Andrew J. Dell’Olio



1931 (July 24):  Oscar Ichazo was born in Roboré, Bolivia.

1937:  Ichazo suffered from violent cataleptic episodes which caused out-of-body experiences.

1943:  Ichazo assisted in the dissection of cadavers at a La Paz medical school.

1948-1950:  Ichazo was a student at University of La Paz and also studied in Peru.

1950:  Ichazo was appointed Director of Bolivia’s Library of Congress.

1950-1952:  Ichazo participated in a group in Buenos Aires studying various esoteric philosophies and consciousness-raising techniques, including Gurdjieff’s teachings.

1952-?1953:  Ichazo traveled to the Middle and Far East and studied yoga, Buddhism, Indian and Chinese philosophies, martial arts and Sufism.

1956:  Ichazo began teaching philosophy and spiritual disciplines in Chile to small groups.

1960:  Ichazo completed and began teaching in Chile what has come to be known as his “Integral Philosophy.” Teachings included particularly his theory of Protoanalysis, including the Enneagram of Personality, as well as his logic of Trialectics.

1968:  Ichazo founded the Institute of Gnosiology in Santiago, Chile and delivered lectures at the Institute of Applied Psychology in Santiago, Chile.

1970 (July 1):  Ichazo led fifty-seven students in a ten-month training program in Arica, Chile.

1970:  Chilean psychiatrist, Claudio Naranjo, left the Arica training early and began teaching Ichazo’s enneagram of personality to small groups.

1971 (December 31):  Ichazo organized a three-month training in the Essex House Hotel, New York City (New York One) and founded the Arica Institute at 24 West 57th Street, New York.

1972:  John Lilly published The Center of the Cyclone, which included his account of the training in Arica.

1972:  Arica began offering “40-Day” and “Advanced” Trainings in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London, as well as other cities in the United States, Canada, South America and Europe.

1973 (July):  Sam Keen’s interview with Ichazo appeared in Psychology Today.

1976:  The Human Process for Enlightenment and Freedom was published.

1981:  Ichazo left New York City and moved to Maui, Hawaii where he established the Oscar Ichazo Compay (later the Oscar Ichazo Foundation).

1982:  Between Metaphysics and Protoanalysis: A Theory for Analyzing the Human Psyche and Interviews with Oscar Ichazo was published.

1982:  Ichazo lectured at Metamorphosis Training in Maplecrest, New York.

1983:  Arica trainings began to be produced by the Oscar Ichazo Company and increasingly were designed to be conducted by individuals or small groups in home settings and at Reunions held in Maui, Hawaii (1990, 1995, 2000, 2010).

1986:  Letters to the School was published, which included charges of plagiarism directed at the spate of books beginning to appear on the enneagram of personality.

1989: Arica Institute files a lawsuit against Helen Palmer and Harper & Row Publishers for copyright infringement with regard to Palmer’s 1988 book, The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life.

1991:  Ichazo wrote “Letter to the Transpersonal Community” explaining his account of the origins of the Enneagram of Personality and denying its links to Sufism and the teachings of Gurdjieff

1991:  Ichazo received the Award of Excellence from the Society of Writers of the United Nations.

1991-1992:  Arica Institute lost its lawsuit and its appeal as the court ruled “fair use” on behalf of Palmer.

1993:  Arica continued to present very few public trainings, instead offering a lengthy series of private, advanced trainings to a few hundred members. Ichazo’s written work after this point was generally accessible only to members of the Arica School.

2000:  Ichazo received the United Nations Society of Writers Award of Excellence.

2020:  The Four Killers of Humanity: The Ethical Solution to Our Existential Crisis was published and made available to the public.

2020 (March 26):  Ichazo died at his home in Maui, Hawaii.


In 1969, following glowing reports from fellow seekers in South America, a group of fifty-seven or so Americans traveled to the desert of Arica, Chile for a ten-month period of study with the Bolivian mystic and philosopher, Oscar Ichazo. [Image at right] Many of these individuals were from the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, already a leading center of what has come to be called “the human potential movement.” As Dick Price, one of the founders of Esalen said at the time, “Arica cleared our bench” (Anderson 2004:227). The most notable of the participants in Ichazo’s program were the Chilean psychiatrist, Claudio Naranjo, and the neuro-scientist and dolphin researcher, John C. Lilly. Ichazo began teaching his theory and methods in 1956 to groups in South America, giving the first public presentation of his thought in 1968 to the Institute of Applied Psychology in Santiago, Chile, attended by Naranjo. While Naranjo and Lilly did not finish the ten-month training, they were impressed with Ichazo’s teachings and his ability to bring about higher states of consciousness in his students through many different practices and techniques culled from the world’s spiritual traditions but reconfigured and streamlined for contemporary western society. On their return from Chile, Ichazo and his students founded the Arica Institute in New York City and in 1971 offered a three-month training in Manhattan’s Essex House, guaranteeing enlightenment for a fee of $2,000.

