How to awaken to your divine
nature using the Enneagram
BY REV. NHIEN DOUGHERTY
When I first read a description of my Enneagram personality type, I cried. I was itting alone in my high-rise apartment,
a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay spread
out before me. Ten floors up, I knew no one could see
me through the massive windows, yet I instinctively
reached for a blanket to cover up. I felt unclothed.
In truth, I wasn’t trying to hide from anyone. The
Enneagram had exposed me to me, and this was
something I could not unsee.
My tears were a chemical soup of shame,
embarrassment, frustration, sadness, and regret.
Through the description of my Enneatype, I recognized
that behind my worldly success and beneath my
polished exterior of confidence and poise lay a mostly
unconscious belief that I was innately bad, defective: a
mistake. Deep down, I already knew that pretty much
everything I had done my entire life was fueled by the
conviction that I was not innately worthy or lovable
but could nevertheless try to become so by incessantly
striving to achieve an idealized sense of selfhood.
After about an hour of self-flagellation, I took a deep
breath and let out an even larger sigh. While my ego
took a harsh blow that afternoon, something deeper
in me celebrated. After all, having my inner motives
unmasked meant that I could finally start to live
more authentically. I felt relieved and hopeful for the
prospect of realizing and expressing my true nature—a
nature that I can finally now claim is, at my core,
perfect, whole, and divine.
The Enneagram has proved to be an invaluable
road map for my journey of awakening—and that
of countless others. Best known in modern times
as a personality typing system, the Enneagram is
much more than that. It is an ancient system of
sacred psychology often traced back to the desert
mothers and fathers (the third-century precursor of
the Christian monastics). In the 1960s, a group of
Jesuits learned the system from philosopher Oscar
Ichazo’s school in South America and brought it to
the United States.
In Greek, ennea means “nine” and gramma means
“chart.” The Enneagram is a chart of consciousness
that proclaims unity and oneness as our ultimate
reality, identifies how we have strayed from that
essential truth, and provides a road map home.
Rather than putting us into a box, it identifies the
(often invisible) box of beliefs in which we already
live, so we can finally break out of it.
The Enneagram figure is a circle inscribed by nine
points. On the most basic level, each point represents
a different archetypal personality type (or Enneatype).
As Father Richard Rohr explains in his book The
Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (Crossroad, 2001),
THE MULTIFACETED FACE
8 THE REFORMER
THE INDIVIDUALIST THE INVESTIGATOR
HOLY LAW, HOLY FAITH
ART CREDIT (LEFT): JOHN GREENLEAF-MAPLE