The Enneagram: Living and Dead
insights into the Gurdjieff's vision of
and the mechanism of personality type formation
by Plavan N. Go
Openly Published Web Edition
(up to the beginning part of Section 3.2)
Figure 1 The enneagram
All knowledge can be included in the enneagram. With the help of the enneagram, all knowledge can be interpreted. And in this connection it can be said: only what a man can put into the enneagram, he actually knows, that is to say, he understands.
Figure 2 The enneagram
Around 1915, Gurdjieff presented the above figure, later named the enneagram, in a lecture he gave in Russia. The lecture was translated into English when Gurdjieff began his activities in Europe. This is the oldest reliable account concerning the history of the enneagram.
There is no historical evidence regarding the earlier existence of the enneagram. The enneagram is not found inscribed in any ancient manuscript or monument. In fact, the whole world owes Gurdjieff for all the knowledge it presently has about the enneagram.
Considering the visual impact of the enneagram, it would be nearly impossible to keep it secret once it is known to more than a handful of individuals. Either the secret had been very strictly guarded or the enneagram did not exist before Gurdjieff.
Many believe that Gurdjieff came to know about the enneagram through his contact with a secret school of wisdom, possibly the one mentioned as the Sarmoung Brotherhood. Supposing it was so, what happened to that secret school and its teaching of the enneagram? They don't seem to be doing anything parallel to Gurdjieff. What we see instead is certain proponents of Sufism in the West presenting their replicas of the enneagram of personality, which does not come from Sufism. it comes from Oscar Ichazo.
Claims made by Idris Shah and some others on this subject, spread further by certain proponents of the enneagram of personality, seem to discredit the story rather than to confirm it. If the enneagram really belonged to a long lineage of oral transmission, it is possible that the lineage was about to die when it passed the knowledge to Gurdjieff. They might have lost the living understanding of what they preserved. Gurdjieff himself mentioned that the transmission of something real through living individuals has little chance of surviving for a long time.
In that case, the enneagram, like sacred dances and other pieces of objective art, may be regarded as what Gurdjieff called Legominism, that is to say, keys to objective knowledge that had been prepared in a special format to survive the end of oral transmission.
On the other hand, the real story could have been the reverse of what people believe. The finding of the enneagram in itself could have been the reaching of the hidden monastery of the Sarmoung Brotherhood.
Gurdjieff left no clear statement about the origin of the enneagram. However, his book known as the Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson contains stories about how some people came to learn about the Laws of World Creation and World Maintenance that the enneagram represents. According to those stories, the knowledge in this area was restored after the loss of the Atlantis in ancient China. In addition, from certain survivors from the Atlantis, the knowledge continued to be transmitted from generation to generation in the circles of initiates. It was known to a small number of learned beings who gathered in Babylon, including Pythagoras. In modern times, the story goes, the knowledge came into the hands of certain dervishes in Bokhara.
The enneagram of personality has its origin in Oscar Ichazo's mapping of nine ego fixations on the enneagram. He is said to have developed this model in the 1970s. Later on, the model he developed began to be used and spread by his former colleagues and their students. Some of them had Catholic or Jesuit background.
Ichazo used the term "ego fixations" to describe what he had mapped on the enneagram. In time, the borrowers of his model showed a general tendency to de-emphasize the fact that they represented different ways of imprisonment. Nowadays, they are commonly referred to as personality types, which are believed to have both good and bad sides.
Some personality enneagram proponents claim that these
nine types represent equally unique manifestations of one's
"individuality." This idea of "individuality." is
Considering that the nine personality types are formed mostly under pressure from the logic of survival, they should really be regarded as constraints to the manifestation of real individuality in man. Only something in man that may resist the automatic tendency toward adaptation and slavery to life is worthy of being praised as the individuality of man.
With this so-called "acceptance" of all personalities, the enneagram loses its significance as a symbol of evolution. if all points on the enneagram are equalized and accepted under such philosophy, which is in fact the acceptance of slavery, where is the path for evolution? Ichazo's approach was nothing like that.
With such modified approach, the enneagram of personality spread widely since the 1980s. It found its use in personal development seminars, management skill training, coaching, counseling, and so on.
In the early 1990s, I became acquainted with the relatively unmodified approach based on Ichazo's original model as I participated in group work programs led by former Arica leaders. In the same period, I became acquainted also with the Arica's body-oriented techniques like gymnastics and Chi Kung style exercises.
Comparing Arica's body-oriented approach to Gurdjieff's methods like the Movements, it seems that Arica did not come to the point of making the practical use of the Gurdjieff's insights into energy transformation that he represented using the enneagram.
Nevertheless, the Ichazo's model of nine ego fixations could be quite authentic in itself. One may justify it on the basis of Gurdjieff's ideas. This might be the reason behind the mystical relevance of this model that the personality enneagram proponents assert but cannot explain.
Figure 3 Oscar Ichazo's model
The Ichazo's enneagram of nine personality types does not come from Gurdjieff. This does not mean that it is unauthentic. Saying so would be a gross misinterpretation of the concept of authenticity. The Ichazo's enneagram is made all the more authentic because of the fact that it does not come from Gurdjieff.
Since the laws represented by the enneagram are all pervading, one may quite independently arrive at some insights into the symbol to a certain extent that corresponds to the nature of his experience. A full dynamic understanding of something is crystallized in man in the shape of the enneagram, In this sense, the enneagram is as ancient as man or the universe even though Gurdjieff may be the first man who has put it down on paper.
Ichazo might have arrived at this way of using the enneagram based on his unique insights into the works of the Law of Three and the Law of Seven that the enneagram represents. His insights might have been more intuitive than theoretical because he has not published the theoretical basis of his model.
