An Extraordinary Dialogue: Mr. Gurdjieff Meet Mr. Teilhard! Claymont Wisdom School

…To be “a bit braver in the next hour…”
~ G.I.Gurdjieff

At the Claymont Society for Continuous Education, in Charles Town W Va, October 28 through November 3, 2019, an extraordinary dialogue between two giants of vision and exquisite sight–G.I. Gurdjieff and Teilhard de Chardin–was facilitated by Cynthia Bourgeault. Through lived experience Cynthia invited these two colossal thinkers into direct conversation, two illuminated “men of the 20th century, who offer timely transformational maps ‘on behalf of our world.’”

There was an ‘energy’ to this Wisdom School that was distinct–expectant, a bit ‘wild and unruly’–true to character for Gurdjieff of whom Cynthia remarked–‘‘he related to people in unpredictable ways, with an edge; a hand grenade by temperament.”

As Tuesday October 29 was the 70th Anniversary of Gurdjieff’s death, known in the Sufi tradition as Gurdjieff’s ‘Birth Day’, Cynthia harnessed this “available unpredictable energy” and invited our Wisdom community into a Gurdjieff meets Teilhard celebration of the Eucharist literally on the movements floor. Cynthia led a reflection on the Eucharist by Ouspensky, with a picture of Gurdjieff flickering in the candlelight as bread and wine were shared in Wisdom School style. A profound and liminal night, with some accessing deep healing energy, some having visions of Gurdjieff fluttering in our midst, and some catching a ‘tear in the eye’ of Gurdjieff as we broke bread together.

Engaging this Wisdom School during the thin time of the Fall Triduum encompassing Halloween (10/31), All Saints Day (11/1), and All Souls Day (11/2) evoked subtle energy that flowed in deep and spontaneous waves. Halloween evening prompted a spontaneous showing of the movie Meetings with Remarkable Men based on Gurdjieff’s book of the same title–while eating popcorn and drinking red wine!

A wrenching, heart opening moment of the week was when Cynthia named Teilhard’s deep heartfelt longing, “Is there no one else who sees what I see?” Only to now discover that these 2 men were born within 15 to 20 years of each other…lived at times within 50 miles of each other…and died within 6 years of each other. Both men, highly influenced by and sensitized through the dynamism of their times late in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, were visionary outliers. Neither man was truly integrated into academia as both were radical box breakers and both were deeply incarnational. A sense of this Wisdom School offering a cosmic ‘reconciling force’ was profound and leavening. Courage was a new arising …to be “a bit braver in the next hour” as Gurdjieff invited us through one of our Meditations.

~ Marcella Kraybill-Greggo


Claymont Circle
photo courtesy of Bill Britten

Yeshua says…I disclose my mysteries to those ready for mystery
~ Gospel of Thomas Logion 62

I traveled to Claymont on a beautiful fall day to spend the week with 74 participants to hear Cynthia unpack the similarities (and differences) of two dissimilar modern mystical giants, Teilhard de Chardin and G.I. Gurdjieff. I first learned of these two men in 2017 through the teachings of Cynthia. What I experienced was a week of intense doubting (resisting) and delicious affirming. At times I found myself perplexed at my continued naivety of the necessary struggles and the enduring commitment and faith required in this Wisdom journey.

I began the week upon my arrival with the affirming and warm welcoming smiles and support from Marcella Kraybill-Greggo and Jeanine Siler-Jones. In the morning and afternoon sessions with Cynthia, she was her usual brilliant self, masterfully weaving together a reconciling synthesis of the Law of Three as taught by Gurdjieff and drawn from the teaching of Teilhard, though not specifically named. Between the equally brilliant questions and comments by participants and the incomprehensible and incompetent attempts at Gurdjieff dance movements by this participant, I found myself trapped in my egoic mind (resisting). I was at times doubting my own efforts and time spent on this Wisdom journey.

At the end of the day however it was Endel, a fellow participant, who informed me that it was about reciprocal feeding i.e. the reciprocal nourishing of all three centers, the intellect, emotions and body (affirming). As I have had time now to absorb this experience, I understand a little more clearly that the seeds planted and nourished by this and other feedings will be reconciled by my patience and surrender, bearing fruit, and thus leading to the increase of my being and receptivity of the mystery to be disclosed by Yeshua. Pax,

 ~ Charlie Straus


Claymont blackboard
photo courtesy of Marcella Kraybill-Greggo

 …To bear ‘our part’ of the whole…

There are so many aspects of this Wisdom School that moved me, opened my heart and deepened my understanding. The few things I share here were all made possible by the power of the group and the clear intention of those gathered to be truly present and be brave in engaging the experience as a collective body.

