Shambhala Review

Mysteries of the Bridechamber


Recommended Reading

Sales and Distribution


Shambhala: The Spiritual Axis of the World

Enneagram, Jesus and the Way
by J.C. Fontes

The Javanese Mystical Tradition

"Keys To The Parables"
By John R. Francis

G.I. Gurdjieff -The Hidden History of the Sufi

Prophet of Hope

The Roerich Expeditions: Magical Gifts

Sufis and The Nine Unknowns

Prophecy in the Third Millenium

Lessons of Old Age

Is Democracy Under Threat?

Site Links

Insight Forum

Search This Site

Site Map


Your Comments




Joao C. Fontes from Brazil is a widely read and practiced seeker who has used Sufi, Zen and the Kabbalah with the personality enneagram based on Claudio Naranjo's work, to interpret Jesus's life and way.
Please refer to the Enneagram at the end of the article for reference.


Enneagram, Jesus and the Way

by  João C.Fontes

Copyright® 2008

The Enneagram is a symbol that became better known in the West thanks to the Greek-Armenian mystic and spiritual master George Ivanovich Gurdjieff in the early years of the twentieth century. However, its origins remain obscure. According to John G. Bennett, one of the most prominent of Gurdjieff’s disciples, the symbol itself may have first been depicted by Central Asian mathematicians in the fourteenth century after the discovery of the decimal number system. But he himself says that Gurdjieff asserted that it was far more ancient and attributed it to the Sarman (Sarmoun, Sarmoung) Brotherhood that was founded according to Bennett in Babylon 4,500 years ago.1


There are references to a nine pointed figure, sometimes called “nonagram” in the works of the thirteenth century Catalan mystic Ramon Lull and later in the seventeenth century in the work “Arithmologia” of the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher.2
This symbol is formed by three equilateral triangles, being different from Gurdjieff’s presentation.

The Sufis are said to be the custodians of the Enneagram and the source from where Gurdjieff learned it. So its origins remain a mystery.

The Enneagram is composed of a circle, a triangle and an hexad and nine points around the circle that connect the triangle and the hexad. The circle represents wholeness and completion and is related to the number zero. The triangle 3-6-9 refers to the “Law of Three” that, together with the “Law of Seven” represented by the hexad, form the basic laws of the Cosmos.

The triangle represents the balance of the affirming force with the denying force through the reconciling force that are present in every phenomenon of the Cosmos.




The hexad corresponds to the recurrence sequence of the remainders of any integer divided by seven.  That gives the well known sequence of one, four, two, eight, five, seven. It is about recurring cyclic processes.



Enneagram of Personality

In the late 1960’s a Bolivian spiritual teacher called Oscar Ichazo started teaching, in Chile, a new use of the Enneagram correlating its nine points to the seven deadly sins plus two, fear and vanity. This gave birth to the modern “Enneagram of Personality”.

It was then that Cláudio Naranjo, a Chilean Psychiatrist who lived in Berkeley, met Ichazo and went to the desert of Arica with him and a group around forty people to an intense period of spiritual training and learning.


After that Dr. Naranjo, feeling reborn, started his own group in Berkeley, the SAT school (Seekers After Truth), where he associated the Enneagram of Personality with his background in psychiatry, Gestalt therapy, Buddhist meditation and other techniques in a very innovative way, being a forerunner of what its known today as Transpersonal Psychology. From his teachings came, directly or indirectly, all the Enneagram teachers and authors that are active to this day.3



A Practical Application : Jesus Life and the Stages of the Way

For Gurdjieff the Enneagram was a symbol of “All and Everything”, meaning that every phenomenon of the universe could only be correctly understood through the lens of the Enneagram, since it depicts the basic laws of the cosmos.
From Naranjo on it became associated with the understanding of the character patterns and the possibility to be free from their limitations.
Gurdjieff’s use of the Enneagram is a more processional one, based on the musical scale, and Naranjo’s is a more structural one, based on the image of a polished diamond and its facets. In one, the emphasis is in time, in the other the emphasis is on a spatial metaphor. But at least, since Einstein we know that space and time form an inseparable continuum and both together form a fourth dimension.

