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.”

About willmesa

I have been studying and working with the ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff exposed in his Opus Magnum Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. The intention of this blog is to share these ideas with people around the world. For more information about me, please search in Google for Will Mesa
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  1. Gregory says:

    Thanks for posting this, Will. I’d read it quite awhile ago on Amazon but needed to read it again. I agree with it even more this time around.
    As I’d posted before, the inner “crash and burn” I experienced during the majority of the Spring of 2012 was directly related to a renewed contact with Gurdjieff’s body of writings. At nearly 60, I’ve learned that for me this has been part and parcel of the Gurdjieffean process; it’s never expected and it’s always devastating to whatever held-on part of me needs to move-on. BT does its work; it meets its end of the relational bargain every single time.
    “Its deeper currents” as the reviewer accurately references them is it’s essentialist MUNDANE character. There is nothing to me of higher consciousness, higher being bodies, “development”, spiritual evolution or anything of the like. Contrariwise, if there is an experience of those things — and I really wish NOT to have those experiences —- they arise at a price known to me as “onion peeling live flesh”


  2. Dr. Jone Dae says:

    Living Teachers are always the best, IMHO. However, dead or not, BTTG is still the most important book in the world for people to read, before the “impulse” of G’s Working has died out. Generally it is thought to be 50 years, but G. was and exceptional Teacher. BTTG still lives, for those who are prepared to receive the teachings.

  3. willmesa says:

    A conversation between C.S. Nott and Denis Saurat on Beelzebub’s Tales. C.S. Nott is asking the question and Saurat is giving the answer:
    “Once, in our talks I said, ‘But so few people know about Beelzebub’s Tales. What‘s going to happen to it, supposing it does get published?’ Saurat said,
    Nothing much may happen in our time. We are in too much of a hurry. We have no sense of real time in the West. Perhaps in fifty, or a hundred years a group of key men will read it. They will say, ‘This is what we’ve been looking for’, and on an understanding of it, may start a movement which could raise the level of civilization.
    Gurdjieff is a Lohan.* In China there is the cave of a hundred Lohans, presumably all that have appeared in China in over four thousand years. A Lohan is a man who has gone to schools and by incredible exertions and study has perfected himself. He then comes back into ordinary life, sits in cafes, drinks, has women, and lives the life of a man, but more intensely. It was accepted that the rules of ordinary man did not apply to him. He teaches, and people come to him to learn objective truths. In the East a Lohan was understood. The West does not understand. A teacher in the West must appear to behave like an English gentleman.”

    • Gregory says:


      This is the very first statement — anywhere — I ever read concerning Gurdjieff’s Living Teaching:

      “Perhaps in fifty, or a hundred years a group of key men will read it. They will say, ‘This is what we’ve been looking for’, and on an understanding of it, may start a movement which could raise the level of civilization.”

      I have no idea what/”who” led me to that statement but it lodged in my 18 year old brain as “THE” defining statement of this teaching even before I had a clear picture of who Gurdjieff really was. It said to me: If you want to be taught this way, the teaching and the teacher ‘in toto’ are found in the books without any further qualifications”

      I remember thinking “How interesting, unusual and unique”

      I read the first of Gurdjieff’s writings and had an immediate and complete comprehension based on the sum total level of my life experiences up to that point. I then proceeded to lose that comprehension, put the book back on the shelf, and said to myself: “This is for later”.

      I entered Theosophy, Neo-Theosophy, Alice A. Bailey, Agni Yoga, Rudolph Steiner, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Carl Jung, Teilhard DeChardin in that order + etc. etc. etc. I returned to Gurdjieff through Ouspensky and immediately understood ISOTM and THE FOURTH WAY as clear, if lumpen, poetic/symbolic statements of “something”. I clearly remember thinking “This is very interesting but, other than a few bits and pieces, bears no resemblance to the Gurdjieff teaching as I read it and (more importantly) as I ‘heard’ it”

      Gurdjieff’s writings to this day are both Living Teaching and Living Teacher.
      In fact, this Living Teacher is the only one I have ever really had.

