Laws of Coherence

LAWS OF WISDOM by Ralph Losey

Coherence in a chaotic world.

Arnold Keyserling was the first modern philosopher to discover the basic constitutional Laws by which we can attain mastery and true individuality. As he sometimes puts it, these are the criteria by which we can attain “coherence in a chaotic world”. In philosophic terms, he searched for and eventually found the “a priori synthesis” or long-lost “philosopher’s stone”. It is a kind of mental grid which underlies all human knowledge and makes coherence possible. Philosopher’s throughout history have searched for such a basic mental schemata. Many before have claimed to have found it. For example, the great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, made the claim based on his “twelve categories”. Perhaps his claim was valid, but his system, like that of many others, was flawed for many reasons, primarily its over-complexity. The structural laws underlying all knowledge and coherence should be elegant in their simplicity and generality, just like the basic laws of Science in the physical world. Keyserling’s discovery is just that, simple, yet comprehensive. He calls it the Wheel. In the context of the laws of the United States, the Wheel in Wisdom Laws is equivalent to the U.S. Constitution. It is the general law which underlies and controls all of the many other specific laws of the land.

The Wheel forms what Arnold Keyserling likes to call a “keyboard of thinking”. In essence the Wheel is a combination of the four functions of Carl Jung with the “three brains” of Arnold’s principal teacher, George Gurdjieff. Keyserling discovered that by combining the four with the three, you create the twelve basic criteria of making sense of the world. Each of the four temporal functions combines with each of the three spatial realms:


wheel-chart-color.gifThis simple system works to allow a coherent understanding of the world because it mirrors the basic structure of the Universe itself. The twelve function-realm categories of the Wheel, plus the thirteenth “non-category” of pure awareness – emptiness at the center of the Wheel – constitute the basic criteria of understanding. These thirteen – zero through twelve – constitute the basic building blocks by which the Universe is ordered. The union of the four functions with the three realms creates the twelve basic components of the universal mind-map. They are shown as the twelve sections on the outside of the Wheel, shown on the next page, and serve as the primal tool of orientation.

The key to understanding the twelve archetypes of the Wheel comes from understanding the thirteenth, or zero criteria, found in the center of the Wheel. We call this center “Awareness” in difference to “Consciousness” which concerns the twelve. Awareness is the dynamic state of inner silence of the listener who hears and comprehends. It is the center around which the Wheel of fortune spins. Awareness, together with the twelve states of consciousness – the four functions and three realms – make up the basic concepts upon which the twelve-fold bridge to coherence is based.


arnold-keyserling-portrait-small.gifBorn in 1922 the son of philosopher and author, Count Hermann Keyserling, and the great grandson of Chancellor Bismarck, Arnold Keyserling has all of the worldly titles – Professor of Philosophy for over 30 years, past President of the European Humanistic Psychology Association, author of over fifty books, keynote speaker at congresses around the world. But behind these honors and distinctions lies an unpretentious and earthy “language teacher”. He speaks fluently in English, German, French and Italian, and loves nothing more than to teach anyone hungry for real wisdom. He will teach anywhere, any time, and has been known to fill dozens of napkins at dinner with his esoteric charts. An evening with Arnold is like an intellectual whirlwind, challenging and stimulating in the extreme. So long as there is good food and drink at hand, he never seems to tire of feeding the minds of all around him.

Arnold Keyserling in the late 1980s as Father ChristmasAfter spending some time with Arnold first as a student in Vienna in 1971, and eventually as a friend and co-author in the 1990s, I realized that he was not really teaching philosophy, religion or psychology as subjects per se – although it appears that way on the surface and he has a vast knowledge of these subjects. His real endeavor was to teach a kind of “meta-language” made up of words, symbols, numbers, geometry, tones, colors and images. No matter whatlanguage Arnold is teaching in, be it English, German, Italian or French, he is really teaching another language altogether, a meta-language based on the archetypes of the soul. He is teaching the Wheel.

