The six ways
By Lee van Laer
From the Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff Blog, June 2013
In the world of elements, once the scientific community realized that elements fit into a periodic table, it was possible, knowing identified elements, to predict elements which ought to fit in certain spots but hadn't been discovered yet. This led to a series of interesting discoveries about the nature of matter. Paleontologists have used similar inferences to identify locations in which significant transitional fossil specimens ought to be found, based on dating and geographical location.
In the same way, it's possible to understand that there are several ways which Gurdjieff never talked about, but which must exist.
The enneagram of the six ways lays out the reasons for this.
The first way is associated with materiality and hatha yoga, the physical yoga we are all familiar with. It is the way of the body. It is, in essence, the way of man number one.
The second way is the way of the emotions, of desire, essentially, one of the ways of love, as outlined in bhakti yoga. This is the way of man number two.
The third way is the way of the Yogi, associated with power, also known as djana yoga. This is the way of man number three.
The fourth way, which everyone who studies the Gurdjieff ideas is well familiar with, is interesting for several reasons. First of all, it falls on the left side of the diagram, in the realm of what are called spiritual or conscious forces. As such, it actually represents a higher order of work that cannot be approached before the first three ways have, in one way or another, been completed. In this sense, it stands apart from the other three ways for more than just conceptual reasons. Persons practicing the fourth way have stepped into a different realm.
Second of all, the fourth way lies in the position of the heart. This indicates that it is a higher path of love, informed by a compassion that may be present in the way of the monk, but has a transcendental nature to it. There will be a future essay explaining this relationship in some more detail.
The fourth way is the way of man number four. That is, a man who has already acquired conscious Being to some degree.
What we want to come to, however, is that the nature of the diagram shows us that there are two other ways: the fifth way, or the way of purification, and the sixth way, or the way of wisdom.
Why did Gurdjieff never mention this? And why is there no mention of these ways in the yoga schools?
These two paths lie at levels so high that they are unavailable to ordinary human beings. The fourth way, which exists "in life," is accessible to human beings, but the fifth and the six ways are only accessible to extraordinary adepts who have mastered the fourth way. These are the truly esoteric schools, the ones that are completely hidden from mankind, and whose knowledge only emerges into the world when they want it to. Because of the level of these schools, the information they are privy to can never be "leaked" or stolen; individuals who would undertake such action can be identified in advance, and are never allowed to enter the school. This is why the enneagram, which has existed for thousands of years, was never seen until they decided it should be. The fact that they chose Gurdjieff to reveal this diagram says something about him and his own level of work all in itself.
The sixth way is the way, or school, that the enneagram originated in. It was hidden from the world for thousands of years in exactly the same way that the two hidden ways themselves have been. But we can surmise that when they decided the diagram should be released, there was also a tacit admission that eventually it would be understood that these two additional ways existed.
In the same way that intuiting the existence of an element one has never observed before is entirely theoretical, we can't do much with this information. But it is certainly interesting to realize this; and there must be a point and an aim to it, since the two hidden ways would not have made it possible to see them in this way unless they felt that it was time for mankind to be aware of the much higher influences that operate on this planet, where no one can see them.
The fifth way, the way of purification, is the aim of men who work in the schools of the fourth way. What this means is up to each individual to explore; but it shows that the path becomes more and more demanding.