Tour of Armenia
AUGUST 17th - 27th, 2018
The tour will be of particular interest to students of G.I. Gurdjieff, and to those who want to see for themselves the background to his early life. Armenia is a country of great natural beauty, wonderfully rich in natural and cultural tradition, and off the beaten track. There are three purposes to our trip: to study Gurdjieff’s work as it relates to this very ancient traditional society; to visit the country of Armenia, its cultural and historical sites, its people and their land; to visit centres sacred to the Christian and pre-Christian civilizations of the region.
Firstly, our goal is to see for ourselves the country of Gurdjieff’s birth and to understand something of his cultural origins. We will visit the house wherein he was born, and the grave of his father; meet local students who have studied and developed Gurdjieff’s teachings in the country of his birth. Gurdjieff incorporated certain powerful components into his teaching, not all of which can be transmitted in written form, and although he described himself variously as an author and as a teacher of temple dancing, he was also noted as a chef, storyteller and musician. He showed repeatedly and in practice how traditional and folk wisdom can help us to see what cannot be found through an intellectual or academic study. Our tour will bring us into contact with musicians, artists, literary and culinary experts who have worked their entire lives in Armenia. Meeting them and experiencing this culture for ourselves will broaden our understanding of the subtle elements of Gurdjieff’s work.
Another aim is to familiarize ourselves with the history and culture of this remarkable region. Present national boundaries and the events of the 20th century have damaged and in some cases destroyed a culture which flourished for millennia from the south Caucasus to central Anatolia. Cities now beyond Armenia’s present borders were of immense cultural importance in the Urartu civilization, and little is left outside of Armenia as it is today. The region known as Mesopotamia – “between the rivers” – extended up into the Eastern Anatolian Highlands where the Tigris and Euphrates have their source. This was the region of the Biblical Garden of Eden, and of Noah’s flood, once part of the Urartian and Armenian Kingdoms, now cut off arbitrarily and marginalized by present political powers. But such traditions are still alive in Armenia. Travelling in Armenia will enable to us to understand this ancient society which flourished for so many centuries and was brought almost to the brink of destruction by the successive onslaughts of Russia and the Ottoman Empire. This is a country with a strong cultural identity, the country of the descendants of Noah, virtually closed for seven decades during the Soviet Era. Gurdjieff himself wrote about the Armenian struggle and his involvement, in his “Meetings with Remarkable Men”. We’ll be able to create for ourselves a sense of the conditions under which he grew up before he began his years of travel.
The other purpose of our trip is – as suggested by the name of our company – to make pilgrimage to holy places, the tombs of saints, the great Christian monasteries, inaccessible until recently, the places of temples sacred to pre-Christian societies. Teachers from the Khwajagan wisdom centers taught that our ability to receive help from such places is proportional to our degree of understanding. Gurdjieff and J.G. Bennett taught that our ability to “understand” is proportional to the purity of our Being, our determination in undertaking conscious labour and intentional suffering.
Lastly, we will be able to honor the grave of Ashokh Adash, Gurdjieff’s father.
co-sponsored by The J.G. Bennett Foundation