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James Moore - The Enneagram Debacle

James Moore - The Enneagram Debacle

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The Enneagram Debacle by James Moore

par G. I. Gurdjieff, samedi 6 septembre 2008, 20:12 ·

NEW LAMPS FOR OLD The Enneagram Debacle LONG, CONTENTIOUS CENTURIES HAVE BURIED OUR TRADITIONAL religions beneath a sediment of awesome scholarship. (Think say of Trimingham on the Sufi Orders or Bultmann on Judas Iscariot.) Although the domains of exegesis and kerygma remain volatile (sufficiently so, cynics might complain, to stir the pot of human misery), the textual and historical substrate affords theologians scant latitude. One solecism, one fatal slip in this grim arena, signals the thumbs down to academic reputation. ... How startlingly different the realm of New Religions! Neither the large self-advertisements of its protagonists, nor the free-floating idealism of its young adherents, nor the anti-cult organizations' delight in hearsay calumny, nor the all-permeating | influence of money, nor the cyni- cism of the press and the innocent indifference of the public—nothing here conduces to decent accuracy. In so-to-say the no-man's land between religions new and old, between slack subjectivism and scholarship of rabbinical nicety, there looms today the enigmatic figure of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. Given the reclusion and a-historicism of the Gurdjief- fian nucleus and the chutzpah of his denigrators, imitators, and peripheral fellow travelers, it is hardly surprising to encounter wild New Age distortions. And nevertheless a canon of scholarship begins, slowly and painfully, to accrete about this Gurdjieff; increasingly, we his self-appointed "judges" stand to be judged. One fascinating proving-ground of relevant scholarship is the burgeoning oeuvre sketched in Anthony C. Edwards' welcome piece "Competitiveness and Apartheid in the New Age: The Enneagram Schools." It is only a pity that, wielding the authority of Lancaster University, Edwards no less than seven times binds Gurdjieff and the Enneagram to Sufism. His core idea—namely: given Gurdjieffs interest in Sufism, it does seem likely that the Enneagram was known to Sufi scholars before Gurdjieff—is syllogistically re-expressible thus: Major: Gurdjieff was essentially a "Sufi-inspired teacher" (Mr. Edwards' definition). Minor: Gurdjieff propounded the Enneagram. Conclusion: Therefore the Enneagram probably has Sufic antecedents. This seemingly innocuous proposition deserves, both for its typicality and topicality, the compliment of reasoned scrutiny. One applauds, of course, the historically respectable minor premise: Gurdjieff did indeed first propound the Enneagram to his Petrograd and Moscow groups in 1916, and all early enneagram-matic commentaries (Ouspensky, 1949; Maurice Nicoll, 1952-54; J. G. Bennett, 1956-66) salute Gurdjieff's pre-eminence. ... Contextually we do well to reinforce this premise. Why?—Because in 1972, when the clever Bolivian ideological opportunist Oscar Ichazo initiated the current trend with his luridly colored booklet The Human Process of Enlightenment and Freedom, he blandly presented the familiar diagram as the "enneagon," vouchsafing Gurdjieff no acknowledgement whatever. "Oscar claims," explained one of his lieutenants, "to have worked out the ancient meanings and uses of the Enneagram himself." Oscar did more than that: he actually protested that others had stolen his idea and that, in "...masking the plagiarism, some variations had been introduced that... produce negative and dangerous effects." A singular claim indeed! Rather as though an irate Alfred Russel Wallace had burst upon the public with the theory of natural selection 50 years after Darwin. Gurdjieff's Multiplex Sources Edwards' major | premise merits at least two I cheers. Sufism undoubtedly ! did interest and inspire Gurdjieff. Like Richard Burton, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca —and plainly his monotheism and ample recognition of Muhammad as a genuine messenger of God, satisfy the tashahud or First Pillar of Islam (without which any profession of Sufism is specious). Gurdjieff commends, as the epicenter of practical esotericism, Persia, Mesopotamia, and Turkestan— regions permeated by Sufic tradition. He accords a telling significance to the "incomparable Mullah Nassr Eddin," mediaeval wise fool of Turkish literature. Program notes (Paris, 1923; New York, 1924) of Gurdjieff's Sacred Dances hint at his contact with specific dervish orders: Qadiri, Naqshbandi, Kubravi, Yesevi, and—not least—Mevlevi. Certain dances could hardly parade their Sufic provenance more openly: the "Camel Dervish," the "Trembling Dervish," the "Ceremony for a Dead Dervish," etc. In his ballet The Struggle of the Magicians, Gurdjieff incorporated a Persian dervish song. His whole life-style—which courted the epithet "charlatan"—recalls "The Way of Blame" of the Qalandaris and Shems-Eddin, the Sun of Tabriz.

