New Book by Don Riso and Russ Hudson
The Wisdom of the Enneagram
The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine
(Bantam Books, June, 1999)
The first book to integrate the Enneagram system of type with spiritual and psychological practices and exercises. This book answers the question, "Now that I know my type, how can I use this knowledge for personal growth and self-transformation?"
Here is the Preface from the book which is now available:
Preface—Beings of Light
We are driven by a deep inner restlessness. We may feel this restlessness as a sense that something is missing in us, although it is usually difficult to define exactly what it is. We have all sorts of notions about what we think we need or want-a better relationship, a better job, a better physique, a better car, and on and on. We believe that if we acquire that perfect relationship or job or new "toy," the restlessness will go away and we will feel satisfied and complete. But experience teaches us that the new car makes us feel better for only a short time. The new relationship may be wonderful, but never quite fulfills us in the way we thought it would. So what are we really looking for?
If we reflect for a moment, we may realize that what our hearts yearn for is to know who we are and why we are here. But a few moments of reflection will show us that little in our culture encourages us to look for answers to these important questions. We have been taught that the quality of our life will improve primarily if our external fortunes improve. Sooner or later, however, we realize that external things, while valuable in themselves, cannot address the deep restlessness of our soul.
So where can we look for answers?
Many of the currently available books on personal transformation speak movingly about the kind of person that we would all like to be. They recognize the vital importance of compassion, community, communication, and creativity. But as beautiful and attractive as these (and other) qualities are, we find it extremely difficult to maintain them or to put them into practice in our daily lives. Our hearts yearn to soar, yet we almost always come crashing down painfully on the rocks of fear, self-defeating habits, and ignorance. All too often our good intentions and noble hopes simply become new sources of disappointment. We give up on ourselves, return to familiar distractions, and try to forget about the whole matter.
Are the vast majority of popular psychology books misguided or altogether wrong? Are human beings really incapable of living more complete and fulfilling lives? The great spiritual and moral teachers throughout history have always insisted that we have the potential to achieve greatness-that we are, in fact, divine creatures in some real sense. So why do we find this state so hard to recognize and live up to?
We believe that most self-help books are not necessarily wrong, but merely incomplete. For example, even with a basic topic like weight loss, there are many possible reasons why a person might have a weight problem or issues with food—the possible result of a sugar sensitivity, or excessive fat in the diet, or nervous eating to repress anxiety, or any number of other emotional issues. Without identifying the specific issues that are causing the problem, no solution is likely no matter how hard the effort.
The self-help author's prescriptions are usually based on methods that have worked for him or her personally and reflect his or her own psychological makeup and personal process. If a reader happens to have a similar psychological makeup, the author's method may be effective. But if there is little "match," the reader may be misled rather than helped.
Any effective approach to growth must therefore take into account the fact that there are different kinds of people-different personality types. Historically there have been many psychological and spiritual systems that have attempted to address this key insight: astrology, numerology, the four classic temperaments (phlegmatic, choleric, melancholic, and sanguine), Jung's system of psychological types (extrovert and introvert orientations times sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking functions), and many others. Furthermore, recent studies in infant development and in brain science have indicated that there is a biological basis for fundamental differences in temperament between different types of people have a biological basis.
This diversity explains why what is good advice for one person can be disastrous for another. Telling some types that they need to focus more on their feelings is like throwing water on a drowning man. Telling other types that they need to assert themselves more is as foolish as putting an anorexic person on a diet. In understanding ourselves, our relationships, our spiritual growth, and many other important issues, we will see that type—not gender, not culture, and not generational differences-is the crucial factor.
We believe that awareness of personality types is needed in many areas-in education, the sciences, business, the humanities, and therapy—and, above all, in spirituality and transformational work. While our restless yearnings may be universal, how they are expressed is much more particular, and is, in fact, a function of the "filter" with which we approach all of life. The main filter that we use to understand ourselves and the world around us, to express ourselves, to defend ourselves, to deal with our past and anticipate our future, to learn with, to rejoice with, and to fall in love with is our personality type.
What if there were a system that could enable us to have more insight into ourselves and others? What if it could help us discern our filters more clearly and take them into proper account? What if this system could show us our core psychological issues as well as our interpersonal strengths and weaknesses? What if this system did not depend on the pronouncements of experts or gurus, or on our birth date, or our birth order, but on our personality patterns and our willingness to honestly explore ourselves? What if this system showed us not only our core issues, but also pointed out effective ways of dealing with them? What if this system also revealed how our core issues connected with the rest of our personality—as well as directed us toward the depths of our soul? Such a system exists, and it is called the Enneagram.
Beings of Light
One of the most important incidents of my life happened to me, Don, several years ago when I was involved in a week-long spiritual retreat in upstate New York. About 50 of us were staying in a turn of the century hotel that our teacher in the Work owned. Since the grounds and interior of the old house perpetually needed upkeep, it was a perfect place for us to do some grueling manual labor—and the occasion to observe our resistances and reactions while we worked. The summer heat was intense, the showers few, the lines to the common bathrooms long, and there were almost no rest periods. As we were aware, all of the physical and communal conditions were engineered by our teacher to bring out our personality "features" so that we could observe ourselves more clearly in the intensity of this living laboratory.
One afternoon we were given a rare opportunity to have a 45-minute nap between chores. I had been assigned to scrape paint off the outside of the old hotel, and what seemed like 50 years of weathered, tiny chips soon covered me from head to toe. By the end of our work session, I was also so tired from working and sweating that I did not care how grubby I felt—I needed a nap, and was the first one upstairs and into bed as soon as we were dismissed from our chores. Most of the other guys who shared the dorm room with me dragged themselves in shortly after, and within five minutes, we were all settling down to sleep.
