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P. D. Ouspensky

P. D. Ouspensky (1878-1947)
Born Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii
March 4, 1878(1878-03-04)
Moscow, Russia
Died October 2, 1947 (aged 69)
Lyne Place, Surrey, England
Nationality Russian
Ethnicity Caucasian
Religious beliefs Christian

Peter D. Ouspensky (March 4, 1878–October 2, 1947), (Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii, also Uspenskii or Uspensky), a Russian philosopher,[1] invoked euclidean and noneuclidean geometry in his discussions of psychology and higher dimensions of existence.

Ouspensky has a reputation for his expositions of the early work of the Greek-Armenian teacher of esoteric doctrine George Gurdjieff, whom he met in Moscow in 1915. He was associated with the ideas and practices originating with Gurdjieff from then on. In 1924, he separated from Gurdjieff personally, and some, Rodney Collin among others, say that he finally gave up the (Gurdjieff) "system" that he had shared with people for 25 years in England and the United States, but his own recorded words on the subject ("A Record of Meetings," published posthumously) do not clearly endorse this judgement nor does Ouspensky's emphasis on "you must make a new beginning" after confessing "I've left the system"; all this happened in Lyne Place, Surrey, England in 1947, just before his demise. While lecturing in London in 1924 he announced that he would continue independently the way he began in 1921. All in all, Ouspensky studied the Gurdjieff System directly under Gurdjieff's own supervision for a period of ten years, from 1915 to 1924. Ouspenky's book In Search of the Miraculous is a recounting of what Ouspensky learned from Gurdjieff in those years between 1915 and 1924.[2]

Contents

Career

Ouspensky was born in Moscow. In 1890, he was studying in the Second Moscow Gymnasium, a government school attended by boys from ten to eighteen. At the age of sixteen, he was expelled from school for painting graffitti on the wall in plain sight of a visiting inspector to see; thereafter, he would be more or less on his own.[3] In 1906, he was working in the editorial office of the Moscow daily paper The Morning. In the autumn of 1913, before the beginning of World War I, he journeyed to the East in search of the miraculous but returned to Moscow shortly after the beginning of the great world war. There he met Gurdjieff and took in Mme Sophie Grigorievna Maximenko as his wife but he had a mistress by the name of Anna Ilinishna Butkovsky.[4]

His first book, The Fourth Dimension, appeared in 1909; his second book, Tertium Organum, in 1912; and A New Model of the Universe in 1931. This last work discusses the idea of esotericism. He also wrote the novel Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, which explored the concept of recurrence or eternal return. He traveled in Europe and the East — India, Ceylon, and Egypt — in his search for knowledge. After his return to Russia and his introduction to Gurdjieff in 1915, Ouspensky spent the next few years studying with him. According to Osho, when Ouspensky went to Gurdjieff for the first time, the latter was but an unknown fakir and Ouspensky made him well-known to his own reading public.[5]

Denying the ultimate reality of motion in his book Tertium Organum, [6] he also negates Aristotle's Logical Formula of Identification of "A is A" and finally concludes in his "higher logic" that A is both A and not-A without specifying that in Aristotle's formula A can be both A and not A but not at the same time.[7]

Unbeknown to Ouspensky, a Russian emigré by the name of Nicholas Bessarabof took a copy of Tertium Organum to America and placed it in the hands of the architect Claude Bragdon who could read Russian and was interested in the fourth dimension. [8] Tertium Organum was rendered into English by Bragdon who had incorporated his own design of the hypercube[9][10] into the Rochester Chamber of Commerce building.[11] Bragdon also published the book and the publication was such a success that it was finally taken up by Alfred A. Knopf. At the time, in the early 1920s, Ouspensky's whereabouts were unknown until Bragdon located him in Constantinople hansomely remunerating the author with some back royalties.

Ouspensky's lectures in London were attended by such literary figures as Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot, Gerald Heard and other writers, journalists and doctors. His influence on the literary scene of the 20s and 30s of the XXth century as well as on the Russian avant-garde was immense but still very little known.[12]

Ouspensky also provided an original discussion of the nature and expression of sexuality in his A New Model of the Universe; among other things, he draws a distinction between erotica and pornography.

During his years in Moscow, Ouspensky wrote for several newspapers and was particularly interested in the then-fashionable idea of the fourth dimension.[13] His first published work was titled The Fourth Dimension[14] and he explored the subject along the ideas prevalent at the time in the works of Charles H. Hinton,[15] the fourth dimension being an extension in space.[16][17] It was not until after the work of Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity that space-time as a fourth dimension came into vogue.[18] Ouspensky treats time as a fourth dimension only indirectly in a novel he wrote titled Strange Life of Ivan Osokin[19] where he also explores the theory of eternal recurrence.

