Octaves and Personal Unfolding: A depressive’s ah-ha moment – by Jim Aldrich |

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April 6 by The Running Son


Octaves and Personal Unfolding:

A depressive’s ah-ha moment

by Jim Aldrich

Rage (becomes) Anger (becomes) Righteous Indignation

Self Rejection (becomes) Self absorbtion (becomes) Introspection

Entitled Parasite (becomes) Possessive Intruder (becomes) Empathetic Giver

Deception (becomes) Performance (becomes) Authenticity

(Attitudes and behavious as they are transformed up the octaves)


It was at the end of a difficult depression swing and while reading the Riso Hudson Enneagram literature that a certain understanding first crystallized: the idea of octaves.

I didn’t sense it naturally. For the better part of my life when I looked outward, I saw only confirmation of a static existence; people’s faults remain. Their attitudes are set. Physical growth doesn’t reflect inward growth. Learning slows and ideals dissolve. Nobody really actually like for really real changes. Not really. I saw plenty of hiding though. People called their Alcoholism “problem drinking”. Stupid mistakes were “their right“. Consciously or no, deception, justification and compartmentalization seemed to be the only laws people employed to process life experience, and everyone was doing it, and it was in my face.

Depression grasps, and the reading of my “portal” books– the books that introduced me to a non-reductive attitude– was at a time when all I could do was grasp. I once had a friend who was caught on the open face on a rock climb in Joshua Tree during a 3.5 aftershock from the 1992 Landers earthquake. He did a lot of grasping. 3.5 don’t seem like much, but it’s a whole different experience on a rock. Well, that was me, alone with the Riso Hudson literature, Claudio Naranjo’s The One Quest, A. H. Maslow’s Farther Reaches of Human Nature and a head defrosting to new concepts, but damnit NOT FAST ENOUGH! ;/

The fight in me had subsided slightly by this time in my life, but old ideas do not die easy. I had been through “raptures of the educational variety” before. Like the excitement of the holiday season or new love, it’s there for a while then on to business as usual. It wasn’t until I read in the Don Riso / Russ Hudson book Understanding the Enneagram how certain behaviors degenerate down the “levels of development” into corrupted versions, that it occurred to me that a version of my neurotic self would look much like a better version, if the two were templates overlapping each other. Just an octave more ego-ensnared.

“to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.”  Jeff Bridges as President Jackson Evans,The Contender

I’ve thought about this quote for a decade. Can Saltwater and freshwater spring from the same well? Can the petty ever be great? If true, and I think it is, then the law of octaves is necessary and implicit, and the lesson is clear. Petty vs great is entitled vs empathetic is deception vs authentic expression. That I possess any of the former struggles is an indication of higher and more expansive variations of the same. Up the coil it goes, octave after octave.

So now I have the octave model always at mind’s reach. It is a law that I trust, and it is a law that I see everywhere. I realize I could make a life of understanding the renewal process and transformation in, say, the Arica School studying the Gurdieff Enneagon, but the basic understanding that transcendence exists, and leads to understanding and further transcendence, is just the conceptual tidbit I needed at the time to face depression, and much pettiness, with something approximating equanimity and Hope.




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RFB editor Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013

RunningSon aka Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013 | This site is dedicated with the deepest gratitude to Dr. Cláudio Naranjo, whose writings gave me life.

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