Throughout the 1970s, thousands of people took Arica trainings and became members of the Arica School, modeled after ancient schools of human development in Greece, India and the Middle East. The Arica School still exists, although its membership is in the hundreds and it offers fewer public trainings than it did in its heyday. While Arica does not consider itself a religion, it is clearly religious and thus is often included in academic treatments of new or alternative religious movements. Indeed, Oscar Ichazo and the Arica School, largely through Naranjo and his students, sparked one of the largest developments within New Age spirituality in the last twenty years, the enneagram personality-type movement.

What is known of Ichazo’s history largely derives from his own personal accounts (Ichazo 1982b) or those of the Arica Institute (Arica website n.d.). He was born in Bolivia in 1931 and raised in Bolivia and Peru as a Roman Catholic, attending Jesuit schools. At an early age, Ichazo was afflicted with a physiological condition that at times caused him to undergo out-of-body experiences. In order to understand and control his condition, he underwent training in martial arts under a Japanese master and read widely in his uncle Julio’s vast library. He eventually studied medicine, psychology and philosophy at universities in Bolivia and Peru.

At the age of nineteen, Ichazo describes a meeting with “a remarkable man” who introduced him to a group of mystics in Buenos Aires, mostly European businessmen (Ichazo 1982b:7). Ichazo served as a kind of coffee boy to the group, which studied an eclectic mix of spiritual writings and methods, such as yoga, Kabbalah, Tarot, as well as the Gurdjieff work. (Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous was translated into Spanish in 1952 and his student, Rodney Collin, published The Theory of Celestial Influence in Spanish in 1953.) The only individual of this group Ichazo mentions is Leo Costet de Mascheville (Jehel) who was the son of Albert Raymond Costet-Conde de Mascheville, the man who introduced Martinism to Latin America. It was Albert Costet who apparently founded the esoteric study group in Buenos Aries that Ichazo encountered. His son, Jehel, at one point the President of the Martinist Order of South America, eventually becomes known as Sevananda, and went on to establish one of the first yoga ashrams in Latin America (Simões 2018). Ichazo studied with this esoteric study group for several years, practicing different spiritual techniques and eventually, according to Ichazo, clarifying for them some of the philosophical teachings they were studying, especially the Enneagram. These men then enabled Ichazo to travel to the Middle and Far East where he studied yoga, qigong, I Ching, Buddhist meditation and Sufism. According to Naranjo, Ichazo was thought of as a Sufi teacher by those in the original Chile group, and it was intimated that Ichazo had made contact with the same esoteric school that Gurdjieff claimed to have contacted, the Sarmoung Brotherhood (Naranjo 1970). Ichazo has denied, however, that his teachings are derived in any way from Sufism or the teachings of Gurdjieff himself (Ichazo 1991).

When he returned to Latin America in the mid-1950s, Ichazo began teaching philosophy and spiritual techniques to small groups in Chile. During this time, he synthesized these teachings and created his own philosophical system, developing his theory of protoanalysis, an analysis of the human psyche from its lowest levels of consciousness to its highest, including his nine-fold Personality Typology based on the Enneagram, as well as a new logic for understanding the unity of existence, trialectics.

After teaching his own work to small groups, Ichazo gave lectures on protoanalysis to the Institute of Applied Psychology in Chile in 1968. He subsequently invited a group of Latin Americans to train with him in Arica, Chile and then invited a number of Americans to join the training group. This ten-month, intensive training is described in John Lilly’s The Center of the Cyclone (1972). This training was followed by a three-month training in New York at the Essex House hotel at which Ichazo boldly guaranteed enlightenment by the end of the program. At the conclusion of this training, the Arica Institute was established in New York with satellite centers in major U.S. cities and elsewhere. Arica attracted significant attention in the early seventies, eventually enrolling thousands of students throughout the decade, with not insignificant cultural impact. Alexandro Jodorowsky’s film, Holy Mountain (1973), an allegory of the quest for enlightenment, bears the influence of Ichazo, who trained Jodorowsky and central cast members for three months prior to filming.

