As the closest pupil of the charismatic spiritual master G. I. Gurdjieff (1866–1949), Jeanne de Salzmann was charged with carrying on his teachings of spiritual transformation. Known as the Fourth Way or "the Work," Gurdjieff’s system was based on teachings of the East that he adapted for modern life in the West. Now, some twenty years after de Salzmann's death, the notebooks that she filled with her insights over a forty-year period (and intended to publish) have been translated and edited by a small group of her family and followers. The result is this long-awaited guide to Gurdjieff's teaching, describing the routes to be traveled and the landmarks encountered along the way. Organized according to themes, the chapters touch on all the important concepts and practices of the Work, including:
- awakening from the sleep of identification with the ordinary level of being
- self-observation and self-remembering
- conscious effort and voluntary suffering
- understanding symbolic concepts like the Enneagram
- the Gurdjieff Movements, bodily exercises that provide training in Presence and the awareness of subtle energies
- the necessity of a "school," meaning the collective practice of the teaching in a group
Madame de Salzmann brings to the Work her own strong, direct language and personal journey in learning to live that knowledge of a higher level of being, which, she insists, "you have to see for yourself" on a level beyond theory and concept. De Salzmann consistently refused to discuss the teaching in terms of ideas, for this Fourth Way is to be experienced, not simply thought or believed.