The Enneagram of Holy Affirming, Holy Denying and Holy Reconciling factors
Originally published in the Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff Blog, November 2013
Understanding the function of the universal principles as depicted in the enneagram, we can gain some basic insights into the nature of holy affirming, holy denying, and the holy reconciling forces.
As you can see from the above diagram, in addition to being divided in half vertically, there are three "zones" of horizontal influence. As energy circulates around an octave, it manifests specific characteristics depending on its proximity to the Divine.
In this diagram, the pink area is the closest to the divine — the note "do," or, the absolute. The green zone, the middle zone, which represents the heart, is a mediating zone that stands between the most holy absolute at the top of the diagram, and that which is furthest from the divine, at the bottom.
Interestingly, we note that the forces of thinking — on the right, or natural, side of the diagram — and Being — on the left, or spiritual, side of the diagram — each of which serves as a vehicle for comprehending identity, are located in the region of holy denying. This is because our thinking takes us away from God; thinking makes us believe that we are God. And Being — a much higher form of thinking, but nonetheless a unique expression of egoism which must ultimately be surrendered — also affirms ourselves at the expense of the divine. There is an implicit irony here, because the acquisition of being, and absolutely necessary step on the spiritual path, also represents a concrete spiritual manifestation of the denying force, that is, an idiocy — or uniqueness — that sets us apart from God, which is an absolutely necessary step in order to begin the return towards the Divine.
Both the departure from the divine — the "downward" movement that takes place on the right side of the diagram — and the return, the upward movement on the left side, are mediated by emotive forces, that is, forces that are able to comprehend position or place, which is what emotion is for. They are also compassionate forces; and compassion, the ability to feel the passion of another, is the necessary mediating force in order to reconcile identity (the self) with God, who is, for us, the Other.
This gives us a hint as to why Gurdjieff asked us to practice external considering. It is actually an exercise or practice effort designed to help us reconcile identity of self with our separation from God.
The forces that are closest to the divine are, respectively, material manifestation — on the right side of the diagram, and wisdom, on the left. Material manifestation, being the emanation of God's influence into the material universe, naturally gives birth to that which is closest to God, that is, Reality. Sensation of the body is thus actually very close to an affirmation of God's presence in the confirmation of the material nature of existence, which is an acknowledgment of God. On the other side of the diagram, wisdom is the closest man or any other Being can come to God; it represents the evolution of energetic forces to the point where they know their place and can come into right relationship with the Lord.
A few other inferences can be drawn here, although investigating them would take a much longer essay. For one thing, all physical ecstasy actually lies very close to God Himself, being a sensate manifestation related to godhood. This includes chemically induced ecstasies (drugs) and the human orgasm. The taboo nature of these ecstasies and almost every religious practice relates to the fact that they are so overwhelmingly close to divinity; it is an attempt to come back to God by the backward path, an attempt to ascend through descent — that is, a shortcut that represents a subversion of the universal requirement for participation and circulation.
Another point is that all manifestations of intelligence and awareness, since they perceive themselves as separate from God, ultimately end up being a Holy Denying force. There can be only one true awareness, and that is God's awareness; all awarenesses that set themselves apart from this are ultimately denying the absolute, no matter how well developed they may be.
The third inference we can take away from this is that the feeling force – whether it expresses itself as desire or purification, which are reciprocal forces that act together — always plays the role of the mediator between the absolute affirmation of God through wisdom and materiality, and the relative affirmation of materiality through intelligence or Being. Readers who think carefully on this will now be able to understand a good deal about the nature of Buddhist teaching, which is intimately connected with the investigation of these questions through active Being. The delineation of these questions as shown in the enneagram furthermore casts light on the perpetual tension between transcendence and immanence as investigated by the Sufi schools and other religious practices which have existed since ancient times.
I'll leave readers with one final note. Because the left/right symmetry of the diagram creates correspondences between notes, wisdom and sensation, purification and desire, and Being and thinking form mirror images of one another. The lower forces of sensation, desire, and thinking share congruent and correspondent identities with wisdom, purification, and being. Sensation, in other words, is a form of wisdom; and we should note that it is wordless. Desire ultimately becomes a wish for purification; and thinking, and its higher form, manifests as Being. For thinking to begin to manifest Being is to take the first step into the higher order of these forces expressed on the left side of the diagram.
May your soul be filled with light.