I found myself drawn in again by the profound teachings embedded in the Enneagram symbol and the interplay of the Law of Three and Seven. We were reminded that growth and change always include disequilibrium and holy chaos. When we can hold our inner composure, sense the tension of the opposites and can be present with our attention, a quality of aliveness comes forth that allows Love to manifest through us. We take in impressions of finer energies that we were not resonating with just a moment before. I felt that multiple times on the movements floor when I would lose my way, find my way and lose my way again. I felt most open when we would pause at the end of our efforts and sense into our bodies, receiving these finer energies. The taste of that remains with me when I sense into the experience now.

In the sacred container we co-created at Claymont we were able to sense a stabilizing at another level, an exchange that happens when we participate with presence, voluntarily surrender and are open to bear ‘our part’ of the whole. We ended our Wisdom School on the movements floor with Movement #39, focusing on our three centers and being present with each one. As we ended, I found myself walking directly to my car, savoring the silence and the finer energies from that movement and from our week together. I received deeply. My prayer is to allow it all to flow again through me as I participate in this beautiful dance of becoming with all of you and with God.

~ Jeanine Siler Jones


photo courtesy of Laura Ruth

There is good wisdom in a proper proportion of silence and speaking

One of the small pleasures of the Wisdom School was not having to talk during breakfast. One of the things I love about silent retreats is the opportunity to be with others without speaking. I find it freeing and relaxing. It is possible to feel the presence of community without words. The Wisdom Schools incorporate a good blend of silence and speaking. I appreciate a spacious start to the day before entering into conversation.

We began each day with centering prayer or a Gurdjieffian spiritual exercise, which led directly to a silent breakfast. It was a time to be together, to linger with the energy and effects of the prayer and to slowly enjoy the food. The next part of the day was listening to the teaching. Then, after that, it was time to ease into conversation and interaction. There is good wisdom in a proper proportion of silence and speaking. I’m paying more attention now to seeking that proportion in my daily routines.

~ Scott Brubaker-Zehr


Sacred Movements
photo courtesy of Marcella Kraybill-Greggo

I am changed: Reflections on the Movements floor

At Claymont I was opened to sacred movements. I have a technical vocation and welcome ideas on how to get out of my head and live in three-centered awareness. I am still very affected by my experience.

I learned to let go of my inner critic, my attachment to “getting it,” and I found myself silently offering love to those who were criticizing themselves. When I made a mistake I learned to begin again, to not physically react very strongly.  Deborah told us finer energies are available even when we’ve made mistakes. As we practiced my body started to remember the movements instead of only my mind.

I became dependent on (clinging to!) my neighbors for guidance and assurance, and my peripheral vision guided me to align with them. My neighbor smiled at me each time I turned to face him during the dance as he reminded me to lighten up. As we moved together throughout the hour I could feel a collective surrender. The pulse and flow of the group were opening to Something or Someone.

As we rested with Mel’s music, I was moved to tears. My body and spirit became aware of the finer energies available to all of us.

I had never experienced this sort of phenomenon before.

Our final evening with seventy people on the movement floor was particularly profound for me. As people offered their inner critics over and over onto the floor, I felt a Power among us evolving as we moved. As we rested at the end with Mel’s music, lying down with eyes closed, I felt completely open. My tears were pure. I did not hold back. I suddenly felt the heart of the world opening to us, to all of human suffering.

I am changed. I am connected to all who were there.  In my daily life I find myself connected in some new way to all I encounter.  I now have fresh perceptions of sacred movement, attention, finer energies, forgiveness and love.  I find my inner critic being offered over and over to the collective heart of the heart of the world.  I am able to experience Love like never before.

~ Jeannine Crumley

photo courtesy of Marcella Kraybill-Greggo
photo courtesy of Marcella Kraybill-Greggo
photo courtesy of Laura Ruth

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2 thoughts on “An Extraordinary Dialogue: Mr. Gurdjieff Meet Mr. Teilhard! Claymont Wisdom School

  1. Is this what wants to be remembered now…..that as Jesus (Christ) was truly one with the Father he was able to be truly one with the Mother (Mary, Mary Magdalene)? The Divine Mother (the flowing, rhythmic, changing, & loving evolutionary impulse of the universe) in concert with the Divine Father is Heaven on Earth. Being Single. Divine Birth.

    A Kundalini Yoga instructor described it this way…
    I Am + I Am Feeling

  2. What a beautiful reflection. Thank you all for putting the experience of this wisdom school into words and sharing the way the Gurdjieff movements are part of understanding with our three centers what it is to be the collective whole.

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