Gurdjieff in Tibet

Ushé Narzunov’s photo of the Lamaïst pilgrimage ritual Gurdjieff calls “Measuring the way by one’s length,” also referred to as movement N32.

Layne Negrin has been researching Gurdjieff’s connection with Tibet for a while. I reproduce his page on the Bardic Press site here.

Like others, I first became interested in this subject upon reading about Gurdjieff’s possible involvement in the Great Game in James Webb’s Harmonious Circle. At that time I followed up on many of Webb’s leads but didn’t find anything conclusive and so abandoned my research. Intuitively the influence of Tibet upon Gurdjieff couldn’t be denied but there just wasn’t enough information to publish anything about it. That is, until I recently learned of the theory that the Sarmoung monastery Gurdjieff speaks of may actually be a monastery complex in Eastern Tibet called Surmang. Surmang came to the attention of the public as the monastery Chögyam Trungpa was abbot of before he was forced to flee Tibet due to Chinese invasion. Many people over the years familiar with the teachings of both Gurdjieff and Trungpa have wondered about the possible connection, but as yet no one has actually explored it. To my pleasant surprise, when I began research in this direction, I did indeed find supportive evidence.

And so I’ve begun writing. But there is still much research to make and the main reason for publishing this announcement is as an appeal for additional information. Specifically, I’m looking for the following:

  • Any mention of Tibet whatsoever in any document pertaining to Gurdjieff in some way. I should have most published references. Primarily I’m looking for references within: (1) meeting transcripts and notes (whether led by Gurdjieff or others), (2) historic articles, (3) Institute prospectuses (besides English prospectus no. 1), (4) movement programs, (5) private editions, and (6) published works of a foreign language not translated to English.
  • The manuscript version of the “Prince Yuri Lubovedsky” chapter of the second series.
  • Gurdjieff’s own commentary on the “Prince Yuri Lubovedsky” chapter, or on the “Beelzebub for the First Time in Tibet” chapter and the section on the Anglo-Tibetan War within the “Religion” chapter of the first series.
  • Notes, descriptions or personal thoughts about the dances Gurdjieff attributes to the Tibetan tradition, or about others clearly influenced by Lamaïst or Himalayan dance without explicit reference.
  • The transcript of a meeting Louise March led on The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
  • Quotes or remembrances of anything said about Tibetan Buddhism by Louise March, Ravi Ravindra, William Segal, Lord Pentland, Jeanne de Salzmann, James George or other Work leaders interested in the subject. (What Paul Beidler had to say about South Asian Buddhism may also be interesting.)
  • Unpublished comparative studies between the fourth way and Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Any record or remembrance of visits paid to Chögyam Trungpa by Mme de Salzmann, Lord Pentland, William Segal, James George, Ravi Ravindra or other leaders of the Work.
  • Accounts of anything said by Trungpa Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, or any other Tibetan teacher, pertaining to Gurdjieff’s presence in Tibet.
  • Historic accounts, descriptions or mentions of the Surmang monastery in works preceding Trungpa’s works.
  • Any information pertaining to Ushé Narzunov, Petr Badmaieff or Joseph Deniker not mentioned by Webb.
  • Any information about Rolf Alexander’s presence in Tibet or his association with Gurdjieff.

If you have any of the above, have leads for any of the above, or would be interested in assisting by researching foreign archives (particularly Russian), please send me an email by clicking on my name below.

Thank you for your interest.

Layne Negrin

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