Introductory Points III

25. The Enneagram symbol as presented shows the inner laws of one octave and points to a way of cognizing the essence of a thing examined in itself. There is, however, a more complete construction of the symbol which is more complicated and which connects it with a complete expression of the law of octaves.

26. Every process is determined in its development by the law of the structure of the seven-tone scale. Also, every note, every tone, is another octave, taken on another scale. The intervals– which require outside “shocks” to help maintain the unfolding of the process– connect one process with another process.

G says: “From this it follows that the law of octaves connects all possible processes of the universe and, to one who knows the scales of the passage and laws of the structure of the octave, it presents the possibility of an exact cognition of everything and every phenomenon in its essential nature and of all its interrelations with phenomena and things connected with it.” (ISOM 285)

27. The closed circle symbolizes the eternally returning and uninterruptedly flowing process of the isolated existence of a thing or phenomenon under examination. The separate points which divide the circumference represent the steps of the process.

28. The symbol as a whole is a Do, having an orderly and complete existence; a complete cycle. It is the zero of the decimal system.

29. The succession of stages in the process are connected with the succession of the remaining numbers from 1 to 9, shown along the circumference. They are representations of an ascending octave.

9 – do
1 – re
2 – mi
3 – interval
4 – fa
5 – sol
6 – interval
7 – la
8 – si
9 – do

30. The cycle is completed by the ninth step of filling up the “interval” si-do, closing the circle, which begins anew at that point.

31. The apex of the triangle closes the duality of its base. This makes possible “the manifold forms of its manifestation in the most diverse triangles” (ISOM 288), just as the apex of the triangle multiplies itself infinitely in the line of its base.

32. Every beginning and completion of the cycle is found in the apex of the triangle, where beginning and end merge, the circle is closed, and which sounds in the endlessly flowing cycle as the two do’s in an octave.

33. Because it is the ninth point which closes and begins the cycle, the number 9 is located at the upper point of the triangle, corresponding to do.

34. 9-3-6 is the free trinity of the symbol. It symbolizes the Law of Three.

35. The 9-3-6 triangle connects the Law of Seven and the Law of Three. 3 and 6 correspond to the two intervals in the octave, while the 9 replaces the fundamental note. These points are the places in the octave where shocks from outside sources occur, where the octave can be penetrated to make connection with what exists outside; they are also the points from which the “do” of one octave can enter another octave.



According to Gurdjieff, the Law of Three is the fundamental law that creates all phenomena in all the unity or diversity of all universes. It is the law of the Three Forces: every phenomenon, regardless of scale, is the result of the meeting of three different and opposing forces. One force or two forces can never produce a phenomenon; a third force is necessary.

This teaching of the Three Forces is at the root of all ancient systems.

The first force is called Active (or positive); the second, Passive (or negative); the third, Neutralizing (sometimes also referred to as “reconciling”). However, in reality, all three forces are equally active, and are only active, passive and neutralizing in relation to one another at the given moment when they meet.

The first two forces are generally comprehensible to ordinary people, but the third force is not easily accessible to direct observation and understanding, due to the functional limitations of ordinary psychological activity and the fundamental categories of ordinary perceptions of the phenomenal world, such as time and space.

However, by studying oneself, one may learn to observe and see in oneself the action of the three forces.

It must be remembered that a phenomenon which appears to be simple may actually be a very complicated combination of trinities.

The third force belongs to “the real world”.

[NOTE: see also ]


36. The laws of the construction of the six-pointed figure inside the circle are based on the laws of Unity being reflected in all phenomena. The decimal system is based on these same laws. By taking a unit as one note containing a whole octave within itself, the unit is divided into seven unequal parts, giving the seven notes of the octave. (The graphic representation does not show the inequalities of the parts)

37. By dividing the unit into seven, we get the following numbers:

0 equals 1.

