An Exploration into The Enneagram

Brand New Topic: The Enneagram

Background and History

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Sun Enneagram

One of the great things about belonging to a blogging community is that you find some really interesting sites. Lately, I’ve been enjoying another wonderful bout of insomnia, which has led to my blog perusing into the very wee hours of the morning. I came across a really beautiful site called “View Pacific”  (viewpacific.wordpress.com/), which is now included in my Interesting Sites category on the left hand of the page. While I was exploring this site, I read a very informative entry about Enneagrams, something about which I was totally uninformed. So, I left a thank you to the author for the great info, and after leaving the site, I did what I always do in such situations: I went exploring.

Enneagrams have been around for quite a while, just how long depends upon which source you read. Their usage and their meaning are also dependent upon which sources you consult. As best as I can summarize, one researcher, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar Ph.D, traces the origins of the Enneagram to the 13th Century Islamic Sufi traditions of Central Asia based on the belief in the oneness of God. Bakhtiar claims that the nine-pointed symbol represents “the presence of God”  (http://www.sufienneagram.com/overview.html).

Other researchers claim that the Enneagram is a personality typing system used in psychology that was first developed in the 1950s by Oscar Ichazo of Brazil. Common knowledge is that one of Ichazo’s student’s, Claudio Naranjo further developed and refined the system in the 1970’s.

Purportedly, the most recent refinements to the Enneagram psychological personality system have come from D.R. Riso and R. Hudson, who have developed and entire industry on the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator, or RHETI, which is a modern synthesis of the nine personality types based on a number of ancient wisdom traditions. If you do a search on the Internet, Riso-Hudson will be your first hit. You can purchase tests, follow-up tests, test guides, interpretations of test results, books, seminars, etc. Apparently, assessing the personalities of your employees is a rather large, rather profitable business.

Then there is an entirely separate branch of Enneagram history that supposedly dates back to the Fourth Way, or can be tied to Kabbalah. G. I. Gurdjieff, writing in Russia in WWI, claimed that the nine-pointed Enneagram is:

“a symbol that represents the ‘law of seven’ and the ‘law of three’ (the two fundamental universal laws) and, therefore, the figure can be used to describe any natural whole phenomenon, cosmos, process in life or any other piece of knowledge. The basic use of the enneagram is to explain why nothing in nature and in life constantly occurs in a straight line, that is to say that there are always ups and downs in life which occur lawfully.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Way_Enneagram)

And if I had had another few days, I probably would have found another few theories on the Enneagram, its nine points, its ties to the Catholics, mysticism, and probably coral calcium.

And This Has What To Do With Lola, Pepsi, and Dogs, You Might Ask? 

So after all of this background reading, which, quite frankly, started to piss me off more than anything, I decided to just look at it in the way that View Pacific had intended: as an interesting insight into personality types. I mean, all of these different people claiming that it came from all of these different places, and then these two people in particular branding it and turning it into a form of screening potential employees, all the while hedging everything they said with sentences such as (I’m making these up): keep in mind that all personality types are blends of pieces of this and that, a 1 could also have pieces of a 4, and a 7 isn’t necessarily a serial killer (I’M MAKING THIS UP—REMEMBER? I don’t know if these people have a sense of humor or if they’re like Tom Cruise and the Scientologists . . .it’s the lack of sleep, it’s making me particularly snarky tonight).

So anyway, the first read that I did squarely placed me in the Number 4 category, which says (and again, I’ll summarize): I’m a dreamer (really?). I tend to keep things inside or to pour them out in a creative outlet (hmmm . . .). I can be reclusive and I can get depressed (what? you’re kidding me, right?).  I grieve longer than most people (did someone put a camera in my bedroom?). Number 4 Enneagrams have old souls (I swear I didn’t write these descriptions). Just to prove it, I’ll actually quote from a #4 description taken from Enneagram Explorations by Katherine Chernick Fauvre and David W. Fauvre :

Overview
You want to be gifted, intuitive, original and unique. More importantly, you want to be passionate, true to your feelings and uniquely authentic. You see yourself as sensitive, expressive and spiritual. You would like others to see you as idealistic, emotionally deep and compassionate. Your idealized image is that you are accomplished and special.

Motivated by the need to understand and to be understood, you desire experiences that are rich with feeling and meaning. You may find it easier to deal with painful emotions than to deal with the tedium of daily routine. You have the temperament of an artist and long to freely express yourself. You feel your emotions deeply and are not afraid to go emotionally where others fear to tread. This includes having an exquisite, intuitive ability to distinguish between subtle emotions that others often miss. Painfully self-conscious, you are often overly focused on how different you are from others. A true humanitarian, you have a natural passion for protest. At times intense and contrary, you are not afraid to think for yourself and voice your point of view.

