“You must realize that each man has a definite repertoire of roles which he plays in ordinary circumstances … but put him into even only slightly different circumstances and he is unable to find a suitable role and for a short time he becomes himself.” (Fourth Way)
A charismatic spiritual teacher, and an adept businessman of changeable mood, possibly a spy for Russian intelligence, at times described as a mystic and at times as a charlatan. His life and teachings have exerted a major influence on alternative forms of spirituality in the 20th century with many groups continuing to follow his teachings and variations of them.
Gurdjieff taught that man was not fully conscious; that he reacts automatically and mechanically to life with a fragmented will. To emancipate his students from this condition he exposed them to various techniques in order to bring about an inner transformation and awaken them to higher levels of perception and hence self-control. These techniques utilised ‘sacred dance’, and erratic and rapid changes in activities and environment, as well as self-observation, meditation, forms of hypnotism, obedience to a teacher (or “Man Who Knows”), physical labour and demeaning tasks. Some of the austerities that he and his disciples practised have been decried as dangerous. This ‘method’ was allegedly superior to the that of fakir, monk, and yogi, and came to be known as the ‘Fourth Way‘.
Gurdjieff saw a significance in numbers and, possibly influenced by Pythagoras, developed a ‘Law of Seven‘ related to music and his doctrine of the ‘Ray of Creation‘, and a ‘Law of Three‘ to do with the working of the universe; active, passive, and neutral, and also connected with the human body; carnal, emotional, and spiritual. He devised a diagram called the Enneagram, a circle divided by nine points, to illustrate these ideas. via
Gurdjieff focused on two main cosmic laws, the Law of Three and the Law of Seven.
- The Law of Seven is described by Gurdjieff as “the first fundamental cosmic law”. This law is used to explain processes. The basic use of the law of seven is to explain why nothing in nature and in life constantly occurs in a straight line, that is to say that there are always ups and downs in life which occur lawfully. Examples of this can be noticed in athletic performances, where a high ranked athlete always has periodic downfalls, as well as in nearly all graphs that plot topics that occur over time, such as the economic graphs, population graphs, death-rate graphs and so on. All show parabolic periods that keep rising and falling. Gurdjieff claimed that since these periods occur lawfully based on the law of seven that it is possible to keep a process in a straight line if the necessary shocks were introduced at the right time. A piano keyboard is an example of the law of seven, as the seven notes of the major scale correspond exactly to it.
- The Law of Three is described by Gurdjieff as “the second fundamental cosmic law”. This law states that every whole phenomenon is composed of three separate sources, which are Active,Passive and Reconciling or Neutral. This law applies to everything in the universe andhumanity, as well as all the structures and processes. The Three Centers in a human, which Gurdjieff said were the Intellectual Centre, the Emotional Centre and the Moving Centre, are an expression of the law of three. Gurdjieff taught his students to think of the law of three forces as essential to transforming the energy of the human being. The process of transformation requires the three actions of affirmation, denial and reconciliation.
How the Law of Seven and Law of Three function together is said to be illustrated on the Fourth Way Enneagram, a nine-pointed symbol which is the central glyph of Gurdjieff’s system.
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.
“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”
I procure drops of dark matter
It’s pure oceanic space inside my eyelids
The planets are in my iris
Bronze light beams gold, king Midas
They duck diving, each riches like pretty wives
You never felt alive if you’ve never died
My bones never ache and my song never cries
I fall weightless in the wake of greatness