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Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Saturday, March 14, 2020
Summary: Sunday, March 8–Friday, March 13, 2020

If taken seriously and used responsibly, the Enneagram is a tool that can help us move from dualistic thinking to nondual consciousness. (Sunday)

[The Enneagram] offers both a portrait of healthy and a portrait of unhealthy for each type, and prompts us to identify honestly where we are functioning on that spectrum. —Christopher Heuertz (Monday)

Just land where you are, open to the stillness [of your mind], and know that what you seek is already here, holding everything you do every step of the way, guiding you, supporting you, in you, around you. You can’t lose it! —Russ Hudson (Tuesday)

The Five’s drive for knowledge and mastery is the personality’s attempt to re-create an Essence quality that we might call clarity or inner knowing. —Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson (Wednesday)

Because of their childhood experience, which was often marked by trauma, Sixes have a deep sense of anxiety. They easily succumb to self-doubt. (Thursday)

[Sevens] are terrified of being stuck with their own pain, so they stay overly active to stave off the inner ache they desperately and frenetically avoid facing. —Christopher Heuertz (Friday)

 

Practice: Optimize Your Language 

Dr. Jerome Lubbe suggests that the names or labels that have been traditionally applied to each of the Enneagram types are not always helpful. In my many years of teaching the Enneagram, I’ve certainly seen people avoid recognizing their dominant type based simply on their aversion to the name (though their resistance often went much deeper than that). Perhaps encouraging the discovery of a more comfortable “label” could allow a more willing exploration of the shadow side. Lubbe offers a helpful practice to support self-knowledge:  

Language is a powerful tool for understanding and connecting new ideas—it isn’t meant to become a barrier to entry. If any word in this process causes distraction or triggers you negatively, choose a more helpful word. We each have experiences—positive, neutral, negative—that shape our language and trigger associations with the words we use. The goal is to craft a relevant vocabulary that encourages engagement, safety, and understanding as you journey through your personal identification with the Brain-Based Enneagram. Here we offer a process for building custom Enneagram Language for optimal growth.

1. Using an online thesaurus, type the nature-word of each number into the search bar.

NATURE WORDS:
Eight – Disrupt
Nine – Peace
One – Reform
Two – Nurture
Three – Achieve
Four – Individuality
Five – Investigate
Six – Loyalty
Seven – Enthusiasm

2. Once you’ve typed the first word, hit search. When the list populates with synonyms, notice how many feel unsafe, and how many feel safe. Click the word that feels safest or most enjoyable to you.

3. When the list populates again, click the word that feels safest or most enjoyable to you.

4. When the list populates again, click the word that feels safest or most enjoyable to you.

5. Review the list. If all or most of the words feel safe and enjoyable to you, you’re done! The word at the top of the page, because it carries positive associations can be integrated or substituted into your personal Enneagram vocabulary instead of (or in addition to) the original “nature” word for this number.

For example, search “Disrupt.”

If the list feels primarily unsafe, select the safest, most enjoyable relevant word. Perhaps “Shake.”

If the list is still largely unsafe, select the safest, most enjoyable relevant word. Perhaps “Move.”

If the list still feels primarily unsafe, select the safest, most enjoyable relevant word. Perhaps “Advance.”

Result “Advance” can stand in place of “Disrupt.” Without changing the nature of the number, you can eliminate trigger words and create language that invites positive engagement.

6. Repeat the Process for each number until you have a lexicon of positive terms. Feel free to use this exercise for any word that stimulates a negative response.

Caveat: Be sure to follow a trail of relevant words. For example, you wouldn’t click “Disrupt>>Shake>>Twitter>>Teehee,” since “Teehee” isn’t likely going to be a helpful substitute for “Disrupt.” Instead, select the safest and most relevant words that are personally relevant to you as well. Identify and select the words that evoke strong positive responses or are connected in a personal way to your lived experience. If necessary, click through the tabs at the top of the list to select the word bank that most closely resembles the nature of the original word.