Nostalgic by nature, you often focus on past experiences. This can lead you to deeper insights or to downward spirals of melancholy and/or painful unresolved feelings. Craving ideal circumstances or love, you often ruminate on what is missing and perceived to be important. Your tendency towards self-absorption is both an asset and liability. It can lead you to deep personal insights that can benefit everyone while feeding your self-deprecating sense of humor; but it can also make you appear to be self centered and disinterested in others. Feeling your own inner world so powerfully, it is good to remember that others’ experiences are just as real for them as yours are for you.

When you step out of the river of your emotions, you can bring forth your many talents into the world and express them in a way that is extraordinary and original. You are like the lotus flower growing in the mud that is able to transform emotionally painful experiences into fertilizer for personal growth. Attuned to feelings, you have an uncommon sensitivity when it comes to dealing with suffering. You are not afraid to hear about someone else’s troubles, and you can be a great friend to anyone in emotional pain. (emphasis added mine)

Famous 4s
Francis Bacon, John Barrymore, Ingmar Bergman, Peter Bogdanovich, Marlon Brando, Jackson Browne, Raymond Burr, Kate Bush, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Prince Charles, Eric Clapton, Kurt Cobain, Judy Collins, James Dean, Johnny Depp, Neil Diamond, Isak Dinesen, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Martha Graham, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne, Julio Iglesias, Jeremy Irons, Michael Jackson, Jewel, Angelina Jolie, Janis Joplin, Harvey Keitel, Charles Laughton, T. E. Lawrence, Vivien Leigh, Rod McKuen, Thomas Merton, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Morrissey, Edvard Munch, Liam Neeson, Stevie Nicks, Anais Nin, Nick Nolte, Laurence Olivier, Paris, Edith Piaf, Pink Floyd, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Prince, Anne Rice, Percy Shelley, Simone Signoret, Paul Simon, Meryl Streep, James Taylor, Spencer Tracy, Vincent Van Gogh, Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams, Kate Winslet, Virginia Woolf. (I can’t believe how many of these people I admire and adore, and ooh ooh, Annie Lennox is a 4 as well.)

I Know I am But What Are You

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Enneagram Personality Types in Groups of 3

 

So now that we all know what I am . . . I think that I’ve figured out what everyone in my family is, but I haven’t told them. Here are a couple of links to sites that I thought were the most straight-forward in figuring out what number Enneagram you are without a whole lot of test-taking: http://www.enneagrambook.com/, which also offers links to other sites, or http://www.enneagram.net/types.html, which is where I found the description with the long list of 4’s to whom I can so closely relate.

I’m certain that I made the whole thing harder than it needed to be, but I have to do my research first. I like the idea of the the Enneagram being 2500 years old. That adds an air of mysticism to it, which, of course, appeals to me. What I don’t like is how it has become so commercialized. Isn’t that always what happens, though? One of these days, they’ll put a portable Enneagram in Happy Meals with a secret Ronald McDonald decoder ring. I can’t stand it.

Enough already. More later. Peace.

Music as Muse

muse-loreena-mckennitt-album-cover

Euterpe: Giver of Delight

For as long as I can remember, music has played a large part in my life. I remember being in the chorus in the sixth grade and getting one of the coveted solo spots in the big end of the year pageant. I was such a ham. Then all through junior high I took chorus until I had to choose between chorus and foreign language, and I picked French because it was what I needed for my academic diploma. But it didn’t really matter because by that time, I was already well into formal piano lessons. I took lessons for 14 years.

Many people asked me why I didn’t major in music in college. To put it simply, I wasn’t that good, and I knew it. I loved playing the piano, but it didn’t come second nature to me, not like reading and writing. I knew that if I were going to be a classical pianist, then playing should be as natural to me as breathing, and it wasn’t. I tried to explain that to my mother, but she didn’t understand that. My piano teacher did, though. It’s just one of those things. Either you have it, or you don’t, and I knew early that I didn’t. I loved it. I loved the instrument, loved the music, loved learning, especially Chopin, even Bach’s two and three-part inventions, but they were not extensions of myself. I had to fight hard to win them. And so I did not go to Julliard as I once had dreamed of attempting.

However, that never diminished my love of music. When I write, I always have music playing in the background. I create play lists for everything. When I worked, I always had music playing in my office. I once had a job that did not allow music to be played, even for those individuals with private offices. It was like working in a tomb. I did not stay at that job for very long, not just because of the music. That was just a symptom of the larger issues, namely complete control over the employees.

But as usual, I digress . . . To me, music is a reflection of a person’s soul, a soundtrack of your life. My tastes are very eclectic. I love classical music—symphonies, operas, string quartets, piano solos, the cello, all of it. But I also love classic rock ‘n roll, pop, country, soundtracks, reggae, salsa, blues, alternative, even some metal once in a while. Most of the time, I’m mellow, but driving with all of the windows down, I want rock, loud. In the islands, I want reggae and Buffet. Sunday afternoon, I might want an opera. Saturday afternoon, some blues would be good. Right now, I have my mellow mix on because I’m writing.

