The book takes the form of Gurdjieff's reminiscences about various "remarkable men" that he met, beginning with his father. They include the Armenian priest Pogossian; his friend Soloviev, and Prince Lubovedsky, a Russian prince with metaphysical interests.
In the course of describing these characters, Gurdjieff weaves their stories into the story of his own travels, and also into an overarching narrative which has them cooperate in locating spiritual texts and/or masters in various lands (mostly Central Asia). Gurdjieff calls this group the "Seekers of Truth".
Most of them do in fact find truth in the form of some suitable spiritual destiny. The underlying philosophy, especially as articulated in an appendix, amounts to the assertion that people generally live their lives asleep, are unconscious of themselves and, accordingly, behave like machines subject to outside causes and pressures. Also, one of the chief assessments of the novel is that the people of the past epochs lived in more suitable outer conditions and at higher inner levels than the people today. Many additional hidden harmonies are noted or alluded to.
Claims that seem to contradict modern beliefs have inspired some to question the book's "autobiographical" character. For example, Gurdjieff claims to have first heard the Epic of Gilgamesh as an oral epic sung from memory by his father; to have made contact with various ancient brotherhoods including the Sarmoung Brotherhood; to have copied a map of "pre-sand Egypt"; and to have witnessed a number of miracles and esoteric phenomena. There is currently in existence an esoteric group of loosely affiliated individuals who engage in what is called "The Work", which is the doing part of Gurdjieff's teachings.
1. My father
2. My first teacher
4. Mr. X or Captain Pogossian
5. Abraham Gelov
6. Prince Yuri Lubovetsky
7. Ekim Beys
8. Piotr Kapenko
9. Professor Skridlov
The financial issue
Meetings with Remarkable Men is a 1979 British biographical drama film directed by Peter Brook and based on the book of the same name by Greek philosopher, G. I. Gurdjieff, first published in English in 1963. Shot on location in Afghanistan (except for dance sequences, which were filmed in England), it starred Terence Stamp, and Dragan Maksimović as the adult Gurdjieff. The film was entered into the 29th Berlin International Film Festival, in competition for the Golden Bear award.
The plot involves Gurdjieff and his companions' search for truth in a series of dialogues and vignettes, much as in the book. Unlike the book, these result in a definite climax—Gurdjieff's initiation into the mysterious Sarmoung Brotherhood. The film is noteworthy for making public some glimpses of the Gurdjieff movements.