As to those who simply borrowed and "refined" the Ichazo's model, the following words from a Persian dervish seems to apply:
"heard a bell without knowing where the sound came from"
Indeed, there is something alarmingly strange about books written on the enneagram of personality. They contain extensive discussions on what these nine types are and how one can distinguish them, how each type may have a "wing" or inclination toward one of the two neighboring types, and how people may improve themselves by going against the movement in the direction of 9-3-6 or 1-4-2-8-5-7. However, the books do not offer any logic to justify such elaborate definitions and theories. The authors seem to ascribe everything to some mystical knowledge, which they don't feel obliged to explain.
Is there any logic behind the definitions of the nine personality types and their mapping on the enneagram?
One of the purposes of this book is to answer this question.
The enneagram of personality has another problem. It is a map showing the positions at which people stopped their movement. In Everest, the dead bodies of climbers remain frozen on the spots at which they collapsed during their ascent or descent. The enneagram of personality is just like that. It does not really show the dynamism of human growth.
The main path of human growth goes clockwise along the circumference of the enneagram. Books written on the enneagram of personality reveal the ignorance of their authors about this path. In the enneagram of personality, the circular path around the enneagram is ignored except for short distances around each point of fixation. Presenting such an incomplete picture of human growth could be equivalent of confining someone inside an Yezidi magic circle mentioned by Gurdjieff::
Figure 4 The dead enneagram of personality
The counseling offered by the proponents of such theory cannot help being a deceit. They can do a good business by telling people how comfortably they may "accept" and adapt to the patterns of imprisonment not only of themselves but also of others. One should know, by the way, that this idea of "acceptance" is based on a top-down logic which people rarely doubt. Who is accepting who? The fallacy of such logic will become clearer when the true significance of the Law of Three is discussed later in this book.
From a memoir by Tchechovitch:
"I knew some sorry prisoners," Mr. Gurdjieff continued, "who brought up three generations of spiders, which they succeeded in taming and even in teaching tricks. Another became friends with mice and rats, and still another shared his bread with sparrows. Each of these prisoners looked for a way of adapting to his condition and of finding a means to escape, not from the prison, but from himself. But only the one who sees that he is imprisoned in himself has a chance of freedom; that is, if he really desires it and is intelligently prepared. One needs to think very carefully and see who is in prison and what the prison consists of."
One gets imprisoned in one's personality as the logic of survival overpowers the logic of growth:
Personality in man is what is not his own. [. . .] From the point of view of ordinary psychology the division of man into personality and essence is hardly comprehensible. [. . .] A man's real I, his individuality, can grow only from his essence.
It happens fairly often that essence dies in a man while his personality and his body are still alive. A considerable percentage of the people we meet in the streets of a great town are people who are empty inside, that is, they are actually already dead.
The dead enneagram of personality has to be made alive by complementing it with information from the living enneagram, which we may construct based on Gurdjieff's vision of harmonious development of man. This is another purpose of this book.
Figure 5 The dead enneagram and the living enneagram
This chapter introduces Gurdjieff's views on the enneagram and related subjects.
Man has three psychic functions: thinking, feeling and sensing. We may say that man has three brains or three centers that correspond to these three functions. Gurdjieff uses the word "mentation" when he refers generally to the functioning of these three. It may be interpret it like "mind-functioning" if you remember that the mind is threefold.
Once it was customary on Earth for every man aspiring to be a conscious thinker to be instructed in early years of his responsible life that there are two kinds of mentation.
The first is called "mentation by thought" that involves the use of words whose meanings are always relative. The second is called "mentation by form" which is proper to all animals as well as to man.
The exact meaning of all writings, by the way,should be perceived by these two kinds of mentation and assimilated after conscious confrontation with data that one has previously acquired.
The mankind has used various geometrical symbols such as circle, triangle, cross, square, pentagram and hexagram as representations of different views. They correspond to basic modalities of self-cognition and world-cognition. Among them the enneagram has a special position because of its power to dynamically combine different views.
In studying the works of human mind, Gurdjieff paid particular attention to the phenomenon of "associations." As demonstrated by the Pavlov's experiment with dog, any two things, which may not have any logical connection, can be "associated" in our mind as a result of mechanical repetition or even of coincidence. Man cannot perceive the reality correctly when his mind is driven by mechanical associations.
The mentation by form, when it is practiced as awareness regarding the form and sequence of cognitive processes, can be a help in thinking actively instead of being led by mechanical associations.
To succeed in collecting thoughts in a desired direction is not what is wanted. When we succeed in this, it is mechanical concentration which everybody can have. It is not the concentration of a man. It is important to know how not to depend on associations. [. . .]
Before going any further, it would be useful to learn to think according to a definite order. Let everyone take some object. Let each of you ask himself questions relating to the object and answer these according to his knowledge and material:
1) Its origin
2) The cause of its origin
3) Its history
4) Its qualities and attributes
5) Objects connected with it and related to it
6) Its use and application
7) Its results and effects
8) What it explains and proves
9) Its end or its future
10) Your opinion, the cause and motives of this opinion.
In writing, Gurdjieff followed a special form and sequence of exposition to help the formation of understanding on the part of the readers. He explained this in term of the Law of Three.
Such attempts to counter associative thinking by active thinking may lead to the understanding that the ability of thinking is based on the ability of seeing, that is to say, the ability to internally hold the images of multiple objects and see the interactions and relationships among them.
Using a method developed by Charles Fillmore, an American linguist, the illustration below shows how every verbal formulation can be understood as an expression of geometrical cognitive structure:
Figure 6 Geometrical representation of cognitive structure
When verbal formulations are converted into geometrical cognitive structures in this manner, verbs are like suns around which nouns are attracted like planets.
This method proved its merit as it began to be used as a universal language by multi-language automatic translation systems. The programmers only have to code rules of conversion between the language they know and the language of forms, that is to say, geometrical representations of cognitive structures. While the conversion rules are specific to each language, the cognitive structures behind them are understandable by all men. Translation is achieved by running these rules with dictionaries.