Later life

After the Bolshevik revolution, Ouspensky travelled to London by way of Istanbul. G.R.S. Mead became interested in the fourth dimension and Lady Rothermore, wife of the press magnate, was willing to spread the news of Ouspenky's Tertium Organum, while Ouspensky's acquaintance A.R. Orage was telling others about Ouspensky. By order of the British government, Gurdjieff was not allowed to settle down in London. Finally, he went to France with a considerable sum of money raised by Ouspensky and his friends and settled down near Paris at the Prieuré in Fontainbleau, Avon.[20] It was during this time, after Gurdjieff founded his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in France, that Ouspensky came to the conclusion that he was no longer able to understand his former teacher and made a decision to discontinue association with him. Nevertheless, he wrote about Gurdjieff's teachings in a book originally entitled Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, only published posthumously in 1947 under the title In Search of the Miraculous. While this volume has been criticized by some of those who have followed Gurdjieff's teachings as only a partial representation of the totality of his ideas, it nevertheless provides what is probably the most concise explanation of the material that was included. This is in sharp contrast to the writings of Gurdjieff himself, such as Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, where the ideas and precepts of Gurdjieff's teachings are found very deeply veiled in allegory. It is also important to note that Ouspensky did receive permission from Gurdjieff for the publication of In Search of the Miraculous, something that was seemingly withheld from almost every other student of Gurdjieff, even in instances where the material being written about was much less complete or clear.

He died in Lyne Place, Surrey. Shortly after his death in 1947, The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution was published, together with In Search of the Miraculous. Transcripts of certain of his lectures were published under the title of The Fourth Way in 1957; largely a collection of question and answer sessions, the book details important concepts, both introductory and advanced, for students of these teachings.

Ouspensky's papers are held in the archives of Yale University Library.

Teaching

After Ouspensky broke away from Gurdjieff, he taught the "Fourth Way", as he understood it, to his independent groups.

Fourth Way

There are three recognized ways of self-development generally known in esoteric circles. These are the Way of the Fakir, dealing exclusively with the physical body, the Way of the Monk, dealing with the emotions, and the Way of the Yogi, dealing with the mind. What is common about the three ways is that they demand complete seclusion from the world. According to Gurdjieff, there is a Fourth Way which does not demand its followers to abandon the world. The work of self-development takes place right in the midst of ordinary life. Gurdjieff called his system a school of the Fourth Way where a person learns to work in harmony with his physical body, emotions and mind. Ouspensky picked up this idea and continued his own school along this line.[21]

P.D. Ouspensky made the term "Fourth Way" and its use central to his own teaching of the ideas of Gurdjieff. He greatly focused on Fourth Way schools and their existence throughout history.

Students

Some of his students included, among others:

Self-remembering

Ouspensky personally confessed the difficulties he was experiencing with self-remembering, a technique to which he had been introduced by Gurdjieff himself. Gurdjieff explained to him this was the missing link to everything else. While in Russia, Ouspensky himself experimented with the technique with a certain degree of success and in his lectures in London and America, he emphasized its practice. The technique requires a division of attention, so that a person not only pays attention to what is going on in the exterior world but also in the interior. The psychiatrist Dr. Sjoernval who was also a follower of Gurdjieff in Russia mentioned to Ouspensky that this was what professor Wundt meant by apperception. Ouspensky refused to believe it. Gurdjieff explained the Rosicrucian principle that in order to bring about a result or manifestation, three things are necessary. With self-remembering and self-observation two things are present. The third one is explained by Ouspensky in his tract on Conscience: it is the non-expression of negative emotions.[22][23]

Self-Knowledge

According to Beryl Pogson, author of The Work Life, "...the only real poverty is lack of self-knowledge." [24]

