One of the very important considerations for the study of the Enneagram is its long history of a method for understanding the world in which we live and the human experience within it. When you examine that history you see that Pythagoras and Socrates and Plato used the symbol in their pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. George Gurdjeiff is often cited as the first to use the symbol in the way that it appears in modern times. He lead the Seekers of Truth in the early 1900s on a quest for answers to the questions of the universe. He was a cosmologist, studying the cosmos through ancient writings. The I Ching, the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, any evidence of man’s consideration of the universe and how it works came under the scrutiny of Gurdjeiff and his followers. The Symbol represented what is known and contained a juxtaposition of the rule of 3 and the rule of 7. Mathematics is better understood using the symbol. The science of Systematics evolved from that particular preoccupation of Ouspensky, one of Gurdjeiff’s Seekers of Truth. The symbol has been applied to many areas of study which is what Gurdjeiff and his followers intended.
In 2008 at the Atlanta Conference of the IEA, I was mesmerized by Patrick O’Leary’s rendition of the Evolution of the Enneagram theory. He presented a systematic overview from a scientific perspective looking at the Evolution of the Enneagram as you would the evolution of any theory. He himself was involved from the beginning and has met everyone along the way except for Ouspensky and Gurdjeiff who were alive around the turn of the 19th century. He is a founding member of International Enneagram Association, the IEA.
Speaking to the principles of and the evolution of theory, Patrick explains that it is a process of trial and error. Biologically, genes change in their molecular constitution. It is a random experience. Nature tries out the new arrangement. If it works it is passed on. If not it is eliminated. Evolution’s second principle he says comes from environmental stress. Those that weather the stress test are passed on and those that don’t disappear. Analogously, the Evolution of the Enneagram has been a trial and error of ideas. Some ideas have found support and have stood the test of time but most have not.
Patrick’s first experience with the Enneagram occurred in 1971. It was the end of the 1960s which was a decade of phenomenal intellectual exploration which coincided with his own experiences as a graduate student in four different programs. In 1971 he was completing a degree in theology with the Jesuits working toward ordination as a priest in a program that rested on previous study of philosophy. For him it was what he describes as “intellectual hell” with very little practical and/or scientific connection until he signed up for a course called “Religious Experience” being taught by a Jesuit priest who he had known as his high school math teacher. The teachers name was Bob Ochs. Bob took a sabbatical at Esalen in California at the end of the 1960s. The experience had changed him. Once a staid high school math teacher he now dressed in bell bottoms and flowered shirts and he was cool.
Fifteen students gathered in Bob’s apartment sitting in a circle on the floor to begin a journey into Religious Experience. They were interested in anything that would uncover the mysteries of life. Patrick had done the Myers Briggs, Gestalt, and the Encounter Groups and as a Jesuit he was required to do 30 days of intersections, with one half day in contemplation. Patrick wanted something more, something that he could grab hold of to explain how he could relate to another human being. Bob Ochs had the students sit on pillows and do breathing exercises. They learned about Zen and meditation all of which was mind expanding and wonderful. Somewhere in the process Bob began to talk about an Enneagram theory of personality that was unlike anything that Patrick and the other students had heard before. He identified the different types of personality by a number and described each in enough detail that the students were hooked.
Jerry Wagner was also a student of Religious Experiences with Patrick. Jerry and Patrick convinced Bob to offer Religious Experience 2 which became a course about the Enneagram and so they spent an entire year meeting twice a week for three hours learning about Enneagram. Bob talked a lot about his own perspective. Over the centuries and millennia of knowledge, scientists find names for things according to their body of knowledge and their needs of the moment. Somewhere in the late 1800s and early 1900s a young man by the name of George Gurdjeiff gathered information from a variety of sources. That was the beginning of the Enneagram as we know it today. In the 1970s, Gurdjeiff’s vision was transmitted to Oscar Ichaso and the Arica Institute in Chile was born. In 1971 Claudio Naranjo who had been with Oscar at Arica took his understanding of the Enneagram and brought it to Esalen but Claudio, the psychologist, put an entirely different spin on it. 1972 Bob Oches, after having heard Naranjo at Esalen, brought the Enneagram to Chicago, to the Jesuits who were studying there and there was an explosion on the understanding of the Enneagram. In 1984 Patrick wrote the next book that systematically put all of the information in one place. 1987 Don Riso wrote the second book that spawns an industry and a knowledge explosion. 1988 Helen Palmer intuits the entire Enneagram into a book and disseminates it. In 1994 she hosts a conference at Stanford, presenting her work. The conference brings together those who had written about the Enneagram and those who were interested. 1500 attended which provided another explosion, and more ‘gene’ carries to carry the Enneagram even further into the process of evolution. In 1995 – the International Enneagram Association was founded to complete a mandate from the 1994 Stanford participants to continue the evolution. 1996 the first conference of the IEA in Chicago was put on by Patrick O’Leary and Jerry Wagner. 2006 a conference in Italy provides the multination event and an opportunity for another explosion of ideas. The 2008 IEA Conference has 19 countries represented.
Others present a different history. The Arica school suggests that Pythagoras was the originator of the Enneagram and that it was originally a Pythagorean seal. It represents mathematics at its best. Oscar Ichazo who founded the school at Arica was the first to identify it as a psychological tool. Gurdjeiff was attempting to explain a cosmology, a working of all things, not only how people work but how the world works, how do the components of the universe work together.
Another principle of evolution is that it continues. Survival of the species is still by trial and error. Ideas, theories like those of Pythagoras and Gurdjeiff evolve.
Through trial and error applications of the mutated ideas survive or not, and Oscar Ichazo’s psychological interpretation mutated by Claudio Naranjo and transmitted to the US at Esalen in California has caused an explosion of interest and spawned many new ideas. My own sociological perspective, the Ethnography of the nine sub cultures represented in this book is another one of those evolutionary events that began with the cosmology of Gurdjeiff.
The Evolution of the Types
The Enneagram of Personality typing describes nine differentiated personalities. The types and the numbers actually make sense to me. One is PERFECTION, singular. Two is CONNECTION, relationship between 1 and 2.. Three is SUCCESS, good, better and now BEST. Four is DIFFERENTATION, separating from the others. Five is DETACHMENT moving away to find room to think. Six is SECURITY moving with the others to find a safe place to fit in. Seven is EXCITEMENT, performing for attention and to have fun. Eight is POWER, wanting to dominate and rule and Nine is PEACE wanting to see everything and include everyone is a peaceful perspective.
Although there has been agreement on the core essence represented by the numbers on the Enneagram, authors over the past few decades have chosen their own descriptions as the Evolution continues. Here are descriptions of each of the types from Riso and Hudson, Palmer and Daniels, Reynolds and Wagner as well as some commonly used other description. Riso and Palmer were among the first to write about Enneagram in the 1980s and Jerry Wagner was with O’Leary in the Chicago group of 15 with Bob Ochs. Susan Reynolds has more recently published works on the Enneagram.
Connection BEACH 2
In recent editions of their works, Riso and co-author, Hudson describe the 2 point personality as the Helper while Palmer and her co author David Daniels choose “the Giver”. The type has also been called the Caretaker, the Loving Person, and the People Pleaser. Twos seek love. Jerry Wagner identifies the passion or sin of the 2 as pride and the divine idea as love. The Two point personality is described as generous and healing when they are healthy and possessive people pleasers on the unhealthy side. Riso & Hudson and others have identified nine levels of health for each of the nine types. Riso & Hudson identify the lost childhood message of the 2 as “you are wanted”. What’s missing for people on this BEACH is CONNECTION.
Success BEACH 3
Riso & Hudson call the 3 point the achiever. Palmer and Daniels refer to it as the Performer. The Succeeded and the Effective person are also used. Reynolds call the 3 personality type King of the Hill because of their deep seated need for prestige and to be envied. The Passion or Sin associated with 3 according to Wagner is deceit and the divine idea is efficiency. On the high side 3s are inspiring examples of excellence and authenticity. On the low side they pursue success and status without regard for others. Riso and Hudson identify the lost childhood message of the 3 as “You are loved for yourself”. What’s missing for people on this BEACH is SUCCESS.
Differentiation BEACH 4
The 4 point on the circle represents what Riso and Hudson refer to as the Individualist and what Palmer and Daniels refer to as the Romantic or Tragic Romantic. The artists as the original person are also used to describe this unique personality. Reynolds used Creative Seeker to describe 4s. Wagner identifies envy as the passion or sin associated with 4 and the divine idea as uniqueness. On the high side 4s model creativity and have intuitive powers. On the low side they are moody, melancholy and self conscious. Riso and Hudson identify the lost childhood message for 4 as “You are seen for who you are”. What’s missing for people on this BEACH is DIFFERENTIATION. They are seeking ways to be different and to be noticed.
The 5 point on the circle represents the Investigator according to Riso and Hudson and the Observer according to Palmer and Daniels. The Thinker and the Wise Person are also used to describe this type. Reynolds uses Masterful Hermit to describe 5s. Wagner identifies their passion or sin as avarice because of their apparently stingy nature and associates wisdom as the divine idea for this type. On the high side they are visionary intellectuals and inventors. On the low side they are eccentric and isolated. Riso & Hudson lost childhood message for 5 is “your needs are not a problem”. For people on this BEACH what is missing is Detachment. They seek solitude and time to think and consider.