Reference:

Jerome D. Lubbe, Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)holistic Human Thriving (Thrive Neuro: 2019), 66-68. Artwork by Aimee Strickland; used with permission. Lubbe’s upcoming book, The Brain Based Enneagram: You are not A number, will be released May 26, 2020 and is available for pre-order at https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Based-Enneagram-Jerome-Lubbe/dp/173329452X/.

For Further Study:

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

Christopher L. Heuertz, Enneagram Mapmakers (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), podcast—starting March 24, 2020! Now available for subscription on most podcast platforms.

Russ Hudson and Richard Rohr, 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: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Type Seven: The Need to Avoid Pain
Friday, March 13, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Wisdom, Holy Work, Holy Plan

Virtue: Sobriety

Passion: Gluttony [1]

Sevens have been called the “Peter Pans” of the world, yet many Sevens, including our own Director of the Center for Action and Contemplation, are completely dedicated to the hard work of healing and transforming the world. Their own inner hope and optimism reveal what’s possible and they want to share it with the world. On a soul level they share Julian of Norwich’s vision that “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” [2] CAC faculty member Cynthia Bourgeault resonates with many aspects of the Seven typology, seeing in this type a freedom and fullness of being. [3] Chris Heuertz, author of The Sacred Enneagram, shares a description of the often delightful and complex Sevens.

Sevens, the most energetic of all Enneagram types, are a source of imagination and freedom in the world. Due to their charming and winsome energy, Sevens are often mistaken as feeling types. Because they come across as very heart-forward, they are frequently assumed to be in their hearts, but Sevens are actually rooted in the Head Center.

[Richard here: It can be hard to recognize how Sevens operate out of the Head Center; they are always “doing” and “emoting” positive feelings, but if you scratch beneath the surface, you find a deep-seated fear, present in all the head types.]

Their fundamental need is to avoid pain, so Sevens are perpetually looking for distractions and opportunities to stay as far away as possible from their inner aches. [It largely works for them for much of their life. . . but not always! And that is often their undoing. So they must watch for their gluttonous attitude very carefully.]

The Childhood Wound of a Seven was experienced in relationship to the nurturing energy of their caregiver; they felt frustrated because they weren’t nurtured enough, always needing more. And so Sevens take on a self-nurturing posture as a means of coping with their residual pain and frustration.

The Basic Fear of the Seven is of dispossession and deprivation. Scarcity of options and opportunity creates tremendous anxiety for Sevens. They are terrified of being stuck with their own pain, so they stay overly active to stave off the inner ache they desperately and frenetically avoid facing. . . .

The traditional Passion of the Seven is gluttony . . . their determination to overdo everything that brings them gratification—feasting on options and opportunities until they are overwhelmed by their indulgences and sickened by their excessive addiction to pleasure [that sometimes appears as fun, travel, and distraction].

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson write about how Essence emerges in Sevens:

Sevens realize on the most profound level of their consciousness that life really is a gift. One of the big lessons that the Seven offers is that there is nothing wrong with life, nothing wrong with the material world. It is the gift of the Creator. If we were not to take anything for granted, we would be flooded with joy and gratitude all the time. [4]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 131. 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.

Chris’ upcoming podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), begins March 24, 2020 and is available for subscription on most podcast platforms!

[2] Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, chapters 1 and 27 (Long Text), trans. Elizabeth Spearing (Penguin Classics: 1998), 41, 79.

[3] See Cynthia Bourgeault, Love Is the Answer. What Is the Question? (Northeast Wisdom: 2018), 145-154. See also Cynthia Bourgeault, “Which Enneagram Type Is Cynthia?” https://www.contemplative.org/enneagram-cynthia/.

[4] 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), 286.

Adapted from Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 131-132.

Image credit: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Type Six: The Need for Security
Thursday, March 12, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Strength, Holy Faith

Virtue: Courage

Passion: Fear [1]

People who are predominantly type Six have tremendous gifts: they are cooperative, team players, reliable, and loyal. In relationships, one can count on their fidelity. Their friendships are marked by warmhearted and deep feelings. They do their utmost—give body and soul—for the people they love. They are often highly original and witty with a dry sense of humor. Sometimes it takes those around them a moment to catch on to the joke!

