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BEELZEBUBS BUDDHAS:

THE INFLUENCE OF BUDDHISM AND ITS TIBETAN VARIANTS IN


GURDJIEFFS FOURTH WAY.

INTRODUCTION
Good morning everyone. Today we sit near the birthplace of Western
philosophical thought to ruminate on the potential Eastern influences on one of the
Wests most enigmatic figures. Specifically, whether Tibetan Buddhism, influenced
Gurdjieffs ideas and system. Gurdjieffs influence in Western society today is not all
that well known nor acknowledged. However, I believe that his influence upon what
the esteemed historian of psychology, Eugene Taylor calls folk psychology is
considerable and that as a result, Gurdjieffs sub rosa influence on modern
psychology in general is significant and a theme that will inspire a worthy PhD
dissertation or book. Mine preferably!
While a number of scholars have attempted to document and explain his
system and its various components, few have made a careful examination of the
similarities between aspects of his ideas and Tibetan Buddhism. This seemed odd for
me since the similarities leapt out from every thing Id studied about the Fourth Way
indicating such. For our purposes today this concentrates on the barely disguised
presence of Padmasambhava, the 8th century tantric yogi who successfully
reintroduced Buddhism into Tibet, and of course, a truncated and oddly distorted
picture of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha whose dates are approximately
583 BCE to 463BCE. The inclusion of these figures indicate for me, not only an
homage to ideas Gurdjieff considered valuable, but point more deeply to their
influence on his system, further displayed elsewhere throughout his teachings.
The paper I present today is an expansion of some preliminary work I did for
an article entitled, Gurdjieffs Possible Buddhist Influences, first published on
Gurdjieff Internet Guide a few years ago. Over the years, as I have studied Gurdjieffs

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writings more thoroughly, the conclusion I reached then, that Buddhism has exerted
an influence on Gurdjieffs system wider and more deep than typically acknowledged,
remains. At the same time, I contend that this influence was not exclusively a positive
one and that, while Gurdjieff retained an obvious admiration for much of Buddhisms
teachings, he nevertheless presented an inaccurate picture of Buddhism. This is
particularly true in the text we study today and the chapter in that text we are focusing
on.
Lastly, this effort is by no means complete and remains itself a preliminary
one subject to further expansion and revision as I personally continue my own journey
and studies.
There are three main approaches to Beelzebubs Tales.
The academic, which attempts to extract from names, places or ideas, an
origin to the 4th Way or something that might help explain it.
The mythical, which seeks a similar goal of understanding, while absorbing
the Essence of this absorbing tale as a potential map to greater Meaning.
And the Work task, which (at best) combines the methodology of science, the
extraction of Meaning in the mythical approach, and returns again and again to this
great book to add new and original chapters to our own great book of Life.
All these approaches are valuable and to be honored. None are mutually
exclusive. Each has a place.
For this paper, however, I have chosen the first method, the academic, as I
refer to it, to extract some background information about one aspect of the Tales that
might be helpful as we endeavor to use the other 2 methods. The focus will therefore
be on several concepts and passages taken from Beelzebubs Tales and secondarily
from the corpus of Fourth Way teachings that has followed.

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We need to dissect several elements in these narratives in order to give this
topic the attention I believe it deserves. First, is Gurdjieffs presentation of Saint
Buddha and Saint Lama, their teachings and influences in Beelzebubs Tales. Second,
we need to revisit the very specific reasons Gurdjieff gives for the ultimate failure of
these two figures. This will include the role monasticism, suffering and kundalini
played in their doctrines. Third, we should examine in brief some of the Fourth Way
teachings imparted by Gurdjieff to his students and this will include ideas about the
attainment of a higher consciousness. Lastly, we need to look carefully at the core
beliefs and structure of Tibetan Buddhism, in particular the Kagyu sect, and see for
ourselves whether there are similarities between Gurdjieffs doctrines and this very
powerful still influential lineage.

