George and Helen Adie

George and Helen Adie

George Adie (1901-1989) and Helen Adie (1909-1996) were born in England, married about 1930, and became pupils of P.D. Ouspensky, then after his death in 1947, of G.I. Gurdjieff (d.1949). George Adie was then invited to join the council of the newly established London group (itself affiliated with the Institut Gurdjieff in Paris under Jeanne de Salzmann). In 1965 they settled in Sydney, Australia, and founded and led a Gurdjieff group until their respective deaths. George and Helen Adie are the Mr. and Mrs. Todd-Ashby of Carl Ginsburg’s "Medicine Stories", Center Press, Santa Fe, 1991, “The Daphne Blossom”, pp. 55-9.

George Adie

George Adie was born into a middle-class English family. He initially became a stock-broker, but as a hobby took up restoring Elizabethan furniture, using skills acquired from watching craftsmen employed by his father, who was an antiques dealer. He then expanded to restoring Elizabethan rooms then Elizabethan houses, and without ever having attended any tertiary institution, sat and passed the examinations for the Royal College of Architects. He established the firm Adie, Button Partners (still existing in Mayfair). Despite his lack of formal training, or perhaps advantaged by this very lack, some of Adie's architecture was innovative. His design for a government bus shelter at Stockwell aspired to the open ceilings and sweep usually associated with opera houses if not cathedrals: Ian Nairn, the architecture reviewer for "The Observer", in "Modern Buildings of London" described Stockwell as “probably the noblest modern building in London”. Adie’s design for the bus depot has been described as "truly inspired".1 Moore (2005) mentions that Adie designed the movements for the chief Gurdjieff group in London, and that he employed glazed vacuum-cavity tiles for the windows. Adie was apparently the first architect to do so, and initially used them in a country house at Ascot.2

Adie developed an interest in Theosophy and Yoga, and while studying Yoga, had an out of body experience which impressed him deeply. Eventually joined one of Ouspensky's groups, where he was told that the experience was due to the activity of the "higher intellectual centre", a faculty everyone possesses but which we are rarely aware of. When he met Gurdjieff in August 1948, Gurdjieff taught him a method called "the preparation", neither contemplation, meditation nor both. Adie taught this method to his death in 1989, making him one of the few pupils of Gurdjieff to teach the method unchanged.3

George Adie had also been given special instruction by Gurdjieff in Gurdjieff's techniques for development of "higher being bodies", and developed what might be thought of as the more traditional mystical side of Gurdjieff's ideas. These included methods of receiving and processing the air, and certain impressions said to be finer than the bulk of impressions.4 Adie described Gurdjieff's method as "the method of causation in thought", and its aim as being the formation of "higher being bodies". That is, the conventional religious notions of the soul are not entirely wrong, as a soul does continue to exist after the death of the physical body. But unless the vehicle of the soul (called "the astral body") has been perfected, it does not exist indefinitely. Rather, like the physical body, the soul will also die.

The methods of forming the astral body and thus the vehicle for the soul are similar to the methods of conventional religion (e.g. maintaining certain standards of conduct) but with two major differences: first, they are said to be more effective if undertaken consciously (i.e. making efforts to "remember oneself"), and second, there are techniques for the "digestion", as it were, of finer substances which are localised in or near, but are not yet part of the human organism.5 Adie's formulation of these ideas stressed the points of similarity with, rather than the points of dissimilarity with other religions, especially their mystical traditions. Thus, Adie also stated that the "Gurdjieff work" was "the practice of the presence of god", and that in so far as it comprised a discipline, it was a "yoga". For example, in respect of the "eternal soul", Adie held that whether one considered the soul to be "immortal" but liable to be lost to hell, or mortal, but susceptible to decay after death, the result was the same. If one was to "save" one's soul, one had to learn to overcome negative emotions (as these deplete the substance of the astral body) and to develop a quiet and balanced attention (faciitating the crystallization of the astral body).6