Because of their childhood experience, which was often marked by trauma, Sixes have a deep sense of anxiety. They continually sense danger, which makes them fearful and mistrustful. They easily succumb to self-doubt. While most of us experience the aftereffects of a stressful or traumatic event, Sixes feel that kind of anxiety on an almost daily basis. It isn’t the event that has already happened, but the one that could happen at any time that keeps them in a state of high alert.

The lack of genuine self-confidence leads Sixes to look around for authority figures and structures that offer them the security and certainty they crave. At their worst, Sixes can become authoritarians, people who want truth in totalitarian, self-righteous fashion and are loyal to a fault, making choices that are not aligned with their deepest values or wisdom. They often give themselves dangerously to strongmen, hierarchical figures, and absolutely certain groups (fundamentalists) to take away their anxiety.

Sixes used to be categorized into two types: phobic and contraphobic—those who obeyed their fear and those who rebelled against it by taking great risks. But it appears that most Sixes are a combination of both, “playing it safe” or facing their fear head on, depending on the situation. This makes perfect sense according to this description of Sixes from Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson:

No matter what we say about Sixes, the opposite is often also as true. They are both strong and weak, fearful and courageous, trusting and distrusting, defenders and provokers, . . . aggressive and passive, bullies and weaklings, . . . thinkers and doers, group people and soloists, believers and doubters, cooperative and obstructionistic, . . . —and on and on. It is the contradictory picture that is the characteristic “fingerprint” of Sixes, the fact that they are a bundle of opposites. [2]

Riso and Hudson write this about the emergence of Essence in Sixes:

When their minds become quiet, Sixes experience an inner spaciousness that is the Ground of Being. They realize that Essence is real and is not simply an idea; in fact, it is the thing that is most real in existence, the very foundation of existence itself. People have associated this inner peace with the presence of God, which is manifesting itself at every moment, and which is available at every moment. When Sixes experience this truth, they feel solid, steady, and supported. . . . They realize that this ground is the only real security in life, and it is what gives Sixes immense courage.

This is the real meaning of faith, their particular Essential quality. Faith is not belief, but a real, immediate knowing that comes from experience. . . . Faith with experience brings reliable guidance. [3]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 128. 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.

Chris’ upcoming podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), begins March 24, 2020 and is available for subscription on most podcast platforms!

[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), 236.

[3] Ibid., 259.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 131, 132.

Image credit: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Type Five: The Need to Perceive
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Omniscience, Holy Transparency

Virtue: Detachment

Passion: Avarice [1]

Fives are discoverers of new ideas, researchers and inventors; they are objective, questioning, and interested in exploring things in detail. They can be provocative, surprising, unorthodox, and profound. Fives may naturally possess strong contemplative gifts. Fives who are doing their inner work connect their knowledge to a search for wisdom and a sympathetic knowledge of the heart. They have a quiet inner power and are tenderly emotional, loving, polite, hospitable, and gentle.

From their earliest days, the primary experience of many Fives is a sort of emptiness. They go through life and gather what they can get in the hope of filling up their inner vacuum with thoughts, ideas, knowledge, silence, and space.

Fives try not to be drawn into the whirlpool of feelings and events that are a fact of life. It’s important to them to maintain calm—at least externally—and to keep their emotions under control. In reality, most Fives have an intense emotional life. But at the moment something happens it’s as if their feelings are blocked. Fives register it with their eyes, ears, and brain; and they can stand alongside the event with seeming objectivity. Once they are alone, they can begin to evaluate it. Using their head, feelings are ordered and “brought into line.” That’s the method by which Fives gradually get in touch with their emotions. Someone has aptly said that the symbolic plant of Fives is green lettuce, which has its heart in its head.

Fives can be outstanding counselors. They seem to have an unlimited capacity to listen and absorb everything when listening to others. Their ability to withdraw themselves emotionally in the process can help those seeking advice appraise their situation more clearly, soberly, and realistically.

