1: The arousing of thought

“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” said Alice …
– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, ch. 12

One day it became clear to me that I no longer believed in the cult of which I had been a member for twenty-seven years. In some respects this parting of the ways had been building up for a long time. In other ways it was almost a surprise to me.
I had joined with the belief that here was a teaching, perhaps ancient, which could lead to higher states of consciousness, which could lead one back to one’s own birthright as a human being. I came disillusioned from the peace movement, with the strong feeling that no amount of political protest was going to save humanity from itself, and with the conviction that the only way forward was inner transformation – to start with myself, perhaps to help others to do the same.
Thus began my journey from what still seem to me reasonable grounds, into a cult in which the ideas of Ouspensky’s and Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way were transformed into something different, and in which there was a smell of corruption which others had smelled long before I joined, but which I did not smell until I left.
I cannot fully verify the corruption. I faithfully followed the task set by the Teacher not to read the on-line blog in which ex-members cry, vent, complain and catalogue abuse, only reading it after I had decided to leave. I shall not repeat allegations that are not within my experience and which are available to anyone from an easy internet search.
I write only what I myself experienced. That is not to say that I am not shocked by what I have read. I am also shocked at myself for not having understood certain things correctly, and not having been more curious about the hints that all was not as it should be.
Someone with perhaps a troubled conscience once wrote a book called My Version of the Truth. This is my version of the truth, from twenty-seven years in a particular Fourth Way School, the so-called Fellowship of Friends (no connection with the Religious Society of Friends {Quakers}).

I did not live in the California headquarters, variously named Renaissance, Apollo, Isis (after the Egyptian goddess and with no connection with the notorious terrorist organisation of that name) and again Apollo, but I visited it a few times and met the Teacher on many occasions both in Apollo and in London. I was for most of my membership a regular attender at the London Centre, once or twice a week, and visited a number of centres worldwide. At one time I was a Centre Director in London.
This is my attempt to understand how I came to believe things that now seem to me absurd, to look critically at the elements of the Fourth Way as practised in the School, and to clarify what remains in the Fourth Way that is of genuine value. 
To what extent do we need a teacher to guide us, and at what point do we need to abandon the teacher? How can we tell a true teacher from a false? When does practice end and play begin? Is there, at the heart of everything, in the soul of every true religion, a still, small voice and a way of getting to that place of inner peace? And crucially, is it a purely selfish pursuit or, as I believed, something of value to others not in the Work?


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