The enneagram is a nine-pointed figure usually inscribed within a circle. Within the circle is a triangle connecting points 9, 3 and 6. The inscribed figure resembling a web connects the other six points in a cyclic figure 1-4-2-8-5-7. This number is derived from or corresponds to the recurring decimal .142857 = 1/7. These six points together with the point numbered 9 are said to represent the main stages of any complete process, and can be related to the notes of a musical octave, 9 being equivalent to "Do" and 1 to "Re" etc. The points numbered 3 and 6 are said to represent "shock points" which affect the way a process develops. The internal lines between the points; that is, the three point figure and the six point figure, are said to show certain non-obvious connections, although here very little elucidation is offered.
 OriginsIn his book, In Search of the Miraculous, Ouspensky claimed that the enneagram was part of the teachings originally presented by G.I. Gurdjieff in Russia during the First World War. Gurdjieff is quoted by Ouspensky as claiming that this form of enneagram was an ancient secret and was now being partly revealed for the first time; however, he said that hints and partial representations of the symbol could be found in esoteric literature.
Although no earlier publication of the Fourth Way version of the enneagram can be cited, it has been proposed that it may derive from, or be cognate to, the Jewish Tree of Life (Kabbalah) as used in Renaissance Hermeticism (which used an enneagram of three interlocking triangles, also called a nonagram) or a nine-pointed figure used by the Christian medieval philosopher Ramon Llull.
Idries Shah, a populariser of Sufism, has claimed that the enneagram has a Sufi provenance and that it has also been long known in coded form disguised as an octagram. Another claim to a Sufi provenance is offered by the Sufi Enneagram website. The archives of the Naqshbandi Sufi order of Daghestan provide an account of a meeting between Gurdjieff and Shaykh Sharafuddin Daghestani in which the secret of the Nine Points was transmitted to Gurdjieff 
Robin Amis claims an Orthodox Christian origin, claiming that both Gurdijeff and Ouspensky developed their teaching with insights gained from visits to Mount Athos.
Another proposal suggests the diagram is a map of the chakras from yogic schools. 
 Application to processesAccording to Gurdjieff as quoted by Ouspensky in In Search of the Miraculous the enneagram figure is a symbol said to represent the "law of seven" and the "law of three" (the two fundamental universal laws in Gurdjieff's system) and, therefore according to this view, the figure can be used to describe any natural whole phenomenon, cosmos, process in life or any other piece of knowledge. The figure is the central organizing glyph of the Fourth Way's view of the material world which Gurdjieff is quoted by Ouspensky as relating to alchemy.
As ordinary food (beginning as "Do") is eaten and enters the body at point 9, it is said to be processed in the mouth and stomach as "Re" at point 1 and then in the small intestine as "Mi" at point 2. Here food can't evolve on its own any further, and it needs an external "push". This "push" in the given case is "Air", seen as another type of food which enters at point 3 as a new "Do", joining the evolving food in the bloodstream at point 4, "Fa" for the octave of ordinary food and Re for the Air octave. At this point we lose touch with clear correspondences to scientific physiology but point 5 involves the substances or energies used in thought; point 6 being where "Impressions", regarded as a type of food, are said to enter the body. "Impressions" will serve as a shock if they are intensified by some such means as the exercise of "self-remembering" taught by Gurdjieff, thus allowing the Air and Impressions octaves to proceed through point 7 to point 8. Otherwise only the ordinary food octave proceeds to point 8. "La" at point 7 represents emotional and other energies and at point 8, the "Si" at the end of the first "ordinary food" octave represents the sexual energies; which are the "highest substance" according to Gurdjieff which the body produces naturally without conscious intervention. A desire to conserve this "higher substances" for esoteric use is said to be the original reason for religious celibacy. With the conscious intervention at point 6 of "self remembering" further and more useful "higher substances" are created, represented by the air octave's Sol at point 8 and the Impression octave's Mi at point 8. (Ouspensky makes some further remarks on the nature of this Mi 8 and Sol 8 in his book Fourth Way) A further conscious shock, requiring "a special type of control over the emotions" at point 9 would enable a new "higher" or spiritual body to begin to grow, this is represented by Gurdjieff as the aim of his and other esoteric traditions.
It will be seen that by this view emotions depend on "higher substances" than thought and sexual feeling on "higher substances" still. The creation of the universe is also described in In Search of the Miraculous in terms of an octave, the Ray of Creation and therefore implicitly in terms of an enneagram.
 Other applicationsOther applications of the enneagram to describing processes can be found in writings influenced by those of Gurdjieff, notably in the writings of J.G. Bennett. In his book Gurdjieff: Making a New World  Bennett describes the workings of a community kitchen in terms of the enneagram and offers some explanation of the meaning of the internal lines; and his book Enneagram Studies is devoted to the subject, offering nine examples of enneagrams in various applications.
Another completely unrelated system, the so-called "Overstone Cycle", was devised by nineteenth century banker, Lord Overstone, to describe events on the financial market: starting with "quiescence", it then moves on to "improvement", then through "confidence", 'prosperity', 'excitement', "over-trading", 'convulsion', 'pressure", "stagnation', until it ends again in "quiescence" (see J. Johnstone's Illustration of Lord Overstone's famous description of the business cycle).
 See also
- Enneagram (disambiguation)
- Enneagram (geometry)
- Fourth Way
- Enneagram of Personality
- Arica School
- Fruit of the Holy Spirit
- Ouspensky, P.D. (1949). In Search of the Miraculous. New York and London: Harcourt Brace, and Routledge. pp. 294. ISBN 0-15-600746-0. ISBN is for Mariner Books, 2001. Quote: "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."
- Webb, James (2001). The Harmonious Circle: The Lives and Work of G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, and Their Followers. New York and London: Putnam USA, and Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-87773-427-5. ISBN is for Shambhala Publications, 1987.
- Shah, Idries (1994). The Commanding Self. London: Octagon Press. ISBN 0-86304-070-5. ISBN is for 1997 edition. The enneagram is disguised as "two superimposed squares" with the space in the middle representing the ninth point.
- Staff (2006-07-14). "The direct connection between the Fourth Way and Inner Christianity". Praxis Research Institute. http://www.praxisinstitute.net/Praxis%20Now/Church%20of%20The%20Elders/Christian%20Fourthway.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- van Laer, L. (2003). "Chakras and the enneagram". Doremishock.com. http://www.doremishock.com/enneagrams/enneagramintro.htm.
- For example, A.G.E. Blake The Intelligent Enneagram (Shambhala, 1995), an excerpt from this book plus other material and references on the enneagram of process can be found on Blake's "Duversity" site , accessed 25 June 2010
- Gurdjieff: Making a New World , Spiritual Classics Edition 1992, Appendix on the enneagram
- Enneagram Studies. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1983.
- Ouspensky, P.D., In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching , Harcourt Brace, and Routledge, (London), 1949.
- Nicoll, M., Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Volume Two, Vincent Stuart, (London), 1952.
- Bennett, J.G., The Enneagram, Coombe Springs Press, (Sherborne), 1974
- Popoff, I.B., The Enneagrama of the Man of Unity, Samuel Weiser, (New York), 1978.
- Bennett, J.G., Enneagram Studies, Samuel Weiser, (York Beach), 1983.
- Shah, I., The Commanding Self, Octagon Press, (London), 1994.
- Blake, A.G.E., The Intelligent Enneagram, Shambhala Books, (Boston), 1996.
- Webb, J., The Harmonious Circle: The Lives and Work of G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, and Their Followers, Thames and Hudson, (London), 2001.