Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grey Eminence and the Sacrifice of the Personality

Following last Sunday's talk, yet another person recommended that I read Aldus Huxley's Grey Eminence. According to Alan, the recommender:

"It is a study of Father Joseph who was a monk, a mystic, and an advisor to Cardinal Richelieu during the Thirty Years war in France and persecution of miscellaneous protestants and heretics. Huxley was clearly intrigued by how a deeply religious man could have gone so far off track. He rejected the quick answer that Joseph could have just been using religion as a facade for manipulation, but looks deeper."

I read some excerpts and the material here does, indeed, resonate with the Enneagram. For instance:

"religion consists in the exact opposite of self-reliance and self-esteem -- in total self-surrender to a God... suffering himself to be experienced by those who are prepared to accept the conditions upon which that experience may be had: the sacrifice of all elements of their personality..."


"the real Satan is the element in every individual being which hinders that being from dying to its selfhood and becoming united with the reality from which it has been separated."

Compare these ideas to the following excerpt from the opening chapter of The Enneagram: A Journey of Self Discovery, by Maria Beesing, Robert Nogosek, and Patrick J. O'Leary:

"According to the Enneagram system, there are nine... types of human personality. Each personality type is is identified in a negative way though it also has positive characteristics. The identifying negativity stems from a specific compulsion ingrained in one's self-concept and having a great influence on one's behavior...

The journey into self offered by the Enneagram is not easy. To many it will turn out to be extremely threatening. It is unpleasant to think of one's basic personality as a 'sin type'. The compulsion serves to protect oneself and offers personal security. To seek to unveil it will be experienced as a kind of 'death' to oneself...

Through the discovery of one's Enneagram type there can be awakened a whole new sense of self-criticism. It will always give one something to repent, something to confess as sin... This self-criticism will in itself already be a basic step to that new freedom promised by the Enneagram, a freedom from being secretly led by the dark side of one's inner self.

The discovery of one's type will also point out a lack of faith on a deep level. Underlying the compulsion of each tye is a strategy for defending the self... As a strategy for self-protection it is a chosen way of 'self-salvation.' The personality has simply chosen a way to acheive security and fulfillment by its own efforts. This is, of course, a mistake. Through the discovery of one Enneagram type there can be awakened a whole new sense of needing salvation..."

Beesing, Nogosek, and O'Leary also offer this gem of insight:

"Although people are not generally proud of what they call their sins, they do tend to be proud of the compulsion characterizing their personality type. They think it makes them superior to those who do not have this compulsion."

In other words, that which we think of as our best trait is also our worst trait.

Let us return to the question of how a deeply religious Christian such as Father Joseph could be such a warmonger. (Check out this article that compares Father Joseph to Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad.)

Huxley, in his examination of Father Joseph, discusses how nominally positive traits -- loyalty, passion, zeal, willingness to do God's will -- served evil purposes. He writes:

"Father Joseph... was intensely a patriot and a royalist. Born and brought up during the civil wars, he had conceived a veritable passion for national unity, for order and for what was then the sole guarantee of these two goods, the monarchy. This passion had been rationalized into a religious principle by means of the old crusading faith in the divine mission of France and the newly popularized doctrine of the divine right of kings... Hanotaux, the historian of Cardinal Richelieu, writes of [Father Joseph] that, 'he gave himself to two high causes, which absorbed his life, God and France, always ready to work and fight for either cause, but never separating one from the other, always responding to the call of an inner conviction, namely that France is the instrument of Providence and French greatness a providential thing.' Granted the validity of these doctrines - doctrines which he held with a burning intensity fo conviction - it was obviously Father Joseph's duty to undertake political work for king and country, when called upon to do so. It was his duty because, ex hypothesi, such political work was as truly the will of God as the work of teaching, preaching, and contemplation.

Father Josseph believed that the cause of God and the cause of France were inseparable. We must now inquire why he chose to harbor this belief... [One reason] is that the circumstances of his upbringing had created habits of thought and feeling which, in spite of his long-drawn effort to kill out the Old Adam in him, he had found it impossible to eliminate." (emphsis mine)

I diagnose a terminal case of 6-ishness.

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