I guess that its time for a fourth dimensional use of the Enneagram in the Fourth Way community instead of endless debates about what is the correct and “true” way of using it. Gurdjieff said that the Gospels were “legominisms”, what he called “objective art”, which means a work of art done with the knowledge and understanding of the cosmic laws. So, we can see Jesus and his life from an “objective” or “archetypal” point of view. That means that the major public events of Jesus life can be seen as stages of our own progress along the Way to Truth and Freedom.

I’ll do a point by point analysis, making some cross cultural references, specially to the Zen “ox herding” pictures 4 and by the end I hope we can have a panoramic and synthetic view of the whole Way.

Jesus is at the core of the Western psyche and in this times we are living its more than never necessary to see his life and teachings from a broader and universal point of view that makes sense for people of all cultures and places.

Only Love can save us from dire predictions.

Point 9 : The Herd

In point nine we have the beginning of the octave, the initial Do.

At that point we are, at best, following a conventional Religion and doing the prescribed practices, trying to be “good people”. That's what the Muslims call Shariat.5 At Jesus times in Judea that were the the people who went to the Temple, followed the decalogon and waited for the Messiah to save them from Roman oppression. And the Messiah is born, in the most unlikely place, among shepherds and beasts. In the Zen ox herding pictures it corresponds to the two initial stamps, the “searching for the ox” and “seeing the footprint”.

Point 1 : Baptism

That's where the Way really begins. In Traditional Christian terms, that's the “Metanoia”, the change of ones course of life. The person is no longer satisfied with the conventional religion because he or she can see that “the things I want to do, I can’t do, and the things I don’t want to do, I do”. The person starts to realize that despite his or her good intentions, he is still a sinner. Metanoia also entails method. That's when the seeker after Truth join a group or school and start doing the prescribed disciplines. For the Muslims this is the beginning of Tariqa.

In Jesus life that's represented by his encounter with John the Baptist and his experience in the Jordan river.

That can result in a “peak experience” or can be the result of it. Today many people have spontaneous life changing experiences, like near death experiences and others, that put them in another life paths. In the ox herding stamps this is the “first glimpse of the ox”.

Point 2 : Temptation

After joining a school the seeker has to start consciously fighting his own demons. In Jesus life that's shown when just after his baptism, he goes to the desert and stay there for forty days. There he is tempted by the devil. The three temptations being, basically, forms to stimulate his pride. After peak experiences of any kind the seeker tends to get his or her ego inflated. The Church fathers say the pride is the mother of all the other sins. Forty days is a symbolic number. Actually this phase can take many years. It is what Saint John of the Cross called “dark night of the senses”. In the ox herding stamps it is the “capturing (sometimes also called taming) the ox”.

Point 3 : Transfiguration

Point three represents a turning point, what Gurdjieff called a “shock point”, an “interval” in the musical scale. Here we enter in a new stage of the work. It is the culmination of the efforts done until now by the seeker that start to produce some visible results. Its the end of the “purgatio” (Purgatory) and the beginning of the “iluminatio” (Illumination). The end of the Tariqa and the beginning of Marifat. Here the seeker start to be a “practical knower”, something has changed deeply in his being.

In Jesus life that is symbolized by his transfiguration, his light shined to a point that it became physically visible. He calls three of his disciples to the top of a mountain and reveal his light to them. “The lamp is not to be kept hidden”. In the ox herding stamps this is represented by the stamp “Domestication of the ox”.

Point 4 :Last Supper

In point four we see Jesus entering Jerusalem, triumphantly mounted on a donkey. In the Zen ox herding stamps this correspond to the “coming back home mounted on the ox”. But just after that, Jesus gathered his disciples in an “upper room” and announced his tragic fate, sharing his own blood and flesh with them in a ritual supper, like the Dionysian Myth.6 The disciples become upset and he tells one of them, Judas, “do quick what you have to do”. Recently an old Gnostic Gospel was discovered, being the Gospel of Judas, attributed to the Cainite Gnostics, the followers of Cain.7

Point 5 : Gethsemani

Knowing he was going to be arrested, after sending Judas on his mission, Jesus goes to the Gethsemani mount with his other disciples and while they where “sleeping”, he went through a great ordeal, a great agony, even asking the Father to keep the chalice away from him- yet saying “Thy Will be done” being a very human gesture.