to raise a Gurdjieffian voice. a distinguished admirer of Shah. Elwell-Sutton's magisterial "Sufism and Pseudo-Sufism" and Robert Amadou's lucid "Gurdjieff et Ie soufisme". Bennett lent his excited pen to the notion of Gurdjieff's Sufic antecedents. in "Special Problems in the Study of Sufi Ideas. a living message. echoed the thesis in The Psychology of Consciousness. and b) chimed in with the extravagant millenarian and messianic fervor of 69-year-old John Godolphin Bennett (1897-1974).." produced by Shah himself and his followers. her question-begging credentials ("I was bom into the Gurdjieff work") are overtopped by the uninhibited gratitude she expresses to "Claudio Naranjo who has for five years inspired. who had been among those close to Gurdjieff in his final year. trusting to Shah's partisan analysis. in Mount Athos the legacy of Hesy-chasm. Still less can the "Sufi-inspired" drum be ~ banged unaccompanied. Space constraints alone forbid my advancing an equally persuasive and unbalanced case that Gurdjieff's teaching flowed chiefly from Buddhism—with particular redolences of Ch'an (or Zen).." Shah's self-advertisements and invertebrate "Sufism" signified less than nothing in orthodox Islamic circles and were rejected wholesale by the British Gurdjieffian mainstream." no self-respecting critique of Gurdjieff's thought can rest on any single-source hypothesis whatever. the triumph of a lie—or at best a wonderfully partial truth—seemed accomplished. The fault of Edwards' major premise lies not in sug-gestio falsi but in suppressio veri. Stoic." that the Home County Sufi "Sheikh.the gospel became intensely personal. I. free of any kind of dogma whatsoever." (TMaranjo was no Gurdjieffian but had been under Ichazo's influence since 1969." To the consternation of the nucleus of Gurdjieff's informed followers. In 1972 Robert B." Venerating Jesus as a Divine Messenger with a teaching of unexampled love." Idries Abutahir Shah. and it was by his own wish that he was buried at Avon with the full rites of the Russian Orthodox Church." "Easter Night Procession. Thomas Alexandrovitch de Hartmann) a wealth of extant Christian liturgical music: "Hymn for Easter Thursday. P.. Since 1980.. However. especially from teachers of Sufism (Islamic mysticism). presaged the man's longer journeys: seeking in Cappadocia the origins of Christian liturgy. with the Lord's Prayer its emblem. Gurdjieff left abundant clues to the Sufi origins of virtually every point in his 'system. Speeth seemed. The canard would never have taken hold had not Shah and his self-depiction a) won flattering acceptance among a small but influential coterie of British intellectuals. Once indeed. and Shaman-ist material." Finally. in 1975 John C. Only compare the Christian facet. and nothing but the truth—yet it is light years from being the whole truth. .) asseverating— with marvelous chronological implausi-bility—that the youthful Gurdjieff had merely been an indifferent pupil to a succession of still living Sufi masters. in sheer disregard of L. it was then. in 1985." etc. the major premise that Gurdjieff was fundamentally a Sufi-inspired teacher must politely be summed up in one unavoidable adjec-tive: false The Trap How was this trap laid.. Thus Katinka Matson in her book The Encyclopaedia of Reality: A Guide to the New Age assured her readers: "Gurdjieff was very much oriented in the Islamic Sufi tradition.learning about spiritual traditions.) By now Shah's fib was being innocently re-promulgated in works of reference used by journalists. which he schemed to divert. both overtly and pseudonymously). which ensnares so many honest commentators possessing no substantial background in Sufic or Gurdjieffian studies? 1966 was the year of grand misdirection.That Gurdjieff drew inspiration from Sufism is thus the truth. when James Webb published The Harmonious Circle. Nor can one blithely disregard elements evidently drawn from Pythagorean.. Gurdjieff's first British pupil (Paul Dukes. Zoroastrian. Gurdjieff even defined his own self-referential teaching as "esoteric Christianity. Lilly (an American expert on the seemingly discrepant subject of dolphins) chimed in thoughtfully: "The Enneagram is a device used by the Sufi school and developed by Ichazo." When he died. explicitly asserted: "G." "Hymn for Good Friday." In 1976 Kathleen Riordan Speeth. The youth's precocious pilgrimages to Echmiadzin and the monastery of Sanaine. The boy Gurdjieff (a chorister at Kars Cathedral and his education entrusted to Dean Borsh and Deacon Bogachevsky) came early under Christian influence. 1913) received a teaching squarely grounded in Christianity: ". enriched and mercilessly scourged me. It was then there appeared the distasteful fabrication The Teachers of Gurdjieff by Rafael Lefort (pseud. ..G. and in Coptic Abyssinia the roots of Christian gnosis. high requiem mass was sung for his soul in the packed Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Paris." "The Story of the Resurrection of Christ...'" The ulterior and all-too-human motive for this misdirection I have already examined in some detail in "Neo-Sufism: The Case of Idries Shah." Like Bennett. Omstein. Gurdjieff composed (in collaboration with a distinguished Russian pupil. the Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th ed. A "Sufi-inspired Gurdjieff' now quickly crystallized as the by-product of "Shah-School" productions (a homogeneous literary oeuvre eulogizing Shah and his "Sufism. Dr.. with its complex chapter "The Sources of the System.. In formal terms.) announced ex cathedra: "Gurdjieff spent his early adult years. in 1973 J. in Gurdjieff: Making a New World. prima facie.. Essene. the parables its illustration. cheerfully echoed: "The Enneagram is almost certainly of Sufi origin. in Jerusalem the link with the Essenes.

