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Meetings With Remarkable Men

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'You must learn not what people round you consider good or bad, but to act in life as your conscience bids you' For twenty years, the spiritual teacher Gurdjieff journeyed through Central Asia and the Middle East. Part travelogue, part adventure, part spiritual guide, Meetings with Remarkable Men vividly describes his encounters with the people who aided his search for kno 'You must learn not what people round you consider good or bad, but to act in life as your conscience bids you' For twenty years, the spiritual teacher Gurdjieff journeyed through Central Asia and the Middle East. Part travelogue, part adventure, part spiritual guide, Meetings with Remarkable Men vividly describes his encounters with the people who aided his search for knowledge: his father, a bard, who handed down to him tales of wonder and magic; a Russian prince dedicated to the truth; a Persian dervish who taught him a new way of living; a woman who escaped slavery to become a trusted fellow seeker. Through them, we see a young man discovering the answers to who we are and what it means to live fully. With a new Introduction by Gary Lachman


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'You must learn not what people round you consider good or bad, but to act in life as your conscience bids you' For twenty years, the spiritual teacher Gurdjieff journeyed through Central Asia and the Middle East. Part travelogue, part adventure, part spiritual guide, Meetings with Remarkable Men vividly describes his encounters with the people who aided his search for kno 'You must learn not what people round you consider good or bad, but to act in life as your conscience bids you' For twenty years, the spiritual teacher Gurdjieff journeyed through Central Asia and the Middle East. Part travelogue, part adventure, part spiritual guide, Meetings with Remarkable Men vividly describes his encounters with the people who aided his search for knowledge: his father, a bard, who handed down to him tales of wonder and magic; a Russian prince dedicated to the truth; a Persian dervish who taught him a new way of living; a woman who escaped slavery to become a trusted fellow seeker. Through them, we see a young man discovering the answers to who we are and what it means to live fully. With a new Introduction by Gary Lachman

30 review for Meetings With Remarkable Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    Whenever I fall asleep, I fall into delusion. Maybe you’re the same. And I don’t mean physically falling asleep - I mean, as Gurdjeff says, forgetting to remember myself. The conflicting paranoias, allegiances, and neuroses of people you meet in your daily routine can gall and hurt you if you’re not careful. That happens when we leave the door to our selves ajar. How’s that? Because most of us tend to work on automatic pilot. We don’t pay attention. And thus we lose the thread that can take us bac Whenever I fall asleep, I fall into delusion. Maybe you’re the same. And I don’t mean physically falling asleep - I mean, as Gurdjeff says, forgetting to remember myself. The conflicting paranoias, allegiances, and neuroses of people you meet in your daily routine can gall and hurt you if you’re not careful. That happens when we leave the door to our selves ajar. How’s that? Because most of us tend to work on automatic pilot. We don’t pay attention. And thus we lose the thread that can take us back to our authentic selves. So it’s not about standing our ground in the workplace - that’s what too many people do, and it makes true enemies. And I think that’s what George Gurdjieff tended to do, and it instantly typecast him as a messiah for misfits. Misfits, too, are the characters of this book. All of them are quite aggressively square pegs in a round hole: REAL characters, as they say. I think the problem with Gurdjieff is that he makes a good beginning which he can’t extend out to a harmonious conclusion. He was too self-consciously a square peg. The type that needs disciples to sustain his energy. He had quite a few of those, but his thirsty ego was never quenched. So, in compensation, as he makes no bones about telling us here, he drank too much. But, as I say, he begins well: for there is no way to know life - other than to see it clearly and see it whole, and all that begins with SELF-KNOWLEDGE, as Socrates says. I think that Gurdjieff was not as wise as Socrates and that his wisdom was stillborn. If you build a Model T replica in your living room, it’s no earthly good to you unless you break down an opening in your wall large enough to TAKE IT OUT ON THE STREET. If we figure out the way our brain works for us, that’s a good start; but if we can’t put that knowledge to work in constructive dialogue with others, our self-knowledge is useless. So Gurdjieff spent the rest of his life behind a smokescreen of mystical mumbo-jumbo, instead of returning to his religious roots and finding peace. Instead of THEN taking his serenity public. I know what you’re thinking - that’s an impossibly tall order! But Antoine de Saint-Exupery thought otherwise... For he famously said that love (which many of us find in Faith) doesn’t consist in gazing lovingly into the eyes of the Beloved, but by seeing the world around you WITH the Beloved. And with the love that comes through faith that’s possible. Because through faith you KNOW you are loved. You’re no longer aggressively play-acting, like Gurdjieff. And then the morality tale we’re taught as kids, The Prodigal Son, comes true. Remember it? It tells us if that if you don’t sooner or later leave your solitary and outré ways - your prodigal life - long enough to return to the crowded, conflicted, boisterous but very plain and simple public life you once lovingly knew - Your salvation may be less than assured in Eternal Eyes.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manoj Chugh

