Gurdjieff’s Age Versus Ours
The turbulent twentieth century certainly bleached whatever traditions George Gurdjieff caught at their tail-end. The world saw as much change in those hundred years as it did in the previous thousand: world wars, revolutions, mass migration of people, the emergence and dissolution of countries, vast discoveries and brutal destructions of ancient art. In our age, it is no longer a question of tapping into those groups that Gurdjieff encountered in Central Asia, for they have long been destroyed.
Nevertheless, our age bears one advantage over Gurdjieff’s: science has uncovered many relics unknown to Gurdjieff’s time. Archeology has become a more systematic field, and has grown to global proportions, nations teaming together and pooling their resources to effect thorough excavations. Much of Gurdjieff’s claims have been proven correct, validating the possibility that he had, indeed, received authentic esoteric information. Others have been thrust into question.
Gurdjieff’s proven Claims
One way Gurdjieff captured western students was his claim to esoteric knowledge unknown to western science. His historical, cosmological and psychological presentations were unique. A hundred years later, much of his psychological approach has been absorbed into mainstream psychology, such as the wisdom of the enneagram that establishes the natural division of human types. Some of his historical claims have also been scientifically proven.
Gurdjieff’s Pre-Sand Egypt
Gurdjieff claimed to have found a map of pre-sand Egypt, an advanced civilization that, according to him, had existed around the Nile Delta before the Old Kingdom. He claimed they were responsible for the older Egyptian monuments, such as the Great Sphinx and the Pyramids in Giza. Numerous claims have since surfaced of a similar nature, although Egyptian archeologists have so far refuted these monuments originate from earlier times than the accepted Old Kingdom.
Nevertheless, the fact that the Sahara desert wasn’t always a desert is now acknowledged. In this respect, there would have been a pre-sand Egypt, as Gurdjieff claimed there had been, that might have stretched out far beyond the Nile, for better climatic conditions would have enabled it to expand throughout the upper part of the African continent. Rock carvings in the middle of the Sahara show animal life that could only have existed in lush surroundings.
It is thought that this civilization was forced to migrate towards the Nile as climate conditions became severe. That would have marked the beginning of the rise of Ancient Egypt. Whether that is Gurdjieff’s pre-sand Egypt remains in question, but it does ascertain the existence of a civilization prior to the Egypt we know.
Gurdjieff’s Second Moon
In Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson, Gurdjieff claims that the earth’s moon was chipped off the earth as a result of an asteroid collision. He mentions a second moon that orbits the earth, unknown to astronomy.
Science has detected a tiny planetoid [called 3753 Cruithne] about three miles in diameter with an awkward relationship to the Earth due to a 1:1 orbital resonance. This planetoid (which doesn’t function as a satellite but may seem to act like one) encircles the sun in 364 days, which means that it gradually drifts farther away from the earth each year and will invalidate its satellite-like relationship in time.
Though it was officially discovered in 1986, calculations said that it was “visible” (with at least a 12.5 telescope) in about 1902. At that time, Gurdjieff would have been 36 years old and would have possibly heard of its existence.
More likely, however, Gurdjieff would have received his knowledge from the Sumerian Creation Myth called Enuma Elish, which tells that Marduk, a gigantic planet, came to visit Tiamat, and colliding with it, created the present Earth and Moon.
Gurdjieff’s unproven Claims
Gurdjieff affirmed Plato’s Atlantis myth: that there had originally been an advanced civilization which, in response to its prediction of a geological cataclysm, deliberately dispersed throughout the earth. Its spores civilized the known world with a cultures that were variations on a similar theme, explaining the resemblance between distant cultures.
This has not yet been archeologically proven, and although several places have been offered as the possible location of such an ‘Atlantis’, none have been affirmed. Nevertheless, such a theory explains much better what archeology is yet to explain: the close resemblances between the ancient Hindu, Sumerian and Egyptian cultures.
Gurdjieff’s last excursion was to the caves in Lascaux, France. Upon examining the prehistoric wall paintings, he told Bennet they were 10,000 years old and painted by Atlantians. However, radio carbon dating has placed them at 17,000 BC, significantly earlier than Gurdjieff’s assessment. Moreover, other caves of even earlier art have meanwhile been uncovered, suggesting his knowledge of prehistory was inexact.
Gurdjieff seems to have deliberately made up much of his stories, thereby discouraging blind faith and forcing his readers to bring their own judgment to the material at hand. It is difficult to ascertain even which aspects of his Meetings with Remarkable Men are biographical and which invented. Ouspensky narrates that Gurdjieff would often contradict himself, claiming one thing in one lecture and its opposite in another.
Nevertheless, the precision of Gurdjieff’s historical claims should bear no effect on the validity of his system. It is clear that he brought to the west and to the twentieth century a well-established formula from past ages. It was clear that he was living proof to the effectiveness of that system, that it had transformed his being into something rarely seen in the western world. It was clear that many picked up on this rarity and followed it.