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The Enneagram - the Law of Ninefoldness

Enneagram Books

History of the Decimal System

Historical Precedents of the Enneagram 

The Enneagram in the Bible

The Enneagram : A Lecture by Gurdjieff

Эннеаграмма Лекция Г.И.Гурджиева


Most of Gurdjieff's teaching about the Enneagram appears in Ouspensky's books In Search of the Miraculous and The Fourth Way.

"Speaking in general it must be understood that the enneagram is a universal symbol. All knowledge can be included in the enneagram and with the help of the enneagram it can be interpreted. And in this connection only what a man is able to put into the enneagram does he actually know, that is, understand. What he cannot put into the enneagram he does not understand. 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." (ISOM 301)

Gurdjieff mentions the Enneagram obliquely in Beelzebub's Tales, but concentrates his teaching around the Law of Seven and Law of Three (Heptaparaparshinok and Triamazikamno). Thus for a complete understanding of the Enneagram we have to combine the material from Ouspensky's and Gurdjieff's writings.

"And so, my boy, these great terrestrial learned beings, the twin brothers Choon-Kil-Tess and Choon-Tro-Pel, now saints, were the first, after the loss of Atlantis, to lay anew the foundation of this knowledge They not only laid anew the foundation of this 'totality of special information' but they were also the first on Earth to ascertain two of the three fundamental particularities of that great law about which I have told you, that is to say, they were the first to ascertain its two 'mdnel-ins' That branch of genuine knowledge, similar to the one known on the continent of Atlantis as the 'science of the seven aspects of every whole phenomenon,' they called the 'Law of Ninefoldness', and they called it thus because they added to the seven clearly differentiated manifestations of this great law, which they called 'doostzakos,' the two particularities first observed by them which they named 'sooansotoorabitzo,' a word signifying 'obligatory gap aspect of the unbroken flowing of the whole ' And they named this law thus because during their exhaustive research they became convinced beyond doubt that in all the 'cosmic transitory results' they investigated, these particularities are necessarily found at specific places in the process of this great law." (16)

Here is Ouspensky's basic description of the Enneagram and its elements :

"The symbol which takes the form of a circle divided into nine parts with lines connecting them together expresses the law of seven in its union with the law of three.
"The octave possesses seven tones and the eighth is a repetition of the first. Together with the two 'additional shocks' which fill the 'intervals' mi-fa and si-do, there are nine elements.
The complete construction of this symbol which connects it with a complete expression of the law of octaves is more complicated than the construction shown. But even this construction shows the inner laws of one octave and it points out a method of cognizing the essential nature of a thing examined in itself." (ISOM 294)

The intervals or shock points correspond to the missing semi-tones of the musical octave between mi-fa and si-do. The Neutral force enters the octave as the Do note. The Passive force enters as the second octave beginning at the mi-fa interval and the Active force enters as the third octave beginning at the si-do interval. 

The complete construction of the Enneagram is composed of three octaves, one for each of the three forces of the Law of Three, Active, Passive and Neutral. The diagram below shows the enneagram composed from the three octaves:

Below is a diagram of the Enneagram as it is commonly known, based on the diagram above, with the notes of the octave, the numbers and the shocks shown. The X marks the spot where the Second Shock should appear according to the Law of Seven.

Here is another way to view the Enneagram is as three overlapping octaves. This is similar to the diagram of the three foods that Ouspensky shows in his books. It is also a representation of the three centers of man.

The Enneagram is constructed from interval / shock points of the three octaves. Unfortunately with this approach, the Second Shock point gets moved from the si-do interval and is represented at point 6. This anomaly has caused much consternation to students of the Enneagram. Ouspensky said that this discrepancy indicated the nature of the Second Conscious Shock required for the development of the higher being bodies. It may  indicate that a degree of anticipation is required when applying the Second Conscious Shock at the si-do interval. It is also interesting to note that both Gurdjieff and Ouspensky indicated that the Second Shock is supplied by the Will of God or His Endlessness. What this means regarding the ultimate Nature of Man is left up to Seekers to discover for themselves.



In In Search of the Miraculous, Ouspensky first describes the Ray of Creation as one octave and he then adds a Lateral Octave, composed of three notes, which acts as the First Mechanical Shock at the mi-fa interval. He goes on to describe the Ray of Creation as composed of three octaves, and indicates that there are three Lateral Octaves, one for each of the three corresponding mi-fa intervals. He illustrates this with a diagram similar to the one at the right. 

Given the displacement of the Second Shock mentioned previously when the three octaves are placed on an Enneagram, and noticing that on the Enneagram of the three overlapping octaves that the mi-fa shock of the outer third octave corresponds to the si-do shock of the inner Enneagram, one might surmise that the Second Shock requires the qualities of a Lateral Octave composed of three notes. The significance of this will become apparent when considering the Holy Affirming Prayer from Beelzebub's Tales as a three term equation for the Second Conscious Shock.

The Enneagram in Motion

The Endless Search 2004 Ian C. MacFarlane