Boris Mouravieff

Boris Mouravieff (Russian language: Борис Муравьёв; 8 March 1890 – 2 September 1966) was a Russian historian, philosopher, writer and university professor. He is known for his three-volume work Gnosis: Study and Commentaries on the Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy.[1]

Boris Mouravieff
BornBoris Petrovich Mouravieff
(1890-03-08)8 March 1890
Kronstadt, Russian Empire
Died2 September 1966(1966-09-02) (aged 76)
Geneva, Switzerland
Notable works
  • Gnosis: Study and Commentaries on the Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy

Philosophy career
Alma materGraduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Main interests
Political and diplomatic history, Esoteric Christianity


Early years: RussiaEdit

Boris Mouravieff was born in Kronstadt, Imperial Russia, on 8th March 1890. He was the second of Count Piotr Petrovitch Mouravieff's three sons. His father was an Admiral and Secretary of State to the Russian Imperial Navy. His ancestor's included General Prince Nicolas Mouravieff -Karski, Andreï Mouraviov (A. N. Mouravieff (author)), General Count Michel Mouravieff-Vilenski and General Count Nicolas Mouravieff-Amourski.

A commissioned officer of the Imperial Russian Naval Academy Mouravieff rose through the ranks, in particular from 1909 to 1912 when he served aboard the Russian cruiser Aurora. Aurora won fame in 1917, giving the signal for the start of the Bolshevik Revolution. During the First World War, he served in the Black Sea Fleet. Promoted to lieutenant commander in 1916, he commanded a flotilla of fast torpedo boats of which he had been the designer and the promoter.

In March 1917 at the age of 27, he was promoted to frigate captain, before being appointed Principal Private Secretary to Alexander Kerensky in the first provisional government, led by Prince Georgy Lvov. Following this he was appointed deputy chief of staff of the Black Sea fleet by Kerensky, who in turn became head of the Russian government until his overthrow by the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution of 1917. Shortly after the signing of Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, in 1918, he left the military but remained in Crimea to devote himself to business interests, archaeological work as well as esoteric and historical research.

At the end of 1920, Mouravieff left Russia for Constantinople and in 1922 he moved again to Bulgaria until 1924.

Since his youth, Mouravieff had been interested in the esoteric tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Assisted by indications left by Andreï Mouraviov (A.N. Mouravieff), his great-uncle (who died in 1874) and a founder of the Skete of Saint Andrew, one of the great Orthodox monasteries of Mount Athos. The latter had undertaken research in Egypt, Armenia, Kurdistan and even Persia to find traces of this tradition and manuscripts from the first centuries of our Common Era.


While in Constantinople between 1920-21 Mouravieff attended public lectures given by P. D. Ouspensky and became acquainted with Gurdjieff, whom he had contact with in later years both at Fontainebleau and in Paris. Mouravieff and Ouspensky became close friends and worked together either in Paris or London for many years most notably on the manuscript of In Search of the Miraculous. They met for the last time at Lyne Place Manor [2], near London, in May 1937. Boris Mouravieff specifies the nature of his links with Ouspensky and GI Gurdjieff in a study published in 1957: “Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and the Fragments of a teaching unknown ”(in Revue“ Synthèses ”, Brussels). This article is taken up in a work published by Dervy in September 2008 under the title "Writings on Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and on the Christian Esoteric Tradition".

In FranceEdit

In 1924, Boris Mouravieff arrived in France as a refugee. He first resides in Paris, then settles in Bordeaux. In 1935, he met Larissa Bassof-Volkoff, born in 1901 in Tashkent, in Uzbekistan. She is a ballerina and mother of a child from a first marriage, Boris Vsevolod Volkoff, born in 1928 in Neuilly. Boris Mouravieff married her in 1936 and all three moved to Paris the same year.

Since 1921, Boris Mouravieff has pursued his research relating to the political and diplomatic history of Russia, and in particular to Pierre the Great, which will give rise to the publication of several works.

Until 1941, he worked as a consulting engineer for various oil companies, while devoting his free time to his historical research, as well as to the esoteric tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy.

On June 11, 1940, Boris Mouravieff left Paris for Carry-le-Rouet in the South of France, where the firm that employed him had relocated. He then moved to Aix-en-Provence until July 1943, and finally to Haute-Savoie, Neuvecelle, above Evian. Refusing to collaborate with the Germans, he was arrested in early 1944 by the Gestapo, interned in Annemasse, then released under surveillance.