With this meta-language it becomes possible for a person to figure out their own, perfectly-correct answers to the “really big questions” in life. Language and thinking can then become a bridge connecting you to reality and to others. The meta-language is what Arnold calls the “knowledge behind the knowledge”. It is a tool of universal translation by which the common denominators in all religions and philosophies can be seen. With his meta-language the Tower of Babel which separates the many world traditions comes tumbling down.

At the beginning of his autobiography, From The School of Wisdom to the Wisdom of the Wheel, Arnoldsummed up his life’s work so far:

I have had great luck in my life. I have known the value of the past. My family memory through my Grandmother reaches back to 1860. I have witnessed the destructive aspects of revolutions without their having destroyed me. Today I have the intuition that for the striving Man everything will lead to fulfillment. I know the old and look for the new. I am in contradiction to no tradition and no revelation, but my starting point is limited to that of every person. I am a language teacher. I am looking for the common grammar, for the common denominators.

herman-keyserling-portraite-medium.jpgThe story of Arnold’s realization that he is, in essence, a language teacher, begins where he first learned to speak at his father’s institute, the School of Wisdom. His father, Count Hermann Keyserling held the School of Wisdom in his home in Darmstadt, Germany. There Arnold was exposed to creative, non-consensus ways of thinking from early childhood to young adulthood. Thinkers and writers such as Jung, Wilhelm, Rabindranath Tagore, and Hermann Hesse met at The School of Wisdom in the Keyserling home in the 1920s and 30s. When the National Socialists took control in Germany they closed the School of Wisdom and the Keyserling family became official enemies of the Nazi state. It reopened after the war and exists even today in the U.S. The full story is contained in the last chapter.

Arnold’s father, Hermann Keyserling, started the School of Wisdom as an attempt to live and teach world philosophy. He defined his aim “as life in the form of knowledge”. Arnold as a child was influenced by his father to have, in his words, “an inner certainty that the world makes good sense and I can know it. Also, in my later life, I never doubted this for a moment”. The influence from his mother was different. In his words his mother “was tempted by the conviction that the work of her grandfather, Bismarck, was betrayed, and we do not live in the society which should exist”. As a result of these two influences “on the one hand, I always had confidence in the world revelation, and on the other hand, despair that the existing society, in my case National Socialist Germany, was a fatal mistake”.

Arnold grew up with the great gifts of a child of the School of Wisdom, the gifts of language and an open mind. But by his early teen years the gifts of association with the School of Wisdom turned to a curse, as an entire country fell into insanity and the Nazi’s assumed power. Then he, his family and the School of Wisdom became hated enemies of the state, persecuted officially by the government, and in poor Arnold’s case, unofficially by his peers. They delighted in abusing him, both physically and mentally. Arnold withdrew, and as he observed later, he became incapable of defending himself from the taunts and beatings of his peers. It was only due to his family’s importance in German history through the Bismarck connection that the Nazis did not dare to have them imprisoned or killed.

As a result of his excellent early training, when Arnold was forced to retreat from the insane world around him, he ended up journeying deep within at a very early age. He had his first mystical experience as a teenager when reading Paul Brunton’s book, Secret India, in the part where the author describes his life with the greatIndian Guru, Ramana Maharashi. Brunton had an intense peak experience with Ramana Maharashi which he describes in his book. In Arnold’s words:

When I read about Brunton’s peak experience, I myself went through a transformation. I experienced transcendent reality. An enormous joy came to me in view of this reality and it made all of the actual unpleasant circumstances tolerable. I experienced myself as part of a great Whole.

Later in 1940, at the age of 18, the Nazi’s forced Arnold out of law school, and drafted him into the army. Arnold proved to be totally inept at military service and although a Bismarck, remained a private throughout the war. Amazingly he went through the war without firing a shot and never even saw the front or fighting of any kind. In 1943 he was sent to Brussels to listen to the radio, and he then had a lot of time to concentrate on reading. He studied his father’s books, and then read the great Russian books about religion and philosophy, and finally read psychology, especially Carl Jung.