He was afraid of doing what he knew he had to do but he saw and understood (connection to points 7 and 8), the greater good that would come from his conscious suffering and sacrifice. In the Zen ox herding stamps this corresponds to the “ox forgotten let the man solitary”.

Point 6 : Via Crucis

After being arrested Jesus is taken to the presence of Pilatos (Pilate) and there he is interrogated by him. After a quite odd “philosophical” conversation about the Truth, Jesus is conducted to the prison and tortured by the soldiers. At this point what was about to come was uncertain to him. He carried his own cross to the mount Golgotha, that means skull mountain, the place of his crucifixion. It is the “Via Crucis,” where he was abandoned by his disciples (with the exception of the women) who fled in fear and denied they knew him. But Jesus courageously faced the angry crowd. This corresponds to what Saint John of the Cross calls “Dark Night of the Spirit” or “Dark Night of Faith”. This corresponds to the Zen “ox and man lost of sight” depicted as an empty circle.

Point 7 :Golgotha

Point seven corresponds to the crucifixion properly. There at mount Golgotha Jesus accomplishes his mission and understands fully God’s Plan for him. For the Muslims this is the start of Haqiqa, knowing the Truth. The journey started in point one comes to its conclusion. People may associate accomplishment with pleasure but it has more to do with fulfilling ones role in the Cosmic Drama. For the ego point of view it looks like a defeat. Jesus said on the cross “Father, Father why have you abandoned me?”. It is afterwards that he says “It is done”.

At this point there is the great paradox of external limitation and great inner freedom.

The Docetics Gnostics believed that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, that in the moment of crucifixion he appeared to John and told him that he wasn’t that body of flesh hanging on that cross. That he was his body of light. Interestingly, the first Christian saint to be “stigmatized” was Saint Francis, who was an enneatype seven individual in Naranjo's enneagram: One who accepted pain as part of the path and because of that, became a saint.

In the ox herding stamps this stage corresponds to the “Returning to the origin” that is depicted as a natural landscape with a tree on it.

Point 8 : Resurrection

The real apex of the whole process is at point eight. Here is where the death and resurrection happens. After dying on the cross the Tradition says that Jesus descended into hell to release the souls of all those who came before him, including Adam. We can interpret this at the stage where the seeker in not only responsible for purging his own unconscious but also the collective unconscious. In the light of this realization he becomes a Bodhisattva in Buddhist terminology. His actions are not tainted by his ego motivations anymore. He is a King in God’s kingdom. But he knows that to rule is to serve the land and the people. In the ox herding stamps this correspond to the last one, “entering in the market place with generous hands”, a staff in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. It is said that “Making no use of the secrets of gods and wizards, he causes withered trees to bloom”. In the words of the Sarmoun Brotherhood it is said “He who knows, and knows that he is : He is wise. Let him be followed by his presence alone man may be transformed ”. Now he not only knows the Truth but he became the Truth (Haqiqa). In the Gnostic Gospel called Pistis Sophia Jesus is said to have taught his disciples eleven more years after his resurrection, teaching the Greater Mysteries. This Gospel is attributed to Mary Magdalene who was regarded by the old Gnostics as the “apostle of the apostles”. Today, after the popular “Da Vinci Code”, the general public came to know something that was long known by some occult societies and adepts, that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a sacred couple, an hieros gamos, according to the Mysteries of the Bridechamber. The Gnostics regarded this as the highest of the Mysteries, the “Mystical Union”. Basically they are the Western equivalent to the Eastern Tantric Tradition. Very appropriate to point eight.

Point 9 :Ascension

The circle is complete. From darkness to light, from formal religion to true spirituality, from Malkut to Keter,8 the seeker has walked all the Way to the point of becoming the Way, the Truth and Life him or herself.

In Jesus life this is represented by the Ascension where he ascends to heaven and with that possibility, the descent of the Paracletos or the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost.

Now the seeker knows that all ends are only beginnings of new adventures and that life has no end. After the greatest of realizations, there are even greater ones to come.

