Senior Members of The Seekers Café
Steve received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut in 1970. He taught as assistant professor of psychology in the early 70’s at Arizona State and Alfred University. He also served on staff at hospitals in Phoenix and Maine. After three years of community mental health practice he founded North Country Consultants, LLC in 1975 to provide training and clinical services throughout Maine. He taught family practice to medical students at Maine Medical Center and designed and taught the first year of Behavioral Science at New England College of Medicine. In 1979 he co-authored a pioneering book, The Stress Management Workbook: An Action Plan for Taking Control of Your Life and Health with Michael Mascia, MD. In the late 1990’s he co-founded Mental Health Associates of Maine, a multi-disciplinary psychological/psychiatric practice. Steve retired from clinical practice after 43 years of practice. In 2013.
Intellectually and emotionally, Steve has always been drawn to the mystery of existence. His interest in consciousness, as one of the most profound of these mysteries, led him to psychology as a career. He submitted himself to nearly 20 years of his own analysis in a variety of disciplines culminating in 12 years of Jungian analysis, during which he came to ‘see’ the reality of the Collective Unconscious and the universality of symbols in religion and dreams.
In 1982 Steve experienced a ‘vision’ that was an overture to a series of synchronous events culminating in his discovery of the Gurdjieff Work. He has dedicated his inner search to the methods of G.I. Gurdjieff since that time, accepting the responsibilities of ‘leading’ groups studying this system. Steve’s immersion in ‘spiritual’ psychology led him to an interest in esoteric religion, particularly esoteric Christianity, and a recognition of the universality of the core of all traditions. It also profoundly influenced his understanding of the structure and function of the human psyche and his practice of clinical psychology. He has made a number of presentations to the All and Everything International Humanities Conference and participates in groups in Portland Maine, Moscow Russia and Toronto Canada.
Although loving theoretical exploration of both psychological and spiritual questions, he remains dedicated to making the esoteric ideas come alive as actual subjective experiences.
He believes that only through direct experience can such ideas find real meaning so that the system becomes the ‘teacher’. His primary objective has been to discover and share the practical application of these ideas and methods to the inner world of people.
The teachings of G.I.Gurdjieff were brought to Argentina by Carlos Matchelajovic and his wife Daphne Ripman, who was trained as a Movements teacher by Jessmin Howarth . They had both been in the Fourth Way groups in Mendham founded by P.D. Ouspensky. When they settled in Buenos Aires, in 1965, they opened a bookstore which also served as a venue for lectures on the Fourth Way and soon after, for group meetings and Movements.
When I first met Carlos and Daphne, in 1981, the group they directed had over 300 members. I was thirty years old and had never felt the slightest interest in any kind of spiritual search. I had a layman´s knowledge of Existentialism and of the writings of Eric Fromm, Victor Frankl and Bertrand Russell. To be frank, I had quite a high opinion of myself and of my approach to life, as was the case with my circle of “intellectual” and “artistic” friends. I supported all the right causes, entertained progressive views in politics and had dropped out of Law in order to pursue my teaching vocation. I viewed myself as a supportive husband, an excellent father and a committed and creative school teacher (i.e. everything my Methodist upbringing had taught me to be). However, at the back of my mind there were flashes of suspicion that everything I had built was “on the surface of my being”. I would sometimes become aware of traits in my personality that threatened my image of myself. My main source of anguish was that I was incapable of a true depth of authentic feeling. I would quickly suppress these thoughts, but they would keep popping up. I was drawn to the writings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky because in their description of the mechanicalness of man I saw a picture of the undesirable aspects of my personality. I had the expectation that if I studied the books and practiced diligently, I would get rid of those undesirable traits and keep the “good ones”. It took me several years to realize that the Fourth Way was about something of a totally different dimension than what I believed.
My wife had come across “The Psychology of Man´s Possible Evolution”. We both read it, and also “In Search of the Miraculous”. I was moderately impressed. My wife, for reasons I found incomprehensible at the time, and even for many years after, felt these ideas were more powerful than anything she had ever encountered in her life, and she immediately requested an interview with Carlos and Daphne in order to be admitted to their group. She was admitted and urged me to meet with them also, which I did after a few months.
