I don’t know how it goes with the world at large, but in Russia, Gurdjieff is very much beloved. Of course, I mean in this case in the milieu of spiritual seekers. Understandably, some are attracted by the power of his personality, and others by the originality of his ideas; but the interest and affectionate attitude toward Gurdjieff is caused not in the least by the fact that he smoke and drank a good deal of alcohol. Compared to the Hindus’ demands for total abstinence from everything, Gurdjieff seems like a person for whom “everything is allowed,” but even so, who demonstrates the highest level of personal being and awareness and other things that a person who has come to self-realization should have in himself.
Far from everyone likes a path to God in which it is forbidden to eat meat, and forbidden to have sex and drink alcohol. Gurdjieff not only did not forbid his students to drink vodka; he himself arranged dinners in which alcohol was an important part of the ritual activity. It is said that he could drink a lot, practically not getting drunk, and this also became part of the legend describing Gurdjieff as a superman. Therefore, many seekers, inspired by the image of Gurdjieff’s behavior, indulge themselves in drinking a lot in the hope that their spiritual path will not suffer at all from this. Just as Osho’s students selected “do what you want” out of the message that said “Be aware and do what you want,” so Gurdjieff’s followers take from him what they like. And since people in Russia can drink and know how to do it, our seekers wish to approximate the image of the superman through alcohol. That is, to bring a dimension of spiritual work into their drunkenness. I will not say that this is impossible, but I will say that you should not attempt to imitate the state of a person who went through the most diverse practices, through discipline and self-restriction, reaching a level at which he could already allow himself to live as his nature demanded. Or as his Work and mission demanded. Imitating the outward behavior of a mystic, you will never become him, but we see such imitation all the time. In reality, it never leads anywhere, but feeds the ego, and in the case of imitating Gurdjieff, it also enables “the training of consciousness” by abusing alcohol.
When Osho lived in Pune, the air conditioner in his room was set to maintain a temperature no higher than 12 degrees Celsius. In Gurdjieff’s Paris apartment, the heat was always turned up. Both of them grew up in hot countries, but Osho continued to live in India, and Gurdjieff moved to colder areas, where possibly his nature did not get enough heat. And the alcohol was a means to add it as well. Although that is only one of the possible explanations of his predilection for Armagnac, and several more could be given, but I do not see the point of going deep into this question. Even so, everyone sees what he can see or wishes to see. It often happens that he who strives for consciousness and keeps himself in a certain effort and struggle with his own unconsciousness, can see in the behavior of a conscious person, in his relaxedness, some signs of non-consciousness. Although we only see the outward side, it is not hard at all to be mistaken in an evaluation. But the ego stands on comparison of itself with others and judgement of others, so mystics are measured by the same measure, which finds in them what is wished to be found.