    Beautiful book. I found this gem in my local library... they had stored this old book in a special section only to be taken out on request. I was privileged. Gurdjieff is misunderstood by many to be a sham. His life has resonation felt by both knowledgeable and ignorant. He was an enlightened person without any doubt in my heart. This book is special of all the books he has written because you can feel the love. All other books, you have to dig deep to find the beautiful. However this book, is fu Beautiful book. I found this gem in my local library... they had stored this old book in a special section only to be taken out on request. I was privileged. Gurdjieff is misunderstood by many to be a sham. His life has resonation felt by both knowledgeable and ignorant. He was an enlightened person without any doubt in my heart. This book is special of all the books he has written because you can feel the love. All other books, you have to dig deep to find the beautiful. However this book, is full of beauty. Gurdjieff describes all the characters in the book that he met during his own travels. All people in the tales actually convey some deep meanings. The best part of this book (unlike rest of his books) is that Gurdjieff is not cryptic in telling tales. I have read this book once, own this book now and will keep reading this book for all my life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Rauschenbach

    Favorite quotes: ... Yelov had a very original view about mental work. He once said: It's all the same. our thoughts work day and night. instead of allowing them to think about caps of invisibility or the riches of Aladdin, rather let them be occupied with something useful. In giving direction to thought, of course a certain amount of energy is spent, but no more is needed for this purpose in a while day than for the digestion of one meal. I therefore decided to study languages—not only to prevent Favorite quotes: ... Yelov had a very original view about mental work. He once said: It's all the same. our thoughts work day and night. instead of allowing them to think about caps of invisibility or the riches of Aladdin, rather let them be occupied with something useful. In giving direction to thought, of course a certain amount of energy is spent, but no more is needed for this purpose in a while day than for the digestion of one meal. I therefore decided to study languages—not only to prevent my thoughts from idling but also not to allow them to hinder my other functions with their idiotic dreams and childish phantasies. Besides, the knowledge of languages can in itself sometimes be useful. — page 117 — Tags: interesting They sat down at the foot of the pyramid and I sat down not far away, so that I could distinctly hear all they were saying, and began to eat my chourek. The gentleman who had met us, and who turned out to be a prince, asked the professor among other things: "Are you really still disturbing the remains of people who died long ago, and collecting the utterly worthless rubbish supposedly once used in their stupid lives?" "What would you?" answered the professor. "This is at least something real and tangible, and not as ephemeral as that to which you have devoted your life, a life which you as a man of health and wealth could have used to the full. You are looking for truth invented once upon a time by some crazy idler; but if what I do contributes nothing to the satisfaction of curiosity, at least, if one wishes, it contributes to the pocket." — page 120 — Tags: funny Soloviev continued to drink and, having squandered what was left of his money, got some job with the railway, where he had been working for three months before I met him—drinking incessantly all the while. Soloviev's frank story touched me deeply. At that time I already knew a great deal about hypnotism and, after bringing a man into a certain state, could influence him by suggestion to forget any undesirable habit. I therefore proposed to Soloviev that I should help him, if he really wished to get rid of this pernicious habit of drinking vodka, and explained to him how I would do it. He agreed, and the next day and each day thereafter I brought him into the hypnotic state and made the necessary suggestions. He gradually came to feel such an aversion to vodka that he could not even bear to look at this "poison", as he called it. — page 147 — Tags: interesting ... being highly honourable and honest, my father could never consciously build his own welfare on the misfortune of his neighbour. But most of those round him, being typical contemporary people, took advantage of his honesty and deliberately tried to cheat him, thus unconsciously belittling the significance of that trait in his psyche which conditions the whole of Our Common Father's commandments for man. — page 48 Tags: By this time Pogossian and I had come to the definite conclusion that there really was 'a certain something' which people formerly knew, but that now this knowledge was quite forgotten. — page 87 — Tags: interesting In former times the word 'shepherd' did not have the same meaning as it has now. Formerly a shepherd himself was the owner of the flocks he grazed; and shepherds were considered among the richest people of the country; some of them even possessing several flocks and herds. — page 88 — Tags: interesting What struck us most was the word Sarmoung, which we had come across several times in the book called Merkhavat. This word is the name of a famous esoteric school which, according to tradition, was founded in Babylon as far back as 2500 B.C., and which was known to have existed somewhere in Mesopotamia up to the sixth or seventh century A.D.; but about its further existence one could not obtain anywhere the least information. The school was said to have possessed great knowledge, containing the key to many secret mysteries. Many times had Pogossian and I talked of this school