Then in Brussels he discovered the work of Henri Bergson which had a profound influence on him and led to his first vision of the Wheel in 1943 at the age of 21. In Arnold’s words:

When reading Bergson’s book, Matiere et Memoire, I had a strange experience. I sat in a coffee house opposite to a mirror and suddenly I had the waking vision that I was on a carousel where the figures were under a giant Wheel. I went into the center of the Wheel and it stopped. At that moment all my preoccupations vanished. In an unbelievable and unintelligible way I experienced another stage of consciousness with a force which went beyond the experience of Ramana Maharshi. This gave to me the courage to go on living.

But what did I experience? In Jung’s books I had read that the appearance of the crossed wheel or the circle which stops is the sign of a psychological integration. The integration which I had witnessed was a practical one, and up to the end of the war I was in a euphoric state in which I was able to cope with any situation. The most astonishing things happened to me. I could only accept this as help from the beyond.

Near the end of the war he walked away from his army barracks and eventually surrendered to a prisoner of war camp. There the Canadian commandant happened to know his father, and the two of them passed away pleasant weeks drinking together and playing cards. Near the very end of the War the Canadian’s intercepted a box of money intended as pay for the German army. They tried to give the money to the local population, but they were too afraid to accept it. So they offered the money box to Arnold, who gleefully accepted it and was then allowed to go. So at the end when his enemies, the Nazis, were falling, Arnold was free with their gold in his pocket. He and the spirit of the School of Wisdom which he embodied had survived and conquered his tormentors.

arnold-keyserling-with-guitar-late-20s.gifArnold spoke many languages even then, and managed to obtain a variety of military passes. With these he traveled freely through the many military occupation zones after the war and had many adventures. In Germany he rescued his mother and father who managed to survive the war, but were in illhealth. Then he persuaded the new government of Austria and the occupational powers to allow his parents to settle in Tyrol and reopen the School of Wisdom. Arnold concerned himself with the logistics of reopening the School of Wisdom, however, its renaissance would have to wait. Just one month before the official reopening, on the 26th of April, 1946, his father died. The School opened without the Count, and Arnold carried on the tradition without his father for several years, but his heart was not in it. By 1962 Arnold stopped using its name and the School of Wisdom remained only as a library and archive of Count Keyserling’s. This did not change until 1992 when, with Arnold’s help, I again picked up the torch. This is discussed further in the Closing Statement of the book.

The death of his father posed a fundamental question for Arnold which he spent the next twenty years of his life trying to answer: How can I unite the preoccupation with my father’s work with my own endeavor, to unite it with my transcendental experiences? Arnold understood his father’s work as an unsystematic attempt to create a vision of a new spiritual world order which included the philosophies of all cultures of the world. Count Keyserling’s starting point was world philosophy, the basic conviction that “the world is full of meaning, and that all cultures are derived from a common ground”.

Hermann Keyserling implicitly assumed the common ground, but according to Arnold, he did not take transcendental statements seriously because he had no experience of them. The counsel of Arnold’s brother, Manfred Keyserling, helped him to begin to find the solution to the big question of transcendence and world philosophy. Manfred suggested that Arnold use visions as a schemata of order. Visions then started to come to Arnold, much as they had come to Carl Jung before him. They culminated in a mysterious vision symbolizing his life where he “saw five strange pictures: a Buddha with two heads, a sun underwater which changed into a chair, a speaking mouth with eyes, and a green parasol with seven white steps that looked like a Tibetan mountain palace.”

This was a time of deep confusion and turmoil for Arnold. His money was running out and he could find no work. Then he happened to go to Paris where he met an old man who changed his life, the first of the two heads of Buddha. Here is Arnold’s description of his first meeting with the remarkable George Gurdjieff:

I had never heard of Gurdjieff and the statement of my friend, that she knows a Russian master, filled me with suspicion. Nevertheless I accompanied her one evening in the Salle Pleyel where he taught these techniques of movement. I always remember how strange it touched me when Gurdjieff entered the hall. It was like a purple light. Here I encountered the first old man who was as I had always wished it to be: an example of complete presence and dedication or empathy.

