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Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (c.a. 1869-1949) was born in Alexandropol, in the southern Caucasus. His lifelong search for knowledge brought him to hidden centres of learning in Central Asia. Through the sacred rituals, dances and music of these regions, he came into contact with cultures and religious traditions passed down intact through the ages.

Gurdjieff pursued his quest for understanding the meaning of man's existence throughout his travels and research in many countries. Then in 1913, he introduced his own teaching, called "work on oneself". This work, a path leading to self-knowledge and the awakening of consciousness, represents a synthesis of the spiritual understanding of the East and the knowledge of the West. In 1922, he founded the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Fontainebleau, near Paris.
Gurdjieff