Meetings with remarkable people

In 1964, I read P.D. Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous, and it had a profound effect on me.  The book is Ouspensky’s account of his quest to find direct evidence that the world is more than a material phenomenon — that some events take place outside the laws of physics as we understand them, that the world is ultimately a magical place.

After reading it, I began my own such quest, and it has been central to my life ever since.

One of Ouspensky’s most astonishing encounters with the miraculous came in his association with George Gurdjieff, the Armenian mystic, spiritual teacher, and self-admitted con-man.  Gurdjieff’s fundamental belief was that we typically live in a “waking sleep,” functionally hypnotized, but that there are methods to awaken info full consciousness.  His “Fourth Way” practices provided a means to attain this awakening.

After reading Ouspensky, I sought out Gurdjieff’s own book, Meetings With Remarkable Men, then only recently translated into English, and I devoured it.

I am fortunate to have had my own share of meetings with remarkable men and women, and I’ve long wanted to record my encounters.  I hope to devote the next few posts to a few of these, with a double motive: not only to record the experiences and to paint portraits of these remarkable people, but also to explore just what it is that makes a person remarkable.  What makes a life — someone else’s or one’s own — remarkable?

These examples may offer some indication, some inspiration.


3 comments on “Meetings with remarkable people

  1. Alicia Mudd

    What an exceptional writer you are! You can clearly tell that you are passionate about this subject and I look forward to reading more from you!

  2. Doug Helms

    Hey Daniel,
    Just recently discovered your blog site.. Just read the one on Fahey which was ….I must admit I really envy the way you can put words together!. You’re really an excellent writer. (Think what you could have done in Advertising!) Anyway, thought it was a great piece. It’s late and been a long day so the only other one I skimmed was the one on Moondog. J. Lynch, an underground artist/friend has been posting some short Moondog posts lately. I vaguely remember you’re having mentioned him back when, but learned a lot more about him from your blog. Looking forward to reading the rest.

    Ouspensky, in my mid-20’s I read his “Tertium Organum” which likewise blew me away and opened several previously closed perceptual portals. Did you ever read that one? Pretty dense stuff for the average person but worth the effort.
    Well, time to knock off, but again, very nice piece on Fahey. bfn


      Hey, Doug,
      What! You haven’t been reading my blog all along? Kidding. Thanks for the kind words on the writing. I’ll look into J. Lynch. To other readers: Doug and I were inseparable friends in the 1970s, and he a) was and no doubt is a wonderful pianist whose talent I always envied; b) was the main person with whom I shared my fascination with the strange, the anomalous, the paranormal, and the esoteric spiritual and philosophical traditions. I don’t think we’d read Ouspensky in Chicago, at Thomas J. Waters Elementary School, yet, — we were into Charles Fort and Tuesday Lapsang Rampa — or the years immediately following, but obviously we both got there. As for Fahey: We’d listen to him, hypnotized, together, and it was Doug who brought me Leo Kottke’s first album. We listened to it for hours and were convinced it was John Fahey taking on an obviously bogus alias — Leo Kottke, are you kidding? — and we were pleased that Fahey had finally broken through, to a technical level he’d never before achieved. In any case, thank you, Doug.

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