Friday, June 20, 2014

The Dominant Force: Meditations on Death, part I


Death is the dominant force on the left side of the enneagram.

While this statement may sound bold, I will explain. It all came up as a result of an essence-friend who asked why the second conscious shock is in the wrong place on the diagram. His question, in part, read thus:

I have an enneagram question which I hope you may shed some light on for me. I am considering what Ouspensky indicates in a “Lawful Incongruity” in the enneagram at the point 6 = sol-la.

I do not understand why this point in the inner triangle is “in its wrong place” (Mister Gurdjieff, Search, 292) when it would seem to belong nowhere else but that place in order to make an equilateral triangle. If it were in fact at si-do (point 8) this wouldn’t make sense in terms of the Law of 3 and the inner triangle. Why shouldn’t it be at point 6—and why is this considered a “wrong place?” I’m not clear on this.

I believe I have a grasp of why it is in fact at point 6—the point where Impressions enter into the food octave—and even what is required of me here, in terms of not expressing negativity or reacting to impressions. So Lawfully it appears in fact to belong here, this interval.

Why is it considered out of place? Mister Gurdjieff continues: “The final substance in the process of the food octave is the substance si (‘hydrogen’ 12 in the third scale)
Which needs an ‘additional shock’ in order to pass into a new do” (Search, 292).

OK, so this “additional shock” would appear to be needed at the point “si” or 8—but then the triangle would be all thrown out of kilter—and thus why is it a point 6 (impressions) and how does this affect the food octave at point 8?

My initial response to him included this link, which is an extract from my book, The Universal Enneagram.

The Unbalanced Enneagram

As to the greater questions on the matter—why, for example, the shock being in the wrong place says something about the nature of the work required to pass from si to do— the following.

First, let me say that trying to understand this question from the point of view of impressions relates to the idea of non-attachment, gleichgültigkeit, or, what Eckhart called equanimity— that is, all things are of equal validity. (Do not confuse this with the incorrectly sometimes-used term "indifference," which in my ears rings as a lack of proper sacred-feeling capacity, not a spiritual asset.)

Yet my interests in this question are more macroscopic in nature, as you will see. I fear the minutia of the food octaves distract us from the overall questions of Being, which are not for the scientists but for the artists. I have already made a choice that puts me in the latter category, so trying to be a scientist here is laudable but futile.

I don't expect readers to bone up on the relatively huge amount of material I covered in my book, the universal enneagram. So they will have to take my word for it when I say that both the yoga and Sufi schools, from which the diagram is originally derived, understood the point sol to indicate the moment at which real Being appears in a man. 

This only happens after the transition is achieved from the right to the left-hand side of the diagram. Everything on the right-hand side is material, everything on the left-hand side is spiritual.

The passage from si to do represents the final surrender to the absolute. It is the passage from the immanent back into the transcendent. It thus represents absolute and complete surrender, or, death, which is the subject at hand anyway. 

In metaphysical terms, it is the death of the ego and the ordinary being which has been invoked (but not completed) in the spiritualization of the left side of the diagram.

The note la represents purification; it also represents intonation and prayer, through which purification is achieved. This is why it is in the position of the throat chakra, through which sound is emitted. Sound is vibratory, and it is understood that the nature of purification is a purification of vibrations. One will notice many essays in the Reality of Being are about this, if the point is understood.

Locating the shock in what appears to be the wrong place here indicates that between being (sol) and purification (la), a surrender must take place. 

That is to say, we cannot just assume we're going to surrender between si and do when we get to it; after Being is developed, the entire progression from that point consists of surrender. So in a very real way, what the diagram is telling us is that after we develop Being, everything we do consists of dying in one way or another.

Intentional suffering is, in other words, a way of dying. It is the dominant force on the left side of the diagram. When Meister Eckhart says (see sermon 87, The Complete Mystical Works) that a man must become nothing, he is speaking about this — and in fact, that sermon may be the most important single esoteric work from early Christianity on this subject.

This relates to a question I currently have, which is about our helplessness. We are actually in the way of dying once we develop being; and so digesting death, both in its objective material processes related to the body, and in its processes related to the soul, we must confront it directly.

 More on this tomorrow in the second installment of this subject.

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