In the years preceding 1920, one of Gurdjieff’s pupils, A.R. Orage, had formed a group of practicing psychologists to study psychoanalysis from all sides. This group, which included Dr. Maurice Nicoll - one of Jung’s foremost exponents, – reached the conclusion that the need in psychology was not psychoanalysis but psycho-synthesis. In 1920, P.D. Ouspensky, who had met Orage in 1914, arrived in London. Ouspensky talked with Orage about the ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff. These talks convinced Orage that a practical psycho-synthesis was now in existence through the teaching of Gurdjieff.
In 1922, Gurdjieff opened the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, in Fontainebleau, near Paris. It was here that Orage met P.D. Ouspensky, who had studied with Gurdjieff in Russia. Orage, then a notable literary critic, later became Gurdjieff’s representative in America.
Gurdjieff studied and worked with many esoteric schools prior to arriving in the West; the system he brought is not a religion, nor a philosophy, but a practical method of developing consciousness. This system is thought to have originated in Pre-dynastic Egypt, fragments of which have survived in the rituals of the Red Hat LLamas, the Sufis and the Essenes. Gurdjieff’s mission was to reawaken the West to the possibility of discovering what one truly is – one’s essence, and that our fragmentary personality surrounds it and restricts the development of this ‘inner life’.
Gurdjieff said that ‘Man’s possibilities are very great’ – however we suffer from vanity, pride and self-love to such an extent that our possibilities are virtually non-existent, as we are - that is in terms of reaching an improved state of ‘being’. In fact the gulf between knowledge and being is the crux of the problem. As in Alchemy, a purification is needed before the real work can begin – work towards a higher level of being. Fortunately, the Fourth Way is a practical method of developing being, and one that is available to any serious seeker.
The teaching of G.I. Gurdjieff is described particularly well by P.D. Ouspensky, in the books - In Search of the Miraculous , and The Fourth Way.