Friday, December 9, 2016

On the Search to the Wonderful

While working on archival material,  we uncovered the original pamphlet for the German publication of in search of the miraculous — fragments of an unknown teaching.

The German version— which was originally created by Louise March  according to  direct instructions from Gurdjieff himself— is entitled:

Auf der Such nach dem Wunderbaren

 If you click the link, it will take you to a full German text of the pamphlet contents.

What I find so delightful about this is that the title (allowing for the latitude of cross-translation) means, "On the Search to the Wonderful." A third, slightly alternate meaning would be "In Search of the Marvelous," but really, it's this word wonderful that strikes a nerve... yes, one must allow for the fact that, within the strictest interpretation, the word does mean "miraculous." 

But to say the word "wonderful" evokes such an extraordinary expansion of what we search for, doesn't it?

If we search for the wonderful, we search for the good. And despite the supposedly amoral pitch of so much of Gurdjieff's teaching, there is absolutely no doubt that he sought the good, the wonderful, in human beings— that is, the highest, the most beatific. 

If we throw out all the books and we just subject ourselves to this idea that we search for the wonderful within ourselves, the question of inward work becomes very evocative indeed. It's no longer a search to see the bad and root it out— to extract the unwise teeth of a corrupted soul—it is a search to discover the good. 

How often do we search within ourselves with that aim? 

We do, after all, have good within us; why not search for that, instead of the parts of ourselves that are damaged and selfish?

 The title furthermore evokes, for me, the idea of going somewhere, towards something — a journey. "In search" somehow doesn't get that idea across.

There is a peculiar and subtle form of optimism afoot here in this German title.  It reminds me of Jeanne de Salzmann, who, on seeing long, serious faces around her at a foundation event, asked, "what's wrong with these people?"

" They are serious about their work, Mme.," came the reply.

" They're not serious. They're somber!" She replied. "The work is joy!"

 Or — 

maybe it's wonderful.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

1 comment:

  1. Valuable as always. Mrs Salzmann is being a little crafty here....Sunday lunches at the centre in Paris were not 'joyful'. Sitting crossed legged on the floor eating lunch in silence while Madame S and Madame de Dampierre and sometimes Peter Brook looked down on us from the 'high table'....was a sombre experience: solemn, earnest, serious, grave, sober, unsmiling.....

    'Don't speak unless you are spoken to'...was the vibe.....let's not be in denial about this


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