Published works by P.D. Ouspensky

  • Tertium Organum: The Third Canon of Thought, a Key to the Enigmas of the World. (Translated from the Russian by Nicholas Bessaraboff and Claude Bragdon). Rochester, New York: Manas Press, 1920; New York: Knopf, 1922; London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1923, 1934; 3rd American edition, New York: Knopf, 1945. Online Version
  • A New Model of the Universe: Principles of the Psychological Method in Its Application to Problems of Science, Religion and Art (Translated from the Russian by R. R. Merton, under the supervision of the author). New York: Knopf, 1931; London: Routledge, 1931; 2nd revised edition, London: Routledge, 1934; New York: Knopf, 1934.
  • Talks with a Devil.(Russian, 1916). Tr. by Katya Petroff, edited with an introduction by J. G. Bennett. Northhamptonshire: Turnstone, 1972, ISBN 0-85500-004-X (hc); New York: Knopf, 1973, ; York Beach: Weiser, 2000, ISBN 1-57863-164-5.
  • The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution. New York: Hedgehog Press, 1950.
  • Strange Life of Ivan Osokin. New York and London: Holme, 1947; London: Faber & Faber, 1948; first published in Russian as Kinemadrama (St. Petersburg, 1915). Online (Russian)
  • In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949; London: Routledge, 1949.
  • The Fourth Way: A Record of Talks and Answers to Questions Based on the Teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff (Prepared under the general supervision of Sophia Ouspensky). New York: Knopf, 1957; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957.
  • Letters from Russia, 1919 (Introduction by Fairfax Hall and epilog from In Denikin's Russia by C. E. Bechhofer). London and New York: Arkana, 1978.
  • Conscience: The Search for Truth (Introduction by Merrily E. Taylor) London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979.
  • A Further Record: Extracts from Meetings 1928–1945 London and New York: Arkana, 1986.
  • The Symbolism of the Tarot (Translated by A. L. Pogossky). New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1976. Online Version
  • The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution and The Cosmology of Man's possible Evolution, a limited edition of the definitive text of his Psychological and Cosmological Lectures, 1934-1945. Agora Books, East Sussex, 1989. ISBN 1-872292-00-3. Online
  • P.D. Ouspensky Memorial Collection, Yale University Library, Archive Notes taken from meetings during 1935–1947.

Further reading

  • In Search of P. D. Ouspensky: The Genius in the Shadow of Gurdjieff, by Gary Lachman. Quest Books. (hardcover, 2004, ISBN 0-8356-0840-9, paperback, 2006, ISBN 0-8356-0848-4) Chapter VI, Online
  • Ouspensky, The Unsung Genius. by J. H. Reyner. George Allen & Unwin, London, 1981, ISBN 0-04-294122-9.
  • The Strange Life of P. D. Ouspensky., by Colin Wilson. The Aquarian Press, 1993, ISBN 1-85538-079-X.
  • Don't Forget: P.D. Ouspensky's Life of Self-Remembering, by Bob Hunter. Bardic Press, 2006. ISBN 0-9745667-7-2.
  • Dear Friend: Letters Based on the Teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky, by Girard Haven; Carlos Labbate. Ulysses Books; 1st edition 2003. ISBN 0964578271.