I. TWO BUDDHISMS: ACCORDING TO BEELZEBUB; AND ACCORDING TO


THE BUDDHA
In Beelzebubs Tales, Buddhism is presented as one of the five remaining
religions from which all teachings nowadays are descended, and the one which gets
Reason attributed to it as a central characteristic of its teachers style and message. In
fact, there are two Buddhisms presented in that list of five religions: the Buddhistic
and what he calls, the Lamaist. (The use of the latter term, completely discredited in
academic circles, betrays either a profound ignorance of the subject or a deliberate
mischaracterization for some as of yet undisclosed purpose. I will have more to say
about that later.) Gurdjieff interestingly places these two religions into his reckoning
demonstrating, in my opinion, either his belief as to their large numbers of adherents,
or to these religions particular power which he found of great value yet ultimately
wanting. For now, let us review the Buddhism as described in Chapters 21 and 22,

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as well as elsewhere in Beelzebubs Tales to get a sense of what Gurdjieff was trying
to say.
As Gurdjieff mentioned in Chapter 21, the teachings of the Buddha, whose use
of Reason was said to be his hallmark, did not last. This was partly due to the
inevitable division of the faith into sects, and the corruption of the idea of suffering.
This eventually led, in Tibetan Buddhism, (Chapter 22) to practices repugnant to
Beelzebub, namely the isolation cells where selected monks were said to spend
their lives, receiving from the outside only bread and water. The teachings themselves
over time were said to have degenerated so much that from the Truths indicated by
Saint Buddha Himself absolutely nothing has survived. (page 249) The incorrect and
errant manipulation of the word kundalini was also said to be a factor.
Let us now examine briefly those three concepts then, monasticism, kundalini
and suffering.

Monasticism
The Buddha first developed the institution of monasticism, that is, the
organized separation from the world of groups of religious practitioners whose
connection to the populace at large was one of both patronage and support. Its
purpose was to provide a supportive environment whereby individuals might seek full
time the fruits of spiritual progress through exposure to a disciplined life overseen by
the Buddha or his immediate disciples. He made it one of the three Refuges in which
Buddhists to this day daily pledge their lives to: The Buddha, as the exemplar of the
teachings, the Dharma or the collected teachings themselves, and the Sangha, or this
community. In northern India and surrounding areas, the lay communities willingly
provided for the needs of these monastics in societies where spiritual mendicants were

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viewed favorably and helping them out provided one with considerable spiritual
merit.
In Beelzebubs Tales, however, Gurdjieff sees monasticism as a distortion of
Buddhist teachings, referring to monastics as the sect of Self-Tamers engaged in
what he disdainfully calls suffering in solitude. (p. 256) We may presume, based
upon later teachings given by Gurdjieff orally and in written form, that immersion in
regular, daily life with others was considered more ideal for what spiritual practices
Gurdjieff had in mind. For example, his use of the phrase Self-tamers reveals a
possible understanding of the polemical charges leveled against earlier Buddhism by
later Mahayanists who utilized this very phrase disparagingly. His mention of the
wives disgust with their husbands actions also suggests a possible knowledge and
Western dismissal of sexual practices that, for certain Vajrayana adepts, included
relations with consorts, which were a part of some trainings.
Thus, I think Gurdjieff had a very probable exposure to a series of Tibetan
Buddhist teachings which he did not personally approve of and, in creating BT, he
expressed his disdain for them in some not so subtle ways. The reasons for this are
known perhaps only to Gurdjieff but we may speculate with some reasonable
assumptions.

Suffering
In Buddhism, the Pali word dukkha has a primary place for the system the
Buddha described. Suffering, a wholly inadequate translation of the Pali word,
dukkha, was the Buddhas characterization of the inherent dis-satisfaction built into
all things impermanent. Our general predisposition he said, was to cling onto those
things we cherished while pushing away those things we find repugnant. Either way,

