Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Enlighten Up - The Enneagram and Spiritual Growth

In the beginning of learning the Enneagram we explore the psychology of personality. We discover that we are a specific Enneagram type or point. We learn who we are and how to expand ourselves from the confinement of our default mode of seeing, believing, acting.

However, when we incorporate the Enneagram as an adjunct to our spiritual practice, we find a paradoxical truth. Your Enneagram type is who you are not! Or more accurately, it describes only a very small part of you. You are so much more than a Seven, Four, etc. More even than the unique attributes that are yours alone. Your personality is like a pair of glasses through which you perceive life, others, even yourself. The glasses have a particular tint depending on your Enneagram type - a Seven tint, a Three tint, a Five tint etc. Mine also contain a Lynette filter - with my unique view of the world. Your glasses have your individual filters as well. These personality “glasses” color who we think we are. But who are we really? Who was I before I formed a “self”? Who were you?

The use of the Enneagram as a map for higher consciousness or spiritual growth is a natural outgrowth of Self-Development work. As we begin to loosen the grip of the habitual personality, and see that it is not all that we are, we wonder “who am I beyond this personality?” Who am I without this protective covering or these filters? We naturally want to make meaning of our existence - what is our place in the scheme of things? What is the meaning of life? How can I find union with the Divine? Whatever our religious leanings or beliefs, the Enneagram map helps us use the personality as a pathway back Home to Essence, God, Goddess, Oneness, Universal Light, Atman, Nirvana, etc.

Enneagram theory espouses that we all came from Essence. In the beginning, each of us contained the potential of all nine points equally within. We were all One. Then we differentiated or had a fall from grace (we took birth.) We lost Essence. We chose one of the nine ways of being in response to this loss. The drive or cardinal tendency became a substitute for a lost quality of Essence. In this way, the personality contains the key to our specific dilemma - the map to our particular way Home to Essence. The keys to the kingdom are within us. Like our own little guidebook to heaven - right inside us.

We’ll explore using the Enneagram for spiritual seeking, growth, and conversion further in the next several blog entries. (Material adapted from The Everyday Enneagram authored by Lynette Sheppard)

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