This was George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff's question. At an early age he had realized a high degree of being. Experiencing the mindless mechanicality of man, the wars, the destruction, the misery, the question arose in him: Why is there life on earth, what purpose does it serve, if any? Gurdjieff studied orthodox religion and science but their answers didn't satisfy him. He came to intuit that the wisdom societies of ancient civilizations held the key to man's true identity and purpose. Humanity, he recognized, was in dire need of this knowledge, for humanity had entered a crucial period in its development."Unless the wisdom of the East and the energy of the West," he said, "could be harnessed and used harmoniously, the world would be destroyed."