and dreamed of finding out something authentic about it, and now suddenly we found it mentioned in this parchment! We were greatly excited. — page 90 — Tags: interesting The priest went to a chest and took out a roll of parchment. When he unrolled it I could not at first make out what it was, but when I looked at it more closely... My God! What I experienced at that moment! I shall never forget it. I was seized with violent trembling, which was all the more violent because I was inwardly trying to restrain myself and not show my excitement. What I saw—was it not precisely what I had spent long months of sleepless nights thinking about! It was a map of what is called 'pre-sand Egypt'. — page 99 — Tags: interesting As for the Armenians, on the other hand, they are called salted because they have a custom of salting a child at its birth. I must add, by the way, that in my opinion this custom is not without its use. My special observations have shown me that the new-born children of other races suffer from a skin rash in the places where one usually applies some kind of powder to prevent inflammation, but with rare exceptions Armenian children, born in the same regions, do not suffer from this rash, although they have all the other children's diseases. This fact I ascribe to the custom of salting. — pages 114-115 — Tags: interesting Besides being a phenomenon in the knowledge of books and authors, Yelov later on became a phenomenon in the knowledge of languages. I, who then spoke eighteen languages, felt a green-horn in comparison with him. Before I knew a single word of any European language, he already spoke almost all of them so perfectly that it was hard to tell that the language he was speaking was not his own. — pages 116-117 — Tags: interesting "This old man", continued Bogga-Eddin, "is a member of a brotherhood, known among the dervishes by the name of Sarmoung, of which the chief monastery is somewhere in the heart of Asia." ... I had several long conversations with this old man. In the last one he advised me to go to his monastery and stay there for a time. ... He added that if I wished to go there, he would be willing to help me, and would find the necessary guides, on condition that I would take a solemn oath never to tell anyone where the monastery was situated. ... Throughout the whole our journey, we strictly and conscientiously kept our oath not to look and not to try and find out where we were going and through what places we were passing. When we halted for the night, and occasionally by day when we ate in some secluded place, our bashliks were removed. But while on the way we were only twice permitted to uncover our eyes. The first time was on the eighth day, when we were about to cross a swinging bridge which one could neither cross on horseback nor walk over two abreast, but only in single file, and this it was impossible to do with eyes covered. ... On the way we changed horses and asses several times, and sometimes went on foot. More than once we had to swim rivers and cross mountains, and by our sensations of heat and cold it was evident that we sometimes descended into deep valleys or climbed very high. At last, when at the end of the twelfth day our eyes were uncovered, we found ourselves in a narrow gorge through which flowed a small stream whose banks were covered with a rich vegetation. ... As we came nearer we were able to make out something like a fortress such as one finds on a smaller scale on the banks of the Amu Darya or the Pyandzh. The buildings were encircled by a high unbroken wall. — pages 148-152 — Tags: Gault's Gulch, interesting So it continued for about two weeks, until one day we were called into the third court, to the sheikh of the monastery, who spoke to us through an interpreter. He appointed as our guide one of the oldest monks, an aged man who looked like an icon and was said by the other brethren to be two hundred and seventy-five years old. — pages 160-161 — Tags: interesting Pogossian and I were calmly walking along. He was humming some march and swinging his stick. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a dog appeared, then another, and another, and still another—in all about fifteen sheep-dogs, who began barking at us. Pogossian imprudently flung a stone at them and they immediately sprang at us. They were Kurd sheep-dogs, very vicious, and in another moment they would have torn us to pieces if I had not instinctively pulled Pogossian down and made him sit beside me on the road. Just because we sat down the dogs stopped barking and springing at us; surrounding us, they also sat down. Some time passed before we came to ourselves; and when we were able to take stock of the situation we burst out laughing. As long as we remained sitting the dogs also sat, peacably and still, and when we threw them bread from our knapsacks, they ate it with great pleasure, some of them even wagging their tails in gratitude. But when, reassured by their friendliness, we tried to stand up, then, 'Oh no, you don't'!—for they instantly jumped up and, baring their teeth, made ready to spring at us; so we were compelled to sit down once more. When we again tried to get up, the dogs showed themselves so viciously hostile that we did not risk trying a third time. In this situation we remained sitting for about three hours. I did not know how much longer we would have had to sit there if a young Kurd girl had not chanced to appear in the distance with an ass, gathering keesiak in the fields. Making various signs to her, we finally managed to attract her attention, and when she came closer and saw what the trouble was, she went off to fetch the shepherds to whom the dogs belonged, who were not far away behind a hill. The shepherds came and called off the dogs, but only when they were at some distance did we risk standing up; and all the time they were moving away the rascals kept an eye on us. — pages 94-95

