Three Centred Beings


One of the most significant ideas from Gurdjieff, inherent to our understanding of the Enneagram Typology, is the Three Centres of Intelligence – what Gurdjieff referred to as Man being a Three Brained Being

The Instinctual-Moving centre is located around the belly and Sex  organs (base of the spine to Lumber region). The Emotional Centre is around the Heart and Solar Plexus, and the Thinking Centre, which we generally consider as the location of our mind, is in the head. (fig 5)

Science understands this in terms of the Reptilian brain (spinal cord) the Limbic system and the Neo-Cortex.

Gurdjieff’ proposed that the three centres of intelligence are not functioning in the way they were designed to do. He would relate an ancient Sufi metaphor of a Manor house with no master present. Thus the House maid would be gardening, the Butler cooking, the cook driving the car and so on. This condition will persist until we have in place the Master of our House.

This is not something we can construct from ego-personality. However, we can install a Chief Steward,  around which, clusters of different ‘I’s, dedicated to Inner Work, can coalesce.

Discernment and distinction of the authentic qualities of each Centre is part of inner work. Gurdjieff makes the important distinction between “Instinctive” as in functions of the heart, metabolisms etc , and what is “Instinct”- that Gurdjieff says are “learnt, series of complex moving functions”
(page 114 ISM)

Making Distinctions

Our approach to  understanding  Enneagram typology also calls for distinctions to be observed between Sensing and Feeling. Sensations arise and will generally have a location  in our physical experience. They may take a small space, or sometimes have an energetic  quality that encompasses our whole-body.  We often only become aware of such sensations when they are painful or uncomfortable.

When we refer to “Feelings” for the same experience, we lose distinction between  our emotional life and our sensual experience. We may also find that many “emotions” arise from our thoughts and memories. Thus what is a true or false emotion becomes distorted in our experience.

It is useful to explore the dynamics of your sensations: What are the vibrations? The width?  The depth?. Is it static or does it move? Does the sensation have a frequency if it is vibrating?

Balancing the Centres

The Enneagram shows us aspects of ourselves that we are neglecting, rejecting, or just  plain unaware of.

Working with the Enneagram  typology  and  experiencing  the distinctions of Sensing, Feeling and of Mindfulness is a way of addressing  the imbalance.

“The general psyche of the modern man is split into three, so to say, completely  independent “entities”, which bear no relation to each other and which are separate both in their functions and in their manifestations..”

Because of (this) one-sided education of modern man – these three entirely independent sources or centres of his life, that is, firstly, the source of his intellectual life, secondly the source of his “emotional” life, and, thirdly, his instinct or “motor” centre, instead of fusing inwardly in the normal way to produce common outer manifestations, have become, especially of late, quite independent outward functions....”

Gurdjieff’s Herald of Coming Good, page 27.

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