The Enneagram – A History (Part 2)

by | Jun 13, 2019 | Article | 0 comments

Anyone who takes the trouble to examine his teaching and methods, can assign nearly every fragment to some known tradition. We can say that this theme came from the Greek Orthodox tradition, that theme came from an Assyrian or Babylonian tradition, another was clearly Muslim and connected with Sufism and even with this or that particular Sufi sect. One can say of others that they must have come from one or other of the branches of Buddhism. Again, there are indications that he took much from what is called the Western occult tradition, the Platonic and Rosicrucian tradition. But when one examines still more closely, we find that there is something that cannot be assigned to any known traditions. There are certain very important features of which one cannot find any trace in literature.”—John Bennett, Gurdjieff: A Very Great Enigma

We previously discussed the Enneagram’s supposed ancient origins, its emblem, its numbering system, and why the numbers are connected in The Enneagram – A History (Part One)—a good place to begin for those whose primary interest is the history; however, as a starting point and in our effort to make this series a comprehensive discourse on the topic, we have additionally included two prequel articles: The Enneagram: The Appeal To Moral Neutrality, which at minimum disputes the idea that the Enneagram is a morally neutral tool that can be used for good or ill; and secondly, The Appeal To Intent, which asks what role affinity plays in the desire to teach something as having value when the evidence shows otherwise. A subsequent article will investigate how the Enneagram became what it is today—a personality test, by looking at Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, as they are the men to whom most people point when discussing the evolution of the Enneagram; and the series will conclude with an article examining the claims and reliability of the Enneagram. However, necessity dictates that we begin with the man George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, who invented and brought the Enneagram to the West. Gurdjieff and those from whom Gurdjieff drew his inspiration (the beliefs and their origin) will be the focus of Part Two.

In the book, Meetings with Remarkable Men, Gurdjieff claims in the year 1897 he was introduced to an old man for whom he had been searching who was part of the Samouni sect; this man took him to a monastery in Turkestan where he learned the Enneagram and about psychic powers. The Sarmounis believed that, in addition to being a tool for personal transformation, the Enneagram could reveal the future. Gurdjieff called the Enneagram, “ancient science,”1 and when his students pressed Gurdjieff about the origin, one student, P. D. Ouspensky, related this exchange:

“Did you ever ask Gurdjieff about the origins of the System?”

“We all asked him about 10 times a day, and every time the answer was different.”

“Did you ask Gurdjieff why he always gave different answers?”


“What did he say?”

“He said he never gave different answers.”2

This seems to confirm the assertion that the Enneagram is dependent on a variety of spiritual or religious sources, sources which according to Gurdjieff had at their core esoteric origins which contained a shared truth—perennial philosophy, which is a belief that all religious traditions share a single truth or origin from which all esoteric (specialized knowledge intended for or understood by only a small number of people) and exoteric (intended for or likely to be understood by the general public) knowledge and doctrine has grown.

Gurdjieff claimed inspiration from wide and varied sources. In his book, In Search of the Miraculous, P. D. Ouspensky wrote, “About where [Gurdjieff] had found the knowledge he undoubtedly possessed he spoke very little and always superficially. He mentioned Tibetan monasteries, the Chitral, Mount Athos; Sufi schools in Persia, in Bokhara, and eastern Turkestan; he mentioned dervishes of various orders; but all of them in a very indefinite way…” John Bennett, who wrote, Gurdjieff: A Very Great Enigma, says that it is unlikely that the exact sources can be found “anywhere in metaphysical and spiritual literature.” But we can track some of the influences which Gurdjieff attributes to the Enneagram, beginning with Christianity. Gurdjieff was influenced by the Eastern Orthodox church in his childhood and later in life as well. His book, Beelzebub’s Tales, is chock-full of Christian symbols and themes: hierarchy of the heavenly figures, the fall, the redemption, and being born-again. He composed music which had as its inspiration Easter and Christmas; and he and his followers used parables from the Gospels.3

