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Enneagram Part One: Body Center

Enneagram Part One: Body Center

Sunday, February 23–Friday, February 28, 2020

The Enneagram’s purpose is to help us uncover the traps that keep us from living fully and freely as our True Self so that we will use our unique, authentic gifts for the good of others and the world. (Sunday)

The Intelligence Centers . . . include the Body (instinctive or gut) Center, the Heart (feeling or emotion) Center, and the Head (mind, thinking, or rational) Center. (Monday)

The Body, Belly, or Gut Center] is teaching us what it means to actually live in the here and now, to feel our existence, and to operate from that, which gives us a sense of confidence, fullness, aliveness, being. —Russ Hudson (Tuesday)

[Eights] are intimidating and they know it, but it surprises even them because inside they know they are using their strength to protect the vulnerable child within them who never seemed safe enough to grow up. —Christopher Heuertz (Wednesday)

[As Nines] learn to surrender to the action of Holy Love, we reconnect with the ocean of Being and realize that at our core, we are this Love. —Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson (Thursday)

The special virtue, or fruit of the spirit, that marks mature persons of any type is always the reverse of the root sin or passion. The fruit of the spirit of the One is cheerful tranquility or serenity. (Friday)

 

Practice: Values  

One of our recent Living School students, Dr. Jerome Lubbe, is a functional neurologist and co-founder of Thrive NeuroTheology. He has developed a science-based method to understand the Enneagram which he explores in his book Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)holistic Human Thriving. For the next couple Saturdays, we’ll share some ideas and practices from Dr. Lubbe’s book. While I believe it can be helpful to recognize the habitual tendencies within ourselves associated with a primary Enneagram number, Lubbe reminds us that we’re complex and multi-faceted beings:   

When we understand the Enneagram as a Whole-Identity Profile instead of a single number personality “type,” we expand our capacity for growth and health in a multitude of directions. . . .

You are not a personality. You are not even multiple personalities. You have an identity—and what creates and characterizes your identity can be charted by the nine numbers of the Enneagram. The anatomy of the brain reflects this: we are not left-brained or right-brained, we are whole brained. The same is true for the Enneagram. To put it more plainly, you are not a personality type or number on the Enneagram. You are a whole person who has a whole identity—you are all nine numbers. . . . Tools like the Enneagram are meant for expanding awareness of the whole. . . .

When you shift the Enneagram Framework from being a number to having efficiencies in all nine numbers, the Enneagram language shifts with it. It becomes about nature and values instead of type and reductive behaviors. For example, number Seven, traditionally associated with the title of “Enthusiast,” is instead represented by the innate human capacity for “Enthusiasm” as well as the value of “Experiences.”

“I am an enthusiast” becomes “I value experiences” which allows more room for nuance, invites growth and begs the question, “. . . and what else do I value?”. . . There is no human who is defined by a single number. [1]

If you have resisted being “pinned down” to any one Enneagram number, perhaps Lubbe’s approach will help you see all of these qualities within yourself. Take a few minutes to read the statements below aloud slowly, pausing for reflection after each one. Notice any sensations in your body. Observe the difference between the impact of “I am” statements versus “I value.” After reading all nine, where do you feel the most energy and resonance? What values are especially meaningful to you? What values do you want to spend more time cultivating?  

Eight: I am a Challenger = I value Autonomy

Nine: I am a Peacemaker = I value Serenity

One: I am a Reformer = I value Justice

Two: I am a Helper = I value Appreciation

Three: I am an Achiever = I value Authenticity

Four: I am an Individualist = I value Creativity

Five: I am an Investigator = I value Clarity

Six: I am a Loyalist = I value Guarantees

Seven: I am an Enthusiast = I value Experiences [2]

References:
[1] Jerome D. Lubbe, Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)holistic Human Thriving (Thrive Neuro: 2019), 4, 23, 32. See also https://www.wholeidentity.com. Artwork by Aimee Strickland; used with permission.

[2] Ibid., 32. Dr. Lubbe’s upcoming book The Brain-Based Enneagram: You are not A number (vol. 1) will share his latest work on whole-brained interpretation of the Enneagram.

For Further Study:
Chris Heuertz, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), podcast—coming March 24, 2020!

Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017)

Richard Rohr and Russ Hudson, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), CD, DVD, MP3 download

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999)

Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013)

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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Enneagram Part One: Body Center

Type One: The Need to Be Perfect
Friday, February 28, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Perfection

Virtue: Serenity

Passion: Anger [1]

This is my own type, so it’s easy for me to talk about it. I just hope I’ve done enough inner work to be able to present a balanced picture!