Just then, our one remaining roommate, Alan, banged his way into the room. He had been assigned to look after the children of group members, and it was clear from the way he was flinging things around that he was mad that he could not get off duty earlier for a nap himself. He did, however, have time to make enough noise so that no one else could rest, either.
But shortly after Alan came crashing through the door, something amazing happened to me: I saw my negative reactions to him rising in my body like a train pulling into a station, and I did not get on the train. In a moment of simple clarity, I saw Alan with his anger and frustration—I saw his behavior for what it was without further elaboration—and I saw my anger "loading up" to let him have it—and I did not react to any of it.
When I simply observed my reactions of anger and self-justification rather than acting on them, it was as if a veil was suddenly pulled from my eyes and I opened up. Something that normally blocked my perception dissolved in an instant, and the world became completely alive. Alan was suddenly lovable, and the other guys were perfect in their reactions, whatever they were. Just as astonishingly, as I turned my head and looked out the window, I saw that everything around me was glowing from within. The sunlight on the trees, the swaying of the leaves in the wind, the slight rattle of the panes of glass in the old window frame were too beautiful for words. I was enthralled at how miraculous everything was. Absolutely everything was beautiful.
I was still in this state of amazed ecstasy when I joined the rest of the group for a late-afternoon meditation. As the meditation deepened, I opened my eyes and looked around the room-and fell into what I can only describe as an "inner vision," the impression of which has stayed with me for years.
What I saw was that everyone there was a "being of light." I saw clearly that everyone is made of light-that we are like forms of light—but that a crust has formed over it. The crust was black and rubbery like tar and has obscured the inner light that was everyone's real, inner self. Some blotches of tar were very thick; other areas were thinner and more transparent. Those who had worked on themselves for longer had less tar and they radiated more of their inner light. Because of their personal history, others were covered with more tar, and would need a great deal of work to get free of it.
After about an hour, the vision grew dim and eventually shut down. When the meditation was over, we had more work to do and I rushed to take one of the most frequently avoided tasks, washing dishes in the steamy kitchen. But because the residue of ecstasy was still palpable, that chore, too, was a moment of bliss.
I share this story not only because its significance for me personally, but because it graphically showed me once again that the things we are talking about in this book are real. If we observe ourselves truthfully and non-judgmentally, seeing the mechanisms of our personality in action, we can wake up, and our lives can be a miraculous unfolding of beauty and joy.
Using This Book
The Enneagram can help us only if we are honest with ourselves. Thus, the elements of the system—and this book-are best used as a guide to self-observation and self-inquiry. We have designed this book with many practical features to help you use it this way, including:
- Each type's healing attitudes, gifts, and specific transformational process
- How to "observe and let go" of troublesome habits and reactions
- How to work with the motivations of each type
- Unconscious childhood messages
- Therapeutic strategies for each type
- "Spiritual jump starts," Wake-up Calls, and Red flags for each type
- How to cultivate awareness in your daily life
- Inner Work sessions & practices for each type
- How to use the system for continuing spiritual growth
Since it is helpful to do the exercises included in this book in a journal of some kind, you might want to dedicate a notebook or loose-leaf binder for this purpose. We suggest that you use your Inner Work Journal to record the insights which will come to you as you read about your personality type as well as the other eight types. Most people find that this information not only moves them, but also brings up all kinds of related issues, memories, and creative inspirations. You will therefore want to have somewhere to jot down your insights for future reference.
As a first exercise in your Inner Work Journal, we suggest you write a biography of yourself—not an autobiography. (It is easier to write about yourself in the third person—that is, as "he" or "she" rather than "I.") Tell your life story beginning from your earliest years (or earlier from what you know of your family history) up to the present time as if you were describing someone else. You may also wish to dedicate a page in your Inner Work Journal to each decade, leaving room to add relevant thoughts and observations as you recall more. Do not worry about being literary or "correct." The important thing is to see your life as a whole, as if told by someone else.
What have been the defining moments of your life—your traumas and triumphs—those times when you knew that, for better or worse, your life would never be the same? Who have been the most significant people in your life—those who have acted as "witnesses" to your struggles and growth, those who have hurt you, and those who have been your understanding mentors and friends? Be as detailed as possible.
Come back to your biography whenever you wish to add something, and as you move through this book and gain more insight into yourself. Your story will become richer and more meaningful as you understand yourself more deeply.
The Enneagram Institute is a Service Mark of Enneagram Personality Types, Inc.
All Images, Content and Layout Copyright The Enneagram Institute 1998-2013.
[Home] [Back to Top] [Free RHETI Sampler] [Free QUEST Test] [Full RHETI Enneagram Test] [QUEST–TAS Test] [IVQ Instincts Test] [The Enn. Cards–Sorts] [Interpreting Test Results] [Type Descriptions] [How the System Works] [Levels of Development] [The Traditional Enneagram] [Practical Applications] [Relationships—Type Combinations] [Personal Growth] [Enneagram & Spirituality] [Addictions & Type] [Business Resources] [Enneagram FAQs] [Articles & Interviews] [Discussion Board] [Free EnneaFeatures Viewer Download] [Free RHETI Sampler Download] [Free Materials] [Books & Resources] [Schedule] [Training Program] [Workshops] [Private Consultations] [About The Institute] [Institute Network] [Teachers & Referral Listing] [Guestbook] [Contact The Institute]