The high ability of thinking depends on the ability to hold within oneself the images of multiple objects in time and space and look at them from different angles. When Gurdjieff talks of "thinking," he evidently refers to thinking in this manner, which requires the ability to stand above thought.
Such ability of confronting reality with active mentation begins to have power when it has learned to apply itself to things that are in motion. With devilish practical inventiveness, Gurdjieff developed a series of rhythmic exercises and sacred dances, known as the Movements. They are the embodiments of the laws represented by the enneagram. At the same time, they are designed to serve as a method to develop this ability.
In order to understand the enneagram it must be thought of as in motion, as moving. A motionless enneagram is a dead symbol; the living symbol is in motion.
The ability mentioned above is required from anyone who aspires to learn the use of the enneagram as a living symbol. From the next chapter, the readers will be introduced to an approach to the enneagram as a symbol in motion.
Like when practicing the Movements, one will be required to pay attention to different things at the same time: (1) one's own self moving along the circular path around the enneagram; (2) the movement of attention along the lines connecting 1-4-2-8-5-7; (3) actions of forces from outside entering into the circle at 9-3-6.
+ + +
Trying to observe oneself according to the model of three or five centers can also be considered a practice in mentation by form. In fact, it is impossible to observe oneself without a model like this as one tends to get lost easily in associative commentaries one makes about oneself. However, the use of a term like "the thinking center" is troublesome because one may start with an idea that one already has a developed center for thinking.
I have understood from conversations that people have a wrong idea about one of the centers, and this wrong idea creates many difficulties.
It is about [what we believe to be] the thinking center, that is, our formatory apparatus. All the stimuli coming from the centers are transmitted to the formatory apparatus, and all the perceptions of centers also are manifested through the formatory apparatus. It is not a center but an apparatus:
Figure 7 Connection diagram of the centers in man
Although the formatory apparatus, hour pseudo head, is like a machine running on mechanical associations, it has communication links of different thickness with all centers. As a result,, It plays the role of a spokesman and adviser for lower centers, representing and dominating their interests in a "formatory" (mechanized) manner.
In Gurdjieff's five centers model, the formatory apparatus sometimes replaces the instinctive center. It does so in the above diagram and also in the Lecture on Symbolism, which is the Gurdjieff's first lecture on the enneagram. It seems to suggest that the formatory apparatus, our survival brain, is something that the instinctive center develops in its attempt to adapt to life. This is evolution only according to the Darwin's idea of evolution, which is believed to happen under pressure from the logic of survival. According to Gurdjieff, this idea is utterly wrong. In fact, man developing a mind like this out of necessity is equivalent of man giving birth to a monkey.
The formatory apparatus needs a special attention when we look at the development of the centers and the relationship among the centers. In the figure below, the right side of the enneagram represents the early stage of man's development up to the formation of the formatory apparatus, the so-called mind. Later on, when the formatory apparatus has been formed, it interferes into communication with the thinking and feeling centers as it functions as an arbitrary representative of the three lower centers. What we usually regard as body-mind dichotomy may not be anything better than a state of confusion produced around the formatory apparatus. A real confrontation between head and body is something else and is often missing in man.
Figure 8 Centers connection enneagram
Speaking in general it must be understood that the enneagram is a universal symbol. All knowledge can be included in the enneagram. With the help of the enneagram, all knowledge can be interpreted. And in this connection it can be said: only what a man can put into the enneagram, he actually knows, that is to say, he understands.
For the man who is able to make use of it, the enneagram makes books and libraries entirely unnecessary. Everything can be included and read in the enneagram. A man may be quite alone in the desert and he can trace the enneagram in the sand and in it read the eternal laws of the universe. And every time he can learn something new, something he did not know before.
If two men who have been in different schools meet, they will draw the enneagram and with its help they will be able at once to establish which of them knows more and which, consequently, stands upon which step, that is to say, which is the elder, which is the teacher and which the pupil. The enneagram is the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language which has as many different meanings as there are levels of men.
Gurdjieff spoke rather sparingly about the enneagram.
Symbols, transposed into the words of our language, and handed down in those words, harden into a filament, they tarnish and may give rise to fatal errors in people who do not understand the symbols or understand them literally.
Almost all of his recorded talks in which he referred directly to the enneagram are found in the Lecture on Symbolism and Chapter 14 of "In Search of the Miraculous." After that short period in Russia, Gurdjieff seems to have stopped lecturing on the enneagram. After that, however, his students still had opportunities to be exposed to the significance of the enneagram and what it represents through the practice of the Movements.
Gurdjieff did not entirely give up the use of words in the transmission of his ideas. The Beelzebub' Tales to His Grandson, which constitutes the first series of his writings, imparts his understanding of how the universe is created and maintained according to the laws represented by the enneagram.
In writing this story, Gurdjieff resisted interferences from mechanical associations by the use of entirely new words: For example, Beelzebub refers to the Law of Three as the sacred Triamazikamno, the Law of Seven as the sacred Heptaparaparshinokh. The mechanism of perpetual motion of the universe, realized by the combination of the two laws, is referred to as Trogoautoegocrat.
The enneagram is perpetual motion, the same perpetual motion that men have sought since the remotest antiquity and could never find. And it is clear why they could not find perpetual motion. They sought outside themselves that which was within them; and they attempted to construct perpetual motion as a machine is constructed, whereas real perpetual motion is a part of another perpetual motion and cannot be created apart from it. The enneagram is a schematic diagram of perpetual motion, that is, of a machine of eternal movement. But of course it is necessary to know how to read this diagram. The understanding of this symbol and the ability to make use of it give man very great power. It is perpetual motion and it is also the philosopher's stone of the alchemists.
The following describes some essential themes addressed by Beelzebub that are relevant to the understanding of the enneagram and the laws it represents.
The circumference of the enneagram represents an evolutionary process. This is compared with ascending an octave. A clockwise movement along the circumference of the enneagram signifies gradual progress into the realms of higher vibrations toward the completion of the process. We may find some examples of such evolutionary process: the growth of plant, the growth of man, the development of organization, making of products, creation of artifact, cooking, and so on.