      How did he do that?


      • Gregory says:

        PS I would also add that without a deeply, involved everyday life — as opposed to a solely INTELLECTUALLY INVESTIGATIVE life this Living Teacher stops teaching me. All the heady previously-mentioned books — the majority of which I read thoroughly and deeply —- were balanced with an unexpected dive into a wide breadth of life experience.
        The demands of this particular teaching are —- in my experience —– often shocking and treacherous. This is not for the faint of heart or for those who feel they already know what their life —-safely — “needs” to be about.
        That, of course, is based on my particular experiences.
        Too often, I find “followers” to be involved in a safety net of mausoleum-style techniques and practices far removed from any kind of actual and personal comprehension of life.
        And, of course, I may be wrong.

      • Gregory says:

        Since Mr. Mike the Mammal and I seem to run neck-to-neck on verbosity here — ; ) —- once I made contact with the Living Teacher through the text of Gurdjieff’s writings, every single experience in life became a technique to transform me. Therein lies the unique character of this. In retrospect this Living Teacher had already taken me on as a student after reading his first book way back when. While I learned nothing FROM any of those teachings I listed previously, I learned and experienced much from being IN all of those teachings. As long as I am able to maintain buoyancy and a certain equipoise towards life, real life stuff continues as the crucible, forge and transformer. All that was taught through the Living Teacher who resides in the text.
        Practicing a self-remembrance technique will bring a taste of self remembrance. Following the ever-changing guides of the Living Teacher will bring me into Self-Remembrance as part and parcel without looking for it or practicing it.
        The crux of the writings’ teachings is our complete inability to Feel. Anything. When a real feeling hits you the import of this stance is all too apparent.
        We aren’t really in a place to receive a Thought. When a real thought slips through that hairline fracture in your crust it is decimating. And for a very long time.
        Try living through a more-or-less complete experience of the “i”s and tell me how you FEEL.
        What is the brain alteration experience a week after you have heard through an “opening” something about your position and the position of your family members in the generational blood streams. Did it cause you to keep all-night vigil or were you too concerned about how you looked at work the next day to allow the arriving Thought to disrupt your routine?
        In a peculiar way, looking from this current point in my life, the literature of the pre-1949 Work could be regarded as a fragmentary record of the results possibly achieved through following the guide of the Teacher in the books. In other words, it is all reported backwards; but how else to present to organisms who process Life that way?

        OK — enuf!

  4. willmesa says:

    Gregory, You are not wrong and you are not alone. Will

    • Gregory says:

      Thank you, Will.
      Again, you have answered “a call”.
      Truly, bless your heart for that.

      • Dr. Jone Dae says:

        @Will, re/the statement at the top of the page, I would add that, Meetings With Remarkable Men is important to read also. He is still teaching there, and the work coming through him, and it is a legominism also.

  5. Gregory says:

    A generally asked question:
    Is the Voice relating BTTHG the same Voice relating the remainder of Gurdjieff’s writings?

    • willmesa says:

      I think it is the same voice going through the entire Legominism All and Everything. In BTTHG this is the voice of a myth adapted to the reason of our time. In MWRM the voice is still allegorical but less mythic. And in lisrotwia, the voice is more concrete, calling us to share a real experience.

      • Gregory says:

        Again, I thank you, Will.
        And this reaffirms my experience with the teaching I have studied and practiced through the writings of Gurdjieff as opposed to the debauched concept of this teaching being the same as a Hidden Tradition. It leads one from the position of being a Karnak (“Dead body” in Armenian) tumbling through space to being an increasingly proprioceptive, fully involved citizen of the Earth.
        This truly is a teaching bent on resurrection.


