In my writings I have many times used the expression Living Teaching to refer to the teaching G. I. Gurdjieff left to humanity in his “Magnum Opus” Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. Not long ago a commentator to one of my posts wrote that there is not such a thing as the Living Teaching because Gurdjieff is a dead man. I replied to him that my expression was not addressed to the practical teaching Mr. Gurdjieff gave during the 1930’s and 1940’s to a limited number of students but to the teaching he left in Beelzebub’s Tales. Yes, I added, Gurdjieff is a dead man but the teaching he left through the voice of Mr. Beelzebub himself is well alive and will be alive for generations to come.
It is in this sense that I would like to reproduce here one of the 87 reviews of Beelzebub’s Tales found in Amazon.com. I find this review to address the essence of what I mean by the term Living Teaching.
By Steve Adams on March 25, 2001
When Gurdjieff discovered that his institute would fall short of accomplishing his aims and his condition after a severe automobile accident forced – or bookmarked – a re-evaluaton of what he must do, he turned to writing and produced this “Magnum Opus.” He remarked that it was a javelin hurled into the future. I have read the book 3 times, and portions repeatedly, and contrary to the remarks of certain reviewers, I and others giving favorable reviews are not gullible. It took me three decades to see this issue in its true light, and the more I understand, the more I see I have a long way to go. The book is a legominism, to use Gurdjieff’s own technical term defined in the text. It exists on several levels, and on occassion I have been able to verify that for myself by the perceptivity of its deeper currents. Actually I will be the first to confess that you cannot tell much about this book by the reviews. The reviews – pro and con – tell much more about their authors than they do about this book. That should be expected. Even my own review reminds me of Beelzebub’s description of our species as those unfortunate three-brained beings that breed and multiply upon the face of that ill-fated planet Earth. Gurdjieff held up a mirror, and reviewers – including myself – seem eager to show our faces in it. Without question this is the most important work ever written on the issue of stopping wars, and that singular observation alone among many other comparable ones is sufficient to validate Leary’s comment that this is the most important work produced in the twentieth century. But because of its inaccessibility to many audiences, I would also include Ouspensky’s account of Gurdjieff’s teaching, “In Search of the Miraculous,” on a par with it. Ouspensky’s book may actually be more important immediately, but ultimately Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales will emerge to its true stature among segments of our posterity. Gurdjieff knew and stated that there was no hope for current generations. Without this javalin hurled into the future, there would be no hope at all.”