Fourth Way Perspectives

Working in the World: Salvation

Salvation—do we think much, if at all, about salvation? Is that a question for us? And all the questions attendant to that?

After the seminar, I went to a church in a small California mountain town. Easter Sunday. Crowded with seniors but few young people. It is the same with city churches. With all but the fundamentalist and New Age prosperity-driven mega churches, membership comprises mostly the balding, grey haired, or dyed. Yesterday's children. But with 9/11 what happened? Suddenly, an awakening, if temporary, to human life being about more than having fun, showing off, making money. Churches filled. Pews packed.

Gurdjieff, Fourth Way, Working in the World: Salvation

Recently, Scientology has been in the news again. A number of its top executives, some members for 30 years and more, have left, claiming that David Miscavige, the church's longtime COB, or Chairman of the Board (Scientologists talk in acronyms), had repeatedly slapped and beat them up, and had them do the same to others. In leaving, what was their chief concern? That they not be "suppressive persons"— antisocial enemies in the lexicon of the church—for in being adjudged so Scientology claims they have lost their salvation. On joining, they signed a contract agreeing to remain a Scientologist for life, this one and all future lives for five-billion years. (Given that the church's aim is to "clear" the planet of "negative influences," that perhaps is a tad too positive.) In return, signees are granted the possibility of living for an eternity. Though the suggestibility of those who accept Scientology's ideas and its ability to grant salvation is a question in itself, their belief is not (see the Tom Cruise video, edited by David Miscavige, on YouTube). The concern for personal salvation has been a preeminent question for all five thousand years of recorded human life. But today who speaks of salvation other than those involved in a religious pursuit, real, cultish or imaginary? If God is dead, as Nietzsche famously proclaimed in the 1880s (he wasn't talking about God per se but the attendant values associated with a belief in God), then of course concern for one's salvation is put on a back burner and we give ourselves in the name of materialism and scientism to the unconscious worship of what we take to be ourselves.

The ancient, seminal and sacred teaching of the Fourth Way that Mr. Gurdjieff brought—one which he said was "completely self-supporting and independent of other lines and it has been completely unknown up to the present time"—the crux of whose teaching is given in All and Everything, is laden with references to the CREATOR GOD, OUR COMMON UNI-BEING ENDLESSNESS. Gurdjieff even begins All and Everything with a prayer to the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. (Those still laboring, à la Idries Shah, to convince others that Gurdjieff is a Muslim or a Sufi need to understand that one cannot be a Sufi without being a Muslim, and there's no trinity for a Muslim, and anyone who thinks so is an infidel.) And what would we say is the primary concern of All and Everything? Through the word is mentioned only three times, the whole focus of his magnum opus is salvation—temporary and absolute (within the solar system).

Yet how often does the Work speak of salvation today?
                         —The Editor


1. Physical violence. Laurie Goodstein, "Breaking with Scientology: Defectors Say Church Hides Its Abuse of Staff Members," New York Times, 7 March 2010. Said Mike Rinder, formerly in charge of Scientology's legal and media relations sectors, "It [the physical violence] was random and whimsical. It could be the look on your face. Or not answering a question quickly. But it always was a punishment." Some celebrities have also resigned, like Oscar winner (Million Dollar Baby and Crash), director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, a 35-year member. Says Haggis, "These were not the claims made by 'outsiders' looking to dig up dirt against us. These accusations were made by top international executives who had devoted most of their lives to the church."

2. Membership falling. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, Scientology membership in the U.S. has fallen from 55,000 in 2001 to 25,000 in 2008.

3. Tom Cruise video. See YouTube Also of interest is Marc Headley's Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology. Headly spent 15 years in Scientology and was audited by Tom Cruise.

4. Completely self-supporting. P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, p. 286.

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