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.


Tess said...

This is a very interesting aspect of Enneagram work that I haven't come across before. I shall have to think what my own elements of greed and generosity are and how they manifest (I'm a Three).

Do you know if any of the sessions at the gathering were video'd?

Lynette Sheppard said...

Hi Tess,
Thanks for writing.
They were not videotaped but they were audiotaped by Conference Recording Service Inc in Berkeley. Their website is and the 2 CD's for this session are IEA 29-323. I think you can still order them.

I'm still musing about this question of greed v generosity - I think it will be the subject of the next blog entry. Stay tuned - let me know your thoughts as a Three - my husband is a Three and finds this a very interesting inquiry as well.