Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jesus is my Enneagram Teacher

Note: This was originally published on 12/1/07.
A simple comparison of The Enneagram Institute's "Chart 1 -- Personality Elements" (downloadable, for free, here) and Matthew 5:45-48 and 6:1-34 yields this rather pointed advice from Jesus:
To the perfectionistic, judging, in search of integrity, "I am right", identified with the superego - type: '[your Father in heaven] makes his sun rise on the evil and the on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous... be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
To the proud, well-intentioned, "I have no needs", getting his/her sense of value from other people's reactions - type: "Beware of practicing your piety before other in order to be seen by them... whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and the streets, so that they may be praised by others."
To the vain type who wants to be effective and who bases his or her value on performance and image: "Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and the street corners, so that they may be seen by others... do not heap up empty words as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words."
To the melancholy type who doesn't "fit in": "Whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting... put oil on your head and wash your face so that your fasting may not be seen by others."
To the stingy, avaricious type who thinks he or she can understand by "witnessing" -- "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth... if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is unhealthy, your body will be full of darkness... You cannot serve God and wealth."
To the worrying type who fears being without support: "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear... Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them."
To the gluttonous, fixed on anticipated and planning - type who loses immediacy due to focusing on the future and thinks "if others gave me what I wanted, I'd be happier": "Do not [say] 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?'... your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own."
Jesus seems to have left out types 8 and 9, but Riso and Hudson did not.

The Power of Negative Thinking

Note: This was originally published on 12/9/07.
Every so often, someone comes along to critique the Enneagram (or, at least, an interpretation of the Enneagram) on the basis that it is too negative. One such critic is Susan Rhodes. In her article "Let's De-Pathologize the Enneagram" in the October 2006 issue of Enneagram Monthly (downloadable, for free, here), she writes, "I never liked the idea of looking at personality as a way to measure pathology. I liked looking at personality as a way to explore individual differences. That's why the MBTI appealed to me so much.
When I encountered the enneagram, I tried to use the MBTI personality descriptions as a reference point for enneagram descriptions. But I found this almost impossible to do. It wasn't because the two systems had a different number of types or even a different way of determining the types. It was because the enneagram descriptions read more like 'neurosis types' than personality types. They seemed to reflect such a pessimistic philosophy of human nature."
I have a different perspective. I am a big fan of the Myers-Briggs system, but I think the Enneagram has a huge advantage over it, precisely because of the "pessimistic philosophy" which is, indeed, present within it. Here's an apt quote from The Enneagram: A Journey of Self-Discovery, by Maria Beesing, et al, "In the beginning of this Enneagramic journey into the self what is being asked is the willingness to acknowledge oneself as a sinner. Compulsions are selfish as is typical of sin. They amount to a distortion in being as one ought to be. All the nine types are sin types... If the Enneagram is to be useful, one must discover the negativity of one's personality. Only then can one begin the process of being freed from the compulsion."
This, to me, is the brilliance of the Enneagram. First, it lures you in with what seems to be a neutral to positive description of personality. To a five, it says, Would you agree that your mind is your strongest asset? Would you agree that privacy is something that you value? To the two it says, Would you agree that your personal relationships are of utmost importance to you? Would you characterize yourself as a helpful person? And so on for all of the types.
Next, it says, okay, if you agree, with that, Five, then how about this: Here are all the ways that greed manifests itself in your life. Two, pride is killing you. And so on for each of the types. This second piece is that much harder to dismiss because the first piece was so compelling, and with true realization of the cost of sin comes the willingness to change.
I remember being in Russ Hudson's Psychic Structures and the Superego workshop , learning to meditate, learning to cultivate Presence, growing in compassion, and thinking (as a skeptic and, until recently, an atheist), If it weren't for the Enneagram's precision as a psychological descriptor, I wouldn't even be here to listen to its spiritual implications. And, oh, how I needed to be there!

Mario Sikora, the brain, and the 6's Inner Guidance

Note: This was originally published on 12/16/07, by Mary Beth, of all people.
If you've been following along extremely closely, you know I've been in Tallahassee for the past week. While in Tallahassee I did three things and three things only: work, gain weight, and read books and articles related to the Enneagram. Before I left I had printed out Enneagram Monthly for Nov. of 2006 (one of three issues available for free, here.) My favorite article from it is Notes and Melody #6: Composing the Tune by Mario Sikora. (As you might imagine it is the sixth article in a series; the entire series as well as many of his other articles are available on his website, here, and here is the link to his home page.)

Sikora captured my attention right out of the gate with this clause from his first sentence: "...and being by temperament indifferent to the gentle sound of rustling angels' feathers and earnest tones that accompany much of the talk about the Enneagram...." Hee! I feel the same way. More on that point in a few days.

The article as a whole focuses on coaching Sevens; the part I am going to discuss is about working with Point 5 (whether with Sevens, Fives, or whomever.) I am about to quote a massive amount of Sikora's text; read it here, or read it in the original article (then come back to see what my points are.) It 's the part of the article beginning with the bolded title Point Five. And here begins Mario Sikora's material:


Point Five

I don’t know what you mean when you say Big Mind and Little Mind. First of all there is the brain.
Jiddu Krishnamurti

