Meeting Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way – Asaf

Asaf Braverman, California

Gurdjieff Asaf Braverman

I met the Fourth Way in a bookstore. Those were the pre-Internet days, in which you searched for new knowledge in your local store. I was in desperate search for meaning. I sought an explanation to the chaos within and without me. I had to find a deeper meaning to life than financial security and biological comfort—or quit life altogether.

I had put my hopes in the realm of psychology. If only I could better understand myself—I thought—I might understand everything else. Philosophy seemed too theoretical, science and metaphysics too impractical, mainstream spirituality too wishful.

I was in the habit of periodically combing the psychology section, till one day, I came across an unusual title: The Fourth Way by Russian author P. D. Ouspensky. The book contained a series of questions and answers based on the teachings of George Gurdjieff. I turned the book around and found the following citation:

Gurdjieff-Peter Ouspensky“We must study man parallel with the world in which man lives… Man is analogous to the universe; the same laws operate in him and we shall find that it is easier to understand some of these laws by studying man, while other laws we can understand better by studying the universe.” – Peter Ouspensky

“Either this man is presumptuous,” I thought to myself, “or he really has something to say.” I bought the book to find out.

Valuing Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way

The first sentence of the first paragraph of the first page set this book apart from anything I had formerly read:

“I want particularly to impress on your minds that the most important ideas and principles of the system do not belong to me. This is chiefly what makes them valuable…”

Anything I had previously read belonged to somebody: Freud’s psychoanalysis or Jung’s analytical psychology or Adler’s individual psychology. I had become accustomed to the author taking pride in his own presentation. Yet here was a man who began his presentation by claiming he didn’t own it!

Ouspensky had received his knowledge from George Gurdjieff, who also admitted its origins to be much older and deeper than himself. The next few pages of The Fourth Way would confirm the profundity of this system and would prove it to be much more ‘systematic’ than anything I had ever encountered. All the ideas related to each other, and all supported a central point like spokes supporting a hub.

That central hub was self-remembering. When my eyes came across that phrase, I closed the book and sat still. I knew that I had found the missing key that would unlock the enigmas within and without me. I knew I had found the truth.

Gurdjieff-Peter Ouspensky“Because you cannot remember yourself, you cannot concentrate; and this is why you will have to admit that you have no will. If you could remember yourself, you would have will and could do what you liked… This is the situation from which we have to start self study.” – Peter Ouspensky