EAST MEETS WEST
The exponents of the Teaching of the Fourth Way, G.I.Gurdjieff and P.D.Ouspensky died in 1949 and 1947 marking the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. Following Ouspensky’s death, one of his close followers, Dr. Frances Roles had taken charge of the groups which were left and had formed the Study Society. In the meantime LM’s School of Economic Science survived the War and kept on growing, but LM felt he had done all he could in the field of Economics and began to look for a new impulse. This came when in 1953 he was introduced to Dr. Roles and attended his lectures on the Fourth Way Teaching.
One of Ouspensky’s last instructions was: “To reconstruct everything from the beginning”.LM did just that. As soon as he was introduced to what was called ‘The System’, he commented that he was struck by the fact that the diagrams he had developed for his Economics’ course were almost identical to the ones used by Ouspensky. He wrote his Part One course, which would be used almost unaltered for the next thirty years, and expounded such topics as the Laws of Three and Seven, the Enneagram, the Cosmic Scale, the Three Centres of body, mind and heart and many others. He interspersed the theoretical part with many practical exercises for daily use. There is no doubt that he left an invaluable heritage by reformulating the principles of the Fourth Way Teaching in a new and comprehensible way.
But Ouspensky had given another hint which would have an enormous influence on the future course of the work. He had often said to Dr. Roles: “Something is missing in the System. Either Gurdjieff didn’t know or he forgot. If man is meant to remember himself there must have been a simple natural method. But it has been lost. I could never find it. Once in India, I heard an echo of such a method…perhaps you have to find the real thing.”
Dr. Roles’ search led him in 1960 to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who had come to the West with an ambitious agenda to regenerate the world with what he called the “Transcendental Meditation”. He coached Dr. Roles in the method, who found that it was giving him results beyond anything he had hoped for and that it gave him more moments of self remembering and more understanding of the ideas in the System than he had experienced so far. So he decided that all his people should have a chance including LM and they were all initiated. But the Maharishi’s intentions were not all together pure. When it became clear that the Maharishi wanted to annex Dr. Roles’s and LM’s groups, they fortunately sensed that he had another agenda and they distanced themselves from him. However they were grateful for one thing. He was instrumental in introducing Dr.Roles to Shantananda Saraswati, who was his spiritual brother. They had been disciples of Guru Deva. Guru Deva’s teacher was Swami Krishnananda, who belonged to the Advaita Vedanta Tradition of Shankara (ca 800 AD) through his teacher, the Shankaracharya Narasimha Bharati of Sringeri, Shankara’s principle seat in the South of India. Later, endorsed by Sringeri, Guru Deva was appointed Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, in the North of India, after the seat had been empty for 150 years. Through the contact with the Maharishi, Dr. Roles came into contact with Shantananda Saraswati, the successor of Guru Deva, and became his lifelong disciple. He was electrified when, during one of his first meetings with him in India, Shantananda had said: “The whole thing is that we never remember ourselves.” It was an echo of his old master Ouspensky, and he knew that he had found the source.
Between 1961 and 1965 there was frequent correspondence with Shantananda and visits by Dr. Roles to India during which the Teaching was expounded. All this Dr. Roles passed on to his senior students including LM. So LM had a firm grounding when Shantananda invited him to India in 1965 and accepted him also as his disciple. From then on Dr. Roles and LM visited him separately and conducted their Schools separately. It was not surprising that they were fascinated by their Indian Guru, who had confirmed that his tradition and the Fourth Way were in outline very alike and that there was no need to change direction, but rather an opportunity to deepen what was already there. But the added value was that once again there was a living teacher with whom they could have regular contact. They were struck by the breadth and depth of his knowledge on almost every subject. They had not heard the name of Sanatana Dharma being the root of the Muslim, Hindu and Christian religions. He also gave guidance in the practice of meditation, which became a corner stone in the Schools’ development. The knowledge he had access to was a never ending source and both men knew how to tap it. His guidance was geared to what each needed and it was striking how different his answers were. You would think that they had different teachers. This proved the strength of the oral tradition.
He continued to guide his two disciples for the duration of their lifetime. Through a series of questions and answers between the two men and their Teacher, reminiscent of the ancient method of the Upanishads, a comprehensive system was given of the Teaching of Advaita Vedanta. Thus Dr. Roles and LM were instrumental in establishing a fusion of the esoteric teachings of the East and the West.