1 / 7 = 0.142857

2 / 7 = 0.285714

3 / 7 = 0.428571

4 / 7 = 0.571428

5 / 7 = 0.714285

6 / 7 = 0.857142

7 / 7 = 0.999999

The inner figure is obtained through connecting– by straight lines– the numbers in the 142857 sequence in the order in which they appear in the sequence.

38. By using “theosophical addition” the sum of the numbers of the period give the number nine, that is, a whole octave.

39. Each separate note includes a whole octave subject to the same laws as the others.

40. The Law of Three stands out from the Law of Seven: “The triangle penetrates through the period and these two figures in combination give the inner structure of the octave and its notes”. (ISOM 290)

41. The interval which is designated by the number 6, found between sol and la is intentionally represented in the wrong place. It’s rightful place should be between si-do.

According to G: “The apparent placing of the interval in its wrong place itself shows to those who are able to read the symbol what kind of ‘shock’ is required for the passage from si to do.” (ISOM 291)

42. The Enneagram can be used to symbolize such processes as the harmonious development of a human being, the process of nutrition and transformation of substances in the human organism, and the “Ray of Creation” which emanates from the Absolute.


43. The inner triangle is representative of the presence of higher elements in an organism.

G. says, “Each completed whole, each cosmos, each organism, each plant, is an enneagram… But not each of these enneagrams has an inner triangle…”(ISOM 293)

44. Some plants do possess these higher elements; plants such as hemp, poppy, hops, tea, coffee, tobacco and other plants which play a definite role in the life of human beings. A study of these plants can reveal much in regard to the enneagram.

45. The Enneagram can be experienced through movement. Without taking part in exercises of moving according to the symbol, it is almost impossible to understand the enneagram.

According to Ouspensky: “.. when G. organized his Institute in France [1922] and when his pupils were studying dances and dervish exercises, G. showed them exercises connected with the ‘movement of the enneagram’. On the floor of the hall where the exercises took place a large enneagram was drawn and the pupils who took part in the exercises stood on spots marked by the numbers 1 to 9. Then they began to move in the direction of the numbers… [142857 and 936]… turning around one another at the points of meeting, that is, at the points where the lines intersect in the enneagram.” (ISOM 294)


Based on the account in Ouspensky’s book, Gurdjieff ended his introductory lectures on the Enneagram with the following remarks:

“Speaking in general, it must be understood that the enneagram is a universal symbol. All knowledge can be included in the enneagram and with the help of the Enneagram it can be interpreted. And in this connection only what a man is able to put into the enneagram does he actually know, that is understand. What he cannot put into the enneagram, he does not understand. For the man who is able to make use of it, the enneagram makes books and libraries entirely unnecessary. Everything can be included and read in the enneagram. A man may be quite alone in the desert and he can trace the enneagram in the sand and in it read the eternal laws of the universe. And everything he can learn something new, something he did not know before.

“If two men who have been in different (esoteric) schools meet, they will draw the enneagram and with its help they will be able at once to establish which of them knows more and which, consequently, stands upon which step, that is to say, which is the elder, which is the teacher and which is the pupil. The enneagram is a fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language which has as many different meanings as there are levels of men.

“The Enneagram is perpetual motion, the same perpetual motion that men have sought since the remotest antiquity and could never find. And it is clear why they could not find perpetual motion. They sought outside themselves that which was within them; and they attempted to construct perpetual motion as a machine is constructed, whereas real perpetual motion is part of another perpetual motion and cannot be created apart from it. The enneagram is a schematic diagram of perpetual motion, that is, of a machine of eternal movement. But of course it is necessary to know how to read the diagram. The understanding of this symbol and the ability to make use of it give man very great power. It is perpetual motion and it also the philosopher’s stone of the alchemists.

“The knowledge of the enneagram has for a very long time been preserved in secret and if it is now, so to speak, made available to all, it is only in an incomplete and theoretical form of which nobody could make any practical use without instruction from a man who knows.

“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.” (ISOM 294)

All quotations from IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS, by P.D.Ouspensky, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1977.

[NOTE: Another version of this material– purported to be a lecture given by Gurdjieff in 1916– can be found at

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