There is a famous medical case discussed in neuroscience literature in which a woman suffered brain damage that impaired her short-term memory. Much like the character in the film “Memento,” she was unable to form memories of events that occurred after the injury. Each time she visited her doctor, he would hold out his hand and introduce himself anew as if it was the first time they met. If he left the room, even momentarily, she would forget who he was and he would have to introduce himself all over again. One day, the doctor decided to try an experiment: He hid a thumb tack in his hand before entering the examination room. When she
shook his hand, she was pricked by the tack and recoiled in pain. The doctor apologized profusely and left the room after calming the patient. Upon returning a short while later, the patient again had no recollection of the doctor, but she refused to shake his hand. She refused to shake his hand at subsequent visits as well, but when asked why she would offer weak justifications, such as explaining that she feared she would spread a cold or catch germs from the doctor. She had no resistance to shaking other people’s hands, however.
The point of retelling this story is to show that the brain processes information in ways that we are not consciously aware of, either because we have habituated the behavior and no longer need to be consciously aware of it or because we do not have the capacity be consciously aware of it. The first situation happens through repetition. If you do something enough times it becomes automatic. The second situation occurs because of the way the brain evolved—giving us the capacity for mental function before giving us the capacity for consciousness of those functions. (See Part Two for more on this.) Therefore, we have the capacity to process information, store experiences, and manufacture responses in ways that are non-conscious. We “simply” do them, not really understanding why. There is a reason, but the reason is formed through cognitive functions that are not connected to the parts of the brain that we have conscious
access to.
This phenomenon—“knowing” something without being aware of how we know it— is Intuition, the core quality found at Point Five of the Enneagram. (Merriam- Webster Online defines “intuition” as “the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.”)
Alec’s younger brother, Alexei, will be six months old when this article goes to print. He has recently begun to learn things—most importantly how to soothe himself to sleep at night by sticking his fingers in his mouth or reaching for the pacifier. Today, Alexei naturally and unconsciously soothes himself with his fingers, but he is still figuring out how to wrangle the pacifier. Manipulating an external object is a more-complex task than sucking on his fingers and he is figuring it out with some effort struggling to coordinate emerging mental skills with emerging manual dexterity. Soon, however, he will be popping the pacifier in and out, literally in his
sleep, as if it were an appendage.
As we grow, we develop the ability to intuitively process more complex situations or tasks. The oldest of the three Sikora boys, Adrian, is three and a half and can catch a ball thrown from a short distance. Last summer, a thrown ball would bounce off Adrian’s chest as his arms flailed together a beat too slowly. In a few years he will be chasing down pop-ups as effortlessly as you or I shoo away a mosquito.
While they are the easiest to describe, it is not only physical activities that we learn to perform intuitively; the brain is constantly habituating thinking processes and carrying them out below the surface of our awareness. We intuitively step away from a dark alley, resist getting onto an elevator with someone who looks “wrong,” and turn one direction rather than the other when lost. We all have the experience of “knowing” something without being sure why we know it.
Once again, however, the socialization process inhibits our trust in our intuition. As children we think we know what is best for us based on what we feel, but our parents—if we are lucky—do their best to keep us from hurting ourselves. The unintended consequence is that we learn to doubt ourselves when we shouldn’t. And the bigger the risk is, the more we doubt ourselves. We stop relying on our inner knowing and we begin to consciously analyze our circumstances and figure out our responses. Casual situations—catching a ball, driving a car on a familiar road, making small talk by the water cooler—are comfortably handled intuitively. Larger, more-critical situations—who should I marry, where should I live, what car should I buy, etc.—are pulled into consciousness for analysis and resolution.
Again, this is as it should be. The problem, which is typically one of efficacy rather than dire consequence, occurs when situations that can be handled intuitively are forced into the conscious: Decisions are delayed or deferred and opportunities are missed. In the business world this phenomenon is called “paralysis through analysis”: deadlines are missed, market opportunities come and go, time is wasted.
This is the central dilemma found at Point Five of the Enneagram. Again, it occurs for each of us, Ennea-type Five feels the disconnection from intuition most acutely. Rather than trusting inner knowing based on experience, they step back and analyze, weigh options, and cogitate. This stepping back, or detaching, leads to the Five’s not actually doing things, robbing them of opportunities to internalize actions and processes and further reinforcing the need to step back and analyze some
more.
Mature intuition, because it is based on internalized experience, takes time to nurture, just like the rest of the core qualities. One way to assist that development is through the accelerator of “conscious practice.”
The focus of the Five tends to be on observing from a distance rather than engaging and doing. They can nurture intuition by consciously practicing activities so that they develop the ability to do them naturally and unconsciously (that is, intuitively). When we practice something we carve neural pathways in our brain that allow for habituated behavior. While I’ve written in past articles about the danger of habitual behavior and how to overcome it, I am not against unconscious behavior. I
am against ineffective unconscious behavior. There are many times when
unconscious behavior works for us: when swerving the car to avoid a collision, snatching a child out of harm’s way, catching a ball.
Conscious practice allows us to create patterns of effective unconscious behavior.
Here’s how.
Learning follows four typical phases:
1. Unconscious incompetence (“I don’t even know that I don’t know how to do this”),
2. Conscious incompetence (“I now see that I don’t know how to do this”),
3. Conscious competence (“I now see that I know how to do this”), and
4. Unconscious competence (“I no longer pay attention to how I do this”).

Making this cycle conscious is what the accelerator of conscious practice is all about. It means not just “practicing” something, but practicing deliberately in a structured manner.(1) Here are two examples:
Beginning martial artists spend countless hours practicing their techniques individually, executing thousands of single kicks, punches, and blocks until they develop adequate coordination. Then they will string the individual techniques into sequences called “kata” or forms and practice pre-arranged combinations with an opponent. Eventually, they will practice free-style sparring. The martial artist who is new to sparring will be trapped in his head, constantly thinking about what his opponent is doing, might do, and how he will respond. This will cause his movement to be hesitant and stiff, and he will easily be defeated by a more experienced fighter. Eventually, however, with enough practice the martial artist will begin to unconsciously act out his training and experience. His movements will be natural and relaxed, he will find himself automatically executing the techniques he has practiced countless times at just the right moments. He has learned to fight intuitively.
Fives are often plagued by an inability to be decisive. They want one more piece of data to analyze, one more variable to factor, or one more day to consider the evidence before being ready to act. This capacity for patient analysis is a gift and has great potential benefit; it is also the source of frustration for many people who expect decisions from Fives and it is the most common behavioral inhibitor of Fives’ careers.
Fives (and others who struggle to be more decisive) benefit from consciously practicing making decisions, starting small and working up to larger matters. I sometimes urge Fives to pick a simple decision they have to make each day, such as what to have for breakfast, what kind of coffee to have, or what to wear to work, and put a short time limit on themselves. Rather than deliberate for the 30 seconds they may usually take at the Starbucks counter (at the risk of being thrashed by the large and irritated Eight behind them), they limit themselves to 10 seconds. Since the stakes are relatively small, the Five doesn’t lose much by making a decision he
later regrets. As time goes on, he can move to larger and more complicated
decisions to practice.
Despite our view of ourselves and rational creatures, most decisions are based on emotion, and there is a specific feeling that accompanies decisiveness. It is important to learn to recognize the feeling that accompanies this exercise. This feeling can then be deliberately recalled in the future as a useful aid in making more important decisions. What typically happens, however, is that practicing decisiveness eventually makes it an unconscious skill that no longer needs to be practiced.
The goal here is not to make anyone rush to decisions; there are many times when that is a mistake. The goal is to develop the ability to be more decisive when the situation requires. Practicing being decisive at Starbucks today helps one be more decisive in critical matters tomorrow.

