If there was one model of humanity that I would say had the most dramatic impact on me, it would be the Enneagram, and specifically, it was one author’s and one book’s take on it, as I describe below. I have my own take on it, and I intend to share increasing amounts of it here.
Impact on Me
For me, going through the 9 points of the Enneagram was finding 9 dramatic keys that unlocked life for me. Said another way, it felt like 9 crippling swords I had been impaled with all my life and become accustomed to were taken out of me, and the pain and immobilization from them were suddenly gone as I took out each sword.
9: My universe was transformed from a distant, unkind and unloving one to one where I found love everywhere. The weather forecast in my life changed from thunderclouds and oppressive fog to permanent rays of sunshine and life emanating from every created thing.
1: The angst about the imperfections of life was transformed into a satisfaction that everything is as it should be. I woke up in a world of terrors and went to sleep in an invulnerable paradise.
3: I used to think I had to perform and accomplish. This burden was eliminated. I was freed from an empty slavery and found my intrinsic worth as a being (not a doing or having done.)
2: I was a slave to saying, thinking, doing the right thing, and pleasing the right people. Not anymore.
5: I thought I had to conserve, gather, and hoard my stash. Now I know limitless abundance.
7: I was wandering to and fro, getting bored with where I was at, ever searching. Now, I am free to enjoy the moment for all it can be. I have conquered the tyranny of the perceived demands of the future, shamed the guilt of the debts of the past, and gained hold of my present (both momentary and timeless), which is really all I have.
4: I was alone, disconnected, and sad. Somehow, through knowledge of the connectedness in God, I now have unlimited connectedness and satisfaction of relationship.
6: I protected myself, sheltering the vulnerable parts of myself from an evil world. But now, I stand up to that evil world, and it somehow turns that vulnerability into strength. Evil scatters.
8: I obsessed with setting the record straight, plotting my vindication, and fighting to reestablish my rightful identity. I somehow escaped that unjust world, having now the simple cares of a child. I won my battle and my very self by placing my boundaries where they can never be infringed. Case closed — and my freedom is completely open.
Of course, I am still growing, and there are new and old challenges in each of these 9 areas that often present themselves for me to overcome. I still slip into dysfunctional mindsets, and need to remember the path to becoming re-aligned to the beautiful Truth and Love that is (and who is) the foundation of this universe.
From Traps to Freedom, and Vices to Purity
There are things we run from, and things that trigger us. When we stop running, we can be in line with how we were created to be: pure, fearless, loving, true, joyful, participating in the divine nature of these and other things.
Geometry of the Enneagram
The enneagram appears to be a circular map of 9 areas in which we can either fall into traps, or live an enlightened life.
9 represents pure love and is the anchor for the entire Enneagram.
There are 3 corners on this circle: 9 is the ‘being’ corner (anchoring 8 and 1) and 3 is the ‘doing’ corner (with 2 and 4), and 6 is the ‘abounding’ corner (anchoring 7 and 5).
A neat thing about this circle of 9 is that if you take one step away from the corner, that point is two parts of the nearest anchor, and one part of the next nearest anchor. So 7 is two parts abounding and one part being. 8 is two parts being and one part courage.
Aside from the inner triangle connecting the 3 important corners (3,6, and 9), I don’t have much to say on the internal lines. Others have noted how people seem to flow from one to the next along the lines.
The Book that Helped Me Understand
The book that unlocked freedom for me was The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram, by Sandra Maitri. I have a Biblical Christian perspective, and while this book is not written from a Christian perspective or with Christian jargon, I found that its concepts made sense through the lens of my Christian perspective.
I do not give a blanket endorsement of the concept of the book, so I say read it at your own risk, but if you are solid in your theology I wonder if it may help you a lot as it did me.
(For what it’s worth, I read her second book, the Enneagram of Passions and Virtues, and sensed at least one anti-Christ notion in one paragraph, so I don’t bring up that book except to say that.)
At some point I may address the language and concepts of God more deeply and try to reconcile and contrast Maitri’s language and concepts with Christianity. If you have read the book and are interested in this, let me know and I will be happy to email you my perspective or write it on this site.
Enneagram in Broad Use
Before I read Maitri’s book, I had encountered Enneagram as a personality test system and personality profile.
While it may have been a tiny bit useful to me as a personality model that described typical strengths and weaknesses, I think the Enneagram is about a million times more impactful when connected to our highest nature as spiritual beings.
