Roger Gilbert-Lecomte was born May 18th, 1907 in Reims. He died December 31st, 1943 in Paris. In his work he told us with incredible insight of the universal, unseen struggle of being. His life was full of striving to reach for what is beyond form and the senses and he tells us of his findings with fearless rawness and exquisite sensitivity. His being is one of greatness, gentle elegance and dauntless courage and this shows through amidst his terrible struggle.
From an early age Roger was charismatic and intelligent. He expressed a marked interest in writing and literary ideas early on. At 14 he and several friends founded "The Apollo," a literary magazine, of which Roger was the editor-in-chief.
René Daumal was Lecomte's greatest friend. Roger first met René when he came to live in Reims and attend the lycée there in 1921. Their friendship was to influence Roger to seek a greater depth of understanding.
Together with several others they formed a group they called Les Phéres Simplistes, whose goal was to reach a higher awareness. They denied the validity of the individual, believing in the unity of being and performed experiments with out-of-body experiences, telepathy, extrasensory perception and automatic writing. For instance one night a group of them were together - Rene was exhausted and in a half trancelike state. Roger turned off the lights, and in the complete darkness, he placed items in front of René which René would identify and describe by placing his fingertips a few centimeters from the object.
They studied metaphysics and mysticism. They would not speak of physically being tired or hungry or anything of that nature, and they submitted themselves to shocking experiences to try to penetrate deeper into reality.
A primary significant experience for René and Roger happened with their ingesting carbon tetrachloride. In René Daumal: Life and Work of a Mystic Guide Kathleen Ferrick Rosenblatt says in regard to this experience "At the end of the 1943 essay, he(René) mentions that many poets and mystics have had the same vision-sometimes horrific, sometimes peaceful or ecstatic, according to their level of development. Of his friends, only Lecomte ever had a similar experience."(p38) These experiences have a tremendous effect upon Roger. It seemed as if he was driven to find the meaning and the implications of these experiences at all costs.
In 1927, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte and René Daumal with others begin Le Grand Jeu. As the Le Grand Jeu these young men explore their ideas even further. The Surrealists attempt to incorporate Le Grand Jeu into their movement, but although they share some similar precepts, the differences are significant and Le Grand Jeu refuses. The Surrealists and Le Grand Jeu were comparable in some ways, the breaking down of traditional logical thinking, the exploration of the "subconscious", but Le Grand Jeu was dedicated to combining with a higher spiritual principle and that is where they differ so much from the Surrealists. This I think was at the heart of their refusal to be incorporated into the Surrealists.
The ideas of Le Grand Jeu are gathered together in publications, called Le Grand Jeu, three of which are published . Before the fourth is published Le Grand Jeu has begun to disband. Rene has found a system of thought that can contain all others, the method for the development of man, Mr. Gurdjieff's Fourth Way. Believing in Roger and trying to save his dear friend from the trappings, Rene and Vera take him in to provide assistance on many levels. Roger does not make the transition and succumbs to the struggles which will continue the rest of his life. His sincere efforts are not in vain. His search for spiritual development is genuine and unrelenting. I cannot help but think he does eventually gain what he seeks, even if not in this life.