  4. 5 out of 5

    P.D. Maior

    Gurdjieff is a monolith peering up in these odd times; an anachronism and a relief. This book shows a person how to live: fill your life with adventure and discovery; or die trying. What a sweeping story. It all is very different from modern life; many colors and missing pieces coming together in quite unmodal fashion like octaves of an ancient (oglalic) past being completed in one’s subconscious presence; yet in near times to us once again - as he re collected his re markable way through this l Gurdjieff is a monolith peering up in these odd times; an anachronism and a relief. This book shows a person how to live: fill your life with adventure and discovery; or die trying. What a sweeping story. It all is very different from modern life; many colors and missing pieces coming together in quite unmodal fashion like octaves of an ancient (oglalic) past being completed in one’s subconscious presence; yet in near times to us once again - as he re collected his re markable way through this life. Nothing since the poetry of the Epic of Gilgamesh - minus Rilke or some REM lyric - has there been so multi-valently a symbolic and dense set of “tales” as one hears in this. Everything means another thing and then two as well as it’s own as one reads warily with raised eyebrow this clever - only because incommensurably reasonable - fellow, cue after cue. And what is fiction and what fact of this autobiography of his life he wrote; of times among his group the Seekers of Truth going out into the Gobi Desert and Luxor, Transval and Rome? I contend *most* of it “ver true” as he would say. Life has a funny way of being stranger than fiction when man, as Alexander the Great said, “is most alone when with the Myths.” But how to convey this? ...I would argue [ahh here comes my traditional hat tip to Bowie in most my reviews] the whole verse about “sailors fighting in the dance halls” on “Is There Life on Mars?” was lifted near verbatim from a passage in this book. Certainly “Man Who Sold the World” was taken from Ouspensky’s description he received from a man he met who was on a train O. saw Gurdjieff hop on to and who had a conversation with “this” G. - thinking him a man who sold energy, fuel, non-reccurent billings, what have you...(see Glimpses of the Truth). What his group spent a lifetime uncovering together concerning man’s primordial past, he reveals everywhere, only loosely tucked away in this book, somewhat lucidly actually - and definitely in high story telling adventure - here. I highly recommend it as the easiest and most fun of all his writings.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Look, I don't know much about Gurdjieff except that my library apparently subscribes to the newsletter, but this book was pretty good. I don't know if it was the eye-opening wisdom tome Greg may have subconsciously suggested it was, but there were some good stories in there. Even if they were inconveniently told. For instance, this is more or less how the "Pre-Sands Egypt" story goes: Chapter 1. Oh man! We found this rockin' map. WE ARE EXCITED TO GO ADVENTURING. Chapter 2. Here's a story about a Look, I don't know much about Gurdjieff except that my library apparently subscribes to the newsletter, but this book was pretty good. I don't know if it was the eye-opening wisdom tome Greg may have subconsciously suggested it was, but there were some good stories in there. Even if they were inconveniently told. For instance, this is more or less how the "Pre-Sands Egypt" story goes: Chapter 1. Oh man! We found this rockin' map. WE ARE EXCITED TO GO ADVENTURING. Chapter 2. Here's a story about a dog. Chapter 3. Here's a story about a dude. Chapter 4. Here's a story about a prince. Chapter 4a. Here's a story about a lady. Chapter 5. Yeah. Pre-sand Egypt was pretty awesome. You totally missed it. Chapter 6. Here's a story about another dude. Greg says Gurdfieff does this on purpose to get me to think or whatever. I'm just impressed by clever people going out in the world and making it on their good sense. Something I am tragically terrible at.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anna-Carolina

    I feel Gurdjieff said a lot in this book but left even more unsaid: this book is rather a lengthy adventure novel slash travel guide than a book on his philosophy or spiritual teaching. It can also be seen as an ode to these remarkable men (and one woman and dog) Gurdjieff met and shaped his ideas during the course of his life - even though it is not sure whether these people and one dog truly existed or were made up by Gurdjieff. The reason for calling the book lengthy is because it is very des I feel Gurdjieff said a lot in this book but left even more unsaid: this book is rather a lengthy adventure novel slash travel guide than a book on his philosophy or spiritual teaching. It can also be seen as an ode to these remarkable men (and one woman and dog) Gurdjieff met and shaped his ideas during the course of his life - even though it is not sure whether these people and one dog truly existed or were made up by Gurdjieff. The reason for calling the book lengthy is because it is very descriptive but mostly consists of descriptions of places and people he met, not ideas. Whenever the stories go into the direction of what these remarkable men truly taught him, Gurdjieff states he will explain this more in detail in a soon-to-be-written work. To be fair, the first chapters devoted to his father, first tutor and substitution teacher state quite clearly how these men shaped Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff uses direct quotes and lists to explain his father's subjective sayings, his tutor's ideas on sexual desire and his teacher's outlook on objective and subjective morality. However, from the fifth chapter onwards, the chapters get longer and seem to lose the clarity and precision of taught life lessons that are present in the first chapters and introduction. Still, the book gave me a proper first insight into Gurdjieff's life and I'm interested in reading more about and from him.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Umang Rohani

    no wonder gurdjieff himself was quite remarkable

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    Loved reading this 1974 paperback edition ;) Excellent stories of spirituality and adventure travel. Could've earned 4 stars but for this: "In my opinion in employing contemporary maps it would be ideally useful to put into practice the sense of a judicious saying which declares: 'If you wish to succeed in anything then ask a woman for advice and do the opposite.' " And also this: "In general, during the last two or three years, my inability to control the automatic manifestations of my subconsc Loved reading this 1974 paperback edition ;) Excellent stories of spirituality and adventure travel. Could've earned 4 stars but for this: "In my opinion in employing contemporary maps it would be ideally useful to put into practice the sense of a judicious saying which declares: 'If you wish to succeed in anything then ask a woman for advice and do the opposite.' " And also this: "In general, during the last two or three years, my inability to control the automatic manifestations of my subconscious and my instinct is such that I have become almost like an hysterical woman." That said, I greatly enjoy reading and learning about all things Gurdjieff.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Austin the Yogi

