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Signature Pieces

On the Human Hologram, the Mirror of Mercury, Wandering Gypsies, DNA and Fate

G. I. Gurdjieff said something to the effect that with a fragment of an ancient statue built according to exact laws, one could, with knowledge of those laws, reconstruct the entire statue. Today, this idea that a part of a whole contains complete information about the whole is known as a hologram.

More generally known is the three-dimensional effect of a hologram—we have seen images captured with the use of laser light that allow us to view them from different viewpoints as a three-dimensional object in space. Somewhat less well known is the fact that with only a piece of that hologram, you can do the same thing, still seeing the whole image (from the point-of-view of that piece). With smaller and smaller pieces the image degrades until finally it becomes unrecognizable. There is a limit, but the principle of the part containing information on the whole is maintained to the extent possible.

The Mirror of Mercury

"All cosmoses, as we already saw, are divided into three parts and possess six or potentially seven functions. In the same way the head, as mirror of the whole body, is also divided into three parts:
(a) upper part of head, including brain, mirror of the head itself, as seat of the intellect;
(b) middle part of the head, including cerebellum, mirror of the chest, as seat of the emotions;
(c) lower part of head, mirror of the belly, as seat of the physical functions."

Rodney Collin, The Theory of Celestial Influence

Based on much more extensive scientific knowledge of the brain than Rodney Collin had available in his day, it may be more correct to associate the cerebellum with the physical portion (in particular the moving function), and instead associate the limbic system with the emotional function in the brain. Indeed, a quick look at some reference material indicates this new association is right and, most relevant to this essay, this complies well with the principle developed in the quote, as the cerebrum, associated with the intellectual function is on the top of the inside of the skull, below it lies the limbic system, and below that, the cerebellum. The three story factory as represented within the head.

In the section entitled "The Mirror of Mercury" in his book, Rodney Collin goes on to divide the face according to the same principle, and to divide each of the three parts of the face into three in the same way. Again, this is a reflection of our three centers or functions, which are in turn divided into three parts. In theory, we may be able to learn a lot about the essence construction of ourselves and others by learning how to study faces.

Wandering Gypsies

"Gypsy, also called Gipsy, Romany ROM, any member of a dark caucasoid people originating in northern India [...] It is generally agreed that Gypsy groups left India in repeated migrations and that they were in Persia by the 11th century, in southeastern Europe by the beginning of the 14th, and in western Europe by the 15th century."

Encyclopedia Britannica

Exactly where the Gypsies got their knowledge, and the actual extent of it, is very hard to determine. In the first place, how many people even realize that the Gypsies have any real knowledge? Aren't these the fortune tellers, the beggars, the tricksters one may have encountered?

While I will return to this theme of a part containing the whole—and the particular aspect of "the part" that I am developing here has to do with the three-story factory, or our threefold nature—I could equally well have discussed this principle from the point of view of our sevenfold nature, our endocrine system. But I only want to bring up one aspect of that seven-ness here as a demonstration of another type of ancient knowledge that some Gypsys have, at least partially, preserved. Then I'll proceed on with the knowledge of a three-part nature that they have also preserved, however imperfectly.

A Digression on the Theory of Essence Types

It is more than a little interesting to note that the Gypsies have preserved large parts of the ancient knowledge of the seven essence types, as well as the division into intellectual, emotional, and physical that we are eventually going to discuss. It is clear that the Gypsies derive from India in historical times, but not clear what they took from there and what they acquired along the way, especially as the way included such stops as Persia. At least one researcher suggests that their knowledge is of Chaldean (Babylonian) origin. At any rate, their descriptions of type use the names of the Roman gods, even more so than the usage in this growing (returning) body of knowledge does today. It appears their knowledge did not include the relationships between types—I see no indication that they knew the order in which types "circulate", so almost certainly they had no enneagram to apply it to. Much else is hard to say. The language of the Gypsy, deriving from Sanskrit, does not have a written script. Only that which has been verbally passed on and finally, in the last century or so, written down in other languages, can be assessed.

Of course, one can find certain correlations between the types and their namesakes, the Roman gods, that are not accidental, and it perhaps goes without saying that the Roman gods are often derived from the Greek, and the Greek assimilated their Gods from apparently a wide portion of earlier cultures that they were exposed to.