Security BEACH 6
Point 6 is referred to as the Loyalist by Riso & Hudson and the Trooper by Palmer and Daniels., although 1988 Palmer referred 6 as the Devil’s Advocate. It is sometimes referred to as the Loyal Sceptic or the Team Player. Reynolds uses Loyal Guardian to describe 6. Wagner identifies fear as the passion or sin and faith or trust as the divine idea. On the high side 6s are full of courage and commitment. On the low side 6 struggles with anxiety and rebelliousness. Riso and Hudson’s lost childhood message for 6 is “you are safe”. People on this BEACH are seeking Security. For them it is what is missing from the world.
Excitement BEACH 7
Point 7 on the circle represents Riso and Hudson’s Enthusiast. Palmer and Daniels call the 7 point Epicure. The Materialist and the Joyful Person are also used. Reynolds describes type 7 as the Optimistic Dreamer. Wagner attaches gluttony as the sin or passion and joy as the divine idea for 7. On the high side 7s become highly accomplished and are high spirited. On the low side they can be distracted, way laid, impulsive and impatient. Riso & Hudson’s lost childhood message for 7 is “you will be taken care of”. What’s missing for people on this BEACH is Excitement. They are seeking to have fun and be joyful.
Power BEACH 8
The Challenger is the name for point 8 given by Riso and Hudson. Palmer and Daniels call it the Boss. The Leader and the Powerful Person are also used. Reynolds describes 8 as the Dominator. Wagner attaches the sin or passion of lust and the divine idea of power or strength to the 8. On the high side the 8 is magnanimous as a leader. On the low side 8s are controlling and intimidating. Riso and Hudson’s lost childhood message for 8 is “you will not be betrayed”. What’s missing for people on this BEACH is a sense of Power or control over their situation.
Peace BEACH 9
The 9 point is labelled the Peacemaker by Riso and Hudson. Palmer and Daniels call the 9 point the Mediator. Others use the Preservationists and the Peaceful Person. Reynolds describes 9 as the Peaceful Lamb because 9s avoid conflict at all costs. Wagner identifies indolence as the passion or sin for 9 and peace as the divine idea. On the high side 9 brings people together. On the low side 9 is passive and stubborn. Riso & Hudson’s lost childhood message for 9 is “your presence matters”. What is missing for people on this BEACH is Peace and contentment.
Perfection BEACH 1
Point 1 is known to Riso and Hudson as the Reformer. Palmer and Daniels preferred Perfectionist. 1s have also been called the Critic and the Good Person. Reynolds refers to 1 as the Evangelical Idealist because of their concern with high standards and moral principles. Wagner attaches the passion or sin of anger to 1s and the divine idea of goodness. On the high side 1 lives with integrity and reason. On the low side 1 is resentful and perfectionistic. Riso & Hudson’s lost childhood message for 1 is “you are good”. People on this BEACH are seeking Perfection. That is what is missing from the world.
All of these authors and others describe in great detail these types and provide integrated models of the human psyche with an emphasis on creating a full spectrum model of human growth and development. From Jesuits like Wagner there are also spiritual overtones which harken back to the original work of Gurdjeiff as he searched for the answers to the questions of human psyche and everything else as he studied the ancient spiritual texts.
Others have researched the connection between Enneagram at the divine. I have myself, written about the connection between the spiritual illusions as identified by Neale David Walsch author of Conversations with God. I connected illusion of judgement with point 1 the perfectionist; the illusion of conditionality with point 2, the helper or giver; the illusion of failure with point 3 the performer; the illusion of condemnation with point 4, the romantic; the illusion of ignorance for point 5, the observer; the illusion of requirement for point 6, the loyalist; the illusion of insufficiency for point 7, the enthusiast; the illusion of superiority for point 8, the boss; and the illusion of disunity of point 9, the peacemaker.
*Insert chart from Blog June 26, 2008*
As you can see from the chart I also connected them with qualities described by Riso and Hudson that each of the numbers strive for in order to reach an evolved or enlightened state.
The nine points and personality types are the tip of the Enneagram of Personality Iceberg. The 9 types are categorized into three instincts:
- Heart or emotional instinct: type 2, 3, 4
- Head or intellectual instinct: type 5,6,7
- Gut or Physical instinct: type 8,9,1 (Reynolds 08 p. 87)
Authors also describe the instincts or centres with similar yet differentiated language.
All of that to say that although this book is based on thinking that began with a study of the conversation and the use of the Enneagram the evolution away from the personality typing is intentional. I want to identify a stance… a place where people look at the world, a perspective that can change depending on input from the environment – internal or external.
So I have identified the BEACHs – Sets of Beliefs, Expectation, Assumptions, Concerns and Hopes. Beliefs are what people hold to be true. Expectations are what they seek in a given situation. Assumptions are what they base their actions on. Concerns are what they fear, what keeps them stuck and Hopes are what move them forward. Each set has a title for the BEACH
Perfection, connection, success, differentiation, detachment, security, excitement, power and peace are the titles for the BEACHs … the places of and perspectives on the world.