Gurdjieff Club: Deborah, you have a tremendous experience of work and teaching. You have observed people in many countries. It is obvious that the inner condition of people varies from country to country, from ethnic group to ethnic group. There is a difference between typical features of people’s temperaments and the general level of their development. What is it that attracts you personally the most in the people who attend your classes, and what is it that may put you on guard?
Deborah: What attracts me the most in people I work with is a receptive attitude and willingness to make efforts to achieve a balanced three-centered state of being and a wish to be open to sacred influence.
What puts me on my guard is witnessing the inability or unwillingness to let go of unnecessary identifications and the tendency to be driven by ones ego and the resulting selfish acts that may not be for the good of the individual or the group.
GC: Could you evaluate the perspective of the development of the Gurdjieff tradition in Russia, the country in which Gurdjieff began his work, and from where by the will of fates he was compelled to leave for the West?
Deborah: I’m not sure how to evaluate the perspective of the development of the Gurdjieff tradition in Russia. I see enthusiasm to learn as was the case back in the 70’s when I discovered it. The enthusiasm for most seekers did not result in a lifetime commitment to the Work. It is a challenging and difficult path that requires much letting go of our ordinary ways of being. I think it is too soon to tell if the Russians would be more committed to the Work.
GC: During the time of his work with people, Gurdjieff offered various methods, frequently changing them. Many of Gurdjieff’s pupils and followers also continuously sought for new formulations and methods, which answered the most important question: “What is the Work?” This process in the Gurdjieff movement continues up to the present day: continuously new emphases arise, which individuals or groups consider to be perspective. What do you suppose the “Gurdjieff Work” presents itself in the present day, and what in your opinion are the most viable elements of the “system?”
Deborah: The Gurdjieff Work presents itself in many different ways depending on who is doing the presenting. I can only speak for myself when I say that the Gurdjieff Work presents wonderful and unique methods for becoming conscious human beings with unlimited capacity to love, but on a path that is not necessarily easy or viable for many people! I can not say that any one element of his system is more viable than another. What is viable for one type of person may not be for another.
GC: People come to Gurdjieff, his ideas and practices by various means. Some people discover Gurdjieff through books – being fascinated by some idea or other, for example, which they had never encountered before their acquaintance with the Gurdjieff tradition. Some people find him through acquaintances; many do it through the Movements and the intensive work connected with them. You have spent many years studying and instructing the Movements and, presumably, are able to characterize that type, that category of people drawn to the Work particularly through the Movements. If this is so, could you please do it?
Deborah: I have seen many people attracted to the movements, but not necessarily to the Work. These people tend to be connected to Osho’s teachings, which do echo some of what Gurdjieff transmitted, but are not as in depth as the practices Gurdjieff gave.
GC: There is a strange state of affairs, which is very perceptible, at least, here in Russia. It has to do with a lack of constructive interaction between groups identifying themselves as following the “Fourth Way,” as well as between individuals, identifying themselves the same way. They create the impression that they do not consider important to set a common goal for themselves at any level. Joint practice, – such as, for instance, joint prayer in Western religions or joint meditation in Eastern religions – does not seem important to them either. How does interaction of Gurdjieff groups take place in the West? And if one is not to examine the positions of the group leaders, who are capable of limiting such contacts and possibilities of combined work of different groups?
What in your opinion may be the reason for the absence of joint coordinated actions between various groups?
Deborah: There is a tendency to judge, criticize and compete with each other and this makes it very difficult to be able to coordinate actions among various groups.
GC: Is interaction in general necessary at all, and if so, then on what level?
Deborah: Interaction may not be necessary because individual groups are capable of generating finer energies that can be beneficial to the individual, to the group and to the world.
However, it may be true that positive and creative interaction among Gurdjieff groups could transform the world by coordinated Work efforts. The more people Working consciously with the aim of establishing peace within themselves (in all 3-centers!) the better the chances are that peace in the world could be possible.