Also, while we may find one or two points of the enneagram most interesting or relevant to us, I think we are more multifaceted than we typically get credit for (I also have a multi-faceted model of personality at mindfacets.com, and of spirits at spiritfacets.com), so I don’t like to pidgeon-hole anyone to one or two types. If I had to say my ennea-type, I would take the unusual stance of fighting for a few: 9w1, 1w9, and 4w5. (A note on terminology: The w means wing and denotes the second most significant type for a person, and it must be adjacent on the circle. So 9w1 means a 9 who leans toward 1.) The Tri-type model is another model out there that accounts for 3 types around the circle.
My take on the enneagram is that these are 9 keys to a full life, and all 9 keys are worth seeking alignment in, even if one gravitates to some more than others.
“Non-dualistic positivity” — the tree of life
This book also helped me understand some Christian concepts that are under-taught or often missed in Christianity, specifically the concept of “non-dualistic positivity.” This should be obvious in Christianity, as Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (a dualistic goodness that resulted in death,) forsaking the pure goodness (tree of life), so we should consider not repeating their mistake. But unfortunately Christianity as an organized religion often falls prey to systems of thought that fully embrace thought systems of the knowledge of good and evil. I for one spent over thirty years in the church suffering with a corrupted basic orientation to goodness, and I am on a journey of reprogramming my perspective.
One Christian stream that is very good in helping people break free from this, and return to the tree of life is Father Heart Ministries. I highly recommend their seminars, teachings, and books, particularly the book The Ancient Road Rediscovered.
I know some other streams are touching on this concept as well. If you know of any good teachings or books, feel free to pass them on to me for consideration here.
I feel this is a very serious matter for the body of Christ, in that the Christian gospel may be incomplete, or another gospel, if it does not reverse the trap of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and return people to the tree of life. I am hopeful that the restoration of this understanding will unlock a deeper relationship with God and amazing possibilities for individuals and the body of Christ.
If there was a second emphasis that the book helped me with it was perhaps to get God out of the tiny box our reasoning about Him too often gets confined to, and see what all creation reveals about our omnipresent creator. (He is omnipresent, so to look for Him in a limited way runs the risk of finding a limited god and idol of our own rationalistic making.) God is not just omnipresent because He is big everywhere, but also because He is omnipotent enough to also be “small” everywhere: He is present in and cares about the tiniest details of the universe.
The 9 Enneagram Points
- E9 – Holy Love
- from forgetting oneself to agreeing with an abundantly supportive reality
- (this must be so, because God is loving to all, and omni-present)
- E1 – Holy Perfection
- from frustration about imperfection to serenity in knowing that from a high enough vantage, everything is perfect.
- (this must be so, because God is good, and all-powerful)
- E8 – Holy Innocence
- from sensing injustice all around and setting out to fix it to having a simple childlike innocence of knowing what one is responsible for and staying joyfully within that responsibility, knowing that ultimately there is justice in this universe
- (God sees every tear, never forgets, has promised justice, and is faithful to keep his promise and guarantee victory for righteousness)
- E6 – Holy Courage
- from withdrawing from threats to standing for what is right, knowing that there is strength inherent in standing for goodness
- E5 – Holy Abundance
- from guarding and hoarding resources conservatively to sharing freely, knowing that there is a never-ending supply that is always available
- E7 – Holy Progression
- from jumping from one sensational activity to another in search of meaning, to being patient with the timely one now, knowing there is a Divine hand unfolding everything in due time
- E3 – Holy Action
- from trying to make everything happen and ever searching to reap more and more to engaging the holy flow of life, knowing that one is and will always be filled and fulfilled in being a being in a well-made universe, rather than trying to always be trying to construct the universe to squeeze sustenance out of nothing.
- E2 – Holy Desire
- from searching for the pursuit of the right idea to accepting the goodness of one’s (pure) desires and the process of learning
- E4 – Holy Interconnectedness
- from searching and yearning for connection with others to being content in whatever level of connection one has, knowing that through God, every good connection that could and should be exists in some time and place, and that unites us all through God
Connecting to other sets of 9
Fruits of the spirit:
(I want to think through this some more before sharing it all.)
- 9 love
- 8 joy
- 1 peace
Ian’s 9 Plumb-line Strings:
(I want to think through this some more before sharing it all.)
- 9 Holiness (wholeness, strikingly pure love, infinite overwhelming outflow of perfection)
- 8 Justice (impartial vindicator)
- 1 Judgment (impartial assessor of value)
- Holy Spirit
…more depth for each of the 9 points. If you want more elaboration about one or more of the Enneagram points, let me know and I will try to write it.
Also, Maitri’s book has some interesting points of view for each of the 9 points, showing fixations for each type, anti-self actions, virtues, and holy ideas (which are different than the ones I mentioned here.) I may give my perspective on these as well.