Fourth Way enneagram
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The Fourth Way enneagram is a figure published in 1949 in In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky, and an integral part of the Fourth Way esoteric system associated with George Gurdjieff. The term "enneagram" derives from two Greek words, ennea (nine) and gramma (something written or drawn).
The enneagram is a nine-pointed figure usually inscribed within a circle. Within the circle is a triangle connecting points 9, 3 and 6. The inscribed figure resembling a web connects the other six points in a cyclic figure 1-4-2-8-5-7. This number is derived from or corresponds to the recurring decimal .142857 = 1/7. These six points together with the point numbered 9 are said to represent the main stages of any complete process, and can be related to the notes of a musical octave, 9 being equivalent to "Do" and 1 to "Re" etc. The points numbered 3 and 6 are said to represent "shock points" which affect the way a process develops. The internal lines between the points; that is, the three-point figure and the six-point figure, are said to show certain non-obvious connections, although here very little elucidation is offered.
As reported by Ouspensky the enneagram was introduced by George Gurdjieff to his study groups in St Petersburg and Moscow in 1916. Ouspensky records this original explication in his book of Gurdjieff's teaching In Search of the Miraculous where the enneagram appears as Figure 44 and in further diagrams. It was presented as an ancient secret being released for the first time, the truth behind for example the Philosopher's Stone. Ouspensky quotes Gurdjieff as saying; "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 without instruction from a man who knows". Gurdjieff also remarked "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" 
Although no earlier record of the Fourth Way version of the enneagram can be cited, it has been proposed that it may derive from, or be cognate to, the Jewish Tree of Life (Kabbalah) as used in Renaissance Hermeticism (which used an enneagram of three interlocking triangles, also called a nonagram) or a nine-pointed figure used by the Christian medieval philosopher Ramon Llull.
Idries Shah, a populariser of Sufism, has claimed that the enneagram has a Sufi provenance and that it has also been long known in coded form disguised as an octagram. Another claim to a Sufi provenance is offered by the Sufi Enneagram website. The archives of the Naqshbandi Sufi order of Daghestan have been claimed to provide an account of a meeting between Gurdjieff and Shaykh Sharafuddin Daghestani in which the secret of the nine points was transmitted to Gurdjieff.
Another proposal suggests the diagram is a map of the chakras from yogic schools.
Background of the enneagram in Gurdjieff's cosmology
The enneagram according to Gurdjieff shows the "Law of Seven" and the "Law of Three" united and so some explanation of these laws is necessary here.
The Law of Seven or law of octaves, according to which phenomena evolves in seven steps; and the Law of Three, according to which phenomena are produced by three forces, are presented by Gurdjieff as global laws appearing on all scales and essential to his cosmology. This cosmology offers a view of how the world operates said to derive from alchemy and more ancient sources, and to complement or complete modern experimental science rather than to contradict it. According to this cosmology everything is material, including consciousness and spirit, and all matter can be assigned a "density"; consciousness and spirit for example having lower "densities" (and therefore higher "vibrations") than for example water while for example rock has a higher "density" and lower "vibration" than water and so on.
The diatonic musical scale is said to be an ancient application of the Law of Seven and a convenient way to study it. The major musical scale is used with short intervals at mi-fa and ti-do (Ouspensky refers to Ti as "Si" and So as "Sol" and the diagrams on this page reflect his usage). In other words if one thinks of a standard keyboard and takes for example middle C as Do then the following six white keys, DEFGAB will represent the rest of the octave, and the next white key will be the higher C. There will be black keys between each of the white keys, except between E and F (the mi-fa interval) and between B and the higher C (the ti-do interval)
In any process described in terms of the Law of Seven the Mi-Fa interval and the Ti-Do interval are said to be shock points where outside help is needed if the octave is to continue to develop as intended. A failure to recognize this in terms of human projects is said to be a major reason why things go wrong in general. The octave of electromagnetic radiation that appears as visible light, and the Periodic Table of the Elements are said to be examples of physical phenomena where the underlying Law of Seven can be detected (although no detail is offered here). It should be noted that the musical scale Gurdjieff is quoted as using is not the modern standard musical scale but Ptolemy's intense diatonic scale associated with the Renaissance composer and musical theorist Zarlino.