From a cosmological viewpoint, however, such evolutionary processes may appear exceptional or ephemeral. It is particularly so because our official science has now affirmed that our whole universe started from one, supposedly 3.8 billion years ago from now. Everything started from one. This sounds romantic only when we look backward. When we look forward, we see dark future because the universe seems to be moving toward the direction of falling apart.
The same dark future is predicted by the second law of thermodynamics, formulated by science around the time Gurdjieff was born. It tells of the impossibility to prevent large systems or cosmoses from being affected by the gradual increase of entropy, that is to say, gradual loss of vital potentials.
This is the background of the search for perpetual motion and for principles in the universe that may counter the action of time or the domination of the second law of thermodynamics.
Turning our attention toward the past, we may wonder how evolutionary processes could have arisen in the universe if it started from and is still dominated by outward movement from the center.
"If the fresh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the fresh, that is a marvel of marvels."
(The Gospel of Thomas, 29)
Fresh coming out of spirit is a phenomenon that may happen in the process of what Beelzebub calls "involution:" Spirit coming out of fresh is a phenomenon that may happen in the process of what Beelzebub calls "evolution." Modern sciences are increasingly giving attention to the latter, which is really the marvel of marvels. The point is how such upward current of evolution could come out of the downward current of involution.
The Gurdjieff's ideas of involution and evolution must be understood in connection with the above story regarding the action of time.
The process of involution is an inevitable consequence of the creation from one. It is a top-down flow toward the realms of lower vibrations.
The down-going trend can be understood as the result of repeated processes of automatic neutralization: Beelzebub describes it as:
"the higher blends with the lower in order together to actualize the middle"
Figure 9 Downward neutralization according to the Law of Three
The quantity denoted as n, 2n or 4n in the above figure is a measure of what Gurdjieff calls "density" that combines the meaning of materiality and denseness, namely, insensitivity. The lower the density, the higher is the vibration and vivifying quality of the given matter.
The process of involution, which goes along what Gurdjieff calls the Ray of Creation, is a process characterized by continuous degradation, which we may understand in relation to the second law of thermodynamics.
Still we may consider it sacred because this top-down flow, although called involution, is a flow from the above. It brings with it something from the above. However, a worship of this downward flow in the sense of obedience and conformity makes one a part of downward flow. This top-down flow completes its mission only when it provokes a reverse flow back to the source.
How can an upward flow of evolution arise from the downward flow of involution?
Since the downward flow is maintained by repeated processes of automatic neutralization, the secret should lie in how the results of creation may reverse it by seeking merger with that which exist at higher levels as they follow and exercise forces they may develop within.
This reversal in the direction of flow must be studied as a collective phenomenon because it is the reversal of "from one to many" into "from many to one." It is quite relevant that this subject began to be addressed remarkably well by complex system sciences. One who wishes to make himself a part of evolutionary flow can benefit greatly from placing oneself in a collective situation where dynamic interactions take place. Individualists in spiritual endeavors may miss this point.
Gurdjieff prepared such situations in the form of communal living, organized group work, the Movements practice and dining together.
Only collective creation is possible.
The matter is relatively simple as long as we use the enneagram to represent something like the process of manufacturing a product or completing a project. Then the goal is clear and we may define milestones to measure the progress more or less in an objective manner.
Questions arise when we try to use the enneagram to represent the process of growth or the entire life of a man, animal or plant.
Questions arise because life in its biological sense is not an evolutionary process. It is more like an involutionary process similar to the depletion of a battery starting at birth and ending in death. It does not appear like an ascending octave.
If we want to use the enneagram to represent the life of a plant, we can do so only in relation to its mission of producing seeds or fruits.
The life of a plant can be taken as an ascending octave in the sense that it takes in substances from the soil and air and transforms them into higher substances with the help of sunlight. However, it only reproduces something equivalent of itself as a result of evolutionary processes that continue to take place in it as long as it lives. However, it is not evolving itself. Can man also be like this?
Figure 10 The enneagram
Drawing the enneagram:
a. Divide the circle into nine equal parts and number the nine points of division as shown above.
b. Draw a triangle by connecting Points 9, 3 and 6.
c. Draw the internal figure by connecting Points 1, 4, 2, 8, 5 and 7, which represent the eternally recurring sequence in the periodic decimal given by dividing 1 by 7.
According to Gurdjieff, the octave of sound represents the Law of Seven, which is a law governing what he calls" the discontinuity of vibrations." This refers to irregularity of tempo in the progress of things and corresponds to the concept of "non-linearity" in science.
From an individualistic viewpoint, this law may be interpreted negatively as an obstacle to development because it indicates that progress is interrupted from time to time by meeting a challenge surmountable only by getting some help from outside.
While Gurdjieff's remarks reported by Ouspensky appear to support this view for the most part, Beelzebub provides a positive view on this law in relation to the question of how evolutionary flow can arise from involutionary flow. That is to say, thanks to this law. processes become interdependent on one another, contacts are made, and particles that appeared to disperse in random directions nay come together.
Complex system sciences confirm this view through researches in the area of self-organization and "emergence," that is to say, a trend toward unity unexpectedly arising from a trend toward multiplicity. Interdependency among different processes, which often manifest themselves as non-linearity in development, is considered to be the chief cause of such reversing of trend.
The following summarizes how Gurdjieff explained the Law of Seven in relation to the octave of sound:
Figure 11 The octave of sound
In the above figure showing an octave on the keyboard of piano, the two points indicated by a cross are the points at which the black key is missing. That is to say, at each of the two points, the difference in pitch between the two adjoining notes corresponds to a half tone instead of a whole tone.
Gurdjieff calls these two points in the octave "intervals" or "gaps." He considers these intervals as points that cannot be crossed by the power intrinsic to the octave itself. For the process to continue beyond such interval, it has to be helped by a force from outside, which Gurdjieff calls "a shock."
