Le Chateau de Prieure des Basses Loges
This was a medieval hospital, and later monk’s priory which patrons of Gurdjieff bought in 1923. Oddly enough the largest financial patron of Gurdjieff in the interwar period was Lady Rothermore who met him through Ouspensky, perhaps explaining why he could manage such a purchase. (There is an essay somewhere for someone about how the very rich have supported teachers through history. For example Osho and Greek Mukta who was I believe the daughter of a Greek shipping magnate).
Some writers have compared Gurdjieff’s twenties commune with Osho’s experiment in Rajneeshpuram. Especially it’s emphasis on non intellectual work which in their interpretation explains why Osho choose not to speak between 1981 and 1984. Some even claim that Osho modeled the Ranch on the Priory.
One major dissimilarity however has been missed. Gurdjieff (G) was both the spiritual AND administrative head of the work there. No delegation to anyone like Sheela and her associates for the latter. Hence the work there was curtailed not by the collapse, crimes and paranoia of the administrators, but by choice and followed G’s major road accident 2 years into the work. The commune there continued for some years, but it is clear that G withdrew from that work after the accident, and decided to write his mainly incomprehensible ‘magnus opus’ “Belzebub’s tales to his Grandson” from there on in.
However the “taking on of the intellect” does seem to be a major similarity. Those intellectuals drawn to G’s work were not dissimilar to those drawn to Osho’s in their responses. Ouspensky lasted a very short time, returned to London and taught in the name of G. However he was denounced by G, as not being ready to be a teacher. A parallel would be Teertha and Somendra in Osho’s work.
There were of course intellectuals of a different mien – like A..R. Orage whose grave I sometimes visit in a remote Hampstead churchyard, and sit for a while. He was a leading UK intellectual figure of the day. One day in 1923 on hearing he was leaving his job as Editor of the then famous literary magazine “The New Age”, his Secretary asked, “where and why are you going?”. He answered “I am going to the Prieure to find God”
G set Orage’s surrender to the test immediately, and got him digging holes all day and filling them in. Within a few days he was crying at the end of the day, but ignored. But he continued. After 10 days, close to giving up, he made one more exhausting effort. That day something “happened” according to Orage’s self report, and to his surprise G was there immediately in person. This has been described as Orage “connecting” to his body for the first time since he was a child.
Orage was taken off the digging detail immediately and became one of G’s most diligent emissaries for some years. However his discipleship also ended in a way reminiscent of some Osho disciples – he left his Master for a young woman and lived within the protection of a domestic round for the larger part of his later life…. Of course if gender were reversed it could have been for an older man – or a younger!
How see you this comparing of the Ranch and the Prieure, SN bloggers?