In the early stages, Fives think they can secure their lives by being informed about everything in as much detail as possible. Fives will always need yet another course, another seminar, another semester, another book, another silent retreat. But eventually they realize that the information they pick up from the outside world will never be sufficient.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson write about the emergence of Essence in the Five:

The Five’s drive for knowledge and mastery is the personality’s attempt to re-create an Essence quality that we might call clarity or inner knowing. With clarity comes the Essential quality of nonattachment, which is not emotional repression or detachment but the lack of identification with any particular point of view. Fives understand that any position or idea is useful only in a very limited set of circumstances, perhaps only in the unique set of circumstances in which it arose. Inner guidance allows them to flow from one way of seeing things to another without getting fixated on any of them. [2]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 125. 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.

Chris’ upcoming podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), begins March 24, 2020 and is available for subscription on most podcast platforms!

[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), 231.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 115-116, 121, 124.

Image credit: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

The Head Center
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

My friend and Enneagram teacher Russ Hudson describes the Head Center, the final Intelligence Center of the Enneagram, in his own unique and “heady” way:

Some of the Eastern religions, particularly Buddhism, did a very thorough investigation of the nature of the Head Center. That’s one of the reasons I think Thomas Merton was drawn to studying certain things about Buddhist practice. What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. . . .

There is this process of opening to this stillness, the vast freedom, peace, clarity of the soul, of spirit. . . . You could see your thoughts are happening. [But] what surrounds them and is inside them is this tremendous peace and stillness. And . . . this stillness is not inactive. . . . The stillness . . . brings the sense of knowing, of recognition, of clarity and wisdom. Don [Riso] and I have called it the sense of guidance, where you’re kind of clear it’s not you thinking exactly. It’s like a spontaneous recognition of truth/reality that just comes. You don’t have to plan it. It’s like you just relax and suddenly. . . . Pow. There it is. It’s right in your mind. [1]

Fives, Sixes, and Sevens cannot get their minds to simmer down. This is a problem because the quiet mind allows us to feel profoundly supported: inner knowing and guidance arise from the quiet mind and give us confidence to act in the world. [2]

When you know this Presence directly, you experience it as the ground of everything and especially the ground of you. And when you know that, you know that what you are is just an expression of that, and the core of what you are cannot be harmed or taken away. . . . That presence is the Divine Presence. And it’s not a rumor! It’s not something you have to believe in. . . .

Just land where you are, open to the stillness, and know that what you seek is already here, holding everything you do every step of the way, guiding you, supporting you, in you, around you. You can’t lose it! And it is never failing you.

[The Five, Six, and Seven] in essence are trying to get back to or find this sense of ground, direction, and guidance. That’s what we’re looking for in this triad.

[The Body types] were the “I don’t want to be messed with” types. [The] Heart types were the “See me the way I want to be seen types.” [The Head types] are the “What can I trust?” types. In other words, I’m looking for something to be that orientation, ground, and guidance, which is utterly trustworthy. [3] None of us are the whole Body of Christ, but we each offer part of the Great Gift of God.

References:
[1] Russ Hudson, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey, disc 5 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009) CD, DVD, MP3 download.

[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), 58.

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

Image credit: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

A Dynamic Symbol
Monday, March 9, 2020

One of the most confusing aspects of the Enneagram can be the nine lines and “arrows” that seem to crisscross the Enneagram symbol but are the basis of its foundation and wisdom. In The Sacred Enneagram, Chris Heuertz explains what these lines mean:

One fundamental component of understanding [Enneagram] type involves the lines [and arrows] within the Enneagram’s symbol. These crisscrossing lines show us the movement of our type when operating in a healthy or unhealthy state.

There are several schools of thought about the traversing of lines inside the Enneagram, each with diverging philosophies regarding their implications. For instance, the Enneagram Institute refers to the lines as the directions of integration and disintegration; the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition refers to them as our Security Types and Stress Types; the Chilean grandfather of the modern Enneagram, Claudio Naranjo, used the language Heart Points and Stress Points; and H. A. Almaas originated the notion of the Soul Child, which Father Richard [Rohr] and Sandra Maitri continued to develop. [1]

These are all different ways of describing the dynamic of each type as it presses into growth or reverts to patterns of self-sabotage. This is where we encounter the uniqueness of the Enneagram as a character-structure construct: it offers both a portrait of healthy and a portrait of unhealthy for each type, and prompts us to identify honestly where we are functioning on that spectrum. This might vary from day to day or even hour to hour, but the gift presented to us is greater awareness that leads to psychological and spiritual growth. . . .

