George Gurdjieff


George Gurdjieff : biography

13 January 1866 – 29 October 1949


Gurdjieff wrote and approved for publication three volumes of his written work under the title All and Everything. The first volume, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, is a lengthy allegorical work that recounts the explanations of Beelzebub to his grandson concerning the beings of the planet Earth. There are two English translations of this work, one carried out under his supervision and the other posthumously published in 1991. Gurdjieff was said to have deliberately tried to increase the effort needed to read and understand the book. As a result, the book is perhaps not the best introduction to Gurdjieff’s ideas since part of the book’s intention is "to frustrate and usurp the normal patterns of thought." The second volume, Meetings with Remarkable Men, is written in an accessible manner, and purports to be an autobiography of his early years, but also contains many allegorical statements. His final volume, left unfinished (Life Is Real Only Then, When ‘I Am’) contains a fragment of an autobiographical description of later years, as well as transcripts of some of his lectures.

Gurdjieff’s own writings are generally not considered the best introduction to his thought. His own writings do not present any sort of systematisation that clearly existed in his private teachings. Several of Gurdjieff’s students kept records of these teachings and published their own accounts. The most highly regarded of these accounts are considered to be those of P D Ouspensky .

As Gurdjieff explained to Ouspensky … "for exact understanding exact language is necessary."Ouspensky, P. D. In Search of the Miraculous, p. 70, Harourt Brace & Co. 1949, ISBN 0-15-644508-5 In his first series of writings, Gurdjieff explains how difficult it is to choose an ordinary language to convey his thoughts exactly. He continues…"the Russian language is like the English…both these languages are like the dish which is called in Moscow ‘Solianka’, and into which everything goes except you and me…" In spite of the difficulties, he goes on to develop a special vocabulary of a new language, all of it his own. He uses these new words particularly in the first series of his writings. However, in The Herald of Coming Good, he uses one particular word for the first time: "Tzvarnoharno", allegedly coined by King Solomon.


Gurdjieff had seven known illegitimate children:Paul Beekman Taylor, Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer (Red Wheel, 1998), page 3

  • Cynthie Sophia "Dushka" Howarth (1924–2010); her mother was dancer Jessmin Howarth.Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman, The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship (Harper Collins, 2007), page 424Jessmin Howarth and Dushka Howarth, It’s Up to Ourselves: A Mother, a Daughter, and Gurdjieff (1998) She went on to found the Gurdjieff Heritage Foundation.
  • Sergei Chaverdian; his mother was Lily Galumnian Chaverdian.Paul Beekman Taylor, Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer (Red Wheel, 1998), page xv
  • Andrei, born to a mother known only as Georgii.
  • Eve Taylor (born 1928); the mother was one of his followers, American socialite Edith Annesley Taylor.
  • Nikolai Stjernvall (1919–2010), whose mother was Elizaveta Grigorievna, wife of Leonid Robertovich de Stjernvall.
  • Michel de Salzmann (1923–2001), whose mother was Jeanne Allemand de Salzmann; he later became head of the Gurdjieff Foundation.Paul Beekman Taylor, Gurdjieff’s America: Mediating the Miraculous (Lighthouse Editions, 2005), page 211
  • Svetlana Hinzenberg, daughter of Olga Ivanovna Hinzenberg and a future stepdaughter of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.That Svetlana is considered to be a daughter of Gurdjieff by all his other identified children is cited in Paul Beekman Taylor, Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer (Red Wheel, 1998), page 3

Clarification: Svetlana Hinzenberg – b. Sept. 27, 1917, d. Sept. 30, 1946 Mother: Olga (Olgivanna) Ianovna Lazovich, Father (of Record): Valdemar Hinzenberg. "In the winter of 1919, humoring a friend, she (Olgivanna) left her apartment to see a visiting Armenian-born mystic, a man who was said to teach dances that could develop the will. She was, she recalled, "looking for something beyond the limits of my senses." Friedland & Zellman: "The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright & The Taliesin Fellowship." HarperCollins, 2006. page 18, citing OLW, Autobiography.