The Enneagram is a diagram of personality of ancient (possibly Sufi) origin, first brought into modern use and popularized by the Greek-Armenian mystic G. I. Gurdjieff as part of his Fourth Way teachings in the early part of the 20th Century. Gurdjieff, who stands alone and unique in the history of esoteric thought as a singularly enigmatic guru figure without much precedent in other schools of spiritual inquiry, taught that man was essentially asleep and that the primary goal of his Work was to awaken mankind’s dormant potential.
The Enneagram was an assist in this work. Now a highly popular model of psycho-spiritual development, the Enneagram is a map of nine major personality types, as follows…
1. The Reformer. Reformers long for perfection, and to achieve personal integrity and balance. In their longing to achieve self-perfection, they can be hyper-critical of others, which can be immensely hard on the people around them.
2. The Helper. Helpers long for freedom, and to be loved unconditionally. They can be full of pride, as well as highly altruistic; Helpers live for others, but can sometimes be tempted to use manipulation to get the love they need.
3. The Achiever. Achievers hope to be valuable to those around them, to succeed at life’s tasks, and to be thought of as winners. However, their crucial drawback can be trying too hard to please everybody, and getting burnt out in the process.
4. The Individualist. Individualists seek to be just that: to become truly unique, and express their originality. They fear being seen as mundane or normal, and if they perceive themselves as failing in their task for originality, they can be very hard on themselves, and fall into self-pity and envy of others they perceive as more truly unique.
5. The Investigator. Investigators wish to know and understand everything. They are afraid of not having the right information and therefore not being useful to those around them; their crucial failing point is that they can sometimes become detached and block the world out, becoming cloistered in their search for more knowledge.
6. The Loyalist. Loyalists seek to have faith in, and fight for, a cause; they seek to express their courage and be thought of as brave, not cowards. Their failing is that, as they are truly devoted to a cause, they can become paranoid about those around them, thinking that they may not be truly loyal.
7. The Enthusiast. Enthusiasts are drawn to the idea of pure, hard work. They seek to run fast and work hard to experience all the world has to offer. They are afraid of boredom, and can sometimes go overboard in trying to stuff themselves with experiences.
8. The Challenger. Challengers seek to find the truth, and take vengeance on those who seek to control them or distort their truth. They seek to totally determine their path through life, are afraid of being controlled by others, and can withdraw into themselves if they feel they have lost control.
9. The Peacemaker. Peacemakers seek love, and to unify the parts of themselves and the people around them. They seek to develop themselves and their potential, but if they turn to their dark side they can become indifferent and suspicious of others and their true intentions.
Like most models of the human personality, the Enneagram can pinpoint where people are coming from, and is a helpful map for determining one’s “personality type.” Once you know your type, you can begin to clearly see where you are and how you interact with other types, and how to more fully express yourself. However, one of Gurdjieff’s original points in the use of the Enneagram was that all of us are, in fact, all of these types, and that we must learn to break out of our basic type, explore the other personality types, and eventually attain liberation from them all.
What do you think —what type are you? Have you used the Enneagram before?