It should be noted that the fact that Gurdjieff utilized Christian ideas and symbols does not at all imply that his philosophies are Christian—but only implies a Christian influence. Gurdjieff believed that it was left to the “Essenes Brotherhood” to preserve unchanged the original teachings of Jesus which had been so badly corrupted by the church [Source]. He also believed that preserved in ancient Egypt thousands of years before the birth of Jesus were the esoteric principles of true Christian doctrine4 presumably by the Brotherhood of Essenes. It is true Gurdjieff held these “original” tenets of Christianity in high regard and regretted they were distorted by the church: “If only the teaching of the Divine Jesus Christ were carried out in full conformity with its original, then the religion . . . founded on it would not only be the best of all existing religions, but even of all religions which may arise and exist in the future.”5

Some students questioned Gurdjieff about the relationship of Christianity to his teachings; to this he replied, “It would be necessary to talk a great deal and to talk for a long time in order to make clear what you understand by this term. But for the benefit of those who know already, I will say that, if you like, this is esoteric Christianity.”6

Gurdjieff, in 1912, went to Russia disguised as “Prince Ozay” and it was there he met Paul Dukes, a musicologist, whom Gurdjieff befriended and introduced to Breath Prayer, “as a devotional breathing exercise to be chanted on a single even breath.” Prince Ozay (Gurdjieff) claimed that these types of devotional exercise had been inherited by the church from, “ancient Egyptians, Chaldeans, Brahmins and others in the East, where it is known as the science of Mantra,” but lamented that this “esoteric side” had been lost to the Western Church centuries ago [Source]. This belief of inherited traditions is known today as Contemplative Mysticism and the breath prayer Gurdjieff spoke of is but one of the methods used in the practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer.

Gurdjieff began to merge these Christian influences with other esoteric schools of wisdom beginning with Sufism. Like his view of Christianity, Gurdjieff in his book Beelzebub’s Tales, wrote that Islam no longer taught the true teachings of Mohammed, but that the esoteric truths were kept, “in Bokhara [a city in Uzbekistan], where from the beginning the secret knowledge of Islam has been concentrated, this place having become its very centre and source.”7 That Gurdjieff would draw from both Christianity and Islam is not surprising when considered in light of what Idris Shah, an Afghani sufi teacher, said, “there is evidence that at the deepest levels of Sufi secrecy, there is a mutual communication with the mystics of the Christian West.”8 Hakim Jami, another Sufi master, claim there is a connection between the Greek mystery schools and Sufism.

G. Bennett in his book, Gurdjieff: Making a New World, writes of his mentor, “Gurdjieff told me that he had learned about these ancient schools of wisdom from researches he himself had made in caves in the Caucasian mountains and in the great limestone caverns of the Syr Darya in Turkestan. I have since learned that there is a Sufi tradition in Central Asia that claims to go back forty thousand years.”9 Bennett goes on to state that Gurdjieff traveled to central Asia and began to study with the Sarmoun Society, a society of sufis that are said to have been established around 2500 BCE and which supposedly was tasked with preserving the Aryan tradition.10 There is some controversy surrounding both of these claims 1) Sufism dates back to only c. 650 AD and 2) Mark Sedgwick, the coordinator of the Unit for Arab and Islamic Studies at Aarhus University writes: “Although few commentators in Gurdjieff would put it so bluntly, it seems clear to me that the Sarmoung are entirely imaginary. No Sufi tariqa [doctrine or path of spiritual learning] of such a name is known, and in fact ‘Sarmoung’ is a typically Gurdjieffian fantastical name. It is immediately obvious to anyone who knows anything about regular Sufism that there is nothing remotely Sufi about the Sarmoung Order described by Gurdjieff.”11 James Moore, in his biography of Gurdjieff, writes that this may have had an altogether other meaning, “Gurdjieff’s claim to have found and entered ‘the chief Sarmoung Monastery’ is, in effect, a litmus test, distinguishing literal minds from those preferring allegory.”12

The word “sarmoun” can mean “bee” and thought of as the relationship or functioning of a beehive. The Sarmoun as “bees” would store the ancient wisdom or energy and then release it as honey into the world; it also means “those who are enlightened” or “those whose heads have been purified.” Bees has another meaning as well, “the Bees refers to a mysterious power transmitted from the time of Zoroaster and made manifest in the time of Christ.”13 The sufis have two primary orders: the northern focused on the liberation from self and the southern concerned with the mystical union with God. Gurdjieff seemed taken with the northern order, and when he came to the West, he brought with him the dervish practices in hopes of helping his students to reach their full human potential.