References

  1. ^ P. D. Ouspensky Britannica.com.
  2. ^ Miller, Timothy (1995). America's Alternativa Religions. SUNY Press. p. 260. ISBN 0791423981. http://books.google.com/books?id=y3Mt7QIXrRwC&pg=PA260&dq=Ouspensky+gurdjieff#v=onepage&q=. "Ouspensky succeeded in capturing on paper Gurdjieff's system..."  
  3. ^ Shirley, John (2004). Gurdjieff. Penguin Group. p. 111. ISBN 1585422876.  
  4. ^ Moore, James (1999). Gurdjieff. Element Books Ltd. p. 73. ISBN 1862046069. "The meaning of life is an eternal search."  
  5. ^ Osho, Swami Ananda Somendra And The Flowers Showered, p. 39, Diamond Pocket Books Ltd., 1978 ISBN 978-8171822102
  6. ^ Ouspensky, P. D. (1912). Tertium Organum (2nd ed.). Forgotten Books. ISBN 1605064871. http://books.google.com/books?id=myhW9upOw3sC&dq=Ouspensky+Tertium+Organum+1912.  
  7. ^ Ouspensky, P. D. (2003). Tertium Organum. Book Tree. p. 266. ISBN 1585092444. "A is both A and Not-A"  
  8. ^ Gary Lachman In Search of P. D. Ouspensky, p. 174, Quest Books, 2006 ISBN 978-0835608480
  9. ^ Claude Bragdon, A Primer of Higher Space, Omen Press, Tucson, Arizona, 1972.
  10. ^ A primer of higher space (the fourth dimension) by Claude Fayette Bragdon, plates 1, 20 and 21 (following p. 24)
  11. ^ Rudolf Rucker, Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension, Dover Publications Inc., 1977, p. 2. ISBN 0-486-23400-2.
  12. ^ Gary Lachman In Search of P. D. Ouspensky, pp. 177-8, Quest Books, 2006 ISBN 978-0835608480
  13. ^ Geometry of four dimensions by Henry Parker Manning
  14. ^ P. D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Dimension, Kessinger Publishing, 2005. ISBN 10-1425349358.
  15. ^ Rucker, Rudolf, editor, Speculations on the Fourth Dimension: Selected Writings of Charles H. Hinton, Dover Publications Inc., 1980. ISBN 0-486-23916-0.
  16. ^ Scientific Romances by Charles Howard Hinton
  17. ^ A new era of thought by Charles Howard Hinton
  18. ^ Rucker, Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension, p. 57.
  19. ^ P. D. Ouspensky, Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, Lindisfarne Books, 1947. ISBN 1-58420-005-7.
  20. ^ Alex Owen The Place of Enchantment, p. 232, University of Chicago Press, 2004 ISBN 978-0226642017
  21. ^ Bruno de Panafieu-Jacob Needleman-George Baker-Mary Stein Gurdjieff, p. 218, Continuum International Publishing Group, 1997 ISBN 978-0826410498
  22. ^ P. D. Ouspensky Conscience, p. 126, Routledge, 1979 ISBN 978-0710003973
  23. ^ Gary Lachman In Search of P. D. Ouspensky, p. 121, Quest Books, 2006 ISBN 978-0835608480
  24. ^ Beryl Pogson The Work Life, p. 5, 1994 ISBN 978-0877288091
  • Gary Lachman: In Search of P. D. Ouspensky: The Genius in the Shadow of Gurdjieff. Quest Books, 2004, ISBN 0-8356-0840-9.
  • J. H. Reyner: Ouspensky, The Unsung Genius. George Allen & Unwin, London, 1981, ISBN 0-04-294122-9.
  • Colin Wilson: The Strange Life of P. D. Ouspensky. The Aquarian Press, 1993, ISBN 1-85538-079-X.
  • Bob Hunter: Don't Forget: P.D. Ouspensky's Life of Self-Remembering, Bardic Press, 2006. ISBN 0-9745667-7-2.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Generally speaking, the significance of the indirect results may very often be of more importance than the significance of direct ones.

Peter Dimianovich Ouspensky (4 March 18782 October 1947) was a Russian mystic philosopher, (also known as Piotr Dimianovich Ouspenskii). He was a student and expositor of the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff.

Contents

Sourced

In all living nature (and perhaps also in that which we consider as dead) love is the motive force which drives the creative activity in the most diverse directions.
  • Generally speaking, the significance of the indirect results may very often be of more importance than the significance of direct ones. And since we are able to trace how the energy of love transforms itself into instincts, ideas, creative forces on different planes of life; into symbols of art, song, music, poetry; so can we easily imagine how the same energy may transform itself into a higher order of intuition, into a higher consciousness which will reveal to us a marvelous and mysterious world.
    In all living nature (and perhaps also in that which we consider as dead) love is the motive force which drives the creative activity in the most diverse directions.
    • Tertium Organum (1922)
  • Two things can get people to make efforts: if people want to get something, or if they want to get rid of something. Only, in ordinary conditions, without knowledge, people do not know what they can get rid of or what they can gain.
  • It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning.
    • As quoted in Zen and the Art of Making a Living : A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design (1999) by Laurence G. Boldt, p. 118

A New Model of the Universe (1932)