Meanwhile, Naranjo, who left the training in Arica, introduced Ichazo’s enneagram personality theory to his own students in Berkeley, California. Naranjo developed his own version of this typology and taught it throughout the 1970s where it eventually made its way to the Jesuits and Catholic retreat centers. By the mid-1980s books began appearing on the “Enneagram of Personality” (see, for example, Beesing, et. al. 1984 and Palmer 1988). In 1982, his book Between Metaphysics and Protoanalysis: A Theory for Analyzing the Human Psyche and Interviews with Oscar Ichazo was published. [Image at right] Ichazo, who had published very little of his own work (1976, 1982a and 1982b), preferring to keep his teachings to members of his own esoteric school, did not take kindly to what he regarded as the plagiarizing and distorting of his ideas. This gave rise to the so-called “Enneagram Wars” (Goldberg 1993; See also Effross, 2003). Arica filed a lawsuit against Helen Palmer and Harper & Row after the publication of Palmer’s The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life (1988). However, the court ruled against Arica in 1991, upheld in an appeal in 1992, maintaining that Palmer’s use of copyrighted Arica materials constituted “fair use.” The Arica School had a much smaller public presence for the next three decades with the formation of Oscar Ichazo Company in Hawaii and a shift in the teaching and practice toward individual home trainings. The nature of this work is largely unavailable to non-members of Arica. and members must sign non-disclosure agreements. The Arica website indicates that the new work is focused on the transcendental dimension leading to ultimate enlightenment or “theosis.” Indeed, after a period in the 1980s and 1990s, when the Arica work seemed to focus largely on what Ichazo described earlier as “symbol yoga” (similar to Vajrayana Buddhism with an emphasis on imagining oneself as a kind of Buddha or deity), recent years have brought the use of more Greek terminology. For example, in place of a Buddha, we are introduced to the “Divine Metatelos” as a name for a particular higher level of mind, and students are encouraged to participate in the One and the Good, suggesting a more western, Platonic character to the Arica School.


Since material from the last thirty years or so is largely unavailable to the public, this summary restricts itself to the basic doctrines of the Arica School. Even so, it is difficult to summarize as robust a teaching as what Ichazo calls his “Integral Philosophy,” especially a teaching that has developed over fifty years and that includes so many different spiritual practices. Arica claims to demonstrate and practically achieve “the human process toward enlightenment and freedom,” the systematic “clarification of consciousness,” and, in general, the unification of science and mysticism. Ichazo is regarded variously by students as the Qutub (the Sufi notion of the Perfect Man who acts as the spiritual pole around which other spiritual teachers revolve), the Maitreya Buddha, or simply a philosophical sage and teacher. Similarly, the Arica theory and method has been presented as the next development of Buddhism or as a contemporary version of a philosophical school modeled on ancient Greek wisdom schools. In brief, Arica is a method and theory of human development that draws from philosophy, religion and contemporary psychology and biology to forge a system of thought and practice designed to lead to spiritual enlightenment. Early on, Sam Keen described Arica as “the nearest thing we now have to a university for altered states of consciousness” (Keen 1973, reprinted in Ichazo 1982:7). Ichazo (described as a mystic, scientist and philosopher) proposes to unify reason and mysticism in a theory of the human psyche known as “protoanalysis.” It is structured according to the symbol of the Enneagram, and a new logic of the whole known as “trialectics.” The successful application of the Arica theory and method, Ichazo maintains, in the form of successive “trainings,” will lead to the transcendence of ego-consciousness and the awakening of divine consciousness. This, in turn, will bring about a transformation of human society and the establishment of a unified humanity, referred to as “Humanity-One.” This will occur in a new global culture or “metasociety,” characterized by a shared understanding of human nature and its spiritual potential, and no longer divided by tribal or national or religious discord. The long-awaited global utopia or heavenly kingdom on earth is thus to be achieved not simply through the good will of men and women but by reason and practical effort as a critical mass of individuals make the quantum leap to a new level of spiritual maturity.

