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The enneagram : symbolism and community in the age of aquarius

Title:

The enneagram : symbolism and community in the age of aquarius

Jervis, James (2007) The enneagram : symbolism and community in the age of aquarius. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The subject of this dissertation is the 'Enneagram' or 'Enneagon,' a multivalent symbol depicted as a circle enclosing an equilateral triangle and a peculiar hexagram. The Enneagram has become a wisdom symbol for the art of living. This thesis establishes the following arguments: 1. The Enneagram symbol is, in itself, symbolic of the New Age. The Enneagram phenomena are representative of history, thought, practice, figures, and institutions characteristic of the 'New Age.' Those concerns are primarily the following: human potential, self-help application, independent, charismatic teachers who freely interpret antecendent theory and practice, and who establish their own 'schools;' students who freely learn a variety of methods from divers teachers with egalitarian access to that material; assertions of legitimacy supported by claims to objectivity and descent from venerable, ancient sources of transmission; an eclectic range of ideas creatively interpreted by individuals. 2. There is no such thing as 'the Enneagram.' Rather there are three paradigmatic sets of Enneagram-significant knowledge and practice, each of which comprises multiple interpretations of the Enneagram. Sometimes several Enneagram-centric or -relevant systems coexist under the rubric of the same Enneagram template. I have determined that there are three such templates of Enneagram lore and practice and three paradigmatic understandings of the Enneagram. I call these: the 'Enneagrams of Cosmic Laws,' the 'Enneagrams of Saints and Centres,' and the 'Enneagrams of Personality Types.' The respective principal originators of each template are the following: G. I. Gurdjieff, a heterodox mystic from the Caucasus (c. 1872/1877-1949); the H[dotbelow]aqqani branch of the Naqshbandi order of S[dotbelow]ufism, led by Shaykh (mystical mentor) Naz[dotbelow]im al-H[dotbelow]aqqani (b. 1922), represented in North America by Shaykh Hisham al-Qabbani (b. 1945); and Oscar Ichazo (b. 1931), an eclectic Bolivian mystic. The Enneagrams of Personality Types paradigm was further elaborated by the Chilean mystic, psychiatrist, psychologist, and psychotherapist Claudio Naranjo, followed by several others. The first public appearance of the Enneagrams of the unique circle-triangle-hexagram is due to Gurdjieff, and the Enneagram plays a significant role in his thought. Therefore, this thesis will employ the person, life, and teachings of Gurdjieff as a ground of comparison with those of other Enneagram proponents. 3. This thesis demonstrates that there are (only) three traits shared by the above-mentioned templates and their subgroups. They are the nomenclature 'Enneagrams'/'Enneagons', the geometrical configuration of circle--triangle-hexagram, and various ideas concerning 'centres.' 4. The different traditions of the Enneagrams are expressions of creativity and innovation which respond to certain needs and possibilities of their times and places. The traditions are presented typically as 'wisdom for the art of living.' 5. The Enneagram traditions tend to claim authentically ancient esoteric pedigrees; but in reality, they creatively integrate different esoteric teachings. Those reconstructed teachings have become an integral aspect of New Age psycho-spirituality. The New Age Enneagrams phenomena are thus an instance of 'old wine in new bottles.' The thesis will analyse the roles played by the various Enneagrams within, and across, those three templates. I am interested in the drift of Enneagram-significant ideas, rituals, and social interactions from the restricted, initiatory wisdom lore of the originators of our three paradigms to the New Age public sphere. We see that ideas of exclusive religious affiliation, secrecy, and tradition-bound mystical association have become entangled with the vague and fleeting commitments of the supermarket of customised pop-psych. Contemporary consumers of wisdom for the art of living generate an on-going process of 'natural selection,' in which popular demand results in re-working of Ennegrammic material and blending with other contemporary elements. The Enneagrams thus represent a creative series of interpretations, by inventive minds in tune with their times, of transcendent 'wisdom for the art of living' in the Age of Aquarius.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Religions and Cultures
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Jervis, James
Pagination:xi, 602 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Religion
Date:2007
Thesis Supervisor(s):Bird, Frederick
ID Code:975807
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:15
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:41
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