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Music of the Sphere by Michail Spiridonov

Artists who inspire me tends to be writers themselves: Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan, Sting, Van Morrison, Jamie O’Neal, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Springsteen, Melissa Etheridge. Of those, my favorites are probably Lennox, McLachlan and Etheridge, probably because they tend to write in my key, and their songs are so intimate and moving. Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” is one of my all-time favorite songs because it feels as if it were written just for me.

I still love to sing, and I’ll admit to being a karaoke junkie. I used to go to a favorite karaoke bar at least once a week back in the day. I would take my journal, and sit and write, people watch, and wait for my turn to sing. Then when Corey came into my life, I got him hooked on the karaoke habit, and we would go together, but when money is tight, you give up things, and that’s one of them. We haven’t been in over a year. It’s good for grins if you’ve never been. Lets out your inner star, the one that’s been hiding inside.

When I was still living at home, I would put on soundtracks and go around the house and sing at the top of my lungs when I was the only one home. Then when I got my first apartment, I would do the same thing. My poor neighbors. Every Saturday when I cleaned, I would sing and dust. Lemon pledge and “A Little Night Music.” Yes sirree. Pine Sol and “Grease.” Let no one be spared.

So now that I can’t clean every Saturday, the Broadway musicals are left unsung, and since I don’t go on long drives too often, Springsteen doesn’t get rocked out. But I still listen everyday to my tunes, and anytime I hear something new that I think might touch a chord in my creative muse, I download it and add it to my play list. I go on my friends’ MySpace pages and check out their play lists occasionally and steal from them as well, because, well, they get out more. And there is always my oldest son, who loves music as much as I do. I steal from him as well. So from all of these sources, I manage to stay fairly relevant.

But some songs still have a way of moving me to tears. Right now, the one that is wrenching my heart is Annie Lennox’s “Lost.” For a while, it was Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullabye.” Undoubtedly, though, one of the most beautiful songs ever written is David Lanz’s “Cristofori’s Dream.” Bartolomeo Cristofori is generally regarded as the inventor of the piano, and this song is a beautiful homage to the instrument. The soaring chords are reminiscent of a cathedral, and the song itself paints a picture in my mind of many vibrant colors and hues.

That is what the best music does: transports the listener to a different place and time, removes the here and now, if only for three or four minutes, so as to allow that transcendence beyond the mundane, the dripping faucet, the leaf blower, the blare of the television, the neighbor’s mulcher. Instead, all that you hear are the notes of pure beauty and power and timelessness.david-lanz-cristoforis-dream

More later. Peace.

The Endless Cycle of the Domino Effect

These Are The Words I Never Said 

blue-domino-effectOne of my earlier entries was entitled “The Domino Effect of Small Things,” and apparently this entry struck home with many people because it has been one of my more popular entries; however, I tend to think that’s because I mentioned “event horizon” in the entry, which in and of itself is an interesting topic for an entry. But I have already begun to digress from today’s topic: The Endless Cycle of the Domino Effect.

I was trying to classify the effect as eternal, but then I found myself delving into the whole realm of eternal time as ontological versus the entire nature of time as a space-time continuum and the entire aspect of physics and linear versus cyclical versus simultaneous, and it was beginning to make me dizzy, so I just decided to classify domino effects as being endless cycles and hope that you would allow me this little liberty and go with it.

What actually took me back to the whole idea of Domino Effects were two very disparate things, well more actually, but I’ll begin with the two main things: the thirtieth anniversary of Jonestown, and Annie Lennox’s song “Why.” I’ll try to break it down for you.

Why Don’t You Ever Learn To Keep Your Big Mouth Shut

I had honestly forgotten what it was like to grow up in a daily newsroom when real, earth-shattering news happened. I mean, I learned so much about what it is to write at The Ledger-Star. I learned how to hone, how to write on a deadline, how to discard, how to listen, how to edit. But I was also there for the beginning of a few great careers and for a few truly momentous new stories. Jonestown in Guyana was one of them.

When the number of bodies first started to come over the wire (and it was still wire then), we were all horrified. No one left the newsroom. The numbers kept getting higher. The details came in. There were sick jokes about Kool-ade at first. Then we heard about the children, the infants, the gunshots to the heads. There were no more jokes. It was one of the first times in my life when I was there as new was truly breaking; I was still a teenager, but I did my job like everyone else, with the gravity and respect that the news deserved. And then I cried all of the way home.

