2nd October 1947 the Death of P.D. Ouspensky

P.D. Ouspensky

Today we pay our respects to the Russian philosopher, teacher and esotericist, P.D. Ouspensky, who died on this day in 1947. Indisputably brilliant in his own right, Ouspensky is nevertheless best remembered because of another man’s brilliance. For despite his success as a mathematician, journalist and author, Ouspensky abandoned his own promising career to become a disciple of George Gurdjieff – the extraordinary Greek-Armenian mystic and prophet to whom Ouspensky is inescapably linked. In evaluating Ouspensky’s legacy, however, it is in no way fair to define him so narrowly as a “Gurdjieff disciple” when, in truth, he was “Gurdjieff’s Saint Paul”. Ouspensky succeeded in making accessible Gurdjieff’’s often indecipherable teachings, thus providing an invaluable contribution in his own right to the study of  inner development, the transcendence of our mechanical selves and the “War Against Sleep”.

On New Year’s Day 1912, Gurdjieff arrived in Moscow to teach his revolutionary method of self-development. Unlike the three traditional paths to higher consciousness, Gurdjieff’s system did not require complete seclusion; through precise physical and mental disciplines, enlightenment could occur in the midst of everyday life. Ouspensky met the Armenian sage in the spring of 1915, and he immediately abandoned his own path to become one of Gurdjieff’s most enthusiastic and proficient pupils. “I realized that I had met with a completely new system of thought surpassing all I knew before. This system threw quite a new light on psychology and explained what I could not understand before in esoteric ideas.”

After seven years and for reasons unknown, Ouspensky broke away from Gurdieff and declared his work would henceforth proceed independently. Ouspensky would nevertheless devote the rest of his life to Gurdjieff’s teachings. He moved to England and taught the system – which he dubbed the “Fourth Way” – with great success, gaining disciples of his own. But it is Ouspensky’s personal account of his relationship with Gurdjieff, In Search of the Miraculous (published posthumously in 1949), which is likely to serve as his most enduring achievement. It not only remains the most concise and comprehensible explanation of Gurdjieffian thought but, of equal significance, it also reveals Ouspensky’s own formidable and credible intellect: this was not a man likely to fall victim to some quack. By illuminating, verifying and validating Gurdjieff’s system, Ouspensky verily brought forth one of the most useful and trustworthy gnostic guidebooks for those who would seek to activate their higher selves.

A great gift indeed.

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4 Responses to 2nd October 1947 – the Death of P.D. Ouspensky

  1. Paul Wyrd says:

    I thought Ouspensky had left Gurdjieff because he found Gurdjieff to be exploiting people, not explaining teachings and so on, becoming, in a word, tyrranical.

    Ouspensky eventually told his pupils to return to the East where they would find a teacher and if they found a new teacher, they would find a method (or vice versa). This did occur in the 1960’s I believe (perhaps earlier) where the Study Society (shortened name) made contact with the Shankracharya of Jyoti Math in India, from this Realised Man, the pupils of Ouspensky and his successor (Dr Francis Roles) inherited a simple meditation and teachings of Advaita (non duality) which initiates continue to practice to this day.

    The Study Society also still perform the Gurdjieff movements (well worth seeing if you get a chance – though you can see some of these, by other groups, on youtube) at their Main Office in Hammersmith, London.



    One more interesting titbit was that Ouspensky lived for a while in Trottiscliffe (pro. Trosley) in Kent, which is the home to the Coldrum Long Barrow.

  2. jaspal singh says:

    ouspensky from day one told gurdjieff that his first criteria is his total freedom even if he associates with gurdjieff. gurdjieff always tried to follow this condition. although he was a master still he knew that he will need the ladder of ouspensky to spread his teaching. it was because of ouspensky that gurdjieff’s name spread all over the world other wise no one was knowing gurdjieff. hence he was more soft with ouspensky than rest of the people. otherwise every body know what was the style of gurdjieff. that also was not because of gurdjieff but because of stupid people around him. ouspensky was very high standard brilliant person in gurdjieff’s group. others were also good like george adie, anderson, benett, rene, hartmann, olga, maurice, orage, salzmann and jeanne de, but they are all small children in front of ouspensky in terms of knowledge, being, understanding, implementing, high will, consciousness, writing skill, understanding gurdjieff’s idea, self work, knowledge of science and psychology and many more necessary things. gurdjieff was an evolved master in his own right, but as far as spreading his message in acurate language was concerned, he is indebted to ouspensky. for this, gurdjieff has to take one more birth for his only heir ouspensky, to relieve him from the prison.

  3. Ouspensky died a hopeless drunkard(dissipate).Obviously, neither Gurjieff nor Ouspensky had the solution to alcoholism that we in Alcoholics Anonymous have (we mere robots). There are many similarities and points of intersection of A.A.’s program with the 4th way-including not needing to seclude oneself in a monestary i.e., the A.A. program can be worked in ordinary,everyday circumstances. Too bad for Mr. Ouspensky. Of course,these facts in no way invalidate either man’s teaching and work. Long live the liberation of the human spirit! Yours,Robert A.Jackson,Philaedelphia,Pa 29 Apr 2014

  4. valdir bergamo says:

    What was the disease that killed ouspensky? We are told even through Collins (his friend and student) that he anticipated his own death, that he was extremely sick and tired, and nevertheless, worked more and more. Thanks a lot.

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