Article - Intermediate

The Spiritual Enneagram Journey

By Megan Biffi | 3 June 2022 |
the spiritual enneagram journey


Since its inception, the Enneagram has been infused with spiritual significance. With its origins going back to various ancient religions including Sufism, Judaism and medieval Christianity, the Enneagram has historically been integrated into other spiritual traditions. Over time, however, the application of the Enneagram as a tool within spiritual direction seemed to move away from a spiritual approach and instead began to be applied in the professional consulting arena.

Lately, interest has returned to the Enneagram as a useful tool on a spiritual journey. Numerous books have been written focusing on the spiritual application of the Enneagram, such as Don Riso and Russ Hudson's book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types and Sandra Maitri's The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul. Even more recently gaining popular momentum among religious circles is the book written by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, which explores the wisdom of the Enneagram and its connections with Christian spirituality, reflecting on the Enneagram as a path to deeper knowledge of ourselves, compassion for others, and love for God.

While many who are familiar with and use the Enneagram describe it as a self-discovery tool or personality profile, Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile believe the Enneagram to be far more. Instead, they suggest that "the true purpose of the Enneagram is to reveal to you your shadow side and offer spiritual counsel on how to open it to the transformative light of grace".

At The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey conference, Russ Hudson and Fr. Richard Rohr presented "The Enneagram as a serious spiritual tool, a pathway to release us from over-identification to the gift of Presence and a possible way of becoming fully human."

We at Integrative Enneagram Solutions believe that the Enneagram offers a profound personal pathway towards a journey of spiritual growth

What do we mean by a spiritual journey?

A spiritual journey is an invitation to grow into a more whole, connected, and essential version of yourself, moving away from more worldly fixations around things like relationships, money or immediate satisfaction, and moving toward a purer sense of self and your relationship to others.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Although religion and spirituality share some common subject matter, and many religious traditions embrace the Enneagram, this spiritual journey is not necessarily a religious one.

According to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, "Fundamentally, spiritual energy is a unique force for action in all dimensions of our lives. It is the most powerful source of our motivation, perseverance and direction. We define 'spiritual' not in the religious sense, but rather in more simple and elemental terms: the connection to a deeply held set of values and to a purpose beyond our self-interest."

What Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz are alluding to is that if we are to be fully engaged in life, we need a source of spiritual energy - a sense of being connected to something bigger than ourselves, a sense of our deepest values, and sense of purpose. What we mean when we talk about a spiritual journey, is a journey guided by questions such as "Who am I"?" What values drive my actions?" "What is my purpose in life?" "What am I passionate about at my deepest levels?"

Why is spiritual energy important? Loehr and Schwartz suggest that while "the quantity of energy we have to spend at any given moment is a reflection of our physical capacity... our motivation to spend what we have is largely a spiritual issue." Just think about it; by following a highly nutritious diet, along with the perfect exercise regimen and even sleeping optimally, you could feel like you have all the physical energy in the world. This, however, would not miraculously make you motivated or give you a sense of purpose. Rather, you might feel either restless or 'numbed out' and would be unlikely to act.

Spiritual energy speaks to the idea of personal alignment - where we align our daily actions to our deepest sense of self, our values and purpose. It also embodies the idea of inspiration, passion and legacy, and gives our life a sense of meaning, purpose or mission. Spiritual energy motivates us to move forward and act and, essentially, is one of the things that creates resilience.

People without a strong sense of spiritual connection may struggle with questions surrounding who they really are, what they value at a deeper level, and what they are passionate about, as well as what their true purpose in life is. On the other hand, people with a strong spiritual connection tend to have a clear vision of the kind of human being they want to strive towards becoming and what they want to stand for. They understand their purpose and their higher goals, and, therefore, they are likely to be highly motivated. In turn, they give themselves a reason to make things happen.

As a map, the Enneagram can help us on our spiritual journey towards rediscovering our deepest sense of self, values and purpose, thereby refuelling our spiritual energy.

What is the spiritual in the Enneagram journey? Rediscovering the True Self

Understanding the meaning of 'spiritual' in this context, you may be wondering how you can work to optimise your spiritual connection. The Enneagram resonates with the spiritual definition by Loehr and Schwartz, encouraging you to undertake a spiritual journey towards rediscovering your true self, ultimately discovering your deepest values and purpose.

This may take years to uncover. As we grow up, , many of us begin to disconnect from our true self as a means of coping in the world and protecting ourselves from pain; we put on masks to try meet the world's expectations and call these masks our personality. As a result, as adults, we have difficulty truly knowing and understanding ourselves, as well as knowing what we deeply value or what our purpose is.

The spiritual journey, therefore, is about finding our way back to an honest, authentic expression of our true self without the distortions and 'games' of the ego and personality.

"Buried in the deepest precincts of being, I sense there's a truer, more luminous expression of myself, and that as long as I remain estranged from it, I will never feel fully alive or whole."
The Road Back to You - Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

As a doorway to self-discovery and self-awareness, the Enneagram is a powerful tool for transformation that can replenish our spiritual energy by helping us reconnect to our true self - our most authentic way of being - and thereby reconnect us with what we deeply value.

What does this mean for you?

"The purpose of the Enneagram is to show us how we can release the paralyzing arthritic grip we've kept on old, self-defeating ways of living so we can open ourselves to experiencing more interior freedom and become our best selves."
The Road Back to You - Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

The Enneagram will help us to uncover the traps that keep us from living and freely, allowing us to reveal and understand our true self as opposed to our ego, to become aligned to our deepest values and purpose as well as to use our unique, authentic gifts for the good of others and the world. The Enneagram therefore, is our guide on our spiritual path towards wholeness.

For example, the delusion of the Enneagram Type Seven is that the universe will not look after them, and the invitation of their spiritual journey is to tune in, truly show up and to work in co-operation with God or the Universe. Enneagram Sevens who are disconnected believe that they are lacking somehow and must chase happiness, that what matters is outside themselves. The journey back to their true essential self is a spiritual path of sobriety, accepting both joy and suffering as part of the order of things and surrendering to the greater flow of life. They are then able to take their true role as light-bringers, offering hope to others who suffer. A spiritually energised and connected Enneagram Type Seven is grounded, intentional and joyful through both happiness and sadness.

"May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and light of your soul. May you realize that you are never alone, that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe. May you have respect for your individuality and difference. May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful and eternal happening. May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment."
The Road Back to You - Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

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