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we become dissatisfied through the inevitable contact with the unpleasant and the pain
of seeing the pleasant dissipate, as all things eventually do. For the Buddha, the errant
way we view Life and the things around us inevitably lead to this dis-ease, which, he
felt, we could successfully and completely overcome through diligent practice of his
Middle Way, the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Buddha made plain his disgust for extreme asceticism, which he had tried
for six years and found inadequate and inappropriate for spiritual awakening. As well,
he rejected the materialist hedonism into which he had been born. Both were
summarily dismissed and instead, a Middle Way was proposed, between these two
extremes.
Kundalini
Laying out the bare facts of both kundalini and its relationship, or nonrelationship to Buddhism seems in order then for us now to discern the truth of this
enigmatic aspect of Gurdjieffs teachings.
Gurdjieff in chapter 21, pps 249-251 gave a detailed explanation of kundalini
based on word origins and its relationship to the word, kundabuffer. We should note
that his explanation is completely fanciful. In addition, to use the word kundalini
and apply it to Buddhism in any context is an automatic tip off that something is
incorrect. For it is a word not used in normative Buddhism. In the cases where
reference to the Buddhist application of heat generation, or the manipulation of inner
heat through special tantric exercises is needed, then the word chandali, or tummo
(inner heat) must be more accurately employed. (Chandali means ever-present
energy) (Trungpa, 1992, Lions Roar, pp. 130, 141) This is a main practice of the
Kagyu sect, as one part of the Six Yogas of Naropa.

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Thus, there are three possibilities here. One, Gurdjieff had a total
misunderstanding of the difference between Hindu and Buddhist ideas about this
power, either because of bad or incomplete translations. Two, a deliberate
misrepresentation of Buddhist teachings by Gurdjieff for a specific, if unrevealed
purpose. Or three, he had a partial knowledge of and exposure to Tibetan tummo
practices, but without adequate Buddhist explanations available, and thus his reliance
on Hindu texts, which would ultimately distort the Tibetan views and teachings. I tend
to believe this latter explanation. So, what exactly is kundalini and what is its
significance here?
The word kundalini is a feminine form of the word, kundala which means,
[she who is] coiled, traditionally implying like a serpent, but it also can refer to
hair that is coiled upon the head, as the forest yogis wear it. As I said, it is a feminine
word containing the ending -ini, which can be seen in other words such as yogini (a
female yoga practitioner) and dakini (from daka, originally a demon but later referred
to as a sky dancer, [Tib. khadroma] a female figure who moves on the highest
level of reality). Kundalini then, refers to the dormant (or coiled) energy said to
reside at the base of the spine in the lower energy center or chakra. During special
practices, this energy can unwind and rise upwards, through the other centers in the
body (totaling 7 in the Hindu system, 5 in the Buddhist system) bringing about a
number of extraordinary psycho-spiritual experiences and abilities.
Perhaps one major place in Buddhism where analogous to Hindu kundalini
practices are to be found at any length is in the practice of tummo, the generation of
intense bodily heat. It is a practice most associated with the Kagyu sect, which
includes it as one of the Six Yogas of Naropa (the others are, experiencing ones own
body as illusory, gyulu; the dream state, milam; perception of the clear light, sel;

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the teaching of the in-between states, bardo; and the transference of consciousness,
phowa.) Many accounts have been told of monks being required to test their abilities
in tummo by drying out successive numbers of wet sheets placed upon their naked
bodies while seated in the snow. This in Tibet, where the average elevation is 14,000
feet above sea level.
Let us now briefly leave these concepts and move into the realm of historicity,
describing Buddhism as-it-is and the Buddha as he really was. The idea of developing
a higher consciousness will also be touched on.
The Buddha
Now, Buddha, we should all remember, is not a name, but a title. It refers to
a person whose being was completely permeated by a quality we might call, awakeness. We in the West have a very simplified, and, I believe distorted picture of the
Buddha and his teachings. Most of what we hear about the Buddha and Buddhism is
the remarkable emphasis meditation played in his teachings. But while meditation
forms a very important part of the Buddhist path, it is only one step in what he called
the Noble Eightfold Path.
Awareness, is the heart of Buddhism.
The Buddha spent 40 years of his life wandering throughout northern India
teaching, mediating between conflicts and helping people out. If a meditative tradition
giving peace of mind were the only thing he taught, very few farmers or businessmen
would have been interested in his message. And yet for a period, Buddhism was the
preeminent religion of all India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Mongolia, Korea, Southeast
Asia, much of what is now Russia and parts of the independent countries that border
its underbelly, all the way to European Kalmykia. In short, most of the ancient world

