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Taking with the Left Hand Paperback – 1 Dec 1997

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Arete Communications (Dec. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879514109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879514102
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,107,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Taking With The Left Hand, by William Patrick Patterson
During the late 1960's, a number people successfully presented themselves as teachers or "gurus" of the Gurdjieff "work." They themselves had not studied with Gurdjieff or anyone in the direct line of transmission of this teaching, but a number of newly published books had begun to appear and this material gave them an intellectual framework from which they could operate. Capitalizing on the vitality of Gurdjieff's teaching, and the new thirst for eastern spiritual ideas (but without having themselves received any proper training), these "faux" teachers propagated a faulty version of the teaching and stole some of its ideas to invent their own pseudo spiritual path. Unfortunately, they often developed a significant following of students, who mistakenly thought they were studying genuine material.
In Taking with the Left Hand, author William Patterson offers a detailed and clear account of these spiritual thefts and deceptions, focusing particularly on the misuse of the enneagram for explaining personality types, the "faux" teacher Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends, and the wholesale appropriation of Gurdjieff's teaching by one B. P. Mouravieff, who argued that it was the "esoteric" tradition of the Eastern Church.
The Enneagram, one of the principal symbols of the teaching and the "fundamental hieroglyph" of an ancient, universal language, was first introduced to the West by Gurdjieff in 1915, but was not widely known until after 1949 when P. D. Ouspensky's account of Gurdjieff's lectures, In Search of the Miraculous, was published. Among other things, the enneagram represents the action of certain laws which, Gurdjieff taught, govern the manifestations of real events in time.
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Format: Paperback
Patterson's Taking with the Left Hand is an attempt to answer the question of how some of the most "famous" deviations and distortions of the Fourth Way teaching by false Fourth Way teachers and organizations have come into existence. The book consists of three essays: How the Enneagram Came to Market; People of the Bookmark; and The Mouravieff "Phenomenon". In each of these essays Patterson gives a deep analysis of these deviations and distortions as well as the people who have promulgated them.
It isn't surprising that the powerful teaching of the Fourth Way gets much attention from many circles of society. With the publication of In Search of the Miraculous and other books, many of the Fourth Way's revolutionary ideas, concepts, and techniques have entered into the secular world. So it is no wonder, looking at the values of the world we live in, that these sacred and esoteric ideas have been used and distorted so much to the point of no recognition. Unfortunately, these distortions have ended up in the new age "spiritual" marketplace and the undiscerning seeker takes them for the real thing.
Many years ago, looking in the bookstore for more information on the Fourth Way, I found in one of Gurdjieff's books, a bookmark with pictures of Gurdjieff and Uspensky. It gave a list of Gurdjieff-Ouspensky groups in the local area. I called the number and soon was invited to attend several meetings of an organization called, the Fellowship of Friends. Something about them didn't feel right and so, after attending 3 meetings I left, but I know people who weren't so fortunate. I wish Taking with the Left Hand had been available at that time.
Patterson's book is an excellent demonstration of what happens when esoteric knowledge (often symbolized by a snake) is handled with the "left" hand. It also serves as a precaution for seekers and helps them to be more discerning in recognizing those who call themselves teachers yet never entered into the Fourth Way teaching themselves.
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By A Customer on 15 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
Wow! Talk about pulling no punches. Once again Patterson writes an eminently readable story only this time it’s about how it’s possible to misuse and distort even the most truthful ideas. The title pretty much explains the message and the explanation of what it means starts the ‘take no prisoners’ tone which carries through the whole book.
Some of the facts (I’d call them accusations except that they are completely documented) first seemed to me to be a bit too strong. Until I noticed that the copy I bought had one of the famous bookmarks stuck in it! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the distortion of basic ideas presented, and the demonstrated foolishness of those doing the distorting. This book is well worth reading!
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By A Customer on 31 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
"Taking with the Left Hand" is a well-written book describing the origin of the esoteric Enneagram and its subsequent commercialization and theft. It reveals how deviations and distortions have occurred in those "Fourth Way groups" which are not in the lineage of Gurdjieff. Founded on good research and insight and based on the facts, this is a diamond for the true seeker to discriminate between legitimate Fourth Way groups and those which have no contact with Gurdjieff.
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Format: Paperback
I almost didn't buy this book because, although I am interested in learning more about the esoteric teaching of the Fourth Way, I was not particularly interested in reading about the enneagram craze, Robert Burton (Fellowship of Friends) or Boris Mouravieff. I didn't know who Mouravieff was, I felt that Burton had already been effectively discredited and the exploitation of the enneagram was one more sad story about our greedy culture that I didn't want to read.
However, I am glad that I did read Taking With the Left Hand for a number of reasons. First, it confirmed and gave me a deeper understanding of some things that I already knew. In our society so many people want the quick lesson for transformation so that they can begin 'teaching' for either power or money or both. The greed and arrogance of some people mixes with the suggestibility of others for disastrous results.
Secondly, I am glad because through these three examples Patterson discusses the broader issues of esotericism. He shows how esoteric "ideas and practices are powerful in themselves, and when introduced into secular life they will necessarily be taken over by the ego and used for its own glorification and the domination of others." One important tenet that the enneagrammers have missed is that "through long and keen observation of his recurring individual manifestation" each person must come to his psychological fixation by himself. He cannot buy it at a one-day workshop.
Patterson also explains some important Fourth Way concepts - which was my main interest in reading this book. In his critique of Burton's book Self-Remembering, Patterson displays a deep understanding of the practice that can only come from receiving the teaching through a direct transmission from his own teacher.
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