George Gurdjieff was a mystic who revived ancient wisdom during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He lived between two ages, catching the tale end of a pre-industrial world and transporting its legacy to an era where mythology and symbology had all but died.
In his youth, Gurdjieff sensed that there had to exist knowledge that instructed man how to transcend himself. He sensed that such knowledge had to be obtained by special effort. He arranged expeditions to exotic places in search of ancient teachings and eventually came upon a secret brotherhood. All we know about his days of apprenticeship is autobiographical, deliberately shrouded in mystique by its author. Nonetheless, when he appeared in Russia in 1910, he undoubtedly possessed a unique system of self-development.
Gurdjieff’s Pre-Sand Egypt
Gurdjieff claimed to have found, in his expeditions, a map of pre-sand Egypt. The supposed map was evidence of a civilization that had existed before what we know as dynastic Egypt, an advanced pre-historic culture responsible for humanity’s subsequent wisdom. In those times, sand had not yet transformed northern Africa into what we now call the Sahara Desert, and the continent was a the most thriving and civilized place on the earth. Man was closer to the earth, to the heavens – and most importantly – to himself.
Such claims – of secret brotherhoods and lost maps – gave George Gurdjieff the reputation of a controversial mystic, knowledgeable but exaggerated, profound but nonsensical. In this site, however, we deem the authenticity of his stories secondary. Whether he actually found an ancient map, or whether it was a facetious fable made to force his students to think for themselves, rather than blindly believe, we take Gurdjieff’s pre-sand Egypt as a metaphor, a parable – a principle.
Time has always buried wisdom in sand, smothered it in jungle or submerged it in flood. Again and again, time has warped the best of man’s teachings, distorting them into dogma or politicizing them into religion. We take Gurdjieff’s pre-sand Egypt to signify wisdom before distortion, the teaching prior to religion and the myth that precedes dogma. It was these gems that he had found, unearthed and brought forth to a new age.
Time’s effect on every age is like winds caressing desert dunes, covering the traces of former generations in vagueness. Each age is thus forced to dig anew, retrieve what its ancestors tried to leave for its benefit. Gurdjieff’s explorations were precisely such excavations. He dug out the ancient wisdom coined in myth and ritual and translated it into the scientific language of the industrial age. He knew that a teacher of wisdom had to be an archeologist; that each age needn’t reinvent the wheel, but rediscover it anew.
A hundred years later, sands are swiftly burying Gurdjieff’s legacy so that it calls for re-excavation. The vitality of his teaching is gathering fresh layers of desert dust. Another age has dawned since his day, an age of computers and Internet. His sources are demolished beyond our reach, but their spirit remains accessible: the spirit of ancient wisdom lives on, as vital as it has been in any age, threading its way from one generation to the next.
This site will draw a map of Pre-sand Gurdjieff. It will wipe off a few layers of dust from the origin of his teaching. It will periodically publish posts on ancient traditions that instructed Gurdjieff, share Gurdjieff’s comments on them, and transport their invaluable instruction to our age.