The Law of Three holds that three forces act on any event, which can be called Active, Passive, and Neutralizing forces, or simply First, Second, and Third forces respectively. Humanity is said to be "third force blind", to have difficulty recognizing the third force, which may appear to us in the guise of a result or of a background environment. In terms of the Law of Seven one of the three forces appears as the "do" of the octave and the other two appear as the "shocks" (which also function as the do of new octaves) The explanation of these laws in In Search of the Miraculous is largely in abstract terms, with some detail given for the so-called "food diagram" described below and the cosmic octave, the Ray of Creation.
The enneagram shows the Law of Seven and the Law of Three in a single symbol with the three forces joined in a triangle at the 3,6 and 9 points, and in addition seven inner lines following the 142... sequence. The meaning of these seven inner lines is not by Ouspensky's account made clear by Gurdjieff. One shock point is shown on the enneagram at point 3, which is the Mi-Fa interval where it might be expected. However the other is at point 6, at the So-La interval. It might have been expected to be at the Ti-Do interval, and Gurdjieff is presented as offering this apparent mistake as a mystery to be solved. Ouspensky offers the solution that the shock at point 3 itself develops as an octave to point 6, where its own Mi-Fa interval occurs. This second octave cannot develop unless it has a shock at its own Mi-Fa, and this is the shock which in fact occurs at point 6. The example of the "food diagram" enneagram summarized below might clarify this.
Application to processes: the food diagram
As the enneagram figure is a symbol said to represent the "law of seven" and the "law of three" in unity, therefore, according to this view, the figure can be used to describe any natural whole phenomenon, cosmos, process in life or any other piece of knowledge. The figure is the central organizing glyph of the Fourth Way's view of the material world which Gurdjieff is quoted by Ouspensky as relating to alchemy.
The most detailed example of how this is said to work, given in In Search of the Miraculous, is an explanation of how Gurdjieff believed inputs to the human body ("food", "air" and "impressions", collectively regarded as types of food) are processed into the so-called "higher substances" necessary for higher consciousness to function. In Gurdjieff's view "everything is material"; consciousness and spirit are to be regarded as aspects of matter, although more refined or of a "higher vibration" than perceptible aspects. This proposition is an essential basis for Gurdjieff's view of the evolution of food into the "higher substances" necessary for higher consciousness; briefly summarized below from the account in In Search of the Miraculous. The Fourth Way, a later collection of Ouspensky's talks, is a supplementary source for the same material
At point 9 ordinary food (beginning as Do) is eaten and enters the body and digestion begins. The "density" of human food is assigned a number, 768.
At point 1 it is said to be processed in the gut as Re and is refined to a "density" of 384 the same "density" as water.
At point 2 the food is further refined to Mi and assigned a density of 192, the same density as air. It is ready to enter the blood stream.
At point 3, Mi-Fa, occurs a "shock". Air can provide this shock because it also is of density 192, and furthermore this air enters as a new Do
At point 4 the original food octave is at "Fa" but the new air octave is at Re. They are both in the bloodstream at "density" 96, the "density" of hormones and vitamins and rarefied gases and animal magnetism "and so on". At this point we reach the end of "what is regarded as matter by our physics and chemistry"  It should be remembered that Gurdjieff is here speaking in 1916.
The substances or energies at point 5 are assigned a "density" of 48 and used in thought. These are the So or "Sol" part of the original food octave and the Mi part of the air octave.
Point 6 being where "impressions", regarded as a type of food, are said to enter the body. "Impressions" are said to also have a "density" of 48, and can serve as a shock if they are intensified by some such means as the exercise of "self-remembering" taught by Gurdjieff, thus allowing the air and impressions octaves to proceed. Otherwise only the ordinary food octave, shown in black in the diagram, proceeds.
Point 7 represents emotional and other energies, of a "density" of 24. If "self-remembering" occurs this will be the Fa point for the air octave and the Re point for the impressions octave. Otherwise it will just be the La point for the original food octave.