Thus ends Mario Sikora's writing, and now back to me:

I love the clarity and specificity with which he lays out his points, and I particularly like his use of brain science (with references to popular cinema and observations of his son's development, too!)

The article also has a long section on working with a 7; as a 6, I identify with both 7 and 5 issues, so I found the article helpful. However, I was quite surprised that the difference between explicit and implicit knowledge is used to discuss point 5, rather than point 6. I associate 6 with needing and wanting more certainty before making decisions, rather than 5. I also associate 6 with the compulsive need to drag things into conscious awareness instead of just doing them.

Sikora's discussion of developing decisiveness and learning to trust to one's intuition reminds me of my task as a 6, which is to learn to trust my Inner Guidance. As a 6 (i.e. as the primary type in the thinking triad), I am supposed to be "most out of touch with" thinking. Riso and Hudson in The Wisdom of the Enneagram say "Sixes are the primary type in the Thinking Triad, meaning that they have the most trouble connecting to their own inner guidance. As a result, they do not have confidence in their own minds and judgment. This does not mean that they do not think. On the contrary, they think -- and worry -- a lot." Riso and Hudson discuss contact with Essence as what helps 6s realize that they are on a firm foundation with their own inner guidance: "When Sixes experience this truth, they feel solid, steady, and supported, as if they were standing on a massive bed of granite. They realize that this ground is the only real security in life, and it is what gives Sixes immense courage. This is the real meaning of faith, their particular Essential quality. Faith is not belief, but a real, immediate knowing that comes from experience. Faith without experience is belief. Faith with experience brings reliable guidance. Much of the personality of Sixes can be seen in an effort to imitate or recreate faith in terms of beliefs and to find a substitute for the certainty that they are already secure as an expression of the Divine."

I find this problematic. As a 6, my central sin is faithlessness (as Cindi and I teach it, anyway -- many others teach that the 6's sin is fear.) The 6's dilemma is how to get there from here? (That is, if you haven't had the kind of experiences Riso and Hudson describe.)

As for Sikora's prescription, frankly, I don't find the advice to practice making small decisions ALL THAT satisfying as a way to access one's intuition, but I do see how it would help, and I see why, and it has the added virtue of not making me extremely uncomfortable.

I am interested in reading more by Mario Sikora, for the reasons enumerated above, and I am in luck, because Cindi received his book, Awareness to Action, for Christmas.

Sikora's discussion of practice and martial arts reminds me of this idea about dreams as the dojo for waking life.

What Is It About 3-ism?

Note: This was originally published on 1/9/08.
On Sunday, The New York Times ran an article by Noah Feldman entitled "What Is It About Mormonism?" (Shockingly), the article is not about the Enneagram per se, but it does end up making a lot of sense to those of us who look at the world from an Enneagrammic perspective.
The article focuses on Mitt Romney and the possible difficulties his Mormonism will cause him in attempting to secure the Republican nomination for President of the United States. In doing so, the article summarizes quite a bit of Mormon history.
My commentary on the article will focus on the tripartite 3-ish-ness of Mitt Romney (commented on as a 3 here and here), Mormon culture, and American political culture. In doing so, I will summarize many of the main points of the article, but you might want to read the whole thing.
According to the article, the Mormon image is pro-business and socially conservative, in line with everything Republicans profess to like. However, a large chunk of Republican voters say they will not support a Mormon candidate for President. The basic problem is two-fold: a matter of evangelical Christians perceiving Mormonism as non-Christian or at least heretical, and a matter of bigotry.
According to Feldman, this lingering bigotry is fueled by "the disconcerting split between [Mormonism]'s public and private faces." Check out this icon of Type 3, created by the Enneagram Institute:
Enneagram
Feldman goes on to explain: "The church's most inviting public symbols [The Enneagram Institute's "Overview of Type 3" describes 3s as "image-oriented, emphasizing style over substance, symbols over reality"] -- pairs of clean-cut missionaries in well-pressed white shirts -- evoke the wholesome success of an all-American denomination with an idealistic commitment to clean living. Yet at the same time, secret, sacred temple rites and garments call to mind the church's murky past... Mormonism, it seems, is extreme in both respects: in its exaggerated normalcy and its exaggerated oddity." To me, it is the exaggerated normalcy that resonates so strongly with type 3.

In order to maintain an appropriate, electable image, Romney will find ways to emphasize the normalcy of his faith without evoking its oddness. Like a good 3 and a good politician, he must spin the facts. More from EI's type 3 overview: "Politics is becoming less concerned with principles or the use of power for the common good than with the display of personalities. Politics serves public relations, selling candidates with their calculated positions to a public which can no longer tell a fabricated image from a real person."

The largest public statement Romney has made about his faith has consisted of: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind." Here's Feldman's take on it: "Romney presumably calculated that speaking about Jesus Christ in terms that sound consistent with ordinary American Protestantism would reassure voters that there was in the end nothing especially unusual about Mormonism." (Why, Mitt Romney! How "pragmatic and calculating"! See Personality Types, page 99.)

Another example of the Romney spin on religion, from Feldman: "Romney has felt the need to minimize the centrality of Mormon scripture by saying he reads the Gideon Bible when he is alone in his hotel room on the campaign trail.

The formulation may be seen as a clever hedge: to the ordinary Protestant listener, it sounds as if Romney is saying that he reads the same Bible they do. To the Mormon insider, however, Romney is simply saying that when he travels to the hotel and finds himself, presumably, without a handy copy of the Book of Mormon, he reads the text of the Bible that can be found in the drawer beside the bed...

This is a perfect example of esoteric public speaking: the attempt to convey multiple messages to different audiences through the careful use of words. Something similar is perhaps contained in Romney's outspoken admiration for Rick Warren, the megachurch pastor and best-selling author. To the general audience, the message is the embrace of an evangelical who is as mainstream as it gets. To a Mormon audience, however, the praise is presumably intended at most as a suggestion that it is possible to learn from the remarkable organizational and evangelizing effects of a well-known public figure."

There are aspects of Mormon identity which can help Romney win the nomination. According to Feldman, "In the elite East Coast worlds where Romney has made his career, Mormanism signifies [among other things] professional competence... [and] the systematic overrepresentation of Mormons among top businesspeople and lawyers affords LDS affiliation a certain cache..." In Enneagram literature, type 3 is the type most associated with professional competence.