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at one time was once Buddhist. So calming and quiet meditation wasnt the only thing
that attracted the masses.
It was that quality again.
A remarkable quality he brought to every situation and every discussion, every
face he encountered and every friend or foe he spoke with. He was simply, completely
awake. And thats the name they gave him, the Buddha, the Awakened One.
Most of you know the basics of his story, born a prince in what is now Nepal,
he grew dissatisfied with his life of luxury and ease and, after seeing firsthand old
age, disease, death and a renunciant (a sannyasin), he decided to abandon that life and
seek out a way beyond all suffering. After six years of extreme self denial, trying
various systems and teachers (much like the later Gurdjieff) he decided to abandon
them and continue his search alone, relying on his own Life and understanding.
Finally, on the full moon of the fifth lunar month, he attained Enlightenment.
For the Buddha, development of a wide, panoramic awareness, a deep, clear
attentiveness to everything in and around us would enable us to, as he put it, see
things as they truly are (yatham bhutam). It is this ability that makes one awakened,
a Buddha.
Seeing things as they are is usually treated as the result of what, in English
is called, mindfulness, but this word is simply awful! It is awful because it sticks us
right where we spend way too much of our timein our heads. The word the Buddha
used is sati, which literally means, the bare attention to the actual fact. That is, the
quality of being attentive to every aspect of our ontological and phenomenological
experience in this very moment, at all moments. Students of the Fourth Way should
make note of this important concept.

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Now this word attention in English is excellent because it better describes
what the Buddha was referring to. In Pali, the language of the Buddha, the word was
sati and sati, has a quality of the heart, but in the West, we typically separate out head
from heart. In many Eastern languages, this is not the case. So, this word mindfulness
(mind-full-ness) is actually the exact opposite of what he meant. It is not to be full of
ones mind, or the thoughts in there; it is, however, to be attentive to things both
within and around us. And the word attend, in English, has a root, which is the word
tend, which means to care for or take care of. So, at-tend refers to this quality of
taking care to notice the world around us as well as inside of us.

Padmasambhava
The second concept we need to speak about is the figure of Padmasambhava,
who I believe is the model for Gurdjieffs Saint Lama. Padmasambhava presents us
with a different set of fascinating difficulties. The historical material is far scantier
than that available regarding the Buddha and much of it consists of magical feats and
remarkable displays of spiritual prowess. But several very interesting things are
known about him.
First, is that he is widely known by the epithet, Guru Rinpoche which, as I
have mentioned before, can be translated as Saint Lama.
Second, while his dates and origin are uncertain, (the middle of the 8th century
CE is about as accurate as we can establish) they contain enormously interesting seeds
of knowledge for those curious. He was said to be from Oddiyana, a supposedly
magical kingdom that has been variously located in what is now Iran, Kashmir, the
Swat valley in Pakistan or possibly even somewhere in Afghanistan. In his story, he
was miraculously born from a lotus in the middle of a lake, already a child of eight

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years old and possessed of enormous gifts. (The name Padmasambhava means,
Lotus Born being.) Reared in a kingly environment he determined to renounce life
but was prevented by his father. (Here the parallels to the historical Buddha are
obvious.) So in order to leave, he conjures a set of magical apparitions that turn out to
be deadly and accidentally kills someone. Banished, he retreats to the mountains and
becomes an enormously successful tantric practitioner accomplishing what it is said
no one else could. His magical prowess becomes legendary in the region and
eventually he is invited to reintroduce Buddhism into Tibet where he meets with
typical scorn from the Bn priestly class and anger from the local demons and spirits
whom it is said, prevented Buddhisms entry earlier. He subdues all opposition and
his high religious teachings and feats of spiritual magic are recorded in a wonderful
biography written by his consort Yeshe Tsogyal.
Third, Herbert Guenther, the late Tibetan Buddhist scholar points out the odd
fact that as Padmasambhava was possibly from the Iran/Pakistan/Afghanistan region,
he is what might be considered, a Westerner who brought tantric Indian teachings into
Tibet. This possibility might have been recognized by Gurdjieff, adding to
Padmasambhavas allure.
And fourth, supporting the above, elements in his teachings, mainly the
highest Dzogchen teachings, suggest possible Nestorian and Zoroastrian influences.
These influences include a tripartite cosmos and creativity principle, the little man of
Light also mentioned in Sethian Gnosticism, and some prosaic descriptions of the
process of Awakening. These facts make his inclusion into Gurdjieffs pantheon even
more intriguing than before, suggesting a more complicated origin for those Fourth
Way teachings from Tibet than this present work can delve into.

