The Enneagram is a universal symbol or a ‘cosmic blueprint’ — a diagrammatic representation of the fundamental laws that create and sustain everything from the whole of Creation to individual organisms. The Enneagram demonstrates the interaction of the Law of Three and the Law of Seven that gives rise to all phenomena.

When Ouspensky was introduced to the Enneagram it was with the following caveat:

‘The knowledge of the enneagram has for a very long time been preserved in secret and if it now is, so to speak, made available to all, it is only in an incomplete and theoretical form of which nobody could make any practical use without instruction from a man who knows. In order to understand the enneagram it must be thought of as in motion, as moving. A motionless enneagram is a dead symbol; the living symbol is in motion.’  (In Search of the Miraculous Ch.14)

Ouspensky himself, Francis Roles and later the architect Colin Lucas went on to produce a ‘complete’ Enneagram that could be universally applied in practice. See Enneagram in Motion. Their efforts and insight appear to have been unique; subsequent published applications of the Enneagram from around the world show little evidence of the vital development that can make it a really practical tool in the search for truth at any level.

Mandala of 9

Mandala of 9

The Shankaracharya also was aware of the Enneagram. He said to Francis Roles:

‘The use of symbols is a concentrated form of knowledge, and the use of numbers as symbols is designed to impart more knowledge than can be conveyed by other means.  The Symbol of the Circle of 9 points has also been evolved. Thus we see the Law of Three, the Law of Seven and the Law of Nine, which is the complete number and contains everything that there is in Creation.  All of Creation, the Physical world, the Subtle world, the Causal world and beyond that the Absolute – everything is contained in 9.  The Law of Seven is the rigid form of the manifest world; it is expressed by a circle, for it is a repetitive form having multifarious levels which can be seen in individuals, or in general as in the composition of the Universe and the composition of the human being.  It is closely governed by the Law of Three which is repeated everywhere.’

The Enneagram was central to Francis Roles’s reconstruction of the System.  He said:

‘What we should be interested in is True Knowledge, whether in Western form or in the form of the wisdom of the East. Both are united for us in this symbol – the universal symbol of the Enneagram – from which everything that we have taught here in this house since Mr Ouspensky died has been derived.’

Here are two simple applications of the symbol that convey the essence of the psychological teaching.  If we added the inner figure and related it to the various body/mind functions and the circulation of energies between them we could construct a true image of the energetic nature and capacities of any living being. Doing that remains a matter for individual enquiry.

Enneagram psychology

To know the Truth one needs to know very little, but to know that little one needs to know pretty much.’