The other night I watched the special on MSNBC. I heard the words of the survivors, and then I heard something I had never heard before: Jim Jones’ laugh. I swear if you have never heard his laugh, don’t. It isn’t human. It is like a hyena, almost. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and this was a recording from thirty years ago.

What does this have to do with the Domino Effect? People like Jim Jones are still collecting people and still effecting people. Still amassing people and still getting them to do their will, all over the world. We have cults, and we have people all over the world who are convincing people to give their lives for insane causes. They fall like dominoes, as if they are nothing more than playing pieces in some madman’s game.

Why Can’t You See This Boat Is Sinking?

“I may be mad
I may be blind
I may be viciously unkind
But I can still read what you’re thinking
And I’ve heard it said too many times
That you’d be better off
Besides…
Why can’t you see this boat is sinking . . .”

Someone once told me that Annie Lennox’s song “Why” was written for me. Now some of you out there might think that I would have been insulted by this, but actually, I knew that they were right. I chose this particular passage of the song because this is the passage that was playing when he told me that the song was a perfect description of me, and I actually had to agree with him.

I have been accused of being vicious once or twice, but I have mellowed considerably in recent years. I used to abide by the rule that “revenge was a dish best served cold,” and for those of you who think that Khan made up that line in the second Star Trek movie, sorry, it’s from Moby Dick. And I’ve never denied that I’m madder than I god damned hatter, but that’s what gives me my je ne sais quois. Comprends tu?

So when I am feeling terribly down, put upon and just plain as if “Some things [would have been] better left unsaid/But they still turn[ed] me inside out, I wail out “Why,” either at home or at karaoke, although not at karaoke so much any more since our favorite place has changed so much and doesn’t feel like home any more.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid, But They Still Turn Me Inside Out

So in the past two weeks, I have experienced an unparalleled nirvana on November 4th when Barack Obama took Virginia and won the election to the highest office in the land. And then I hit reality smack in the face when I found out the tickets to the inauguration speech were unobtainable and not a single hotel anywhere within 50 miles had an available room. Every single newspaper was sold out by 10 a.m. I knew that the week wasn’t going to get any better.

“This is the path I’ll never tread
These are the dreams I’ll dream instead . . .”

circular-domino-effectI spent the twentieth anniversary of my daughter’s death in a hospital because I had to take my mother for an outpatient surgery, which only reinforces the cyclical patterns of life. Then I came home and had a major crash only to have a disastrous encounter with my eldest son who seems to have lost any kind of ability to feel anything for anyone besides himself, and I’m not sure if I can continue to chalk it all up to the fact that he is 17 or if he has become so self-absorbed and egocentric that I truly don’t know him any more. Said son informed me on this day that I am one of the most selfish people that he knows for divorcing his father. Thank you for that information. I’ll file it away with the hairshirt that I’ve been wearing for the past nine years. Thank you very much. There is not nearly enough guilt in my life, and feeling like a failure as a parent hasn’t entered my head in oh, nearly at least a day.

“How many times do I have to try to tell you
That I’m sorry for the things I’ve done . . .”

My health insurance will be completely restored once I manage to go out in the backyard and grow $1200 and pay it all by the end of January, only to start the whole cycle all over again, not to take into account the increase in premiums that will begin in the new year, which I have not been informed of, but have read about on the website. I have not been informed of this increase because I cannot get anyone from the oxymoronic entitled Human Resources department to return my calls.

They are playing Christmas music in the stores and Christmas commercials on television. I haven’t made it through Thanksgiving yet, which is a tremendously hard holiday for me because it is the anniversary of my father’s death. I have to go out in the backyard and dig up the buried treasure for holiday money because that’s the only way there’s going to be any ho ho ho in this house house house. I told Corey that I’d be happy with some new Christmas socks, and I meant it. That’s another thing that I’m addicted to like black boots: socks with penguins and snowmen on them. I’ll wear them all winter. Matters not to me. A box with a few new pairs of Christmas/holiday socks, and I’m good.

Can we skip Thanksgiving this year?

“This is the joy that’s seldom spread
These are the tears…
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread . . .”

These Are the Contents of My Head

I looked in several places for a picture of glass panes that had been lined up like dominocolored-glass-paneses because that’s really the kind of domino effect that I’m feeling: one little push, and everything doesn’t just fall over, it falls over and explodes, shatters. I thought that colored glass panes would be more effective. A different color to represent each heartache, each trouble, each worry, each thing that consumes me, that tears at my soul, that keeps me up at night, that causes Corey to spend more and more time of each and every day fretting—a color for each of those things—and then, possibly, as they fell and shattered, the curse that each bore would be broken and carried away with the wind.

But that only happens in the movies, or in songs.

“And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel
’cause i don’t think you know how I feel
I don’t think you know what I feel
I don’t think you know what I fear
You don’t know what I fear.”

There will be more later. There always is. Peace.