One of Gurdjieff’s core beliefs came from an ancient Sumerian manuscript which states, “Everything that exists maintains and is maintained by other existences,” the idea contained is that the universe is made up of a pattern or web of transforming energies, each line of the web providing sustenance to the other. It is from this belief that the idea of the Enneagram may have emerged.

Other religions which influenced Gurdjieff were Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism. In his book, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, Gurdjieff dedicates an entire chapter to the teachings and practices of Buddhism. He writes of the five obligolnian of striving which strongly parallel the Buddhist teachings.


Five Being Obligolnian Strivings in Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson Buddhist Teachings [Source]
“to have in one’s ordinary being existence everything satisfying and really necessary for the planetary body”14 Buddha, “…to satisfy the necessities of life is not evil. To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we will not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom and keep our mind strong and clear.”
“To have a constant and unflagging instinctive need to perfect oneself in the sense of Being” 15 Buddhist adage, “clarify the matter.”
“the conscious striving to know ever more and more about the laws of world-creation and world maintenance”16 Buddhist adage, “clarify the matter.”
“from the beginning of one’s existence the striving to pay as quickly as possible for one’s arising and individuality, in order to be free to lighten as much as possible the sorrow of our common father”17 Buddhist proposition, a call to identify, take responsibility for, and alleviate all suffering, up to and including the suffering of God
“… the striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to the degree of the sacred ‘Martfotai’ that is, up to the degree of self individuality”18 Bodhisattva vow.


A central character in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, Ashiata Shiemash, was said by Gurdjieff’s students to be a reference to the ancient Indo-Iranian prophet Zarathushtra. Zoroastrianism’s philosophy and Gurdjieff’s teachings have many similarities: a focus on oral tradition and the transmission of important ideas ‘mouth to ear,’ that man is fundamentally good, the source consciousness is a singularity, triads and the Law of Three, and the development of Conscience brings about peace and prosperity to mankind [Source].

Ravi Ravindra discusses the influence Hinduism had on Gurdjieff in, Gurdjieff Work and the Teaching of Krishna, “Gurdjieff travelled widely and may have been influenced by the various strands of the vast Indian tradition, either directly or indirectly, through Tibet and other parts of Asia. He refers to India on many occasions in his writings, often with the suggestion that in ancient times, if not now, esoteric schools with real knowledge had existed there. He even referred to himself as a ‘Hindu’ in his first public pronouncements in a Moscow newspaper in 1914 regarding the performance of ‘an Indian mystery play’ called The Struggle of the Magicians.“19 Gurdjieff incorporated practices similar to ‘crazy wisdom’ which is associated with Zen and Buddhist teachings,20 as well as yoga and breathe prayer and the tantric concept of the seven chakras [Source].

More evidence for both Gurdjieff’s pantheistic spiritism and his adoption of eastern mysticism comes from, Life Is Real Only Then, When “I Am,” the third book of his, All and Everything, trilogy, Gurdjieff wrote that he believes he is Endlessness (God), a view of man which is found in Sufism, Hinduism, and other esoteric spiritualities; he states, “the difference between him and myself must lie only in scale.”21 In, Gurdjieff Unveiled, Seymour B. Ginsburg wrote that, “Gurdjieff viewed Jesus as one of several great historical figures, including the Buddha, who were enlightened beings. By this he meant that such a being knows that there is no distinction between him or herself and that state which Gurdjieff calls ‘Endlessness.’ It is in this sense that Jesus is ‘God’ and so are we all.”22

I have not gone into greater detail as books could and have been written about him and the origins of his beliefs; rather, I sought to briefly summarize from whom and by what Gurdjieff was influenced. Unsurprisingly, Gurdjieff’s Enneagram is no different, emerging not from a single religious or spiritual influence but from a host traditions.

