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Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center:

Summary: Sunday, March 1–Friday, March 6, 2020

Through the lens of the Enneagram we have greater self-knowledge and the ability to let go of what only seems good in order to discover what in us is really good. (Sunday)

Something is clearly working here, and the enneagram of personality movement seems to be manifesting the fruits of conscious inner work in ways that are both personally authentic and statistically significant. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Monday)

Being in touch with the heart tells us the quality of our existence, tells us how we recognize the truth. . . . The heart also is the place where we know who we really are. —Russ Hudson (Tuesday)

Twos are healed and redeemed the more they experience God as the Real Lover and realize that true, selfless love only comes by sharing in God’s love. (Wednesday)

At their healthiest, Threes let go of the belief that their value is dependent on the positive regard of others, thus freeing them to discover their true identity and their own heart’s desire. —Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson (Thursday)

At this [healthy] stage, Fours no longer need to feel different or special, seeing that, indeed, the universe has created only one of them, and that they are part of everything else—not isolated and alone. —Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson (Friday)

 

Practice: The Brain-Based Enneagram

This week’s invitation to contemplative practice is again drawn from Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)holistic Human Thriving, by Living School student Dr. Jerome Lubbe. It is certainly a different way of understanding the Enneagram than I was taught so many years ago, but while the symbol is ancient and perennial, the wisdom is continually evolving, just like we should be.

“What is your number?” is the most frequently asked question in regard to the Enneagram. But in the Brain-Based model, we learn to see ourselves as all nine numbers simultaneously, and to consider our efficiency in each. For example, instead of “I am a One” you might say, “I have high efficiency in One,” and then perhaps, “my Seven nature is strong as well.” That means if you tested as a One you would not “be” a One but instead would have high efficiency” in the nature of One. When that is the case, you can further inquire, “. . . and what is my relationship to the rest of the numbers/natures?” All around the circle, you witness the efficiency or inefficiency with which you utilize each number and paint a more (w)holistic picture of your personal neuropsychology.

Efficiency in a number means there is an ease of relationship with the nature of that number. It means you engage often. Efficiency by definition is, “accomplishing a task with the least amount of allocated resources and energy required.” It is important to understand this is not an indication of health, but of ease of use. Someone who enjoys autonomy is going to have a high efficiency in Eight, but that doesn’t mean they are an Eight. They’re multi-faceted. For instance, perhaps they also value clarity and authenticity, so they’re efficient in Five and Four nature(s) as well. The analysis should be applied to all nine numbers for a more integrated perspective of the whole.

Inefficiency in a number means there is less ease in the relationship with the nature of that number. You don’t often engage. . . . Accomplishing tasks related to inefficient number/natures requires increased allocation of resources and utilizes a significant amount of energy. Imagine the same person who is efficient in Eight struggles to see the value of serenity. . . . They are likely inefficient in Six and Nine. Instead of turning Six and Nine away as irrelevant, they can instead expand their capacity. . . .

Every single person has access to all nine numbers. Based on nature, nurture, and discipline, you express the values of each number at varying degrees of intensity based on your lived experience.

You are not one thing; you are complex and multifaceted; you are interconnected. This is a vital paradigm shift. When you consider having access to all nine numbers simultaneously, you increase and expand your capacity for thriving. [1]

Considering what you know of the Enneagram so far, in what numbers do you experience ease, or in Lubbe’s language, sense “efficiency”? Where do you feel less efficient? As a reminder, here are the values Lubbe identifies (as alternatives to “I am” statements):

Eight: I value Autonomy

Nine: I value Serenity

One: I value Justice

Two: I value Appreciation

Three: I value Creativity

Four: I value Authenticity

Five: I value Clarity

Six: I value Guarantees

Seven: I value Experiences [2]

References:
[1] Jerome D. Lubbe, Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)holistic Human Thriving (Thrive Neuro: 2019), 30-31. Artwork by Aimee Strickland; used with permission.

[2] Ibid., 32. Dr. Lubbe’s upcoming book, available May 26, 2020, The Brain-Based Enneagram: You are not A number (vol. 1) will share his latest work on whole-brained interpretation of the Enneagram. See https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Based-Enneagram-Jerome-Lubbe/dp/173329452X/.

For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity (Shambhala: 2013)

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

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

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: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

Type Four: The Need to Be Special
Friday, March 6, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Origin

Virtue: Equanimity, Emotional Balance

Passion: Envy [1]

Fours once lived serenely as an essential part of a united and beautiful world. But at some point during childhood, the union and beauty were seemingly broken. So, for much of their lives, Fours desperately try to create an outer world of balance and symmetry. They put their gifts to work to awaken a sense of beauty and harmony in their surroundings. They are highly sensitive and almost always artistically gifted. They grasp the moods and feelings of other people and the atmosphere of places and events with uncanny precision.

