Tuesday, October 2, 2012

An Introduction to the “Enneagram as a Tool for Spiritual Transformation”

Instructor: Rev. Dr. George Gordon
In Brief

The Enneagram is a comprehensive psycho-spiritual typology that has its roots in several ancient wisdom traditions as well as in the findings of modern psychology. Most of us originally discover the Enneagram as a typology: It draws meaningful distinctions about the nine different ways that people approach their lives and relationships. But more profoundly, the Enneagram is a map of wholeness, a way of recognizing and investigating different aspects and dimensions of our inner experience.

From The Enneagram in Business

More than a personality typology, the Enneagram is actually a profound map that illuminates the nine different architectures of the human personality. It is also the most powerful and practical system available for increasing emotional intelligence, with insights that can be used for personal and professional development.

Emotional intelligence is a combination of two factors: intrapersonal intelligence, which is the ability to understand, accept, and manage oneself, and interpersonal intelligence, the capacity to work effectively with a wide variety of other people.

Dr Gordon’s Explanation of Enneagram as Tool for Spiritual Transformation

The most attractive aspect of the Enneagram  is that it is an effective bridge between spirituality and psychology.  The basic premise behind it is that we each doubt God in one of nine ways.  The way in which we doubt God is the primary factor that shapes the structure of our personality.  An inner “Wow!” went off in me when I discovered the validity of this concept.   I have found this to be true personally, and the more I study the Enneagram, the more clearly I have been enabled to see the nature of the obstacles in my personality to growth in my relationships with God, with others, and with myself.  It has also helped me grow tremendously in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

I want to share with you two concepts that help in putting the value of the Enneagram in perspective for not only our emotional growth, but also our spiritual growth.  For years, it has been my understanding that spiritual growth was a two-step process:  Step 1 was “Death to the old self”; Step 2 was “Being born anew in Christ.”

However, according to my more recent studies including the Enneagram, I have come to believe that it is a three-step process.  The actual first step is “Awakening to the old self.”

Most of us are only aware of the symptoms of the old self and not of its basic nature.  We cannot significantly die to our old self unless we have some grasp of its nature.

Charles Wesley made almost this exact point in a sermon entitled, “Awake, Thou That Sleepeth” delivered on April 4, 1742 at Oxford University.  The Enneagram is a tool that helps us awaken to or to perceive more accurately the true nature of the old self or the false self as some schools refer to it.  I prefer to call it the operant self.  It is old in the sense that it is different from the new self in Christ.  It is false in that it is not the self that God wishes for us to incarnate.  I prefer the term operant self, because it is operating within us whether we realize it or not.

Many personal and spiritual growth programs have discovered that persons can make good progress in their intended growth until they reach a certain point, and then mysteriously, they seem to hit an obstacle which will not allow further growth.  That obstacle is the operant self or personality type.  According to Enneagram theory, there are nine different operant selves and each of us is dominated or obstructed by one of them.

Embedded within each of the operant selves is a “chief feature” which orchestrates the whole personality.  This chief feature has also been referred to as the spiritual pre-occupation or the emotional passion.  The apostle Paul was probably referring to this concept in Romans as sin with a capital “S.”

There is much discussion about the source of the operant self or personality type and its embedded chief feature.   Many authorities lean toward heredity as the source (nature) while others emphasize the role of early childhood environment (nurture).  The influence of nurture can be divided into two sub-categories referring to whether the person adopted a certain stance toward life as a method of coping with their circumstances or they learned it from someone else.

The Enneagram, then, is a diagnostic tool for discerning and identifying the characteristics of the old self or operant self.  It is metaphorically an “MRI of the soul.”  It helps us “awaken” to the old self—step 1 of the spiritual transformation process.

Cost is $5 per session, $2/session for students                        Total of 12 sessions

Location TBD - Overland Park likely

Sat., Oct 6th 8:30 - Noon
Thurs., Oct. 11th and 25th 7:00 to 9:00
Thurs., Nov. 8th and 15th " "
Thurs., Jan. 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st " "
Thurs., Feb. 7th, 14th, and 21st (maybe trade Valentine's Day for the 28th)

If interested, Contact: ptbeatty@aol.com
Rev. Dr. George Gordon has a Th.D. in Pastoral Care and the Psychology of Religion. Served as the Minister of Congregational Care and Pastoral Counselor for Country Club Christian Church for 33 years. Certification as a teacher in the Association of Enneagram Teachers in the Narrative Tradition (AETNT http://www.aetnt.com ).