    Spirituality, adventure, wisdom, exotic places, grand ideas, wonderfully fresh worldviews... there are so many things I enjoyed about this book. " [...] I had always and everywhere, in all conditions and circumstances, to "remember myself" and to remember the task I had set myself, by the fulfillment of which I wished and still wish to justify the sense and aim of my life." - pg 301 I relate to his need to wander, explore, learn, and overcome challenges. I don't think every human is born with thi Spirituality, adventure, wisdom, exotic places, grand ideas, wonderfully fresh worldviews... there are so many things I enjoyed about this book. " [...] I had always and everywhere, in all conditions and circumstances, to "remember myself" and to remember the task I had set myself, by the fulfillment of which I wished and still wish to justify the sense and aim of my life." - pg 301 I relate to his need to wander, explore, learn, and overcome challenges. I don't think every human is born with this hunger to do more and see more but I certainly think I share this quality with him.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Timm

    if you've been looking for a book about feeding sand to livestock, this is your lucky day! you may also learn how to escape sandstorms using stilts.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Delia Parker-Bailey

    I was reminded again about a book I read years ago in my teens. What a bloody remarkable man he was too!

  12. 5 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    An extraordinary memoir told through the vehicle of encounters with influential mentors and teachers. At one point in my life I was very drawn to Gurdjieff and reading widely of his life, work and influence (Montreal remains the home of many of his students and their descendants). If I wrote a book such as this, Gurdjieff would certainly merit his own chapter. But I would never be able to write such a sweeping, insightful, and ultimately educational and inspirational autobiography. I love this c An extraordinary memoir told through the vehicle of encounters with influential mentors and teachers. At one point in my life I was very drawn to Gurdjieff and reading widely of his life, work and influence (Montreal remains the home of many of his students and their descendants). If I wrote a book such as this, Gurdjieff would certainly merit his own chapter. But I would never be able to write such a sweeping, insightful, and ultimately educational and inspirational autobiography. I love this cover from 1969.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bülent Ahmet TURAN

    Gurdjieff is a very good companion on a long journey that extends to what systematic he should pursue in his striving to become a real person from the unconsciousness of human mechanical efforts: hate, anger, passion, or whatever done unconsciously.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lina Slavova

    Review to follow.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Parris Young

    I am glad I read this book. I've always heard good things about Gurdjieff and it is enlightening to actually get to know the man a bit for myself. GurdJieff is a bit of a con man. He had no compunctions about shaving a fool. I wonder, although he does not tell the reader so, if he hesitated to also fleece the innocent. From this point of view his later 'schools' might be considered flim-flam. His redeeming quality, though, is the fact he concentrated on what he wanted... after thinking hard about I am glad I read this book. I've always heard good things about Gurdjieff and it is enlightening to actually get to know the man a bit for myself. GurdJieff is a bit of a con man. He had no compunctions about shaving a fool. I wonder, although he does not tell the reader so, if he hesitated to also fleece the innocent. From this point of view his later 'schools' might be considered flim-flam. His redeeming quality, though, is the fact he concentrated on what he wanted... after thinking hard about what he wanted. He employed his mind. And there is some evidence that he also employed his emotional mind as well, although this occurs without his attention ... although this omission might be deliberate. He DID sense and respond to a visit with an enlightened man and often quotes him as the book progresses. He also employees a dry sense of humor ... which I much prefer to the hooting, spittle spraying humor we often see on the media today. I enjoyed his travels in a troubled world, although his world is much more innocent than our present one. The names of the places he visited seemed from another world ... yet when I looked up many, I found them. The view of the world from a Russian point of view is much different than our own. The book is a good read. I would recommend it to anyone.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Guy

    I read this book because Jacob Needleman is a follower of Gurdjieff, because I've always been curious about the man, and because I love books that have brief biographies of men, of friendships, whatever. Gurdjieff definitely had an adventurous and interesting life (if all this is true), and met some fascinating people. But whenever he got to the point of delivering their message, which to me was the whole point of the book, he would claim he was saving it for some other book, where he is finally I read this book because Jacob Needleman is a follower of Gurdjieff, because I've always been curious about the man, and because I love books that have brief biographies of men, of friendships, whatever. Gurdjieff definitely had an adventurous and interesting life (if all this is true), and met some fascinating people. But whenever he got to the point of delivering their message, which to me was the whole point of the book, he would claim he was saving it for some other book, where he is finally going to explain things. In that way, I don't see why he wrote this one. So I found this disappointing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pin

