The Enneagram

The Enneagram is a figure that has been appropriated to model all sorts of things. Most current books on the Enneagram are about a personality model based on the work of Oscar Ichazo of Arica Institute, Chile. Claudio Naranjo was instrumental in bringing his take on Ichazo’s work out of Chile. Many Jesuits picked up the ideas and wrote books, as did others. There may be hundreds of titles by now.

There’s a similar application of the Enneagram, but to body types. Rodney Collin is a source for these ideas. Joel Friedlander and Susan Zannos have written books on this version of the Enneagram.

Another application of the Enneagram is as part of a pantheon of systems – from monads, dyads and triads through to larger systems. John Godolphin (J. G.) Bennett was key in developing these ideas and their application to life situations. He used the term Systematics (also used in Biology, but with a different meaning). Two of his books that are relevant are Elementary Systematics / A Tool for Understanding Wholes and Enneagram Studies. Bennett had ties to Gurdjieff, who introduced the Enneagram to his students.

Bennett’s ideas on Systematics have been applied in business situations. See Saul Kuchinsky’s Systematics / Search for Miraculous Mangement and Richard Knowles’ The Leadership Dance / Pathways To Extraordinary Organizational Effectiveness. Saul died some years ago; go to www.centerforselforganizingleadership.com/ to contact Richard and his wife. Tell them I sent you.

Here’s a picture of the Enneagram, with a red circle at the top that I added to fit it into the N-Gram diagrams I developed. They are based on the way the patterns of repeating digits in base ten for n/7 (.00, .142857, .99) and n/3 (.00, .33, .66, .99)  are represented in the Enneagram, but with other divisors in addition to 3 and 7, and applied in other bases in addition to ten.

Enneagram with top point emphasis
Enneagram with top point emphasis

The Gurdjieff/Bennett Enneagram is used to model a process of transformation. The sequential steps are mapped clockwise around the circle, starting and ending at the top. A mental approach consistent with the transformation follows the 1-4-2-8-5-7 pattern. Applying the model requires identifying the anchor points (3, 6, 0/9), the intervening steps, and the relevant interrelationships. The process of attempting to use the model as a map can bring clarity to that which is being explored.