Still, there is a difference between respecting Mormon individuals or Mormon culture, and respecting Mormon religion. Many Americans believe that Mormonism is a false religion, and that the Book of Mormon lacks authenticity, and they would have a hard time voting for a Mormon President. This attitude is, according to Feldman, "a complicated outgrowth of the tortured history of the faith's relationship to mainstream American political life over the [last] two centuries..."

Mormonism is a secretive religion; the details of its theology and its rituals are kept from outsiders. (In her book Leaving the Saints, type 3 exemplar and ex-Mormon Martha Beck describes her Mormon temple wedding -- and how she was sworn to secrecy about its particulars. For more info on Beck, see the second half of this post.) Feldman attributes this secrecy to two sources -- internal theology and external persecution.

On the theological front, Mormon founder Joseph Smith claimed to receive revelations that were to be shared with only a few people. The doctrine of plural marriage (no longer practiced by mainstream Mormons) is probably the most famous of these secret revelations, and Smith kept it to himself until after his death. Another revelation, which Smith shared in one of his last communications before his death, resonates strongly with Enneagram type 3.

Quoth Smith: "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man..."The natural outgrowth of this idea is the Mormon tenet of the perfectibility of mankind into divine form. This is close to the 3's goal of becoming "a human ideal, embodying widely admired qualities." (Understanding the Enneagram, page 80.)

Alas, Smith, according to Feldman, "was denounced as a charlatan, an impostor, or worse." Calling someone a "charlatan" or an "impostor" is a pretty specific insult, and it fits with type 3's association with the sin of deceit. Certainly, the allegation that Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself, rather than discovered it when its location was revealed by an angel, comes up over and over. (Two interesting articles on the Book of Mormon, one pro-angelic revelation and one con, are here and here.)

As Mormonism grew under Smith's leadership, Mormon communities in Missouri and Illinois began to be violently persecuted by their neighbors. Smith himself was gunned down by a mob. Smith's successor Brigham Young led the Mormons to Utah, where things were safer. For a while, Mormons openly practiced plural marriage. However, the practice was soon outlawed by the federal government.

One might characterize the Mormon reaction as "deceitful." They said one thing (In 1890, the president of the church advised Mormons not to enter into unlawful marriages), but did another (plural marriage continued in Mormon communities in Utah and elsewhere.)

Feldman writes, "This period of resisting persecution by living outside the law taught Mormons that secrecy can be a necessary tool for survival. As one apostle (there are 12 who guide the church) later put it in a speech recounted by the historian Kathleen Flake, 'I am not dishonest and not a liar... [but] we have always been taught that when the brethren were in a tight place that it would not be amiss to lie to help them out.'"

Feldman recounts another moment of deception in Mormon history. In 1903, the people of Utah elected Mormon apostle Reed Smoot to the House of Representatives. Since many believed that his association with the Mormon church disqualified him to take office, a series of hearings were held on the Senate floor. Then-president of the church Joseph F. Smith (a nephew of the original Joseph Smith) testified and, according to Feldman, "sought somewhat unsuccessfully to conceal both the continuing practice of plural marriage and his own status as seer and revelator."

Soon after, at Smith's urging, Mormons really did stop practicing plural marriage and Smoot took his seat in Congress.

Thereafter, Mormons sought to appear more politically and theologically mainstream. According to Feldman, "The Mormon path to normalization over the course of the 20th century depended heavily on this avoidance of public discussion of its religious tenets... the less said the better about the particular teachings of the church..." Feldman continues, "Another part of the Mormon assimilationist strategy was to participate actively in politics at the state and national levels. The condition for political success was that nobody asked about the precise content of Mormon religious beliefs and the Mormons themselves made no particular effort to tell."

My concern is that, by de-emphasizing the particulars of their faith, Mormon culture has fallen into a type 3 trap. Consider this quote from page 154 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram: "In the headlong rush to achieve whatever they believe will make them more valuable, Threes can become so alienated from themselves that they no longer know what they truly want or what their real feelings and interests are... as Threes learn to pursue the values that others reward, they gradually lose touch with themselves. Step by step, their own inner core... is left behind until they no longer recognize it."

However, this strategy has won Mormon individuals more and more success in politics and business. Over time, writes Feldman, "Mormons began to succeed in national business and came to be seen as exemplars of the patriotic American ethos." Enter Mitt Romney, Mormon Presidential candidate. Writes Feldman, "Precisely because Romney is so accomplished, so telegenic, in short such an impressive candidate, it may be a slap in Mormons' faces if he finds that he cannot garner the support of conservative values voters... Even if the charge against Romney were that he failed because he was a dissimulating phony, that would hardly be an improvement for the church, given the similarity of that charge with the historical bias against Mormon secrecy."

Although truly miraculous events would have to occur before I would give Romney my vote (I will be voting in the Democratic primary and almost certainly for the Democratic nominee), my personal hope for him is that he keeps (or recovers) a strong connection to his inner core. The culture of his faith tradition, the atmosphere of American politics, and his own psychological predispositions will likely make it difficult.

Romney just came in second in the New Hampshire Republican primary. He congratulated John McCain, who "outcompeted" him and repeatedly compared the situation to getting a "silver medal" when you'd rather have the gold.

Perhaps he could take a page from Hillary Clinton's book. After unexpectedly winning the Democratic primary in New Hampshire (after tearing up in public and reportedly "finding her voice"), she said that the Presidential campaign is not a game; it's about people.

Authenticity can go a long way with the right crowd.

Martin Luther King, Jr. as a Healthy 8

Note: This was originally published on 1/21/08
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. MLK is often cited as an example of the type 8 personality, but people often wonder, how can the leader of a nonviolent resistance movement be type 8 -- the overexpresser of the "anger triad"?
The answer lies in level of health. Don Riso of the Enneagram Institute puts it this way:

"The idea of the levels explains how two people of the same personality type can operate very differently—and seem to others to be different character types. For example, Saddam Hussein and Martin Luther King are both eights on the Enneagram. But they are obviously very different. That's because they are operating at different levels of development within the framework of the eight personality type."

(This is from an interview which originally appeared in The San Francisco Gate. You can read the whole thing here.)
Riso continues:

"The levels are a measure of our fixation—and the measure of how asleep we are to ourselves and to reality. A person who is low in the levels is so asleep to themselves, so alienated from the truth of who they are, that they cannot see themselves."