Though influenced by many religions (Christian, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufism) it is apparent that Gurdjieff and the Enneagram were not exclusive to any one branch of spirituality. Frank Sinclair in, Of the Life Aligned, wrote, “It wasn’t that he collected bits and pieces from the great traditions and contrived some proprietary teaching. Rather, he seems to have been able to gain access to several primary sources and to make their knowledge authentically his own. If every real teaching derives from some overarching revelation, he must also have had some centering experience or experiences that connected him to the Source, to what is central. He was returning to the source of the perennial wisdom. He called it the Great Knowledge, ‘the powerful ancient stream of true knowledge of being.’”23 According to Gurdjieff its origin is somewhat mysterious and anonymous, “This symbol cannot be met anywhere in the study of ‘occultism,’ either in books or in oral transmission.”24

The Fourth Way or The Work is an amalgamation of Christian esoterism, Sufi, and Hindu spiritual beliefs and was a divergent path to enlightenment. In the book, Gurdjieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Teachings, Dr. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke writes of the Fourth Way, “The Work, the name by which his teachings are most usually known, is drawn from alchemy, where the Great Work signified the refinement and purification of base metals into gold as well as the transmutation of the soul into a higher spiritual state. Gurdjieff’s teachings similarly aimed at the transformation of man’s inner substance. Through cosmological speculations, through lectures, manual work, communal life, and sacred dances or ‘Movements’ in successive phases of his life, Gurdjieff offered a practical form of esoteric instruction that could harmonize the microcosm of the human being with the macrocosm of the universe and so reunite man with the Endlessness or supreme deity. . . As Seymour Ginsburg relates in his preface, his introduction to Gurdjieff coincided with an understanding of esotericism as a form of teaching intended to expand human consciousness for the purposes of discovering who we are, what is our purpose, and what is the nature of reality. As in the famous words of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus ‘As above, so below’, esoteric philosophy always seeks to link the microcosm with the macrocosm through a system of correspondences, hierarchies,and intermediaries. ”25

Gurdjieff believed that throughout history there were three traditional modes of transferring our identity from the temporal (bound by time and space) to the immortal:

  • The way of the fakir (the way of struggle with the physical body).
  • The way of the monk (the way of faith, the emotional way).
  • The way of the yogi (the way of knowledge, the way of mind)26

Ultimately Gurdjieff found that while these work that they only work by severe asceticism and seclusion and are hardly plausible to achieve in a modern society; the Fourth Way was his answer to this problem. The Fourth Way works on all three: body, emotions, and mind at the same time to achieve balance. Seymour Ginsburg explains this concept here, “As we become more balanced, we can be self-conscious more easily because we are less identified with our body, our thoughts, or our emotions. When we no longer identify with these features of temporal life, we discover that we are free of all fears and all desires. We then stand in essence, not in personality, and essence is immortal.”27

The Fourth Way’s philosophical underpinning are known as the Law of Three and the Law of Seven.

Law Of Three

The Law of Three, also known as: Law of Three Forces, the Law of Creation, or the Sacred Triamazikamno, was considered by P. D. Ouspensky to have enormous power if followed correctly, he stated, “There are ideas which could stop all quarrels; such an idea is the law of three.” Mystics point to this imagery as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in Christianity; Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu in Hinduism; or mercury, sulphur and salt in Alchemy. Gurdjieff calls these three forces affirming, denying, and reconciling.

The basic structure is that for every action there are three required forces: active (positive), passive (negative), and neutral; and that until the third force interacts with the other two nothing happens. Imagine you want to write a book (6=affirming) but you have no pen and paper (3=denying) now let’s say a person gives you pen and paper (9=neutralizing): you can now take action—the Law of Three at its most basic.

