55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2001
This is the most accessible of Gurdjieff's works and should be read by any student of the "essence of reality" or "timeless wisdom," concepts that can't be articulated without sounding like cliches. For this reason I give it five stars.
As mentioned by other reviewers, Gurdjieff is a master of "coyote wisdom." In the American Indian tradition, the coyote, as totem guide of a Shaman, is a trickster and there was none better than Gurdjieff. My most vivid recollection is a story about his teaching center in France where he was adulated by an obsequious woman. He picked up an iron bowl from the fire and told the woman, "Here, hold this." Her shock and pain may or may not have awakened her consciousness, but the technique is vintage Gurdjieff. I have met a number of serious students of Gurdjieff in my 60 short years and they stand out as having significantly more depth than most students of non-traditional paths. Recommended.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2008
There is much autobiographical information here, but G.'s intentions are never straightforward.
There is a deeper intention.
That is to inculcate into the reader the need to search for the meaning of life.
Along the way, he tells of many entertaining adventures in cultures and regions not familiar to the West and conveys the fascinating diversity and antiquity of this crossroads of religions, beliefs and ways of life.
Predictably there are those who find one objection or another to this book, and have come to conclusions without much basis.
It is a given that some will approach a book like this with skepticism and perhaps disapproval. Some of this is due to hearsay, concerning G.'s reputation as a "mystic" in the Rasputin/Crowley mold or some such nonsense.
One of G.'s methods was in fact to APPEAR as a charlatan, in order to put off just those people who form opinions too quickly and fail to doubt the limitations of their own perspective.
Those with a more open mind will be more receptive to more subtle intentions and sense a profound and urgent underlying teaching.
For those people - those who sense a meaning behind the entertaining anecdotes and storyline - the next step is to read the book IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS by P.D. Ouspensky, which gives the best account of the man G. and his manner of teaching in the first half of the 20th c.
But most of all, it is the best explication of the teachings themselves, and a book that to many people is the profoundest and most meaningful book they have ever read.
42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 1999
Overall, this book is fascinating reading for anyone. In particular, the chapter (60 plus pages) on "The Material Question" struck a note in me in the early 1960's and has resonated throughout my life and mind ever since. Taking it exactly as he presented it, I applied myself to this way of thinking, fully focusing on everything surrounding me. I opened my first small business and went at it with a perseverance and determination learned from Gurdjieff. I never looked back, and consider that one short novel of a chapter to have been the greatest influence on my material success.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2000
A book that without doubt has the potential to inspire the reader to live consciously and purposefully. The stories of Gurdjieff's life is put forward in a very simple manner and yet allowing a powerful pattern of encouragement to emerge. Each chapter stands independently able to enlighten and entertain. Gurdjieff shows that the path to an ultimate aim is not straight but rather filled with al kinds of obstacles and delays. While emphasising the struggle to achieve, the seeker of truth provides also the answer on how to overcome obstacles. The teacher shows that sometimes survival requires ingenious solutions and at other times shrewd and calculated plans. Attainment requires the influence of resourceful people with inner qualities rather than external presentation. Gurdjieff demonstrates the inner qualities of people who know how to be restrained in the manifestations that proceed from their nature while conducting themselves justly and tolerantly towards weaknesses of others. The ultimate aim is to enlighten the reader of the inner qualities that constitute remarkable men. Gurdjieff succeeds to develop in his readers the desire to become remarkable men themselves. Men that will on their turn influence the rest of the lives of all they interact with. Ultimately the book aims to transfer an experiential understanding of what Gurdjieff, as a teacher, expect from his pupils as a result of his teaching.
57 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2005
When I was in college in the late 70's, my small circle of friends were philosophers, shaman, and spiritualists... which really means, we liked to discuss amongst ourselves the deep meaning of it all, around bong hits and Budweiser. WARNING: Budweiser is BAD for you, and I no longer drink alcohol!!! One of these friends loaned "Meetings With Remarkable Men" to me, and it made a lasting impression, just as David Carradine did in the TV series "Kung Fu", which kicked off the kung fu - Buddhist - Shaolin - Taoist journey for Americans, more than Bruce Lee was able to accomplish (Bruce Lee was all about martial arts, and didn't have a whole lot to offer the spiritually thirsty. His lack of dimension was his failing). Anyway, we sat around, smoking and drinking, discussing, and watching "Circle of Iron", and formulating the shape of civilization to come.