The same evening I went with him to his flat and took part in a reading of his book, All and Everything. Around 3:00 in the morning all of us were invited to a wonderful meal in which, according to a certain ritual, one had to drink to the health of idiots. Gurdjieff discerned 24 idiots without explaining what they meant. Each had to choose one: normal-idiot, super-idiot, arch-idiot, square and round-idiot, zigzag-idiot who has five Fridays in the week, but two Sundays. On the well being of each idiot, one third of a wine glass of pepper vodka was drunk. During the meal Gurdjieff told stories which were like Zen stories. All of us listened without saying anything.

For me Gurdjieff was a man of unbelievable beauty. All the people supped, so to say, with their eyes on him. He told me I should come to every meal now; if I was not a pupil of his, I would be a good companion with whom he wanted to eat and drink. This naturally put me in complete enthusiasm. For the first time I experienced outwardly the mood of reality which Ramana Maharashi had brought to me inwardly. One day Gurdjieff told me that his books would appear in many countries and that I was ready to publish them in German if he paid the cost. In that year and the following year I began an adventure. I translated Ouspenski’s, In Search of the Miraculous, and published this and Gurdjieff’s All and Everything. Both books had no echo whatsoever in the public. (Few copies were sold.)

Of course, both of these books are famous today and can be found in almost all bookstores around the world. But at the time, they did not find many readers. Nevertheless, in translating Ouspenski’s book, Arnold found important information, including the assertion that the Enneagram was, among other things, the structure of universal grammar. He also found clues in Gurdjieff’s work concerning an ancient type of healing music that could have a direct impact on human consciousness. His subsequent studies into music, language and grammar verified both these assertions. The story of his sucessful quest for the Lost Chord in music is told in the PrimaSounds webs. Here we will talk about his search for a universal language translation key.

Again his quest was sucessful. Arnold eventually discovered exactly how Gurdjieff’s Enneagram contained the universal structure of grammar. With this discovery he made a giant step in his development as a language teacher. He also made a giant step in his personal life, for at this time he grew close to the woman who would later became his bride, Princess Wilhelmine. She was also a student and close companion of Gurdjieff. Her story is told in Chapter Nine.

After Gurdjieff’s death on October 29, 1949, Arnold wanted to stay with the Gurdjieff groups. Unfortunately he found that most of Gurdjieff’s other pupils were not interested in deepening his teaching. They only wanted to keep the tradition and the memory pure. Arnold turned to one of Gurdjieff’s pupils outside of Paris, John Bennett. At Bennett’s Institute in England everyone did physical work connected with different exercises of divided attention. For example, in sewing, feeling at the same time one’s shoulder. With this one never gets tired, but the work heightens the concentration. Arnold participated in these exercises with joy. One involving listening provoked another profound transcendent experience. After the peak experience he found to his amazement that he could read other people’s thoughts. He traveled the subways of London for days “reading men” until the sense capacity slowly faded away. Months later with Bennett’s group he had a second peak experience which led to the same emphatic-telepathy phenomena. This one occurred when he was listening to a reading of Gurdjieff’s third book, The World Is Only Real When I Am, while at the same time doing intentional breath exercises.

I realized that I was not able to breathe with my stomach. Only after great effort did I suddenly reach the breathing point which the Japanese call Hara. In the same moment I felt an unbelievable joy. I felt like I was in a sea of fire. My experience of others was again of communion. My breathing had penetrated through into my stomach. Again the capacity of empathy stopped after a few days.

After these experiences Arnold married Wilhelmine in 1950 and they moved to Vienna, Austria. There they met the next great influence in their life, the second head of the Buddha from his earlier vision, the composer Joseph Hauer. After some time with Hauer, Keyserling,

… recognized that the bridge between awareness and the world is created by seven components: sensing of the sense data, thinking of the words, feeling of the impulses, and willing of the forces. These four functions proceed in three realms: the imagination of the spirit, the personal relations of the soul, and the material data of the body. Consciousness is only possible when a time function, a process, unites with a space-like realm which stays the same in time. Thus twelve fundamental concepts appeared which are ordered according to the [twelve-fold] cycle of musical fifths in the Wheel. To the seven and the twelve I added the nine impulses of speech. The Gurdjieff Enneagram is really the basis of generic grammar. It is not only the inside structure of a given language such as German, or French, but is defined by the structure of consciousness and is basic to all languages.

