Exploring the Connections between the Enneagram and Religion

Sat Aug 05 2023

sacred books

"Is the Enneagram a religious thing?"

Well, the answer is complex. The Enneagram is old. Some say it is ancient. One thing is clear: It is used within various religious and spiritual traditions for growth and self-understanding. But it is not inherently religious. There is no council or governing body. At its core, the Enneagram is a psychological tool—a system that can guide students towards understanding themselves and others.

With that, let’s look at the Enneagram’s various religious connections.

Christianity and the Enneagram

In Christianity, the Enneagram was and has been adopted as a tool for spiritual growth.

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, has championed the Enneagram within Christian circles, seeing it as a way to better understand oneself and others, thereby facilitating personal and spiritual development. His Center for Action and Contemplation offers various resources, including online courses, articles, and books on the Enneagram from a Christian perspective. Here is Rohr giving an into to the Enneagram.

Sufism and the Enneagram’s Origins

Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, has often been linked to the Enneagram. Although these connections remain speculative, the Enneagram symbol bears similarities to specific Sufi diagrams, and the teachings associated with the Enneagram echo Sufi spiritual practices. The Enneagram Journal is an excellent resource for exploring these potential links.

The Enneagram and Judaism

While not a mainstream practice in Judaism, the Enneagram has found acceptance among some Jewish scholars and practitioners.

Some Jewish scholars and practitioners value the Enneagram for self-understanding and spiritual growth. Rabbi David Cooper’s book ”God Is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism” provides some insights into how the Enneagram and Kabbalah may intersect.

New Age, Esoteric Groups, and the Enneagram

The Enneagram has also found its way into various New Age and esoteric groups.

The Enneagram is often adopted as a personal and spiritual development tool, drawing on different religious and spiritual traditions in their interpretation of the system. Helen Palmer’s book ”The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life” offers a comprehensive resource for understanding how these groups use the Enneagram.

The Enneagram in Jesuit Tradition

The Jesuits, a Catholic religious order known for their commitment to education and intellectual exploration, have been known to use the Enneagram.

They see the system as a tool for spiritual discernment, promoting greater self-understanding and aiding in personal growth. Jerome Wagner, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, explains more the Enneagram’s origins connecting it to a Jesuit mathematician Athanasius Kircher.

The Enneagram: Beyond Religion

Despite its adoption in various religious contexts, it’s important to remember that the Enneagram is not religious. It’s a psychological tool that anyone can use, regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs. “The Wisdom of the Enneagram” by Riso and Hudson offers an in-depth exploration of each Enneagram type, the system’s history, and its practical applications, serving as an excellent resource for those interested in the Enneagram beyond religion.

In conclusion, the Enneagram is versatile, offering a rich field of exploration for people from various religious traditions and those outside any specific religious context. It invites everyone to a deeper understanding of their personality and potential, ultimately leading to personal growth and transformation.

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