Henriette Lannes. This Fundamental Quest: The Journey of a Pupil of G. I. Gurdjieff

Translated by Roger and Susan Lipsey from the original edition, Retour à maintenant

(Far West Institute, 2003)

A direct pupil of G. I. Gurdjieff, Henriette Lannes (1899 – 1980) was responsible in later years for the practical study of the Gurdjieff teaching in Lyon (France) and London. Until the publication of this book in its first French edition by her pupils in Lyon, and a similar book published by the London circle who also knew her well, Madame Lannes’ voice had been little known, legendary but inaccessible. What characterizes her approach to the Gurdjieff teaching? Directness and firmness, unshakable fidelity to the search to know oneself, a gift for uncovering in the complexity of experience the warmth and promise of truth.

“Together we seek to discover new meaning in our lives,” she writes in these pages. “Seeking generally proves to be a difficult experience because in most of our explorations we want an immediate answer. What have we found? Have we discovered who and what we are? We seek contact with our lives, with a subtle, vital energy. We persevere in this fundamental quest to recover what, to all appearances, is lost. Yet within us has awakened an instinct for searching, experiencing, knowing.”

It was a privilege to translate this text, to give it new life and readers in English. We had not had the good fortune to meet Madame Lannes, but she is present in these pages. The work of translation was a long and welcome work of listening.

On October 26, 1989, Madame Lannes was named one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, in recognition of her successful effort during the Nazi Occupation of France, at her peril, to hide and support four hunted Jews who had already lost family members in the Holocaust. The account of her courageous service will be found at yadvashem-france.org/les-justes-parmi-les-nations/les-justes-de-france/dossier-4421. She was known at the time as Henriette Tracol.

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