What you may not know is that the Enneagram came from the trickster-
ish spiritual teacher G. I. Gurdjieff, whom I talked about in the previous post. In the book that post discusses, Gurdjieff is quoted as saying this about the Enneagram:
Speaking inSome claim, eh? But the more I reflect on the Enneagram and Gurdjieff's teachings in that book, the more I understand what he means. To explain these thoughts of mine, it's necessary to point out that the Enneagram wasn't originally intended as a system for personality "types." The Enneagram definitely deals with personality dynamics, but in all reality, I'm not just a "9," a "6," or a "5" but perhaps all at once! This goes with Gurdjieff's teaching that each one of us is actually a multitude of "I's," from which one dominates at one moment and another at the next. But given this caveat, and knowing that the Enneagram deals with dynamics among these "I's," we can learn a lot about the nature of psychology, personality, and even spiritual growth.
general itmust be understood that the enneagramis a universal symbol. All knowledge can be included in the enneagramand with the help of the enneagramit can be interpreted ...For the man who is able to make use of it, the ennegarammakes books and libraries entirely unnecessary. Everything can be included and read in the A man may be quite alone in the desert and he can trace the enneagram. enneagramin the sand and in it read the eternal laws of the universe. And every time he can learn something new, something he did not know before.
The Godhead's DanceThe first thing I'll point out is that the Enneagram helped me understand the nature of Mormon doctrine. If we keep in mind that what's important in the Enneagram isn't the positions along the side of the circle but the lines that connect them (i.e.
- 9: Peace, stability
- 3: Achievement
- 6: Finitude
This is just a provisional definition, obviously. But if we keep it for the moment, we can relate it to another of Gurdjieff's teachings; the "law of three." He explains it like this:
The teaching ofGurdjieff never explains things with too much clarity (which is his genius), so I'll make some leaps when making my argument here. Notice that the each point in the Enneagram has two lines leading away from it to other points. In my mind, those lines connect that point to two other points with which they form those three forces. For instance with number 5 (which we can think of as "heady intellectualism"), the active force would be number 8 (basically "embodiment" and "power") and the passive force would be 7 ("stimulation" or the aimless search for it), whereas the neutralizing force would be 5 itself. In other words, 7's aimlessness becomes 8's force through the "medium" or "context," of 5. When you're a "5," then (or are "acting from" an "I" that's a 5), you can think of your life in that state as a drive or will to go from aimlessness to power, something which your regular state of being embodies
three forcesis at the root of all ancient systems. The first force may be called the active or positive; the second, positive or negative; the thrid, neutralizing. But these are merely names, for in reality all three forces are equally active and appear as active, passive, or neutralizing, only at their meeting points, that is to say, only in relation to one another at a given moment.
Going back to 9, 3, and 6, it relates to the Mormon doctrine in much the same way. 9's peacefulness becomes fully expressed in the movement from 6's
This has interesting consequences. First of all, if the ideas I had about the movement of the two "legs" expressing a movement from passive to active, it means that each point of the triangle, when regarded from its position at the "tail end" of a line, is insufficient. That is, 9 is
Moreover, if we keep in mind that 8, 9, and 1 correspond to the instincts or the "body," 2, 3, and 4
Likewise, the members of the Godhead correspond to these three legs. The Father is the "loving" movement from primordial perfection toward creation or from 9 to 3. The Son is
Other ApplicationsYou may have noticed that I've ignored 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8. This is true, but they work in the same way. Each number is the locus of a movement from a "lower" state and to a "higher" state. I use quotation marks because the process is cyclical - notice that the complex shape between those six numbers actually loops around if you follow the lines. So I'd provisionally point out the following processes as a cycle of "healthy movement" in everyday life:
- 5 goes to 8: An overly intellectual mindset of 8 completes itself by becoming embodied or "out of one's head" in 8.
- 8 goes to 2: The over-the-top roughness and toughness of 8 is softened by going to the altruism of 2.
- 2 goes to 4: The altruistic-to-a-fault 2 becomes more of an individual by remembering their own needs in 4.
- 4 goes to 1: The 4, convinced of their
uniqueness buttherefore somewhat narcissistic, becomes more realistic by accepting the objectivity of 1.
- 1 goes to 7: The overly serious 1 "loosens up" by entering the spontaneity of 7.
- 7 goes to 5: The impulsive and somewhat manic 7 slows down and gets more focused by going into 5's intellectual focus.
These are the healthy movements. So, if you find yourself in an overly mental, obsessive state (5), the right choice would be to go to 8 and become more embodied, gutsy, and forceful. In other words, get over your hesitation; don't keep researching; get out and be in the world. The wrong movement would be to go to 7 and become more impulsive and pleasure-seeking. The problem is that the "right" movement goes against the grain; you need to push yourself to go there. But what a reward when you do! As someone who spends a lot of time in "5," I can attest to the pure, visceral ecstasy of being gutsy, powerful, and in-the-world. By comparison, it trumps my impulse to give up my obsessive research by disintegrating into impulsive spontaneity and mania. Et cetera, et cetera.
I could talk a lot more about this, but I think that's enough for one post. I trust that you see the Enneagram's potential. It is a representation of the world in miniature, and the forces and movements in the world are there for everyone to see in it. So I'd encourage you to meditate on it and come up with conclusions of your own. As Gurjieff implied, its potential is inexhaustible.