Ichazo’s theory of the human being, or protoanalysis, is based on what he calls the “Divine Human prototype,” something like the model or Platonic Form of the person (Ichazo 1976:75). Born in a state of unity with God and the world, each person in their essence is a perfect reflection or manifestation of the divine reality. At some point, however, we begin to slip away from this unity as a sense of separate individuality arises and the ego develops. Thus, there is a distinction between the human being’s essence (one’s true nature) and the human being’s ego or personality (the false deviation from one’s true nature). The ego, as the distorted image of the divine-human prototype, is made up of the illusory beliefs, feelings, desires, etc., that maintain our separateness from God and each other, and that perpetuates our suffering. It is only when the ego is reduced or eliminated that human beings can be restored to unity with God and one another in the state of blessedness or supreme happiness and fulfillment. (In later teachings, the ego becomes synonymous with the Relative Mind and the essence with the Absolute Mind. Suffering is eliminated when the Absolute Mind is separated from the Relative Mind and then re-integrated, the Relative Mind seen as a reflection or “shadow” of the Absolute Mind in the state known as the Ornamental Mind.)

Ichazo’s now well-known Enneagrammatic theory of personality describes the ways in which the ego manifests and the how it can be restored to its essential nature. In general, the enneagram serves to structure the Arica theory of the human being, and all things, since all things manifest themselves according to this pattern (See Ouspensky 1949:286-94). And so, Arica theory presents itself as a kind of nine-pointed cylinder [Image at right] that could be sliced up into individual enneagrams that build upon one other in hierarchical sequence (Ichazo 1982c). For example, while pure consciousness is the primary reality and precedes its material manifestation, in the human being it manifests as nine constituents: materiality or elements, systems, mentations, senses consciousness, mental perceptions, domains, feelings or discriminative mind, willing intention, and access base. The nine constituents are akin to the Buddhist notion of the Five Aggregates that constitute the illusory “self.” Fundamental to an understanding of the ego is awareness of the nine physiological systems: sexual, skeletal, digestive, protective, circulatory, expression, coordination, central nervous system, unity system. These systems in turn give rise to energy centers, like chakras, that manifest in the psyche as the instincts, functions and drives that constitute what Ichazo calls the “hypergnostic systems”: the sexual pole, the function of space, the conservation instinct, the function of time, the relations instinct, function of expression, the function of coordination, the adaptation instinct, the spiritual pole.

The most important of these systems are the three instincts. Each instinct innately asks a “living question” fundamental to survival: “How am I?” (Conservation Instinct), “With Whom am I?” (Relations Instinct), and “Where am I?” (Adaptation Instinct). Each instinct also gives rise to different kind of reason (empathetical, analogical and analytical), and a different ego entity: the historical ego that hold on to past hurts, the image ego that is concerned with how one presents oneself and is regarded by the others, and the practical ego that is focused on making one’s way in the world. As in Plato’s tri-partite model of the soul, these three ego entities will be at war with each other until inner balance is achieved, resulting in the natural ego or persona which acts as a “witness” capable of self-observation and eventually self-actualization and self-transcendence (Ichazo 1982a:79-80).

One of the principal tools for self-observation is the realization of one’s “fixation,” that is, at what point on the enneagram one’s development is fixated or stuck due to the “karma” one has accumulated in one’s life, typically as a result of traumas of early childhood. These fixations, similar to what Gurdjieff called one’s “chief feature,” are what has come to be known in popular culture as one’s “personality type” or “Enneagram type.” The nine fixations are related to the nine Domains of Consciousness that correspond to the nine systems. The fixations and their Domains are as follows:

Ego-Resentment (Over-Perfectionist) fixated in the Domain of Sentiments

Ego-Flattery (Over-Independent) fixated in the Domain of Health and Security

Ego-Go (Over-Efficient) fixated in the Domain of Creativity

Ego-Melancholy (Over-Reasoner) fixated in the Intellectual Domain

Ego-Stinginess (Over-Observer) fixated in the Domain of Social Interaction

Ego-Cowardice (Over-Adventurer) fixated in the Domain of Work and Activities

Ego-Planning (Over-Idealist) fixated in the Domain of Hierarchy and Authority

Ego-Vengeance (Over-Justice-maker) in the Domain of Laws and Morals

Ego-Indolence (Over-Nonconformist) in the Spiritual Domain

As in Aristotle’s virtue theory, each fixation habitually errs on one side of a dichotomy within a Domain of Consciousness. So, the Ego-Vengeance “personality type” (the Eighth), for example, tends to be either too strict or too unconstrained with oneself or others. This type is plagued by remorse for which one attempts to compensate or seek release by inflicting cruelty on oneself or others. The vice or “passion” at work here is excess, which may be overcome by “karma cleaning” (working through one’s past experiences to see how these tendencies developed) and cultivating the virtue of innocence. Meditating on the Holy Idea of Truth aids in the cultivation of the virtue and leads to a pacification of the psyche. And so on for the other fixations (See, Ichazo 1982b:13-17).