    • Dr. Jone Dae says:

      Gregory, I find that “the voice” in Meetings With Remarkable Men is the same one, as in BTTG; but the Master fools many into thinking that it is “an ordinary book”, and they read it that way. I say it is another legominism.

      • willmesa says:

        I agree with Jone that Meetings With Remarkable Men is a Legminism. The entire three series of All and Everything form a Legominism with different approaches.

  6. Gregory says:

    Thanks, Jone.
    What about the Third Series?

    • Gregory says:

      I agree that the entirety of A&E is a legominism.
      However —- and for whatever it may or may not be worth —- it appears in my personal reading that an altogether different voice is now sparingly and incrementally speaking. It isn’t Gurdjieff’s voice and it doesn’t speak or reveal things in the same manner as the other two books do for me at present.
      And, yes, Jone, I completely agree with you about the trick played with MWRM.
      When I first heard this — and it was quite distinct and other than the voice to which I’d long been accustomed in each of the series —- it seemed to go some way in explaining to me the almost “it-isn’t-mine” stance with which Gurdjieff appears to regard it when stating that it “is a very interesting book” with “no known methods”.

      I can say this:
      -the vocal tone and rhythm is of an altogether different register,
      -it speaks in direct, solid, complete, (most important to me) sensible statements — no more, no less
      -it is not hallucinatory by a long shot. I eschew such things.

      I do want to add that it took me by complete surprise as I consider myself more than something of Actualist.— one has to be in order to coax Art down from the heights. But, because I have the life experience of coaxing “Art down from the heights” it didn’t frighten or scare me. It just presented itself and I said: “Oh!” I immediately recognized the impress of The Other as I do when a dance or theatre piece arrives in my “halo”.
      It is completely sane —though of a different order.
      And it most certainly teaches — and good, nourishing things, too!
      You know, this IS how we should be.


      • Dr. Jone Dae says:

        Gregory, I’m assuming we’re still talking about the books; then “the vocal tone and rhythm is of an altogether different register” would have to be what you imagine his voice would sound like if you heard him reading the book, yes?

  7. Gregory says:

    Hi Jone,
    Yes,we are still talking about the books.
    For many years the sole BTTHG voice I heard was, as you say, as “if (I) heard him reading the book”
    That remains in place. I will call that the Author’s Voice. Every book, to my reading, has an Author’s Voice, no matter what the content. And it is well described as the voice I imagine the author’s would sound like if he/she were reading the text.
    In BTTHG, I hear — additionally — an altogether different voice which I will refer to as The Living Teacher’s Voice. This Voice is picked up through an altogether different frequency in my psychology. Few, if any books I know, contain an equivalent to this Living Teacher’s Voice. Actually, NONE of the rest do — not even Joyce or Proust (two authors who come to mind as addressing their reader’s deeper psychological terrain)
    This Living Teacher’s Voice addresses me directly; it appears to come from “without” me not “within” me. It reads a behind-the-scenes, between the words “hypertext” which is composed of reorganized phrases, sentences, words and ideas, borrowed and stitched together from various places within BTTHG’s text . Hence the need of putting my attention on the entirety of the text and knowing it through and through to the best of my understanding and abilities.
    These “reorganizations” often amplify or further elucidate Ideas which are presented in the text in a more generalized fashion. They also can reveal where an Idea begins one place in the book and is developed another place, and wrapped up in yet another.
    The uncanny thing is, my experience of this Outside Talker-Teacher is of someone other than Gurdjieff and doesn’t appear to be me talking inwardly to myself —though, I haven’t ENTIRELY discounted that as a possible source. It’s as if the entire book is a 1238 page radio unit which increasingly fine tunes my frequency to pick-up on a station known as The Living Teacher.
    Does anybody out there get this or experience something similar?

