George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (31 March 31st, 1866 – 29 October 1949) was a Russian philosopher, mystic, spiritual teacher, and composer of Armenian and Greek descent, born in Alexandropol, Russian Empire (now Gyumri, Armenia). Gurdjieff taught that most humans do not possess a unified consciousness and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic "waking sleep", but that it is possible to awaken to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. Gurdjieff described a method attempting to do so, calling the discipline "The Work" (i.e. work on oneself") or "the System". According to his principles and instructions, Gurdjieff's method for awakening one's consciousness unites the methods of the fakir, monk and yogi, and thus came to be referred to as the "Fourth Way".
Gurdjieff taught that a person must expend considerable effort to effect the transformation that leads to awakening. The effort that is put into practice Gurdjieff referred to as "The Work on oneself". According to Gurdjieff, "...Working on oneself is not so difficult as wishing to work, taking the decision." Gurdjieff's teaching addressed the question of humanity's place in the universe and the importance of developing latent potentialities—regarded as our natural endowment as human beings but rarely brought to fruition. He taught that higher levels of consciousness, higher bodies, inner growth and development are real possibilities that nonetheless require conscious work to achieve.
Gurdjieff also taught his pupils "sacred dances" or "movements", later known as the Gurdjieff Movements, which they performed together as a group. He also left a body of music, inspired by what he heard in visits to remote monasteries and other places, written for piano in collaboration with one of his pupils, Thomas de Hartmann.
His book, The Herald of Coming Good (first published in 1933) contains an outline of his ideas and of all his other writings. It consists of "ten books in three series".