Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Expounding the enneagram

One of my friends pointed out yesterday that I failed to sufficiently sketch out the inference of a connection between the idea of "inner circumcision" and the enneagram.

I agree with him. The one post was insufficient.

Those who read the blog regularly will realize that there have been a number of posts over the past two months dealing with the subject of the development of emotional center, sealing the vessel, and inner and outer impressions. Taken together, the material in these posts probably provides an adequate background for understanding the thrust of the comments made yesterday.

I will, however, attempt to expound a bit more about the analogies I see between the idea of "inner" or "spiritual" circumcision and the act of "completing the ennegram."

When I refer to the "completing of the inner enneagram" I refer to invoking the action of attention, intention, and discipline to assist in developing the inner flow of energy according to law.

To complete the enneagram, it is first necessary to discard everything external to it.

This means, specifically, the material that "leaks" both out of it and into it due to incomplete, or unsealed, inner connections. In order to become whole in an inner sense- impartial, as Gurdjieff refers to it--the inner vessel must "close the circle" so that the energy that develops within it can complete its circulation without constant interference from horizontal outside influences.

The outside influences
which are necessary for the development of the octave are, of course, vertical ones, but they cannot intervene effectively if the integrity of the inner vessel is constantly disrupted by coarse, or lower, forces.

Because we are so thoroughly attached to the input of the five external senses, it requires a considerable period of time in the study of the inner state to begin to understand the difference between our inner senses and our outer senses. The inner senses are a muscle which has severly atrophied through an almost complete lack of use. We need, for a time, to do everything within our power to turn away from the outer senses in order to allow the inner senses time to strengthen.

The practice of self-observation serves as an initial exercise for this purpose, since it turns the mind towards a separation from the five physical senses and the attendant outer attractions, at which point discrimination may eventually begin, as experiences which objectify the arrival of outer impressions multiply. In addition, exercises in relaxation, sensation, and inner attention help men and women to develop a greater sensitivity to the organism's already existing equipment for the sensation of inner impressions.

We should note that Mr. Gurdjieff wrote several lengthy essays about how man perpetually falls victim to outside influences. His inference in each case is that a man who is ruled by the outer has no real possibilities.

This is because he is not whole. The inner has been thoroughly polluted by his outer state, instead of remaining separate so that it can complete the work it was made for. The work of alchemical containment is analogous to a work of circumcision in that the outer must be cut apart and cast aside, isolating the "spiritual reproductive system" from the corrupting influences of the outer world.

Literal interpretations of this idea throughout the ages have suggested that an actual renunciation of the worldly is the preferred method by which to achieve purity. This mistaken impression replaces the necessary inner work with an essentially useless outward piety, which finds its expression in religions everywhere-- even in the Gurdjieff work itself. Literalism produces a satisfyingly convincing outward show of development that nonetheless relates only to earthly matters. Both Christ and St. Paul take repeated pains to exhort against exactly this kind of behavior.

In my own opinion, the true meaning of spiritual circumcision, which literally means nothing more than "cutting in a circle," has to relate to the action of isolating, hermetically sealing, and then completing the inner circle represented by the enneagram. As such, we must understand the diagram as a picture of our inner physical state and its objective possibilities if we wish to work with it at all.

Readers interested in a more in-depth discussion of this question should refer to the entire group of Ennegram essays on Doremishock.com for a more comprehensive development of the ideas.

Because this is an ongoing study, this material should not be considered as any kind of conclusive answer to the questions posed by the enneagram. The study of the diagram is, in the end, an inner exploration which must be undertaken by each individual according to their own instincts, interests, needs, and abilities.

We explore together; we ask together; we question together.

If we do not share, we do not progress.

May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.

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