There are two intervals in an octave:. The first one is found between MI and FA, and the second one is found between SI and DO.
Gurdjieff represented an octave on the enneagram as follows:
Figure 12 The octave on the enneagram
The second interval, which appears between SI and DO on the keyboard, appears between SOL and LA on the enneagram. Gurdjieff is reported to have commented as follows::
The apparent placing of the interval in its wrong place itself shows to those who are able to read the symbol what kind of 'shock' is required for the passage of SI to DO.
A rather obvious message from this apparent disparity is that one has to start preparing oneself at SOL in order to be able to cross the final gap between SI and DO.
We may compare the life of a plant with an octave. Then the first interval would be the pollination (marriage) and the second interval would be the bearing of seed (reproduction). At both of the intervals, the plant needs a help from external sources of influence such as bees, butterflies, wind and man. The preparation for crossing the second interval begins already at SOL.
Beelzebub gives a special attention to SOL in the octave. He takes it as an interval in itself and says that it results from the asymmetry in the Law of Seven, According to him, this interval plays an important function in determining the character of the fruit that the process is going to bear: whether it is going to be something inner, something outer or the mixture of both.
Note how the asymmetry appears on the keyboard of piano. If one looks at the octave as consisting of eight notes instead of seven, there could have been symmetry: DO- RE-MI & FA and then SOL- LA- SI & DO. Looking at the keyboard, one can see that this could almost have been the case but not quite in reality. On the enneagram, the octave appears to be symmetrical between right and left. However, it is not experienced as symmetrical by someone who travels the path around the enneagram.
An involutionary process that goes down along the Ray of Creation may be represented by an anticlockwise movement around the enneagram. This is a descending octave going in the direction of DO, SI, LA, SOL, FA, MI, RE, DO. According to Beelzebub, such an involutionary movement can also take place within an evolutionary process as a result of failing to pass an interval. A failure in passing the second interval can cause a backward movement toward the first interval.
The functioning of the SI-DO interval is known to be different between the ascending and descending octaves. In descending, "a will from the above" is said to be enough to cross this interval. This, in fact, everyone should know as part of common sense.
Mullah Nasr Eddin:
"'If a father likes to ride, even on a child's sled, his son will have to drag the big village sleigh up the mountain."
Figure 13 Ray of Creation
The "peculiarities" of SOL mentioned by Beelzebub are observed in both descending and ascending octaves. Looking at the above figure, note the "internalization" in the process of creation that takes place after SOL. The Ray of Creation starts to turn inward in a spiral motion after this point, revealing the meaning of the word "involution."
Figure 14 Internal figure connecting 1-4-2-8-5-7
The numbers 3, 6 and 9 do not appear in the circulation. It is like looking at an eternal motion that is perpetuated by hidden actions from the Law of Three.
In relation to the enneagram, Gurdjieff showed the following figure resembling the pentagram:
Figure 15 Elongated pentagram
"double binary of the ternaries, taken in pairs, giving the quaternary is neutralized into an elongated pentagram by the big free ternary"
While the above figure and statement are difficult to interpret, the readers may look at the figures below to look for relations among the logics of three, four and five:
Figure 16 Logics of three, four and five
In this book, discussing the pentagram is avoided because it will entail discussions on Chinese theories that are not easily accessible to readers who live outside China and Far East countries . In summary, I may say that the pentagram may have everything that the enneagram has except knowledge about the intervals, which is indeed a serious omission. Missing information about the intervals means missing entire teachings on the possibility of evolution. As a result, the elaborate Chinese theories based on the logic of five have mundane practical values as they are applied in Chinese medicine, for example, but seem to have little spiritual value. In Gurdjieff's ballet known as the Struggle of the Magicians, the pentagram is a symbol of black magicians while the enneagram is a symbol of white magicians.
Figure 17 Circle and triangle
About the circle, Gurdjieff:says:
The isolated existence of the thing or phenomenon under consideration is represented by a closed circle. It shows the process of change that it undergoes in life, a process that may repeat itself endlessly without interruption. It is symbolized by the circle of the figure [enneagram]. The separate points of division symbolizes the successive fundamental steps of the process.
The circle of the enneagram represents either a complete process or the structure of something complete. Since structure is derived from process, the both views are interchangeable.
About the triangle, Gurdjieff says:
The triangle 9-3-6, which unites into one whole the three points on the circumference not included in the periodic sequence 1-4-2-8-5-7, connects the law of seven and the law of three.
The numbers 3 and 6, correspond to the two intervals in the octave, the third is, so to speak, superfluous and at the same time it replaces the fundamental note DO.
Any phenomenon which is able to act reciprocally with a phenomenon similar to it can be taken as DO in an octave. Therefore, DO can emerge from its circle and enter into orderly correlation with another circle and serve as a shock filling the interval.
By having this possibility DO is connected by the triangle with those places in the octave where the shocks from outside sources occur, where the octave can be penetrated to make connection with what exists outside it.
The law of three stands out, so to speak, from the law of seven, and these two figures in combination give the inner structure of the octave and its notes.
There are two ways of assigning polarities to the triangle:
Figure 18 Assignment of three polarities
The way the positive and the negative are interpreted depends on standpoint, which may change in a single moment as we look at things. For example, polarities that appear on the surface are often deceptive; polarities in depth may be the reverse of how they appear on the surface.
Paying attention to how the process is experienced by the subject, three polarities are usually assigned in the manner shown on the left side in the above figure. In this case, they do not represent the relationships among or qualities of the external forces acting at those points.
The following diagram illustrating the process of making bread compares the two ways of assigning polarities. This example again shows the significance of SOL as a point at which the process should change its character.
Figure 19 Comparing two ways of assigning polarities (making bread)
The knowledge of the enneagram has for a very long time been preserved in secret and if it now is, so to speak, made available to all, it is only in an incomplete and theoretical form of which nobody could make any practical use without instruction from a man who knows.