The other interesting aspect of "Meetings" is that it is an introduction to the trans-Caucasus, a geographic area with a diversity of cultures, religions, and ethnicity as colorful as the plumage of the peacock, which happens to be the embodiment of the Yzidi Lord of the World, Shaitan. One lasting impression was the scene from Gurdjieff's youth, when he witnessed the Yzidi boy being entrapped within a circle that bullying school children had inscribed around him. This event triggered Gurdjieff's quest for answers to life's eternal mysteries.
The book is a story of that quest for answers. It almost doesn't matter if the events actually happened or not. Read this book in the spirit of the late Gary Jennings's adventure fiction (The Journeyer, Spangle, Aztec) and you will have a better appreciation for this book as adventure fiction, if not spiritual revelation. "Meetings" is introductory, and prerequisite, to the Gurdjieff story. I would have to seriously disagree with another reviewer here, who claims that a beginner should first read "Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson". I see no such obligation, and Beelzebub is something to read when, and if, the desire strikes you. In fact, my opinion of Mr. Gurdjieff was high until I DID read his other works. I also read biographies by J.G. Bennet, and of course, P. Ouspenski. I am sad whenever anyone wastes their own life enthralled by the ego of spiritual salesmen, maybe that is the lone wolf in me, who cannot paddle the length of the River in a single canoe.
Like others here, I am now persuaded that Gurdjieff was a con-man and egotist, and his teachings were probably often harmful and abusive, without consideration for the welfare and ego of those whom he pretended to impart deep wisdom. Compare with Aleister Crowley, who, though regarded as having an abrasive bedside manner and hopelessly self-absorbed, was still a mighty pillar of spiritual intelligence and wisdom (and produced a classic tarot card deck). That not withstanding, this one book is the only one of Gurdjieff's books I truly enjoy. "Beelzebub's Tales" may be a good story, and has some profound concepts, like the "three-brained beings", and what those three brains are within the human animal. Even now, researchers are beginning to query the role of the heart, which is a massive nexus of nerves, as having a role in our decision making processes. Gurdjieff recommended reading "Beelzebub" three times, but I could barely finish it the first time. On the other hand, "Meetings With Remarkable Men" is worth reading three times (although I have only read it twice), because it is as unpretentious as Beelzebub was pretentious.
Gurdjieff had a tough life, and his abilities, ways, cunning, these are what poor folk like myself admire about this book. And, as another reviewer discussed, the end chapter, "The Material Question" is a good case study of how to liberate funds from the wealthy for, well, art! Gurdjieff was an artist, and though enshrouded in esoteric spiritualism, his dance troupe is STILL a dance troupe, and any such artists are at the mercy of the beneficence of art afficionados with means.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2000
I have deliberately left the title off this extract as the books scope is too massive to convey in the feeble medium of written text. Despite this I feel it necessary to say a few words on this phenomenal book. I have read the book twice and would recommend that it be read more than once, and every sentence is written with an absolute purpose to deliver concise meaning "there is no wasted wiseacring" so to say in the words of Gurdjieff. The text describes his adventures with truly astounding individuals who have the "courage" to literally carry out their convictions that are within. The questions that may trouble us about life and existence have caused this individual to travel the length and breadth of the world in consciousness expanding travels and deeply touching adventures with very original and common-sensical approaches to overwhelming circumstances (if this is unclear I appologise but words are not substantial). If you've ever craved an adventure in your life and wished to appease in your nature the questions not satisfied by worldly material pursuits this book will carry you in mind and spirit if not in body as well for you feel with Gurdjieff on every step of his life.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2000
This book changed my life, or at least the way in which I thought about my life. I first read this book when I was in my late twenties (25 years ago). I didn't know what I wanted to do and had great lack of confidence that I could ever achieve much of anything. I was a mess.
