The Spiritual Enneagram – Part I

“You who want knowledge, seek the Oneness within. There you will find the clear mirror already waiting.” – Hadewijch II

aaron-burden-43435-unsplash“Once upon a time, in a not-so-far-away land, there was a kingdom of acorns, nestled at the foot of a grand old oak tree. Since the citizens of the kingdom were modern, fully Westernized acorns, they went about their business with purposeful energy; and since they were midlife, baby-boomer acorns, they engaged in a lot of self-help course. There were seminars called “Getting All You Can out of Your Shell.” There were woundedness and recovery groups for acorns who had been bruised in their original fall from the tree. There were spas for oiling and polishing those shells and various acornopathic therapies to enhance longevity and well-being.

One day in the midst of this kingdom there suddenly appeared a knotty little stranger, apparently dropped “out of the blue” by a passing bird. He was capless and dirty,  making an immediate negative impression on his fellow acorns. And crouched beneath the oak tree, he stammered out a wild tale. Pointing upward at the tree, he said, “We…are…that!”

Delusional thinking, obviously, the other acorns concluded, but one of them continued to engage him in conversation: “So tell us, how would we become that tree?” “Well,” he said, pointing downward, “it has something to do with going into the ground …and cracking open the shell.”

“Insane,” they responded. “Totally morbid! Why, then we wouldn’t be acorns anymore.” -(Beatrice ChestnutThe Complete Enneagrampg. 39)

The roots of the Enneagram are spiritual and spiritually diverse. To incorporate its knowledge as part of your spiritual growth journey, it’s helpful to understand that we are all human beings and as such, not everything about our personalities fits inside one single construct. That being said, the Enneagram is a wonderful tool for spiritual growth as it shows us we are not our numbers.

There is a divine spark inside the human, a true self; a place of infinite peace and love untouched by trauma and darkness. This is the real, authentic self.

kai-dorner-150694-unsplashOur numbers are simply the patterns of behavior and thought and interactions with the world that we developed in our formative years to survive. There were certain things lacking that were necessary for our optimal health and growth, and we did not receive them—thus we adapted to the lack and created a personality or Type. To grow as spiritual human beings we must “shake off the limiting outer shell of our personality and grow into all that we were meant to be.” (Chestnut) We realize that we are from the oak tree (God/Universe) and we are imbued with the possibility of tree (God/Universe) and given time, have the ability to transform from acorns into oak trees (God/Universe).

*Quick clarification – there are different schools of thought about God. One, that humans are actually divine (God), or that there is a spark/piece/indwelling of the divine in each person, or that God is more of a construct for the creative energy of the universe. For reasons of inclusiveness, we accept all theories.

The Enneagram uses the dynamic nature of the nine numbers to invite all of us on a journey of personal, relational, and spiritual transformation. It is a journey we will travel over and over and over again throughout our lives.




*Photos by Aaron Burden & Kai Dörner on Unsplash

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