In 1956 Arnold published his first book, Rosenkreuz, when he and Wilhelmine were living in Positano, Italy. Already the basic contours of the Wheel and his meta-language had been formed. Still, he had not yet discovered that his primary role in life was to be a language teacher. Due to his unfortunate experiences with National Socialist schooling, Arnold had a bad attitude toward formal education and school in general. He was a poor student in school and so could not imagine himself as a teacher. He only came to the profession out of economic desperation after he and Wilhelmene moved to India in 1957.

After only a few months in India they found themselves with no money and no prospects of employment. They could not even pay the rent due on their modest room in Calcutta. When their landlady found out, she got the idea that Arnold could make money by teaching German to the Indians. She paid for a classified ad in the local paper, required payment in advance, and before Arnold knew what was happening, he was teaching German and the landlady had her rent. Much to his surprise Arnold found that he loved teaching language, his role as a professor of language was born. In his words,

Very soon I realized that teaching is my only gift and that through the Enneagram and grammar I was able to understand and to teach a language deeper and quicker than with the usual teaching methods.

Arnold and Wilhelmine remained in India where he studied during the day and taught German at night until 1962 when they returned to Vienna.

In Austria when Arnold turned 42 his role as a language teacher broadened considerably. The emphasis went from teaching German to teaching the meta-language behind all languages. He became a temporary instructor and eventually a full professor of Religious Philosophy at the Academy of Applied Arts in Vienna. By then, although never formally a Ph.D., he had acquired a vast body of knowledge in many areas, including philosophy, history, religion, language, science, music and world culture. His meta-language of the Wheel and the Enneagram allowed him to see how all fields of knowledge fit into a larger whole.

By working on himself for many years in what Jung called the process of individuation, Arnold had gained an inner integration of consciousness and coherence which allowed him to hear beyond the Tower of Babel. He was awake and integrated. He learned to recognize the common denominators behind the apparent contradictions and differences of world culture. Arnold had the key of universal translation which allowed him to see the big picture. He was a generalist while the rest of academia moved ever further into compartmentalism and sub-specialties. For the next thirty years Arnold wrote a book a year in German trying to explain this big picture and meta-language to a world whose ears were still clouded by the babble of differences and specialization. Only recently has the importance of his work begun to surface as the world slowly wakens to the new age of global consciousness. The full impact of his re-discovery of the Wheel as the key to universal translation remains to be seen.


The inside of the Wheel is divided into nine parts connected by lines called the Enneagram. The Enneagram comes out of the Mid-Eastern Sufi traditions brought to the West by Gurdjieff. The ninefold structure is used with the twelve as a key to language, personality types, and other things. The law of a universal grammar behind all human languages contained in the Enneagram can be understood directly by using the Enneagram to help learn a foreign language. Arnold taught German this way for many years. The Enneagram, shown below, is an excellent thinking tool and key component of The Wheel as discovered by Keyserling.

grammar-enneagram.gifThe thousands of languages of the world can all be translated, albeit sometimes very roughly, from one into another. The fundamental capacity for humans to communicate with each other across vast linguistic and cultural barriers arises from the fact that all humans are the same species. We all share the same brain structure, and types of consciousness. Our language is naturally shaped and limited by our brain structure.

Keyserling, like the Sufis before him, discovered that this natural limitation and molding results in the nine categories of grammar shown on the Enneagram. With just a few notable exceptions, these nine categories underlie every language in the world. The grammar of the Enneagram is further explored in my book with Keyserling, Chance and Choice (Vol. 2 School of Wisdom Series) and will not be repeated here.

Keyserling discovered that the structure of our brain molds our speech, and our speech in turn shapes our mind. He found that the basic patterns of our mind and coherence are tied to language, and all are tied to the Enneagram and The Wheel. The essential criteria of our mind can be reduced to the three space-like realms of language combined with the four time-like functions. These are the basic components of The Wheel.

