Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The five strivings on the enneagram

There are times when one is studying particular question and suddenly stumbles across something so obvious one wonders why one didn't notice it years ago.

The above diagram (click here for a larger and better image of it) details the way in which Gurdjieff's five obligolnian strivings position themselves on the enneagram. They do so in the exact order of the original progression of the strivings, which is below.

 In hindsight, it's patently obvious that the strivings would have to fit perfectly into the system described in The Universal Enneagram. In this particular case, it's rather interesting, because the correspondence is so exact. They constitute, in their entirety, a hierarchy, and that hierarchy must lawfully correspond to the hierarchy described by the enneagram. 

One simply needs to understand how they correspond to the enneagram: and here is how.

     "The first striving: to have in one's ordinary being-existence everything satisfying and absolutely indispensible for the planetary body.

 The first striving is specifically related to materiality, the note re, and the embodiment of physical being in the planetary body. All of these needs must be fully met first.

     "The second striving: to have a constant and unflagging instinctive need for self-perfecting in the sense of Being.

 The second striving relates to the emotive force of desire, wish, and striving itself. This corresponds directly to the note mi representing those same forces.

     "The third: the conscious striving to know ever more and more about the laws of world-creation and world-maintenance.

 The third striving represents intelligence, mind, and its embodiment.

Taken together, we immediately see that the first three strivings relate to the natural, or worldly, side of the diagram and the three lower centers of body,  emotion, and mind.

     "The fourth: from the beginning of one's existence the striving to pay as quickly as possible for one's arising and individuality, in order afterward to be free to lighten as much as possible the sorrow of our Common Father.

 The fourth striving occupies the position of the note sol. Readers should take note that this is the exact point at which Gurdjieff introduces the idea of God, because this is the spiritual side of the diagram. This one simple fact reveals the inexorable logic of the strivings, and the way that they follow the spiritual notation of the enneagram.

     "And the fifth: 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.

 The fifth striving embodies purification, that is, the effort to "perfect" the spiritual effort of all beings.

Readers will undoubtedly ask me why there is no sixth striving. It's a reasonable enough question. The reason there is no sixth striving is that the five strivings, taken together as a whole, already represent the sixth striving — wisdom — which requires all of the components of the first five in order to manifest.

This is an interesting point, because it implies a summation that takes place when the notes re, mi, fa, sol, and la all work together in an inner sense. We should note that according to the actual (as opposed to physical) location of the second conscious shock between the notes si and do,  once one has acquired Being at sol, the evolution of the octave is automatic up to the point between si and do. This particular fact isn't discussed much in the Gurdjieff work, because it's poorly understood, but the point is that after the acquisition of Being, evolution up to the second  conscious shock proceeds more or less automatically. It is the long period of preparation and the tremendous suffering that is indicated by the incorrect location of the shock between sol and la. Gurdjieff told Ouspensky that the location of the shock in the wrong place indicated the kind of work that was necessary — but he never said it was the kind of work that was necessary before one got to the shock. 

It's the kind of work that is necessary within the shock in order to pass over it. 

This particular shock represents a tremendous and in fact unbelievable sacrifice, which is a point I have tried to make over and over again in relationship to Christ's passion and crucifixion, which is the ultimate illustration of what is necessary in that interval. A very long period of preparation is necessary before one can develop the wisdom to stand on the threshold of that shock and completely surrender.

A great deal of work with friends, associates, and other people has convinced me that everyone underestimates what is necessary here. Everyone thinks that we can somehow just "let go," and let some magical kind of godlike substance come into us, thereby avoiding all of the suffering that is really necessary to destroy our egos. This is in fact the essence of new age ideas, which have in many ways polluted the Gurdjieff work even with some of the oldest and dearest friends I work with, people who are objectively much older than me and ought to in the end by now know better.

Well, I have opened up a can of worms here this morning on these points, and I should wrap things up here before I am any deeper in my galoshes. But more will need to be said about this particular subject.


Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.

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