Seymour Ginsburg explains it like this:

“We can think of this process as movement along a parabola. The ‘descending’ arc of the parabola represents the ‘descent’ of spirit, an infinitely rapid, vibratory state,which represents infinitely fine matter, into grosser and grosser states until at the bottom of the parabola there is an infinitely slow vibratory state, which represents infinitely dense matter. The return arc of the parabola represents just the opposite, the ‘ascent’ of matter into spirit. It is sometimes called the path of return (to unity). Gurdjieff called human beings, ‘third-force blind,’ and this is because the third force is a property of the real world, the world as seen from the standpoint of Endlessness in complete non-identification. The real world can be experienced only in the state of objective consciousness. It is the fourth state of consciousness of which we are not conscious but toward which we work. It is the state in which we are completely free of all identification. Sometimes we have a glimpse of it in our ordinary sexual activities where there is a kind of merging of two opposite forces, male and female, and the participants in a moment of ecstasy, may momentarily experience the unitive vision, and with it, genuine love. But as Gurdjieff pointed out, this is like finding money in the street. It is only through long and difficult work on ourselves that we can become sufficiently detached from our personality to stand in our true nature and in so doing to experience genuine love.”28

Notice that Gurdjieff wants us to detach from our personality not find it.

Law Of Seven

The Law of Seven, referred to by some as the Law of Octaves or the Sacred Heptaparaparshinokh, delves deeply into music and musical theory; because neither of these is my field of expertise, I will rely on the teaching and writing of others who are more well versed (no pun intended). [Links here, here, here, here, and here are provided for those who may be interested in going deeper into Gurdjieff’s musical theory.] While the Law of Three is one of forces, the Law of Seven is one of scales on which cosmic and global laws are attached.

James Moore attempted to distill the Law of Seven to a sentence, “every completing process must without exception have seven discrete phases: construing these as an ascending or descending series of seven notes or pitches, the frequency of vibrations must develop irregularly, with two predictable deviations (just where semi-tones are missing between Mi-Fa and Si-Do in the untempered modern major scale EDCBAGFE).”29

Seymour B. Ginsburg expounds on this idea in his book, Gurdjieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Teachings:

“Accompanying the law of the three forces (the sacred triamazikamno) is the law of the octave (the sacred heptaparaparshinokh), which brings about all the diversity that we experience in the universe. It is the law which, by its structure, brings about intentional irregularity in the processes of involution and evolution in order to produce variety and experience. As soon as the process of cosmic creation begins, having formed the first new cosmos, the three forces continue automatically making further cosmoses, in accordance with this first fundamental law, the law of the octave (the sacred heptaparaparshinokh). It is sometimes called the law of seven steps. This process of creation becomes mechanical and creates new, secondary orders of ‘laws’ as well as new cosmoses, situated further and further away from the Sun-Absolute. Because the seven steps or stages have been made intentionally uneven by the creative force behind the manifested universe, working in accordance with the two great laws of world-creation and world-maintenance, the wondrous multiformity that we observe, occurs. Some students like to think of this unevenness as hazard being built into the manifested universe. The megalocosmos thus created is made up of a countless number of ‘rays of creation,’ each ray of which, in accordance with the sacred fundamental law of the octave or seven consecutive steps, has six cosmoses, each more distant from its parent Sun-Absolute. The first (proto) cosmos, is shared by all the rays of creation that issue from it. Each of these cosmoses is under the influence of an increasing number of secondary orders of laws which limit its possibilities and hinder its freedom.The transmutation of energy. The last world in each ray, its extremity, is a ‘bud’ capable of evolving and of becoming a world subject to a lesser number of laws. In the ray of creation of which our earth is one of the cosmoses, this growing bud is our moon, the earth’s satellite. Although some scientific theories assert that this is actually happening, other theories argue against it. Try to think of this process in the psychological terms that would apply to these cosmic bodies as if they are living organisms. According to this teaching, the moon is not a dead thing, but a young living being, still a child, capable of growing to maturity if it receives the necessary nourishment,the right food for it to survive and develop normally. For this it is dependent on the terrestrial biosphere. The biosphere of earth produces vibrations from all organic life as this organic life dies and decays. If the moon continues to receive the right food of vibrations as it revolves around earth attracting earth’s cast-off vibrations essential for its maturation, it will ultimately become a planet. In the same way, every planet, if it receives the appropriate food, can become a sun, and so on along the ray of creation. In our own solar system, one of the planets, Jupiter, is speculated to be in the process of becoming a sun. This seemingly peculiar teaching about the moon receiving vibrations from the decay of earth’s organic life including human life is not unique to Gurdjieff’s teaching. It appears in medieval and renaissance Gnosticism, and references to it can be found in the Vedas, the primordial Indian spiritual texts.”3031

