Monday 29 September 2014 4:00 p.m. Cynthia Brougeault Lake Cowichan Wisdom School.

The Enneagram of Personality:

Enneagram1. Perfectionist
2. Compulsive Giver
3. Performer – out there being noticed
4. Tragic Romantic – introspective, deep yearning
5. Cerebral – step back, uninvolved
6. Loyalist – safe inside structure
7. Epicure – party animal, optimist
8. Boss – bully
9. Peace Keeper – aspires to union, finds hard to keep boundaries

The Fourth Way sees the Enneagram of Personality as a brutalization at best and a desecration at worst. In the Gurdjieff work the Enneagram has only an incidental relationship to the Enneagram of Personality. In Gudjieff, the essence of the Enneagram is to see how 3 and 7 are interweaving.

3 and 6 are places that require an extra infusion of energy to start a new scale.

Life begins beyond our self-image.

No real truth in the world has ever been brought into the world apart from revelation.


At the Cowichan Lake Wisdom School on Tuesday afternoon 30 September, we “walked the enneagram”.

A work team had mapped out a huge enneagram on the lawn beside the dinning hall. Fifty-one Wisdom School participants stood around the circle. We were instructed, when we felt ready, to enter the enneagram at either point 4 or 9 and walk the lines following the directional arrows.

I do not do well with numbers and my brain is not oriented towards patterns. Standing on the outside of the circle, the exercise looked to me like chaos waiting to happen. I could not imagine following those crisscrossing lines without running into my fellow enneagram walkers. So I waited, hoping that I might figure out this exercise before launching into the mess of slowly moving bodies.

No pattern became clear/ Finally I just stepped into the circle and followed the lines before me. At no point did I have any idea where I was. I never knew what line I was on, what number I was passing, or what direction I needed to go next. I was completely lost inside this circle of confusion.

Usually, in the midst of chaos, I grow tense and resistant. I feverishly exercise my brain in a futile attempt to figure out what is going on and how I might wrestle the circumstances of life under control. But, walking the enneagram surrounded by other people, instead of becoming tight, I was able to relax and settle into the pattern. As I trusted the flow of the lines I discovered that at each turn the way forward became clear. I did not bump into anyone. Although I could not understand where I was, I was not actually lost. Eventually, the lines spit me out at the right point and I found myself standing again on the circumference of this great circle.

The enneagram is about much more than merely finding a “personality type” to describe myself. The enneagram embodies in its design a fundamental reality about the nature of life. We do not live in a random universe. Despite how it may feel at times, chaos is not the final reality.

There is a pattern to life designed into the heart of all existence. When I am able to relax, open, soften and trust this pattern, I am carried in the flow of grace and mercy. The way forward may not be clear in advance. But, when I get to the next step, the path opens and my feet know the way forward.


From: Bourgeault, Cynthia. The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity. Boston: Shambhala, 2013.

for Gurdjieff there are only three ‘personality types’ not nine:

1.   moving center
2. emotional center
3. intellectual center

The moving center is not about primitive instinctual emotions like anger or shame. In Gurdjieff’s system it designates ‘intelligence in movement’… a person’s capacity to explore the world, gather information, and synthesize the pieces through the modality of movement. 50

Nor are these three in fact ‘personality’ types in Gurdjieff terminology. Strictly speaking, they are essence types. For Gurdjieff, essence is what you’re born with; personality is what you acquire through external conditioning. 50,51

Whether you begin the journey as ‘man’ number 1, 2, or 3 (corresponding to the three essence types), the goal is to strengthen and balance these three lower centers so that you can move on to man number 4 – ‘balanced man.’ For only here can personhood in any true sense be said to begin. A person identified entirely with his or her type (whether you consider this to be an essence type or a personality type)is in Gurdjieff’s estimate simply ‘a machine.’ 51

‘discontinuous vibrations’ – all vibrations (or streams of energy) intrinsically lose force at certain precise points in their development and must therefore receive an additional impulse of energy at these points in order to proceed in a straight line. These points of discontinuous vibration correspond to the mi-fa or si-do intervals on the diatonic scale, and the additional energetic impulse needed to keep things proceeding on course is known as a conscious shock. 53

For those ‘lesser stopinders’ or half steps are not at full strength, energetically speaking; they require the supplementation of their respective conscious shocks to keep the process on course. In this sense, then, conscious shocks are essentially ‘intervals’ – they represent an additional vibrational packet, which properly belongs to the whole of the octave. And if you add these two shocks in, suddenly our seven-step scale expands to nine steps, arranged as follows. do re mi x fa sol la si x (do) 54, 55

that first conscious shock is also simultaneously a new do; while keeping things on track in its immediate octave, it simultaneously inaugurates a new life of development in a whole new octave. 55

Progressing enneagram students rapidly develop the capacity to see that they are in fact not their type; it is simply an impersonal, mechanical pattern that plays out within them. A shift in the sense of selfhood begins to occur, so that they reside less and less in their outer personality manifestations and more and more in their inner witnessing presence. Fixation upon the personality begins to wane as the deeper roots of identity emerge. 58

the shortcoming I find in our classic theological model of the Trinity is exactly the same short coming that seasoned Gurdjieffians find in the enneagram of personality: the flattening into one dimension of a symbol whose full cosmic wisdom can only be read in three dimensions, from within the dynamism itself. 58