Jose Reyes, Dominican Republic
Jose Reyes has been active in the
Gurdjieff Ideas since 1975. He participated in the 3rd Claymont Course of 1977
(a nine months residential course applying the ideas and methods of the 4th Way
in a practical way). After the course, Pierre Elliot (Director of Studies at the
time) and Vivien Elliot came to the Dominican Republic to help establish the
groups in Santo Domingo. Jose also participated in the Teachers Movements
Training Course in West Virginia conducted by Pierre and Vivien Elliot.
On several occasions he met and participated in Sufi practices with Sulliman Dede (Sheik of the Mevlevi Order), and Sheik Mustafer (Sheik of the Helveti order). He lived for over two years in the house of Natalie de Salzmann in Venezuela where he took part in group Work activities and received Special Movements Training for Teachers from Dushka Howard and Jim Nott. In the last years he has conducted seminars in Germany, Puerto Rico and United States.
Homepage: Gurdjieff Grupo Dominicano
GIG: It does seem to be such a long distance from Dominican Republic to Denmark, but I just love the way we can communicate these days with e-mail and phone. Would you like to tell me some basic things of your country?
Jose: Yes, I would like very much to say something about the Dominican Republic, it is a very small island in the center of the Caribbean, and it is about 300 kilometers by 600 km, I think. It has a warm weather all year round, but it is never too hot nor too cold. The Dominican people are very nice and good hearted, usually the people that visit us from Europe either come back or end up living here. Besides, the country is beautiful and we have beautiful beaches, and good people.
GIG: Were both you and your wife Katiuska (which sounds like a Russian name) born in the Dominican Republic?
Jose: My wife and I were both born in the Dominican Republic; she has a Russian name from a very famous Russian novel that her mother read before she was born. She is the author of our homepage and I feel she has done a great job at it.
GIG: You lived in the house of Natalie de Salzmann. We sell books written by her, but I don't read Spanish. What are the main features of her education system?
Jose: Yes I lived in the house of Natalie for almost two years and it was a very good experience for me, to be able to be exposed to the work in different ways than what I was used to. I feel that being close to her and learning from her ways has given me a deeper understanding of the work, and I think that her approach and the way she approached the education of children is very special. It is like Gurdjieff had said, begin from afar. Her method is basically a method of suggesting things and not direct imposition. In fact she told me a story: when she was small and lived in the Prieure, there was a bathroom that was called the Russian bathroom, she said this bathroom was so dirty and smelly, then she took the task herself to clean this bathroom. She was coming from school one day, she was very worried the she would not have time to clean the bathroom and she imagined how dirty it was going to be, but when she arrived found that somebody else had been cleaning the bathroom and she realized then that sometimes you do not have to say things to people our hammer into their head the things you feel are important, but just give them the example. Her approach to education is very tender, it’s not direct.
GIG: I met Jim Nott a long time ago when he visited his family in London. I don't know Dushka Howard, although I met her mother. They are both important teachers of the Gurdjieff ideas. You can see how curious I am. Tell us more about these people!
Jose: I think I have been very lucky to have met all these teachers, but at the same time I'm very worried because the more opportunities you have the higher the price you have to pay or more is expected of you. I met Dushka Howard and Jim Nott in Venezuela. While I was there Jim used to come to the Dominican Republic once a month to work with the group and do movements. The way he conducted the class was very rewarding, one could learn just by watch him teach. I felt he had the right approach to the movements and that he could somehow blend the energies of the movement to obtain a three centered balanced state. He said we should observe the class having sensation ourselves and then all this information will flow to the right place in us, he indeed put much emphasis on sensation and he was always trying for the practitioner to bring sensation into the movement.
Dushka Howard gave me a different perspective of the movements; she seemed to be connected with how the gestures should be done in a movement. She seems to be the last custodian of a very old tradition; I know she received the movements from Jasmine Howard who in turn received then from Mr. G. It was good to be able to be close to her even for a short time, she took the heaviness out of the class, this is very important to me. I like my students to be light hearted and content at all times. Mr. Gurdjieff himself said that the result of this work was contentment.
GIG: You mention both Gurdjieff teachers and Sufi teachers. Is there something missing in Gurdjieff's teaching?
Jose: No there is nothing missing in the work but there is something missing in the way we teach it. Mr. Gurdjieff himself does not claim exclusivity in his teaching, he was widely open to any influence or to any teaching he came across. The work is the overall condensation of four main spiritual practices. He mentions the four prophets as the carriers of the four sacred impulses that are necessary for our balanced development. Each one will contribute with a Sacred Impulse that is highly desirable in our transformation. We try to divide the year into 4 main practices that correspond to each of the four prophets, lent we dedicate to Christ, study the sacred books, perform the Great Prayer, fast according to Beelzebub, and for forty days we begin the days at 5:30 a.m. We also study the origin of the gospels as well as those who wrote them.
The next period we dedicate to Sufism and Sufi practices, we maintain very good relations with several Sufi orders and we practice during this period not only the Zikr but also all the dervish movements and the story of great Saints like Mevlana.
Then we begin our intensive one week meditation retreat and study also Buddhism and Tibetan meditation.
We never stop practicing the movements specially the multiplications, because they contain a message that we can decipher and learn from them. They really contain the essence of group work in them.
Beelzebub in the main source of knowledge for us and we use it in most of the activities we have, even for the kitchen.
Nobody can tell what the work is and nobody has the exclusive of the work. The work is everywhere no matter what you call it, it is the present moment expanded to its maximum potential. When you are able to live the present moment then you realize that it has no name and it doesn't come from anyone mind it just has one origin and that is God.
GIG: Who is Sulliman Dede and who is Sheik Mustafer and what can you tell about their organizations?
Jose: They were Sheiks of the Mevlevi and Halveti Orders, I had the good fortune to meet them and work with them and they had a very strong Being. One could feel their presence when they entered the room even without looking at them. There is not much I can say about their organizations since I only met the men and not the organizations.
GIG: What is the World Chain?
Jose: It is an exercise based on Gurdjieff's 'I am' exercise from the third series of his writings.
Once someone asked Mr. Gurdjieff how he could pay him back for all he had received from him. Mr. G’s answer was, you can pay me back with I Am.
I believe that we can be united by this strong exercise; no matter how far you are we will be transmitting a very powerful energy that will permeate many people hearts. It is so strange what we are seen today, and this is only the beginning. The world chain is only an experiment, we have kept it alive for lent, but we believe it could be the beginning of something very powerful, not that we pretend to change the world but I don’t think we realize how much power we have as a group.
The chain will begin at 6AM good Friday, until 6 AM Saturday, each participant in the chain will do the exercise for 1/2 hour before he pass it on to the next person by a telephone call. If you want to take part in the World Chain please send an e-mail to us to 4.camino#codetel.net.do (obviously no longer relevant)