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GurdjieffMysticism, Contemplation, and Exercises$
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Joseph Azize

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190064075

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064075.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction

Joseph Azize

Oxford University Press

The introduction provides the necessary background and definitions to study our questions: When and why did Gurdjieff introduce his contemplation-like exercises, and why? It defines “meditation,” “contemplation,” “mysticism,” “Western Esotericism,” and four terms to be used for Gurdjieff’s internal exercises: “task,” “discipline,” “Aiëssirittoorassnian-contemplation,” and “Transformed-contemplation.” It sketches the thesis that Gurdjieff’s method as a whole tends towards mysticism, and that while it was not Christian, some of its sources were. However, Gurdjieff did not accept the conventional distinction between the active and the contemplative life, and had not initially intended to introduce contemplation-like exercises; and when eventually he did, some of them were to be practiced in daily life, and all exercises were placed them within a system which would bring the influence of these exercises into other activities.

Keywords:   G. I. Gurdjieff, meditation, contemplation, mysticism, Western Esotericism, “Transformed-contemplation”

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