I stumbled on a reference to the theory of types while studying the ancient Kaballistic text Sefer Yetzirah. In particular, in a book by Aryeh Kaplan called simply Sefer Yetzirah which includes his extensive discussion on the various versions of the Sefer Yetzirah, he has the following table which he states is "according to the Torah":

Planet            Quality
------            -------
Sun               Independence, openness
Venus             Wealth, lechery
Mercury           Intellect, memory
Moon              Dependence, secretiveness, manic-depressiveness
Saturn            Inaction, vulnerability
Jupiter           Generosity
Mars              Blood
This is clearly in harmony with the essence type information, but quite subjective. Only negative aspects are given for a few of the types, and it is probably safe to say that the author or authors of these descriptions was not one of those types!

As I've frequently alluded to it and not given any more information, here is a diagram that contains, among other things (see the notes below) basic type arrangements on the enneagram:

(image of enneagram with types located. following notes refer to image)
1: These are the seven ancient "planets" associated with the enneagram points. The planetary nomenclature is usually retained for type names as the next note discusses.
2: I've used the Gypsy terminology for the type names (in parenthesis). Collin introduces some useful changes as the terms lunatic and venereal have become associated with extremes of their respective types over the ages, so lunatic is better referred to as lunar, and venereal as venusian. Also, the apollo type is now usually referred to as the solar type. In general, the ancient names entered the English language in the Middle Ages, and a few clues to the type characteristics can be found in any English dictionary. The same is true for other European languages.
3: The blue labels list the endocrine gland most active in the associated type. Turn of the 19/20th century endocrinology books are particularly useful for basic descriptions of the features associated with these glands. See, for example The Glands Regulating Personality by Louis Berman.
4: These are the evolutionary stages of the universe as proposed in the writings of Arthur M. Young. The associations to fourth way knowledge are my own as I've described elsewhere (see The Theory of Process and The Law of Seven).

Gurdjieff referred to the theory of types on several occasions. His chief character in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson is "exiled to the planet Mars", and G. himself was of the martial type. Interesting too is his characterization of the inhabitants of the planet Saturn as scientist/astronomers that look like crows, an artistic summary that alludes to Saturnine strengths and appearance. In Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous, G says "Fate is the result of planetary influences which correspond to a man's type."

But the transmitted Gypsy knowledge of type is much more pronounced than these mere indications. It would not be difficult for a person with a knowledge of modern endocrinology to make the connection between the endocrine gland and the Gypsy's type. The fourth way knowledge of type, however, is a result of a threefold synthesis: ancient knowledge of type, modern knowledge of endocrinology, and the enneagram. This was apparently accomplished in Ouspensky's school: I find a reference in one of Kenneth Walker's books, published in 1942, in which type is associated with gland, although only very approximately, and of course in Collin's work published after Ouspensky's death, the connection is "full blown". But that is enough on "type".

Well, OK, one more thing. The question naturally arises: "Do the planets then determine our type?" I don't know, and I don't think that necessarily follows, even from the above discussion. It seems to me the more important principle here is the idea of "cosmos", where cosmoses are constructed according to the same laws regardless of their scale. In this view, in some way a particular endocrine gland in our body performs a function for us analogous to that performed for the solar system by the corresponding planet. It may or may not be the case that because of the analogous function there is a receptivity, perhaps some sort of harmonic sensitivity. But I don't know how to determine that.

Note: For more on the theory of type in ancient knowledge, refer to my essay on Seven.

Now, back to our discussion of our essence being encoded in three portions of our physical appearance, we see, for example, in a modern Gypsy palm-reading book, something familiar:

"Another simple division of the hand is made by separating the palm into thirds. This is one of the oldest methods used in palmistry and is still very useful today. These three divisions give distinction to three important areas of expression—the physical, the material, and the mental.

[...] The fingers and pads of flesh below them, known as mounts, comprise the mental world.

[...] The middle zone of the hand represents the material world and social behavior.

[...] The lower third of the hand represents the physical side of the person."

And a few pages later:
"The fingers are divided into three joints by their knuckles. Each division is called a phalange by palmists. Apply the Three Worlds of Palmistry to each of these phalanges. The first phalanges are the fingertips, and represent the mental world. The middle zone represents the practical world. And the lower, or third, represents the instinctual world."

M. La Roux, The Practice of Classical Palmistry

So again, we see the three story factory of the human being represented in one of its parts, and then further subdivided into three, much as the three parts of each story.

Now I'm not advocating going to a fortune teller and having your palm read, I have little confidence in it myself. These things may have been preserved by rote. But the principle is clearly the same as that stated by Gurdjieff and Collin—by knowledge of a part of the human organism you can determine a great deal about the whole.


