Pierre Bonnasse is a teacher of something called "sophrology," a combining of harmony and serenity with science and the mind. He is a student of the extensive output of Gurdjieff, whose teachings were often called, simply, The Work. The spiritual path that Gurdjieff conceived and explicated was also called the Fourth Way, in that it was a departure from the way of the yogi, the monk or the ascetic, yet incorporated all these in a method that ordinary people could use to attain understanding.
Understanding, as Bonnasse makes clear in this dense exposition, is all. No one should undertake a spiritual journey that he does not understand. Yet, from where does understanding spring? The very heart of understanding is in language. Arguably, most of our language is a waste of words. We are living in an era where civilized people make up new words daily (one wonders what Gurdjieff would have made of texting!). So it isn't surprising that meaning gets lost in the shuffle, and that understanding is less valued than mere production. To dig back into meaning and understanding, we have to go to inner places where words emanate directly from images and experience. To show us the way, Bonnasse draws from such mystical sources as René Daumal and Charles Duits.
Gurdjieff was noted for starting schools then disbanding them, gathering disciples then dispersing them. Undoubtedly a genius who authored many books, devised a form of spiritual dance and composed mystical music, he asked his followers to perform difficult and sometimes apparently inane tasks (digging a hole then refilling it is a famous example). This method was his way of breaking down the barriers of rational language. It is called, in Bonnasse's book, "the way of blame." Gurdjieff even developed "the science of idiotism" and required his students to rank themselves as a particular sort of idiot. This is reminiscent of the Zen master's technique of deflecting intellectual questioning with an answer that seems nonsensical and has no logical connection to the question. All these techniques have the affect of awakening. Gurdjieff stated that most people are asleep, soulless and spiritually unaware. They must work to develop a soul. That is where The Work begins, where understanding begins.
The Magic Language of the Fourth Way is a long, very deep and thoughtful piece of writing, full of words which are meant to show us how to discard words. It is directed toward that segment of the human population that, according to Gurdjieff (and other great teachers) is small and sincerely dedicated to finding a higher path. The book is more than "the finger pointing to the moon" – it is a full, exhaustive map of the moon, a guidebook for spiritual astronauts. Those who are intrigued by the possibility of the mind conquering itself will find this book a welcome feast of mental exercise. I make these statements with no intended sarcasm. The Indian spiritual master Meher Baba stated that "to try to understand with the mind that which the mind can never understand is futile." This is a truth that Pierre Bonnasse grapples with, and his courage in producing his book, from his own large store of knowledge, will be appreciated by those who are also wrestling with these complex concepts in an attempt at simplification and an eye toward enlightenment.