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Higher consciousness
We may say that the basic premise of many esoteric systems is the creation
of either a higher self, or a higher self-consciousness. But creation of a higher self is
precisely one of the kinds of yearning the Buddha counseled against. That is, it is the
constant striving for identity, any identity, higher or otherwise, that locks us into the
process of suffering since, as the Buddha continually taught, grasping or thirst for
being is the prima facie cause of all suffering. Therefore, to say that a Higher
consciousness is a more sought after and worthwhile goal is to deny this very basic
assumption taught by the Buddha. While sati consciousness equates awareness, one
should not mistake this for a different consciousness on the part of the practitioner.
From the Buddhas perspective, it is merely the proper method to view one and the
psycho-physiological processes one participates in. From this point, it becomes
possible to discern the inherent suffering within any grasping at all, for a higher
consciousness or any at all for that matter.
But thenparadoxically, later Buddhism allows for some teachings on
development of such a higher being consciousness, however it is described mainly
within the context of other Buddhas in the development of Mahayana, or the
Greater Vehicle. Briefly, the teachings went like this: a Buddha like Siddhartha
Gautama, is a historical figure, one who possesses a body like ours and lives and dies
amongst us. However, Mahayana Buddhism developed the notion of three bodies, the
first, physical one just mentioned is a Nirmanakaya or Transformation Body Buddha.
But within dreams, the imaginal realm, or, upon completion of extraordinary
deeds, an embodied Buddha could, after physical death create a Pure Land, a realm
defined to his or her own specifications and designed to assist in the furtherance of
their own particular way of benefiting beings. Afterwards, they are then reborn and

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conduct their ministry from this higher realm of existence. This being is then known
as the Sambhogakaya, the Reward Body Buddha. The most famous of these is
Amitabha whose name means Infinite Light and his Pure Land, Sukhavati, is known
as the Land of Bliss. His name is said to possess the ability to grant devotees a swift
rebirth there whereupon they might proceed towards standard Buddhist practices for
Enlightenment.
And then there is the Dharmakaya, the Dharma Body, said to be analogous to
Emptiness, ultimate reality itself, the indescribable Source from which all things and
all Buddhas emanate.
Thus, Buddhism evolved over time, embracing the ideal of Buddhahood over
the dispassionately controlled solitary arhat and creating a mythic component of
extraordinarily sublime beauty and nearly incomprehensible dimensions. This
Buddhism, vast and full of Infinite manifestations of Wisdom and Compassion
opened itself up to those who couldnt retreat from the world in the dogged pursuit of
self-perfection. And by so doing, it allowed for the possibility of extraordinary results
on the spiritual path being achieved by even the most ordinary of people.
So we have this ostensibly irreconcilable view of Buddhism, one, that any effort to
make something that will survive death is part of the problem, that it is, in short, the
very problem in this life. And on the other hand, we have this later development that
speaks to this, albeit under very limited circumstances.
As well, we have two other Buddhisms to contend with, one historically
rooted and documented, teaching a doctrine of awakening, utilizing many different
techniques, and centered upon the over coming of suffering and development of
Wisdom and Compassion. Then we have this other, non-historical Buddhism with the
Buddha there speaking in a Gurdjieffan language and part of his pantheon of

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awakened souls, listed, one may believe, as being a part of Gurdjieffs own lineage.
What shall we make of this apparent discrepancy? Is it all in good humor, a terrible
misunderstanding, and a mix up due to poor translations and erroneous
interpretations, or is it something else?
What is clear, is that the Buddha and the Buddhism presented in Beelzebubs
Tales exists only there, with little resemblance to the Buddhism as practiced in Tibet
or by the historical founder of this now worldwide religion. Let us look at Tibetan
Buddhism and its similarities and ask what all this may mean to the Fourth Way and
its adherents.
II. BUDDHISM IN TIBET
The Five Schools
Tibetan Buddhism is made up of four Buddhist sects and is complemented by
the earlier spiritual tradition of Bn. It is all a very distinct spirituality, utilizing much
of the tantric tradition of India with its own unique elements. It includes mantra
recitation, elaborate hand gestures known as mudras and distinctive practices known
as Dzogchen (in both Bn and Nyingma) and Mahamudra, each aiming to grant the
practitioner direct access to what is said to be the minds elementally clear nature,
known as rigpa.
The entire body of Tibetan tantric Buddhism is also known as Vajrayana
The Diamond- or Thunderbolt Vehicle. This was so named because its practices
are said to accelerate spiritual development in order to achieve Buddhahood, in this
very body. (Comparison to Ouspenskys description in Fragments, pp 195-196 of
practices designed to speed up the evolutionary process, should be noted.)
The four Buddhist sects are the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug. They
range from the often non-monastic, more yogic Nyingma, to mixed yogic and