I view my relationship with The Work in three stages:
From 1982 to 1993 “the mountains were still the mountains”. I was convinced that being a member of a Gurdjieff Group was proof that I was not a part of the “mechanical mass of humanity”. Of course, I was not yet “enlightened” but if I persevered in attending meetings punctually, struggling with the Movements classes in spite of my limitations and participating in retreats as often as possible, I would eventually come quite near to enlightenment. Almost certainly near enough to sit up in front with the more advanced members of the group and be empowered to comment on other people´s experiences and answer their questions.
From 1993 to 2011 “the mountains were no longer the mountains”. All my structures were shaken to their very foundations. This happened gradually, year after year. But gradually does not mean gently. Each degree was triggered by a devastating shock and accompanied by a whirlwind of confusion and agony.
From 2011 to the present “the mountains are once more the mountains”. At one level, externally, I am still the supportive husband, excellent father (and now also grandfather), committed and creative school teacher (now retired) and I still support all the right causes. But I no longer have a “high opinion” of what I used to call “myself”. And I experience moments of true depths of feeling. I have understood and experienced the idea expressed by many teachers in the Fourth Way that The Work works on you and in you. Your part is merely to remove the obstacles. Every day.
Richard Webb’s bio.
Robin Bloor was born in 1951 in Liverpool, UK. He obtained a BSc in Mathematics at Nottingham University and took up a career in the computer industry, initially writing software. From 1989 onwards, he became a technology analyst and consultant. He has thus been a writer of a kind ever since. In 2002 he was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Computer Science by Wolverhampton University in the UK. He currently resides in and works from Austin, Texas in the USA.
In 1988, after drifting through several work groups, Bloor met and became a pupil of Rina Hands. Rina was a one-time associate of J. G. Bennett, a student of Peter Ouspensky’s, and later, a pupil of George Gurdjieff. Following Gurdjieff’s death, she remained part of J. G. Bennett’s group for a while. Subsequently, she formed groups both in London, where she lived and in Bradford in the North of England – initially in conjunction with Madame Nott. She was both an accomplished movements teacher and an inspirational group leader. She died in 1994 and is buried next to Jane Heap in a cemetery in North London.
Bloor leads a Group in Austin, Texas. Aside from the usual movements and Work activities, the group specializes in the study of Gurdjieff’s writings and the study of Objective Science, as articulated by Ouspensky in In Search of The Miraculous, and by Gurdjieff in The Tales.
He has written several books about The Work, including:
To Fathom The Gist Volume I: Approaches to the Writings of G I Gurdjieff
To Fathom The Gist Volume II: The Arch-Absurd
The Searchable Index to G. I. Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson
Robert A. Schmidt, Ph.D., currently serves as spiritual director of Tayu Meditation Center. Without any conscious sense of searching for such a person, and certainly without any understanding of the role, Rob Schmidt met his spiritual teacher Robert Daniel Ennis “by accident” on the same city block where Rob had been conceived a quarter century earlier. Over the next twenty years after that meeting, Rob undertook to responsibly act interiorly and exteriorly as an apprentice, and later journeyman practitioner. Along the way, he experienced careers as a blue collar worker in the printing industry and as a university researcher and lecturer in anthropological archaeology. Now more than forty years after his initiation, Rob operates a spiritual/religious bookstore in northern California, and maintains his commitment to expand, extend and elaborate his own understanding and demonstration of the Work that Mr. Ennis opened for him.
Stuart Goodnick, co-founder of the Mystical Positivist podcast and blog, has been a practitioner of Tayu Meditation since 1985 and a Tayu Meditation instructor since 1993. He holds degrees in Physics from Caltech and UCSC, and has been an engineering manager in the industrial motion control and software security industries since 1989. Stuart has also been a student of the shakuhachi (Japanese Bamboo flute) under Master Masayuki Koga since 1996. In recent years Stuart has been applying the principles of spiritual practice and transformation in daily life as a senior executive in both Silicon Valley start-ups and global industrial manufacturers. He co-founded Many Rivers Books & Tea with Robert Schmidt and Jim Wilson in Sebastopol in 2002. A frequent writer and speaker on spiritual topics, Stuart maintains that rationality is no way the antithesis of deep mystical experience, but is in fact a necessary ally.