The Fourth Way
Independent of Other Lines
Gurdjieff said that "The teaching whose theory is here being set out is completely self-supporting and independent of other lines and it has been completely unknown up to the present time."
By self-supporting, he emphasized that the teaching is comprised of practice as well as theory, and includes all levels of actualization. Therefore, it needs no further development or elaboration.
By independent of other lines, Gurdjieff made clear that The Fourth Way isn't a mixture of other teachings. Mixtures, he said, "do not possess full knowledge." They easily lead to confusion and error. The practice of such mixtures, warned Gurdjieff, can "only give negative results."
By completely unknown up to the present time, Gurdjieff stressed that the teaching—though ancient—is new in that it is now being openly presented and publicly known for the first time. While certain elements may seem similar to other teachings, to be understood they must be experienced within the context of this teaching alone, for it is unique, without derivation, and undistorted.
Some, like the exiled Russian aristocrat Boris Mouravieff and his latter day followers, have argued that The Fourth Way is really the esoteric part of the Eastern Orthodox church. As The Fourth Way is prehistoric in origin, there are of course certain similarities with teachings and religions which it predates. Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam (and their esoteric counterparts) all contain elements of Fourth Way perspective and practice but there the similarity ends. For a discussion of Mouravieff, read "The Mouravieff 'Phenomenon.'" See also William Patrick Patterson's Taking With the Left Hand.