Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
From the Center for Action and Contemplation
Enneagram Part Two:
Gurdjieff and the Enneagram
Monday, March 2, 2020
My friend Russ Hudson and his writing partner, the late Don Richard Riso, give some of the history of the Enneagram in their book The Wisdom of the Enneagram:
The person responsible for bringing the Enneagram symbol to the modern world was George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866–1949). . . . The system that Gurdjieff taught was a vast and complex study of psychology, spirituality, and cosmology that aimed at helping students understand their place in the universe and their objective purpose in life. . . . 
Gurdjieff taught the Enneagram through a series of sacred dances, explaining that it should be thought of as a living symbol that was moving and dynamic, not as static. [His teaching is called “The Work,” meaning working on oneself.] However, nowhere in the published writings of Gurdjieff and his students did he teach the Enneagram of personality types. The origins of that Enneagram are more recent and are based on two principal modern sources [Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo]. 
Russ Hudson spent several years studying Gurdjieff’s “Work,” as did my colleague Cynthia Bourgeault. In her book The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, which draws on the teachings of Gurdjieff to more deeply explore the Trinity, Cynthia writes:
The enneagram of personality has captured the popular imagination, that’s for sure. And you have to admit that there is something brilliant and even damnably strategic in its design. Using that classic ego bait—“let me learn my type, some interesting new thing about me”—it draws people in, only to put in their hands basic tools for self-observation and nonidentification. . . . Progressing enneagram students rapidly develop the capacity to see that they are in fact not their type; it is simply an impersonal, mechanical pattern that plays out within them. 
Richard again: The Enneagram helps us realize we are not our personalities; we do not have to act out our habitual patterns.  We can more easily say, “That’s not me” and let it go. We created our personalities to help us cope with the suffering we experienced when we lost our connection with our Essence and believed we were separated from our Source, namely God. Cynthia continues to describe the power of an “inner witness”:
A shift in the sense of selfhood begins to occur, so that they reside less and less in their outer personality manifestations and more and more in their inner witnessing presence. Fixation upon the personality begins to wane as the deeper roots of identity emerge. Thus, the teaching has the possibility of moving people to a new level of interior freedom and encourages them to develop precisely those spiritual skills that Gurdjieff himself identified as essential to conscious transformation. . . . Something is clearly working here, and the enneagram of personality movement seems to be manifesting the fruits of conscious inner work in ways that are both personally authentic and statistically significant. 
Gateway to Action & Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?
Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.
Listen to Fr. Richard read the prayer.
 Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 20.
 Ibid., 22.
 Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity (Shambhala: 2013), 58.
 For more on healing addiction, join the online course Breathing Under Water: A Spiritual Study of the Twelve Steps, March 25–May 19, 2020.
 Bourgeault, Holy Trinity, 58.
Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
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2020 Daily Meditations Theme
What does God ask of us? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. —Micah 6:8
Franciscan Richard Rohr founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in 1987 because he saw a deep need for the integration of both action and contemplation. If we pray but don’t act justly, our faith won’t bear fruit. And without contemplation, activists burn out and even well-intended actions can cause more harm than good. In today’s religious, environmental, and political climate our compassionate engagement is urgent and vital.
In this year’s Daily Meditations, Father Richard helps us learn the dance of action and contemplation. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time! Click the video to learn more about the theme and to find reflections you may have missed.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson