Fran and I attended an Enneagram session led by well known author and theologian Richard Rohr on Friday evening and all day Saturday February 11th and 12th. This is the first time we have done something like this but I hope we continue this journey of self-discovery.
The "Enneagram" ... roughly translates as "nine drawing". OK, a little too rough ... the Enneagram is a circle drawing with nine points on it representing the ways in which nine different personality types perceive and defend their realities. More like "nine ideas". The Enneagram and supporting tools help us recognize who we are on this spectrum of nine personality types and with work examines whether we are living trapped within ourselves or free from self-imposed constraints. Spiritual directors have used it for centuries to recognize personalities and their very predictable behaviors ... a tool to quickly assess individuals and groups.
If you have ever taken the Myers Briggs personality assessment you will catch on to the beginning of what it means to know your Enneagram personality type. While Myers Briggs helps us understand the motivations of others and how we may optimize our interactions the thought process behind the Enneagram goes much deeper and is a tool that has the potential to change how you approach life. If taught and received it will lead to accepting others, greater compassion, and better living.
Feb 11th Friday night:
Our personalities according to Rohr are 1/3 nature, 1/3 nurture and 1/3 choice and we all have blinders ... to see what our ego lets us see and excluding things we are not predisposed to. Even if we can see that our personality and behavior causes us pain and makes us miserable the ego will resist change.
No one consciously does evil but what we do in our self-centered ego driven world is to rationalize the behavior as good. A dualistic thinking often drives us ... things are either good or bad ... right or wrong. The true key to life is to transcend dualistic thinking and moving to a higher plane of thought ... contemplative thinking.
Rohr mentioned a couple passages from the bible;
1] In Genesis when God told Adam & Eve they could eat from any tree in the garden but not to eat from the tree of good and evil ... this metaphorically can be looked at as being warned from the beginning not to be judgmental of each other. As we gained knowledge human beings especially religious types have used their knowledge to judge others. This is contrasted with Jesus and his actions ... he was not angry with sinners but with those who denied being sinners.
2] In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul was an example of the first personality a person who behaves based on gut instinct and is a perfectionist. Paul (Saul at the time) was a person driven by compulsion to be the best at what he did and rewarded by his society for being so. He was compliant to the dominant culture until his conversion.
We have a "Home Base" ... either Instinct (from the gut, internalized), Intellectual (we think our way through) or Emotional (masters of building or destroying relationships ... takes on the needs of others). Within each of these home bases and the three personality types within each we are either compulsive (trapped within) or redeemed (freed from our demons). Unless we tame our demons we will never know our angels. Our goal no matter what personality type we are is to move to a redeemed state.
All humans are "wounded" in their feeling function ... we feel incorrectly. As humans we have an enormous capacity to misjudge others.
Rohr told a telling and somewhat humorous story .... when Mother Theresa died there was a tremendous void in the 1,000+ order of nuns she left behind. They were beside themselves and the Cardinal of Calcutta called Richard. He had heard of Richard as someone who may be able to help. Richard spent three weeks in Calcutta speaking to the order and helping them work through their grief and developing new leaders to take the place of Theresa. Mother Theresa was an "8" a personality that takes charge but she had not developed leaders to take her place when she was gone. The Cardinal told the story of how she would pound on his door in the middle of the night to demand his attention and tell of things the poor needed. Then there was the businessman who told Richard the story of how Mother Theresa came to his door and told him that God told her that he was to give her his factory for the production of things for the poor ... and the man gave her his factory. Such is the power of the convicted "8" personality.
Rohr lamented the state of our national discourse ... infantile. To him, with all the churches we have in the US, it means that churches are not doing a good job helping people move beyond the infantile thinking. From a quote attributed to Carl Jung ... 95% of the people live their lives 95% unconscious.
Next came an overview of Personality Types:
Type 1: The Perfectionist, the good little boy or girl, be on time, be good, be clean. Life is serious filled with problems to be solved. Tired of being critical. Your face and body and movement take the Type 1. This was SO evident in the panel session when four Type 1’s were called up. Their body language, the set of their faces and their movements were rigid and stern. Jesus did not focus on order he focused on the sinner. Our church has been led by 1’s in its history creating rigidity and rules about right and wrong dualistic thinking.
Country - Switzerland
Animal - The Barking Dog, The Working Ant
Sin - Resentment, Virtue - Serenity
Type 1’s & 6’s who emphasized original sin and moralism have taught the Christian tradition. This has led to rules, guilt and people judging each other. Richard joined the Franciscans and was mentored by a "7" ... a leader that emphasized a loving relationship with God and each other.
Type 2: The Giver. The natural servants of the world who gives generously but makes you feel they are doing so because they must. The keep interior lists to show them how superior they are and what you owe me because of what I gave you. They take on other peoples needs. Repress their own needs and they don’t even know their own needs.
Country - Italy
Animal - Licking Puppy
Sin - Pride, Virtue - Humility
The game is over for a 2 when they realize they do things not because they love others but because they want to be loved.
February 12th, 2011: Saturday morning
Type 3: The Performer. Often handsome / pretty, good build, the camelian, effective. Cry easily. Wounded in the feeling function. They have other people’s feelings. Embroider the truth. Achievement oriented. The children of 3’s that are most like the parent have difficulty.
Dresses to expectations. America is the "3" country ... we know how to look good, we manicure the truth, we mirror the best qualities the group wants to embody. But this is also how the world views America … i.e. as posers.
