"All knowledge can be included in the enneagram and with the help of the enneagram it can be interpreted. And in this connection only what a man is able to put into the enneagram does he actually know, that is understand...Everything can be included and read in the enneagram." (a quote of Gurdjieff reported by P.D.Ouspensky pg 294 ISM)
The enneagram symbol, and the laws that it represents, predate the placement of nine personality types. Much of what Gurdjieff and other students of the Gurdjieff work, like John Bennett and A.G.E Blake, applied procedures and actions such as turning on taps and drinking water, or cooking. The more important focus though has always been on transformation, in particular the alchemical process of turning lead into gold; as an analogy for the transformation of human consciousness.
This approach to understanding working with the enneagram has been somewhat over-shadowed by the development and subsequent infatuation with our personality profiles and typing.
Using the Enneagram to understand Systems
In last few years of Don Riso's life, Don developed a unique approach to working with teams, and organisational change. The Nine Domains Approach took the principles and qualities of the nine personality types, along with the Levels of Development to create a systems model of what constitutes a "Mature" high functioning team or organisation, an assessment survey to identify which of the nine domains are functioning well, and which might be missing or dysfunctional. From the results, a variety of interventions are available to the Nine Domains Facilitator, in order to address the identified issues.
The Enneagram and Neurobiology
There are many books, and research papers to choose from for anyone interested in the Brain, and the ways in which it can change. Neuroplasticity is acknowledged as the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout an individual's life. The influences for making such changes are numerous and can include; from physical movement with awareness to stillness of the mind with focused attention.
Daniel J. Siegel MD is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and executive director of the Mindsight Institute, and a prolific author of many books on the benefits of Mindfulness. His interest and studies of brain science and the ancient meditation techniques, has revealed lasting changes in the Brain, that prove the benefits of Mindful Awareness and Focused Attention.
In his 2010 book "The Mindful Therapist" (chapter 9, Traits) acknowledges the Enneagram of nine personality types, following a research-group that included David Daniels M.D. (a prominent teacher of the Enneagram ) and his daughter Denise Daniels PhD and two other scientists, prominent in the fields of personality research and health.
"..this system is truly only something the person himself or herself can ascertain. It is not observable by external behaviour alone" (D.J. Siegel MD pg162 The Mindful Therapist)
The model was named PDP for patterns of developmental pathways, and the findings categorized in the initial three groupings of Fear, Distress and Anger, correlating to Head, Heart and Gut types. The nine categories are then referred to a types (1) right versus wrong, errors and mistakes, (2) other peoples needs and desires, (3) task, goals and achievement, (4)that which is missing and longed for, (5) potential intrusion and demands of others, especially regarding time, space, and knowledge, (6) potential hazards and worst case scenarios and how to deal with them, (7) positive or pleasurable options and opportunities, with a general emphasis on planning, (8) injustices and the need for control or assertiveness, (9) maintaining harmony with one's physical and social environment. (compare The Nine Personality Types)
Siegel's approach acknowledges the Enneagram as being a "truly developmental model of traits of the mind" where, as we develop over time, a PDP grouping (the three Centres of Intelligence; Head, Heart, Gut) "can reinforce itself and become more or less rigid in its internal focusing"
This idea is inherent in the vertical aspects of the Riso-Hudson "Levels of Development", that demonstrates the movement possible from restricted, narrow, stuck states to the adaptive, flexible, coherent and more open states of presence.
All and Everything of Integration
Integration is a process where two or more things, people or ideas come together into an integral whole. In the work with the Enneagram, the aim is Integration of the three Centres intelligence, which would include all nine types, or to use Siegel's terminology, the nine "Patterns of Developmental Pathways".
Prior to being introduced to the Enneagram, Daniel Siegel's books focused on two other models of nine. The Nine Functions of Integration relating to the Prefrontal Cortex and the Nine Domains of Integration.
As Mr Gurdjieff says All knowledge can be included in the enneagram and with the help of the enneagram it can be interpreted.
The model presented is independent of any other formal Enneagram source, nor has it been endorsed by Daniel Siegel. It can stand alone from the personality types, or be a source of inquiry and speculation of whether these nine functions might correlate with the nine personality of development processing and enneagram types.
Either way, the integration of insights, interventions and understanding available from Enneagram teachings and Mindfulness practices that Siegel promotes, have established benefits for developing openness, observation, objectivity and compassion.