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Unlocking The Enneagram in Three Steps “To Know – To Understand – To Be.”

Updated on June 8, 2014

Gurdjieff's Course Flyer for Students

The 3 Stages of Gurdjieff's Growth Sequence or Hidden Path

“In all ancient teaching the first demand at the beginning of the way to Liberation was: Know Thyself”-G. Gurdjieff.

This is the solid foundation from which you begin the work of transformation by whatever method or tradition that you choose. Gurdjieff choose to be very explicit about this important first step to knowledge:

“Knowledge can be acquired by a suitable and complete study, no matter what the starting point is. Only one must know how to 'learn.' What is nearest to us is man; and you are the nearest of all men to yourself. Begin with the study of yourself; remember the saying 'Know thyself.”

― G.I. Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World: Early Talks Moscow Essentuki Tiflis Berlin London Paris NY Chicago as Recollected

The second step is to "Know The Other" (To Understand) or as Sri Yogananda put it: ''Only that which is the other, gives us fully unto ourselves.'' Again, it is extremely important to be explicit about this step, regardless of your chosen methods or tradition.

The third step strikes me as the hardest step: "Know That We All Are One and There Is No Separation" (To Be). Edgar Cayce said: "When separated, (we) must pass through all stages of development, that it (we) may be one with the Creator (source).

David Burke translated the first page of the Tao The Ching: “All of Creation years to return to their Source. To Bring Completion and Fulfillment.” In my experience working with clients from most impaired to the healthiest, these three steps remain the same.

The most beginning student may work on the first step and may never complete it, but develop some self knowledge and self mastery. The healthier "truth seekers" complete the first step and wind up working on the second or third steps. As clients get better or more successful at reaching their goals in treatment, some stop working towards further steps or growth, as they are no longer motivated by pain or for other reasons. I take them where they are, and they leave me when they wish. Some go on to other groups, activities, practices, etc....

I will describe a three stage process suggested by the Gurdjieff's Transformational diagram itself and which I named “The Hidden Path".

The 3 Stages of Personal Growth

There is a Hidden Path in the Gurdjieff transformation diagram (Enneagram) that has been staring us in the face for decades. This path is hidden in our plain sight. You will see three stages and components on this path.

The first stage represents a journey of self knowledge, to know they self in all the three triads: heart, body & mind. This first stage of the work is represented by the central triangle in the Enneagram.

The second stage represents a journey to know the other enneatypes that represent different Object-Relations styles from your own style. This second stage of the work is represented by the hexagon in the Enneagram.

The third stage of the work is to realize that you and the other enneatypes are One and there is no separation. It is represented by the large outer circle in the Enneagram that encompasses and unites all the nine types. The work requires that you accept and love your own type as well as all the other types, including your Opposite-type.

Realistically, if you are unable to accept and love the other enneatypes, you will not be able to fully accept and love yourself. It may take a little time to digest what I am saying here, but I hope and suspect my fellow students of the Enneagram and Life will get what I mean. (with the help of colorful drawings).

The Triangle, The Hexad & The Circle

Each colored line represents one of the 3 stages
Each colored line represents one of the 3 stages

Center Your Enneagram Type in The Body's Movement Center is The First Step In The Transformational Growth Process.

Place your type's number at the center-point of the Body center in the position usually reserved for Type 9.

Now complete numbering the inner triangle in the usual directions of integration and disintegration with your +3 wing and with your -3 wing, at the positions usually reserved for Type 3 and Type 6, respectively.

Then complete the hexad form starting at the position usually reserved for Type 7 and then applying the “accepted” direction of integration described by C. Naranjo by moving from Point 7 to Point 5, to Point 8, to Point 2, to Point 4, and finally to Point 1.

