John G. Bennett - Travels in The Middle East

Travels in The Middle East

In 1953, he undertook a long journey to the Middle East, visiting Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Persia. His search, chronicled in his book Journeys in Islamic Countries brought him into contact with Sufis of extraordinary accomplishment, such as Emin Chikou and Farhad Dede, but he found in none of them the quality he perceived in Gurdjieff, of universal understanding transcending local conditioning.

During 1954, there were increasingly evident differences of opinion between Bennett and Madame de Salzmann regarding the promulgation of Gurdjieff's teachings, and Bennett came to realise that an effectual working relationship with her groups was not possible. Bennett wished to execute Gurdjieff's last directives literally, by disseminating his ideas and writings as widely as possible, especially Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, which Madame de Salzmann wanted to keep away from the public eye.

In 1955, he initiated a project to build an unusual nine-sided meeting hall at Coombe Springs for the performance of Gurdjieff's sacred dance movements. This, together with his public lectures in London, completed the rift with Madame de Salzmann. The project took two years to complete. At the opening in 1957, Bennett commented that the real value of such a project was in building a community rather than the building itself.

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