Boris Mouravieff's Biography
Boris Mouravieff has done seekers of Truth an invaluable service with his formulation and documentation in clear, scientific terms of an ancient tradition of self-knowledge suspected to date back to at least the time of the mythical figure of "Jesus Christ". Those who are familiar with the "Fourth Way" system of G.I. Gurdjieff should note that the two are essentially the same tradition, however Mouravieff provides considerable Biblical and Apocryphal referencing to propose that the system is at root an "inner" or "esoteric" form of Christianity. While I do not agree with Mouravieff's overly-Christian presentation (Gurdjieff himself mentioned that the Tradition was pre-Egyptian), the attention to detail and thoroughness Mouravieff has displayed in writing the series has to be commended. If Ouspensky considered his Fourth Way magnum opus, "Fragments of an Unknown Teaching", then Mouravieff's "Gnosis" series can be considered to be a more integrated version of the Tradition. It is unlikely however that even Mouravieff knew the full picture, and has presented us with what he has been able to find. This second book, "The Mesoteric Cycle", builds on the foundations provided in the first book ("The Exoteric Cycle"). The first volume is essential reading, as Mouravieff assumes a degree of knowledge as he goes into specific aspects and concepts in more detail. As in the first volume, the book is divided into 3 main sections: Man, The Universe, & The Way. The first section in this volume - "Man" - focuses on man's place and role on Earth and in society. There is more analysis of biblical scripture and historical context, highlighting the mistakes of man as he has fumbled through the ages, as well as drawing the reader's attention closer to the issues of Birth, Death, and Re-Birth that lie at the heart of many spiritual paths. The second section looks further at the nature of the Universe and the purpose of mankind in the overall scheme.
There is some focus on sexuality and procreation and the goals they are intended to serve, as well as the octaves and "grades" of energy and elements, eg. the "Hydrogens". Readers familiar with Fourth Way material may have some advantage here in comprehending the concepts Mouravieff puts forward. Mouravieff also begins to expound on heredity, the nature of racial types and "enlightened government". Unfortunately this is where the ideas of Mouravieff, the man, start to become intermixed with the spiritual tradition he documents. The third section ("The Way") I found to be the most useful of the three in this volume, as it delves more into psychology, personality types and the various strengths and weaknesses of each as regards esoteric work. It is very interesting to me to think that this tradition (if authentic) contains an allegorical knowledge of personality disorders that modern psychology is just starting to come to grips with - such as psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder. There are also descriptions in more detail of the processes involved in the stages of integrating the personality (forming what Jung called an "Individuality"), and pitfalls to be wary of. Again, the overlap with the Fourth Way in this area is considerable. While Mouravieff has been accused of plagiarism of Fourth Way material (notably by William Patrick Patterson), there are concepts here that I found unique to Mouravieff. His discussions of the nature of "polar opposites" and their complementary actions in spiritual progress, and how this relates to a tradition of "Courtly Love" (Knights, troubadours etc) are fascinating reading. This is an area he goes into in more depth than the first volume. The Yin-Yang symbol (minus the dots) as representative of the "Real I" of a polar couple (although each with separate Personalities) was something I found particularly interesting, and perhaps hinting at a central-Asian origin to this tradition that may have also spawned other, more well-known, Oriental ones. Laura Knight-Jadczyk's "The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive" provides some interesting historical evidence for a type of "trans-Siberian shamanism" being an ancient root of these Traditions. While Mouravieff's analytic style and fairly straightforward approach is one that appeals to me, his interjecting of his social and political commentary, along with some fairly naive 'elitist' ideals, do not. His references to a "new spiritual elite" and "world government" (paraphrasing), sound suspiciously like a theocracy (even if a benevolent one). Anyone who has has read Andrew Lobaczewski's excellent book "Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes)" will understand the risks inherent with placing government in the hands of any elite. The reader is thus advised to keep a critical eye open for when Mouravieff's politics start to creep into the writing. As a system of self-work and study, it is fairly straightforward and lacking in much of the "occult" symbolism and mumbo-jumbo that one tends to find in other mystical or hermetic traditions. Mouravieff appeals to the scientist, rather than the mystic, in the reader, and I give him due credit for taking this approach. The development of reason is lauded in these writings as a means to progress, rather than being considered a "distraction" to the goals of only "thinking positive" or meditative navel-gazing (as one tends to find in the spectrum of New Age philosophies and systems). Overall, this book is highly recommended to all spiritual seekers and especially those interested in the Fourth Way, Gnostic or esoteric Christian traditions.