Ones are idealists, motivated and driven on by longing for a true, just, and moral world. They are honest and fair and can spur others to work and mature and grow. They are often gifted teachers, but they have a hard time accepting imperfections—other people’s and, above all, their own.

Starting back in their early years they internalized the voices that demand: “Be good! Behave yourself! Try hard! Don’t be childish! Do it better!” It is as if they had decided, even then, to earn the love of everyone around them by meeting such expectations and “being good.” Those demanding voices within them never fall silent.

Type One children have renounced the development of their True Selves to please others (in my case, my mother) and earn the love of people who have sent them the signal “You’re okay only when you’re perfect.” Ones have the childhood driven out of them; too soon they have to act like adults.

The search for perfection is the specific temptation of Ones, and it rules their lives. Ones are always frustrated because life and people are not what they should be. Ones are conscious of duty and responsibility and are often compulsively punctual. They are serious people and seldom tell jokes. They allow themselves relaxation and recreation only when they have thoroughly and completely finished their tasks. But that seldom happens because there’s always something or other that could be improved. Above all, Ones are disappointed by their own imperfection.

Because the world is so imperfect, Ones can be resentful. At the same time, they avoid acknowledging the anger that often motivates them. They simply see it as another form of imperfection. They can barely perceive their own resentments (suppressed anger), but others generally recognize their sin much more readily than they do. That’s one reason why they need to be in fellowship with other people.

The special virtue, or fruit of the spirit, that marks mature persons of any type is always the reverse of the root sin or passion. The fruit of the spirit of the One is cheerful tranquility or serenity. I hope I live there now much of the time.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson describe the emergence of Essence in Ones:

Deep down, Ones remember the essential quality of perfection. They know that, at a profound level, the universe is unfolding exactly as it must. (As in Julian of Norwich’s famous dictum, “All will be well. Every manner of thing will be well.”) . . .

Staying with awareness releases a profoundly wise and discerning intelligence that illuminates all that [they] attend to. When Ones, through patient self-acceptance and open-mindedness, are able to relax enough to recognize that this quality is, and always has been, available to them, they become the true instruments of the Divine will that they have longed to be. [2]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 113. Chris defines these terms as follows (see pages 246-248):

Holy Ideas: The unique state of mental well-being, specific to each of the nine types, in which the mind is centered and connected with the True Self.

Virtues: Like the nine fruits of the Spirit [see Galatians 5:22-23] the Virtues are . . . gifts of a centered heart that is present, nonreactive, and at rest in the True Self.

Passions: The inverse of the Virtues are the Passions . . . [which] emerge as the heart indulges the Basic Fear that it will never return to its essence and therefore seeks out coping mechanisms that ultimately compound each type’s state of emotional imbalance.

Watch for Chris’ podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), coming March 24, 2020!

[2] Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 123.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 49, 50, 53, 54.

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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Enneagram Part One: Body Center

Type Nine: The Need for Peace
Thursday, February 27, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Love

Virtue: Action

Passion: Sloth [1]

Unlike the strong and often belligerent Eights with whom they share an Intelligence Center, Nines are natural peacemakers. Their gift of accepting others without prejudice makes people feel understood and accepted. Nines can be unbiased arbitrators because they can see and appreciate the positive aspects of all sides. They have an ability to express harsh truths so calmly and matter-of-factly that it’s much easier for others to hear and accept them. We know they mean us no harm.

The temptation of Nines is to downplay their strengths and even belittle themselves. Because they don’t consider themselves important enough to display their talents in front of other people, they tend to stay in the background and cultivate the self-image of not being anything special. They can enter a room and then leave it without anyone taking notice of them.

In distressing situations, Nines often withdraw. The task of Nines consists in discovering and developing feelings of self-worth and their own inner drive.

The gift of the Nine is, surprisingly, decisive action. At first Nines may hesitate and waver, but when they reach a decision, it happens in a moment of utter clarity. Without further considerations, without revision or the least doubt, they know what they want to do, and no one will be able to stop them.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson explain how Nines reconnect with their Essential nature or True Self:

Ultimately Nines reclaim their Essential nature by confronting their Basic Fear of losing connection and by letting go of the belief that their participation in the world is unimportant—that they do not have to “show up.” They realize that the only way to truly achieve the unity and wholeness they seek is not by “checking out” into the realms of the imagination but by fully engaging themselves in the present moment. Doing so requires that they reconnect with their instinctual nature and with their physicality in an immediate way. Often this requires confronting repressed feelings of anger and rage that can be extremely threatening to their ordinary sense of self. But when Nines stay with themselves and are able to integrate their anger, they begin to feel the stability and steadiness that they have been seeking. . . .

