A modern spiritual development group with a focus on self-awareness and inner growth.
Religion: Fourth Way
Founder: Sharon Gans
Location: New York City, United States
Size: Several hundred members
The Odyssey Study Group is a contemporary organization dedicated to personal and spiritual development. Based in New York City, it has been active since the late 20th century. The group attracts individuals seeking deeper understanding and personal growth through spiritual and philosophical teachings.
Origins and Founding
The Odyssey Study Group was founded by Sharon Gans and Alex Horn. It started as a small study group focusing on the teachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff and Peter D. Ouspensky, thinkers known for their work in mysticism and self-development.
The teachings of the Odyssey Study Group are rooted in the Fourth Way philosophy, a system introduced by Gurdjieff. This philosophy emphasizes self-awareness and development through everyday life activities, rather than through withdrawal from the world. The group also incorporates teachings from various spiritual traditions and contemporary psychological practices.
Activities and Practices
Members of the Odyssey Study Group engage in a variety of activities aimed at personal growth. These include group meetings, lectures, meditation sessions, and practical exercises designed to increase self-awareness and understanding. The group’s activities are structured to facilitate individual exploration and collective learning.
Criticism and Controversy
While the Odyssey Study Group presents itself as an organization focused on personal and spiritual development, it has faced criticism and allegations of being a cult. Former members and some media reports have described the group as employing manipulative tactics and exerting undue influence over its members. The group, however, denies these allegations, maintaining that its purpose is to aid individuals in their spiritual journey.
Influence and Reach
The Odyssey Study Group has influenced a number of individuals in the New York area and beyond. It remains active, with ongoing programs and events designed for those interested in its teachings. The group’s approach to spiritual development reflects a broader interest in alternative spiritual practices and the quest for meaning in the modern world.