The Enneagram: Editorial Enthusiasm

Enneagram Front Cover-sqI was so moved by an editorial project last spring, I posted an entry about the transformative power of stories. The book I edited in that project has now arrived from England, and I’m experiencing a new set of subtle awakenings after seeing it.

I’d known the publishers were going to say something nice about my contribution, but it was still exhilarating to see it in print (special thanks to me for my “brilliant copy-editing skills” – click on the text box below). The ecstatic dance that broke out included scanning the cover, the table of contents, and the acknowledgements (UK spelling) – then emailing the jpg files to close friends. They were kind enough to be ecstatic with me, for me.

Enneagram Acknowledgements-sq Now that I’ve settled down a little, I realize I want to make these scans available to a wider world – not only to share my enthusiasm for the Enneagram, and to promote Amazon book sales, but frankly also to broadcast the compliment I received, as a testimonial. Having developed allergies to some forms of self-promotion rampant on the web, I meditated on how to keep the tone in tune with my integrity. I’m discovering layers of conditioning in my psyche, deep down where family and culture formed visceral ideas that self-congratulation and pride are tacky and low-class, even evil. The subtle awakenings are about ways I’ve reacted to these ideas over a lifetime – sometimes in beneficial ways, sometimes not.

Benefits and penalties were sometimes culturally dependent: in a small enclosed culture, self-effacement would be (a) admired and (b) overcome by everyone’s personal knowledge of the talents among them. But this is the web. Strangers. Hucksters.  Planet-wide competition fountaining out torrents of hyperbolic advertising. That’s one reason I’ve blogged about my writing process and inner evolution, so people could decide at a level deeper than hype about whether to become coworkers on a project – hoping, too, that the writing itself would reveal technical quality that people could trust.

Enneagram Table of Contents-sqThis post feels like the middle way: boldly publishing the book scans (even with a blushing red circle around ‘my’ paragraph), but embedding them in a more nuanced context. I hope readers will notice (by clicking on the text to magnify) the publishers in the table of contents’ introduction, plus the teachers and topics in the chapter list.

For those unfamiliar with the Enneagram – to put this editorial celebration into wider context, and to be sure readers don’t mistake me for someone inspired by those who see the Enneagram as a parlor game for pigeonholing people, slapping labels on them…. The subtle origins of the system remain mysterious. Through the millennia its meanings and applications have evolved – from cosmic principles taught in secret transmissions, to modern interpretations of human psychology. Essentially, ennea means nine, reflecting a system of universal reality in a nine-pointed symbol.

In recent times, the public world of the Enneagram began to open through the teachings of Oscar Ichazo in Chile. One of his students, Claudio Naranjo, brought the teachings to the US and translated them into a system blending psychology with this ancient structured wisdom. From the school Naranjo founded, many streams of the Enneagram emerged through his students.

The common thread among them is the structure of nine energetic patterns that arise in the psyche, in self-protective reaction to early (even pre-birth) trauma. Some schools emphasize a single type or style (pattern) as the basis for one’s personality. Others highlight patterns ‘imported’ from family in early childhood. Others focus on the dynamic evolution of patterns. Some concentrate on individual development, others on the workplace, others on relationships. Some schools include multiple dimensions. All of them remind us that the ‘true self’, the core of one’s Being, is not a pattern or type, but each style offers a key, or doorway, or map, into one’s interior by revealing nine types of obstacles or veils – and ways to evolve beyond them, to become free of them.

This book also contains a series of nine panel discussions among people who express one of the nine patterns. These conversations, which are forthright, vulnerable – and sometimes funny – open windows into one’s own traits and passions, and into the worldviews of others, offering a path of compassionate understanding of the human condition. Listening to the ways people live the patterns, in familiar everyday situations, enriches theoretical understanding.

I’m tremendously grateful to everyone involved for allowing themselves to co-create this book. It’s a genuine thrill to have been part of such a life-enhancing project.

About Cat and the Gateways