King and Hussein were both leaders. ("The Leader" is sometimes used as a name for type 8.) The ruthless dictator and the inspiring pioneer are two sides of the same coin. The difference is a matter of "waking up" and putting aside the ego. For type 8, the great spiritual question is, "What is the appropriate use of power?" The answer lies in finding a way to put power in the service of love, to act magnanimously on behalf of others, rather than against them.
At their best, 8s are "courageous, willing to put self in serious jeopardy to achieve their vision and have a lasting influence." They "may achieve true heroism and historical greatness." (Personality Types, page 297.) Certainly, that was MLK.
This evening, as Mary Beth mentioned in yesterday's post, we will be hearing Bill Clinton speak on behalf of Hillary at Fisk University. Fisk, being a historically and majority African-American institution, and today, being MLK day, I imagine Clinton will have something to say about civil rights and/or race relations. We'll keep you posted.

Getting There

Note: This was originally published on 8/5/08.

so its thursdee july 31st and mary bef calls me up and she sez to me she sez cindi did you no de iea confrence starts tomorree an i sez to mary bef i sez naw i din no i thought it was saturdee but she sez naw its tomorree and I sez o an she sez we haint registered fer it an I sez i no an i gess we aint gonna go and she says but we gotta go and i sez but can we still go and she sez i dunno less fin out and i sez ok. so we gets off de fone and she calls de iea and i looks on de internets fer a long time tryin to see if i had a discount coupon an how much was on me credit card and like wuts de deal and den i tinks i better call mary bef and she sez lets never get off de fone like dat ever again i get angshus wen i don no what ur doin and i sez ok an i sez wat did u fin out an she sez we can go and pay at de door so less go to georgia an i sez ok and she sez wen u wanna go an i sez tomorree an she sez wuts rong wif now an i sez i got stuff to do an she sez come ober after ur dun an will go tonite and i sez ok an i put sum stuf in a bag an i do wut i gots to do an den i go ober dere an den we go to georgia.
Okay, I'll drop the dialect now. We arrived in Atlanta in the wee hours and checked into a crappy hotel. Something of a French farce concerning the hotel phone ensued. We got about an hour of sleep, and then it was conference time.
The conference was at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel (which was lovely) in Atlanta. This year's theme was "Life... Energy... Growth: the Evolving Enneagram." We payed our money, grabbed our tote bags and name tags and headed right to the keynote address.
The keynote address was "Quantum Thinking the Enneagram." It was given by Dianne Collins. Here's an excerpt from Dianne's bio:
"Dianne Collins is the creator of QuantumThink, a groundbreaking new system of thinking that blends the genius of modern science with ancient spiritual knowledge and wisdom... she taps into human faculties not addressed in traditional education, such as intent, intuition, and nonlocal mind, to enable people to make distinctions that can propel them from limited industrial age thinking into the multidimensional reality of our current quantum age."
That pretty much gives you an idea of what the speech was like. Here's some of what she talked about (I have, in some cases, added my own notes relating her ideas to my understanding of the Enneagram.):
Why, Dianne asked, don't we live the wisdom that we know? Why is it that, in this age, with all the recorded wisdom of humanity available at the touch of an i-phone, we all still (in my own words) act like damn fools? Why does the world still look like it does? How can people still think it's cool to build weapons and wage wars and kill other people? (How can people who know the Enneagram still act like a-holes sometimes?)
Perhaps, Dianne asserts, it is because we have been conditioned to have a classical/ mechanical worldview. This is a way of thinking that treats the universe as a machine made up of separate (but interlocking) parts. It is a worldview that prioritizes action. Problems are solved by finding the faulty part and fixing or replacing it. This is the sort of worldview that treats spirituality as if it was totally separate from the workplace and educational system. This worldview is why it is even a question that the Ennegram, for instance, should be taught in schools and businesses.
Consequences of the classical/ mechanical worldview include an us versus them orientation. Even so-called "spiritually enlightened" people divide humanity into "awakened souls" and "sleepwalkers".
However, according to a quantum worldview, the universe is more like a giant thought that a giant machine. This worldview prioritizes intent over action. (Watch The Secret if you're not sure what this means.) It resonates with the passage from the Upanishads which reads, "What a person thinks, he becomes." This idea is mirrored in the world's sacred texts.
Dianne talked about what she calls "the least action pathway." Basically, it is acting and thinking a certain way out of habit, even when you know better. This is like what we, in Enneagram circles, call "being on automatic", like when you mindlessly play out your type fixation rather than acting out of Essence.
She invited us all to condition ourselves to think with a new quantum perspective and to let go of the divide between the enlightened and the unenlightened. She talked about the observer effect and about how, by giving our attention to this divide, we help create it.
The move between these two world views is a leap. Dianne delineated four aspects of knowing: (1) unawareness (my example -- like when a person who does not know the Enneagram simply acts out their ego fixation all the time), (2) conceptual awareness (like when you can identify your type but simply treat it like a neat psychological description or a parlor trick or even play it up for fun); this is related to a classical/ mechanical/ separational/ analytical viewpoint, (3) intuitive awareness (like when you sense that there is something more to you than your personality); this is awareness that is sensed but not owned, and (4) participatory awareness (living Essence).
Dianne invited us to embrace transformation rather than change. (It's not so much a matter of slaying the ego as it is embracing Essence.) She asked that, during this conference, we fully listen to each other. Here's the way she put it: "Be as if it is you speaking, no matter who is speaking." I liked that.
My overall impression was that Dianne had things to say that were relevant to the Enneagram, but that she did not have an in depth knowledge of the Ennegram of Personality, per se. I think she was chosen to speak in order to broaden the discussion, rather than to hone or refine it.
Up next: some Enneagram history.
For another point of view on the IEA conference, follow this thread on the Enneagram Institute discussion board. Or maybe Mary Beth will chime in. Nudge, nudge.

This Be the Book

Note: This was originally published on 8/12/08.

