By Caislin Weathers, Ph.D.
It was very rich to spend a day and a half with Richard February 11-12, just listening in a relaxed and beautiful setting at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church. Richard just was, and he exuded the Enneagram. The gathering was not too large—100 or so. A special opportunity was given to the Professional Members to have the afternoon before the conference in a small informal session. There Richard talked about the history of the Enneagram and about his own history with it, beginning in the early 1970’s. His Jesuit spiritual director taught him this tool “for the sake of the reading of souls” before anything was available in written form. Although his was one of the early books published (from a recording of a talk he gave!) he stressed the value of the oral tradition which had held for the centuries until then. “Outside a transformative space, people take the words and mistake them for the experience, they freeze-frame and reduce it. We must move beyond the traits, to the energy of each type.”
In the full gathering the next day he talked in terms of non-dual thinking and paradox, how our “strength” turns out to be our weakness, our “weakness” our strength, that the heroic self-image of our own PR is actually our false self. How we move upward by falling. He used his own Type One-ness to illustrate that all his work to be a “very good boy” took him away from his true self. “Success can’t be invited on the spiritual journey.”
Richard brought his deep spiritual perspective and fresh observations, including a comment or two about Arizona—“the last bastion of patriarchal power and little enlightenment”. He noted that this was the context where Jesus started!
The afternoon panels expanded and vividly demonstrated all that had been said before about the types. Richard concluded by underscoring that the Enneagram is not a personality profile, but a tool to change our processing, our hardwiring, our motherboard, to subvert the False Self and discover our True identity.
You can read more of Richard’s teaching on the Enneagram in his books with Andreas Ebert, Discovering the Enneagram, Experiencing the Enneagram, and The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective.
Caislin Weathers, Ph.D.
Comment: 160 people attended the conference, “The Enneagram as a Tool for Personal Transformation” presented by Richard Rohr, February 11-12, 2011 at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church.