G.I. Gurdjieff (d. 1949) remains an important, if controversial, figure in early 20th-century Western Esoteric thought. Born in the culturally diverse region of the Caucasus, Gurdjieff traveled in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere in search of practical spiritual knowledge. Though oftentimes allusive, references to Sufi teachings and characters take a prominent position in Gurdjieff's work and writings. Since his death, a discourse on Gurdjieff and Sufism has developed through the contributions as well as critiques of his students and interlocutors. J.G. Bennett began an experimental 'Fourth Way' school in England in the 1970s which included the introduction of Sufi practices and teachings. In America this discourse has further expanded through the collaboration and engagement of contemporary Sufi teachers.
This work does not simply demonstrate the influence of Gurdjieff and his ideas, but approaches the specific discourse on and about Gurdjieff and Sufism in the context of contemporary religious and spiritual teachings, particularly in the United States, and highlights some of the adaptive, boundary-crossing, and hybrid features that have led to the continuing influence of Sufism.
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An exploration of the discourse about Sufism in the work of Gurdjieff, his student J.G. Bennett, and its influence in contemporary spirituality in the USA.From the Back Cover:
'Perhaps no one writing on Gurdjieff at the present time is better equipped than Michael Pittman, whose comprehensive grasp of Armenian, Turkish and Arabic cultures and languages gives him a valuable perspective on the extent to which Sufism has informed the deep and surface structures of Gurdjieff's major writing and, consequently, on the growth of an extensive Sufi following in the United States that is traceable to the influence of Gurdjieff's writing. In adopting an objective view of Gurdjieff's exposition of ideas in his major works, All and Everything and Meetings with Remarkable Men, Pittman carefully avoids the controversy over aspects of Gurdjieff's life and reputation. What he stays attentive to is the pertinence of Gurdjieff's work to universal human aspirations.'
Paul B. Taylor, University of Geneva, Switzerland
'Pittman guides the reader on a spiritual journey through the intricacies of esoteric spiritual schools Eastern and Western, familiar and forbidden. Pittman's chief insight--that G.I. Gurdjieff has instituted a discourse and as such can be studied on a par with Marx, Freud, and the other shapers of modern consciousness is a revelation. As discourse Gurdjieff's esotericism comes into its own: Pittman traces the influence of Gurdjieff through writings by and about Gurdjieff and through firsthand interviews with teachers and students, producing a comprehensive account of an important investigation of the place of Sufism in the Western esoteric.'
Jon Woodson, author of To make a new race: Gurdjieff, Toomer, and the Harlem Renaissance
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