Born in 1878 in Moscow, Russia, P.D. Ouspensky was already a well-known mathematician, author, and journalist before becoming a pupil of G. I. Gurdjieff in 1915 in Tsarist, and later revolutionary, Russia. He put the system into what was then (early 20th century) contemporary Russian language and organized the fragments of knowledge into a form suitable for the Western mind. Later, P. D. Ouspensky founded The Society for the Study of Normal Man, and its publishing arm the Historico-Psychological Society, in London, England, and in Lyne Place near Virginia Water, where, except for the years of the Second World War when he was in the United States at Franklin Farms, he taught from the 1920s until his death on 1947.10.02.
A clear introduction to the ideas of the Work can be found in his works In Search of the Miraculous, Fragments of an Unknown Teaching and his The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution (both published posthumously). He also wrote many other important works, among them Tertium Organum, A Key to the Enigmas of the World, Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, his only novel, A New Model of the Universe, Principles of the Psychological Method in its Application to Problems of Science, Religion, and Art, and Talks with a Devil, a series of short stories.
Several other books, compiled by his students and others from notes of his meetings with his students in London and elsewhere, were published posthumously. Among them are: The Fourth Way, A Record of Talks and Answers to Questions based on the Teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff, A Further Record, A Record of Meetings, Conscience: The Search for Truth, and Letters from Russia 1919.
Following is an example of his writings, done prior to 1930, and possibly prior to 1914, and taken from his book, A New Model of the Universe, p.206:
Tarot Card 4, THE EMPEROR
"After I had studied the first three numbers it was given to me to understand The great Law of Four — the Alpha and Omega of all. I saw the Emperor on a high throne of stone which was decorated with four rams' heads.
"A golden helmet gleamed on his brow. His white beard fell over his purple mantle. In one hand he held a sphere, the symbol of his possessions, and in the other a sceptre in the form of the Egyptian cross — the sign of his power over birth.
'I am the Great Law,' said the Emperor.
'I am the Name of God.
'The four letters of His Name are in me and I am in everything.
'I am in the four principles, I am in the four elements. I am in the
four seasons. I am in the four quarters of the earth."
'I am in the four signs of the Tarot.
'I am action, I am resistance, I am completion, I am result.
'For him who knows the way to see me, there are no mysteries on the earth.
'As the earth contains fire, water and air, as the fourth letter of the name contains the first three and itself becomes the first, so my sceptre contains the complete triangle and bears in itself the seed of a new triangle.'
"And while the Emperor spoke, his helmet and the golden armour visible beneath his mantle shone ever more and more fiercely, until I could no longer bear their radiance and dropped my eyes. And when I tried to raise them again, before me was an all-pervading radiance, and light and fire.And I fell prostrate worshipping the Fiery Word."
A New Model of the Universe, p.206
Piotr Demianovich Ouspensky - Home Page
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