At this point resistance fighters of the French Gendarmerie in the department organised his flight and that of his family on March 9, 1944 for Switzerland. Received as refugees, Boris and Larissa Mouravieff are first assigned to residence in a refugee camp in Randa in Valais. At the end of the war, they were allowed to settle in Geneva in an establishment called "Home for intellectual refugees", while waiting to occupy an apartment in town.

Boris Mouravieff is 55 years old. He has to start from scratch again. His material situation is precarious: he hardly earns his living by means of lessons and industrial translations.

As early as April 1945, Boris Mouravieff applied for enrolment as a student at the Institute for Advanced International Studies in Geneva. In 1951, he graduated from this institute for his work: "The Russian-Turkish Alliance in the Middle of the Napoleonic Wars".

Around the same time, his wife opened the "Larissa Mouravieff Classical Dance School", which she ran for a quarter of a century. At the beginning, Boris Mouravieff participated by accompanying the lessons, on the piano.

During this period, he undertook work to formalize the esoteric Christian tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy. He initially planned to present this doctrine in romantic form (unfinished manuscript: "Initiation - The life and dreams of Boris Kouratov").


In April 1955, Boris Mouravieff becomes privat-docent at University of Geneva where he gives two courses until 1961, one concerning the history of Russia before 1917 and the other esoteric philosophy. This last course will be entitled precisely: "Introduction to esoteric philosophy according to the esoteric tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy". It will regularly bring together between ten and thirty students. The introductory speech of the 1956 academic year on the theme of "The Problem of the New Man" will be published by the journal "Syntheses". Other articles will follow this first publication.

The teaching provided at the University of Geneva served as the basis for writing his master work, "Gnôsis", the first volume of which was published in April 1961 by the editions "La Colombe" in Paris. The mastery and the clarity of the presentation were recognized and the work obtained the following year the price of esoteric literature Victor-Émile Michelet. A rigorous and concrete spirit, Boris Mouravieff presents and comments, through this work, the esoteric tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy in a language that is clear and accessible to a cultivated person of our time.

That same year, 1961, Boris Mouravieff created the Center for Esoteric Christian Studies (C.E.C.E.), based in Geneva, which he chaired and led until his death. The main goal assigned to the C.E.C.E. was to contribute to the formation of the New Man whom Boris Mouravieff wished for, in a critical historical period - ours - which he qualified as "Transition period", between a cycle which is ending and a new cycle, carrying promises as much as heavy dangers.

Following the publication of volume I of Gnôsis , Boris Mouravieff receives a voluminous correspondence. He does not just respond to people interested in the education disclosed in "Gnôsis": he encourages the creation of study groups that are emerging in Geneva, Paris, Lille, [[Brussels] ], Cairo, at Help:Congo (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs), etc. These groups, formed under the aegis of the C.E.C.E., aimed to jointly deepen the doctrine set out in Gnôsis.

In 1962, Boris Mouravieff took leave of the University of Geneva to devote himself entirely to the activities of the Center and to the writing of the last two volumes of the trilogy of "Gnôsis". Volume II appeared in 1962, volume III in 1965.

Within the framework of the C.E.C.E., Boris Mouravieff sees his audience widened to multiple groups whose work he follows, personally responding to the collective or individual questioning of their members. Visits will support the activity of certain groups such as Paris, Lille or Brussels. In the same way, he made a trip to Greece in July 1964 (A translation of "Gnôsis" in Greek was made following this trip).

To inform the groups and coordinate their work, "Information Bulletins" are periodically published by the C.E.C.E. for members. The development of the activity of the C.E.C.E. was made possible thanks to a patronage which made it possible to have the necessary material means.

The last years of Boris Mouravieff's life are devoted to this teaching activity. In a perspective of clarification, deepening and practical application, he undertook the writing of a “Collection of Notes on esoteric Christian teaching: The Stromata”, in imitation of [[Clement of Alexandria] ]. With these Stromates, grouped under the general title of "The Art of Winning", Boris Mouravieff embarks on a vast and ambitious project. The aim was to supplement the teaching given in "Gnôsis" with practical elements answering the questions that the study of doctrine raised among students. The first chapter appeared in 1966. Two other chapters were published posthumously.


