Tribute to Gerald Beckwith


1949 – 2019

In his early twenties Gerald Beckwith was introduced to Ouspensky’s system by Dr Francis Roles, head of the Fourth Way school which Ouspensky had set up. He became a long-standing member of the Study Society, the organisation based at Colet House within which the school operated. He was devoted to his mentors Dr Roles, Dr Arthur Connell and Professor Richard Guyatt; learning from them, supporting them and sharing with them an absolute determination to reach Self-realisation.

In addition to studying the Fourth Way system, Gerald was an active, enthusiastic and competent practitioner of all the complementary practices and activities including the Mevlevi Turning, the Movements to Music, and mantra meditation.

Gerald believed in doing everything beautifully and employed a wide range of talents in the service of the school. A professionally-trained musician, he played the piano accompaniment to the Movements to Music. Encouraged by Professor Guyatt, he developed skills in book design which he used in producing the Study Society’s publications. His excellent writing abilities were employed in the production of group papers, and later in the writing of his masterpiece Ouspensky’s Fourth Way (2015).

As archivist for the school, he curated original material documenting visits to the Shankaracharya by Dr Roles, Professor Guyatt and others, which he published as the four volume set A Record of Audiences & Correspondence with His Holiness Shantananda Saraswati Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth (2000).

The Study Society also benefited from his practical skills, intelligence and common sense. He served on the Management Committee, managed renovations to Colet House and set up an online bookshop to sell the Society’s publications.

Gerald was dedicated to and became an expert in the Fourth Way – both the original system of P.D. Ouspensky, and the reconstruction by Dr Francis Roles incorporating the teaching of His Holiness Shantananda Saraswati. When Professor Guyatt died he became joint head of the Fourth Way school, in conjunction with Professor Robert Simmons. In this capacity he ran study groups at Colet House and developed courses for beginners, continually renewing the teaching in the light of his own experience and insights, and incorporating new understanding from contemporary science.

After the Study Society became a charity with much broader interests than the original school, Gerald led the initiative to set up the Ouspensky Today website to document the history and development of Ouspensky’s Fourth Way and to provide a comprehensive and open resource for anyone interested in the Fourth Way to use for spiritual development or academic research.

Above all, Gerald worked unstintingly to put all he had learned into practice and he encouraged and inspired many others to do the same.

Gerald Beckwith died on 20th January 2019 aged sixty-nine.


From Mrs Ria Kruijk and Mr Rob Kruijk, The School of Practical Philosophy and Spirituality in Holland

We are very sad to hear about the passing away of Mr Gerald Beckwith.

He has been a very kind supporter in around 2014 when we, at the School of Practical Philosophy and Spirituality in Holland, translated Dr. Roles ‘Voyage of Discovery’ into Dutch.

He mentioned that he himself was writing a book at the time. And what a beauty it was! A marvellous book covering a most important epoch with a new deep insight on what happened then.

And your and his website is most wonderful, I hope to spend the rest of my life translating (my means of studying) the audiences.