In facing life, I am driven by the force of my ordinary "I," whose very possibility of existing depends on the world that surrounds it. This "I" has a deep fear of being nothing and is afraid of not having security, power, possessions.
—The Reality of Being, P. 69
This passage describes exactly the right hand side of the enneagream, the side of the natural world and personality, where Desire (security), Power, and Materiality (possessions) dominate every inward transaction.
These are the forces that dominate unless we pass to the note sol, which represents Being. And so in essence the entire book is about the attempt to gather enough energy to effect this passage.
In reality, the material in the book is remarkably repetitive. (Not, mind you, in a bad way.) This only becomes apparent when doing analytical readings which involve words searches. In doing this kind of research, one extracts similar passages over and over again in the book and collects them into a single separated document. The content of any text, when highly concentrated in this manner, often reveals both how frequently a particular idea comes up, and how consistent the manner in which it’s expressed is.
The consistency of the material in Mme. de Salzmann’s notes has been remarked on before; Stephen Grant noted to me some years ago how the tone and content off her diaries changed little over the course of the many years she kept them. One could interpret this as a lack of novelty, of new ideas; or of being “stuck” in one place.
Yet the astute reader—one, that is, who is able to understand the material at a level of depth that moves past rote analysis or simple emotive hero-worship (an ever-present danger with material from teachers)—will know at once that there was a specific aim on the table in de Salzmann’s teaching; and that this aim was very, very specifically focused on two essential points of teaching
1. The need to effect the passage from fa to sol, that is, from the right-hand side of the enneagram to the left, into Being;
2. The role that sensation plays in the development of real Being.
There are many peripheral observations and insights in her teaching, but these two tasks, which are fundamental to any subsequent inner development, were her main points of work throughout her lifetime. There was little dwelling on intellectual or theoretical material; that was willingly sacrificed in pursuit of this singular effort.
We may appreciate this better if we remind ourselves that the amount of intellectual and theoretical material that can be developed in relationship to this particular cosmology and its attendant inner work is absolutely vast; folk tend to dive into it and get lost in it, often forgetting to come up for air.
One last note on this question of the passage to sol. Readers should take note that Beelzebub's journey to the solar system also represents his passage of the same kind; and Gurdjieff's entire book is actually about this same subject.
The point may be, in hindsight, an obvious one; but it is essential.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.