Maurice Nicoll

Maurice Nicoll: Forgotten Teacher of the Fourth WayPublicist—An Insight

Maurice Nicoll: Forgotten Teacher of the Fourth Way

By (Author) Gary Lachman

In 1922, Maurice Nicoll (1884–1953) abandoned his successful London psychiatry practice and his direct studies with Carl Jung to move his family just outside of Paris to the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, a center recently opened by philosopher, mystic, and spiritual guru G.I. Gurdjieff, the founder of the esoteric system that became known as the “Fourth Way.” Nicoll went on to become one of the most passionate teachers of the Fourth Way, committing the final three decades of his life to teaching “The Work” in his own unorthodox style.

In this revealing biography, Gary Lachman draws on recently uncovered diaries to explore the unusual, syncretic approach Nicoll brought to his teaching of the Fourth Way. He shows how Nicoll is unique in having Jung, Gurdjieff, and Ouspensky as teachers and to have known each of these important figures in esoteric history personally, yet—as Lachman reveals—Nicoll was not a blind devotee by any stretch. The author shows how he incorporated elements of Jungian psychology and Emanuel Swedenborg-inspired mysticism into his exploration and teaching of both Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s ideas, as well as into his best-known work, Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

Lachman reveals the unorthodox side of Nicoll in fuller detail than ever before through excerpts from recently shared diaries, in which Nicoll included detailed accounts of his own solitary “self-sex” erotic experimentations to reach visionary states, along with recordings of his dreams and other personal and mystical reflections. The social details of Nicoll’s life are also examined, including vivid portraits of the occult scene in the early-to-mid-20th century and the communal living situations in which Nicoll sometimes resided.

Drawing on his familiarity with hermetic practices and his own experiences with “The Work,” Lachman comprehensively explores the significance of Nicoll and the novelty of his thought, offering a profound, needed, and sympathetic but critical study of this man so instrumental to the development and legacy of the Fourth Way.

Author Bio: Gary Lachman is an author and lecturer on consciousness, counterculture, and the Western esoteric tradition. His works include Dark Star Rising, Beyond the Robot, and The Secret Teachers of the Western World. A founding member of the rock band Blondie, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. He lives in London.