Awesome scholarship.. Aquinas.U. and Duns Scotus need recourse to Gurdjieffs symbol in Kitsch form? Does the Jesuit Father General seriously believe this redounds admajorem Deiglo-riam? . even had Gurdjieff been overwhelmingly a "Sufi-inspired teacher"— Edwards' conclusion a propos the ennea-gram strains credulity.g. The Sufi Orders in Islam (London: O.A Reflection Even had the Encyclopaedia been correct. how does one accommodate Gurdjieffs own assurance that this symbol "has been completely unknown up to the present time" (1916) and "cannot be met with anywhere in the study of' occultism." The "cash value" of that complex meta-physic we cannot dream of debating here. etc... 1971).0x8. suffice that Gurdjieff's theme evokes the salutary warning of G. underlying the behavioral veneer. Its axis was and is: "abandonment of self-love for the love of God. Descending now to the "Enneagram of personality. and is currently working on his memoirs. or even send out a distress call for Thomism's natural champions. rigged out in Enneagram T-shirts. Edwards' survey is an admirable beginning.Edwards. a fastidious care seems indicated now in delineating Christian/Jesuit involvement. K. it was never humanistic. Robert Ochs. Don Richard Riso) and important Jesuit havens (e. tendentious. James Moore is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and author of Gurdjieff: The Anatomy of a Myth and Gurdjieff and Mansfield. Anthony C. His psychological address was to "essence": the pupil's inexpungeable and fate-attracting particularity. Chicago). yearning for union with and annihilation in God.uk Notes 1. II y a une infinite de modes de nepas etre. Given the lamentable history of misinformation regarding the Islamic/Sufic relationship to Gurdjieff's enneagram. Gurdjieff propounded his enneagram in 1916 not to titillate narcissism but to reconcile at macrocosmic and microcosmic level his "Law of Three" and "Law of Seven. Alike to Christians and Gurdjieffians.. personality was the mask (Latin persona).g. Mencken but the Americanism of Elmer Gantry. but—as the Enneagram-cult burgeons. give shuddering pause? What could this conceivably have to do with Sufism or with Gurdjieff? However variegated Sufism's historical expression (a variegation eluding most New Age commentators). as the great religious traditions are rashly prayed in aid." The "Americanism" so brashly stamped all over enneagram-of-personality literature is not the Americanism of H. Mr. the current trend bears painful witness to a spiritual Gresham's Law in which the bad drives out the good. For him. Spencer Trimingham. Email: james." And to reduce Gurdjieff's enneagram to a symbol of personality is exquisite irony. "Competitiveness and Apartheid in the New Age: The Enneagram . Of such personality differentiation. J. and its callow joy-riders. Welcome piece. It is finally defensible only in the spirit that Roland Barthes defends all-in wrestling—as the meretricious which briefly purges signification of its inherent ambiguity. But does Edwards conceivably imply that the Society of Jesus worldwide is now committed to the enneagram? Has it actually come to this—that the heirs of the three great mediaeval systems of Bonaventure.0x17. the First Order of Dominicans. tout ces somnabiiles different entre eiix comme les expressions: 0x3. tantamount to contradiction. its typology bears comparison with Sun-sign astrology in the tabloid press—narcissistic. and as the cash tills ring merrily— a more glacial eye would not come amiss.org. California. a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. theological centers at Berkeley. and lacking any significant substrate of scholarly or empirical validation." many traditionalists may feel it high time to dust off Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical Aeterni Patris 33. and Loyola University." does not the spectacle of its self-interested proponents.moore@gurdjieff. Chesterton: "A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man. L. different entre elles. Sociologically viewed. Patrick O'Leary.P. Since 1970 more than one idiosyncratic tendency in Ignatian spirituality has migrated from South America to the USA and there seems no denying that the enneagram of personality has found significant Jesuit apologists (e.' either in books or in oral tradition"—evidently by an obdurate disregard. How does one explain the absence of this symbol from standard reference books on Islamic geometrical design? Why has not a single academic authority on Sufism even deigned to dignify the attribution with comment? And—the corollary— how does one pass down a complex diagram by "oral tradition" without any figurative trace? Last but not least. M —James Moore Author's Note This article complements the author's two preceding pieces "Neo-Sufism: The Case of Idries Shah" (Religion Today 3 (3)) and "The Enneagram: A Developmental Study" (Religion Today 5 (3))— in which latter some significant printing errors occurred. If the answer to these terrible questions is "Yes. Ie nepas etre. Gurdjieff's distinguished pupil Rene Daumal (whose orientalism was grounded in a command of Sanskrit) wrote bleakly: nous convenons de signifier par Ie symbols zero. 2.

