Exploring ‘The Work’

Gurdjieff documentary explores mindfulness

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

The world can be a confusing, mysterious place. For those seeking answers to some of life’s bigger questions, a documentary playing at the Little Panida Theater might provide some respite for the mind.

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, an Armenian-born mystic, philosopher and spiritual teacher of the 20th Century. Courtesy image.

The Sandpoint Gurdjieff Group is offering a free showing of the one-hour documentary film The Way of Consciousness at the Little Panida Theater at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10. 

The night will be a compilation of three separate films exploring the life and teachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, an Armenian-born mystic, philosopher and spiritual teacher of the 20th century whose life’s work was to awaken a higher state of consciousness in humans.

“He was the first one who brought some ideas to the West that are now common, like the idea of mindfulness, presence, somatic work,” said Dennis Pence, a member of the Sandpoint Gurdjieff Group. “The Gurdjieff work, unlike a religion, is not based on faith — there are Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims — it is based on knowledge. It’s all about understanding more about yourself than just thoughts and ideas.”

Gurdjieff believed humans could reach their full potential by embracing a discipline referred to as “The Work,” as in, “to work on oneself.”

“The idea is, we’re not complete,” Pence said. “It’s going to take an effort for us to become really human. I think you can see examples of how inhumane we are, just by looking at the front page of The New York Times every day.”

Pence stressed the spiritual teachings of Gurdjieff are not based on organized religion, but rather, a personal journey to awakening one’s consciousness in a “Fourth Way.”

“Gurdjieff said there were different ways to approach understanding,” Pence said. “One way is through faith, which is called ‘The Way of the Monk.’ Another is through yoga, through the Yogi.”

Another method is referred to as the Fakir, which is an ascetic who has taken vows of poverty and worship, renouncing all relations and possessions. Gurdjieff’s method for awakening one’s consciousness to achieve full human potential unites these methods, which is why it is referred to as the “Fourth Way.”

“‘The Work’ is not for proselytizing,” Pence said. “We’re not trying to say, ‘Believe in this book and you’ll be like us.’ Rather, it’s for people who feel something missing in life, maybe at 2 a.m. you’ll look at the ceiling asking, ‘Is this all there is?’ It’s that person that ‘The Work’ is for.”

Pence said there will be a question-and-answer period after the free showing at the Little Panida Theater. All are welcome to attend.

The Way of Consciousness • Thursday, Oct. 10; 7 p.m.; FREE. Little Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., 208-263-9191, panida.org. For more info visit gurdjiefffoundationofidaho.org.

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