Winter workshops by Alan FrancisJanuary-February, 2018
Michel de Salzmann was born in Paris on December 31, 1923 and died there on August 4, 2001.
Many people were aware and it became accepted fact that Michel was the son of Gurdjieff and Madame de Salzmann.
His mother, Jeanne de Salzmann, was a life-long follower of Gurdjieff and helped lead his groups in the 1930’s and 40’s. After Mr. Gurdjieff’s death in 1949 she became the director of the Gurdjieff Foundations worldwide leading the Work for 40 years until her own death in 1990 at the age of 101. Her husband, Alexandre de Salzmann, had also been a student of Gurdjieff, he was a painter and theater designer, a friend of Kandinsky and Rilke, and a member of the Jugendstil artistic group. Their daughter and Michel’s half-sister Natalie was a founder of the Work in South America.
Professionally Michel was a successful psychiatrist. He may have seemed to have inherited leadership of the Gurdjieff Foundation in France in 1990.
He visited Gurdjieff centers all over the world and conducted many Gurdjieff retreats. He led a number of special groups some in music, he guided them with surprising informality, working directly with senior members but also paying special attention to younger students. David Hykes who has done music for the film "Meetings With Remarkable Men" was among his students.
He wrote an entry about Gurdjieff in The Encyclopedia of Religion (1987) and an introductory essay for J. Walter Driscoll's Gurdjieff: an annotated bibliography (1985), having also appeared in a documentary film about Gurdjieff in 1976.
As a mentor-instructor he provided a challenge to his pupils’ mechanical habits; giving hope, initiative and discipline wherever needed.
Michel de Salzmann presented one of the last living links to Gurdjieff himself. He provided the support needed to cross the mi-fa interval to Sol, to include the resistance to change within ourselves. Now this result must grow and mature resonant with Gurdjieff’s vision or be subject to the law of inertia, which is decay.
”When the attention is with this other energy permeating me - very concentrated yet very light, free, wishing nothing, needing nothing - everything is put in order naturally. Everything takes it proper place, naturally”. - Michel de Salzmann from Next Attention by Fran Shaw.
From the web-sourse:
"Everything we need is here in us. Everything for fuller being. There is a kind of sacred descent of attention that can bring this about. Seeing the obstacles, thoughts, feelings, yes, perhaps a pressure that keeps me from it. But if I can relax inside, just allow the pure attention to flow in, be in that. Very natural. It’s what we are".
"Attention: a sacred energy coming into me. Be sensitive to it. Recognize again and again that it is there".
"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?"
"Man's Ever New and Eternal Challenge," Dr. Michel de Salzmann's chapter in On the Way to Self Knowledge
Michel at Phoenicia NY G Foundation retreat1994
at the work kitchen in Phoenicia NY
that's called Michel's spirit taken immediately after meeting with Michel
all photos credit: Alan Francis