1 – Sensing 5 – Body Vocabulary
2 – Thinking Sounds 6 – Sould Communication
3 – Feeling Lateralization 7 – Spirt Poetry
4 – Willing Grammer

The union of the four functions with the three realms creates the twelve basic components of Keyserlingís mind-map.

This language Wheel is the basic gestalt of the mind and our coherent apprehension of reality. As Keyserling says “by entering into language, physical man born of woman becomes spiritual man born of the divine”.


Keyserling not only discovered that the Enneagram is a key to language, but when it is associated with the Wheel, it is also a key to personality. Each of the nine categories of grammar has an energy component, an emotional drive or impulse associated with it. When a person emphasizes a particular energy – one of the nine – they naturally have a personality type associated with that place on the Enneagram and the Wheel. The nine grammatical categories represent personal energies available to everyone. The last three categories – 10, 11 and 12 – complete the twelve sectors of the Wheel. They represent energies that can only be tapped by taking part in a larger social movement or assuming an historical role. As shown below the last three categories pertain to the sentence as a whole, rather than parts of the sentence.

1 – Conjunction Healing Unify
2 – Noun  Creating Produce
3 – Verb  Knowing Understand
4 –  Preposition Wish Imagine
5 – Adjective Analyze – Distinguish
6 – Verb-Person Communicate
7 – Pronoun Fight – Initiate
8 – Adverb Assume Responsibility – Respond
9 – Verbal Forms Conceive – Invent – Actualize
0  – Sentence:
10 – Statement Affirm
11 – Order Lead
12 – Question Inspire

The Enneagram system of personality analysis works for the same reason Jung’s eight-sided system works: at any one time most people are unbalanced and “disintegrated”. They are dominated by one or two of the basic impulses to the exclusion of most of the others. The exaggerated impulse is their type. This contrasts with more fully-actualized people with balanced, integrated consciousness. Integrated people are not a “personality type”, they are awake to all forms of energy, all sides of them self. They are able to grow and change personality types, to diversify their character without identification to any one impulse. They learn and emphasize other personalities beyond the “one of nine” that happens to be the strongest for them by virtue of genetics and environment. They have awakened from the consensus trance. Once awakened the development of the twelve basic human potentials can begin in earnest. These twelve potentials ñ twelve spokes of the Wheel ñ are summarized on the chart below.


The goal is to awaken and master all twelve of the archetypal capacities. To learn to adopt or “put on” one of the personalities like a mask as the occasion requires. The particular mask worn at any one time allows the inner essence to shine through, with color and style. The fully-developed being is not attached to any of their twelve sides, or the various personality masks used to express them. They have broken the trance, awakened to their true inner dimensions.

Instead of identification with the ego personality, they identify with the Self, the Essence of Being, the white light Sun “Zero dimension Awareness” behind all personalities, like an actor with a role. They use themasks or personalities as a tool to interact with other beings. When the Ego and the Self are in this type ofhealthy relationship, the positive traits of a personality type naturally dominate over the negative. Many books have been written on the Enneagram and personality types. Keyserlingís system, learned directly from Gurdjieff, is significantly different than the others now published. Our insights into Enneagram personality types are described in detail in our book Chance and Choice (Vol. 2 School of Wisdom Series).


In addition to the twelve personalities or energies, Keyserling discovered there are also twelve stages of individual development. This is the Law of twelve applied to the natural maturation process of an individualized, striving Human. These twelve stages map out our potential maturation over the course of a lifetime if we continue to integrate our consciousness, if we fulfill our potential.

There are twelve seven-year stages over a life span of 84 years. The twelve seven-year cycles follow the complete change of cells in the human body every seven years. The twelve stages are potential. Many do not realize all of the changes, and a few geniuses may fulfill their entire life potential within a shorter time. A normal striving person, however, usually develops his full potential over the course of an 84-year life. People who live beyond 84 years either do so by involvement in an historical task or social role whereby they obtain extra energy to continue on. Alternatively, they start the cycle all over again, and revert back to a second childhood and senility.