    So well, this book I took with me a lot during my daily walks around town. Thats not uncommon or anything, except by walking with this in my hand, anytime I ran into a familiar human being, and they'd be interested enough to ask me what I was reading. I'd just show em the book so they could read the title, i'd watch them read it, to put my hand up and say "HELLO". Once that happened, there always started some conversation about what it means to be remarkable as a human being in this world, that So well, this book I took with me a lot during my daily walks around town. Thats not uncommon or anything, except by walking with this in my hand, anytime I ran into a familiar human being, and they'd be interested enough to ask me what I was reading. I'd just show em the book so they could read the title, i'd watch them read it, to put my hand up and say "HELLO". Once that happened, there always started some conversation about what it means to be remarkable as a human being in this world, that was really cool. We figured out everyone is remarkable, as long as you take the time to figure it out.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    The second series of Gurdjieff's writings, Meetings with Remarkable Men was written, in Gurdjieff's words, "to acquaint the reader with the material required for a new creation and to prove the soundness and good quality of it." On one level, it may be read as an account of one man's adventures. On another, it may be read as an allegory, a sort of Pilgrim's Progress for the 20th century. Either way, it is an engaging effort, and will be of use to anyone wishing to learn more about G.I. Gurdjieff The second series of Gurdjieff's writings, Meetings with Remarkable Men was written, in Gurdjieff's words, "to acquaint the reader with the material required for a new creation and to prove the soundness and good quality of it." On one level, it may be read as an account of one man's adventures. On another, it may be read as an allegory, a sort of Pilgrim's Progress for the 20th century. Either way, it is an engaging effort, and will be of use to anyone wishing to learn more about G.I. Gurdjieff and the Work.

  19. 5 out of 5

    NC Weil

    If I had read this book 40 years ago, I’m sure its significance would have loomed much larger in my life. As it is, I found some parts insightful, and others frankly absurd. In the section recounting his journey across the Gobi Desert, he talks about how the expedition, being concerned about not being able to carry enough provisions for their livestock, trained the animals to eat sand – to prefer it even. Then Gurdjieff goes on about how the men constructed 20 to 30 foot stilts so they could wal If I had read this book 40 years ago, I’m sure its significance would have loomed much larger in my life. As it is, I found some parts insightful, and others frankly absurd. In the section recounting his journey across the Gobi Desert, he talks about how the expedition, being concerned about not being able to carry enough provisions for their livestock, trained the animals to eat sand – to prefer it even. Then Gurdjieff goes on about how the men constructed 20 to 30 foot stilts so they could walk above the sandstorms that troubled the surface of the Gobi. This section reads like a tale out of the Arabian Nights. He and a friend have an audience with a famed dervish, and after the requisite back-and-forth persuading the dervish to grant audience, the man observed them and said that the way Gurdjieff was eating, taught by Hatha Yoga masters, was all wrong – if he masticated his food so much, his stomach would atrophy. “On the contrary, it is not at all necessary to masticate carefully. At your age it is better not to chew at all, but to swallow whole pieces, even bones if possible, to give work to your stomach… If you harm yourself with your way of chewing food, you harm yourself a thousand times more by the practice of this [artificial] breathing… Air, just like our ordinary food, entering the body and being digested there disintegrates into its component parts, which form new combinations with each other as well as with the corresponding elements of certain substances which are already present.“ He goes on to talk about the body as a machine with many small moving parts including tiny screws and pins – “there are many tiny screws which might easily be broken by a strong shock and which cannot afterwards be bought in any shop.” While it seems only fair to grant that a hundred years ago, people in southern Europe had a more limited understanding of human physiology than we do now (though in China and Japan they were way ahead of us), the use of analogies to make arguments about it is specious. And Gurdjieff seemed so struck by this dervish’s statements that he changed his own behavior in profound ways as a result. While submitting oneself to a teacher is certainly a great tradition in religion and mysticism, to reorder one’s actions and perceptions in response to a brief audience with one such personage, without then becoming a supplicant, to me indicates the mind of a man who does not know himself particularly well. Any time someone tells you what to eat or how, where to go or avoid, what to read, to whom to listen and whom to disregard, are you so without inner understanding that you comply without asking your own body, “how do I feel when I eat this/ go here/ read this/ listen to them, etc.”? Having someone else tell you who you are is a way station on the path to self-knowledge – not a place to stop and stay, forsaking your quest, but a place to gather insights and techniques before continuing your inner journey. By the time Gurdjieff met this dervish, he had been exploring movements and techniques for years – I found it appalling that he so readily abandoned his ways, as though they were just one more garment acquired upon the road, easily shed when another came along. But he does offer insight in the final chapter, The Material Question – by this time he guides a community of around 60 seekers, living in the Caucasus region during the Russian Revolution. Because the young men particularly were at risk of conscription into whichever army got to them first, Gurdjieff decided they should go into the mountains, to search for the dolmen (ancient landmarks) which he was convinced had been placed there by mystics from earlier times. But his true reason was to keep his community intact and avoid the war. So they identified themselves as a pair of scientific expeditions, obtained permissions from officials of whichever army was locally in power, and went into the mountains. “The epidemic of fanaticism and mutual hatred, which had seized all the people around us, did not touch us at all: one might have said that I and my companions moved under supernatural protection. Just as our attitude towards each side was impartial, as if we were not of this world, so their attitude toward us was the same – they considered us completely neutral, as in truth we were. Surrounded by infuriated beasts of people, ready to tear one another apart for the slightest booty, I moved amid this chaos quite openly and fearlessly, without concealing anything or resorting to any subterfuge. And in spite of the fact that “requisitionary” pillaging was in full swing, nothing was taken from us, not even the two casks of alcohol which, on account of great scarcity, were the envy of all.” The book’s appeal for me is primarily as a travelogue, though of some dubious quality. If it is approached as a species of fiction, “creative nonfiction” or memoir, then I think it has something to offer. Certainly the regions he visited, in southern Russia, the Middle East, and lands east of there, including the Himalayas, were at that time wild and in many places inaccessible except to the truly determined. Villages cut off from the larger world could be deceived by his money-making schemes long enough for him to acquire the funds to travel further. But even as he cautions the reader not to trust maps, so his tales are not to be taken literally. I don’t recommend feeding sand to sheep, goats, and camels, and stalking the Gobi Desert on thirty-foot stilts creates a hilarious image surely unintended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dimitris Tselios

