Book Report: The Sacred Enneagram

What follows won’t be my normal book report. I don’t know what it will be, really, because I’m not sure if I’ll be able to adequately explain the profound effect that The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, by Christopher L. Heuertz has had on me. Anyway, I knew I picked up those Enneagram books for a reason.

If You Don’t Know What an Enneagram Is, Skip This Part

I liked it. A lot.

By the time I finished the book, I realized I had mis-typed myself, and thankfully someone who understands this mumbo-jumbo better than I do helped me figure out why that happened. I feel good about things now, even if it turns out I am a Type 1 perfectionist. Ugh. But accurate. In my younger years, I veered off to the adjacent Type 2, who want to help everybody and everything, and since menopause, I have been leaning to Type 9, so no wonder I thought that was my type originally.

I’m grateful to my two friends named Victoria who talked to me and helped me figure that all out. It’s so good to have a sounding board when you know there’s something not quite right, but you can’t figure out what it is.

Here’s the Fascinating Part

At least it’s fascinating and surprising to me. The author of the book is a young man who has spent much of his life doing charity work and comes from a strong Catholic background. I talked about this, and how he even knew Mother Teresa, when I reviewed The Enneagram of Belonging, his other recent book. So, yeah, he sprinkled examples from his own spiritual journey throughout this book, as well.

The thing is, the way he wrote about the practices of his teachers, their attitudes toward God and Jesus, and their goals for their spiritual development really resonated with me. As I read on and on about the contemplative Christian tradition, I felt more and more at peace with their goals and practices.

Toward the end of the book, when Heuertz talks about ways of prayer that will help you find your spiritual home, I was deeply moved. The aims of these Christian prayers and practices practically mirrored my own, other than the words they used to refer to the Divine. There is centering, stillness, attention to your breathing and body, and invoking love. Just like what I do.

What works for me may not work for you. Image by @linnflorin via Twenty20.

It fits in very well with the kind of Buddhist teachings I am most drawn to, as well, which are the more nature-focused ones that view us on Earth as all part of one entity. Just like the Christian God being in us all and accepting us all just the way we are.

I even see where Brene Brown’s spirituality comes from, though she may well approach it from a different tradition. It all boils down to acceptance of our whole selves (not, in my case, the perfect self I keep trying to get to with all this self help, education, and introspection).

So, for me (and I would think to many readers who plow through the whole book), the Enneagram types and interrelationships all turn out to be a tool to use to figure out how to get past all that stuff. Wow. Mind blown!

As a non-Christian, the most intriguing part (and the one I want to know a LOT more about) is how these contemplative Christians fit Jesus into all this, since you sorta do have to be a fan of Christ to be a Christian. When Heuertz goes into stories about Jesus, it reminds me of my years stuck in a basement with two former theologians (supposedly writing our dissertations), where it dawned on me slowly that they knew perfectly well there’s a lot of analogy, metaphor, and interpretation going on when it comes to the role of Jesus in their faith.

One Thing This Book Did for ME

Going through this book, and reading a little more about the groups of Jesuits, Sufi, and other spiritual guides Heuertz talks about, woke me up to an area where I have needed to do more work. I realized, deep in my heart, that not all people in organized religions fit into my stereotypes. My history with Christianity has led me to some pretty unfair over-generalizations, which I’ve been trying to rid myself of, slowly but surely.

There are lots of paths to inner peace and oneness with the Divine. Mine now makes sense. I wish this for all of you, whatever your path.

This book did it. I now feel entirely comfortable with the Christian path trod by people Heuertz’s spiritual guides (and Jim Rigby, and Joanna Fontaine Crawford, and other Christians I know who are working so hard for equality, love and understanding among people).

I knew intellectually that religious folk are like any other group: so diverse that I can find people I feel kinship with as well as people I just don’t understand at all. Now I feel it in my heart.

Personal growth for the win!

PS: Of course this is just MY spiritual journey. Yours is just fine for you as long as it is helping you be the best you possible.

Book Report: The Enneagram of Belonging

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I was reading a book on the Enneagram and that I’d gotten some helpful insight in it. I had a lot of time last night to read, so I finished The Enneagram of Belonging: A Compassionate Journey of Self-Acceptance, by Christopher L. Heurtz.

A Little Background

I’ve always been a sucker for personality tests, astrology, and other ways of categorizing people’s personalities or figuring out what makes people tick. I love archetypes, too, as evidenced by how much I enjoy tarot. I have always liked to meditate and I do a lot of reading about self-help topics and ways to lead me to get along with others better, enjoy life, and love myself. I am very aware that some of the science (if there is any) behind these kinds of things is suspect or non-existent. I happily coexist with my cognitive dissonance, and take what works from the things I explore and leave what doesn’t work behind.

When I first read about the Enneagram, back in its earlier days, I didn’t see any science in there at all and a lot of mysticism. It reminded me a lot of numerology, which I also had a hard time with (but who knows, numbers may very well have effects on us).

I picked this book up, though, because I’d heard there has been a lot of work in the Enneagram community, and a couple of friends were very enthusiastic. Plus, seeing the words “compassionate” and “self-acceptance” in the subtitle made it sound like the book would fit in with all the work I’ve done on self-love. And Brene Brown wrote the introduction!

On to the Book

I ended up getting a lot of ideas and insights, and a lot of it I credit to the author. Heuertz is very good at making the complexities of the Enneagram make sense and is very careful to make clear that the spiritual aspect of the system are way more important than identifying your type and buying a t-shirt with your number on it. (Nonetheless, I am adopting the sloth as my official mascot since my type’s main passion is sloth.)

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