A history of violence

The concrete and metaphorical wars in the life narrative of G. I. Gurdjieff

Keywords: Gurdjieff, G.I. Gurdjieff, The Work, Fourth Way, new religious movements, Study of Religion, Western guru, War


Research into the life and work of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a Greek-Armenian spiritual teacher and one of the foundational figures of modern mysticism, remains an emergent field within the academic study of religion/s. While esotericists such as H. P. Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner have been thoroughly studied, international academic study of Gurdjieff is still scarce. Gurdjieff lived his early adulthood amidst a severe power struggle between the major powers of the Russian, British and Ottoman empires. He survived the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Russian Civil War of 1918–22 and two World Wars. In his writings, he states how after the turn of the twentieth century, he understood it to be his mission in life to help mankind stop wars from happening, and during his years as a teacher, the question of war was omnipresent because of the events surrounding him and his pupils. Despite all this, there is no previous academic research on the topic of Gurdjieff and war. In this article, I examine the role of wars and armed conflicts in Gurdjieff’s personal life narrative according to his own writings, present his narrative in a military-historical context and analyse his narrational tools and motives as a first step towards a comprehensive study of a much larger subject.

Label for peer-reviewed scholarly publications
How to Cite
Taatila, H. (2020). A history of violence: The concrete and metaphorical wars in the life narrative of G. I. Gurdjieff. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 29(1), 82–102. https://doi.org/10.30674/scripta.84863