by Dr. Derek Lamar
The whole myth surrounding the mystical image of the “Fourth Way Teacher” is nothing new. It is the cycle of life and the strengths and weaknesses that surrounds all of humanity. Since the beginning of time our survival has depended on leadership and the more extreme the need the more likely that people’s fears, jealousies and insecurities would rise to the surface. But much of this is born out of our strengths, devotion, ideals, love and spiritual insight as well. A lot of it becomes muddled and confused and usually at times when clear thinking is what is needed.
(Below: Lamas Dortjieff and G. I. Gurdjieff)
G. I. Gurdjieff, (architect of the Fourth Way), was fast becoming famous at a time when there was a focus on leaders around the world. He escaped the revolution in Russia when Rasputin was the Machiavellian dark figure on the scene of Russian mysticism and political intrigue. Gurdjieff later was accused of being a tsarist agent named Lamas Dordjieff as well as other rumors which had his personage as a close confidante of Karl Haushofer, the mentor of Rudolf Hess, and linking him to the creation of the Nazi party. Then later on there was the spiritual duel between G. I. Gurdjieff and Aleister Crowley. The storm clouds and dark forces must have been dancing in the skies at midnight preceding the beginnings of this occult episode. Crowley visited Gurdjieff’s school at Fontainebleau, France and upon departure was confronted by Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff issued a Fourth Way shock declaring in broken English: “You filthy! you dirty inside!"
(Below: Fritz Peters, author and personal student of G. I. Gurdjieff)
And it was documented that Crowley departed ashen white with “his tail between his legs”. As Fritz Peters, personal student of Gurdjieff, said: “...Aleister Crowley, who had made a name for himself in England as 'magician' and who boasted, among other things, of having hung his pregnant wife by the thumbs in the attempt to give birth to a monstrous being, presented himself at Fontainebleau without being invited. Crowley was clearly convinced that Gurdjieff was a 'black magician' and the evident purpose of his visit was to challenge him to a sort of duel of magic. The meeting turned out to be a disappointment since Gurdjieff, although he did not deny knowledge of certain powers that could be called 'magical', refused to make any such demonstration. At his turn, Mr. Crowley also refused to 'reveal' his powers; therefore, to the great disappointment of those present, they were not able to witness a supernatural feat. What's more, Mr. Crowley went away with the impression that Gurdjieff was a charlatan or a mediocre sorcerer.” But Fritz Peters also said that “…people rarely came into contact with an individual named Gurdjieff; they met instead, the image that was already created in their minds.”
(Below: left and right: Thane Walker, circa 1935 and Thane Walker at desk, circa 1985)
There are no accidents
This is certainly true during my time studying under Thane Walker in his Fourth Way School. Thane was very much like this. He was whomever the situation demanded of him. My becoming a Fourth Way student and being connected to the teachings of Gurdjieff was all by accident, if you believe in accidents. None-the-less, it was through no conscious effort on my part. I was not that sophisticated at the time. But when you find yourself on a runaway train you start wondering when is the best time to jump. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Drinking and smoking (Below left: Harvelles Bar and right: famous Wilshire Ebell Theatre, common venue in the 30's and 40's for metaphysical lectures.)
My first contact with this man, Thane, was at a time when I was on the precipice between discovering myself or losing myself completely. I had often returned to that same place earlier in my life and something always came along and gave me a lift even though I didn’t know I had my thumb out. I should begin by saying that from the very beginning when I first met Thane, he had a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He never really inhaled. It was all a façade. It goes back to the old metaphysical days when everyone was still “churchy” and smoking was a no no. Thane smoked openly and constantly while lecturing and teaching and this gave comfort to those who felt the need to rebel. However, this was not true for his drinking. He really did inhale on that count.But I never thought about Thane’s drinking. Life was one big party. Even up to that point I was accustomed to going to concerts and film screenings and the press parties at those events. Everyone was always drinking. And I was drinking. I just wasn’t drinking Jack Daniels. But I always had a cigarette in my hand and sometimes one still burning in an ashtray. Almost everyone in the school was busy drinking and… yeah, smoking. I think some people started smoking simply because everyone else did. As soon as class was over a lot of people would immediately walk across the street to a local Santa Monica bar called Harvelle’s and start kicking back a few. Perhaps the material went a little too deep and they needed to cauterize their wounds. I’m not sure. But that kind of drinking didn’t really interest me. Harvelle’s was like an “old man’s bar” in the 70’s. If you went in there in the afternoon you would find “the usuals” having their “usual” and they were usually pretty looped by then. It was one of those bars that had sticky floors and stunk of Lucky Strikes and if you needed to use the restroom you had to walk down a narrow hall that made you feel like you were on a train. Now, of course it is a crowded jazz and blues club that only remotely resembles its past life. There’s hope for all of us.