Integration or security allows our dominant type to borrow the positive traits of another type. For example, a healthy person dominant in type One integrates or borrows some of the positive traits of type Seven by relaxing their inner drive for perfection and allowing themselves to become a little playful and spontaneous. . . .

When they lose themselves . . . Ones disintegrate toward the Four . . . [and] believe their own lie that they alone are the only ones who understand and value excellence—that no one else has the capacity to grasp what is required for goodness to be actualized in the world.

A newer theory that I happen to agree with is that our path of disintegration is that innate self-survival reflex that stops our fall by reaching out to the lower-level manipulation techniques of another type as a way of getting our attention—letting us know we are falling and if we don’t catch ourselves we’ll “break our arm” or worse.

While it is helpful to see the full picture of the type from which we borrow in health, the key for all of us is to focus on health and growth in our [own] dominant type. To recognize ourselves in integration requires that we accept the best of ourselves in our dominant type. . . .

Giving ourselves to this path requires a disciplined cultivation of spiritual depth accessible only through faithful contemplative practice that brings us into the transforming presence of a loving God.

Reference:
[1] See previous Daily Meditations on the Enneagram from the perspective of the Soul Child: https://cac.org/enneagram-week-1-summary-2016-04-30/ and https://cac.org/enneagram-week-2-summary-2016-05-07/.

Adapted from Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 65-68, 69, 116, 157.

Image credit: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Two Sides of the Coin
Sunday, March 8, 2020

If taken seriously and used responsibly, the Enneagram is a tool that can help us move from dualistic thinking to nondual consciousness. It helps us recognize and forgive the paradoxes that we all carry, what we might call our “sins.” The Enneagram shows us how we continually do things we don’t want to do (our fixations, passions, and patterns) and can’t quite seem to do the things we want (see Romans 7:15-20).

But the Enneagram also insists that our virtue and our passion are two sides of one coin. The way to find our unique gift is often through our flaws. And the way to discover our flaws is often through our gift. Who would have thought?

Eventually we have to admit that our mistakes and failures (our “sins”) are our greatest teachers. The Enneagram taught me that like nothing else in my life. It taught me that I’m a living paradox. For the first half of my life, even with my theological training and maybe even because of it, I largely denied that split or avoided it by confessing my sins too quickly—making them something “out there” I could get rid of instead of something “in here” from which I could learn.

Most Christians were trained to think that we would be punished for our sins, but I’ve come to believe we are punished by our sins. The Enneagram helps me to recognize the punishment I’m inflicting on myself when I remain unconscious of the fears and judgments that drive my behavior. When I am not in honest relationship and present to my whole self, I am much further away from the Divine Presence who forgives everything.

The work of spirituality is to make our presence to Presence possible by keeping the heart space open (through love), the mind space right (through contemplation), and the body resting in the present moment. Those who are alert and awake in all these three centers of Intelligence at once can experience Presence. The Enneagram points out nine particular ways we avoid being present in the moment.

If we deny or eliminate the mysterious, problematic, negative, or wounded parts of ourselves or pretend they’re not there, I don’t think we can relate to God very well, because we will also deny and hide from the mysterious and vulnerable nature of God.

For me, the Enneagram is about as good a tool as I can find to reveal that we are living contradictions and we always will be. Don’t try to overcome your contradictions! Learn from them. Amazingly, that is what makes us compassionate, merciful, forgiving, sensitive, open-hearted, bridge-building people.

It’s all about love. It’s not about moral achievements. The goal of the entire spiritual journey is union in love. And love is not achieved by any performance principle, but it is something we “fall into” when we are not in full control.

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey, disc 7 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009) CD, DVD, MP3 download.

Image credit: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
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