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monastic Kagyu, to the exclusively monastic Gelugpas, the Dalai Lamas sect
sometimes known as yellow hats. We shall confine ourselves to a short discussion
of just two, the Nyingma and Kagyu.

Nyingma
Literally, Old School, the Nyingma were the first successful input of
Buddhism into Tibet, through the great and mysterious, Padmasambhava. It took with
it the religio-magical influences of the Indian siddha traditionforest yogis (and
yoginis) who lived in isolated circumstances, perfecting certain practices and attaining
liberation with often very non-monastic means, ex, alcohol, sexual imagery and
practices, etc. While Padmasambhava was instrumental to establishing the first
Buddhist monastery, (Samye) his reputation was mainly as a magical tamer of
demons, making them work for Buddhism in Tibet, and for his profound teaching of
Dzogchen. While parts of his story are certainly true, overall it may also point to the
idea that a strictly monastic Buddhism could not survive in Tibet and needed someone
who could live within the magical world of Tibetan spirituality while still being
enlightened in the Buddhist sense. The Nyingmas retain the tradition of the nakpa,
the lay practitioner who spiritually accomplishes what in other sects only highly
trained and advanced monastics could. Its heads in the past have been great yogis who
married and had children: HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, HH Dudjom Rinpoche, for
ex. Dzogchen (The Great Perfection) is this lineages highest teaching. Also quaintly
known as Red hats.

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Kagyu
Known as the practice lineage, this was the earlier of the second wave of
Buddhist traditions into Tibet, several hundred years after Padmasambhava. They
reformed the monastic tradition while retaining the best of siddha/yogi practices. It is
the Kagyu sect that utilizes formal training in a three year isolated retreat, usually
done in caves that certify the person completing this training as a lama. The four
most famous Tibetan Buddhists have come from this lineage.
The first was Tilopa, the crazy wisdom guru who unified the different Indian
tantric systems and transmitted these to his main student Naropa. Naropa was already
a great scholar-monk at the height of his fame when he had a vision that all he knew
were the words and not the true meaning of Buddhism, causing him to embark on a
12-year quest to find the elusive Tilopa. Naropas student Marpa was a married
farmer who loved beer, had an awful temper and made several journeys to India
translating important tantric teachings and secretly practicing while living life as an
ordinary man. And Marpas student, Tibets greatest hermit/yogi Milarepa, whose
feats of extraordinary devotion began with his checkered past as a murderer only to be
given shocks by his teacher Marpa to burn off his evil karma and to bring to fruition
the powerful teachings he received.
Later, it was Milarepas student, Gampopa who combined the esoteric
teachings of Vajrayana practiced by the forest or mountain yogis, with the established
monastic lifestyle received from India, thus formally creating the Kagyu sect.
The Six Yogas of Naropa and the Mahamudra (the Great Seal) are the Kagyu
sects highest teachings. The head of the sect is the first of Tibets reincarnated
teachers, the Karmapas. Also known as Red or Black Hats. (The former for

