A Bit of a Blow from Cynthia Bourgeault

You can see here three components- the circle, around which the 9 personality types are lined, an inner equilateral triangle which stands for the Law of Three, and the hexad-looking thing which stands for the Law of Seven.

You can see here three components- the circle, around which the 9 personality types are lined, an inner equilateral triangle which stands for the Law of Three, and the hexad-looking thing which stands for the Law of Seven.

THis was not what I needed this morning.  I think I'm getting up early to get in some new insight on the Law of Three before work and instead Bourgeault decides to fill three pages of her book with a line she draws in the sand between true Gurdjieffians and modern Enneagrammers who "only use the outside of the circle".  I have zero time for small-mindedness and I can't believe I sacrificed some of my eight hours of sleep for this bullshit. 

She declares herself to be of the school who is baffled by the Enneagram of Personality movement where all they care about is the nine personality types and- ostensibly- they could give two hoots about the Law of Three or the Law of Seven.  For the uninitiated, the latter two laws are represented by the triangle and the hexad shapes within the symbol- these two shapes are the ontological bread and butter for Gurdjieffians.  Her stance is awkward coming after the graceful writing in the previous chapters.  "In general", she says, "I share many of the same concerns as those 'hard-line' Gurdjieffians that the personality-typing component is at best a distraction and at worst an outright distortion of the real truth the enneagram has to reveal." 

She does correct herself somewhat in the next sentence: "But at the same time (perhaps paradoxically), I believe the enneagram of personality is a valid and important new expression of this tradition, acutely attuned to the temperament of our own times and offering real possibility for our new growth and insight." 

So it seems she's welcoming us newbies into the fold for a second, but then a page later, she says, "But of course, the fundamental issue is whether the enneagram is to be understood as a tool of personality typing at all.  And to this, most Gurdjieffians would answer with a resounding no- not because the model doesn't work but because the real original purpose for which this esoteric tool was given was to portray the interweaving of the Law of Three and the Law of Seven."  And as she continues to write, you can tell she shares this view- that we're "not using it right".

OMG are we actually for real here.  We're doing this?  Reading her this morning felt like she was asserting her position as the neglected older sibling, saying "you're just a step-child and you don't understand what it truly means to be from the Gurdjieff family because you don't move along the triangle and the hexad lines."  In short, "I don't care if your life is being changed in mind-blowing and profound ways by your association with the nine types along the outer circle- it can only be changed by knowing the Law of Three and the Law of Seven.  Gurdjieff told us so." 

I know these are familiar battle lines that go back as far as the 70's (?), and thankfully there are some teachers who can transcend this pettiness, but I'm exhausted with this attitude, and she's only the second person I've run into who's shut their door on my curiosity.  I was in New York three summers ago and I wanted to learn about Gurdjieff and Ichazo, and I knew both men had schools there and some of their students were still around, so I contacted a few groups.  One group of Gurdjieffians didn't want to meet with us, even though they had a meet-up page on meetup.com.  We ended up eventually finding a more open-minded Gurdjieff group, although we had way more fun meeting up with an Arican- an affable and loveable Type 7 who told us stories late into the night.  One insight we got from him was that Ichazo didn't type people the same way we do today.  They would study each others' faces for hours and measure distances between facial features, and how the features moved, etc.  This was in the 70's.  Nobody but nobody is judging these early teachers, and if they do, they can back off because they're not taking historical context or the personality of the teachers themselves into consideration.  If that's how you figured out people's Enneagram type back then, who are we to judge?  I'm pretty sure Ichazo making out the delienations of the nine archetypes in our facial features (which do exist but maybe aren't a hard and fast rule) was revolutionary.  Today, if you want to find someone's type, you stand back a bit and observe people in their mannerisms, the decisions they make, where they go with emotional energy, how they direct a conversation, and how they react to different stressors. 

Modern Enneagram of Personality students whose lives have been changed by knowing their type are nothing but grateful to Gurdjieff and Ichazo for giving us some huge shoulders to stand on.  It seems that today's Gurdjieffians want to point at us and say "you're not moving along our inner lines, therefore you think that the Enneagram is just a static typing tool- see?  We're moving.  We understand the symbol to be alive- you just treat it like a parlour game. We got here first." 

And we, whose egoic suffering has been relieved immeasurably by knowing our type, we who are slowly shedding our layers of egoic conditioning, eyes closed, sinking ever so slowly into our essence, we who wouldn't give up the gains we've made on our inner healing for an entire world full of Laws of Three of Laws of Seven, are smiling quietly to ourselves saying, "We're not moving, are we?"

But of course the world IS full of the Law of Three and the Law of Seven.  But the point is we don't want to have to choose between the "two" offerings of the Enneagram- if we're dividing that complex circle into two here.  They both knock the breath out of you with their elegant ontological beauty. 

Bourgeault wrote her book in 2013.  It's now 2016.  I'm sure she's had enough time and feedback to recognize the utter brilliance within both camps now.  I see she's teaching at this upcoming Enneagram Global Summit.  I'm so looking forward to hearing her speak, but man oh man, i'll be so dissapointed if she's still drawing that tired old line in the sand.