Gurdjieff has given only one example of using the enneagram. It is in relation to what he calls "the food diagram." It shows the evolutionary transformation in man of three kinds of food: ordinary food, air and impressions. Impressions mean all that can be impressed on the three parts in man: mind, feeling and body. They are what we take in through experiencing, learning and living.
After being acquainted with the Gurdjieff's idea of involution and evolution, one may face difficulty in finding good examples of evolutionary flow in the universe. Life, in its biological sense, may not be considered a part of it. The material world, on the other hand, is dominated by the downward flow. It is under the domination of the second law of thermodynamics. Where can we find any strong counter-flow that may oppose this general trend?
Ha, ha, ha. . . It goes right up through us, piercing our body, so to say, from the bottom to the top. From this perspective, the body is an outer shell that has the function to sustain this upward flow that goes through it, while being in itself a part of the downward flow.
Because of this inner-outer contrast, man experiences three types of desires: those that belong to the upward flow, those that belong to the downward flow, and those that appear in relation to the need to reconcile between the two. Taking them all under the same denomination of desires, failing to distinguish them and failing to see the dynamism among them, is to miss man altogether. Gurdjieff's teaching regarding the Law of Three is a challenge against such view.
The food diagram shows how the processes of transformation of the three kinds of food constitute three ascending octaves in man: the food octave, the air octave and the impression octave. They make contact with one another at some crucial points where a shock from outside is needed to pass an interval.
Gurdjieff's explanations about the food diagram are found in: (1) Ouspensky's "In Search of the Miraculous" Chapter 9; (2) Gurdjieff's Lecture on Symbolism, which is his first lecture on the enneagram; and (3) Gurdjieff's "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 39. The food diagram is usually given in the form of a three-story factory model, but he has given all the instructions that are required to represent it on the enneagram.
Figure 20 Food enneagram (1)
The food enneagram shows the development of the food octave, the air octave and the impression octave that can proceed in man. The three octaves start at three different points on the circumference of the enneagram that are connected by the triangle.
The food octave begins at the top. When the air octave begins at the bottom right corner of the triangle, it makes contact with the food octave, giving it a shock it needs to pass the first interval. Similarly, when the impression octave begins at the bottom left corner of the triangle, it may make contact with the air octave, giving it a shock it needs to pass the first interval.
A number attached to the description of a note in the octave like DO, RE and MI indicates the "density" of matter at the given stage. With increase in density, matters get more coarse, dead and insensitive. With decrease in density, matters become more refined, vibrant and sensitive. By assuming a continuous spectrum across consciousness, energy and substance, Gurdjieff enables the consideration of interactions between the higher and the lower, or between consciousness and matter, beyond the range tolerated by official science.
These interactions can happen in two ways; ascending and descending. The urges for interactions in the ascending order manifest themselves in beings as thirsts and hangers, which, for man, are for assimilating and rightly transforming the three kinds of food. In reading Gurdjieff's explanations about the Law of Seven, one can be confused from the very beginning because he takes it for granted that DO wants to be RE, RE wants to be MI, MI wants to be FA but cannot become FA without help, and so on. For him, it is a matter of fact.
This enneagram covers a full octave of the transformation of ordinary food. Its final product SI12 before reaching the second interval corresponds to the matter required for reproduction. According to Beelzebub, this can become DO and start a new octave either outside oneself or inside oneself.
Starting a new octave outside oneself means giving birth to a child. Starting a new octave inside oneself means giving birth to the fourth part that should be in man. This fourth part is compared by Gurdjieff with the master in the carriage (body) pulled by the horse (feeling) and commanded by the driver (mind).
The first shock considered in the food enneagram is the shock from the air octave that the food octave needs for it to pass the interval between MI and FA. This shock is supplied more or less automatically.
The second shock considered in the food enneagram is the shock from the impression octave that the air octave needs for it to pass the interval between MI and FA. When this shock is properly given, the air octave extends beyond MI and fills the body with energies of higher qualities in its further ascent. This shock, however, is of a character that it can take place only with enhanced consciousness. For this reason, the shock required here is called "the second conscious shock."
Beelzebub mentions the possibility for SI12 in the food octave to cross the gap and start a new octave in oneself if it is given a proper shock, which he describes as "conscious labor and intentional suffering."
The exact meaning of all writings, by the way, should be perceived by these two kinds of mentation and assimilated after conscious confrontation with data that one has previously acquired.
Until some time ago, many people in the world instinctively sensed the need for the two shocks mentioned above and were "addicted" to a mechanical means to strengthen them, firstly in connection with the digestion of ordinary food by mediating contact between the food octave and the air octave, and secondly in connection with the digestion of impressions by mediating contact between the impression octave and the air octave.
Although the practice is known to be harmful to health, its contribution in the past to the GDP of Japan during the period of high economic growth, for example, might have been enormous. Here again, the logic of survival may not be wholly in agreement with the logic of growth.
Figure 21 Food enneagram (2)
This second food enneagram illustrates energy production in man in our ordinary state in the absence of the second shock that requires enhanced consciousness. This second enneagram shows how much we lose due to this absence of the second shock.
The second conscious shock is missing in ordinary state of man because we have mechanized ourselves so much in the intake of impressions that we hardly take things inside. In the second version of the food enneagram shown above, the impressions taken from the outside (DO48) do not even start its evolutionary descent firstly into the chest (RE24) and secondly into the belly (DO12) for crystallization into understanding. They get stuck in the head.
How does this happen? One should find it out by observation. We train children to become like that. We help children to form a pseudo head in them that takes everything mechanically and stuff their mind with answers that neutralize all questions that they may have.