    • Dr. Jone Dae says:

      Will, the Tibetan Buddhists described various kinds of non-ordinary speech and hearing which become conscious as the being or meditator becomes more conscious. I seem to recall, there was a “teacher’s voice” which evolved or developed humans could hear and speak. Might this be similar to what you hear in the Legominisms? BTW I recommend The Life of Milarepa, by Lobsang P. Lhalungpa. His translation into English of the Tibetan scripture, was a new translation, aided and encouraged by Lord Pentland.
      In there, are some of the references about the kinds of hearing and voice.

      • willmesa says:

        Yes, Jone, what I hear in the Legominisms is totally different from the known language of mentation by thought in which many books are written. I hear something that goes beyond that language. I hear the language of mentation by form, the language of feeling and essence. There is a great difference between these two languages. The voices spoke in the language of mentation by form speaks to me and I hear it and try to follow and obey. It is as simple as that.

      • Gregory says:

        Dear Jone
        I read the old Evans-Wenz translated series of Tibetan Buddhist writings including The Life of Milrepa when I was between 13-14 years of age. Thank you for the reminder of that long ago investment in myself. Thanks to the countercultural youth movement, many of those Victorian/Edwardian translations were readily available to those of us growing up in the mid —->late 1960s USA. While later and more contemporary to our times translations can be more mechanically accurate, these earlier Brit translations retained a poetic quality which we have discarded. It is my belief and experience that this stated quality aids as a bridge into the “symbolique”
        As an aside, Proust, Joyce, Woolf and Murasaki Shikibu were all important literary aids personally in the development of reading/hearing the subtle voice. I initially read Proust and Lady Murasaki in their Edwardian English translations and am glad I did.
        A difference would be the following:

        In a contemporary translation a line of Lady Murasaki would read something like:
        “When Prince Genji entered the room, one was immediately struck by the unique yellow of his garment”
        In the Arthur Waley the same line would be translated:
        “Even before Prince Genji’s entrance —- YELLOW. His garment, in this room; his robe like no other.”

        Do you understand the difference, Jone? The first is probably the more literal translation form Edo court Japanese to English. But the second reveals the subtle and ambiguous “fullness” which suggests gradations of meaning and feeling. The meaning is found between the words not in the words.
        It is attunement to this type of poetic, Jone, which has aided (greatly) my hearing the Living Teacher’s voice in BTTHG.
        That and the intentional suffering of choosing within Western society to engage in a financially precarious life’s work which demanded of me a heightened and continued awareness of the cadences and varied qualities of my emotional life and my physical organism sensed and moving in space and time.
        Many I began acting and dancing with have sadly fallen or in changing course ,just stepped off the bus. To continue in this most serious vein is so demanding, increasingly solitary, and dangerous. It is walking the single person bridge of Truth-driven Desire across a chasm of endlessly shouting and competing deflections.
        While this is my individual experience —- each of us has a unique path — I hope this is clear.
        What Mr. Gurdjieff’s writings have done is validate my psyche’s particular choices and direction and then slooooooooowly, in-cre-men-tal-ly reveal a teacher to give the stuff of this life lived context and ever more defined Shape.
        One does not learn this sitting in a group in a room week in and week out. One learns this by testing one’s mettle in every widening and ever more difficult Life.
        This is now 40 + years.


  8. Gregory says:

    The voice I am referring to above is the one I believe is heard through the agency of activated subconscious mentation. It is not ordinary hearing either externally or internally.
    Another more mundane, but no less important shift for me, has been an ability to hear the soundscape of daily life in sharper detail and increased depth. Where before I could tell you a certain birdcall was behind me I can now tell you — more or less —- the exact amount of feet and at what degree angle that birdcall is sourced based on how it is resonating in my organism.
    Like the voice heard behind the speaking text of the book, this soundfield phenomena happens episodically —its not a permenant fixture — and I have no doubt it is directly tied to how Mr. Gurdjieff’s book works and exercises and rebalances my overall organism.

  9. lucidcubed says:

    what text does “javelin hurled into the future” come from? is it CS Nott? or where is that recorded?

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