The Value of E. J. Gold: Unearthing the Real Mr. G.


  • Johanna Petsche University of Sydney



E.J. Gold, G.I. Gurdjieff, New Religious Movements, Crazy Wisdom, IDHHB


In the 1960s, Eugene Jeffrey Gold (b. 1941) fashioned himself as a spiritual teacher and established a number of spiritual schools, most notably his Institute for the Development of the Harmonious Human Being (IDHHB), echoing Armenian-Greek spiritual teacher G.I. Gurdjieff’s (c. 1866–1949) Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. Little is known of Gold’s background and career due to his penchant for role playing, practical jokes, fabricating facts, and mythologising details of his life. What is clear, however, is that Gold’s core teaching and eccentric pedagogic approach are largely modelled on those of Gurdjieff. In fact, in his Autobiography of a Sufi (1977) and Secret Talks with Mr. G (1978), Gold goes so far as to blatantly mimic Gurdjieff: his teaching, mode of expression, idiosyncratic terminology, and the very format of his publications. In Autobiography of a Sufi Gold even describes specific events in Gurdjieff’s life, passing them off as his own autobiographical accounts, while on the cover of Secret Talks with Mr. G. (a book deliberately meant to confuse readers into believing that ‘Mr. G.’ is Gurdjieff) there is a photograph of Gold impersonating Gurdjieff in a false wig and beard. This article aims to shed some much needed light on the fascinating figure of E.J. Gold, and interrogate the bizarre ways in which he employs, copies, and unashamedly steals core aspects of Gurdjieff’s persona and teaching.

Author Biography

Johanna Petsche, University of Sydney

Johanna J.M. Petsche graduated with a PhD in Studies in Religion from the University of Sydney in 2013. Her dissertation, entitled ‘Music for Remembering: The Gurdjieff/de Hartmann Piano Music and its Esoteric Significance’, centred on Greek-Armenian spiritual teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (c. 1866– 1949) and the diverse body of music he produced in collaboration with a pupil, Thomas Alexandrovich de Hartmann (1885–1956). Johanna is currently working as a lecturer at the University of Sydney and Australian Catholic University. She co-edited a special issue of the journal Literature & Aesthetics (vol. 21.1, 2011) on ‘The Legacy of Theosophy’, and has published articles and book chapters on Gurdjieff, H.P. Blavatsky, Discordianism, and musicians Keith Jarrett and Sun Ra. She also teaches clarinet, performs in a chamber music ensemble, and studies the Gurdjieff Movements.



How to Cite

Petsche, J. (2015). The Value of E. J. Gold: Unearthing the Real Mr. G. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 27(3), 346–366.