Link to Parabola Magazine Review.
When I was young and very dissatisfied with the world, and with myself, I was drawn to G.I. Gurdjieff’s All & Everything, or Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson. The book was not like anything I had read before, in content, style or language. It was in a way, peculiar. And in some sections nearly incomprehensible. But it deeply struck something in me. There was presented a vast perspective of the universe that shook my preconceptions of history and humankind. Although it presented an unflattering picture of us humans and starkly pointed out our shortcomings, it was also playful, often hilarious, and very moving. An attitude of impartial love comes through. This began my interest in Gurdjieff’s teaching.
As I read more and became involved in the teaching I was surprised to find so many people that said they could not get through the book. “It was too hard.” “Too strange.” Too...whatever. To me it is endlessly fascinating, invigorating, and is infused with humor and a palpable feeling of care and love.
For many years I was a voracious reader and gobbled up any and all books by and about Gurdjieff and his teaching. Many were valuable and excellent in many ways. But none struck nearly as deeply as did All & Everything.
I was excited when I learned that William Patrick Patterson was releasing Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission because I knew Mr. Patterson has long practise of the teaching and had done extensive research into unpublished accounts and memoirs about Gurdjieff and would likely add both new material and incorporate the various reportings of Gurdjieff and his teaching in new, intriguing, and enlightening ways.
The new book greatly exceeds what I had hoped. My experience in reading this book comes close, though in a different way, to that original experience of reading All & Everything. It is also seemingly much more straightforward than All & Everything but much depth is there to be plumbed for those who wish to dive deeper. Mr. Patterson’s book gives a chronological reporting of Gurdjieff’s life but more importantly it connects seemingly disparate events and experiences into a whole that greatly exceeds the parts. There is information here, yes. But for me, it is an emotional experience to read this book. The teachings of Gurdjieff, presented through the experiences of those who were drawn toward his ideas, and through the inevitable life difficulties, trials, and tribulations we all face, shines with a caring and a love for all humanity.
I highly recommend Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission to those interested in a spiritual teaching that faces the stark reality of our situation in such a comprehensive and caring way.
This is a book for grown-ups. Those open to the truth and willing to work for what matters. Who will take the challenge?