In another way of linking body and mind, Ichazo insists that thought is not a product simply of the brain or the central nervous system but the entire body (Ichazo 1982b:12-13). Dividing the body into twelve parts, Ichazo assigns each part with a particular cognitive function or mentation. So, the ears, for example, perceive the meaning or substance of things; the eyes see forms; the nose detects possibilities, etc. One way in which the ego distorts reality is through deviations in these mentations. A person might mistake possibilities for substance, for example, and understand what something is simply in terms of the thing’s possibilities. Just as knowledge of one’s fixation or personality type aids in self-observation and eventual freedom from the particular habits and tendencies that limit one’s development, so too does the awareness of these deviations help one to see how skewed patterns of thinking might perpetuate one’s subjectivity and consequent suffering.

And in yet another way of dividing things up, in recent years the Arica system has been organized in terms of Five Realms, each corresponding to five primary body cavities: the Vital Realm (pelvic cavity) the Physical Realm (abdominal cavity), the Emotional Realm (thoracic cavity), the Mental Realm (cranial cavity) and the Spiritual Realm (dorsal cavity). Each realm also corresponds to one of five basic elements: fire, earth, air, water and space. Given the connection to body cavities, physiological systems and natural elements, it is tempting to suggest a biological or materialistic basis for the Arica system. Yet, the teaching asserts that the body is an expression of consciousness and that, in fact, all is consciousness. At the root of each element and realm, for example, is a Divine Mind or Deity, each an aspect of the One Supreme Reality, God, understood primarily as Absolute Mind or infinite, eternal consciousness. Metaphysically, therefore, the philosophy of the Arica school is a version of Idealism, for consciousness is the fundamental reality. In this, it is most similar to the Yogacara or Consciousness-Only School of Buddhism, focusing on the way the subjective or Relative Mind constructs a false image of reality until it ceases and realizes at its base is the immovable, unchanging, adamantine Absolute Mind. It also bears a strong similarity to the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus with its insistence on the ultimate unity of all things in the One and the procession or manifestation of reality from Mind and Ideal Forms. But its version of idealistic monism is theistic, as seen in its credo or Declaration of Unity: “God is eternal, is in all of us, is in everything, is One without second.”

The emphasis in Arica theory on consciousness (its metaphysical primacy as well as the practical aim of clarifying and raising it) includes a map of the levels of consciousness. A main feature of John Lilly’s presentation of Arica theory in The Center of the Cyclone (1972) is an early version of the levels of consciousness which span, metaphorically from hell to heaven, that is, from the lowest levels of suffering in which one is as removed as possible from reality as it truly is, to the experience of reality as such, namely, oneness with the Absolute or union with God. Four levels of “satori” are described, corresponding to spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical centers (like chakras) of the person, and numbered from three at the highest to twenty-four at the lowest (Lilly 1972:148-49). So, state twenty-four, the first level of satori or enlightenment, occurs when one is centered in the lower belly, like the t’ai chi or kung fu master, whose mind is silent and alert rather than distracted by the dream-like constant chattering in one’s head. This state of the pacified mind, “permanent 24,” in which one lives what is described as a “divine life,” is the level of consciousness the early trainings of Arica aimed to achieve. Above this level is state twelve, the opening of the higher emotional center, described as the “blissful state” in which experiences divine grace (baraka) or cosmic love, as well as a oneness with and love for all things. This state is one of extreme joy and high energy, leaving one unable to speak as one enters what Lilly calls the “happy idiot country,” a state highly desirable but rarely achieved. And so on up to further indescribable states of spiritual attainment. State forty-eight is a neutral state of normal waking consciousness in which one is capable of objective understanding using trialectical analysis. Below this are the negative states of increasing subjectivity and suffering. More recent presentations of the levels of consciousness eschew the numbered states of satori and propose nine lower levels of subjectivity which are the negative image of the nine higher levels of objective awareness.

