Through the Lens of Gurdjieff: Glimpses of Contemporary Sufism in Turkey
Journal: Fieldwork in Religion
G. I. Gurdjieff (c.1866–1949) was born in Gyumri, Armenia and raised in the Caucasus and eastern Asia Minor. He also traveled extensively throughout Turkey to places of pilgrimage and in search of Sufi teachers. Through the lens of Gurdjieff’s notion of legominism, or the means by which spiritual teachings are transmitted from successive generations, this article explores the continuing significance of spiritual practice and tradition and the ways that these forms remain relevant in shaping contemporary trends in spirituality. Beginning with Gurdjieff’s use of legominism, the article provides reflection on some early findings done in field research in Turkey— through site visits, interviews and participant-observation—conducted in the summers of 2014 and 2015. The aim of the project is both to meet individuals and groups, particularly connected to Sufism, that may have some contact with the influences that Gurdjieff would have been familiar with, and to visit some of the sites that were part of Gurdjieff’s early background and which served to inform his work. Considerations of contemporary practices include the view of spiritual transmission, and practices of pilgrimage, prayer and sohbet, or spiritual conversation, in an ongoing discourse about spiritual transformation.
Author: Michael Pittman
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