This intense activity has an impact on Boris Mouravieff's state of health. In March 1965, already, a heart attack imposed him a short rest in Cannes. In June 1966, he was struck down by a crisis of rheumatoid arthritis accompanied by severe pain which forced him to live in bed.

Boris Mouravieff died in Geneva of a heart attack on September 28, 1966, at 8.15 p.m., at the age of 76. He rests at Saint-Georges cemetery, in Geneva [3].

The C.E.C.E. ceases operations shortly after the death of its founder.


His widow, Larissa Mouravieff published chapters 2 and 3 of the first "Stromate" in 1968 and 1970. She watches over the archives of the Center and, in 1988, has them deposited at the Public and University Library of Geneva before leaving for Canada to join her son. Larissa Mouravieff died in Montreal on September 26, 1989, leaving Boris Vsevolod Volkoff, sole heir of rights. When the latter died, in March 2012, the remaining archives were handed over to the Library of Geneva (BGE, department of manuscripts), where a Mouravieff collection had been set up, which could be consulted by researchers who request it.


Political and Diplomatic History (in French)

  • L’histoire de Russie mal connue (épuisé).
  • Le Testament de Pierre le Grand, légende et réalité, à la Baconnière, Collection « L’évolution du monde et des idées ». Neuchâtel, 1949.
  • Le Problème de l’Autorité super-étatique, à la Baconnière, Collection « L’évolution du monde et des idées ». Neuchâtel, 1950.
  • "L’Histoire a-t-elle un sens ?", « La Revue suisse d’Histoire », tome IV, fasc. 4, 1954.
  • L’Alliance russo-turque au milieu des guerres napoléoniennes, à la Baconnière, Collection * L’évolution du monde et des idées, Neuchâtel, 1954. (Diplôme des Hautes Études Internationales).
  • "Sainte-Sophie de Constantinople", Revue « Synthèses », no 167, Bruxelles, mai 1960.
  • La Monarchie Russe, Payot, Paris, 1962.

Esoteric Christianity

  • Gnosis, Book One, Exoteric Cycle: Study and Commentaries on the Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Gnosis, Book Two, Mesoteric Cycle: Study and Commentaries on the Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Gnosis, Book Three, Esoteric Cycle: Study and Commentaries on the Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy

Writers referenced Gnosis and/or Boris Mouravieff

  • Robin Amis, "Mouravieff and the Secret of the Source", in: Gnosis, magazine, n.20, été 1991.
  • Robin Amis, A Different Christianity, New York, SUNY, Albany, 1995.
  • Robin Amis, A Search of Esoteric Christianity, Devon, England, Praxis Institute Press, 1997.
  • Christian Bouchet , Gurdjieff, coll. « Qui suis-je ? », Puisieux, Éditions Pardès, 2001.
  • Antoine Faivre , in: Wouter Hanegraaff , Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, Leyde, E.J. Brill, 2005, t. II.
  • George Heart, Christianity : dogmatic Faith & Gnostic Vivifying Knowledge, Canada, Trafford Publishing, 2005.
  • Pascal Ide, Les neuf portes de l'âme - L'Ennéagramme, Montrouge, Sarment-Éditions du Jubilé, 2007.
  • James Moore, Gurdjieff, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1999.
  • Henry Normand, Symboles universels et traditions vivantes, Les grandes voies initiatiques, Paris, Editions Geuthner, 1997.
  • William Patrick Patterson , Taking with the Left Hand, Enneagramm Craze, People of the Bookmark & the Mouravieff ‘Phenomenon’, Fairfax, California, Arete Communications Publishers, 1998.
  • Richard Smoley, Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2008.
  • Richard Smoley, Inner Christianity : A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition, Boston, Shambhala, 2002.
  • Nicolas Tereshchenko, Gurdjieff et la quatrième voie, Paris, Guy Trédaniel Éditeur, 1991.
  • «La voie de René Daumal, du Grand Jeu au Mont Analogue», Hermès, Bruxelles, N. 5, 1964-1967.


  1. ^ Smoley, Richard, Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition. Boston: Shambhala, 2002, p.41.
  2. ^
  3. ^ At N ° 2071, District 3, of the St-Georges Cemetery, Plateau de Saint-Georges - 1 avenue du Cimetière, 1213 Petit-Lancy (Geneva).

External linksEdit