A Tool for Significant Self-Knowledge — Center for Action and Contemplation

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A Tool for Significant Self-Knowledge

Enneagram Part One: Body Center

A Tool for Significant Self-Knowledge

Sunday, February 23, 2020

If we consider it difficult for a healthy society to exist without the foundation of healthy individuals, it becomes imperative to recognize the political value of individual transformation. —Claudio Naranjo [1]

For the next three weeks the Daily Meditations will focus on the Enneagram, not merely as a personality typing system but as a powerful tool for the transformation of consciousness. While the popularity of the Enneagram has soared in recent years, the symbol and teaching itself have roots in several wisdom traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Sufism. However, it was not until the late 1960s that Oscar Ichazo began teaching the Enneagram as we know it today. I personally learned about the

Enneagram in the early 1970s from a group of Jesuits who had studied under Ichazo and were using it as a tool within spiritual direction. Today it is widely taught as a way of understanding personality, addiction, relationships, and vocation. [2]
People who know the Enneagram in a superficial way think it’s about putting people into boxes, but it actually works to free people from their self-created boxes. While there are tests and quizzes that can help individuals identify their primary Enneagram type, finding our “number” is just the first step. We get to know our “number” so we can begin freeing ourselves from the passions, fixations, and fears to which our ego has become attached.

The Enneagram is not a strict law or code. Its nine categories are not meant to bind or restrict us to a certain way of being and living. Rather, it is a dynamic system that recognizes that humans are far too complex and nuanced to fit easily into simple categories; it supports the evolving, maturing human journey. It helps us develop our inner witness so we can be detached enough to stand back and observe our common behavior patterns.

Although the Enneagram can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and spiritual transformation, it shouldn’t be our only tool. The Enneagram is most helpful when used in conjunction with other practices like study, contemplation, therapy, spiritual direction, and life in community with others.

While self-discovery is important, it is not the Enneagram’s final objective. The Enneagram’s purpose is to help us uncover the traps that keep us from living fully and freely as our True Self in God (See Romans 7:20,22). When we get in touch with our Essential nature, we can use our unique, authentic gifts for the good of others and the world.

If you know the Enneagram already, my hope is that you will learn something new about yourself, someone you care about, or even someone you don’t care for very much. Compassion, empathy, and forgiveness—for the self and the other—are some of the great fruits of this labor. And if you aren’t familiar with the Enneagram at all, know that these meditations are simply pointing in the direction of a much greater wisdom to be explored.

[1] Claudio Naranjo, The Enneagram of Society: Healing the Soul to Heal the World (Gateways Books and Tapes: 1995, 2004), 177.
[2] For more on healing addiction, join the online course Breathing Under Water: A Spiritual Study of the Twelve Steps, March 25–May 19, 2020.
Adapted from Richard Rohr and CAC Staff, “The Enneagram: An Introduction” (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2016).

Image credit: Last Supper Study (detail), Andrea del Sarto, 1520-1525, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Our Intelligence Centers help us hear and invite us to greater discernment. . . . Discernment is our ability to judge what is good, true, and beautiful. Discernment is also the inner knowledge of how to act on that which we perceive. Our use of discernment relies on the clarity of our centered minds, the objectivity of peace-filled hearts, and the unobstructed impulses or instincts of our bodies. —Chris Heuertz
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