Philosophy is based on speculation, on logic, on thought, on the synthesis of what we know and on the analysis of what we do not know. Philosophy must include within its confines the whole content of science, religion and art.
The number of laws is constantly growing in all countries and, owing to this, what is called crime is very often not a crime at all, for it contains no element of violence or harm.
  • Philosophy is based on speculation, on logic, on thought, on the synthesis of what we know and on the analysis of what we do not know. Philosophy must include within its confines the whole content of science, religion and art. But where can such a philosophy be found? All that we know in our times by the name of philosophy is not philosophy, but merely "critical literature" or the expression of personal opinions, mainly with the aim of overthrowing and destroying other personal opinions. Or, which is still worse, philosophy is nothing but self-satisfied dialetic surrounding itself with an impenetrable barrier of terminology unintelligible to the uninitiated and solving for itself all the problems of the universe without any possibliity of proving these explanations or making them intelligible to ordinary mortals.
    • P. 33
  • Existing criminology is insufficient to isolate barbarism. It is insufficient because the idea of "crime" in existing criminology is artificial, for what is called crime is really an infringement of "existing laws", whereas "laws" are very often a manifestation of barbarism and violence. Such are the prohibiting laws of different kinds which abound in modern life. The number of these laws is constantly growing in all countries and, owing to this, what is called crime is very often not a crime at all, for it contains no element of violence or harm. On the other hand, unquestionable crimes espcape the field of vision of criminology, either because they have not recognized the form of crime or because they surpass a certain scale. In existing criminology there are concepts: a criminal man, a criminal profession, a criminal society, a criminal sect, and a criminal tribe, but there is no concept of a criminal state, or a criminal government, or criminal legislation. Consequently what is often regarded as "political" activity is in fact a criminal activity.
    This limitation of the field of vision of criminology together with the abscence of an exact and permanent definition of the concept of crime is one of the chief characteristics of our culture.
    • p. 37-38; "Consequently what is often regarded as "political" activity is in fact a criminal activity"' has also been translated as "Consequently, the biggest crimes actually escape being called crimes" in a 1984 edition.
  • Possibly the most interesting first impression of my life came from the world of dreams.
    • p. 242
  • There exist moments in life, separated by long intervals of time, but linked together by their inner content and by a certain singular sensation peculiar to them. Several such moments always recur to my mind together, and I feel then that it is these that have determined the chief trend of my life.
Even the problem of Time is simple in comparison with the problem of Eternity
  • Humanity in the face of the idea of hidden knowledge reminds one of the people in fairy-tales who are promised by some goddess, fairy or magician that they will be given whatever they want on condition that they say exactly what they want.
  • Our ancestors were very rich and eminent people, and they left us an enormous inheritance, which we have completely forgotten, especially since the time when we began to consider ourselves the descendants of a monkey.
  • The problem of Eternity, of which the face of the Sphinx speaks, takes us into the realm of the impossible. Even the problem of Time is simple in comparison with the problem of Eternity.
  • Hints towards the solution of the problem of Eternity can be found in the various symbols and allegories of ancient religions and in some of the modern as well as ancient philosophies.

In Search of the Miraculous (1949)

In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (1949)
I felt that on a basis of a "search for the miraculous" it would be possible to unite together a very large number of people who were no longer able to swallow the customary forms of lying and living in lying.
  • I felt that on a basis of a "search for the miraculous" it would be possible to unite together a very large number of people who were no longer able to swallow the customary forms of lying and living in lying.
  • When a man begins to know himself a little he will see in himself many things that are bound to horrify him. So long as a man is not horrified at himself he knows nothing about himself.
    • In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (1949)
  • If a man gives way to all his desires, or panders to them, there will be no inner struggle in him, no 'friction,' no fire. But if, for the sake of attaining a definite aim, he struggles with the desires that hinder him, he will then create a fire which will gradually transform his inner world into a single whole.

The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution (1950)

ISBN 0394719433
The greatest barrier to consciousness is the belief that one is already conscious.
  • The greatest barrier to consciousness is the belief that one is already conscious.
  • I've found that the chief difficulty for most people was to realize that they had really heard new things: that is things that they had never heard before. They kept translating what they heard into their habitual language. They had ceased to hope and believe there might be anything new.
    • Introduction
  • People who think they can control their negative emotions and manifest them when they want to, simply deceive themselves. Negative emotions depend on identification; if identification is destroyed in some particular case, they disappear. The strangest and most fantastic fact about negative emotions is that people actually worship them. I think that, for an ordinary mechanical man, the most difficult thing to realise is that his own and other people's negative emotions, have no value whatever and do not contain anything noble, anything beautiful or anything strong. In reality negative emotions contain nothing but weakness and very often the beginning of hysteria, insanity or crime. The only good thing about them is that, being quite useless and artificially created by imagination and identification, they can be destroyed without any loss. And this is the only chance of escape that man has.
    • Fourth Lecture, p. 70
  • Under the conditions of modern life we have more control over our thoughts, and in connection with this there is a special method by which we may work on the development of our consciousness using that instrument which is most obedient to our will; that is, our mind, or the intellectual centre. In order to understand more clearly what I am going to say, you must try to remember that we have no control over our consciousness. When I said that we can become more conscious, or that a man can be made conscious for a moment simply by asking him if he is conscious or not, I used the words 'conscious' or 'consciousness' in a relative sense. There are so many degrees of consciousness and every higher degree means 'consciousness' in relation to a lower degree. But, if we have no control over consciousness itself, we have a certain control over our thinking about consciousness, and we can construct our thinking in such a way as to bring consciousness. What I mean is that by giving to our thoughts the direction which they would have in a moment of consciousness, we can, in this way, induce consciousness.
    • Fourth Lecture, p. 74

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