International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol 6, No 2 (2015)

Gurdjieffian Overtones in Leon MacLaren’s School of Economic Science

Johanna J.M. Petsche
Issued Date: 20 Jan 2016


After the death of G. I. Gurdjieff in 1949, Gurdjieff-based groups began to emerge, including a colourful assortment of fringe groups. Fringe groups are established by individuals who never met Gurdjieff but who, in some or other way, assimilate elements of his teaching into new religio-spiritual systems. One noteworthy yet little understood Gurdjieff fringe group is the School of Economic Science (SES), founded by Leon MacLaren (1910-1994) in London in 1937. The SES was initially inspired by the work of nineteenth century American economist Henry George. However, in the early 1950s when MacLaren studied with Dr Francis Roles, who was P. D. Ouspensky’s personal physician and one of his earliest pupils, he gradually integrated into SES teachings concepts and practices of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff. This paper will examine the substantial influence of the work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky on the SES, particularly in regards to MacLaren’s emphasis on residential living and working, the significance of the Laws of Three and Seven in his cosmology, and his use of the ‘natural octave’ in his large-scale musical compositions. This paper draws on firsthand accounts, original materials and unpublished music manuscripts.

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DOI: 10.1558/ijsnr.v6i2.28443


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