    Bla bla bla only 10 pages all-in-all of some substance Most intriguing fact the continuous demonstration of unethical means used, to gain money from 'idiots', in order to fulfil a thirst to find the highest (ethical) teachers ... !!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Flowquietly

    Taught me to see how remarkable people are and to look for other remarkable men from the past and present

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robtee

    wisdom is out there - seek it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah

    had some interesting travel stories, but the author has a way of using a lot of words to say a whole lot of nothing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    1.1

    I get the sense that Gurdjieff today would be part Van Lifer, part credulous person who posts on Facebook about pyramids lining up with stars and other photoshopped spiritual/vibrational nonsense, and part MLM guy or self-described entrepreneur. And certainly he would also be an ardent follower of the success cult, and a hustle culture buffoon to boot. I know a few people that fit the precisely this concept of a skeptical, gullible contrarian with mystical interests, which is more or less how I I get the sense that Gurdjieff today would be part Van Lifer, part credulous person who posts on Facebook about pyramids lining up with stars and other photoshopped spiritual/vibrational nonsense, and part MLM guy or self-described entrepreneur. And certainly he would also be an ardent follower of the success cult, and a hustle culture buffoon to boot. I know a few people that fit the precisely this concept of a skeptical, gullible contrarian with mystical interests, which is more or less how I saw Gurdjieff at the start of this book. However, my opinion did change, and I am glad for the author that he was born when he was—so he couldn't turn into a laughable modern archetype. His quests, experiences, locations, and sometimes even his goal (nearly always) are described in foggy terms. There is this numinous ‘work’ and unclear ‘questions’ that never quite get explained. It's all interesting though, and I guess the moral of these stories is that the real lesson is the journey we make and the friends we make along the way—or what a wizened sage tells us is the lesson once we've reached our goal. At one point, perhaps the most amusing of them all, he tells the reader that he will relate the story of how one of his companions died an untimely death at a young age. So they’re on a big expedition and spend some time rafting down a river, trading small arms fire with an unfriendly tribe of Afghans, and his friend is shot and wounded… but makes it back to Central Russia and dies an untimely young death there—two years later. The impression I got during my reading of this book is that Gurdjieff is part charlatan, part mystic, and part adventurer—all in equal parts. Possibly he is also part hustler/promoter. I can certainly identify with the first three parts of the man, and his deep interest in discovery and mystery and self-improvement is certainly understandable. His harrangues against Western novels, the ignorant, European people, and the intelligentsia are quite excellent. His tales of making money from credulous people are always fun, but at one point he does cripple and dye hundreds of sparrows to make some quick cash. We must follow the beckoning of our wits to survive, but I'd definitely kick him out of a mythical Central Asian monastery for it. Though I’m skeptical of some parts of the stories, and the man himself, I did really enjoy this book as it's an adventurous travelogue with considerable scope that opens a small window into a world that's gone for ever. There is a nice sense of self-sufficient moralism and a geniune search for meaning and goodness. And there’s probably some kind of symbolic meaning in the stories that I didn’t catch (besides the suspect repetition of threes in one), but I’m not a mystic and don't particularly care.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I started this book as I finally found a chance to have it and read it. My expectation were completely different from what came out. Gurdjieff's writing style is like reading a historian's notes on trips. Moreover, it's astonishing to see so much detail in each "remarkable man"'s life, beautifully narrated by Gurdjieff. It was a pleasure to read the account of his life in different parts of Asia and Europe. Particularly, I didn't know that there was a mystic club or that he bought some Edison ph I started this book as I finally found a chance to have it and read it. My expectation were completely different from what came out. Gurdjieff's writing style is like reading a historian's notes on trips. Moreover, it's astonishing to see so much detail in each "remarkable man"'s life, beautifully narrated by Gurdjieff. It was a pleasure to read the account of his life in different parts of Asia and Europe. Particularly, I didn't know that there was a mystic club or that he bought some Edison phonograph in Baku, where it was not that precious thing, but which brought him a fortune in another city. The book is full of sad and inconceivable stories. Sometimes you even doubt that one person could experience as much in one life. The book is finalized with notes written in the US. Overall, the book itself is a great example of how a man can make such big aims in life and search for truth. I'd also state that, every person should write a book like that in their life, to be preserved for future generations for accounts of how they lived and what was happening at certain time in a certain place.

