We are Gurdjieff’s grandchildren, at least we are if we view it in this way: Gurdjieff’s children were those people he taught directly. His grandchildren are those who were taught by those he taught.
So the title, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, implies perhaps that it is our generation of The Work who will open the book and read it exactly as he advised.
Few of the immediate pupils of Gurdjieff made much effort to “open the book.” There may have been good reason for that. Some of them ignored the book, focusing more on the movements and group meetings – and that is hard to criticize. Nevertheless, few of them engaged in serious study of the book. They tipped their hat to it. That was all.
There were exceptions: Annie Lou Staveley focused very strongly on Gurdjieff’s writings. Wim Nyland seems to have taught “from the book” at times. (Of course he was a pupil of Orage, and Orage had held meetings to discuss the book, while it was being written ). And there was Louise March, who had translated the German version and Jane Heap too, who worked on the English original after Orage died.
My experience was this:
In the groups I encountered, great respect was paid to Gurdjieff’s writings. There were readings, often regularly and frequently. And yet nobody I encountered seemed to understand Gurdjieff’s writings at all. More surprisingly, if anyone at a group meeting ever asked a direct question about The Tales, the senior pupils who were supposed to have “a deeper knowledge of everything” would deflect the question in some way, often pretending that they had some special knowledge but “you had to find out for yourself.”
And then, just a few years ago now, I read a transcript of a meeting Orage had held, and in the meeting Orage reported the following very important comment from Gurdjieff:
“I have buried in this book certain bones, so that certain dogs with great curiosity and strong scent may dig down to them and, strange thing, when they have done so, are men.”
When I read this, I realized that those senior pupils were buffering and self-calming – lying unconsciously, or otherwise. So we (initially myself alone, but soon a few others joined me) began to “try and fathom the gist.” It wasn’t long before we achieved some preliminary insights.
And that allowed us to ask apparently innocent but direct questions about The Tales of people who “pretended to have knowledge.” We wanted to know if anyone knew anything at all. And we discovered, almost without exception, that these senior pupils knew nothing – and in most cases they quickly admitted it.
An Interesting Situation
This puts us all in an interesting situation. Gurdjieff never revealed much to anyone about All & Everything. Everyone who could claim to have knowledge has now passed and we are left alone trying to make sense of his words.
Nevertheless, there is sunshine in this. He would not have written a work that was impossible to penetrate. He wrote it for his grandchildren.
The time of All & Everything is now!