Center Yourself in the Body Triad

We are all the center of our own experience and our own Enneagram.  As Gurdjieff instructed, you start with what is closest to you, yourself on your journey towards knowledge
We are all the center of our own experience and our own Enneagram. As Gurdjieff instructed, you start with what is closest to you, yourself on your journey towards knowledge | Source

The Hidden Path for Type 2: 2-5-8-9-7-1-4-6-3

Type 2 is centered in the Body's Movement Center
Type 2 is centered in the Body's Movement Center

The Hidden Path Table for all Types

The diagonals in black bold illustrate the three Hornevian Groups: (8,3,7), (2,6,1) and (5,9,4).  The Harmonics Groups are also revealed on the cross-diagonals of the same top three squares (5,3,1),  (8,6,4) and (2,9,7).  Wisdomof theEnneagram p60-68
The diagonals in black bold illustrate the three Hornevian Groups: (8,3,7), (2,6,1) and (5,9,4). The Harmonics Groups are also revealed on the cross-diagonals of the same top three squares (5,3,1), (8,6,4) and (2,9,7). Wisdomof theEnneagram p60-68

Stage 3 of the Hidden Path Journey

The Circle of the Enneagram is associated with 81 steps of what I call the “Ascending Spiral Path”. It is much more than completing the Nine Step Hidden Path for an individual Enneagram Type. The intention is to incorporate and integrate as many of the different perspectives, essences and energies of all the other types as is humanly possible in our short life-journey.The Ascending Spiral Path leads every Type through all the other Enneagram Types and all possible connections between Types by following the endless loop from your Type and starting point in the Hidden Path Table by successively advancing you in nine steps to your +1 Wing, until you arrive at your starting point.

In this Third Stage, the sense of separation and individuality dissolves and you recognize that we are all of One. It requires 81 steps to go around the whole circle one time back to your starting point, your own enneatype. You see everything once from each of the nine enneatypes perspectives. The whole process make take a whole lifetime to complete or perhaps, if you believe in past lives and reincarnations, several lifetimes. The Ascending Spiral Path produces a diagram with 81 connecting lines as shown below and which was initially created by Ramon Llull over 700 years ago.

Ramon Llull drew this diagram over 700 years ago showing 81 connecting lines in an Enneagram-like figure.
Ramon Llull drew this diagram over 700 years ago showing 81 connecting lines in an Enneagram-like figure.

Growth Is Not a Smooth Linear Process.

Sometimes, we regress under stress, and "recapitulate" and grow again. It is a learning process and I skip around in my learning a lot because somethings grab my attention and somethings are difficult for me to comprehend or accept. At times, I make quick progress, and other times, no progress. But, the steps are there, just like in learning to read and write. First, you start with the alphabet, small words and spelling. But we are always learning new words and spellings along the way. I find the Enneagram to be great guide in this as it has the three stages build into its components: The Triangle, The Hexad and The Circle

Stepping Out of your Comfort Zone

Whether it's sports, cardiovascular conditioning, weightlifting, academic studies or Personal Growth, to make progress and grow you must step out of your Comfort Zone.

Personal Growth requires sustained effort, work and a willingness to endure growing pains. In some ways, it is like childbirth and is not for everybody.

According to the Hidden Path model, each Type's Comfort Zone is its own Object-Relations Group (or as Riso-Hudson termed "Dominant Affective Group" in Understanding the Enneagram, Revised Ed.,Houghton Mifflin (2000), p. 318).

The three Object-Relation Groups are A) Frustrated Types (Types 1,4 & 7); B) Accepting Types (3,6 & 9) and; C) Rejecting Types (2,5 & 8).

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone is ALWAYS Uncomfortable

No Pain; No Gain
No Pain; No Gain

Your Opposite Type: Jean Adeler and "-2 Binary".

The first step out of your Comfort Zone is always to your -2 Wing, for which I propose one of the following term: “Shadow-type”, "Inverse-type" or "-2 Binary".

Jean Adeler discussed the “The Eight-One Binary” in an excellent article on The Deep Structure of Personality in September 2010 edition of Enneagram Monthly. This line of reasoning can be applied to the “-2 wing” of any type.There is a natural tension between these two positions on the Enneagram.This is obvious for Type Eight whose worldview includes the notion that “Might makes right” and “Only the Strong will prevail and survive”, which is in direct opposition to Type One’s worldview that “Ethics, rules, fairness and principles dictate what is right or wrong.”