Although Ichazo is most well-known for his Enneagrammatic theory of personality types, the foundation of his thought is his proposed new logic of trialectics. Trialectics is regarded as the logic of unity, a logic that bridges science and mysticism. By “science,” Ichazo means largely experiential or experimental observation leading to universal laws of nature. As such, it can be tested and verified, and this is what differentiates science from faith or religion, the other home to mysticism in world history. The aim of trialectics is to capture the “logos” that governs nature and, indeed, all that is, in a grand metaphysical manner; a way of thinking that grasps the way things are, the fundamental laws or principles or reality. It is mystical logic in its emphasis on unity: it is a way of thinking that overcomes dualisms. Traditional logic or dialectical thought is fundamentally dualistic. It is binary with its chief operators, true and false. In this it is machine-like with the digital “0 or 1” toggle-switch mentality of digital computers the best contemporary example. In recent years many of sensed the need for new way of thinking, for a new holistic logic to replace, or at least supplement, the dualistic and mechanistic rationality inherent in the Cartesian, Newtonian model of the universe. Trialectics is an attempt at giving expression to this new holistic logic (See Dell’Olio 2012).

The basis of trialectics is what might be called “triadic reasoning,” that is, the overcoming of duality by a third, mediating principle that unifies two opposing principles. According to Ichazo, this idea is actually quite old and may be found throughout the world’s wisdom traditions (Ichazo 1982a:74). Similar to Gurdjieff’s Law of Three, trialectics asserts that any phenomenon can be analyzed in terms of three factors: an active force, an attractive force and a third function that mediates the interaction of the two forces. In this way, trialectical logic sees the unity behind seemingly opposing forces; in a sense, its triadic reasoning attempts to capture the coincidence of opposites. Yet, trialectics is more than a method of reasoning that sees unity in opposition. As a metaphysical description of the world of phenomena, it is also an account of the laws of reality. Ichazo typically presents trialectics as bearing on the issue of “identity,” that is, of what is. As metaphysical propositions, the laws of trialectics go beyond triadic thinking per se to include basic principles describing way things are from the point of view of the whole, that is, from the perspective of the unity of reality.

The three laws of trialectics do for cycles what the three classical “laws of thought” of Aristotelian formal logic do for space and what the three laws of Hegelian-Marxian dialectical logic do for time. For Ichazo, formal logic describes a static world while dialectical logic captures a changing universe but in terms of conflict rather than cooperation. In this, formal logic reflects the mentality of the child while dialectical logic reflects the mentality of the adolescent. Similarly, formal logic reflects the ancient and medieval time periods of western culture, a time of slow change where the social order seemed fixed and stable with static hierarchies, while dialectical logic reflects modernity with its rapid pace of change, its political religious and intellectual revolutions, its class struggles, and its belief in progress and limitless expansion.

But as much as each logic captures its own time in thought, neither fully manifests the mature mind since neither thinks in terms of limits, and maturity, for Ichazo, comes with the recognition of limits (Ichazo 1982b:163). The mature person accepts what can and cannot be achieved, that there are limits to action, growth and development. So, the thinking inherent in the modern age, rooted in competition and win-loss scenarios, that sees endless growth and limitless resources, must give way to a new logic that describes change but within prescribed limits and stable patterns.

The laws of trialectics are as follows: (1) The law of mutation from one material manifestation point (MMP) to another MMP. This law states that the universe has pre-established laws and points in which change occurs within fixed patterns. The material manifestation of phenomena take place at “neutral points of retention of energy,” that is, MMPs. (2) The law of circulation. This law states that opposites are in a state of equilibrium where “inside everything is the seed of its apparent opposite.” Change is a harmonious process of circulation of energy rather than a conflictual war or struggle of antagonistic forces. (3) The law of attraction. This law states that things do not remain stable but more toward higher or lower MMPs on a fixed hierarchy of levels (Ichazo 1982a:75).

The law of mutation gives expression to a dynamic universe of energy forming stable but temporary patterns we experience as material objects or substances. As matter or energy transforms into new stable patterns, it does so, not gradually but in discontinuous jumps and at fixed points, both at that micro-level as water changes to ice at 0 degrees centigrade and changes to steam at 100 degrees centigrade, or at that macro-level, as in the “punctuated equilibrium” theory of evolution. More obvious examples in nature include the stages of any life-cycle, as in the egg that becomes a caterpillar then a chrysalis and then a butterfly. As in the case of the stages of human development from infancy to childhood to adolescence to adulthood, the transformation occurs in jumps at fixed manifestation points.

