For years I was put off by the Enneagram because of rumors it had questionable origins and bizarre numerology; but when I ended up discovering it's key insight; I found much of its application powerful. Just as with non-Western things like acupuncture, yoga, and everything else; there is a tendency to say it's all good or all bad, rather than extract the good and discard bad (like Christians did with Christmas and Easter—originally pagan holidays).
As always, there's no substitute for relying on the Holy Spirit. See It's All Good.
Sample Audio Encouragements
I'll explain my insights below. But first, please check out these good, brief summary excerpts from co-founder Enneagram Institute Russ Hudson at Fr. Richard Rohr's Enneagram conference (available on DVD):
Since we each have all the qualities, though usually one is pronounced, you might enjoy hearing each of the types. Each audio is good.
- Reformer (MP3, 9 mins.)
- Helper (MP3, 9 mins.)
- Achiever (MP3, 7 mins.)
- Individual (MP3, 9 mins.)
- Investigator (MP3, 9 mins.)
- Loyalist (MP3, 13 mins.)
- Enthusiast (MP3, 11 mins.)
- Challenger (MP3, 7 mins.)
- Peacemaker (MP3, 10 mins.)
Unlike the Personality Types (MBTI and Jungian Functions—which are positive ways of identifying your best strengths); the Enneagram highlights our greatest weakness. (We do this by over-emphasizing our best strength, and avoiding our least strength.) Of course, there is a legitimate criticism that this test is basically negative, and it could be taken that way, but it doesn't have to be.
These are essentially ways of place our best, natural gift ahead of God.
So it's less about how we say Yes to God; and more about how we say No.
The Huge Irony
The test is not a parlor trick to box us in; but rather it helps get one out of a box!
Here are ironic examples of needs, and how we paradoxically short-circuit by leaving God out of them. He is better at our gift than we are.
- 1 - to be good; but can't fully be w/o God's goodness to us as a gift
- 2 - to serve all, but neglects the self. Needs God to enjoy our efforts.
- 3 - to champion, but neglects passion. Needs God to enjoy our doing.
- 4 - uniqueness, but also crowd to validate! Needs God to feel we're special.
- 5 - to illuminate, but w/o God it's trying to cup light -- and we get darkness.
- 6 - to know safe authority (& hates the self for that). Only safe w/ real God.
- 7 - freedom, but if chooses, then less free? Need to know God means more.
- 8 - power, but self-power, means weakness. Need God willing w/ them.
- 9 - peace, but w/o God, gets anxiety. Need God to give His Shalom.
A friend of mine jokes that "if you're having trouble getting where you want, and if it feels like you're taking two steps forward and three steps back, then turn around and go home! ;)
Letting Go and Receiving God's Presence
All of the deep needs are fulfilled only by an experiential presence of God. Normally this requires a painful letting go to be joyfully fulfilled. See the great summary of this process by Russ Hudson:
Stages of Descent and Ascent (MP3, 11 mins.)
The Underlying Logic
The graph at the above top might initially appear like some occult gimick, but it's not. Here's the easy way to understand the relationships:
We notice we are normally strongest in one of three God-given areas of the soul (will, emotions, intellect) and yet we twist our natural talent with three unhealthy reactions: fight, freeze, or flight (or "explode, diffuse, implode"; or "confirm, ignore, abort")
Combing 3x3 (will/emotion/intellect x. fight/fright/freeze), we get 9 possibliities.
|1||Reformer||Will||flight||Perfection||4 / 7|
|3||Achiever||Emotion||freeze||Success||9 / 6|
|4||Individual||Emotion||flight||Uniqueness||2 / 1|
|5||Investigator||Intellect||fight||Perception||7 / 8|
|6||Loyalist||Intellect||freeze||Security||3 / 9|
|7||Enthusiast||Intellect||flight||Pleasure||1 / 5|
|8||Challenger||Will||fight||Battle||5 / 2|
|9||Peacemaker||Will||freeze||Peace||6 / 3|
In a nutshell, the real trick is to avoid gift and allow God to be "all in all".
(So you can see this has nothing to do with "astrology" or "numerology"; any more than an Excel spreedsheet does. BTW, I have never seen a critique of the Enneagram that understood what it was about; the only attack is "well, it came from the East.")
One last minor note: The lines on the chart are explained as stress/health movement. That is, when stressed we tend to an unhealthy number; when healthy, we tend to a number that grows us. (For example, I'm a 3, which tends to deny emotions. When stressed I detach like an unhealthy 9; when healthy I'm more evened out like a healthy 6. 3's need to learn chill.)
Fully Received into God
Though I have created all of you, it is the balance of all I made you to be that brings out one area to its greatest fulfillment.
Lead in with your spirit. Experience the wisdom of praise. I can reach your depths when you enter in to My presence in holy surrender. Your depths of your spirit know far more in time of praise than hours of pondering and questioning. Your most profound insight is most often the product, or byproduct, of the deepest times of prayer.
So, again, I say, lead in with your spirit and connect with My Holy Spirit. I will show you truth.