At point 8, the "Si" or Ti at the end of the first "ordinary food" octave represents the sexual energies, of "density" 12; which are the "highest substance" according to Gurdjieff which the body produces naturally without conscious intervention. A desire to conserve this "higher substances" for esoteric use is said to be the original reason for religious celibacy. With the conscious intervention at point 6 of "self remembering" further and more useful "higher substances" are created, represented by the air octave's So or "Sol" at point 8 and the impression octave's Mi at point 8. This Mi of "density" 12 is the "higher substance" primarily necessary for Gurdjieff's esoteric method.(Ouspensky makes some further remarks on the nature of this Mi 12 and Sol 12 in his book Fourth Way.) A further conscious shock, requiring "a special type of control over the emotions" at point 9 would enable a new "higher" or spiritual body to begin to grow, this is represented by Gurdjieff as the aim of his and other esoteric traditions. Although not shown in the diagram on this page, the Air octave, if it has a shock at Point 6 in fact may proceed to La with a "density" of 6.
Ouspensky relates the inner seven lines of the Food Diagram to the circulation of the blood.
Other applications to processes
Other applications of the enneagram to describing processes can be found in writings influenced by those of Gurdjieff, notably in the writings of J.G. Bennett. In his book Gurdjieff: Making a New World Bennett describes the workings of a community kitchen in terms of the enneagram and offers some explanation of the meaning of the internal lines. Another of his books, Enneagram Studies, is devoted to the subject, offering nine examples of enneagrams in various applications.
Applications to human typology
The enneagram has been used with at least two human typology models, the Enneagram of Personality and also an enneagram of "body types" or "essence types" associated particularly with the Gurdjieff organisation known as the Fellowship of Friends.
- Arica School
- Enneagram (disambiguation)
- Enneagram (geometry)
- Enneagram of Personality
- Fourth Way
- Fruit of the Holy Spirit
- In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, 1950, (reprinted 1977), PD Ouspensky, Routledge and Keegan Paul Ltd, London , pp. 285-295, 376-8.
- Ouspensky, P.D. (1949). In Search of the Miraculous. New York and London: Harcourt Brace, and Routledge. p. 294. ISBN 0-15-600746-0. ISBN is for Mariner Books, 2001. Quote: "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."
- Webb, James (2001). The Harmonious Circle: The Lives and Work of G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, and Their Followers. New York and London: Putnam USA, and Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-87773-427-5. ISBN is for Shambhala Publications, 1987.
- Shah, Idries (1994). The Commanding Self. London: Octagon Press. ISBN 0-86304-070-5. ISBN is for 1997 edition. The enneagram is disguised as "two superimposed squares" with the space in the middle representing the ninth point.
- Staff (14 July 2006). "The direct connection between the Fourth Way and Inner Christianity". Praxis Research Institute. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- van Laer, L. (2003). "Chakras and the enneagram". Doremishock.com.
- ISOTM 1950 page 175
- ISOTM 1950, page 193
- ISOTM 1950, page 378
- For example, A.G.E. Blake's The Intelligent Enneagram (Shambhala, 1995), an excerpt from this book plus other material and references on the enneagram of process can be found on Blake's "Duversity" site , accessed 25 June 2010
- Gurdjieff: Making a New World, Spiritual Classics Edition 1992, Appendix on the enneagram
- Enneagram Studies. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1983.
- Ouspensky, P.D., In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching , Harcourt Brace, and Routledge, (London), 1949.
- Nicoll, M., Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Volume Two, Vincent Stuart, (London), 1952.
- Bennett, J.G., The Enneagram, Coombe Springs Press, (Sherborne), 1974
- Popoff, I.B., The Enneagrama of the Man of Unity, Samuel Weiser, (New York), 1978.
- Bennett, J.G., Enneagram Studies, Samuel Weiser, (York Beach), 1983.
- Shah, I., The Commanding Self, Octagon Press, (London), 1994.
- Blake, A.G.E., The Intelligent Enneagram, Shambhala Books, (Boston), 1996.
- Webb, J., The Harmonious Circle: The Lives and Work of G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, and Their Followers, Thames and Hudson, (London), 2001.