This book gave me the courage to go forward and not worry about "failure." I got that my mind was inherently capable of figuring "it" out and overcoming obstacles to achieving goals that I set for myself. So far so good. I'm basically a one-handed person who has accomplished my dream of creating beautiful art -- as a jeweler! Go figger! Needless to say, there were a few obstacles on my path.
Read it, you'll like it. At the very least, it's a good adventure story.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2009
I've been practicing self-observation, meditation and these sorts of things for years and so my level of being is high enough to grasp some of the 'inner content' of this work. If you are considering reading this without any internal preparation then I doubt you will feel the way I felt when I finished reading it: conscious of my ability to achieve anything! No book has ever done that to me. Gurdjieff actually wrote this book with the intention of giving the reader the material necessary to build a new world. That material to me was strength and with strength anything can be achieved, built.
I looked over the 1 star reviews and noticed that the reviewers did not have the necessary level of being to not only understand this book but really feel it. Gurdjieff once advised his pupils to not take anything he says literally, and I noticed that the 'sense' of a phrase needs to be captured rather than the literal meaning of it. The quote about 'not listening to a woman's advice' is actually taken out of context, Gurdjieff referred to that quote as way to teach us that maps of unknown lands are good for nothing, that it is better to see what the map says and do the opposite. I laughed in parts of this book and I couldn't help but feel inspired by the powerful example that Gurdjieff was.
Here are some of the things that you will learn from this book but again, this book will not teach you about how to become a spiritual person or anything like that, it is not a how-to book, but it may give you the feeling or taste for work, for effort, a taste for real life...
- Conscious movement is always paid for, it is never wasted. Gurdjieff tells us about a man who was always deliberately moving his body, even in quiet moments. That man become one of the richest men in the world. It is believed that Nature paid him for all his 'work', even though the work itself had no real goal other than defeating laziness and accumulating invisible capital.
- People without their soul mates run the risk of becoming irresponsible and leading irresponsible existences.
- The gods help those who bring all of their manifestations into accordance with one clear goal.
- One super-man can achieve the work of more than a hundred ordinary men.
- Reading newspapers weakens the will.
I tried reading Gurdjieff's first book but found it too difficult. This one is much more accessible. Keep in mind that this book is an advanced read, preparation with other advanced books might be necessary, like Samael Aun Weor's Revolutionary Psychology. I would recommend putting into practice Belzebuub's Peace of the Spirit Within before reading this book, because the techniques in that book will raise your level of being in such a way that you will become aware of your own inner world as well as the inner world of others and even the inner content of this book, which is probably more useful than the actual words themselves.
To me, Meetings with Remarkable Men conveys the enormous value of work and our attitude to it. Perhaps Gurdjieff wanted people to develop a taste for work rather than be lazy. One of my favorite quotes which can sum up all of this is by Eliphas Levi, who said: "Pain is a work, work a struggle, struggle a progress, progress real life."
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 1996
Georges Gurdjieff called himself a teacher of dancing. In the
1920's in England and Paris and New York, he was the "guru"
of the era. But more than a guru, Gurdjieff searched the
East and Middle East for "the meaning of life". Meatings
With Remarkable Men is the Second Book in his triology. It
serves as an autobiography, but more importantly, it serves
as Gurdjieff's perscription for psycological evolution. Later
made into a film, this is a must read for anyone interested
in the man many consider the only teacher of the Twentieth
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 1998
Meetings with Remarkable Men is an eclectic mixture of art, philosophy, and religion. Gurdjieff uses his early-life adventures to illustrate the difficulties inherent in living a life with a constant goal. The meaning of life isn't so much the goal, but more the experience of life. In this respect Gurdjieff can be compared to Jack Kerouac. Both were pioneers who wandered the country-side. Both had a goal in mind that intricately mutated as their life experience shaped their thoughts. Both are timeless writers. Gurdjieff is also a timeless philosopher.