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Sharmapas, latter for Karmapas.) One of their main monastery complexes is the
Surmang monastery.
There are other unique characteristics of Tibetan Buddhism which should be
noted here and whose descriptions contain elements that may sound familiar to 4th
Way seekers:
1) Sacred outlook. (tag-nang) Vajrayana sees the entire world as sacred, even
those objects taught in Buddhism as obstacles. These might even include sex,
alcohol, or anger. In Vajrayana, the goal is to transform or transmute those
objects or energies into their positive counterparts. This is seen as
extraordinarily difficult without a deep bond with a tantric guru and/or
extensive tantric teaching and practice. The universe is also populated with
numerous, normally unseen beings such as dakas and dakinis (sky dancers)
who can be encountered in dreams or visions to help practitioners along their
paths.
2) Auspicious coincidence or tendrel, refers to the notion that all aspects of
ones life are a self-revealing display of the universe and ones role in it. As
such, there are no coincidences for the tantric practitioner.
3) Emphasis on teacher. The guru (lama, in Tibetan) cannot be overestimated,
especially in the tantric teachings. Visualizing ones teacher as the Buddha
himself is said to accrue the same benefits as if ones teacher were the actual
Buddha. Likewise, to see ones teacher as a simple person, a flawed human
being or even a drunk, would be to acquire the blessings of such individuals.
4) Importance of death and dying. Padmasambhava is said to have authored the
so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead (correct title is, The Book of Liberation
Through Hearing in the In-between [bardo]). The teachings emphasize the

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importance of using all transitional states, gaps or intervals, to achieve the
final decisive jump into awakening and the death experience is seen as the last
great opportunity for such before ones subtle consciousness takes a new life
form.
5) Deity yoga. Visualization practices include elaborate instructions for creating
in ones mind the representation of enlightened qualities, appearing above
ones head, which are then taken into oneself absorbing the energies. Since the
ultimate nature of ones mind and its objects are empty, as are the nature of all
appearances, (including Buddhas and other deities), then no real obstacle is
encountered and one can gradually transform ones qualities into the deity one
chooses.

6) Terma or mind treasures are hidden teachings said to have first originated by
Padmasambhava who believed certain teachings were unsuitable for his time
and therefore were deposited in rocks, caves and underground, sometimes
written on yellow paper in dakini script. Other terma might be deposited in
the mind stream of a person not yet born who might someday in a dream or
vision, remember these teachings and write them down, later to be
recognized as authentic.
7) Crazy wisdom. The unorthodox manifestation of behavior which otherwise
might be seen as un-Buddhist and used to shock students into seeing their
world differently.

8) A tripartite cosmos and individuals- Vajrayana sees a tripartite cosmos,


Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as reflecting a similar tripartite division of the
individual into body, speech and mind. As socially we are to be harmoniously
conducted within the former set, within us, we are to create a fully balanced

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and unified self whose physical components (body), energetic emanations
(speech) and internal processes (mind) are also properly in tune. In addition
the Three turnings doctrine, suggesting three different and progressively
ascending teachings of the Buddha (alluded to, I believe in Chapter 21) and
the Three bodies teachings, all point to a crucial division of view within
Vajrayana with remarkable similarities to Fourth Way doctrines.

9) Tulku- Translation of nirmanakaya into Tibetan it refers to incarnated lamas


who have traditionally chosen to return to human form in order to continue
their lineage (such as the Trungpa tulkus) or to continue a greater commitment
to all sentient beings (HH the Dalai Lama is such).

III. CORRESPONDENCES BETWEEN THE FOURTH WAY AND TIBETAN


BUDDHISM
We may now suggest that a number of correspondences exist between the
Fourth Way and Tibetan Buddhism.
1. Importance of practicing attentiveness to ones self and environment
simultaneously, mindfulness or attentiveness in Buddhism (sati), selfremembering and self-observation in Gurdjieffs system.
2. Importance of using practices to accelerate or speed up normal spiritual
development.
3. Importance of practice reminders in form of sayings (cf. Atisha, 982 CE, The
Root Text of The Seven Points of Training The Mind, Kadampa slogan cards
preserved and practiced through the Kagyu tradition.)
4. Importance of using Death as a Reminder, perhaps the greatest reminder, for
engaging in practice. Gurdjieff once said, "Constant awareness of the
inevitability of death is the only means to acquire the urgency to override the

