Gurdjieff in the Light of Tradition

Whitall Perry

Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2001
108 pages
ISBN: 0-900588-75-6
Price: $17.06
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Probably no figure of our time has excited at once more enthusiasm and controversy among serious intellectuals seeking spiritual guidance than Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. Accordingly, the editor of Studies in Comparative Religion engaged Whitall N. Perry, who as author of A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom is recognized for his impartiality, to devote a series of articles that would pierce through the obscurity and get to the real facts of the matter. This book is the result of that research. Whatever be the opinion of Gurdjieff gained by the reader, one thing certain is that he or she will come away with a far clearer understanding of the background, teaching, and phenomenon than has ever been accessible before.

Table of Contents

Introduction—The Background—The Teaching—The Phenomenon


By far the best independent, critical evaluation of Gurdjieff I've come across.
Theodore Roszak, author of Where the Wasteland Ends

A single book which examines the facts of [Gurdjieff's] background, his teachings, and his public faces is welcome and overdue. The author incisively and colorfully presents as full and engrossing a view of the man as you could hope to read: the teachings, too, are clearly and thoughtfully explained, with ample references, and the whole book moves gracefully towards a balanced and intelligent conclusion. A 'must' for anyone interested in that extraordinary individual.
Prediction Magazine

Mr. Perry may be congratulated on bringing the man, with all his foibles and eccentricities, his brilliance and darker depths, fully alive, and on making his a credible character.
World Faiths

About the Author

Whitall Perry was born near Boston in 1920. His early intellectual interests included Platonism and Vedanta and he traveled extensively in the Middle and Far East both before and after World War II, with a brief interlude of study at Harvard University. He was one of several Harvard students who came under Ananda Coomaraswamy's influence in the 1940s. Between 1946 and 1952 Perry and his wife lived in Egypt, at which time he developed close ties with René Guénon, after whose death he moved with his family to Switzerland. He was by then already a close associate of Frithjof Schuon, with whom he returned to the United States in 1980. In addition to Gurdjieff in the Light of Tradition, Perry has published The Widening Breach: Evolutionism in the Mirror of Cosmology and Challenges to a Secular Society, the latter a collection of essays on subjects such as drug-induced 'mysticism', reincarnation doctrines, psychotherapy, modern 'guru' figures, Shakespeare, cosmology, and psychology. However, A Treasury Of Traditional Wisdom remains his most well known publication and it is arguably one of the most important works in the traditionalist canon. He died in 2005.