EnneagramFourth Way Gurdjieff Ouspensky School Education Concerning the Work Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, Maurice Nicoll, and their students.
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Law of Seven

Such harmony is in immortal souls,
But, while this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
William Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice, v. i. 54

The law of Seven is a law of vibrations. Just as in modern physics, this ancient idea considers the world to consist of vibrations, and this is a general law to help understand this, for practice use.

To increase the rate of vibrations of a material, we need to apply energy to it. E.g, to raise the temperature, you need to apply heat to a substance. In popular physics not much attention is given to the fact that the increase in the rate of vibrations is not always directy related to the rate of application of energy, i.e. applying energy at a constant rate does not always give a constant increase in the rate of vibrations. A very simple example is in heating water from ice to steam - there are two points, the point when the ice is at 0 degrees C, but not yet melted, and the point when the water is at 100 degrees C, but not yet steam. At these two points, one has to keep applying heat for a longer period of time for the temperature to rise.

Now, the theory is that this pattern will occur for vibrations in any kind of material, and here we are talking about a wider category of material than physics usually deals with, for instance, one's own psychology.

The points of slowing down in the rate of increase of the rate of vibrations are called intervals.

Thus a process can be broken into three stages, that before the first interval, that between the first and second interval, and that after the second interval, just like the stages ice, water, steam.

We go a step further in this theory, and break a process up into 7 steps, or 8, with the last step in some way considered equivalent to the first. In Western music, there are 7 notes, DO, RE, ME, FA, SO, LA, SI, forming an octave. This terminology is used in the work to refer to any process taken from what would be called Do to Do, the start and the end.

It is very useful to have an understanding of octaves, as activities will follow octaves. For instance, writing these Web pages, I have an idea, and decide I will write about it. This is a common Do, the deciding to do something, which is actually quite a big step; as Goethe said:

Until one is motivated, there is hesitancy. The moment that one definitely commits oneself, then higher forces move too.

Then there is the first interval - I have to find out how to use HTML, how to write the pages...Each step will have a certain feel. Knowing the theory of Octaves, I know that there will come a second interval at some stage, and so I can be prepared for this. The better one understands octaves, the better one can achieve one's aims. If you know in detail what stages an activity will go though, you can predict the intervals well, and prepare to successfully cross them. People who do not expect difficulties can give up at once, believing that they will never get anywhere, just like the person who said a watched pot never boils, and gave up before it had had a chance.

This is only a very brief discussion of the law of Seven and octaves, I have not described each of the steps in detail, or given enough examples.


So far, most of my examples are rather fragmentary. Let me know if you can help me see a larger picture.

Quantum Leaps

An idea from physics which may be related:

In an atom, electrons orbit a neucleus in various "electron shells", i.e., only certain (discrete) levels are allowed, they can't orbit just anywhere. A quantum leap is when an electron, excited by a greater input of energy, suddenly jumps to the next assigned orbit. There is no "in between" orbit allowed; it's like they dissapear from one orbit, and reapear in another. Like crossing an interval between two notes of an octave.

Useful Links

Links to other pages about the law of seven and the enneagram on the web:

Suggested Reading

There are many useful work books referring to the law of seven and the enneagram. In particular, see:

Other Octaves

Do you know about octave in music or in other subject areas? These should be part of the larger theory of octaves. It may be useful to understand particular areas, such as octaves in music, to gain understanding of octave in general, so here I hope to collect links to various ideas about octaves in general. Please suggest more links!

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