The process of change, as we have already seen, is described by Ichazo in terms of the triadic relationship between an active principle, an attractive principle and the function that unites them (Ichazo 1982a: 74). The simplest example of this triadic relationship is in the generation of life itself with the mother as attractive principle, the father as active principle and the love between the two as the function that results in the child. The active-attractive-function triad is also at work in the law of circulation. Rather than conceive of change in terms of contradictions in nature, change is conceived in terms of interdependence between active and attractive elements. Both elements contribute to each other and, through a process of attraction or love, join in unity. Seen from the perspective of unity, pace Heraclitus, night is attracted to day, not at war with it. The harmonious circulation of energy between the active and attractive principles maintains the equilibrium and unity of the process.

Attraction is also at work, of course, in the law of attraction. Rather than conceive of change occurring through the dialectical notion of “the negation of the negation,” the third law of trialectics posits a less destructive principle. The law of attraction states that “everything is attracted to expansion or contraction,” (Ichazo 1982a: 64) that is, everything is attracted to higher or lower levels of manifestation of energy or MMPs. Rather, than think of the seed as “negated” by the plant, the trialectical mode of thought thinks of the seed as attracted to becoming a plant. In trialectics, as in Dante’s vision of the universe, it is love that moves the moon and stars, not strife or conflict.

For Ichazo, the notion within trialectics of fixed points of change or MMPs has implications for psychological and spiritual growth. Just as there are levels of material manifestation, from cells to stars, there are levels of psychological or spiritual manifestation. From the madman to the Buddha, the stages of human development are pre-determined, as pre-determined as stages of water from fluid to vapor. Ichazo’s program of spiritual development is based on the existence of these stages or levels of self-realization, and it is because he believes he has the map of the entirety of the human process, in Arica he has produced a scientific approach to mysticism based on the new logic of trialectics.


The primary vehicle for the transmission of Arica teachings have been residential group training programs. These trainings typically make use using a special high-protein diet, including a special drink known as “Dragon’s Milk,” a physical exercise regimen known as Psychocalisthenics, a special deep-tissue massage known as “Chua K’a,” a form of qigong known as kath generation (the lower belly is referred to as the kath center), and meditations which involve yantras and specific kinds of breathing. Beginning levels of study would focus on “karma cleaning” or the systematic review of one’s life experiences across the nine systems and domains, etc., to clarify issues and patterns that hold back one’s personal development and keep one from living a fully awakened life. This process of analyzing and freeing oneself of one’s ego, also known as ego-reduction, includes tools for self-observation. These inlcude knowing one’s “fixation” or personality types, developing “witness” consciousness, and eventually learning how to separate the Absolute Mind from the Relative Mind then re-integrating them in the Ornamental Mind of the enlightened individual. Other practices include chanting and singing, Sufi dancing (or Zhikr), theater exercises, and attending the lectures of Oscar Ichazo. The Line of the School Level trainings are arranged from beginning to advanced and are categorized in terms of the Five Realms (vital, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual), as well as a separate set of Transcendental State trainings. Individual, non-residential trainings are also offered in addition to the residential group trainings (See, “The Trainings” 2021).


Arica Institute [Image at right] is a non-profit organization run by a Board of Directors. Ichazo had not been a member of the Board since moving to Hawaii in 1981 when he formed the Oscar Ichazo Company, now the Oscar Ichazo Foundation, which is distinct from Arica Institute but has served as the source of new trainings and communications to the Arica School. The Arica School consists essentially of its dues-paying members, who also pay tuition for trainings, supporting the work of Ichazo. Ichazo was assisted primarily by his wife, Sarah Hodge Ichazo, and a small team in Hawaii. Since Ichazo’s recent death, the Arica School continues under the leadership of Sarah Ichazo.


From the beginning of the Arica School there seems to have been a tension between the need for it to be closed group (a secret or esoteric school) and its “mission” to save humanity and the planet by establishing “Humanity-One” or the metasociety. There has also been a tension between Ichazo as the supreme leader and teacher (guru?) and the idea that Arica is a democratic organization (“Arica is you”). After leaks of its teachings and practices early on by Claudio Naranjo led to the popularization of enneagram of personality and “the Enneagram Wars,” Arica became hyper-vigilant about copyrighting seemingly everything in its storehouse of concepts and techniques. But such a proprietary stance regarding its offerings runs against its stated aim of reaching as many people as possible and its being a force for the positive transformation of the culture as a whole. It also runs counter to aspirations of intellectual legitimacy for its theory and method since, as the court stated in Arica’s failed lawsuit against Helen Palmer, a purported factual discovery (such as the claim that there are nine distinct ego fixations) could not be protected under copyright laws.

