A Story From My Life (at least, from one day in my life)
Each morning, that is, those particular mornings when the New Mexico weather is suitable for such an undertaking, I ride my trusty old bicycle to the coffee shop for tea. Once there this morning, I noticed an attractive brochure neatly residing on the “table of free invitations,” among advertisements for yoga classes, violent revolution and promises of reversions to the past bliss of hippie living replete with teepees and tips for soliciting welfare.
The large title of the brochure was “Laughing and Weeping.” Naturally, my first thought was of an unreconciled moment in the Law of Two Foldness (Perhaps even a proposition inhabiting the infamous realm of The Law of Accidents.). I am, naturally, prone to such appraisals of things due to my interest in the Law of Threefoldness. This interesting title was underlain with the following comment:
“The Ennegram as a Tool for Non-Dual Thought.”
My interest quite piqued, I quickly read the remainder of the brochure to find yet another reference to the potential insightful benefit of an enneagrammatic analysis of personality types, a topic I had encountered and rather casually dismissed before. (Helen Palmer, a Fourth Way student, had authored a book on the subject many years ago.) The underlying reasons for this dismissal may be of interest here.
The Foundations of the Underling Reasons
First, because the enneagram idea is actually a remnant of ancient teaching, neither Mr. Gurdjieff nor the Personality Type crowd (or any other enneagram arguers) can particularly claim to own its copyright. Having said that, Gurdjieff’s teachings about his thoughts on the enneagram have always proved dynamic and fascinating to me. The possible benefits of the use of the enneagram implied in his lectures on the subject immediately interested me a great deal. Later, when enneagrams were presented in my Fourth Way school, I naturally pursued the topic enthusiastically and with the result of my adopting this sort of analytical process to all sorts of challenges I encountered in my life.
Second, in Gurdjieff’s lectures and in Fourth Way school, the enneagram was consistently presented as a means to consider transformational processes, that is, the structure of change which proceeds in the matter being the essential subject of the enneagram. It is, of course, exactly within this direction of its application where its most beneficial (in my opinion) possibilities can be found.
Considering the Enneagram and Personality Types
I always considered the use of the enneagram as a structure to support essentially static observations of various states concerning personality types as “failing the test” when it came to presenting an essential matter and describing its transformative changes through an octave of development. As a representational form of a transformational process, the enneagram provides a remarkable basis which allows one to incorporate internal and external (to the enneagram) influences, shocks and resolution. The Personality Type application of the enneagram seemed to lack the common thread of such a transformational process, concentrating more on positioning conclusions or other propositions about the individual emphasis or differences of personality types in the convenient locations of the tones of the octave.
Perhaps the single feature which illustrates this difference in objectives between the two applications can be noticed in the meaning of the cross-referential ties, that is, those ties from, for example, Re and Mi to Fa, La and Si to Sol, Re to La and Mi to Si. In the enneagram of transformational processes, these cross ties always suggest important, non-linear (Non-Dual Thoughts) influences requiring relevance and reconciliation in the “bigger picture” of the complete enneagram. Their meaning in the Personality Types Enneagram seems unnecessarily obscure in a troublesome sort of way.
In the process enneagram style the “flavor” of the Three Holy Forces of Triamazikamno (points expressed as TFP1, TFP2 and TFP3 — Triadic Force Point One, etc. in the Ennegram Guidelines paper available in the series on this site) is reserved for application to the meaning of the enneagram in a form with an exclusive quality. Likewise, the nature of the tones, for example, Re or Fa, etc., also serves as a specific conceptual structure to the progress of the transformation being described and analyzed. The Personality Type Enneagram quite comfortably adapts some aspects of this influence to the various personality types stationed around the circle, but seems to neglect the special nature of elements such as, for example, Fa — the Wasteland or Sol — the Shock.
The Personality Types Enneagram is clearly not describing the transformation of one personality type to another, its meaning, the influences causing or limiting it or the vivifying “shock provision” of the necessary energy required to drive it forward.
Is this an invitation to a gun fight? Hardly. In fact, Gurdjieff addresses this directly.
“If two men who have been in different schools meet, they will draw the enneagram and with its help they will be able at once to establish which of them knows more and which, consequently, stands upon which step, that is to say, which is the elder, which is the teacher and which the pupil. The enneagram is the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language which has as many different meanings as there are levels of men.” [Ouspensky, P. D. In Search of the Miraculous. Chapter 14, page 294]
Draw your own conclusions. I, naturally, went to the web site and took the FREE Personality Type interview (on-line), received my estimated Personality Type and went on to examine the conclusions offered by the nice folks who were running that show. There were books on the subject offered for sale along with the names and photographs of the men who authored them. The site also offered an interesting scientific evaluation of this Personality Type technique’s empirical accuracy in the process of determining types consistent with other psychological test approaches and corresponding results.
The address of this particular web site is: www.cacradicalgrace.org Visit, take the free test, buy a book. Consider purchasing the paper “Enneagram Guidelines” from this site for a comparison of different enneagram purposes.
A Few Interesting References from In Search of the Miraculous:
Chapter 4, pages 77, 78, 79, 80 and 81 The structure of the Ray, the Absolute
Chapter 7, pages 122 through 133 special periodicity, non-symmetry of accelerations and retardations in the tones of the octave
Chapter 7, pages 134 discussion of the cosmoses in the Ray of Creation as an octave of development
Chapter 14, special symbols, meaning and interpretation (including Ennegram)