Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was born circa 1866 in the Caucasus to parents of Greek and Armenian descent. At that crossroads of traditions and cultures he received a secular and scientific education, as well as religious training. His first book, Meetings with Remarkable Men, evokes the unique circumstances of his youth and the awakening of questions about the meaning of life, questions which neither science nor religion could answer to his satisfaction. This quest became the focus of his life, and would lead him throughout the Middle East and Central Asia searching for an ancient knowledge of whose hidden existence he became increasingly convinced. Years of seeking finally brought him into contact with the remote communities that had kept this ancient teaching alive, a teaching that he would eventually bring in a form accessible to Western seekers.
In 1912 Gurdjieff appeared in Moscow and St. Petersburg and gathered a small number of interested pupils, but conditions under the Bolshevik Revolution made it necessary for them to leave Russia. Eventually settling in France in 1922, he established the "Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man". The years between the wars were a period of intense activity: writing his major work Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, traveling throughout the United States and Europe, teaching through lectures and demonstrations of the sacred dances and exercises known as "The Movements". Based in Paris throughout the Second World War, he worked tirelessly to create a nucleus of people capable of carrying on this multi-faceted search which later became known simply as "the Work".
After his death in 1949, pupils from all over the world gathered around Jeanne de Salzmann, to whom Gurdjieff had conferred the responsibility of directing the Work. Centers were established in Paris, London, New York, and Caracas, with the aim of maintaining a direct transmission of Gurdjieff's teaching. The years since have seen a steady growth of new groups, guided from these centers.
The Work of inner development is a rigorous and continuing personal search based on a new relationship between body, thought, and feelings, a search shared with other members of the group, and undertaken within the conditions of day-to-day life in accordance with the principles and indications brought by Gurdjieff.