This be the book that caused all the ruckus. It's out of print, but you can buy a used copy here. Published in 1984, The Enneagram: A Journey of Self Discovery, by Maria Beesing, Robert Nogosek, and Patrick O'Leary, was the very first text on the Enneagram of Personality ever published.
When O'Leary talked about the genesis of this book at the recent IEA conference, what he said surprised me. He said the book grew out of a series of workshops he and Maria Beesing were teaching. They were trying to figure out what kinds of exemplars to use to illustrate the types. They tried characters from Shakespeare, but the students weren't familiar enough with them; they tried characters from television and the movies and ran into the same problem; finally, they settled on figures from the New Testament.
Nogosek was a student of theirs. He took detailed notes, focusing on the figure of Jesus in the discussions. Eventually, O'Leary, Beesing, and Nogosek wrote the book around those notes.
The way O'Leary told the story made it seem as if the book only incidentally became Christian in focus. This is the book that says, as I am fond of quoting:

"In beginning this Enneagramic journey into the self what is being asked is the willingness to acknowledge oneself as a sinner... The discovery of one's type will also point out a lack of faith on a deep level. Underlying the compulsion of each type is a way of defending the self which is selfish and disruptive of bondedness with others. As a strategy for self-protection it is a chosen way of 'self-salvation.'... This is, of course, a mistake. Through the discovery of one's Enneagram type there can be awakened a whole new sense of needing salvation..."

And then, the book goes on to show you how each type sins and makes a failed attempt at self-salvation. The last part of the book is devoted to demonstrating how Jesus avoided the traps of each of the types. It is, by far, one of the most Christian things I have ever seen, heard of, or read about. And I live in the Bible Belt.
By the way, does anyone know why this book is out of print? It seems like there would be quite a bit of demand for it.

As If You Needed Another Excuse to Watch Star Wars Again

Note: This was originally published on 8/30/08

Where was I? Oh right. I was telling you all about the IEA conference, before I got distracted by other matters. After Edward Morler's presentation, Mary Beth went to sleep and I went to Rachel Weeks' presentation on "The Hero's Journey."
Here's a piece Weeks' bio:

"Rachel Weeks is a corporate lawyer and an accredited Enneagram teacher. She has assisted in developing the Enneagram community and certification program in Brisbaine, Australia, and also been involved in develioping alliances with Enneagram communities in the United States, Brazil, and South Korea."

I was interested in Weeks' presentation because, as it so happened, I was teaching a class on Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth at my church. The first episode in this series is called "The Hero's Journey." Anyway, I learned a lot from Week's presentation. She even explained the Law of Seven in language I could understand. I was so inspired that I prepared a handout based on her material for my class. Here it is:


The Hero’s Journey and the Law of Seven
(This material is adapted from a presentation made by Rachel Weeks at the International Enneagram Association’s 2008 annual conference.)

What is the Hero’s Journey?

From Wikipedia: “As used within the field of comparative mythology, the term monomyth (often referred to as the hero's journey) refers to a basic pattern supposedly found in many narratives from around the world. This widely-distributed pattern was described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).”

The hero’s journey has seventeen recognized stages. Go to www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/smc/journey/ref/summary.html for a summary.

These can be pared down to six broad steps. They are: (a) the ordinary world with its rules; (b) the call to adventure, including the kick by fate when the call is rejected; (c) supernatural aids and companions; (d) the road of trials, also called “the belly of the whale”, (e) apotheosis; and (f) the ultimate boon and return home.

What is the Law of Seven?

To understand the law of seven, you will need to know something about the Enneagram. You have probably heard me (Cindi) or Mary Beth talk about the Enneagram’s application to personality psychology. This is the most popular modern use of the Enneagram. However, the Enneagram is, at its most basic level, an ancient symbol that can be applied to an understanding of any process or phenomenon. This is the Enneagram symbol:



The symbol consists of three parts: a circle, representing the unity of all creation; a triangle, representing the three component forces (action, reaction, and mediation) in any phenomenon, and an irregularly-shaped hexad. This is where the law of seven comes in.

Here is a picture of just the hexad:




Comparing it to the Enneagram symbol above, you can see that, starting at point 1, the hexad connects 1 to 4, 4 to 2, 2 to 8, 8 to 5, 5 to 7, and 7 back to 1.Dividing 7 into 1 yields the sequence . 142857142857....

In Enneagram lore, point 1 is connected with order (the associated personality type is the judge, stickler, perfectionist, or reformer); point 4 is associated with identity (the associated personality type is the individualist or tragic romantic); point 2 is about needs (associated with the helper); point 8 is about action and the call to arms (associated with the challenger – the overexpresser of the gut triad); point 5 is about knowledge or analysis (associated with the thinker, observer, or investigator); and point 7 is about celebration and future planning (associated with the epicure or adventurer).

The law of seven describes the necessary steps for completing any process. For instance, in the process of harvesting wheat, one must first go to point 1 to prepare the field and get everything in order. Then, point 4, the place of identity, is for planting seeds. Point 2 is for fulfilling their needs by watering them, etc. Point 8, the place of action, is the actual harvest. Point 5 is for measuring and reflecting on the harvest, and then point 7 is for enjoying it and planning for next year’s crop.

For much more information about the Enneagram, visit http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ or Mary Beth and Cindi’s Holistic Enneagram Agency – http://enneagramagency.blogspot.com/.

How does the Hero’s Journey connect to the Law of Seven?

The hero’s journey, like any process, can be mapped onto the law of seven.

First, at point 1, the hero exists within the current order. This is Luke Skywalker on Tattooine.
Next, at point 4, the hero hears the call to adventure. Something within him longs to be more than what he is.
Then, at point 2, he is joined by helpers and companions. In this case, R2D2 and C3PO, as well as Obi Wan Kenobi as a spiritual guide.
At point 8, he enters battle and must fight for what is right. Luke even has to challenge Darth Vader -- his own father.
At point 5, understanding is required. In order to destroy the Deathstar, Luke has to “use the force”. He finally understands the secret knowledge he possesses as a Jedi.
Finally, at point 7, the hero triumphantly returns home to celebrate and look ahead to his next adventure.

"I Want to Be Like That"

Note: This was originally published on 9/21/08.

