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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Gurdjieff, George Ivanovitch (1877?-1949) Still a major cult figure today, this enigmatic, colorful Russian guru was, for a while, a close friend of Peter Demianovich Ouspensky (1878-1947), another but rather less picturesque mystic.
      Gurdjieff organized the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at Fontainebleau, near Paris, where he managed to talk his followers——artists, writers, rich widows, aristocrats and common folk who could afford it——into laboring freely for him in exchange for his convoluted wisdom on every imaginable subject.
      He was a charismatic, unpredictable character who praised and damned with impunity; constantly declared obscure, indefensible opinions on science and on mankind; and left behind him a bizarre philosophy that charms perhaps because it seems at first to be thoughtful but upon close examination looks more like a colossal joke.
      Wondering what qualities of Gurdjieff enabled him to so captivate and control his disciples, U.K. psychologist Christopher Evans remarked:  

      Was it the long black moustaches, curled fiercely upward or the vast, dome-like shaven head? Perhaps it was the short, squat, gorilla-like figure? Or the one eye strikingly, but indescribably different from the other? . . . Most likely it was a combination of Gurdjieff's weird physical presence plus the special talent he displayed of uttering just about every remark he made, however commonplace, as though it was pregnant with great meaning and significance.

      The guru published All and Everything, more than a thousand pages of his rambling philosophy, and required his followers to read it and live by it. He still has a large following internationally, and the man who was known as “G” to his devoted disciples has managed to command their continued respect well after one of his frequent automobile crashes led to his premature demise in 1949.

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