Again, we describe these twelve stages in Chance and Choice. During the twelve seven-year stages one type of personality is emphasized over the others. All may exist and grow over a life span, but at a particular time a certain type of capacity can more easily flower. Knowing where you are chronologically can thus help you to decide where to focus your efforts.


zodiac-wheel-chart.gifThe awakening and mastery of the twelve stages of life allows you to participate in what Keyserling calls the ìgames of civilizationî. Again, there are twelve fields of civilization. This is to be expected because the forms of civilization naturally follow the forms of language, consciousness and personality. In the field of human creativity you can use language and life to transform the animal-human body from physical to spiritual. You tune into and integrate your various personalities, develop your capabilities and use your ego as a tool to play the game. This is the final creative level of the Adult/Master. This is the stage of fulfillment of the meaning of your life by service to the community.

The Wheel again applies to bring order out of the apparent chaos of human civilization. Keyserling and others discovered that The Wheel has been known to Humankind for thousands of years as a key to understanding civilization. This is shown for instance by M.I.T. Professor of History, Giorgio de Santillana, and Professor Hertha von Dechend of the University of Frankfurt, in their book, Hamlet’s Mill: an Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time (1969). By study of myths, culture and philosophies all over the world, from very ancient tomodern, these scholars found a common denominator in the Wheel and the twelve historical ages discussed in the next section. The best known myth of the Wheel in the West is the Zodiac with its twelve signs. This is shown below with the proper placement of Gurdjieff’s Enneagram. The meaning of the Zodiac as a measurement of time and orientation of our place in the Universe is also discussed in Chance and Choice.

wheel-of-civilization-chart.gifThe primal image of twelve has meaning on three levels: body, soul and spirit. The spiritual aspects of the Wheel are shown on the rim of the Wheel by Keyserling shown below. These represent the external pattern of civilization. The Soul aspects are shown in the middle of the Wheel ñ the houses ñ and represent the inner attitude towards life. Theseperspectives of the Wheel are shown in the Wheel of Civilization on the next page. On the page after thatthere is a chart of the twelve sectors of the Wheel also includes information on the body meaning. Here thebody is understood physiognomically (externally) and physiologically (internally) as twelve independent body systems. These charts provide a summary of certain elements of Keyserlingís philosophy of the Wheel. For the full explanation of the twelve fields of civilization, and the body-soul-spirit elements, again see Chance and Choice.

Soul Wiling Head/Brain Personality Politics
Body Sensing Neck/Sense Organs Possessions Art
Spirit Thinking Shoulders, Arms
Hands, Lungs
Learning Science
Soul Feeling Chest/Stomach Home Psychology
Body Willing Back/Heart Children/Mastery Education
Spirit Sensing Abdomen/Intestines Work Economy
Soul Thinking Hips/Kidneys Community Law
Body Feeling Sex Organ/Buttocks
Muscles, Eyes
Spirit Willing Thighs/Liver Ideas Religion/Tradition
Soul Sensing Knees/Joints Profession Organizations
Body Thinking Legs/Skeleton Friendship Technology
Spirit Feeling Feet/Spleen Regeneration


Keyserling has also shown how The Wheel can be used to understand History from a broad, long term perspective. The longest time cycle known is the approximate 26,000 year cycle of the progression of the vernal equinox point. The cycle is marked by the apparent slow progression of the entire Zodiac as a whole in the sky in relation to the Sun. This slow movement of the stars is caused by the slight wobble or variation in the spin of the Earth around its axis. See any text on astronomy for further explanation on this phenomena. This cycle, 25,920 years to be exact, is known as the Cosmic Year, or Platonic Year. According to Keyserling this symbolizes the progression of the mental age of humanity as a whole. For each 72 years, or revolutions of the Earth around the Sun, the ecliptic advances one degree out of 360 degrees. Each of the twelve basic sectors is 30 degrees and lasts 2,160 years. This is a month in the Cosmic Year of the great Wheel of historical time (30*12=360). Each month in the Cosmic Year is called a historical ìAgeî.

