George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was born and grew up in Armenia, in which a traditional way of life had been followed for centuries until its conquest by Tsarist Russia, one generation before his birth.

Since his early age certain questions never left him:
What is the meaning of human existence?
Why are we here on the earth?
Who am I?

Finding no answer to his questions, either in religion or in science, Gurdjieff felt that the truth had been lost. Together with companions, he spent many years searching in inaccessible places, mostly in Central Asia, in order to find a living tradition of truth which had been handed on directly, from teacher to pupil. (See his book Meetings with Remarkable Men).

In 1912 he brought his teaching to Europe. It stated that man is asleep, that we are living our lives mechanically, unable to really feel, wish or do anything. His teaching showed a way out of this situation, not by withdrawing into isolation, into a monastery, but in everyday life. It is not a religion. Ideas about the real nature of a human being and our place in the cosmos are not to be believed, but to be questioned and realised in oneself. The practice includes participation in the “Movements”.

After the First World War he established The Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in France, and later continued to transmit the teaching to groups of pupils in Paris. After 1945 many former pupils rejoined him there, and he continued to teach until his death in 1949. His closest pupils continued the oral transmission of the practical teaching, and this tradition continues today.