The same tension exists in all Type vs. Type -2 Wing worldviews and strategies for success. At this step in the Hidden Path Table, we clearly move out of our comfort zones, which is absolutely necessary to strengthen and expand from our limited, fixated characters and to grow from a psychological and spiritual perspective towards our best selves or true essence.

Essentially, we move from our small, dark, cramped corner of our Enneagram Type or fixation towards greater freedom and less reactivity by developing all of the nine essences and energies and gain a larger space to live, breathe and move freely.

The Hidden Path Is Like a Combination Lock

The Enneagram resembles a clock face with a "9" on top, but operates like a combination lock where you need to put the EnneaType under consideration centered in the Body/Movement Triad in the position usually reserved for Type 9.

If you don't center your Type in the Body Center, the arrows towards integration described by Claudio Naranjo make little sense for any type, other than Type 9.

I refuse to speculate as to why this was done, but people should realize that esoteric traditions have been traditionally elitist in nature and Gurdjieff did much to deliberately encode his "Hidden Knowledge" in much of his own writings and oral teachings. There was a sediment in his times that knowledge needed to be kept in the hands of a few to be of benefit to society and that knowledge in the hands of the masses just created chaos, confusion and difficulty in governing. (Even today, some people still hold to this position and feel educating and informing the masses poses a great danger to government rule.)

I honor and follow the tradition of Ramon Llull, who believed in sharing his knowledge with everyone who was interested in the peaceful discussion and exchange of ideas. Fittingly, he died a Christian martyr, killed by radical Islamists opposed to his Christian ideas, and after his death, eventually vilified by the Roman Catholic Church during the Spanish Inquisition for teaching tolerance of other religions and the acceptance of scientific knowledge in religious teaching and doctrines. Llull stated that true religious teachings should not contradict observed scientific facts, though matters of faith that are not contradicted by scientific fact were also true. In short, although initially praised as a Christian martyr and a potential saint who was beatified by the Catholic Church, Llull works and writing were eventually banned and he was branded a heretic for holding too forward ideas before their time.

I view Llull as the true father of the Enneagram as he was the first to have a nine-pointed star figure enclosed in circle with lines connecting the points and words associated with virtues, vices and holy ideas in the language of his time. I published an article on Ramon Llull being the True and First Father of the Enneagram in Enneagram Monthly in April 2011, issue 176.



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      Brooke 5 years ago

      i believe that this is a bit more comprehensive than the last article that you wrote. I like that you included, though only a little bit, of how you find yourself at times. I still believe though that a number of people, including myself, learn by seeing what you are trying to say... you can tell me that the enneagram is a like a combination lock and tell me how to dial it, but it is easier for me to understand if the steps are shown to me... i may be in the minority in this but that is my opinion... still believe that you need to make a video of your IEA presentation from fort lauderdale and make it available.

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      Tom Flautt 5 years ago

      It would help to understand your Hidden Path if you could give an example of how a person could move along this way. For example, as a 5, should I consciously try to move first to 8 and then to 2 and then 3, etc. Or perhaps you could describe how you or a client has moved along this path. For my own journey, it is not clear that this pattern fits. I explain it more in terms of where I paid attention--first development of the head center, then the heart during midlife after I went through a divorce, and finally the body center as I had to deal with health issues.

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      EnneagramAnalysis 5 years ago from Hobe Sound, Florida

