I had been aware of J.G. Bennett’s standing as a teacher in the Gurdjieffian milieu for some decades, but had not had any particular interest in reading his work. A used copy of Bennett’s Hazard fell into my hands serendipitously just after I had encountered the esoteric emphasis on “hazard” in The Magus by John Fowles, and that was sufficient motivation for me to read this brief volume of six lectures, with some audience Q&A after each, and three short appendices.
In the first lecture, Bennett puts forward his definition of hazard as “directed uncertainty” (132), relates it by etymology and concept to games of chance, and offers a preliminary demonstration of the importance of the concept. Over the next three lectures the focus is on showing the value of hazard to individual human fulfillment. In the fifth lecture he discusses the operation of hazard on the level of entire human societies, and in the last he applies it theologically. This final item is especially novel, in that he contradicts the theological traditions—dominant in almost all “world religions”—asserting the omnipotence and omniscience of the godhead. Instead, Bennett says, a power and intelligence greater than humanity should participate in hazard to a correspondingly greater degree.
The appendices set forth in a more systematic way Bennett’s general metaphysical ideas, with reference to hazard, but without it being at the center of focus. The end of the first appendix and the whole of the second are concerned with his philosophy of will, and the third appendix introduces his conception of love as a metaphysical phenomenon.
Bennett’s prose is clear throughout. He coins a small amount of reasonably euphonious jargon to carry his concepts, and his level of “woo” is markedly low for a teacher concerned with spirituality. In the Q&A that follows each lecture he shows a gentle lack of toleration for mystical currency in “pure consciousness,” “selflessness,” and the like. I found no significant conflicts between Bennett’s principles here and my own progressing perspective, and I am certainly open to reading further in his work. [via]