Enneagram Apprentice §6


The Right Work of Centres       (Reprint from February 2008)

In February 2008, I was in correspondence with a person who is in 4th Way Studies in Holland who said that she was in a bit of state because she was overwhelmed by having to write so many papers for her degree—Political Philosophy. I more or less idly asked her if she’d considered using Multiple-I analysis. She said she hadn’t—how would it work?

The concept of Multiple-I’s is central to 4th Way studies; the practical details of it are never worked out anywhere, as far as I’ve been able to discover; my approach is unique! (Blowing-my-own-trumpet-I!)  We can Know the ideas of a system but neglect Understanding and forget to think about practical applications in our sense of Being. It’s a matter of using all the ‘Centres’, K and U & B and finding ways to distribute ‘I’s appropriately

KEY QUESTION:  How do we constantly remind ourselves to make use of what we can learn so easily?

By email with my Dutch correspondent, I started by saying that I had an exercise that I was not sure I’d be able to run at long distance but we could try! I told her that it was connected with getting people to spatially separate out for contemplation the functioning of the different parts of the brain—‘Centres’ as Gurdjieff called them!  Once the separation is made, I pointed out, it is possible for you to begin to get your self to focus on the right work of Centres…

I told her to have a specific project (essay, assignment, presentation, area of study) in mind and (you know the drill!) put three bits of paper on the floor, labelled ‘Thinking-I’, ‘Feeling-I’ and ‘Doing-I’, making the lettering bold enough to be read from 4 or 5 feet. “Be prepared to stand on each in turn and get into that part of your mind—you’ll find it’ll just happen as though by magic!” I said, “It doesn’t matter where you start… Try Thinking-I first. As you stand on it write down on separate bits of paper everything you do that seems like ‘thinking’”. I suggested a few examples…

FEELING-I:  Confused-I…  Overwhelmed-I…  Excited-I…

THINKING-I:  Forming-hypotheses-I…  Making- sense-of-a-chapter-I…   Battling-with-a-concept-I (which might well bring up a Feeling-I…)

DOING-I:  Going-back-over-something-I…   Asking-questions-I…   Finding-things-suddenly-dropping-into-place-I… Telling-a-story-I…  Underlining-key-points-I…

I said: “If during this process you start being overwhelmed by what you’ve chosen to have in mind to start with then you must go and stand on FEELING-I—the right Centre for a feeling of overwhelm! Or a feeling of any kind… You can try standing on each of the secondary bits of paper and you’ll find that other ‘I’s will crop up—note them on bits of paper for further experimentation. If ‘I’s that want to do something appear then take them to Doing-I and find out what happens there…”

DOING-I… Making-mind-maps-I…

I said: “How a particular bit of political philosophy came into being could, for instance, be a thing for a mind-map or it might be for Telling-a-story-I or, as something way out, Writing-a-poem-I  to focus on…”

Putting-things-in-my-own-words-I…  Anybody who’s done the Enneagram course knows that I’d spend a good bit of time with somebody going round this system. They’d make distinctions which I’d help them to file in the ‘right place’ and I might make suggestions out of what I hear them saying. Then I’d take them quite a way off to another bit of paper labelled ‘META-I’—the ‘I’ that can stand apart and look at the whole process literally from a distance with a different perspective. There you can become confident at being able to move between ‘I’s and ready to deal with any more that emerge, as they will. We have so many ‘I’s but usually they’re all in a jumble, interfering with one another, being at cross purposes.

My correspondent reported back that she was thrilled by the experience of going through this and had never looked forward so much to tackling the next paper that she had to prepare! Sounds like Excited-I talking…

I have unfortunately lost contact with her.

Afterwards it occurred to me that when we’re in the Top Form area of our Fixation we are cycling round Thinking/ Feeling/Doing ‘I’s with great aplomb; it’s when we get stuck in one ‘I’ on its own that we go into Downward Spiral. For instance, when I get stuck in Thinking-I without the proper support of Feeling-I and Moving-I, I become dogmatic and identified with my thoughts. Feeling-I and Moving-I take me back up into noticing the effect of my thinking and making some sort of practical use of my thoughts.

How does this work for your Fixation?  Let me know!

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