      Tom, I want to answer your question about the Hidden Path for Type 5. The dominant affective group or object-relations group associated with Type 5 is 5, 8 & 2. Freud termed this group, Expulsive, and Riso-Hudson termed it: Rejecting. Type 5 is a Head Type, and hence, you start at your boxed in corner of the Head triad of the Enneagram. Growth is movement, and requires that you fully inhabit your Heart and Body/Gut Triad, as well as your Head. Hence, the next steps in growth are to Points 8 and 2, in whichever order. We don't all unfold or grow in a same manner. Much depends on what is occurring in our lives. Your profession may encourage you to take a leadership position and grow towards being a Boss. Your personal life may encourage you to grow in your heart space, whether that is do to the birth of a child, marriage or divorce. But, this is still in your comfort zone, your Object-relation group, in Self-knowledge, to know yourself in your head, heart and body spaces. The first step out of your comfort zone is towards knowing the other, or Other-knowledge. The most difficult person to get to know and like is your Shadow Type/Inverse-type/-2 Binary. For a Type 5, that is the appearance conscious, superficial, political animal called Type 3. Honestly, while a Five wants to seeks the deep truths below the surface, the Type 3 seeks appearances as truth. Their vice is Deceit, which is the opposite of your Holy Idea, which Omniscience. You cannot get a more diametrically opposed in an approach to life. If you are able to accept the Three energy and talents, you become a more whole person with greater ability to act in a non-habitual manner and will be more awake and present to the moment than before. The rest of the Five's Hidden path is relatively easy, if you make pass this 4th step. You essentially learn about the Other & develop Other-knowledge by incorporating the energy and perspective of all the Types that are different than your dominant affective group: 5 -) 2 -) 8 -) 3 -) 1 -) 4 -) 7 -) 9 -) 6. Again, people grow differently and based on what is going on in their lives, so the pattern in variable. What I am offering is a prescription of steps for growth. The essential elements of this prescription is to Know Thy Self in all three triads, then proceed to Knowing the Others, beginning with your -2 Binary or Shadow Type and then going on to all the other types left to be explored and incorporated. The overall growth is ascension towards the +1 Wing, as Type 5 moves towards Type 6 in nine steps. Hence, on can complete all 81 connecting lines between all the points on the enneagram in an ascending sequence, if so desired.

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      EnneagramAnalysis 2 years ago from Hobe Sound, Florida

      I am also a Type 5, Knowledge Seeker, The Investigator, The Thinker or Observer. The Hidden Path for Type 5 is to initially Type 8, in direction of integration. Moving towards Type 2 is in the so-called direction of stress or disintegration is not needed. You don't need to work on the direction of stress. Shit happens and you will feel stressed. When stressed, you begin to unravel and will learn from the experience, if you are lucky to survive it and regroup.

      So, I suggest you move towards Type 8, then towards Type 3, your opposite type and your first step out of your Comfort Zone. Type 5's are "introspective types" according to Katherine Hurley and have difficulty initiating action. They are Thinkers; not Doers. It is their Achilles' heel. Types 8, 3 and 7 are "Doers", action types. You will get 80% of the results of working the entire Hidden Path by just completing three steps towards this inherent weakness and develop the abilities of the Go Getter Types: Type 8, Type 3 and then Type 7. Again, this is not the method advocated by Gurdjieff, but a short cut that I developed for myself, using my knowledge of Katherine Hurley's methods and teachings of the Enneagram in the Healing Tradition and my knowledge of the relationship between the Enneagram and the three brains of man: 1) Reptilian Brain (Types 7. 8 and 3 representing Speed, Strength and Cunning; 2) Mammalian Brain ( Types 1, 2 and Type 6 representing Educating, Nurturing and Loyalty; and 3) New Brain/NeoCortex (Types 4, 5 and 9) representing Originality, Knowledge and a Universal Perspective.

      Oddly, this creates a Enneagram Matrix 3 6 9 Mental Plane

      showing the three brains & three planes 8 2 5 Spiritual Plane

      of travel of the soul in the body. 7 1 4 Physical Plane

      Although every EnneaType, Soul type or Essence is journeying in a body on all three planes, depending on your Type, one plane of this journey is emphasized and one plane is de-emphasized. For Introspective Types ( Types 4, 5 and 9). there is need to develop Go Getter Types skills of Types 3, 8, and 7. For Go Getter Types, there is a need to develop the Networker Types skills of Types 6, 2 and 1. For Networker Types, there is a need to develop the Introspective Types skills.

      In short, you need to first develop your strengths and then address your weaknesses. For Type 5, that means movings initially towards your strength at Type 8 and addressing your weaknesses at Type 3 and Type 7. You will without any plan wind up being stressed in life and developing your stress point, Type 2. Hence, your life's journey will stress the Spiritual Plane of Types 8, 2 and 5. The other planes will be undeniable present and developing the strengths of Type 3 and Type 7, you will be served well in the other two planes of your soul's travel.

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      Theluciddreamer 2 years ago

      This perspective takes the enneagram into a new level for me. Where can I look deeper into this?

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