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robot." The second and third Reminders of the Kagyu focus on
contemplating death, its inevitability and unpredictability.
5. Importance of gaps or intervals between events to reveal opportunities for
awakening or change.
6. Importance of dance to convey larger ideas. (the Kagyu SURMANG
monasteries emphasize ritual dances and may be compared to the Movements
of Gurdjieff.) We should also note the remarkable similarity in the name
Surmang with Gurdjieffs Sarmung.
7. Importance of transforming or transmuting negative energies into food for
spiritual development.
8. Importance of reading key teachings three times (In Kagyu Buddhism this is
described as related to a three-level way of learning: hearing, contemplating
and practice.)
9. Importance of development (for extraordinary beings) a second body, the
Sambhogakaya, or Reward Body, to benefit beings which consists of,
10. Importance of undertaking enormous sacrifices, in other words, voluntary
suffering, which these beings, (and we to a much lesser degree) as
bodhisattvas undertake for aeons it is said before they are able to create their
own Pure Land.
I believe these items point to a correspondence beyond coincidence and indicate
an influential relationship, derivative from Tibetan Buddhism and incorporated into
Gurdjieffs system.

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Postscript: Alluded to above, one of the main Kagyu practices (also used by the
Nyingma) is the visualization, above ones head, of Vajrayogini, a female deity who is
said to then receive teachings of the highest level into herself, all of which is then
visualized as being absorbed into oneself. I recall a picture of Mme. de Salzmann
meeting with the late Nyingma teacher, HH Dudjom Rinpoche and hearing stories of
her receiving teachings about opening the top of head to receive guidance from above.
We might assume an influence.

IV. CONCLUSION
Gurdjieffs ultimate motivations for almost any of his many activities will
forever remain his and his alone. Thus, why he chose Buddhism, and its Tibetan
version to be listed as two separate religions out of only five remaining ones in
Beelzebubs Tales, may never be fully understood. But I believe Gurdjieff was
making a series of points that he thought necessary for those he was teaching, one of
which was to remain fully within a Western fold and avoid the allure of authentic
Eastern beliefs, particularly Buddhism and its Tibetan forms, despite his own apparent
admiration for both. He wanted to utilize suffering as it is conventionally
understood in the West, in order to strengthen the Fourth Way practitioners inner
development, rather than, as in Buddhism, work to eliminate it altogether, a feat
Gurdjieff perhaps had great skepticism about. He also wanted, I believe, to steer his
followers away from the elaborate and detailed tantric teachings around kundalini, a
teaching that has only a minimal place in Buddhism anyway. (Thus, this may have
been a prescient warning to Westerners to also avoid Hinduism, which he may have
thought would be appealing to Westerners in later years through Vedanta and the
writings of Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, Joseph Campbell, Romain Rolland, etc..)

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As well, he imparted a distorted picture of both Buddhism and tantric
kundalini teachings, which may have had the initial effect of dissuading his students
from pursuing such disciplines. Later, his followers, including Mme. de Salzmann,
appear to have taken a far less oppositional perspective. One may speculate about the
value or nature of the passive receipt of spiritual influences from the top of ones
head, but one cannot deny their crucial role in Tibetan Buddhist visualization
practices and thus drawing the tentative conclusion that the influence from Tibetan
Buddhism appears solid.
While we can with certainty point to Gurdjieffs influences from esoteric
Christianity, Sufism and Hermetic thought we can as well almost certainty direct the
interested Fourth Way seeker (and veteran seekers as well) to Tibetan Buddhism. I
believe he had exposure to the Kagyu sect in particular. His mention of the meditation
cells suggests knowledge of the extended 3-year retreats which form a major part of
Kagyu practices. His utilization of slogans, descriptions of accelerated spiritual
development, spiritual practice while remaining immersed in the world and others,
some mentioned above and others to be detailed later, all reveal a probable exposure
to the Kagyu sect. This influence showed itself in his system in both positive (the
incorporation of a number of ideas as demonstrated above) and negative ways (the
distorted picture of both Buddhism and its two main personalities, the Buddha and
Padmasambhava in Beelzebubs Tales). While Beelzebubs Tales contains what in
Gurdjieffs own words is the depth of his years of teaching, it also should be noted
that it contains a wealth of errors in its presentation of Eastern thought. Whether
deliberate or a case of mistaken assumption is not for this writer, or this presentation
to say. What can now be concluded however is that, while Gurdjieffs influences were
wide, Tibetan Buddhism most probably played an important, unacknowledged role.

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Thank you all very much.

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