Ouspensky, P(eter) D(emianovitch)
(1878–1947)
Follower of early twentieth-century spiritual teacher Georgei
I. Gurdjieff (1877–1949) and interpreter of his system.
Ouspensky was born in Russia in 1878. He became a student
of mathematics at Moscow University, then went on to become
a journalist.
In 1907, motivated by the conviction that some higher form
of knowledge must exist beyond the tangent fields of science
and math, Ouspensky became aware of Theosophical literature
and the possible synthesis of religion, mysticism, and science.
In 1909, he published The Fourth Way, dealing with abstract
mathematical concepts. He later published a book on yoga, followed
by Tertium Organum; the Third Canon of Thought; a Key to
the Enigmas of the World (English translation London, 1923). It
offered his synthesis of time, space, relativity, Theosophy, cosmic
consciousness, and Eastern and Western philosophy.
From 1913, Ouspensky traveled on an extended journey to
Egypt, India, and Ceylon, searching for the miraculous, and
upon his return gave a series of lectures on his experiences. In
1915, he met Sophia Grigorievna Maximenko (who later became
his wife) and the mystic G. I. Gurdjieff (who became his
guru).
Ouspensky became a disciple and interpreter of Gurdjieff’s
system (i.e., that there exists real possibilities for individuals to
evolve psychologically into a state of consciousness far higher
than that in which they spend the whole of their ordinary lives)
until 1924, when he decided to follow his own path. He lectured,
wrote books, and conducted study groups in England
and the United States on the work of Gurdjieff until his death
in 1947. Rom Landau attended and wrote an account of an
Ouspensky lecture in London.
Sources
Driscoll, J. Walter. Gurdjieff An Annotated Bibliography. New
York Garland Publishing, 1985.
Landau, Rom. God Is My Adventure. London Ivor Nicholson
& Watson, 1935.
Ouspensky, P. D. The Fourth Way. New York Alfred A.
Knopf, 1953.
———. In Search of the Miraculous. New York Harcourt,
Brace, 1949.
———. A New Model of the Universe. New York Alfred A.
Knopf, 1931.
———. Tertium Organum; the Third Canon of Thought; a Key
to the Enigmas of the World. Rochester, N.Y. Manas Press, 1920.
Webb, James. The Harmonious Circle The Lives and Work of G.
I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, and Their Followers. New York G.
P. Putnam’s Sons, 1980.
Wintle, Justin, ed. Makers of Modern Culture. New York Facts
on File, 1981.