In her book, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity, Cynthia Bourgeault writes, “The Law of Three, according to Gurdjieff— together with its companion piece, the Law of Seven—comprise what he calls the foundational ‘Laws of World Creation and World Maintenance.’ The interweaving of these two cosmic laws is depicted in the symbol of the enneagram, whose nine points reveal (to those properly initiated) the direction and energetic dynamism through which the world maintains its forward motion.”

Most people who use the Enneagram for personality profiling do not realize that each of the points are tones on the octave you move through before moving on to the next. An article entitled, The Law of Seven, Or The Law of Octave, explains it this way, “the law of octaves involves the complete process of the note ‘do’ going through a succession of tones until it reaches the ‘do’ of the next octave. The ‘do’ must pass through 7 tones which represent the Law of Seven. The final ‘do’ is the eighth step, which is a repetition of the first tone but in another octave, and which acts as the end of the first process and the beginning of the next.”

Modern promoters, writers, speakers, and teachers—so called experts of the Enneagram—erroneously ask people or tell them through test results what their Enneagram number IS. They believe this number has a static or unchanging value [Source]; the Enneagram Institute, mistakenly, also affirms this false belief when it claims, “People do not change from one basic personality type to another” and “no type is inherently better or worse than any other.” [Source] This is opposite of what P. D. Ouspensky taught about the Law of Seven, and is specifically contrary to what he wrote about the fundamentality and inevitability of change, shown here: “First is the principle of the deviation of forces. Second is the fact that nothing in the world stays in the same place, or remains what it was, everything moves, everything is going somewhere, is changing, and inevitably either develops or goes down, weakens or degenerates, that is to say, it moves along either an ascending or a descending line of octaves. And third, that in the actual development itself of both ascending and descending octaves, fluctuations, rises and falls are constantly taking place.”32 Gurdjieff left no room for doubt regarding this matter; when he introduced the Enneagram to Ouspensky, he stated, “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.”33

When the Law of Three and the Law of Seven are combined with the lines of connection via the numbering sequences we are left with the Enneagram in its final form.

Full Enneagram

The 3, 6, and 9 lines represent the Law of Three, while the 1,4,2,8,5,7 lines represent the Law of Seven (more information about this number sequence and why the numbers connect to one another can be found here; in short, it is based on the math where the numbers 1-6 are divided by 7 resulting in the numbers 1,4,2,8,5,7 being repeated but in different orders yet still sequentially. NOTE: any whole number [which is not a multiple of 7] can divided by 7 and will yield this result).

“The significance of interposing one figure (the triangle) upon the other (the six-pointed figure) is to show the three locations wherein the distances between the steps in the octave have intentionally been disharmonized. Gurdjieff labeled these distances, ‘stopinders’. Using the musical octave simply as a device of convenience to help explain this, with do as the uppermost point in a descending (involutionary) octave or the lowermost point in an ascending (evolutionary) octave, these locations are between mi-fa, sol-la, and si-do. It is at these points in any process that additional energy must be introduced if we wish to act intentionally instead of reacting in our usual mechanical way. All our processes, those involving digestion and those involving attention, to name just two examples, are subject to these laws. Therefore, the Work that is fundamental to Gurdjieff’s teaching is designed to enable us to introduce additional energies where and when they are needed. The enneagram, depicting as it does the great fundamental laws of world-creation and world-maintenance, is a subject for profound study as are the fundamental laws.”34

