Saturday, August 29, 2009

Greed vs Generosity - Enneagram Inquiry II

Ever since the IEA (International Enneagram Association) meeting in Las Vegas, I’ve been pondering greed vs generosity. David Daniels, Russ Hudson, and Jessica Dibb presented a thought-provoking and heartfelt inquiry into the subject. (See blog entry dated August 6, 2009.)

And I kid you not, I was lost in thought about personal manifestations of greed when I saw this license plate in front of me. 14U24ME. Stunned, I took several photos through the windshield while driving with my other hand.

Now, I’m not pointing fingers at whoever has this license plate; for all I know it’s a family joke or some other such innocuous sentiment. That’s not the point. The point is that greed is so pervasive that we may not even notice its effect on and in our lives.

Greed. We don’t dispute its existence. We believe there is greed in the world and that it globally corrosive. Still it’s always “out there”- somewhere else - objectified. And maybe that is part of the problem.

Wall Street is greedy. The banks are greedy. Shareholders are greedy. Corporations are greedy. Oil companies, big business, developers. These “things” and faceless groups are greedy.

Distancing ourselves in this manner effectively keeps us from examining the roles greed plays in our own lives. And until we become aware of greed working within each of us, there will be no shifts in consciousness on a more global scale.

Through dyad exercises and a panel of all the types, the IEA presentation illuminated the different faces of personal greed vis a vis each of the nine Enneagram styles. David, Russ, and Jessica allowed us to discover the nuances of greed within ourselves. I’ll use myself and one of my personal greed permutations as an example.

When I’m in my Fiveish space, the Security Point for Seven, I might feel very proud of the fact that I don’t need more stuff or to go shopping. But in fact, my greed may show up very differently - in guarding my private time to the exclusion of loved ones, of withholding time and my presence.

How do I know if this is a product of normal healthy boundary setting or greed? By observing. By activating my inner observer, I can discern the difference. There is a grasping quality, even a desperation to greed. The energetic sense is quite different.

If I’m simply in need of a little time, the energy around that sensed desire feels calm, centered, quiet. I sense no body tightening or strictures and can give myself just enough time for self-care. No more, no less.

Driven by greed, I feel myself pull inside and tighten around my perceived need. I hold myself armored against intrusion. It feels like I might lose something. Energy or time or some ineffable something might be taken from me.

Watching greed within myself, without judgment, simply noticing, allows the relaxation of the stricture. I breathe into the here and now, rather than fearing the future intrusion that may never materialize. I can be present fully to myself and others.

The conversation is only beginning on this critical topic. Think about and/or comment on these questions. How does personal greed appear in your life? How is it related to your Enneagram type? How do you work with greed? And how does generosity play out in your life? Let us know your thoughts, feelings, sensations on the subjects of greed and generosity.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Greed vs Generosity - An Enneagram Inquiry

David Daniels, Russ Hudson, and Jessica Dibb conducted an important and meaningful session at the IEA (International Enneagram Association) gathering entitled “From Personal Greed to Essential Generosity: The Journey through the Shadow of
Inner Emptiness”.

A didactic intro to greed by David Daniels addressed a biological basis for greed in all mammals. Scarcity, real and imagined, can trigger greed as a survival mechanism. So there’s no blame here - but awareness might help us take a deeper look at greed within each of us.

Further, in the bigger picture, how is greed affecting us on a planetary scale? With so much “plenty” in the first world, how are we succumbing to an inner emptiness, a scarcity that cannot be remedied?

Jessica led a meditation where we were invited to look at greed in our own lives, and how it played out. We also journeyed to connect with our generosity; the ways in which we are open and giving rather than constricted and grasping. Most important was to notice these states without judging.

We broke into dyads and did an exercise of alternating listener and questioner, examining greed and generosity with the lens of our Enneagram types. Essential generosity was a necessary part of the inquiry.

David and Russ then led a panel of each of the nine types. The exemplars revealed their experiences vis a vis their type with greed, generosity, and Essential Generosity. Over and over, regardless of type, greed was experienced as constricting while generosity felt spacious. Noticing body sensations can be a helpful adjunct to the inner observer in illuminating greed vs. generosity.

The inquiry into greed and generosity is critical at this time. Our resources are finite, the world population is growing, and the earth is warming.

As the spiritual texts and teachers say “As Above, So Below”. Addressing personal greed, cultivating awareness of our fullness rather than emptiness, and allowing Essential Generosity to shine through may indeed be some of the most important work we undertake. Ever. Let’s begin a conversation with ourselves and one another to illuminate the shadow of greed right now.