Eating Humble Pie

Besides studying the massive work of scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg I have also made a study of the ideas of the 20th century mystic-guru George Gurdjieff. My involvement with Gurdjieff’s ideas and philosophy (for spiritual transformation) were more than intellectual since I had joined a couple of their “work” groups and gained hands-on experience.

Gurdjieff had the amazing ability to teach without saying a word.

Let me relate one particular story to you to give you a “taste” of his startling methods. He had started his “Institute For The Harmonious Development Of Man” just outside of Paris to provide a proper environment for his members to reach their spiritual potential. Gaining new members and raising cash were a constant challenge to the success of his organization.

On one particular evening at a Parisian restaurant, Gurdjieff was promoting his institute to a dinner guest. Several other members of his organization were at the table. Gurdjieff’s sales pitch succeeded in getting the dinner guest to join and even empty his pockets as a financial donation. The guest was not a wealthy man, so it hurt a little to give up that money. But he was convinced of the value of Gurdjieff’s program.

As soon as Gurdjieff received the money he began ordering a lavish feast for all at the table including alcoholic beverages and rich deserts. When the waiter came over to the table to give Gurdjieff the bill he looked it over and declared that it was not correct. Then Gurdjieff continued to order more drinks and desert until he felt that the waiter had presented him with the correct amount for the bill.

The dinner guest was closely observing all this. To his horror, Gurdjieff had run up the bill so that it exactly equaled the amount of money he had just donated. Gurdjieff had splurged the guest’s hard-earned money on a fancy meal.

At first, the guest was highly offended and felt duped. But then something strange happened. He became conscious of the fact that his donation was tied to his own sense of self-importance. Gurdjieff had just given him the opportunity to rise above his false pride. This lesson in humility was worth every last cent he had given to Gurdjieff and as a result he became even more convinced of the effectiveness of this unique and unorthodox teacher’s methods.

When Gurdjieff noticed that someone felt offended, he would often ask that person “who is offended in you?” In other words, one had to carefully search inside to see and scrutinize what the source of this reaction was—self-love or spiritual love.

Gurdjieff has spoiled me. It is my belief that most church ministers are inadequately trained to teach humility no matter how much they talk about it. When a minister tells me he or she simply wants to stress the positive and see the good side of people, how does this get at the core of our spiritual obstacles? I believe such tactics merely end up helping people to drop their guard.

It is my personal observation that more and more people are becoming offended with each other and are throwing away valuable spiritual opportunities by manifesting only anger and outrage.

Please chime in!


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at
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2 Responses to Eating Humble Pie

  1. Sue says:

    Are you doing the same thing here that Gurdjieff was doing? Because I am massively annoyed by Gurdjieff in this story – I’ve known people like this – yuk. Are you sure he wasn’t just all about sifting through various people to find the real suckers? I’d be more than offended. I’d also be gone. Fool me once …

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Sue,

    Who is massively annoyed and offended in you? A spirit from heaven? A spirit from hell? It seems to me that all those who end up in hell are the real suckers.

    I have studied Swedenborg and Gurdjieff since 1974 and they augment each other – especially in the area of REGENERATION. Most people want to believe that the Lord came into the world to hug us and prop us up. I believe the Lord came into the world to de-hypnotize us. Obviously you are not fooled by this!

    Spiritually yours,

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