Life is always showing new possibilities, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. But only in a receptive and loving attitude can we see and hear them.

In point nine we have harmonized all our aspects, know the Way with all its ups and downs and because of that, we can guide others to their own Truths in a non-interfering way. I believe that in the Zen ox herding stamps that would correspond to the fat and happy Bodhisattva sharing and drinking his bottle of wine with all those he met in the market place, all unconscious Buddhas…


I hope that I delivered what I promised and that by now, it became a little more clear how the Enneagram can be used to help us in our Paths.

For those who already know the enneatypes and the “process Enneagram” I hope I have shown they are not incompatible at all. That they come from the same conscious source. So those who claim to be the only knowers of the Enneagram Science are fooling themselves, their readers and are embarking on an ego trip and not on the Way.

For those who have eyes to see I have mentioned the types implicitly in the text. In the bibliography there are good indications for those who want to go deeper in the study of the types. Good search!

For those who have eyes to see, I have touched only briefly on the inner connections of the arrows. Good Homework!

And for the general reader I hope I have shown that Jesus life and the Christian Tradition have much more to offer than a narrow, fundamentalist way to understand life and its possible evolution.


I dedicate this writing to my dear Professor Cláudio Naranjo with all my heart and gratitude, who I had the great fortune to have as my guide through some heavens, hells and purgatories and who left me at the brink of Mother Earth. May the Light of the Nine Pointed Star shine in the hearts of all sentient beings and may we awake to the dangers and the great possibilities of our times!  And may we be prepared to face them!

I also thank Miss Victoria Lepage for her stimulus to write this article and the opportunity to publish it on her website and the kind help from Peter Martyn with the diagrams and the English corrections.


J.C. Fontes


Bennett, J.G.  Gurdjieff : Making a New World, Bennett Books, Santa Fé, New México, 1992.

--- O Eneagrama ( Enneagram Studies), Editora Pensamento, 1997

--- O Caminho Para Ser Livre ( The Way To Be Free), Editora Gente, 1995.

Edinger, Edward F. O Arquétipo Cristão (The Christian Archetype), Editora Cultrix, 1995.

Naranjo, Cláudio. Enneagram of Society: Healing the Soul to Heal the World, Gateways Books&Tapes,2005.

---Enneatype Structures: Self-Analysis for the Seeker, Gateways Books & Tapes, 1991.

---Character and Neurosis : An Integrative View, Gateways Books & Tapes, 1994.

---The Way of Silence and the Talking Cure, Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2006.


1 Bennet, J.G. Gurdjieff : Making a New World Bennett Books, Santa Fé, New México, 1992

2 Athanasii Kircheri E Societate Iesv Arithmologia Sive De abditis Numerorum mysterijs : Qua Origo, Antiquitas & fabrica Numerorum exponitur; Abditæ eorundem proprietates demonstrantur; Fontes superstitionum in Amuletorum fabrica aperiuntur; Denique po.../ Athanasius Kircherus. - [Electronic ed.]. - Romae : Varesius, 1665

3  A very good attempt to reconcile this two approaches to the Enneagram was made by Susan Rodhes in two articles, “Reconciling Personality with Process : Linking Two Different Views of the Enneagram” and “The Enneagram in Brief”, both available in her website: in the Articles section.

4 Please refer to the Appendix

5 Please refer to the Appendix

6 Dionysos was the son of Zeus and Semele in Greek mythology. He was the god of wine, theatre, ecstasy and madness. The god who died and resurrected. According to some versions of the myth he was torn into pieces and devoured by the Titans, except for his heart . Zeus killed the Titans with his thunderbolts and from the ashes the human race was born, a mixture of the Titans with the god Dionysos, that must die and resurrect in everyone's heart.

7 The name “Cainites” was given to the Gnostics who wrote the Gospel of Judas by their persecutors, like Irinaeus. The experts say that there are some possible references to Cain in the Gospel but that those who wrote it didn’t identify themselves as “Cainites”. See the Gospel of Judas published by National Geographic.

8 Please refer to the Appendix

All Text and images Copyright® 2008 João C.Fontes