The (World Wide) Work 2.0: The Gurdjieff Tradition Online
Journal: Fieldwork in Religion
The occult and the internet intersect in four ways: as a static medium for information; as a space where contested information or ideological conflict may occur; as a facilitator of communication; and as a medium for esoteric practice. The last type of activity is rare, but it is intriguing, in that technology can shape and inform beliefs and practices in unanticipated ways. Online engagement with the ‘Work’, the movement produced by the Greek Armenian spiritual teacher and esotericist G. I. Gurdjieff (c. 1866-1949) and his immediate followers, is an under-researched instance of online esoteric practice. This article addresses this scholarly desideratum, bringing the theoretical approaches of online religion and digital ethnography to bear on the Gurdjieff Internet Guide (GIG) website, founded by Reijo Oksanen (b. 1942) and later maintained by Kristina Turner, who created an accompanying Facebook page. The GIG manifests a shift away from the sectarian secrecy of the ‘Foundation’ groups, founded by Jeanne de Salzmann (1889-1990) after Gurdjieff’s death to formalise and protect the content of the Work, and the limited web presence that the Foundation permits. The GIG moves towards an ecumenical ‘open source’ approach to the dissemination of Gurdjieff’s teachings rooted in independent groups founded by other first generation followers of Gurdjieff who remained outside of the Foundation. It is argued that the deregulation of the religious and spiritual marketplace of the contemporary West, coupled with the dominant role played by the Internet in disseminating information, has radically transformed the Gurdjieff tradition, collapsing hierarchies and esoteric strategies, democratizing access for seekers, and creating new ritual and teaching modes.
Author: Carole M. Cusack, David Pecotic
All & Everything
2016 All & Everything: International Humanities Conference. At: http://aandeconference.org, accessed 25 August 2016.
2012 Gurdjieff’s Sacred Dances and Movements. In Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production, edited by Carole M. Cusack and Alex Norman, 297-330. Leiden and Boston: Brill.
2013 ‘The Four Ideals’: A Contemplative Exercise by Gurdjieff. ARIES 13: 173-203.
2017 ‘The Readiness Is All’: Gurdjieff’s Art of the ‘Preparation’. Religion and the Arts 21: forthcoming.
2006 Religion and Secrecy After September 11. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 74(2): 275-301.
1996 Spirituality and Technology: Exploring the Relationship. First Monday 1(5), 4 November. At: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/496, accessed 25 August 2016.
Bennett, Elizabeth and J. G. Bennett
2010  Idiots in Paris: Diaries of Elizabeth Bennett and J. G. Bennett, Santa Fe, NM: Bennett Books.
Cowan, Douglas E.
2015 The Occult on the Internet. In The Occult World, edited by Christopher Partridge, 531-538. London and New York: Routledge.
Cusack, Carole M.
2010 Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction, and Faith. Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
Cusack, Carole M.
2011 An Enlightened Life in Text and Image: G. I. Gurdjieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men (1963) and Peter Brook’s ‘Meetings With Remarkable Men’ (1979). Literature & Aesthetics 21(1): 72-97.
Cusack, Carole M.
2012 Media Coverage of Scientology in the United States. In Oxford Handbook of Religion and the News, edited by Diane Winston, 308-318. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cusack, Carole M.
2015 Intentional Communities in the Gurdjieff Teaching. International Journal for the Study of New Religions 6(2): 159-178.
1998-2004 The DuVersity. At: http://www.duversity.org, accessed 25 August 2016.
Gurdjieff, George Ivanovitch
1999  Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, New York: Penguin Arkana.
2005 Online Religion as Lived Religion: Methodological Issues in the Study of Religious Participation on the Internet. Online – Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet 1(1): 1-16. At: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/5823/1/Helland3a.pdf. Accessed 24 August 2016.
2015 Presence, or the Sense of Being-There and Being-With in the New Media Society. First Monday 20(10), 5 October. At: http://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5519/5000, accessed 25 August 2016.
Howard, Robert Glenn
2010 Enacting a Virtual ‘Ekklesia’: Online Christian Fundamentalism as Vernacular Religion. New Media & Society 12(5): 729-744.
2015 Religion and the Humanities. In Between Humanities and the Digital, edited by Patrik Svensson and David Theo Goldberg, 283-294. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Jones, Constance A.
2008 Gurdjieff Schools in the United States, Europe, and Italy. In Gurdjieff in Tiflis, edited by Constance A. Jones and Levan Khetaguri, 39-50. Tbilisi: Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film, Georgia State University.
1998  On a Spaceship With Beelzebub: By a Grandson of Gurdjieff. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
Lesage, Frédérik and Louis Rinfret
2015 Shifting Media Imaginaries of the Web. First Monday 20(10), 5 October. At: http://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5519/5000, accessed 25 August 2016.
Loy, Gregory M and June S. Loy
1997-2015 Gurdjieff International Review. At: http://www.gurdjieff.org/copyright.htm, accessed 25 August 2016.
Moore, James G.
1986 Gurdjieffian Groups in Britain. Religion Today 3(2): 1-4.
Moore, James G.
1994 Moveable Feasts: The Gurdjieff Work. Religion Today 9(2): 11-16.
Oksanen, Reijo and Kristina Turner
2002-2015 Gurdjieff Internet Guide. At: http://www.gurdjieff-internet.com/index.php, accessed 25 August 2016.
Ouspensky, Pyotr Demianovich.
2001  In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching. San Diego, New York, and London: Harcourt, Inc.
2004 Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: Giving Voice to Further Alterity in the Study of Western Esotericism. In Esotericism and the Control of Knowledge, edited by Edward F. Crangle, 86-120. Sydney: Sydney Studies in Religion.
2012 From Ouspensky's Hobby to 'Groundhog Day': The Production and Adaptation of 'Strange Life of Ivan Osokin'. In Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production, edited by Carole M. Cusack and Alex Norman, 331-348. Leiden and Boston: Brill.
2014 Mountains Analogous? The Academic Urban Legend of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Cult Film Adaptation of René Daumal’s Esoteric Novel. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion 27(3): 367-387.
2013 A Gurdjieff Genealogy: Tracing the Manifold Ways the Gurdjieff Teaching Has Travelled. International Journal for the Study of New Religions 4(1): 49-79.
Petsche, Johanna J. M.
2015 Gurdjieffian Overtones in Leon MacLaren’s School of Economic Science. International Journal for the Study of New Religions 6(2): 195-216.
2012 Classical Spirituality in Contemporary America: The Confluence and Contribution of G. I. Gurdjieff and Sufism. London and New York: Bloomsbury.
2003 An Intersection of Interests: Gurdjieff’s Rope Group as a Site of Literary Production. Twentieth-Century Literature 49(1): 46-81.
1997 The Book of the Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions. Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court.
1998 The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: A History of Thought From Ancient Times to Today. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press.
The Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation
1996-2016 The Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation: The Teaching For Our Time. At: http://www.gurdjiefflegacy.org/ofws/ofws_intro.htm, accessed 25 August 2016.
Van Dullemen, Wim
2014 Gurdjieff’s Movements: The Pattern of All and Everything. Self-Published.
2016 The Holy See. At: https://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html, accessed 25 August 2016.
2003 Gurdjieff: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge.
2015 Review: A Stopinder Anthology, Edited by David Kherdian. Parabola: The Search For Meaning 40(3). At: http://parabola.org/2015/10/29/parabola-volume-40-no-3-fall-2015-intelligence-2/, accessed 25 Aug