Fours reject the division of the world into “sacred” and “profane.” They are more at home in the realm of the unconscious, of symbols and dreams, than in the real world. Symbols help them to be with and express themselves.

Like others in the Heart center, Fours draw their vital energy from other people. Their life question is: “What do you think of me? Do you notice me? Do I catch your eye?” Fours strive to be attractive in some way, to be exceptional, or, in some cases, to appear eccentric or exotic. Fours avoid ordinariness. They may panic when expected to look or act like everyone else.

The life of Fours is primarily shaped by longing—for beauty, for love, for something lost. They wish that the world and life would fit together into a harmonic whole. Fours face the temptation to strive frantically for authenticity. Children, nature, and everything that radiates originality awakens in them the longing for the simplicity and naturalness that they lost at some point.

Their root sin or passion is envy. They see immediately who has more style, talent, and original ideas. They constantly compare themselves with others, although not necessarily in a selfish way. This awareness hones their own giftedness.

Fours are better than most types at understanding and guiding people in psychic distress. They are not intimidated by the difficult, complicated, or dark feelings of others, since they themselves have lived through it all. They are perhaps the least scandalized by “sin” in others because they have learned so much from disorder, asymmetry, suffering, and failure.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson write:

In the process of transformation, Fours let go of a particular self-image—that they are more inherently flawed than others, and that they are missing something that others have. They also realize that there is nothing wrong with them; they are as good as anyone else. And if there is nothing wrong with them, then no one needs to rescue them. They are entirely able to show up for themselves and create their own lives. . . . At this stage, Fours no longer need to feel different or special, seeing that, indeed, the universe has created only one of them, and that they are part of everything else—not isolated and alone.

When Fours abide in their true nature, they are one with the ceaseless creativity and transformation that are a part of the dynamics of Essence. [2]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 123. 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’ new podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), will begin March 24, 2020 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), 203, 205.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 98, 100, 101, 102, 108.

Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

Type Three: The Need to Succeed
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Harmony, Holy Law, Holy Hope

Virtue: Truthfulness, Authenticity

Passion: Deceit [1]

The Three is the central type of the heart group, but this does not mean that Threes manage their emotional world very well. On the contrary, Threes have the greatest difficulties of all the Enneagram types in perceiving their own feelings; at the same time, they are really good at detecting the feelings of other people.

Russ Hudson and Don Richard Riso write:

As children, Threes were not valued for themselves—as very few of us were. Instead, they were valued for being and doing certain things extremely well. They learned to get validation of their worth through achievement and performance. But it never really satisfied them because it was a validation not of them but of something they had done or something they tried to become. [2]

Threes draw their life energy from their successes. Threes are show-people, achievers, careerists, and status-seekers. They are more comfortable in their roles than they are with their True Self, which they scarcely know. They can slip into almost any mask and act the part to perfection because the roles they play protect and motivate them. For Threes, life is a competitive struggle and they want to be winners. Most Threes seem optimistic, youthful, intelligent, dynamic, and productive.

A good friend of mine who is a Three has the nickname Mr. Perfect. Everything he touches seems to succeed. This friend says, “When I walk into a room where there are lots of people, I know in fractions of a second how I have to behave, how I have to appear, how I have to talk to be accepted by everybody present. If I leave the room and go one door down, then I can play the same game and be a completely different person.”

The pressure to succeed that Threes are under leads to their root sin, which is untruth or deceit. In order to win, Threes tend to deal generously with the truth. They seldom tell bald-faced lies; rather, they use subtle nuancing, airbrushing out the problematic side of a project or exaggerating its advantages.

Immature or unhealthy Threes first and foremost deceive themselves. As Riso and Hudson explain:

In the headlong rush to achieve whatever they think will make them more valuable, Threes can become so alienated from themselves that they no longer know what they truly want or what their real feelings or interests are. [3]

At their healthiest, Threes let go of the belief that their value is dependent on the positive regard of others, thus freeing them to discover their true identity and their own heart’s desire. . . . They become self-accepting, genuine, [authentic], and benevolent. . . . When Threes are able to perceive their Essential value directly, they become freed from the ego’s relentless pursuit of self-esteem through achievement. This affords them the time and space to live with a greatness of spirit, a life of love, richness, and wonder. [4]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 120. 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’ new podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), will begin March 24, 2020 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), 155.

[3] Ibid., 154.

[4] Ibid., 161, 177.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 81-82, 83, 85, 86.

Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

Type Two: The Need to Be Needed
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 

Holy Idea: Holy Will, Holy Freedom

Virtue: Humility

Passion: Pride [1]

The heart types—Two, Three, and Four—are “other-directed” people whose emotional well-being depends on how their environment reacts to them. The secret goal of their continuous activities is to be acknowledged and affirmed from the outside.

Twos employ their many gifts to meet the needs of others, caring for others’ health, nourishment, education, and welfare. They impart a measure of acceptance and appreciation that can help people believe in their own value. Twos can share generously and will even give their “last shirt” for others. They stand by friends and family when they have to endure suffering, pain, or conflict.

Some Twos recall that early on they had the feeling of having to support the emotional needs of other family members. They felt they had to make themselves useful in order to be noticed and loved.

There may have been a role reversal between parent(s) and child. The child had to “mother” the adults and deny some of their own legitimate needs. The child got the message: “I am loved when I am tender, understanding, ready to be helpful, and defer my own needs.” But in this way the child feels powerful, while grown-ups look weak and needy. This provides fertile soil for the sort of false pride that is the root sin of Twos. They secretly look down on those whom they “serve.”

Like all of us, Twos want to be liked, but they also have an exaggerated desire for external validation. Twos happily spoil and look after other people, even when unasked, but if their “care” becomes burdensome or confining and others distance themselves instead of returning this “love,” the Two feels betrayed and exploited.

The constant and great temptation of Twos is to help others, and in this way they evade themselves and their own needs. When immature Twos are hurt, they can suddenly stop being sweet and pliant and lash out. At such moments they are capable of doing frightful injury to the very person they supposedly love above all. This is the shadow side of the Two’s love that may not be recognized at first glance.

Twos are healed and redeemed the more they experience God as the Real Lover and realize that true, selfless love only comes by sharing in God’s love. This insight leads through a moment of deep shame to genuine humility.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson describe what it’s like for Twos to return to their Essence:

On a very deep level, Twos remember the Essential quality of unconditional love and the omnipresence of love. When they remember their Essential nature and the Divine state that it mirrors, healthy Twos are aware of the presence of love all around them, so there is quite literally nothing they need to get from anyone—and nothing they can give. . . . This love is balanced, pure, and nourishing—it allows the soul to relax on a profound level. [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.

Chris’ new podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), will begin March 24, 2020 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), 150.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 63-65, 67, 72.

Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

The Heart Center
Tuesday, March 3, 2020 

Russ Hudson and I have taught on the Enneagram together on several occasions. As a type Five, his primary Intelligence Center is in his Head, but there is no one whom I trust more than Russ to describe what it means to be in the Heart Center.

What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? . . . We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to . . . the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes . . . what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows. . . the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment.

The heart is the knower of truth. . . . When there is a true moment, when someone’s being authentic and real with you, you know it here in your heart. . . . So being in touch with the heart tells us the quality of our existence, tells us how we recognize the truth. . . .

The heart also is the place where we know who we really are. And knowing who we really are is something wordless. There’s no concept for it. But there is a sense that if you’re actually present with your heart, the magnificent mystery of who you are is just right here. And you know it’s real because it’s true of the other person, too. You are more aware of who you’re with. If I were going to put it in traditional religious language: Anytime I’m here in my heart with another human being, . . . “there I will be also.” It’s true. We can know that directly. . . . [See Matthew 18:20.]

What Twos, Threes and Fours are looking for is attention. If the Body Center is “I don’t want to be messed with,” the Heart Center is “See me the way I want to be seen. See me as I need to see myself.” Psychologically speaking, Two, Three, and Four are looking for mirroring, recognition, validation: “See me and confirm who I want to believe I am.”

When we don’t get the attention and validation, or we get the wrong kind, we have a different emotional reaction. It’s not anger. I’d say . . . it’s shame and hurt.

That deep sense of shame, inadequacy, deficiency, emptiness—like I’m not good enough and I never will be—eats at every ego. The more bravado I see in a person, the more I know that they’re running from this feeling.

How do we cope with that? Well you get three menu choices [the Two, the Three, and the Four]. Three ways to deal with that sense of shame, inadequacy, and hurt inside.

We need to be really kind when we’re looking at this part of ourselves. It takes a lot of patience and gentleness.

Reference:
Adapted from Russ Hudson, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey, disc 4 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), CD, DVD, MP3 download.

Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

Gurdjieff and the Enneagram
Monday, March 2, 2020 

My friend Russ Hudson and his writing partner, the late Don Richard Riso, give some of the history of the Enneagram in their book The Wisdom of the Enneagram:

The person responsible for bringing the Enneagram symbol to the modern world was George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866–1949). . . . The system that Gurdjieff taught was a vast and complex study of psychology, spirituality, and cosmology that aimed at helping students understand their place in the universe and their objective purpose in life. . . . [1]

Gurdjieff taught the Enneagram through a series of sacred dances, explaining that it should be thought of as a living symbol that was moving and dynamic, not as static. [His teaching is called “The Work,” meaning working on oneself.] However, nowhere in the published writings of Gurdjieff and his students did he teach the Enneagram of personality types. The origins of that Enneagram are more recent and are based on two principal modern sources [Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo]. [2]

Russ Hudson spent several years studying Gurdjieff’s “Work,” as did my colleague Cynthia Bourgeault. In her book The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, which draws on the teachings of Gurdjieff to more deeply explore the Trinity, Cynthia writes:

The enneagram of personality has captured the popular imagination, that’s for sure. And you have to admit that there is something brilliant and even damnably strategic in its design. Using that classic ego bait—“let me learn my type, some interesting new thing about me”—it draws people in, only to put in their hands basic tools for self-observation and nonidentification. . . . Progressing enneagram students rapidly develop the capacity to see that they are in fact not their type; it is simply an impersonal, mechanical pattern that plays out within them. [3]

Richard again: The Enneagram helps us realize we are not our personalities; we do not have to act out our habitual patterns. [4] We can more easily say, “That’s not me” and let it go. We created our personalities to help us cope with the suffering we experienced when we lost our connection with our Essence and believed we were separated from our Source, namely God. Cynthia continues to describe the power of an “inner witness”:

A shift in the sense of selfhood begins to occur, so that they reside less and less in their outer personality manifestations and more and more in their inner witnessing presence. Fixation upon the personality begins to wane as the deeper roots of identity emerge. Thus, the teaching has the possibility of moving people to a new level of interior freedom and encourages them to develop precisely those spiritual skills that Gurdjieff himself identified as essential to conscious transformation. . . . Something is clearly working here, and the enneagram of personality movement seems to be manifesting the fruits of conscious inner work in ways that are both personally authentic and statistically significant. [5]

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), 20.

[2] Ibid., 22.

[3] Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity (Shambhala: 2013), 58.

[4] For more on healing addiction, join the online course Breathing Under Water: A Spiritual Study of the Twelve Steps, March 25–May 19, 2020.

[5] Bourgeault, Holy Trinity, 58.

Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson
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Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

A Fair Witness 
Sunday, March 1, 2020

In traditional Christian teaching, Thomas Aquinas and other scholastic philosophers said that people normally do not consciously choose evil, but they choose something that appears good inside of their framework. We have to expose our frame of reference early on if our spiritual journey is to go anywhere. Our egos naturally put together a construct that explains why the things we’re doing are necessary and even good. That is why it is so essential to “discern the spirits” (see 1 Corinthians 12:10). We need support to distance ourselves from our illusions and rationalizations and see them for what they are. To unmask our false or separate self, we need to install a kind of “inner observer” or “fair witness.”

At first that sounds impossible, but after a while it becomes quite natural, especially with the help of a tool like the Enneagram. Our “inner observer” becomes the part of us that’s brutally honest with ourselves—not only in the negative sense but in the positive, too. For example, “You really love God and long for God. You are good. Stop treating yourself so brutally. Have compassion for yourself. You are a child of God.” This helps us to distinguish moralizing from authentic morality, shame from appropriate guilt, false pride from genuine strength. Through the lens of the Enneagram we have greater self-knowledge and the ability to let go of what only seems good in order to discover what in us is really good.

Let me use myself as an example. Type Ones are idealists and perfectionists. They want the world to be perfect. They get irritated—most of the time in secret—because the world isn’t perfect. At the same time, they are geniuses of perception: they see more clearly than others what is out of line. It can be hell for themselves and others to live with this gift. When Ones remain fixated on “perfection,” they become hypercritical nags, people whose presence eventually gets on other people’s nerves. Too much of any good thing usually becomes something bad. This is true of all nine types: any excess turns gifts into curses.

As long as we cling to our prejudices and identify with our preconceived views and feelings, genuine community is impossible. We have to get to the point where we can break free from our feelings and thoughts. Otherwise in the end we won’t have emotions or ideas; they will have us.

Sometimes we meet people who are free from themselves. They express what moves them, and then they take a step back. They play an active part in things, but they don’t think they have a corner on the truth market. Without this kind of “inner work,” of simultaneously putting ourselves forward and taking a step back, community is doomed to failure. Learning this is really hard work. I probably can’t expect it from politicians, but I do expect it from people who know God. It’s the work of detachment, self-emptying, and “fasting” from the need to be right—the disciplines taught by all great religions. This is what makes someone “conscious.”

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 28-29, 30.

Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson
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