Another Essential quality of the Nine is what Oscar Ichazo called “Holy Love.” . . . The Essential love to which we are referring is a dynamic quality of Being that flows, transforms, and breaks down all barriers before it. It overcomes feelings of separateness and isolation within ego boundaries, issues that plague the Instinctive Triad. This is why real love is frightening—it entails the dissolution of boundaries and the death of the ego. Yet as we learn to surrender to the action of Holy Love, we reconnect with the ocean of Being and realize that at our core, we are this Love. We are this endless, dynamic, transforming Presence of loving awareness, and it has always been so. [2]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 136. Chris defines these terms as follows (see pages 246-248):

Holy Ideas: The unique state of mental well-being, specific to each of the nine types, in which the mind is centered and connected with the True Self.

Virtues: Like the nine fruits of the Spirit [see Galatians 5:22-23] the Virtues are . . . gifts of a centered heart that is present, nonreactive, and at rest in the True Self.

Passions: The inverse of the Virtues are the Passions . . . [which] emerge as the heart indulges the Basic Fear that it will never return to its essence and therefore seeks out coping mechanisms that ultimately compound each type’s state of emotional imbalance.

Watch for Chris’ podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), coming March 24, 2020!

[2] Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 338, 340.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 178, 181-182, 187.

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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Enneagram Part One: Body Center

Type Eight: The Need to Be Against
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
(Ash Wednesday)

Holy Idea: Holy Truth

Virtue: Innocence

Passion: Lust [1]

My friend Chris Heuertz has a type Eight personality. Here’s how he describes Eights in his book, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth:

Eights are a source of strength and determination, an initiating and intimidating force of vitality in the world. . . .

You’ll observe Eights being rude or offensive, trying to get a reaction out of people to see what they’re made of. This behavior is partly due to their Childhood Wound, an acceleration of maturity as a result of conflict or harsh environments where they felt they needed to be strong in order to survive.

The self-survival instinct of Eights informs their Basic Fear of being destroyed—though I think more accurately it is the fear of not being in control. . . .

Eights are intense. Eights hate bullies but are the biggest bullies. Though Eights use their force of personality to try to convince people of their strongly held opinions, they are not so much emotional as they are impassioned. Passionate and forceful, Eights are extremists in the positions they hold, the vocations they’re called to, and the causes they champion.

The traditional passion of the Eight is lust, not necessarily sexual lust but more like a lust for intensity, which is aimed toward everything. . . . Because Eights fear that they will be destroyed, they overdo everything to make themselves feel alive—even overdoing things that are harmful to themselves. This often leads to tremendous pain for themselves and those they love.

Traditionally, the Fixation of the Eight is vengeance, which is first aimed at themselves. No one can be harder on Eights than themselves, and in turn Eights can be extremely hard on others—demanding more than is fair or realistic and making people pay for the ways Eights feel betrayed by them.

They are intimidating and they know it, but it surprises even them because inside they know they are using their strength to protect the vulnerable child within them who never seemed safe enough to grow up. [2]

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson describe the emergence of Essence in the Eight:

When Eights give up their own willfulness, they discover the Divine Will. Instead of trying to have power through the assertion of their egos, they align themselves with Divine Power. . . .

Eights also remember the omnipotence and strength that comes from being a part of the Divine reality. The Divine will is not the same as willfulness. As Eights understand this, they end their war with the world and discover that the solidity, power, and independence that they have been seeking are already here. [3]

Richard again: Because of their passion for justice and truth, healthy Eights often take the side of the weak and defenseless. For the sake of justice, Eights are willing to fight the powers that be with every available weapon, and our world is a better place for it.

References:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 133. Chris defines these terms as follows (see pages 246-248):

Holy Ideas: The unique state of mental well-being, specific to each of the nine types, in which the mind is centered and connected with the True Self.

Virtues: Like the nine fruits of the Spirit [see Galatians 5:22-23] the Virtues are . . . gifts of a centered heart that is present, nonreactive, and at rest in the True Self.

Passions: The inverse of the Virtues are the Passions . . . [which] emerge as the heart indulges the Basic Fear that it will never return to its essence and therefore seeks out coping mechanisms that ultimately compound each type’s state of emotional imbalance.

Watch for Chris’ podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), coming March 24, 2020!

[2] Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram, 134-135.

[3] Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 313.

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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Enneagram Part One: Body Center

The Belly Center
Tuesday, February 25, 2020

My friend Russ Hudson of the Enneagram Institute has spent his life studying and teaching the Enneagram. I will be sharing many of his insights over the next three weeks, because he has such compassion for each Enneagram type, and he helps us have compassion for both ourselves and others. He has a gift for teaching the Enneagram as a tool to help us live in the Presence of God. Today Russ introduces the Body or Gut Center—what he calls Belly—which is home to types Eight, Nine, and One.

