talks with gurdjieff
george ivanovich gurdjieff (1866-1949)

the journalists at the prieuré: the demonstrations
tcheslaw tchekhovitch

as soon as the study house was completed in 1923, georgi ivanovitch devoted himself to intensifying the work on the movements and varying the inner exercises. on saturday evenings he even opened demonstrations of the movements and some of the sacred dances to the public. at first, the increasing number of visitors left their cars in the courtyard, but as their numbers grew, it was necessary to park them in the street. the local authorities went so far as to improve the street lighting and place a traffic officer at the entrance to the chateau.

the curiosity aroused by our activities grew day by day. articles on the prieuré appeared in the press both in france and abroad, and this unleashed a veritable invasion of journalists. georgi ivanovitch received them warmly and tried to explain to them the meaning of our search. i recall that one day he said to a group of journalists: "i am going to show you some movements whose purpose is to awaken man's latent inner possibilities, allowing him to open to a new perception of himself and of reality. if you don't distort the meaning of my words, i will gladly give you any clarification you wish."

after dinner, we put on traditional costumes and demonstrated a series of specific postures for prayers and sacred dances from various oriental countries. the journalists photographed everything.

this invasion of the prieuré by the press lasted several weeks. a host of articles was published both in france and abroad, but none faithfully passed on the explanations given by georgi ivanovitch. they preferred instead to give free reign to the most fantastic interpretations of the meaning of our work. it was so many pearls offered to those who refused to admit their lack of understanding.

this chorus of slander made mr. gurdjieff's work seem like a great hoax and its creator like a charlatan, a twentieth century cagliostro. we were dumbfounded by how the journalists, convinced they had a real scoop for the gutter press, exploited the public's creduity and trust. they succeeded in distorting a work directed towards consciousness until it was completely unrecognizable, either by making it totally absurd or by deliberately turning it into something evil.

one day mr. gurdjieff discovered a particularly shocking article, accompanied by photographs, that gave the impression that the sacred dances were somewhat suspect and even immoral. from that day on, he never allowed reporters to set foot in the prieuré again.

gurdjieff: a master in life