27.pp." relating the octet to the Monad. Distasteful fabrication. Lenox Hill. Idries Shah.). with Spanish sub-texts. 1952). "Sufism and Pseudo-Sufism. and highly tendentious extrapolation of these parallels. Psychological Commentaries in the Teaching ofG. 1972). 376-78). op. "Neo-Sufism—The Case of Idries Shah. Boris Petrovitch Mourav-ieff(1890-1966).d. John C.). including the enneagram. like Edwards. The Unending Quest (London: Casell 1950:109).3 Vols. Sir Paul Dukes. 286-95) and Ouspensky's commentary (pp. 5. Omstein. was as-it-were Idries Shah's less successful Christian counterpart. 1970:109). (St. Encyclopaedia Britannica. G. see Maurice Nicoll. 13. Ideological opportunist. Ouspensky.Schools. L. Unfortunately. 6. "Gurdjieff et Ie soufisme. see Boris Mouravieff. 9. The Dramatic Universe. Enneagrammatic commentaries. D. Gurdjieff Making a New World (London: Turn-stone. James Webb. Abundant clues. from the Russian of Bishop Theophan the Recluse. 1972). 20. Ouspensky's En busca de lo milagroso: fragnientos de una ensenanza desconocida and Rodney Collin's El desarrollo de la luz. J. 'Gurdjieff q./ Aug. rooting all Gurdjieff's ideas. chefde cabinet to Alexandre Kerensky in 1917. 1950). had in fact been available to Ichazo since 1952. 1979:162). Elwell-Sutton. Echoed the thesis. 1982:44-57. The Harmonious Circle: The Lives and Work ofG. CA: And /Or Press. Paul and the Greek fathers. I. Contains both Gurdjieff's original exposition of the enneagram TELOS 25 (pp. Oscar claims.O. In the 1950s he propagated his heterodox views from his Centre d'etudes chretiennes esoteriques broadly within the ambiance of Geneva University. Ouspensky (London: Vincent Stuart. For an insightful Gurdjief-fian exploration of the Gospels' esoteric and psychological meaning. 1975: 331). . I. Gurdjieff and P. Qalandaris see Trimingham. 17. 1954). as a Pythagorean "seal. 23. Bennett. cit: 267-9. Cannot be met -with. Ouspensky. her claim to having been "born into the Gurdjieff work" admits this interpretation only. 1980: 499-542). Speeth's parents were distinguished Gurdjieffians. 43.. 1970). Maurice Nicoll. Available from: Triangle Records.: 4-8. 3. when Ediciones Sol (Mexico) put out P. Dr. Developed by Ichazo. P.-Dec. 19. Albans: Paladin/ Granada Publishing. not in Sufism but in St. secretary to Gurdjieff's pupil and apologist P. 1976: preface). 21. 1985. 12." Religion Today 1 (2). Misdirection. Tr-ampersand Psychologies (London: RKP. In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (London: RKP. Tliegospel. Box 452. was played by Eugenie Kadloubovsky. 1966). Happily all Sufic ascription has been expunged from the 1987 imprint of the 15th edition. n. Striking parallels between Gurdjieff's psychological ideas and Christian devotional practice emerge in Early Fathers from the Philokalia (London: Faber & Faber. Triangle Editions Inc. Gurdjieff q. 1949). Robert Amadou. New York. 26.C. op. 16. Diagrams of the enneagram. Cheerfully echoed. slack. Bennett. p. 777e Teachers of Gurdjieff (London: Gollancz. Tart. The Way of the Sufi (New York: Dutton. idem. The New Man: An Interpretation of Some Parables and Miracles of Christ (London: Stuart & Richard. Ouspensky. Lucid. Kathleen Riordan Speeth. 15. James Moore. Ichazo.24-79." Encounter XLIV (5). Katinka Matson. Rafael Lefort (pseud. 14. 500 B. Ouspensky. Ichazo omits to support his theory of provenance with textual citation. See especially chapters 2 and 3. note 35. The persistent rumour and reasonable inference that Idries Shall is Rafael Lefort was first publicly bruited by Nicholas Saunders in Alternative London (London: Nicholas Saunders. 1961-65. Hart. Oscar Ich-azo. op.D.. Christian liturgical music. D. 1973). D. P. 4. Lilly and Joseph E. Webb published. "The Arica Training. J. Spring 1992." Religion Today 3 (3). D.Journalists. Significantly a major role in translating this remarkable work. Gnosis Etude et commentaires sur la tradition esoterique del'orthodoxie orientate (Paris: La Colombe. Excited pen. Ouspensky and Their Followers (London: Thames & Hudson. Robert E.cit: 2.P. The Psychology of Consciousness (San Francisco: W. op. The Gurdjieff Work (Berkeley. 7. P. 10. The Human Process for Enlightenment and Freedom (New York: Arica Institute Inc.cit: 286. NY 10021. 1956-1966). Gurdjieff. The Encyclopaedia of Reality: A Guide to the New Age." in Charles T. Ich-azo's latest contention is that the enneagram (or enneagon) figure originated c. (London: Hodder & Stoughton. Lilly & Hart. 8. May 1975:44-57.: 102. USA. 22. Scourged. Gurdjieff's own assurance. ibid: 287. ^. G. 'Esoteric Christianity." Question de (Paris) 50 Nov. For a wholesale. 11. Dangerous effects.cit: 333. 18. Freeman. 25. Magisterial. op. cit. This follows my correspondence with Britannica (Lan Mahinske) Jun. H. ed.