Adie's Explication of Gurdjieff's Ethical Content

It has been observed that Gurdjieff's techniques are apparently lacking in ethical content, and especially in "love". In fact, there are many references to the subject in Gurdjieff's oeuvre.7 Further, it is true that Gurdjieff relativized much morality, but he stated that there was another ground of moral feeling - what he called "conscience". Conscience, for Gurdjieff and Adie, is a key concept. Adie was one of the pupils who developed this side of the Gurdjieff ideas, so that the significance of love - and indeed the entire ethical side - implicit in Gurdjieff's cosmology and psychology, is explicated. Conscience is both subjective - adhering in an individual, and objectgive - being an aspect of the 'feeling' or 'reason' of God, in so far as God can be said to possess either. Thus, Adie wrote "The subjective psyche lies within the vortex of frustration, confusion and non-fulfilment. Beyond degeneration, beyond the dream world, lies the infinity of Conscience. Conscience is the animate Reality of Infinity."8

Adie and the Gurdjieff Exercises

It is clear from Adie's later statements and notes that Gurdjieff taught him a number of exercises, the chief of which was the "preparation". However, they also included other more developed exercises which aimed to, either directly or indirectly, engage the higher centres referred to above. These include the exercises "Four Ideals", "Real I", "Collected State", "Colour Spectrum" and "Complete Submission" (possibly also the exercise known as "Clear Impressions" to which Adie attached great weight).9

Helen Craddock Adie

Born Helen Perkin, she became the favourite pupil of the avant-guarde composer John Ireland, who was furious when she married George Adie. She was particularly well known as a composer of pieces for brass bands, but also as a concert painist. Gurdjieff requested her to write music for some of his movements. A CD of Helen's playing of Gurdjieff's music has been released ("Music of the Search"). Her music for the Gurdjieff movements is partly unpublished and partly available in a limited privately circulated edition. Helen Adie taught the Gurdjieff movements and sacred dances for about 22 years until prevented by ill health. She developed a method, rare if not unique, of bringing feeling (as opposed to emotionality) to the movements classes.10

1 http://society.guardian.co.uk/urbandesign/comment/0,11200,1456813,00.html. Adie's presence in Paris with Gurdjieff is mentioned, for example, in J.G. and E. Bennett's "Idiots in Paris", pp.16, 58, 108-9, 112-3, 115-6.2 See James Moore, below, p.30. The information about Ascot comes from a privately published and undated volume illustrating the premises after the work had been completed. Adie was also a part-time inventor, who obtained numerous patents for his inventions.3 The idea of the higher emotional and intellectual centres is detailed in P.D. Ouspensky, "In Search of the Miraculous" (below), pp. 194-5. In respect of Gurdjieff's "preparation" and other methods to train the centres, and harmonize their work, Adie never taught the "new work", for which see Sophia Wellbeloved, "Gurdjieff: The Key Concepts", London: Routledge, 2002 "sub" "New Work" pp 153-5, and her article referenced below, pp. 321-3. See also Moore (below) and esp. the his reference at p.265 to his article "Moveable Feasts"(in his bibiography at p.270) which first advised of what is now known as the "New Work".4 For a general overview of Adie's methods, see the article in the Gurdjieff International Review, III/2. His time in the London group is briefly mentioned in Moore, below.5 Further details of Adie's teachings are found in "George Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia", referenced below.6 See G.I. Gurdjieff, "Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson", 766.7 See Sophia Wellbeloved's article below, "passim".8 Citing, "A Universe of Reason" pp.268-9 in Adie and Azize 2008, below.9 See p. 289 in Adie and Azize 2008, below.10 A short biographical notice of her is found in the Gurdjieff International Review, IV/1. Her musical career is dealt with in the article by Fiona Richards, below. A book dealing with both of them, but chiefly consisting of George Adie's writings and teachings, is available under the title "George Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia". It is referenced below.

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