The original Japanese version of this book gives examples from a radio program, famous in Japan, in which adults, who are experts in fields such as astronomy, psychology, biology, zoology, etc., answer wild and often very existential questions from children of various ages. As children interact with adults over the telephone, their breathing is often clearly audible, creating an ideal situation for the observation of contact between the two octaves. By listening to the interactions that take place, one may observe:
(i) How some younger children still retain the responsiveness of breathing to impressions they receive
(ii) How children lose this responsiveness of breathing as they learn to manage interactions with adults in a sophisticated manner
(iii) How adults often become terrified of children having an existential question in their mind and try to kill such a question in them by providing them with an arbitrary answer or convenient solution
As to the last point, it is quite interesting to notice how the woman announcer constantly asks children with a gentle caring voice: "Are you alright? Now you have understood?" It is as if she is afraid of what may happen if the impression octave begins its development after DO in a child.
Think about the position of a child whose possibility of growth has been spoiled by such apparently loving but really destructive intervention of neutralizing force. Supposing that the child still retains the power to develop his intelligence, how may he resist and what will he have to go through?
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For international readers, I will supply another example, a remarkable display of mechanicality in taking in information:
" What is the real meaning of these Movements?"
"They tell us of two qualities of energy moving without interruption through the body. As long as the dancer can keep in balance these two energies, he has a force that nothing else can give."
- - -
Now listen to ABBA and see how they express a successful contact between the two octaves as "aha":
Knowing me, knowing you (aha)
There is nothing we can do.
In relation to this subject of knowing me and knowing you, Ouspensky used the symbol of double arrow, and associated it with the Gurdjieff's idea of remembering oneself:
Ouspensky and Gurdjieff differ In their approaches to the double arrow. While Ouspensky describes it like something to be achieved mostly by mental effort, probably forgetting by this time the need to have a contact between the two octaves, Gurdjieff emphasizes the mobilizing of three parts of man in trying to remember oneself.
How can one measure the authenticity of one's approach? Why not measure it by the impact it has on air and on life?
What some people may interpret as the lamenting of helplessness in the song mentioned above may in fact be the expression of power. It is the determination to follow the consequence of knowing you and knowing me. The four members of ABBA followed their words. The two couples divorced and the group dispersed. A disastrous consequence? One cannot say so because, after knowing things from the both sides, there can be no room for regret. If you don't call this growth, what else can be growth. Here again, the logic of growth does not agree with the logic of survival.
= = =
In the world where most people live in the illusion of unity in the state Gurdjieff called identification, becoming aware of dualities and contradictions within oneself and with others marks the beginning of growth. One begins to see two in what used to appear as one, then begins to see three in two, and then four in three. Then one begins to see also five, six, seven, eight and nine, on the way back to oneness. This is the enneagram.
This reminds me of another song:
Lord, I am one, I am two, I am three, I am four,
I am five hundred miles away from home.
In the next chapter, we shall look more into this.
In this chapter, we are going to see how it may be possible to represent using the enneagram the Gurdjieff's vision of the harmonious development of man that is based on the logic of "three into four." According to him, a real man should consist of four parts: the carriage (body). the horse(feeling) pulling the carriage, the driver (thinking), and the master in the carriage.
The presence of every man should consist of all four of these distinct and quite definite parts, and each of them should be developed in a corresponding way so that during his responsible existence the manifestations of these separate parts will harmonize with one another. [. . .]
The fundamental evil among contemporary people is that, owing to the rooted and widespread abnormal methods of education of the rising generation, this fourth part, which should be present in everybody on reaching responsible age, is entirely lacking in them, and almost all of them consist only of three of the enumerated parts, which, moreover, are formed arbitrarily and anyhow.
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The three parts in man are often referred to as the three centers: the thinking center, the feeling center and the physical center. The third center is thought to be a unity formed by three subordinate centers, namely, the moving center, the sex center and the instinctive center, and should really be called the moving-sex-instinctive center, but often referred to as the moving center in the three centers model.
- The three centers model takes account of: the thinking center, the feeling center and the moving-sex-instinctive center.
- The five centers model takes account of: the thinking center, the feeling center, the moving center, the sex center and the instinctive center. In this model, Gurdjieff sometimes replaces the instinctive center by the formatory apparatus (our survival brain, pseudo head or monkey mind) as mentioned in Chapter 2.
The three centers model does not contradict with the five centers model. The lower three centers combine into one, according to the logic of three into four, and, as a unity, relates with the thinking center and the feeling center.
The real situation is much more messy because here the functioning of the formatory apparatus comes in. It serves as an unreliable spokesman and adviser, somehow representing the interests of the lower centers in an arbitrary manner as it tries to help their communication with the thinking and feeling centers.
The logic of three into four may continue further. When the thinking center, the feeling center and the physical center attain to unity, they, as a unity, may come into relationship with the higher thinking center and the higher feeling center. Then we may see the whole configuration as the seven centers model.
Figure 22 The three centers model and the five centers model
The same can be represented also as follows:
Figure 23 The three centers model and the five centers model
The centers may be assigned to the enneagram as follows:
Figure 24 Assignment of the centers to the enneagram
Watch the signs of three polarities (+, - and =) in the above diagram. They have to be like this within each triangle for evolutionary development to take place. The enneagram represents evolutionary development by a clockwise movement along its circumference. As one goes further on this path, one climbs toward the realms of higher vibrations. Therefore, within each triangle, the one that comes first along this circular path is given the minus sign (-), the second one the neutral sign (=), and the third one the plus sign (+).
This is how the relationship according to the Law of Three should be among the given three centers within each triangle for evolutionary development to be able to take place. This is the statement of condition. Do not think that such relationship always exists within each triangle.
It is important to remember what has been said already about the thinking center. What one usually believes to be his thinking center may not be what Gurdjieff regards as the thinking center.
The true faculty of thinking is something that people normally do not know quite well. Only by looking at the life of someone like Gurdjieff and see what choices he made and what he sacrificed, we begin to have glimpses of what it may mean to have such an inner attitude in which the thinking center stands as a positive pole in relation to the body. Normally the situation is reverse.
