The Gurdjieff Work in Southwest Virgina, was founded in Roanoke in 1970. At that time, the group was under the guidance of Mr. Hugh Brockwill Ripman, the leader of the Gurdjieff Society of Washington D.C.
Almost fifty years on the work continues. There are regular group meetings in Floyd and in Blacksburg. The group is affiliated with the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York.
In addition to weekly meetings and occasional days of work in the area there are opportunities to participate in work activities in other areas.
The group is intended to support the study and implementation of the Gurdjieff ‘Work”, a set of ideas, perspectives and exercises that cultivate a new vision of the human experience and lead towards a life more fully lived.
G.I. Gurdjieff was born in Alexandropol, close to the frontiers of Russia and Turkey, circa 1866. Finding that neither science nor religion answered his questions about the meaning of man’s life, he became convinced that an ancient knowledge must exist and could still be found on Earth.
After twenty years of search in remote parts of Central Asia and the Near East, he returned to Russia in 1912. Settling near Paris in 1922, he established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at Fontainebleau. In 1924, he made the first of a series of visits to America. In 1929, he moved from Fontainebleau to Paris where he continued writing and working with a small number of students until his death in 1949.
“There do exist enquiring minds, which long for the truth of the heart, seek it, strive to solve the problems set by life, try to penetrate to the essence of things and phenomena and to penetrate into themselves. If a man reasons and thinks soundly, no matter which path he follows in solving these problems, he must inevitably arrive back at himself, and begin with the solution of the problem of what he is himself and what his place is in the world around him. For without this knowledge, he will have no focal point in his search. Socrates’ words, “Know thyself” remain for all those who seek true knowledge and being.”
“In our society, mainly concerned with production and efficiency, the drama is that our capacity for questioning, still so vivid in early childhood, is very quickly eradicated or pushed aside for the benefit of our capacity for answering. When a child has a real question, most of the time he is immediately given a stupid answer. In the best cases the educator goes to the dictionary to be sure his answer is accurate. But anyhow unconsciously, if not proudly, he closes the question. From school to the end of our life it is always necessary to answer. We are compelled to learn how to answer. If we don’t know how to answer, we are just no good. So little by little we become some kind of model machine able-to-answer-to-all-situations with all the necessary blindness as regards its own contradictions. That kind of answering, whose degree of sophistication may sometimes hide from us its conditioned character, is required by our life. But under its dominating necessity, is it possible to keep alive in ourselves our most authentic and precious capacity, which is questioning?”
From “Man’s Ever New and Eternal Challenge,”
Dr. Michel de Salzmann’s chapter in On the Way to Self Knowledge,
Jacob Needleman and Dennis Lewis, editors, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1976.
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