History began with the first mutation jump from animal-man to human-man ñ to Neolithic Man – with “spirit” consciousness capable of abstract speech. According to tradition and the myths of many cultures, the progression of the Cosmic Year has recently reached the mental age of 35 with the change into the “Age of Aquarius” ñ Body/Thinking – Technology – and the beginning of the sixth house, the house of Work. This represents a true spiritual revolution which has radically altered society. Again, the use of the Wheel as a tool of understanding history, and the meaning of the ìNew Ageî is fully explained in Chance and Choice and so will not be repeated here.

To the best of Keyserling’s calculations, the new historical era started on February 4, 1962 with a solar eclipse over New Guinea. At that time all of the planets, except for the trans-Saturanian ones, were located at 15 degrees Aquarius. The transition at that particular time is in accord with many traditions and myths. With this view there is no need for an apocalypse, and no need to wait for a future age of coming good. The New Age is already here, the potential is at hand, all that is needed is understanding and work to fulfill the new potentials.


The significance of The Wheel extends even further. Keyserling also discovered that The Wheel is the key to global consciousness. It allows understanding of how the different myths and religions of the world interrelate with each other. As Arnold Keyserling puts it, every land has another possible dream to overcome physical death. The religions of the world are place-oriented, they grow out of the land and are molded by its geology. The particular areas of the Earth itself seem to metamorphose the religions and people that come to live there. For example, in the remote past the conquering Aryan central Asian tribes eventually took on the local religions in India and Persia. More recently, the Europeans who colonialized many parts of the world were eventually transformed by the indigenous cultures they conquered.

The Earth as a whole can be understood as a giant Wheel. The twelve sectors of the Wheel relate to twelve zones of thirty degrees longitude. Each is oriented to one of the twelve zones of the Zodiac, the cosmos as a whole. Again, this is illustrated and described in detail in Chance and Choice.


Keyserling’s application of the Wheel to many fields of knowledge illustrates how a few simple “constitutional principles” can be repeated and recombined in countless ways to make up the near-infinite diversity of our worlds. Behind all of the differences lie a few simple components. For example, in consciousness the four functions and three realms, along with awareness, combine as building blocks of our complex and apparently-disordered world. Keyserling found the basic structure – the skeleton key – in the four times three combination of the twelve-fold Wheel. The Wheel is equivalent to the Periodic Table of Elements which shows how all of matter is comprised of a few basic elements which are organized and aligned in a simple manner.So too does the Wheel apply to consciousness and human experience to provide a simple framework for holistic and coherent understanding. The Wheel is the paramount “Constitutional Law” from which the rest of the Laws of Wisdom are derived.

The Constitutional Laws are holistic in nature because they are all- encompassing, they apply to many fields of knowledge and phenomena. These Laws always fit into, and help explain the whole. When you see how the Wheel applies to a particular field of knowledge, you see how the Laws in that area fit into the whole and relate to the Laws in other areas. For instance, when the Wheel is applied to history, you see how history relates to all other fields of knowledge or phenomena. You can see a link between the Aquarian Age, the cultural field of technology, and the inventive personality type. Underneath all is the common structure of Body-Thinking. Theinsights you gain into one field of application of Body-Thinking, for instance, insights into the inventive personality, apply to strengthen and expand your understanding of another field, such as history. Everything fits together with everything else like wheels upon wheels with inter-meshing gears.

Since a limited number of basic patterns – the Constitutional Laws – repeat throughout the Universe, it is possible for finite beings – us – to comprehend the infinite Universe. We can have a coherent understanding of it, we can make sense of it and our place in it. Without the conceptual grid of a few simple components, the Universe as a whole would be too complicated and chaotic to comprehend. Any comprehension we might gain would be incomplete and incoherent. The Universe would be like a giant jigsaw puzzle that did not fit together. We would be lost in the differences and distinctions. But since there are Constitutional Laws which underlie and govern all phenomena, each bit of the puzzle ultimately fits with every other, each in its own place and time. The Universe speaks in many tongues, but ultimately it is coherent, it makes sense and you can understand it. The Wheel conquers the Tower of Babel!