The Study Society
- to advance the education of the public in religion, science, philosophy and the arts.
- the promotion of moral and spiritual welfare.
It is based at Colet House, Barons Court, London.
The Society was registered in 1951 by Dr Francis C. Roles, four years after the death of his teacher, the Russian philosopher P. D. Ouspensky, who had settled in England in 1921. The Society was set up to continue Ouspensky's work as a "School of the Fourth Way".
The Fourth Way refers to a concept used by G. I. Gurdjieff to describe an approach to self-development learned over years of travel in the East that combined what he saw as three established traditional "ways," or "schools" into a fourth way. These three ways were of the body, mind and emotions. According to his principles and instructions, Gurdjieff's method for awakening one's consciousness is different from that of the fakir, monk or yogi, so his discipline is also called the ‘Fourth Way’. His pupil P.D. Ouspensky from 1924 to 1947 made the term and its use central to his own teaching of Gurdjieff's ideas, and after Ouspensky's death, his students published a book titled The Fourth Way based on his lectures.
P. D. Ouspensky had developed his system of Self-discovery from the fundamental idea that ordinary human consciousness is incomplete and that it is possible for it to evolve further by personal effort and understanding. Historically, this approach has generally been confined to closed orders, religious or otherwise and directed to the development of one particular human faculty: intellectual, emotional or physical. Ouspensky promoted the practice of a ‘Fourth Way’, whereby ordinary people, remaining engaged in life, could work on all three aspects simultaneously. His teaching asserts the unity of the individual with the whole cosmos in both structure and potential.
In Russia, Ouspensky had learned a system of knowledge and certain practical methods from G. I. Gurdjieff and until his death in 1947 Ouspensky devoted his life to further developing this system in the light of his own ideas. He established large groups of pupils in London and New York. Ouspensky’s London headquarters before and following World War II were at Colet House. This work led him to the conviction that the system was essentially incomplete; in particular it lacked a simple method to allow the ideas to develop naturally into behaviour and experience.
The Movements were introduced into this country by Mme Ouspensky in the 1930s, when they were taught to Ouspensky’s pupils at Lyne Place, Virginia Water and at Colet House. The Movements were originally called Sacred Dances, Prayers and Exercises, and were known only in certain monasteries, temples, closed communities and esoteric orders scattered throughout the Middle East, the Hindu Kush and Tibet. During his travels in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, G. I. Gurdjieff learned these sacred dances and their original music at their diverse sources and brought them together into a single repertoire which he then taught to his students in Europe.
Dr Roles continued with Ouspensky’s teaching for 13 years but in 1960, as a result of Ouspensky’s instruction to search for ‘the source of the system’, he came to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in London. He recognised the method of mantra meditation that the Maharishi was disseminating as the simple method that Ouspensky had told him to find. The Study Society was instrumental in setting up the Maharishi’s seminal lecture to 5000 people at the Royal Albert Hall in 1961 which greatly raised his profile in Europe. Meditation was the inspiration of a group of Indian sages the most prominent of whom was Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Guru Deva. Nevertheless, it was not until Dr Roles was introduced to Swami Shantanand Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath—the head of the Advaita tradition in Northern India whose teaching of the non-dual philosophy of the Vedanta complemented and completed all he had learnt before—that he became convinced that his search was over.
Mevlevi Turning of the Whirling Dervishes
In 1963 the Society formed a connection with Resuhi Baykara, a leader of the Mevlevi Tradition in Istanbul who trained members of the Society in the discipline of Sufi Whirling Dance. This Sufi discipline, originated by the 13th century mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī is said to provide a means of acquiring inner stillness. The ceremony of the sema, or Mukabele takes place regularly at Colet House.
The Study Society currently provides the following activities:
- Study groups in which the teachings of P. D. Ouspensky, Shantanand Saraswati and Dr F. C. Roles are discussed, as well as the philosophy of Non-Duality.
- Teaching and practice of meditation.
- Mevlevi Turning (Sufi Whirling Dance) and study of the poetry and music of the Mevlevi tradition.
- ‘The Movements’.
- Public lectures.
Books Published by the Study Society
- P. D. Ouspensky. The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution. Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-394-71943-6.
- P. D. Ouspensky. In Search of the Miraculous. Paul H Crompton Ltd. ISBN 978-1-874250-76-0.
- Francis C. Roles (1992). Voyage of Discovery. The Society for the Study of Human Being.
- "Charity Commission". The Charity Commission. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- The Society was previously established according to the Friendly Societies Act, 1974, with the full name of ‘The Society for the Study of Normal Psychology’.
- Colet House, 151 Talgarth Road, Barons Court, London W14 9DA, England
- Lachman, Gary (2006). In Search of P. D. Ouspensky. Quest Books. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-8356-0848-0.
- Eadie, Peter McGregor (2001). The Bridge (The Study Society) 14: 27.
- Ouspensky, P. D. (1974 - originally published in 1940). The Psychology of Man′s Possible Evolution. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-71943-3. Chapter: Lecture held Thursday, 23 September 1937
- Ouspensky, P. D. (1971 - originally published in 1957). The Fourth Way. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-71672-8.
- Ouspensky, P. D. (1974 - originally published in 1940). The Psychology of Man′s Possible Evolution. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-71943-3.
- Ouspensky, P. D. (1950). In Search of the Miraculous. Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. ISBN 0-7100-1910-6. Chapter 15.
- Ouspensky, P. D. (1950). In Search of the Miraculous. Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. pp. 205–216. ISBN 0-7100-1910-6.
- Lachman, Gary (2006). In Search of P. D. Ouspensky. Quest Books. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-8356-0848-0.
- Lachman, Gary (2006). In Search of P. D. Ouspensky. Quest Books. pp. 178, 248. ISBN 978-0-8356-0848-0.
- Lachman, Gary (2006). In Search of P.D. Ouspensky. Quest Books. pp. 230, 262. ISBN 978-0-8356-0848-0.
- Good Company II. The Study Society. 2009. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-9547939-9-9.Extract of audiences with Shantanand Saraswati.
- Howarth, Jessmin. "Remember Inner Work". Gurdjieff International Review Spring 2002.
- Howarth, Jessmin & Dushka (2009). It’s Up To Ourselves. Gurdjieff Heritage Society. ISBN 978-0-9791926-0-9.
- Mistlberger, P. T. (2010). The Three Dangerous Magi. O Books. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-84694-435-2.
- Collin-Smith, Joyce (1988). Call No Man Master. Bath, UK: Gateway Books. pp. 142–144. ISBN 0-946551-46-4.
- Mason, Paul (1994). Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - The Biography of the Man who gave Transcendental Meditation to the World. ISBN 978-1-85230-571-0. Chapter 5.
- Roles, Francis (1972). A Lasting Freedom. The Society for the Study of Normal Psychology. p. 8.
- Good Company II. The Study Society. 2009. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-9547939-9-9. Extract of audiences with Shantanand Saraswati.
- Good Company. The Society for the Study of Normal Psychology. 1987. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-9561442-1-8. Extract of audiences with Shantanand Saraswati.
- Koren, Wilhelm (1997). The Bridge (The Study Society) 12: 202.
- "Whirling Dervishes". The Study Society. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- "Obituary: Dr F.C. Roles". British Medical Journal 285: 67. July 1982. PMC 1499089.
- Obituary, The Hindhu Times, Sunday December 7, 1997