What is the Enneagram? For many readers this novel may be your first introduction to the Enneagram. There is good reason for this. Nothing was written about the Enneagram before the 1970’s. Yet the compelling evidence is that the symbol and understanding of the Enneagram date back to the pre-Christian and/or early Christian eras. When you couple the mystery of no exoteric knowledge about the Enneagram for centuries, and the fact that it is one of the most compelling maps for the transformation of consciousness, with the possibility that Jesus may have taught and actually helped develop this map, you have an extraordinarily intriguing story line that plays out in this novel.
The Enneagram is not just a two dimensional map. The Enneagram has three or four dimensions, or maybe more. The Enneagram offers a way to experience reality through a non-dual perspective. The Enneagram suggests the particular dynamics through which changes occurs. The Enneagram provides a model for how we use our energy to interact with our experience of life. The Enneagram provides a way to understand how we each invest energy in our instinctive needs for security, social affiliation and one-on-one connection. And the Enneagram is best known today as a way to understand personality and the path by which personal transformation for each of nine different types occurs. Traditionally this knowledge has been most beneficial when given not as information but used by a spiritual director in the process of spiritual formation with a directee. But today there are also many different uses made of the Enneagram in leadership, business and organizational development.
Though the practice of spiritual direction has been around for centuries, it has not been a focus in most faiths, though, by whatever name, it is symbolized over the centuries in the serious spiritual seeker searching out and finding a more spiritually conscious person to learn and seek direction from. One of the threads in this novel is to offer insight into the experience of the practice of spiritual direction between a director, in this case Father Hay, and a directee, Godfrey Adams. This thread is woven together with how use of the Enneagram in spiritual direction illuminates the process of spiritual direction.
The Enneagram understanding of us as human beings is broken down into nine different perspectives. All of us fall into one of these nine categories though we each have our nuances and uniqueness. In using categorization the Enneagram attempts not to box-in the idea of who we are, but rather to illuminate the nature of our most authentic essence and how we develop ego-defenses that block us from this essence. We share in common all of these different styles of ego-defense blocks but the Enneagram highlights what our preferred blocks are and how our energy patterns unconsciously utilize the preferred patterns of these blocks. Needless to say this is powerful knowledge when gained not just as information but in the context of an actual life experience.
One of the things that gives the Enneagram its vitality is that it is too comprehensive to be pinned down in one set of definitions; it is more living than static. Scholars and researchers who have worked with it for the past forty years are not able to agree on exactly what are the best words to describe how it works, but it is clear all of these descriptions point in the same direction. Descriptions that are a synthesis of much that has been written are set forth in more detail on page 94 and following of the novel.