  26. 4 out of 5

    DropOfOcean

    3.5 stars. I had heard a lot about Gurdjieff but this was first his book that I read. Preface was quite a struggle to read and I was afraid that the whole book was going to be a like that. But no the book itself was light-hearted and adventurous which was fun to read as an adventure book but hard to believe that it was even close to authentic description of his life story. Spiritual matters were amazingly absent as always when the moment of truth had arrived Gurdjieff did as people sometimes do: 3.5 stars. I had heard a lot about Gurdjieff but this was first his book that I read. Preface was quite a struggle to read and I was afraid that the whole book was going to be a like that. But no the book itself was light-hearted and adventurous which was fun to read as an adventure book but hard to believe that it was even close to authentic description of his life story. Spiritual matters were amazingly absent as always when the moment of truth had arrived Gurdjieff did as people sometimes do: let people know that there’s something very important to say and then doesn’t say it. It was like he was always just teasing, never opening the box. Perhaps Gurdjieff’s father really was Ashoka, storyteller, and that’s where he inherited his skill to tell stories - some stories that Baron Munchausen might be proud to tell. Finnish translator has added little chapter to the end of book where he says that this book has many layers and under most obvious impression there is lots of spiritual depth. I confess that I didn’t manage to see that depth but I am simply a fool and rascal like Gurdjieff can fool me easily.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nikola

    Basically, you follow a story of a young Gurdjieff, not listening to opinions of educated persons on pseudo-scientific wonders of a young mind, but instead dismissing them as not wide/deep enough and then finding some drunk guys who share the same views and call them remarkable. For example how it's possible that after a long drought period some folks made a religious ceremony and suddenly heavy rain. Coincidence? Young/old Gurdjieff don't think so. Why should you trust him? Because he said arou Basically, you follow a story of a young Gurdjieff, not listening to opinions of educated persons on pseudo-scientific wonders of a young mind, but instead dismissing them as not wide/deep enough and then finding some drunk guys who share the same views and call them remarkable. For example how it's possible that after a long drought period some folks made a religious ceremony and suddenly heavy rain. Coincidence? Young/old Gurdjieff don't think so. Why should you trust him? Because he said around 100 times in the book how well educated and informed on the matter of science he is. The positive aspect of the book is the interesting description of lives and traditions of his region.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Nigudkar

    At the onset , i do not know much about Gurdjieff. Reason to pick this book was to get to know him and the ideas he represent. On the first part the book does well where one gets to know him as an individual and his journey(although all characters mentioned are not as impactfull). But about his ideas this book talks very less and in parts scattered all over. The story is inspiring to an extent where it pushes for an invard journey no matter what are ones' external circumstances. Still i was look At the onset , i do not know much about Gurdjieff. Reason to pick this book was to get to know him and the ideas he represent. On the first part the book does well where one gets to know him as an individual and his journey(although all characters mentioned are not as impactfull). But about his ideas this book talks very less and in parts scattered all over. The story is inspiring to an extent where it pushes for an invard journey no matter what are ones' external circumstances. Still i was looking for more, i mean beyond anecdotes, something more profound. May be i missed it, there is something missing for me.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Coates

    In this volume, Gurdjieff recounts men he’s met throughout his life that he regards as remarkable. Although some of the accounts sound a little exaggerated, if even only half of each such tale was true, the adjective remarkable would not be. And when he described, having heard a tale passed by generations of storytellers to and including his father was the same as the subsequently uncovered and translated Epic of Gilgamesh, it gives one cause to reflect on the ability of mankind, in the pre-lite In this volume, Gurdjieff recounts men he’s met throughout his life that he regards as remarkable. Although some of the accounts sound a little exaggerated, if even only half of each such tale was true, the adjective remarkable would not be. And when he described, having heard a tale passed by generations of storytellers to and including his father was the same as the subsequently uncovered and translated Epic of Gilgamesh, it gives one cause to reflect on the ability of mankind, in the pre-literate age, to accurately record and pass on stories from human memory alone.

  30. 5 out of 5

    James M

    This was my first reading of Gurdjieff after hearing so much about him from different sources, and I didn't get much out of it. Rather dry and not particularly interesting read. Perhaps Gurdjieff isn't my cup of tea, or maybe this wasn't the best of his books to start with. I've read widely on occult & spiritual topics, including a lot of dense material. This one just didn't contain much insight as I was expecting after seeing so much praise for the man. This was my first reading of Gurdjieff after hearing so much about him from different sources, and I didn't get much out of it. Rather dry and not particularly interesting read. Perhaps Gurdjieff isn't my cup of tea, or maybe this wasn't the best of his books to start with. I've read widely on occult & spiritual topics, including a lot of dense material. This one just didn't contain much insight as I was expecting after seeing so much praise for the man.

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