Monday, July 10, 2017

Wild Goose Festival 2017

Enneagram Convergence + Wild Goose Festival 2017


The Enneagram has several levels.  The one most people access is that of a personality typing system useful for self-knowledge and interpersonal relationships.  At this level, knowledge of your Type leads to more compassion for yourself and others.

I am going to address another level in which the Enneagram is a tool for spiritual growth.  It gives us a way to move from the small self of our ego and personality, to the larger Self of our deeper Essence.  I am going to present this from a Christian perspective; but one of the benefits of the Enneagram is that it does give us a way to speak to those who are “spiritual but not religious.”  

No matter what you do with the Enneagram in terms of personal or spiritual development, you have to know your Type.  There are numerous tests out there that can help you identify your Type.  Some people find it harder than others to settle on a Type.  Often you need the help of an experienced counselor.

Handout: Enneagram Tests 

The Enneagram has four elements:

a. a circle indicating the connectedness and wholeness of all the Types.
b. nine points on the circle, each indicating a Type.
c. interior lines.
(1) a triangle connecting the three centers.
(2) a hexad, connecting the other six types, two per center.
d. an open space in the middle

I. Two Selves.

Thomas Merton writes:

“The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our false self.”


“There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God.  If I find Him I will find myself, and if I find my true self I will find Him.”

Richard Rohr elaborates on this:

“The main purpose of religion is to lead you to an experience of your True Self, who you are in God and who God is in you.” 

The basis for the Enneagram as a spiritual path is the premise that everyone has these two different “selves,” a false one and a true one.  

The false self, which is also called the Adapted Self, is the ego-centric, personality-driven identity we develop for ourselves when we are very young, and which we automatically identify with the only self we have.  

But we all have as well, deep within us, a True Self, the Authentic Self, which is our God-given Essence, our true nature, of which we are normally barely conscious.  This is the Image of God in us, our own place of I Am.

The New Testament expresses this by also talking about two different “selves:”

old new
flesh spirit
enslaved to sin alive to God
under the Law under grace
trusting in ourselves trusting in God

The spiritual life is a movement from existing unconsciously under one self, to awakening to and living consciously within our other Self.

This process is called metanoia, a Greek word meaning having a new mind or a different way of thinking, translating the Hebrew word shuv which means turning around or “doing a 180”.  The word for both in English is repentance, and means coming to have a new way of thinking and acting.

II. The Adapted Self.

The Adapted Self is characterized by self-centeredness, self-reliance, self-protection, self-righteousness, self-aggrandizement, self-assurance, and almost any other word beginning with the prefix “self-”.  It is selfishness, based on an assumption of our separation from the world, resulting in a sense of vulnerability, and primal Basic Fear.  The world appears to be hostile or indifferent, and we need to develop stories and strategies to get what we need.  There is a loss of connection which happens at birth. It leads the person to start forming defense mechanisms and modes of approach to the world.  One image for this is the development of a “seed coat” to protect the seed.  We then habitually mistake the seed coat for the seed within.

The Adapted Self is the constructed self we think is our only self, dominated by personality.  The Enneagram helps us to see ourselves from a different perspective, opening us to the possibility that the self we know is really broken and inadequate, and finally false and destructive.  We are not our personality.

It is the Adapted Self that Jesus is talking about in Luke 9:23 and other places, when he says we must disown our “selves,” take up our cross, and follow him.  It is the same when he talks about losing our life in order to save it.  He means we must set aside and release the Adapted Self, and begin to live instead according to the values and practices of the True Self, the Authentic Self, which he embodies. 

The nature of each person’s Adapted Self is revealed in the specific “passion” or “deadly sin” of each of the nine Enneagram Types.  

It’s like each person has these nine facets, but one of them is more troubled than the others.  Dealing with that facet becomes the preoccupation determining how we view the world.  Our passion is the result of blockage and obstruction of one particular facet of ourselves.

In our experience, however, our passion is simply the strategy we develop in order to cope with existence in a world perceived as threatening and dangerous.  The personality based on it is viewed as natural and necessary.  We not even conscious of it.   

The passion of our Type determines our whole personality structure, revealing the nature of our Adapted Self.  The passion is the main coping/defense mechanism around which the Adapted Self is constructed.  Therefore it also gives us the key to unlocking each person’s Authentic Self.  Fixing, cleansing, restoring, or healing this facet, enables the light to flow into all the rest of us.

III. The “Passions.”

The three centers of the human being according to the Enneagram are:

Gut Center - Instinct
Heart Center - Feeling
Head Center - Thinking

There are three Types associated with each center.

Gut: 8, 9, 1.
Heart: 2, 3, 4.
Head: 5, 6, 7.

Each center is dominated by a particular mode of distortion.

Gut: Anger  “This isn’t what I signed up for!”
Heart: Shame  “I am not enough!”
Head: Fear  “If I mess up I’m dead!”

Each Type within each center deals with that distortion in a different way.  It either expresses, denies, or represses it.

Nine ways of missing the mark.  Hamartia.

For the Gut/Instinctive Center, the Types are:

Type 8 (The Challenger) fear harm expresses anger         Lust
They preemptively grab what they want when they want it.
Type 9 (The Peacemaker) fear conflict denies anger Sloth
Their attitude of “anger?  What anger?” paralyzes them into inactivity.
Type 1 (The Reformer) fear being bad represses anger             Resentment
The energy required to hold their anger in makes them resentful.
  • Instinctive Center Exercise: Repeated Question: “What is your relationship with strength?”
  • Chant: “Ram.”

