The Enneagram of Personality is a system that categorizes and maps out 9 personality types on a nine-point diagram. The model — which serves to aid in self-development as well as understanding others. It is the foundation of several online Enneagram personality tests. As well as books on topics such as personal, relationship, and career development. And yet there is still much mystery surrounding Enneagram and its origins.
Some say the Enneagram origins is from ancient Babylon around 4,500 years ago.
While others claim roots in classical Greek philosophy dating back 2,500 years. The model, attributed to the Jewish Kabbalah, Christian mysticism and Sufism, a mystical form of Islam.
Researchers Wiltse and Palmer suggest that ideas similar to the Enneagram are in the work of Evagrius Ponticus. A Christian mystic from 4th century Alexandria. There is a possible link between the Enneagram and Christianity. Through middle ages references to Evagrius Ponticus’ categorization of various forms of temptation (Logismoi), later translated into the 7 deadly sins.
Plotinus spoke of 9 divine qualities that are observable in human nature.
It is likely that the Enneagram was introduced to esoteric Judaism through the philosopher Philo. And later incorporated into the branches of the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah (Nine-Foldedness).
Franciscan mystic Ramon Llull taught a philosophy and theology of 9 principles. Seeking to integrate different faith traditions. One of Jesuit Mathematician Athanasius Kircher’s drawings from a 17th-century text is similar to the Enneagram symbol.
Some authors believe that variations of the symbol appeared in the sacred geometry of Pythagorean and mystical mathematics. Variations of it also appear in the Sufi tradition. With specific reference to the Naqshbandi Order (“Brotherhood of the Bees”). It is G. I. Gurdjieff, however, who credited with simplifying the widely known Enneagram figure, although he did not develop the 9 character types.
The 21st Century Enneagram
The more recent evolution of the Enneagram symbol is not as fuzzy. In the 1930s, Russian mystic and Spiritual Teacher George Gurdjieff introduced the Enneagram as a spiritual symbol. Using it to teach on the unfolding of creation, and referred to it as a eternal motion. He claimed to have been introduced to the Enneagram in the 1920s during a visit to a monastery in Afghanistan. But failed to explain its origin.
Bolivian-born Enneagram Teacher Oscar Ichazo is credited for coining the term "Enneagram of Personality". And for the modern Enneagram, which is based on some of his teachings on ego-fixations, holy ideas, passions and virtues. Ichazo began teaching programs of self-development in the 1950s and founded the Arica School in 1968. The Enneagram was later introduced in America in the 1960s. And — along with related symbols, theories and ideas — formed part of a larger body of teaching, which Ichazo termed Protoanalysis.
Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean-born psychiatrist, first learned about the Enneagram from Ichazo in Chile.
He put a modern, psychological twist on the model. And developed and taught his own understanding of it in the United States in the early 1970s. Affec others, such as Jesuit priests, who adapted the Enneagram for use in Christianity.
Among those who studied with Naranjo were Ochs, Almaas and Maitri. And they still teach the Enneagram today. Ochs was also powerful in introducing the Enneagram into some Christian communities in the United States. Exposing its teaching to authors such as Wagner, Riso and Hudson. Ichazo eventually disowned Naranjo and other teachers as he felt they misinterpreted and misused the Enneagram.
Today, researchers focus on the psychological aspects of the Enneagram. Rather than the religious aspects, often comparing it with other models like the Myers-Briggs system.
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