"Take the understanding of the East and the knowledge
of the West--and then seek"
Today the Enneagram is an amalgamation of the theories of the most
respected schools of modern psychology and the ancient wisdom
of the world's greatest spiritual and mystical traditions--along
with a healthy dollop of good, old fashioned common sense. It
is an "organic" system in that it has developed naturally
into a system of interrelated parts that are inherently recognizable
as describing the objective reality of human motivations and interactions.
It can be looked at as the "Unified Field Theory" of
psycho-spiritual development. Other terms in use are sacred psychology
and trans-personal psychology.
The origins of the Enneagram can be traced back millennia to the
Near East, to at least Plato and classical Greek philosophy. George
I. Gurdjieff, a Christian philosopher and seeker, introduced this
symbol to the West in the first half of the 20th century.
Gurdjieff called the Enneagram the Philosopher's Stone--the mystical
key to uncovering the pearl of greatest priceour true essential
Selves. Its study and use can turn the raw materials of our personalities
(our egos, our primitive defense mechanisms and automatic behaviors)
into the gold of our true personal selves.
Essentially, the Enneagram, a nine-pointed figure Gurdjieff said
he learned from the secret mystery school, the Sarmouni Brotherhood,
represents nine different ways of seeing life. It is a model that
sees personality as a false-self system. The "true self"
is spiritual in nature. This true self was covered up gradually
as the false-self, what we call ego or personality, developed
to meet the needs of surviving in the material world, developing
into what Gurdjieff called the "false personality."
Over the course of our lives we identified so thoroughly with the
"false personality"(i.e. the characteristics of our
type), and came to rely so heavily on conditioned perspectives,
that we forgot our true nature and "turned into" our
personality, or false-self. From the perspective of the true or
spiritual self, the nine viewpoints represent illusions about
life; and those illusions are the natural starting points for
both psychological and spiritual growth. The Enneagram serves
as a map of our personalities that leads us directly to our true
Oscar Ichazo, a Chilean mystic, is credited with coming up with
the placement of the personality configurations as known today
onto the Enneagram symbol. Ichazo relayed his insights to a group
of his students, among them a Chilean psychiatrist, Claudio Naranjo,
who began the integration of the basic Enneagram system of personality
with modern psychological knowledge. Naranjo taught the system
to psychologists and "seekers after truth" in Berkley,
California in the early 70s, and it has spread from there.
Since then, this ancient teaching has been combined extensively
with modern psychological principles to form the personality typing
system as it exists today, comprised of nine types that form a
map of the objective reality of the personality, psyche and soul.
It is uncanny how accurately the Enneagram describes, even predicts,
When learning about the Enneagram it is useful to understand that
the types have different, but related, labels or names according
to which author you read. We think this can be a little misleading
as each of these terms can be associated with certain connotations
or biases for individual users. Our preference thus far, therefore,
is to stick with the numbers as much as possible. This chart of
names for the types used by several authors is useful as a study
tool. Note that each name is indicative of some behavioral aspect
of that type.