For the Heart/Feeling Center, the Types are:

Type 2 (The Helper) fear inadequacy represses shame Pride
Hoping to earn love, they stifle their own inadequacies into solicitude.
Type 3 (The Achiever) fear worthlessness   denies shame Deceit
They convince themselves they have everything they need, and set out to convince            others.
Type 4 (The Individualist) fear being nobody  expresses shame   Envy
They flaunt their special neediness to attract attention and support.
  • Feeling Center Exercise: Repeated Question: “What do you need to do to be loved?”
  • Chant: “Om.”

For the Head/Thinking Center, the Types are:

Type 5 (The Investigator) fear incompetence     expresses fear Avarice/Greed
They collect and hoard to build a protective wall against circumstance.
Type 6 (The Loyalist) fear being unsupported  represses fear Anxiety
Knowing it’s all coming apart, they attach to something reliable.
Type 7 (The Enthusiast) fear deprivation denies fear Gluttony
Pretending they have no fear, they consume experience with abandon.
  • Thinking Center Exercise:  Repeated Question: “What do you need to know?”
  • Chant: “Hu.”
We are not punished for our sin; 
we are punished by our sin.

IV. The Emerging Authentic Self.

The Enneagram teaches what we need to let go of in order to realize our Authentic Selves.  Our Essence, or Authentic Self, is already inside us; we just have to stop blocking it.  

The key to healing in the Enneagram is turning the passion inside-out so that it emerges in terms of a Holy Idea, which is the blessing of each Type.  This happens by means of spiritual practice:

  1. Becoming present, conscious, awake, and self-aware.  Through meditation and self-reflection, and other spiritual practices and disciplines.
Centering on the body, sensation, breath, heartbeat; grounding.

  1. seeing your own personality in action and differentiating yourself from it; catching yourself in-the-act of reacting according to your passion; observing when you are falling into unhealthy ways of thinking and acting. 

  1. not acting on impulse (the expressing/denying/repressing of fear, shame, or anger), but choosing to act in a way distinct from your passion and in harmony with a larger vision.  

Fruitful spiritual practices:

  • Grounded in the body
  • Opening the heart: conscious of our own and others’ pain; letting go of the past, forgiveness.
  • Quieting the mind: conscious of inner chatter; suspending opinions and judgment.

Choosing a practice:

  • Does it assist us to become more mindful, awake, and open?  Or does it just confirm our illusions?
  • Does it support us in exploring some of the uncomfortable aspects and limitations of our personality?  Or does it tell us what we want to hear?
  • Does the practice encourage us to think for ourselves?  Or give us ready-made answers?

We release our passion by confronting the Basic Fear on which it is based:

3 Release deceit, confront worthlessness, emerge with honesty.
(And commit to others like a healthy 6.)                                           Authentic person!
6 Release anxiety, confront being unsupported, emerge with serenity.
(And the stability of a healthy 9.)                                                          Valiant hero!
9 Release timidity and paralysis, confront conflict, emerge with courage.
(And the sense of personal value of a healthy 3.)                           Self-possessed guide!
5 Release avarice/hoarding, confront incompetence, emerge with generosity.  
(And confidence of a healthy 8.)                                                          Pioneering visionary!
8 Release lust, confront harm, emerge with open-heartedness.  
(And compassion of a healthy 2.)                                                          Magnanimous heart!
2 Release self-centered pride, confront inadequacy, emerge with humility. 
(And self-expressive like a healthy 4.)                                       Disinterested altruist!
4 Release envy, to emerge with contentment.
(And become actively engaged like a healthy 1.)                                  Inspired creator!
1 Release resentment, to emerge with gratitude.  
(And play like a healthy 7.)                                                                                    Wise soul!
7 Release insatiability, to emerge with patience. 
  (And the thoughtfulness of a healthy 5.)                                      Ecstatic appreciator!

  1. learning to see from a higher perspective, identifying with others, realizing a connectedness and integration in and with all things.

What Jesus calls “the Kingdom of Heaven:” inclusive, universal, participatory, connected, integrated life where all is/are valued, cherished, celebrated.  All are one  (John 17; Galatians 3:28).  Thus the root cause of our ego-centric, personality-driven Adapted Self — which is our illusion of being separated/alienated from the world, resulting in our sense of liability to harm and death, leading to a perceived need for protection — is overcome.  To live in and resonate with this larger vision bears fruit because it is ultimately true and real.

We don’t stop being our Type.  But instead of walling us off from others, our Type becomes the way goodness flows/shines through us into the world.

Releasing the ways anger, shame, or fear dominate you, you come to a new place of realization, according to the Holy Idea associated with each Type.

9  Release timidity and paralysis — courage —                                 LOVE — The Source
8  Release dominating lust — chastity/self control —            TRUTH — truth is goodness
1  Release resentment — gratitude —        PERFECTION — everything is already perfect
2  Release pride — humility —                                                 FREEDOM — choose life!
3  Release deceit— honesty —                                                   HOPE — all will be well
4  Release envy — contentment —                             ORIGIN — it is all made very good
5  Release avarice/hoarding — generosity —            OMNISCIENCE — everything belongs 
6  Release anxiety — serenity —                                FAITH — it doesn’t depend on you
7  Release insatiability — satisfaction —                WORK — you participate in goodness

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