One of the things I first learned in the school was that everyone worshiped the ground that Thane walked on. But by then, you did too, so it didn’t seem that noticeable. However, sometimes it was a little over the edge. Eventually, when you had taken enough classes and you could pay a little more attention to what was going on, you began to catch on to some of the insiders’ conversations and the behind the scenes events. This sometimes caused your head to spin a little. Many of the stories about Thane seemed a little farfetched, if not outright unbelievable, but you wrote that off as advertising hype. About that time I was working at the school, not just taking classes. I was doing graphics work as well as just about anything that needed to be done: typing new membership labels, folding newsletters, stapling reports, inserting envelopes, or general cleaning. I did this because it is an important part of the Fourth Way process but also because I was getting credit toward some of my classes.
Don't talk about the Teacher
I began to notice that nothing could be done without first talking to Thane about it. Or a meeting had to be called so that the person who would talk to Thane knew what was going on. There was an episode when Thane began to tell people “not to talk about the Teacher”. This supposedly was a Fourth Way revelation. The point being that no one knew what was going on between “The Teacher” and a particular student and it was foolish and pointless to engage in gossip about such things. I remember long time student, Sadah Loomis, carrying on about it at the time citing incidences with L. Ron Hubbard making such statements back in the day when she was still with Scientology.
(Left: Derek Lamar at 17 years old.) (Below right: Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science.)
Then the Church of Religious Science contacted Thane, regarding his use of the phrase: “Teacher of Teachers ~ Ernest Holmes” after his name. They said it wasn’t true, that Ernest Holmes didn’t say such a thing. But nothing came of the controversy and the school continued using that motto. A while after this event, in odd contrast, Thane decided that the school’s Mentors couldn’t be referred to as “teachers” but rather only as “instructors” because the school only had one “Teacher” and he was it. When I first started at the school Thane was living in Beverly Hills on Tower Grove but soon he moved to the Pacific Palisades. It wasn’t long after that he went off to Palm Springs. That seemed strange to me. Why did he need to be farther away from the school rather than closer? Then from there he moved to Hawaii, which everyone knew was close to his heart. He had spent summers in Hawaii as a child with his father plus living there off and on over the years. After he moved back to Hawaii he changed his name to “Thane of Hawaii”. That seemed really weird. I made the joke to a couple of students that I was going to change my name to “Derek of Santa Monica” but they didn’t think that was funny.
"I've been married three times and had three wives!"
Most of the volunteers at the Rectory, where Thane lived in Hawaii, were males. But one year a female student went to Hawaii on her own and she decided that she was going to help out by working at the Rectory. Granted this was presumptuous of her because no arrangements or discussion with Thane had taken place up to that point. It turned into quite a fiasco because she wasn’t well received and she interpreted the event through the eyes of a rejected female and to her it was an assault on her gender. She decided that Thane and his homosexual entourage didn’t want her there because she was out of place being a female. This triggered a barrage of angry reports and phone calls back to the Mainland by Thane as he peculiarly felt the need to defend his heterosexuality. He carried on about how he “…had been married three times and he wasn’t going to put up with such nonsense!!!” Back at the school many of us got a good laugh out of this because Thane’s reaction seemed so aberrant and out of character. We weren’t sure if it was some sort of Fourth Way shock for the student body or merely his coming unhinged. As usual most of “the old guard” became very quiet about the entire event and hoped it would soon be forgotten.
Jim Jones... Rev. Moon... Werner Erhardt... Maharishi... L. Ron Hubbard
(Above: Jim Jones, Rev. Moon, Werner Erhard and L. Ron Hubbard)
All of this was taking place before the whole Jim Jones and People’s Temple thing happened in Guyana. There were 914 found dead in that religious commune. Not since 960 Jews committed suicide at Masada in 70 A.D., had such a harrowing event taken place. Suddenly the discussion of “cults” became a commonplace theme and everything from Rev. Sun Myung Moon to Werner Erhardt of EST to the Maharishi and his Transcendental Meditation to L. Ron Hubbard and Dianetics were being scrutinized. The Jim Jones event took place November 18, 1978 and it was just in time to greet the upcoming holidays.
With a macabre mood already in the air I put together some homemade Christmas cards that year and sent them out to some student/friends. It had a drawing of Thane and some bodies lying around and on the inside it said: “Let’s get together and knock ‘em dead.” And taped on the right hand page was a packet of Kool-Aid for effect.
Saga continues: Cults And Their Followers
Table of Contents... Return to Blackboard cover page.
© Copyright Derek Lamar 2005
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