Country - America, Israel
Animal - Race Horse
Sin - Deceit, Virtue – Integrity
Pragmatism – if it works it must be true. Deeper principles are not needed as effectiveness is truth. Revelation requires a failure. Good efficiency experts. Drama queen. Sante Fe is the capital of 4dom.
Type 4: The Romantic. Be classy. Grease the wheels of life. Do not be like others. Will not conform and they need to be special. Love black. 4s built Americas movie industry. Love the metaphor of reality more than reality. They are serious about their creativity. Japan is highly ritual and elegant. Esthetic perfectionist. Love depth and search for self-understanding. It is a burden to have the best taste in the room. Their whole life is in search of their authentic self. 4’s have a natural eye for ritual and art. The ritual allows depth. Tragedy and sadness is where special ness and creativity are found. Almost nothing can shock a 4. Sharing experiences and mistakes and failures is a way a 4 can relate to you.
Country - Japan, France
Animal – Peacock
Sin – Envy, Virtue – Equanimity (calm non-dualistic thinking)
Type 5: The Observer – the world is a dangerous place. A mistress of perception. Relishes gathering of books, ideas, knowledge and a mania for research. Appear as nerds and emotionally stingy and giving of self. Avoidance of engagement and intimacy. Need private space. Good powers of observation and clarity of thought and objectivity. Calm clear-headed advice. It is important for a 5 to know the answer. The eye is the center of gravity. An inordinate number wear glasses. Good observers of inner self. Will provide way more data than necessary. 4s and 5s often do not get along … marriage not recommended. Thomas Mertens a very influential catholic author was a 5 with a strong 4 wing.
Country – British Isles
Animal – Barn Owl
Sin – Detachment, Virtue – Detachment
Type 6: The Loyal Skeptic – very difficult to go against authority. Rohr estimates that 50% of all people are 6’s and 25% are 9’s. Head people personified. They try to control everything by thinking. Fear is controlled by the head of the institution (Politicians, Fox News, Catholicism, Islam, Hitler) … top down driven fear plays well to 6’s and they respond to this type of message. 6’s glorify things and weapons to defend oneself. War economics are driven by 6’s. The “Phobic 6” is always running from fear and they do what they are told; faithful, humble, loyal, responsible, they always are looking for needs of others. The “Counter Phobic 6” charges when threatened. Daredevils charge into their fear. Total loyalists, my religion versus yours. GW Bush was a CP6 – limited on flexibility of options. Did you know “be not afraid” is the most mentioned phrase in the bible? The biggest sin / demon is unnamed for what it is – fear. Conversion requires operating out of different channels. Wonderful, stalwart, faithful personalities if converted to operate out of their virtue - courage. Conversion of the 6 requires pairing the 6 with good leadership. If they are continually around paranoid, anxious people they will not convert. Phobic 6’s ask endless questions to be clear and to address anxiety. Most naturally humble. Reliable, loyal, the glue to society.
Country – Germany
Animal – Mouse Deer, Rhinoceros
Sin – Fear, Virtue – Courage
Type 7: The Epicure – Avoids the downside of everything. Dualistic thinker. Eliminate the boring. Fill the world with endless possibilities. Normally extroverted but can be introvert. Everyone else can be down but a 7 will keep everyone up. They don’t age like everyone else. The classic hedonist. The fun is in the planning for the event …not the event. St Francis of Assisi was a 7 with a positive worldview but overdid the asceticism to compensate. When the panel of four 7’s got on stage they were beaming from ear to ear and ever optimistic.
Country – Brazil, Philippines
Animal – Otter, Butterfly
Sin – Gluttonous for fun and excitement and don’t know how to stop, Virtue – Joy
Type 8: The Protector – passionate, juice drives to reality, going for broke, appears to others as overstating the case. 8’s love to expose pretentious behavior and can make many angry. Angry at injustice. Endless passion for those on margins. Most revolutionaries and reformers are 8’s. They can walk into the room and sense where the power is … they want to take that power. 8’s create change. Oppressed cities and countries produce an inordinate number of 8’s and counter phobic 6’s. Men are more accepted as 8’s than women. 8’s at their worst revel in violence. Killing of the bull in Spain is the archetypical 8 behavior. Liberation theology came from the critique of power. When the panel of four 8’s got on stage their body type (big & heavy) was very evident. Physically they were bigger than every other group and talked in terms of dominating.
Country – Spain
Animal – Bull
Sin – Lust, Virtue – Passion that can be confused and interpreted as anger
Type 9: The Mediator – It is not OK to assert oneself. At the top of the circle, Passive /Aggressive. Motivation is to harmonize but that can look like weakness. Refuse to get flustered, tone down the energy. By temperament do not have enemies. They do a lot but can be called lazy, as they do not engage at the same level as a 3. Lots of unhealthy 9’s go along they join in to participate in groups. They need to be woken up and educated. A high percentage of alcoholics and those in jail are 9’s. They avoid doing. Awakened and educated 9’s multi-task and are high performing. The wings are 1’s and 8’s and if developed lead to highly effective focused, harmonizing 9’s. 6’s and 9’s are the most humble of people. Not a self-initiator. The Type 9 with their low energy are often left out of the conversation.
Country – Indigenous people
Animal – Donkey, Elephant
Sin – Lazy, Virtue – Decisive Action
Arizona has been elevated on the national stage as a state of hate, intolerance, and ignorance. AZ politicians are illustrative of the last gasp of the white male hierarchical structure.
The Albuquerque Enneagram program focuses on male change. The Enneagram accesses the male psyche like no other – Thought… possible connection to males who perpetuate domestic violence?