Lately, Mary Beth and I have been feeling sad over the death of someone we both admired. David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and others, killed himself on September 12th.
I think his death hit us hard because we both recognized something of ourselves in his writing. Here's how Wallace himself described the phenomenon: "There's a kind of Ah-ha! Somebody at least for a moment feels about something or sees something the way that I do... I feel unalone -- intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. I feel human and unalone and that I'm in a deep, significant conversation with another consciousness."
I think anyone who read Wallace's work and knows the Enneagram would have to say he was a head-triader. To me, he seemed to travel on that line between 5 and 7. Take Infinite Jest, for instance -- one thousand and seventy-nine pages of a complicated, intricate, heavily-endnoted, funny, humor-covering-horror can't stop thinking/talking novel. Having gone on (and on) in different voices (with different dialects, vocabularies, time frames, and perspectives) for 127 pages, it hits a quiet spot on page 128.
This is where Wallace introduces the character Lyle, a guru who lives in the weight room at a tennis academy:
"Sometimes the newer kids who won't even let him near them come in and set the resistance on the shoulder-pull at a weight greater than their own weight. The guru on the towel dispenser just sits there and smiles and doesn't say anything. They hunker, then, and grimace, and try to pull the bar down, but, like, lo: the overweighted shoulder-pull becomes a chin-up. Up they go, their own bodies, toward the bar they're trying to pull down. Everyone should get at least one good look at the eyes of a man who finds himself rising toward what he wants to pull down to himself. And I like how the guru on the towel dispenser doesn't laugh at them, or even shake his head sagely on its big brown neck. He just smiles, hiding his tongue. He's like a baby. Everything he sees hits him and sinks without bubbles. He just sits there. I want to be like that. Able to just sit all quiet and pull life toward me, one forehead at a time. His name is supposedly Lyle."
Every time I read that line "I want to be like that", it just knocks the wind out of me , because I think the voice here is finally Wallace's own. It's like when Philip Larkin (a poet Wallace liked a lot) says "That vase" at the end of "Home is So Sad" and I feel like a string has been pulled and I am unravelling.
To me, this is the space of 5 -- between Zen and that endlessly chattering explosion/ implosion of the mind.
Here's Wallace on some stuff that seems pretty Enneagrammatic, from a commencement address he gave in 2005:
"In the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clich├ęs, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.
They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.
And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing."

Don't Be Confused

I'm reposting some of the more spiritual pieces for easy access.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I think the T-Rex is 7w8

Check this out: http://www.qwantz.com/archive/001437.html and let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maybe I'm Just Having a Very Fourish Day

So, I just tried a couple of Enneagram tests I hadn't tried before. Prior to today, I had maintained a perfect record of scoring as a type 5 on every e-gram tests ever. I was a paragon of the type. But today, I'm 0 for 2.
Here are the tests:

First, the Ennegram Personality Type Indicator. It typed me as a 4. Type 5 was tied for second (with type 3!)

Next, the TestCafe Ennegram Test. It also typed me as a 4.

Friends, have you all noticed some sort of personality drift on my part, or are these tests just wrong?

Here's Brad from Enneagram Book on e-gram testing: "The BEST way to find out your type is to have a chat with somewhat who knows the Enneagram pretty well. They’ll be able to nail you down easily. The 2nd BEST way is to get an Enneagram book and learn a bit more about the types and go from there. The WORST way, (but the most fun!) is to use... Enneagram Tests."

Here, here Brad! Except I would rank the books over the consultation, but maybe that's because I'm one of those individualistic, withdrawn types. On that, myself and the tests agree.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Musing about the Enneagram?

I often say, "Well, we're finally getting the recognition we deserve!", and then of course, I immediately decide we deserve a whole new level of recognition. But still, well, we're finally getting the recognition we deserve!
This time around, it's in the form of being referenced on the blog Murderous Musings. And, no, the blog is not about, like, how to kill people real good and stuff. It's about writing mystery novels, and about writing generally, and about researching stuff, and about Geronimo, and about crinkly little snakes, and about other matters of interest to mystery writers.
So why, you might wonder, are they talking about us? It's because they're talking about creating realistic characters, and about how knowledge of the Enneagram might help one do that. Read the relevant post here. Also, it's because one of the bloggers, Beth, is our friend, and she's cool like that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This is my Personality

0
50
100
%
Openness
94%
Conscientiousness
55%
Extraversion
30%
Agreeableness
59%
Neuroticism
43%


Learn more about Big Five here.

Free Enneagram Webinar

Tomorrow night is the last session of our Spirit of the Enneagram class. We will be checking out Tom Condon's take on types 6 and 7, and if there's time, we might even discuss spirituality and personal growth.
Also tomorrow, our Facebook friends David and Katherine Fauvre are hosting a free webinar. Here's the info:

Fee: The online webinar is free to you!
Date: Wednesday, February 18th, 2008 at 6:00-7:30 pm PST
Location:Your computer for an Online Webinar.
1. https://www2.gotomeeting.com/join/152251224
2. Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) - a headset is recommended. Or, call in using your telephone.
Dial 646-558-2931Access Code: 152-251-224
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting Password: EnneagramMeeting ID: 152-251-224

This complimentary evening will function as an open forum to ask questions as well as work on personal issues.
As time permits, Katherine will demonstrate her In-depth Enneagram Inquiry Process work with exemplars.

This could be a good option for those of you who, inexplicably, do not live in middle Tennessee.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recap of the January 14th Spirit of the Enneagram Class

Well, tonight's class is off, so perhaps you'd like to stroll down memory lane with a recap of the class we did two weeks ago.

First, we went around the circle talking about our efforts at self-typing. There were a 4 and a 6 in the room, and someone who is probably a 5 but might be a 1, and someone who is probably a 1 but might be a 5, plus a type 2-or-9-why-not-split-the-difference-and-call-it-1, and someone who tests 3 or 7 or 8, but who is probably really a 6, and you get the picture. Luckily, the Enneagram itself is better than any Enneagram test. (If you've got your type narrowed down to a few, check out www.enneagraminstitute.com.misid/ . There, you can click on the matrix for distinctions between two types. To get the full info, you have to register as a member, but it's free to do so.)

Next, as a means of introducing/ reinforcing some characteristics of the types, I presented The Enneagram of Cute Puppies, with the following descriptions:

1. The Stickler -- upright, neat, and attentive. Wants to be good.
2. The Giver -- a nice, sweet dog who wants to be loved.
3. The Achiever/ Performer -- wants to win at the dog show. Shows off his ribbons.
4. The Tragic Romantic -- a melancholy puppy who longs to attract a rescuer.
5. The Thinker/ Observer -- a watchful dog with an overdeveloped head center.
6. The Questioner -- a high stung, nervous, but very engaging little dog. (At this point, Mary Beth told an engaging little story about a hyper little dog.)
7. The Enthusiast -- just wants to run and play.
8. The Boss/ Challenger -- thinks he is a big dog already.
9. The Mediator -- a sleepy dog who doesn't mind being put in the middle of a bun.