The body plays a crucial role in all forms of genuine spiritual work, because bringing awareness back to the body anchors the quality of Presence. The reason is fairly obvious: while our minds and feelings can wander to the past or the future, our body can only exist here and now, in the present moment. This is one of the fundamental reasons why virtually all meaningful spiritual work leads back to the body and becoming more grounded in it. [1]

Being in the Belly has to do with first of all the direct experience of our existence; in spiritual traditions and philosophical traditions [this] is often called “being.” The ability to be. This being is not dull. It’s the sense of being alive, of being connected, of being at one with things. If you’re actually fully here in your body, the spiritual rumors that we’re all one cease being rumors. It’s a little counter-intuitive. We think that if we get inside our body we’re going to be stuck inside this sack of skin. We’ll be cut off from everything. The opposite is true because your body is already connected with the whole sacred reality that God’s expressing right now. . . .

So this whole [Body or Gut] part is teaching us what it means to actually live in the here and now, to feel our existence, and to operate from that, which gives us a sense of confidence, fullness, aliveness, being. In religious language, it’s like you feel held in the Presence of God. And it’s like feeling the solidity of spirit, the fullness, the gutsy vibrancy of presence, spirit, life, right now. To whatever degree we’re not present, we lose that sense. We lose the confidence, we lose the fullness, we lose the sense of existing. [2]

When we lose contact with our Essence, the personality attempts to “fill in” by providing a false sense of autonomy. [3]

Once we’ve got our egos up and running and we have this sense of intactness . . . , we don’t want anyone messing with it. We call the Eight, Nine, and One the “I-don’t-want-to-be-messed-with” types. Show me an ego, and I’ll show you a structure that does not want to be interfered with. [4]

References:
[1] Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 51.

[2] Russ Hudson, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey, disc 3 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), CD, DVD, MP3 download.

[3] Riso and Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 52.

[4] Hudson, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey.

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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Enneagram Part One: Body Center

The Three Intelligence Centers
Monday, February 24, 2020

My dear friend Chris Heuertz has written two books on the Enneagram full of compassionate wisdom and insight. Next month he is also launching a podcast called Enneagram Mapmakers, interviewing esteemed teachers of the Enneagram tradition. [1] It’s fascinating to me how teaching “technologies” have changed since I first learned the Enneagram decades ago. Today so many people can access information through a wide range of media, not just one-on-one guidance.

Today I’m sharing Chris’ Enneagram-based explanation of the three Intelligence Centers, which Cynthia Bourgeault described so well in last week’s meditations on Mind, Body, and Heart. [2] This week we are focusing on the Body’s Intelligence Center, sometimes referred to as the Gut or Instinctual Center.

Many of us don’t know how to hear from God in the present [moment]. . . . But God is here now, closer than our very breath, and can be found in our Intelligence Centers—the Enneagram’s way of helping us recognize our primary mode of perceiving this world through either our head, heart, or body. Each of these Intelligence Centers offers us a different way of experiencing the loving presence and voice of God. . . .

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. . . .

Can we learn to listen to God in our minds, trusting the silence underneath the clutter of noise? Can we learn to trust the voice of God that speaks in our hearts, through feelings of pain and peace? Can we learn to sense God at work in our bodies, speaking to us through our resistances and our openness? . . .

The Intelligence Centers are one of the many triads found within the Enneagram. They include the Body (instinctive or gut) Center, the Heart (feeling or emotion) Center, and the Head (mind, thinking, or rational) Center. People dominant in type Eight, Nine, or One are located in the Body Center; those dominant in type Two, Three, or Four are clustered in the Heart Center; and those dominant in type Five, Six, or Seven are in the Head Center. . . .

Though we all have one dominant Intelligence Center, if we become stuck there without integrating the whole of who we are (including all three Intelligence Centers), then we miss the wholeness that is available to us—the wholeness for which we were originally created. . . . When you are centered in your dominant Intelligence Center, the other two Centers support the dominant one. . . .

Bringing our centers together through the inner work of integration helps us wake up and come home to our True Self. It’s a challenging journey but a worthy one.

References:

[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), podcast. Watch for this new podcast featuring Chris in conversation with other Enneagram teachers starting March 24, 2020!

[2] See the summary of last week’s Daily Meditations on Mind, Body, Heart.

Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 87-88, 89, 90, 91, 101, 103.

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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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.

References:
[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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