Gurdjieff said, “The Enneagram is the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language which has as many different meanings as there are levels of men.”35  Gurdjieff also said, regarding the power of the Enneagram, 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 makes books and libraries entirely unnecessary. Everything can be included and read in the enneagram.”36 On this point, and as yet another example on how the Enneagram is being taught to the masses, the Enneagram Institute again disagrees, “Although the Enneagram is probably the most open-ended and dynamic of typologies, this does not imply that the Enneagram can say all there is to say about human beings. Individuals are understandable only up to a certain point beyond which they remain mysterious and unpredictable. Thus, while there can be no simple explanations for persons, it is still possible to say something true about them. In the last analysis, the Enneagram helps us to do that—and only that.” [Source]

Tragically, for Gurdjieff, the Enneagram has been popularized not as a tool to reveal the future or all knowledge as was his claim but rather as a personality assessment test—something trite, meaningless, and utterly devoid of the universal revelatory knowledge it promised. Our next article will detail how this came to be.


  1. Jeanne de Salzmann. The Reality of Being (Boston: Shambhala, 2010), p. 295.
  2. Merrily E. Taylor (ed.) Remembering Pyotr Demianovich Ouspensky (New Haven: Yale University Library, 1978), pp. 31-32.
  3. P.D. Ouspensky, A.R. Orage and Maurice Nicoll were well-versed in Christian teachings. Maurice Nicoll provides an insightful analysis of the esoteric and psychological meaning of the Gospels from a Gurdjieffian perspective in The New Man: An Interpretation of Some Parables and Miracles of Christ (Baltimore: Penguin Books,1973).
  4. P.D. Ouspensky In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1949.
  5. G.I. Gurdjieff Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson: An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1950), p. 1009.
  6. P.D. Ouspensky In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1949), p. 102.
  7. G.I. Gurdjieff Meetings with Remarkable Men (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971), p. 227.
  8. Ernest Scott, The People of the Secret, Octagon Press, London, 1985, p.118.
  9. J.G. Bennett, The Masters of Wisdom, Turnstone Books, London, 1977, p.40.
  10. J.G. Bennett, Gurdjieff: Making a New World, p. 57
  11. Sedgwick, Mark. “European Neo-Sufi Movements in the Inter-war Period” appearing in Islam in Inter-War Europe, edited by Natalie Clayer and Eric Germain. Hurst, London.
  12. Moore, J. Gurdjieff, The Anatomy of a Myth. Element books, 1991, p31
  13. Ibid pp. 56-57
  14. Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson, Second Edition
  15. Ibid
  16. Ibid
  17. Ibid
  18. Ibid
  19. “Gurdjieff Work and the Teaching of Krishna” in Jacob Needleman and George Baker (eds.) Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and his Teachings (New York: Continuum, 1996, pp. 214-215).
  20. Holy Madness: The Shock Tactics and Radical Teachings of Crazy-Wise Adepts, Holy Fools, and Rascal Gurus.
  21. Gurdjieff, Life is real only then, when “I am,” p. 23
  22. Gurdgieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Teaching . pp71,72
  23. Frank Sinclair Of the Life Aligned (U.S.A.: Xlibris, 2009), p. 12.
  24. P.D. Ouspensky In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1949), p. 287.
  25. Gurdjieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Teachings (Foreward xi)
  26. In Search of the Miraculous, p. 44.
  27. Gurdjieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Teachings (p12)
  28. Gurdjieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Teachings (p35)
  29. James Moore, Gurdjieff The Anatomy of a Myth: A Biography (Shaftesbury and Rockport: Element, 1991), p. 45
  30. Gurdjieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Teachings (p35,36)
  31. For an English translation of the Vedic references, see Pannikkar, The Vedic Experience,Mantramanjari, pp. 557, 560, 598, 715, 741.
  32. In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching By Peter D. Ouspensky
  33. Ibid, ch. 14.
  34. Gurdjieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Teachings. p37.
  35. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous , p. 294
  36. As quoted by Ouspensky, In Search of the miraculous, 294.

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