The beginning of a new millennium finds us loaded with a different kind of knowledge, perhaps it is more an accumulation of information than knowledge, as it threatens to out-pace our ability to make good use of it. But modern science has confirmed in its own way a spectacular case of the human hologram. We now know that not only every finger, or "phalange" contains information about us, but that every one of our microscopic cells contains a complete blueprint of our essence. Even to the most jaded materialist, it is no longer nonsense to state that it may be possible to reconstruct the appearance of a human being from a part of that human being that is so small as to be invisible to the most powerful optical microscopes. DNA is the blueprint of the machine or, more exactly, it is the computer code that is read to construct the machine down to the finest details.

This pre-determined nature that we are born with (which may not be entirely hereditary as DNA seems to be to some extent sensitive to other influences such as endocrine secretions in the parents and who knows what else), is what Ouspensky described as our essence or our "fate". Our essence is our fate, as it includes such things as our type and center of gravity. Somewhere, in that DNA, these things are encoded.

Our essence, or fate, should not be confused with what is sometimes called "destiny", that is, with "what is to become of us". While destiny is strongly affected by our essence in that our essence gives us a strong predisposition to behave in certain ways and prefer certain things, destiny is not necessarily determined by our essence. For example, magnetic center is not a development of essence. True personality is intentionally designed to "fit" our essence, but that configuration is determined by true personality—essence cannot do it. As for false personality, it is hard to say. False personality is such a mess that just about anything is possible, from complete denial of essence to absolute worship of it. But that is determined by others, by our education, our culture, our peers, and so on. It is neither destiny nor fate, but accident.

Essence has a very strong role to play, if it is allowed to do so. False personality may strangle essence, suffocate it, and the person becomes, from the point of view of possibilities, dead. On the other hand, some people still live in more natural surroundings with little input from culture, from civilization, and in those cases, essence may be quite alive and by far the dominant aspect of the self. But there is little possibility of development there either, although the people are by no means "dead". The lack of possibility is due to the difficulty in acquiring a true personality, which is a discriminating, sensitive instrument or tool specifically designed to develop higher possibilities from our essence, and it is learned in an artificial environment.

Our fate is in our DNA. Our destiny, ultimately, is determined by whether we work or not. The work that we must do is necessarily related to our individual essence. One begins with, and continues to return to, general work—obligatory for all, such work as self-remembering, non-expression of negative emotions, external considering, and so on, that comprise the teaching as handed down in fourth way books. Over time, we begin to see our essence more clearly—if we can see through the false personality that obscures it. Then our work can be aided by a more personal work, tailored by experienced practitioners and designed in terms of our own essential strengths and weaknesses, developing the former and struggling with the latter, as long as we continually verify this new direction in light of the basic teaching. We must find people who know, who can apply the teaching to us personally.

It is ironic that we find modern thinkers debating the relative freedom vs. mechanicality of the human being when, relative to those conceptions, the fourth way teaches both—and to extremes. We are much more mechanical than the "behaviorists" or the geneticists realize, although the latter begin to glimpse some of the horror of our extreme determination by our DNA. And yet by realizing our mechanicality, by seeing it, we find its "Achilles heel", that is, we can begin to see the way out of it, begin to see what would not be mechanical. Our mechanicality is our prison, and consciousness brings freedom. A freedom unknown and unimaginable to those who think they are free.


I recently looked at a microfilm of a sixteenth century book translated into English as The book of palmestry and physiognomy in the seventeenth century, to see what it had to say about types. The knowledge was generally accurate, but, as is often the case when one finds description in the literature, it was degenerate, and by that I mean it was no longer esoteric, it was no longer based on an understanding of the larger picture. This can be easily seen by the author's value judgments about types—some types were better than others. This is done by taking the positive aspects of the preferred types and the negative aspects of the less preferred types and presenting them as the nature of the individual types. To some extent, one could determine the author's type by the author's preference, but this is only of relative value as the author may be only repeating a corrupt tradition. But it was interesting to see many basically correct attributions of qualities to type. One thing that struck me here again, though, is how the solar type (in this work called Apollonian), is poorly understood. Really not seen at all. If it were possible to determine if someone has an esoteric knowledge of type, it could be in their recognition of the most difficult one to see, the solar type. In the same sense, it is, or would be, possible to determine another's understanding of the law of six/seven by their ability to distinguish the seventh from the six.

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