Similarly, many students over the years, including some prominent early ones such as Naranjo, Lilly, and Dick Price of Esalen, have been turned off to what they regarded as the hierarchical, autocratic, dictatorial organization model of the school and the corresponding “group-think” of its membership. (Price’s experience of his participation in Arica is recounted in Kripal 2007:178-79). The authoritarian reputation of the school, along with the high cost of its trainings, has likely inhibited growth in its membership and influence.

The inability to produce in a timely manner a successful publication of the long-awaited complete Arica theory and method has also likely inhibited Arica’s influence, and no doubt was a factor in its challenges with others publishing material derived from its teachings. Ichazo’s own writings are often obtuse, and his lack of solid academic credentials has also likely made it difficult for them to gain wide acceptance.

One might also point to the seemingly interminable nature of Arica’s training program. The first residential training in New York City guaranteed enlightenment in three months, but for the next fifty years new trainings have rolled out promising ever higher attainments of enlightenment. A skeptical observer might wonder why a theory and method touted for its velocity in achieving enlightenment has taken so long to produce an enlightened student.

Ichazo himself has said that mystical schools such as Arica come into being for a period of time and for a specific mission (Ichazo 1982b:119). Perhaps Arica achieved its mission in first few years of its existence, helping to accelerate the raising of consciousness of modern Western society and assisting in opening it up to the significance of spiritual disciplines for personal and social transformation. Yet, Arica gave itself the lofty mission of transforming enough people to achieve a new level of humanity, a global metasociety where we recognize and realize our oneness, and where we avert the “four killers” of over-population, uncontrolled pollution, nuclear Armageddon or fallout, and the abuse and exploitation of natural resources. But since there has been no shortage of such disasters in recent decades, a case could be made that the Arica School has failed in its aim. After all, we seem further from the metasociety or a unified humanity than ever before. Still, perhaps this achievement is simply too high a bar to judge any spiritual teaching or school, not to mention most major world religions and philosophies which, in many if not most cases, share this noble, if ever elusive, aim.


Image #1: Oscar Ichazo in 1976.
Image #2: The cover of Interviews with Oscar Ichazo.
Image #3: The Enneagram. Image courtesy of Rob Fitzel. Accessed at
Image #4: The Universal Logos, symbol of the Arica School.


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Arica website. n.d. Accessed from on 5 January 2021.

Arica website. 2021. “The Trainings.” Accessed from on 9 January 2021.

Beesing, Maria and Robert J. Nogosek and Patrick H. O’Leary. 1984. The Enneagram: A Journey of Self Discovery. Denville, NJ: Dimension Books.

Dell’Olio, Andrew J. 2012. “The Arica School: Towards a Logic of Unity?” Pp. 153-73 in Philosophical Explorations of New and Alternative Religious Movements, edited by Morgan Luck. Farnham: Ashgate.

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Goldberg, Michael J. 1993. “Inside the Enneagram Wars.” L.A. Weekly, October 15, 16-26.

Ichazo, Oscar. 1991. “Letter to Transpersonal Community.” Pp 87-117 in The Arican. New York: Arica Institute Press.

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Ichazo, Oscar. 1982b. Interviews with Oscar Ichazo. New York: Arica Institute Press.

Ichazo, Oscar. 1982c. “Metamorphosis Lectures.” Maplecrest, NY (author’s personal notes).

Ichazo, Oscar. 1976. The Human Process for Enlightenment and Freedom. New York: Arica Institute Press.

Keen, Sam. 1973. “’We have no desire to strengthen the ego or make it happy.’ A Conversation with Oscar Ichazo.” Psychology Today, July. Reprinted in Interviews with Oscar Ichazo, pp. 3-24.

Kripal, Jeffrey J. 2007. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lilly, John C. 1972. The Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space. New York: Julian Press.

Naranjo, Claudio. 1970. “Report from Chile: Oscar Ichazo and the School.” Tiburon, CA: Big Sur Tapes.

Ouspensky, P.D. 1949. In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Palmer, Helen. 1988. The Enneagram. New York: Harper & Row.

Simões, Roberto Serafim. 2018. “Early Latin American Esoteric Yoga as a New Spirituality in the First Half of the Twentieth Century.” International Journal of Latin American Religions 2:290–314.

Publication Date:
10 January 2021