The Enneagram and Spiritual Direction
First, I would like to thank all for the great turnout for our Open House on January 26th. It was a blessing to see some wonderful people from my days in seminary as well as the various churches I have served. (See photos page three). Secondly, please take a few minutes to look at the calendar of classes and events for February on page 4. (you may subscribe to The Awakening Letter at www.theawakeninginstitute.com)
Now, as always, I pray that you may take a moment to know God’s presence with you, at this very moment. Now is a good time to be still for a few moments and let God speak to your heart.
This week I would like to begin a series depicting some of the spiritual formation gems that are of great foundational value to those seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord. These are time proven disciplines, practices, and holy habits that are particularly useful within the context of Spiritual Direction and formation. Among these we will consider, Centering prayer, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer, Holy Silence, Contemplative Listening and others. To begin we will consider, this week, the Enneagram.
The Enneagram to be of value to Christians who seek a deeper relationship with God must, obviously, be focused on God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). To do this effectively we must traverse a path toward truly know ourselves intimately, as those created in the image and likeness of God, in Christ Jesus, as children of God. And to live lives with a deepening awareness of God with us. Both these are accomplished in us, by the grace of God, as we are given the gifts to attend to our inner selves and to a deepening awareness of Emmanuel, God with us. Historically, this gift has included the ability to become more aware of, and responsive to, God’s revealing of what have been termed vices and virtues. Vices, being sin, and the things in which cause us to fall short of who God has created us be, and blind to God with us, to which we respond with disgust and a desire to eliminate. Virtues, on the other hand, are ways of being in accordance with the righteousness of God, in Christ Jesus. To these we respond with hunger and thirst. Within the context of this burgeoning awareness a question then, inevitably, arises, “How can I become more aware of these vices and virtues, so I can then respond accordingly?” At The Awakening Institute this is where the Enneagram comes into play. For, the Enneagram, within a Christian milieu, addresses the awareness deficit of which Jesus speaks of in Matthew 13:13.
The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' NRS
What we are seeking is a true spiritual transformation, or perhaps more accurately transfiguration, of the human spirit, soul, mind and body into to the mystery of God, in whose image and likeness we are created and who is with us always. Most Christians have not been exposed to the possibility of such a dramatic and vital becoming in their lives.
“The vast majority of Christian ministry has been concerned with ‘churching’ people into symbolic, restful, and usual ethnic belonging systems rather than any real spiritual transformation into the mystery of God.”
Richard Rohr, The Enneagram, A Christian Perspective, xv
The Enneagram is composed of three centers of the human intellect, Heart, Gut and Thought, 9 spaces indicating underlying propensities, and 27 sub-types that nuance these propensities. Herein, I will simply indicate the concept of moving from the vice (sinful ways of being) to virtue (righteous, Christ-like, ways of being) of each of the nine spaces. The following Enneagram chart below indicates the natural propensity of the space, followed by their vice/virtue tendencies and then their deepest righteous desire.
Basically the Enneagram from a Christian perspective is a way by which we can, in cooperation with God’s grace, become more self-aware, thus more open to God’s sanctifying grace in our lives. For example (see the chart above). A person who identifies as a space 2 2 identifies as having a natural propensity to be a helper. This is admirable, but not healthy if their helping propensity is done out of a sense of “look at me” pride, or a way for self-approval and a pat on the back. On the other hand it is quite healthy, even holy, if the helper operates out of a sense of humility that seeks only the benefit of the other with no strings attached, or need for reward. The sanctifying journey for the 2 then includes, and indeed should be initially focused on, a conscious movement from pride (their vice) to humility (their virtue). Thus, moving toward their deepest righteous desire; which is to live life out of a continual way of being, that operates immersed, without effort or intention, in fact unknowingly, in and by grace.
Each of the nine spaces have, by God’s grace, the ability to move further away from their vice and closer to their virtue. And then begin to move along the flow within the Enneagram toward the virtues of the other spaces as well. This is the value of the Enneagram for the Christian, when it is explored within the context of God’s grace and presence. This makes the Enneagram especially valuable when explored in Spiritual Direction with an experienced Director.
God bless you all, Gene Yotka
Next week: Centering Prayer
1The Awakening Institute offer two opportunities to further explore the Enneagram. The first is a one day (six hour) seminar titled “Introduction to The Enneagram and the second is a 10 week study in which we consider all 9 spaces in detail. For further informing please email the firstname.lastname@example.org or call 321-298-8801.
2 The Awakening Institute offers an Instrument for Self-Knowledge that can help you identify your natural space. If you are interested please email or call for a copy.
For details on all classes and seminars please visit our website www.theawakeninginstitute.com or you may email email@example.com, or call 321-298-8801 to make an appointment to visit: The Awakening Institute, 115 Broad Street, Titusville, Fla., 32796