Gurdjieff was born (circa) 1866, to a Greek father and an Armenian mother in Armenia near the border of Russia and Turkey. With a naturally enquiring mind and teachers that encouraged his insatiable questioning about the meaning and significance of life, the young Gurdjieff journeyed to monasteries and schools of awakening in remote parts of Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East, searching for answers that neither traditional religion nor modern science alone could offer him.
Eventually, Gurdjieff came to realise that the search itself, when rightly conducted, is the principal spiritualizing force in human life, what one observer has termed “a transforming search,” rather than a “search for transformation.”
Gurdjieff then began expounding his ideas in Russia in 1912. In 1914, he was joined by the philosopher P.D. Ouspensky who was later to produce the most faithful account of Gurdjieff’s teaching under the title of “In Search of the Miraculous.”
At around the same time, Gurdjieff was also joined by the famous Russian pianist and composer Thomas de Hartmann. Working in a unique collaboration they produced in three short years a body of some three hundred works and now known as the “Gurdjieff/de Hartmann music.”
Gurdjieff never sought merely to outline a philosophical system. Rather, in his direct work with pupils he mercilessly resisted the role of guru or teacher and would excoriate those who fawned after him. Gurdjieff understood that nobody is able to teach another person anything, but that one can create conditions for teaching to take place. It was under these special conditions that Gurdjieff was able to break through the crust of emotional and intellectual associations to allow the true voice of conscience to eventually emerge.
Gurdjieff provided guidance to his pupils until his death in 1949 and has left a legacy that still exists in an unbroken line in centres of Work around the world to this day.
Before his death in 1949, Gurdjieff entrusted the task of transmitting the teaching to his closest pupil, Jeanne de Salzmann with a small circle of other pupils in France, England and America who acknowledged her leadership. Under the guidance of Madame de Salzmann, the first centres of the Work were established in Paris, London, New York and Caracas. Other centres have since radiated from them to major cities of the Western world including Sydney Australia. All these centres maintain close correspondence with the principal centres and in the case of Sydney the group has developed under the personal guidance of first-generation pupils of Gurdjieff.
Gurdjieff groups that maintain a direct line to the origin of the teaching exist in each specific location under the name of “The Gurdjieff Foundation” or “The Gurdjieff Society."