Maurice Nicoll Book: Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjief and Ouspensky
More Info |
Buy the Book
very useful if you understand its background
Like most of those interested in Gurdjief and Ouspensky, Nicholl was the type of person who looks toward spiritual "masters" and their systems to do his thinking for him, and as a result some of what he has to say is only derivative, old-fashioned occultish nonsense. If you can wade through the occasional mudhole of that sort of thing (and who among us interested in so-called spiritual literature hasn't had to learn to do so), his humility, common sense and basic decency shine through in every page of these five volumes. It is this that gives him his often penetrating insight into human nature; the fourth way/Christian conceptual system he frames it in is ultimately only a hindrance. While he owes much to The System as a writer, where he succeeds as a mystic he succeeds despite it, not because of it. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
a Work goldmine
Writers who expound the Work are not distinguished by the degree that they are original. They are distinguished by the degree of understanding they demonstrate for the ideas and practices and goals of the Work (universal ideas and practices and goals yet presented in a unique, practical language), and by their skill in communicating their understanding. Nicoll scores a solid 9 or 10 in both categories. For people who really catch-on to the Work Nicoll's Commentaries are really indispensable. It's true that most if not all that is in Nicoll's work can be found in Ouspensky's six main Work books (PSYCHOLOGY OF MAN'S POSSIBLE EVOLUTION, IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS, FOURTH WAY, CONSCIENCE, A FURTHER RECORD, RECORD OF MEETINGS), yet Nicoll has a different style of presenting it all that compliments Ouspensky's style. If you get to the point in your STUDY of the Work (which is as necessary as DOING the Work) where you have aquired an overall understanding of the language and the processes and goals and means to achieve the goals (a big accomplishment that Nicoll's Commentaries will help you to achieve), and then you move in to a more particular, in-depth study of individual topics then Nicoll's Commentaries will become a well-worn reference. His style of breaking down the language into topics and really going into each separate idea or practice, sometimes in multi-part essays (which would, by the way, be like finding gold if you were to stumble upon these essays in separate pamphlet form in out-of-the-way bookstores, and here they ALL are in this six-volume work...the goldmine itself available and ready to be easily taken for granted...), and his use of analogy and metaphor can really help you to achieve understanding of particular aspects of the Work that maybe you didn't connect with very deeply after meeting with it in one of Ouspensky's books. (I have to say, though, that Ouspensky's books are the purest spring for the ideas and practices and goals of the Work...) Boris Mouravieff's three-volume GNOSIS would be a good third source for these ideas.