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Before continuing further, it is necessary to correct misleading statements made by Ouspensky. What Ouspensky condemns as "misunderstanding" and "have "nothing to do with G." turns out to be authentically the theory from Gurdjieff that he repeated in his lectures at his institute in France and expounded in the Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson:
It must be noted that the ideas were not given us in the form in which they are set out in my lectures. G. gave the ideas little by little, as though defending or protecting them from us.
When touching on new themes for the first time he gave only general principles, often holding back the most essential. Sometimes he himself pointed out apparent discrepancies in the theories given, which were, in fact, precisely due to these reservations and suppressions. [. . .]
On the first occasion he spoke of three centers, the intellectual, the emotional, and the moving, and tried to make us distinguish these functions, find examples, and so on. Afterwards the instinctive center was added, as an independent and self-supporting machine. Afterwards the sex center. [. . .]
I recollect another remark which afterwards proved a ground for much wrong reasoning and many wrong conclusions. This was that the three centers of the lower story: the instinctive, the moving, and the sex centers, work, in relation to each other, in the order of three forces - and that the sex center, in normal cases, acts as neutralizing force in relation to the instinctive and moving centers acting as active and passive forces.
The method of exposition of which I am speaking, and G.'s suppressions in his first talks, resulted in the creation of such misunderstanding, more particularly in later groups not connected with my work.
Many people found contradictions between the first exposition of a given idea and subsequent explanations and sometimes, in trying to hold as closely as possible to the first, they created fantastic theories having no relation to what G. actually said. Thus the idea of three centers was retained by certain groups (which, I repeat, were not connected with me). And this idea was, in some way, linked up with the idea of three forces, with which in reality it had no connection, first of all because there are not three centers but five in the ordinary man.
- - -
In the rest of this chapter, we shall examine the Law of Three, the logic of three into four, and the Law of Seven in relation to the Gurdjieff's vision of the harmonious development of man, which we shall finally put into the form of enneagram.
This living enneagram we will arrive at is going to be the reverse of the dead enneagram of personality. Later on, we shall compare the two. Then we shall see how the living enneagram may validate the truth of what are said to be the characteristics of the nine personality types and how it may reveal the mechanism behind the formation of each type. If valid correlations are found, it may demonstrate the validity of both of the two enneagrams that come from two independent sources.
Figure 25 The dead enneagram and the living enneagram
The following discussions on the Law of Three may not be easy to understand. While it is the first thing to be understood; it can be the last thing one may understand. I arrived at this conclusion after discussing this topic with many individuals who were differently positioned in relation to Gurdjieff and the work led by him.
Man is deeply conditioned not to allow this understanding. It is a result of having trained himself to survive by adapting to and claiming alignment with top-down logic. Hence, the Law of Three is the most basic but most neglected subject in Gurdjieff's teaching. Beelzebub approaches this subject carefully, saying that one will not understand this easily, and discusses it only after long preparatory discussions. According to him, on the planet Earth, even those individuals who have developed themselves to the point of forming the highest being-body in them continue to have a deep-rooted misunderstanding around this subject.
This subject is a challenge to a worldview that man accepts automatically and seldom doubts. It makes him remain passive in the state of slavery and keeps him identified with the position of his oppressors.
This subject also concerns the question of genders, or more exactly, issues around the confusion of genders. In this confusion, man loses sight of what can be the real source of affirmation in man. This has vast implications. Men could be more victimized by this phenomenon than women.
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Those who are willing to read further are requested to purchase the complete Kindle version of this book (ASIN: B07649C2FY) from the Amazon site.
 Source: P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 14
 The manuscript is originally titled "A Lecture on Symbolism" but is often presented as "The Enneagram" or "A Talk on the Enneagram" when it is reproduced on the internet. The word "enneagram" is not used in the lecture. Note that the original manuscript includes several obvious errors. Also note that there is inconsistency in the use of the terms "the first octave" and "the third octave.".[LINK]
 See G. Gurdjieff "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapters 30, etc.
 G. Gurdjieff "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapters 40 and 41
 This subject is discussed later in Section 2-3.
 Source: G. Gurdjieff "Meetings with Remarkable Men" Chapter 8
 See "Meetings with Remarkable Men" Chapter 4.
 Source: Tcheslav Tchechovitch "Tu l'aimeras: Souvenirs sur Giorgii Ivanovitch Gurdjieff
 The text is abridged. See P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 8.
 The text is abridged. See "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 1.
 See Chapter 7 in "Meetings with Remarkable Men" where Gurdjieff describe some incidents that are said to demonstrate "associative ingenuity" of Philos, his dog.
 Source: lecture on January 17, 1923
 See "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 46.
 Source: P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 14
 This refers to thinking, emotional and physical centers in man where the physical center can be considered a triad of the moving center, the sex center and the instinctive center.
 Source: lecture on January 29, 1923. The diagram below is also from the same lecture but the words have been added by the author.
 See G. Gurdjieff "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 23.
 Source: P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 14
 Source: G. Gurdjieff "A Lecture on Symbolism"
 Source: P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 14
 Source: G. Gurdjieff "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 39
 A remark by Gurdjieff in his lecture on March 1, 1924
 Source: P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 14
 See G. Gurdjieff "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 39.
 Source: G. Gurdjieff "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 37
 Source: G. Gurdjieff "A Lecture on Symbolism"
 Source: G. Gurdjieff "A Lecture on Symbolism"
 The text is abridged. See P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 14.
 Source: P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 14
 Source: G. Gurdjieff "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 1
 Film version "Meetings with Remarkable Men"
 See P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 7.
 The text is abridged. See "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Chapter 48.
 Source: P. D. Ouspensky "In Search of the miraculous" Chapter 3
 See Chapter 44 of the Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson titled "In Beelzebub's opinion, man's understanding of justice is in the objective sense an accursed mirage."