Gurdjieff's teaching: for scholars and practitioners

G. I. Gurdjieff's teaching, research, books, conferences


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G. I. Gurdjieff

Sy Ginsburg

News at 27 October 2011

Sy’s GURDJIEFF UNVEILED: an overview and introduction to the teaching originally published by Lighthouse Editions in 2005 is now available for a free download from the Theosophical Society of America’s website.  

Click on the title to download

Gurjieff Unveiled
Seymour B. Ginsburg  

 Course dates: 

Friday, January 28 through Friday, March 11, 2011.

see details below:

The Theosophical Society in America is experimenting with introducing online courses/study groups based on new technology. This technology creates a virtual classroom in which all participants’ visages appear on your computer screen simultaneously. I have been asked to facilitate an online Gurdjieff Study Group using this technology, and I am inviting you to participate in this program.

I will be a co-host to facilitate this study group along with Ben Furman of the Theosophical Society staff. Jim Bosco, also of the staff, is administrating the program and its technical aspects. This does not require downloading any software. It is a matter of just logging on to a particular Adobe website set up as a classroom.

At the outset this will be a seven week course explaining the fundamental concepts in Gurdjieff’s teaching. It will take place for one hour each Friday at 11:00 am EST to 12:00 noon beginning Friday, January 28 through Friday, March 11, 2011. (Adjust your time depending on your time zone.) There will also be a preliminary session on Friday, January 21 from 10:45 am to 12:00 noon EST for the purpose of ironing out any technical difficulties.

During the seven weeks, I will be presenting the fundamentals of Gurdjieff’s teaching following the outline of the book, Gurdjieff Unveiled, and coloured by the teachings of Sri Madhava Ashish (nee Alexander Phipps 1920-1997) the man who told me to study Gurdjieff’s teaching when I first met him in 1978. You need not buy the book, Gurdjieff Unveiled, although it can be ordered from the Quest Bookshop at the Society’s headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois.

At the preliminary session on January 21, I will be presenting some information about Ashish as it connects with Gurdjieff.  While the course largely involves my lecturing on the fundamental concepts, the technology permits participants to ask questions orally by “raising their hands” electronically or by texting a question, and I will try to address such questions.

In this sense the course is interactive. At the end of each class session, a psychological exercise will be given based upon Gurdieff’s teaching of the necessity for self-observation of states of identification which prevent us from standing in our true being. Self-observation takes place within the state of self-remembering that is at the core of Gurdjieff’s teaching, and how to do this will be explained.

It is expected that participants will work on this exercise during the week.  At each following class session participants will have the opportunity to share the self-observations that they made during the preceding week, within the limits of available time.

You need not be a member of the Theosophical Society to participate. The requirements for participation in this course are:

1) You must have a computer that has both a camera and microphone within it. Most laptop computers produced in the past five years have this feature. If you don’t have that, you can purchase separate relatively inexpensive equipment that will attach to your computer.

2) Your commitment to participate in all seven class sessions. I would also like you to participate in the preliminary session on January 21.

3) Your earnestness about self-study. This is not a course in which people just “drop in” from time to time. Both Gurdjieff and Ashish have told us that no one can do this for anyone else. One’s work is always one’s own work. In Gurdjieff’s words:

There is in our life a certain very great purpose and we must all serve this Great Common Purpose – in this lies the whole sense and predestination of our life.” Gurdjieff goes on to tell us that although everyone  is equally a slave to this great purpose, the man or woman who has developed his own ‘I’ is conscious, and “he acquires the possibility, simultaneously with serving the all-universal Actualizing, of applying part of his manifestations according to the providence of Great Nature for the purpose of acquiring for himself ‘Imperishable Being’.”

This invitation is being sent to a broad spectrum of the Theosophical students, Gurdjieff students, and other students of esoteric philosophies who would fall into one of the following categories:

A) Those who for the most part do not have access to and/or do not participate in a Gurdjieff study group. Some of you who are familiar with Gurdjieff’s teaching will have already encountered the fundamental concepts, although I think that we all need to review these fundamental concepts from time to time.

B) Those who are unfamiliar with Gurdjieff’s teaching but who may be interested.. If so, you will begin to hear new ideas and then I wish you not to miss them.

If you already participate in a Gurdjieff Study Group you would have no need to participate in this online study group.

If you would like to participate please send me an Email to that effect to

and I will send you the necessary log-on information. If you have a friend whom you think would be interested, please pass this on. While in theory this technology system can accommodate a large number of participants, as a practical matter we would probably need to limit participation to about 20-25 participants at the outset. If there is sufficient interest after this seven week course, we will then attempt to arrange an ongoing series of weekly online meetings beginning in April which will constitute an ongoing Online Gurdjieff Study Group. As some of you know, the Gurdjieff teaching is “hands on”. It is not just a series of lectures, but requires ongoing self-observation within self-remembering by participants, and also requires lengthy periods of meditation in silence to stop turning thoughts. This is called Work on oneself in the Gurdjieff tradition.

I’ll look forward to your response.


Sy Ginsburg.



January 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I would be much interested in this course if it were offered again. Please let me know if it isoffered.

    chip westfall

    March 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm

  2. Are we not losing the posibility for exchanges to take place ? The transmission of a sincere question based upon a need for direction

    Daniel Volz

    July 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    • Sy writes: as a facilitator of the weekly Online Gurdjieff Study Group under the auspices of the Theosophical Society in America and as a 30+ years student of Gurdjieff’s teaching in Foundation groups, Theosophical groups, and independent groups, I can appreciate the issue that is raised. Certainly face-to-face group meetings are preferable, but with all the new technology and a perceived need particularly for people who do not have convenient access to a face-to-face group, the TSA has undertaken experimentally to see what is possible, in this instance using new online meeting software. Our experience since January has been quite positive because the technology permits participants to share their self-observations of the weekly self-remembering exercise (task) both by audio and video and creates an environment fairly close to a typical group meeting. Exchanges take place as they would in any typical group meeting. Of course, participants need a computer with microphone, speakers and camera but most laptops these days come so equipped. This may very well be the wave of the future particularly as the technology gets better and better. The experiment is ongoing. Sy Ginsburg


      July 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm

  3. “creates an environment fairly close to a typical group meeting.” how can you say that? the real presence of others is a force in itself. there is no substitute for a real group meeting.

    scott cumming

    August 30, 2012 at 4:00 am

    • Sy Ginsburg has sent this reply to your comment:
      “Yes, we try to create an environment on line that is close to the traditional exchange in a group meeting where participants bring their self-observations in relation to a weekly self-observation exercise (task) that is given. The co-facilitators respond just as those “sitting in front” would do in a typical Gurdjieff Study Group. All Gurdjieff Study Groups are really support groups for one’s own individual intentional efforts to “remember yourself always and everywhere.” The Work is always one’s own work. It is an individual effort, not a group effort, and no one can do it for anyone else. But most of us need support because we forget to remember all the time, and this is the primary function of a Gurdjieff Study Group whether face-to-face or on line. Self-remembering is the centerpiece of Gurdjieff’s teaching. Other group activities are ancillary. Admittedly, there is a level of non-verbal exchange that takes place in a face-to-face group that cannot be replicated on line. Nevertheless, the online group serves a real function and especially for participants who do not have reasonable access to a face-to-face group.”
      Sy Ginsburg is co-facilitator of the Online Gurdjieff Study Group presented under the auspices of the Theosophical Society in America.


      August 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm

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