I was also convinced that it could only be done at great cost to himself.
“It also became obvious within the next few minutes that he knew how to renew his own energy quickly, for I was equally amazed when he returned to the kitchen to see the change in him; he looked like a young man again, alert, smiling, sly and full of good spirits. He said that this was a very fortunate meeting, and that while I had forced him to make an almost impossible effort, it had been—as I had witnessed—a very good thing for both of us. He then announced that we would have lunch together—alone—and that I would have to drink a "real man's share" of fine old Armagnac.”
~ Fritz Peters “My Journey With a Mystic”
[Fritz first met Mr. Gurdjieff when he lived at the Prieuré as an 11-year-old boy in 1924]
A FIRST INKLING OF THE GURDJIEFF IDEAS
"I suggested taking Miss Solano for a spin down the boulevard to give her a taste of the car she would own after we bad broken it in on our forthcoming travels. Her violet eyes beneath black bangs followed my every move as I shifted gears, stopped and started at signals, taking me in as a part of the car, the talking part that explained the mysteries of its internal combustion engine as we rolled along. At the traffic halt before crossing the bridge into the maelstrom of the Place de la Concorde, I feathered the engine in neutral to show her how you kept it hot for a quick takeoff, and she turned to me suddenly and said, "Thanks for the lesson. I don't often have a chance to act in the physical center. I'm always in the other two." "The other two what?" I asked. "Centers of course... emotional, mental," she said. "Man is a three-centered being. You don't have to live in just one, like a beggar, as someone said."
"Then the lights changed and I spurted forward in a splendid show of physical-center prowess while my uninhabited mind echoed the exciting formulation. Man is a three-centered being. 'My Father's house has many mansions'... was 'that' the meaning behind my favorite Gospel metaphor?
"I was unaware that I had just been given a first inkling of the Gurdjieff ideas with which I was to wrestle for many years. I credited Solita Solano with the striking statement. She looked capable of any degree of original thinking, and as I swung the car around Napoleon's Column I thought: If I live through the driving lessons with this nervous high-strung creature who speaks shorthand in gasps, maybe I can coax her to tell me more."
~ Kathryn Hulme “Undiscovered Country”
THE USE OF NARCOTICS... AFFORDS A TREMENDOUS SCOPE FOR EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
“The use of narcotics to change the state of consciousness and alter the conditions of psychic functions affords a tremendous scope for experimental psychology. Strictly speaking, experimental psychology begins with the moment when the knowledge of using substances to affect human functions in one or another direction is reached. All the rest is only observing psychology. The use of narcotics in psychological schools is very ancient. In all popular beliefs, legends and tales there are stories about miraculous potions, ointments and incense, which changed the outer aspect of a man, made him invisible, or extremely beautiful and endowed him with miraculous powers. There are Indian legends about the sacred potion, soma, which gave miraculous powers. In the Eleusinian Mysteries the Epopts, before the initiation, were given a sacred drink. Ancient historians looked upon this drink as a ritual, a ceremonial, but in fact it had a much deeper meaning. The idea of the philosopher's stone, of the elixir of life, permeating all medieval alchemy is connected with the same thing, that is to say, with rumors which penetrated to the masses or to unprepared minds of superstitious people about the use in schools of potions and narcotics, producing incomprehensible psychic effects.”
~ George Gurdjieff “Gurdjieff's Early Talks 1914-1931”
AND YET ALL THIS KNOWLEDGE DID NOT SERVE TO BRING HIM EVEN TO THE PATH
“On the face of it, the one who was most prominent among the six [original members of George Gurdjieff's St. Petersburg group] was Ouspensky. It was he who always kept the conversation going; he who at our meetings talked more than anyone else, asked Gurdjieff the most questions. And complex questions they were, too, for an ordinary person. Gurdjieff sometimes rebuked him for not being brief and keeping to the point. Ouspensky was all outward manifestation. In those early days, before he developed, behind his quasi-scientific phrases there was no real significance or deep meaning. We could see how many facts were stored in his head: he could compare the different esoteric schools, make a historical survey of them, put rhetorical questions and then answer them himself. But in reality he was only posing the same questions in a different form. Names of leaders, countries, philosophers, heroes, mystic books, all poured forth in non-stop speech in a characteristic avalanche. And yet all this knowledge did not serve to bring him even to the path leading to the regions where he so longed to penetrate. When Ouspensky had been going on in this fashion for some time, Gurdjieff used to look at him with a curious enigmatic smile and sometimes would stop him in full flood. In fact I, too, had a very good memory and could rehearse all the names of these Indian books that Ouspensky loved to discuss— the Vedas, Venda Vesta, Atavra and others—but though I always appreciated their value, I knew already that they had not helped me to find what I wanted, which was to attain a vision of another and deeper way to live.”
~ Anna Butkowsky "With Gurdjieff in St. Petersburg and Paris"