30. 1957. have found no endorsement from Hamid Algar. Chesterton. Sufism's historical expression. 1929).. Nor does it differentiate the numerous dervish orders (more than 100 in Gurdjieff's purview alone) ethnically. 1964). Nor are the Dominicans uninformed as to Sufism. the asceticism of the primary epoch and the luxuriant mystical poetry of the 11th and 12th century Persia.cit: 11. K. 32. Father Cyprian Rice 0. 26 TELOS . but. Portmanteau allusion to Sufism . The Book of Job (London. ranks with Arberry. or in terms of Sunni/Shia persuasion. Mythologies. the world authority on this tariqa. and his fruitful contact with the venerable Nimatullah dervish Sheikh Sham-sul'Urafa. -. 29. Corbin. G. Personality differentiation. Indeed. op. and Nicholson among the prime European authorities. Tu t'es toujours trompe (Paris: Mercure de France. Encyclical. 31. only Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) responded with a significant body of relevant work. Rene Daumal. All-in wrestling. Elwell-Sutton. Thomism 's natural champions. Pope Leo XIII (Joachim Vincent Pecci) issued his Encyclical Aeterni Patris in 1879 in hopes of instigating a Thomist revival.27. Annihilation in God. P. among the intelligentsia. Nudging allusions to the Naqshbandi order. 28. 1970: 37). Roland Barthes. regionally. Cosmic philosophy. 33. Paris. dutifully following Idries Shah. throughout Enneagram-of-personal-ity literature unhappily conflates quite disparate elements: the transcendentalism of the 7th and 8th centuries and the immanence of the 9th and 10th. Mas-signon. by virtue of his book 772e Persian Sufis (London: George Alien & Unwin.

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