It is my contention that Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us two teachings and for lack of better words I will refer to them as the Old Teaching and the New Teaching, although expressions such as old vibration and new vibration are also suitable. It is not the first time that similar expressions are used in the world of spirituality. The best example of other uses is the Old Testament and the New Testament. The implication in those two expressions is not one of separation but one of fulfillment and completeness. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
The Old Teaching in reference to what Mr. Gurdjieff brought to the West at the beginning of the Twenty Century, is the one he presented in Russia and faithfully recorded by Ouspensky in his book In Search of the Miraculous (ISOM). The New Teaching is the one Mr. Gurdjieff completed in France and that he recorded in his Legominism All and Everything and very specifically in his magnum opus, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (BTTHG).
It is also my contention that both teachings “are as much alike as the beard of the famous English Shakespeare and the no less famous French Armagnac.” And in this respect I am not the only one in the so-called Gurdjieff Community who has expressed this view. Here is a full quote from an interview in the Gurdjieff-Internet-Guide that Adam Nott, the son of the well know disciple of Mr. Gurdjieff C. S. Nott, gave to Adam Turner few months ago:
“My understanding is, Gurdjieff presented his teaching in different ways at different times, because if you compare the material that is so well recorded by Ouspensky when he was with Gurdjieff in Moscow, with Beelzebub, you can’t imagine that they came from the same source. They have their place and different people are brought by different things.”
This is exactly my understanding too and what I have been saying again and again in several of my articles and website blogs on the two teachings and for which I have attacked so strongly and viciously. And I think I can prove it mathematically using the two most important twenty-century theorems on mathematical logic: Godel’s two theorems of incompleteness. In Search of the Miraculous is incomplete with respect to Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, that is the whole point I have trying to make all along.
But why the change of teachings from Russia to France, one may ask? I suggest that when he arrived in Moscow in 1912, Mr. Gurdjieff had the fundamentals of his teaching but he was still working in completing his Being, as much as Beelzebub was doing the same during his many years of exile in this remote corner of the Universe called the solar system Ors. Completion of Being is not an easy task and for us now here on this lunatic planet Earth, it requires a residency in Purgatory. It was in France during the period between of July 8, 1924 and November 6, 1927 that Mr. Gurdjieff spent his residency in Purgatory. During that period he had his car accident, he lost both his beloved wife and beloved mother, he lost the “Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man,” and he understood that all he had written for the completion of BTTHG was inappropriate and unsuitable for future generations. It was therefore during this period that he went through the state of inner suffering that only Holy Purgatory can provide. All this is exposed in the Prologue of Life is real only then, when “I am.” We have to learn how to listen.
But is it important for me to know all this? What benefit can I derive from this knowledge? Well, like a three brained being of this lunatic planet, I must also make my residency in Purgatory and the only way to make it is by leaving behind the old. That is what Mr. Gurdjieff did. He left behind Russia for France, the old for the new. It is like Dante when he arrived to Purgatory. His first act was to have his faced washed by Virgil in the dew of Purgatory (Purgatory, Canto I). It is when I leave behind what I must leave behind, that I become a candidate to enter Holy Purgatory.
And finally, is there any sign in the Legominism that may serve as an indication of all that has seen said here? As a matter of fact, there is. It is in one of the shortest chapters in BTTHG: “A Change in the Appointed Course of the Falling of the Ship Karnak.” This chapter is located precisely between the chapters on Russia and France and the Karnak, according to many serious students of BTTHG, is the embodiment of the teaching. Therefore, this chapter is a strong indicator that the embodiment of the teaching is changed from Russia to France. But not only that; there is additionally the allegorical meaning of the Karnak falling towards Purgatory, as Mr. Gurdjieff falls from Russia towards France. Hence, Mr. Gurdjieff is telling us that he is falling towards his own Purgatory. We have to learn how to listen.
Unfortunately, some of the most prominent disciples of Mr. Gurdjieff from the first generation got stuck in the Old Teaching and never made it to the New Teaching. Among them and most noticeable are Ouspensky, Nicoll, and Jean Vaysse, as it is obvious from a superficial examination of their writings. One has only to study Ouspenky’s major work The New Model of the Universe in order to understand how he departs from the teaching Mr. Gurdjieff recorded in BTTHG. If one study Ouspensky’s book in details, one would find the almost incredible fact that the topic of Conscience, the major topic in BTTHG, not only is never covered but the word conscience is not mentioned even one time. However, the word consciousness is mentioned 185 times, all in connection with the expansion of consciousness, when this aspect is not emphasized in BTTHG. And then we have Nicoll’s six volumes of commentaries on the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, when the teacher who brought the teaching was Mr. Gurdjieff and not Ouspensky. And finally there is the book Towards Awakening by Jean Vaysee who was a Paris disciple of Mr. Gurdjieff and who apparently never studied BTTHG, as it is known that Ouspensky and Nicoll never did. On one of the last pages of his book, he claims that MORAL CONSCIENCE (in capital letter) interior calls to be myself. The view presented in BTTHG is radically different. The Divine Impulse of Conscience, as it is referred in BTTHG, does not call to be myself. Objective Conscience calls to be a Son of God, as it summarized in the book on page 368 of the original 1950 English Edition with the meaning of the brotherhood “Heechtvory,” which signifies:
Of all the disciples of this first generation, A. R. Orage stands as one of the disciples who best understood the New Teaching Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us. He was the one who was in charge of rendering into English the original Edition of Beelzebub’s Tales, the only authorized and supervised by Mr. Gurdjieff, the one the people at the New York Foundation under the auspices of Jeanne de Salzmann later revised twice mostly for profit motives.