John G. Bennett - Reunion With Gurdjieff

Reunion With Gurdjieff

Ouspensky died in 1947. In 1948, Bennett went to the United States and met Ouspensky's wife, through whom he learned that Gurdjieff had survived the French occupation and was living in Paris. Though it was now 25 years since they had last met (due mainly to Ouspensky's long standing veto on Gurdjieff to members of his groups), Bennett quickly decided to renew contact. In the 18 months before Gurdjieff's death (in October 1949), Bennett visited him frequently, despite his heavy professional schedule (he was now working for the Powell Duffryn coal company) and his responsibilities towards the group work at Coombe Springs.

A month spent working very intensively with Gurdjieff's group in the summer of 1949 laid the foundation for a significant transformation in his life and spiritual work. At that time, Gurdjieff's apartment in Paris had become a 'Mecca' to the 'followers of his ideas' who converged from many different countries. Bennett learnt of Gurdjieff's writings, and read "Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson" for the first time. At the beginning of 1949, Bennett was named as Gurdjieff's 'Representative for England' and later gave public lectures in London on Gurdjieff and his ideas.

This period was described in Elizabeth Bennett's book "Idiots in Paris", which was based on Bennett's diaries and her own memories.

Gurdjieff's death in 1949 was a serious blow for all his followers. Disagreements arose in the group, partly as a result of Gurdjieff's having afforded his closest associates conflicting areas of authority. In Bennett's case, the conflict was exacerbated by his own interpretation and development of Gurdieff's ideas.

After Gurdjieff's death, the various groups looked to Jeanne de Salzmann to give them direction and hold them together, but there was little inherent harmony between them. At this time Bennett was a member of a small group headed by Madame de Salzmann, putting his work at Coombe Springs under her overall guidance. In 1950, Bennett was falsely accused of harbouring communists on his staff and was forced to resign from Powell Dufryn (later resisting several attractive offers to return to a career in industrial research and administration). This left him free to concentrate more fully on the group work at Coombe Springs. He lectured frequently, trying to fulfill a promise he had made to Gurdjieff to do everything in his power to propagate his ideas. Friendly relations continued with Madame de Salzmann and her groups throughout 1951 and 1952, but by then Bennett was convinced that his more senior students were not making progress, and that he had to find out for himself whether there still existed an ancient tradition or source from which Gurdjieff had derived his teaching.

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Famous quotes containing the word gurdjieff:

    In properly organized groups no faith is required; what is required is simply a little trust and even that only for a little while, for the sooner a man begins to verify all he hears the better it is for him.
    —George Gurdjieff (c. 1877–1949)