Then, we talked about the Enneagram's structure -- particularly, it's organization into triads. You can read all about it here.

This material corresponds with pages 49 - 94 in The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tomorrow Night's Class May Be Canceled

Tomorrow night's session of the Spirit of the Enneagram class may be canceled due to bad weather. We will follow the lead of Davidson County public schools. If they cancel classes, so will we.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Type 8 from the World of Seinfeld

Talking with a friend today, I was reminded of a character from the show Seinfeld who illustrates type 8 perfectly. The character is Elaine's father, Alton Benes, who appeared in a season two episode entitled "The Jacket."
Here's what happens in the episode:

Jerry buys a new suede jacket and gives his old jacket to Kramer. The new jacket has an inner lining with pink stripes, but is otherwise perfect for Jerry. Later on, Jerry, George, and Elaine are supposed to meet Elaine's father at his hotel (he is in from out of town) so they can all go to dinner together. However, Elaine is delayed helping Kramer with an errand, so George and Jerry meet Alton and are stuck alone with him for a long time before she arrives.
Jerry and George are intimidated by Elaine's father right away. Like many 8s, he is physically imposing. Early on, they try to make small talk with him, as follows:

ALTON: Looks like rain.
GEORGE: (Perks up) I know, I know, that's what they said.
ALTON: Who said?
GEORGE: The weather guy, Dr. Waldo.
ALTON: I don't need anybody to tell me it's gonna rain.
GEORGE: No, of course not. I didn't..
ALTON: All I have to do is stick my head out the window. (Waiter shows up with the drinks) Which one's suppose to be the funny guy?
GEORGE: (Pointing at Jerry) Oh, he's the comedian.
JERRY: I'm just a regular person.
GEORGE: No, no. He's just being modest.
ALTON: We had a funny guy with us in Korea. A tailgunner. They blew his brains out all over the Pacific. (Long pause) There's nothing funny about that.

In this passage of the script, an 8's characteristic bluntness and directness is established. Alton is not only physically intimidating, but verbally intimidating as well.
At this point, Elaine calls and says she will be a while. George and Jerry excuse themselves to the bathroom and discuss the possibility of leaving.

GEORGE: How could she leave us alone with this lunatic? Ten more minutes, and that's it! I'm leaving. I have to tell you, this guy scares me.
JERRY: The waiter was trembling.
GEORGE: If she doesn't show up, we can't possibly have dinner with him alone.
JERRY: How are we gonna get out of it?
GEORGE: We'll say we're frightened and we have to go home.

Eventually, Elaine joins them and the group proceeds to dinner. In typical 8 fashion, Alton makes all the decisions:

ALTON: Alright, boys. We'll go to that Pakistani restaurant on 46th Street. You're not afraid of a little spice, are you?

Even Alton's choice of restaurant is telling. 8s love "spice" and intensity.
As the group walks outside, they notice it is snowing.

JERRY: (To George) Snow.. snow, that can't be good for suede, can it?
GEORGE: I wouldn't think so.
JERRY: What should I do? (To Alton) We're taking a cab, aren't we?
ALTON: Cab? It's only five blocks.
GEORGE: (To Jerry) Why don't you just turn it inside out?
JERRY: Inside out! Great.
(Jerry turns his jacket inside out, showing of the pink striped insides. Alton stops him before Jerry can leave the hotel)
ALTON: Wait a minute. What the hell do you call this?
JERRY: Oh, I turned my jacket inside out.
ALTON: Well, you look like a damn fool!
JERRY: (Like a child) Well, it's a new suede jacket. It might get ruined.
ALTON: Well, you're not going to walk down the street with me and my daughter dressed like that! That's for damn sure!

In this moment, Alton is not only domineering, but he is also showcasing another quality of type 8; he sees telling Jerry how to wear his jacket as a way of looking out for his daughter. 8s often view those they love as extensions of themselves and go to great lengths to protect them.
In the end, Jerry's new jacket is ruined and he ends up giving it to Kramer as well. You can watch a big chunk of this episode here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Recap of the January 7th Spirit of the Enneagram Class

For those of you who were there, or who wished you could be there, here is what happened at the January 7th Spirit of the Enneagram class:


First, we introduced ourselves and chatted a little about our previous experience (if any) with the Enneagram. While some folks were old hands, most were relatively new to the system. A lot of people did have experience with the MBTI, though, so we talked a bit about how the two systems differ. I issued my usual dire warnings about how you probably won't be able to determine your Enneagram type by taking a quiz.
Our historian, Mary Beth, went over the events leading to the e-gram as we know it. Click here for a history lesson. Then, I talked about the meaning of the e-gram symbol itself, quite apart from its application to personality. A version of that information (plus a little recap of Star Wars) can be found here.
Next, we did a little self-reflection exercise. Participants were asked to write on the following topic:


Describe a person you know or know of who is very different from you. This person could be a friend, family member, or coworker, or even a character you have read about in a book. Explain how this person is different from you and what you think led to those differences.


We self-reflected for as long as we could stand it, which turned out to be about 20 minutes.
Being unable to put off an actual discussion of personality psychology any longer, we briefly introduced the types by talking about their characteristic sins and virtues. Highlights included Mary Beth's discussion of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a type 3, and David's characterization of type 9 as a "chair warmer."
We assigned the following homework:


Make some attempt to determine your Enneagram type, or to at least narrow it down to a couple of possibilities. Mary Beth's advice on how to go about doing so can be found here.


This lesson corresponded primarily to pages 7 - 26 in The Wisdom of the Enneagram, and we do recommend that you get the book.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Follow this Blog

If you have navigated to this blog, it might be easier to "follow" it. Just look in the column to the right and click on "follow this blog." Don't let Megan be out there all alone.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Spirit of the Enneagram Class Syllabus

This is the plan:

1/7 Intros
History of the e-gram symbol
An exercise in self-reflection
Hw: take an e-gram test

1/14 Talk about test results
The e-gram of cute puppies
Overview of all types
The triadic model

1/21 Grounding meditation
The gut types – 8, 9, and 1

1/28 Open-heart meditation
The heart types – 2, 3, and 4
Mary Beth tells the gnip-gnop story

2/4 Guided meditation
The head types – 5, 6, and 7

2/11 Q & A
applying the lessons of the e-gram

2/18 Loaded e-gram questions