Conduct and observance

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The society of Akhldanns, viewed as inner allegory

In Gurdjieff's "Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson," the story of the Society of Akhldanns is related in Chapter 23. There is an interesting allegorical meaning buried in the divisions of the society into different sections which we will explore together.

As I read this particular passage, it occurred to me that there was a potential correspondence between the seven divisions of the society and the seven centers, or chakras. (Those of you who are unfamiliar with my explorations of this particular subject are invited to read essay on the enneagram. It will be helpful in following the line of reasoning... among other things, the assignations of numbers and chakras won't make much sense if you haven't read the other piece.)

It's possible to interpret the divisions of the society of Akhldanns as an allegory depicting the work of the six centers whose effort falls into the multiplications (142857) --plus the seventh center, or seventh chakra, = note "Do."

The allegory appears to impart specific information about the type of investigative work each center is capable of engaging in.

Let's go through the quote section by section. I will offer a very brief commentary on each section. There is a lot of material here, and it could take years of study to truly understand what Mr. Gurdjieff is getting at, so bear with me and keep an open mind.

...All the quotes are taken from the first English edition of Beelzebub. In the new edition, this section is found beginning on page 273, through 275.

"The learned members of this first and perhaps last great terrestrial learned society were then divided into seven independent groups, or as it is otherwise said, 'sections', and each of these groups or sections received its definite designation.

"The members of the first group of the society Akhaldan were called 'Akhaldanfokhsovors', which meant that the beings belonging to that section studied the presence of their own planet as well as the reciprocal action of its separate parts."

According to my own interpretation of the enneagram, this first division would correspond to the number 1, or what is called the root chakra in traditional yoga. Hence, might we infer that a certain type of connection to the base of the spine is essential to beginning a study of our own planet and its activity?

"The members of the second section were called 'Akhaldanstrassovors' and this meant that the beings belonging to that section studied what are called the radiations of all the other planets of their solar system and the reciprocal action of these radiations."

This second division would correspond to the number 2, or sex center. Sex center produces the highest energy in man under ordinary conditions. What productive use might this energy be turned to if it were not abused? Is Mr. Gurdjieff hinting at a type of inner work we are unfamiliar with here? The allusion to the "planets of their solar system," when understood in the context of our own inner work, underscores the fact that we are all engaged in the formation of an inner solar system.

"The members of the third section were called "Akhaldanmetrosovors', which meant beings occupied with the study of that branch of knowledge similar to that branch of our general knowledge we call 'Silkoornano', and which partly corresponded to what your contemporary favorites call 'mathematics'."

The third division corresponds to the number four, or the solar plexus. I think it's fairly obvious, we can't infer that the solar plexus does algebra for us... except for those people who happen to have a good gut feeling for math. Nonetheless, mathematics is a precise and objective system, and a person whose reason resides within a system of this nature cannot reach incorrect conclusions, because they are strictly dictated by law. We could infer that a residence within the solar plexus -- which is a condition highly prized in Zen and in the Gurdjieff work -- offers a man the possibility to be more grounded and work from a more objective part of himself.
"The members of the fourth group were called 'Akhaldanpsychosovors', and by this name they then defined those members of the society Akhaldan who made their observations of the perceptions, experiencings, and manifestations of beings like themselves and verified their observations by statistics."

This division would correspond to the number five, or the heart. The description of the group's work seems to suggest both compassion and objectivity.

"The members of the fifth group were called 'Akhaldanharnosovors', which meant that they were occupied with the study of that branch of knowledge which combined those two branches of contemporary science there which your favorites call 'chemistry' and 'physics'."

Division number seven, or, the throat. Those of you familiar with with my other work on the subject will notice that this is the center that deals with the ingestion of air, which plays an absolutely central role in Mr. Gurdjieff's chemical factory. Coincidence? Seems doubtful.

"The members belonging to the sixth section were called 'Akhaldanmistessovors', that is to say, beings who studied every kind of fact arising outside of themselves, those actualized consciously from without and also those arising spontaneously, and which of them, and in what cases, are erroneously perceived by beings."

This is division number eight, represented by the third eye in the system of Chakras. To me, it's interesting that this division of the society is engaged in investigating how things are perceived or seen.

"And as regards the members of the seventh and last group, they were called 'Akhaldangezpoodjnisovors'; these members of the society Akhaldan devoted themselves to the study of those manifestations in the presences of the three-brained beings of their planet which proceeded in them not in consequence of various functionings issuing from different kinds of qualities of impulses engendered owing to data already present in them, but from cosmic actions coming from outside and not depending on them themselves."


This last passage more or less proved the point, at least to my own satisfaction ...when I began to read this section, it immediately dawned on me that Mr. Gurdjieff had buried an allegory about the chakras in the story of the society's divisions, and I skipped ahead to the description of this last division. I fully expected it to have something to do with influences coming from above-- that is, higher influences-- as the seventh chakra plays that role in my interpretation of the enneagram.

Lo and behold! It does. If that is a coincidence, I'll eat my hat.

Mr. Gurdjieff did not just give us a diagram with the enneagram. We now know that he also passed on descriptions of the specific work of each inner center.

This idea may serve some of us in future investigations of the organization of our inner solar systems.

Let us hope and wish, in any event, that it becomes more than just another interesting intellectual excursion.

May your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.

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