Jesus and the Way
by João C.Fontes
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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”.
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”.
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”.
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
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”.
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
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”.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
: Making a New World, Bennett Books, Santa Fé, New México,
Eneagrama ( Enneagram Studies), Editora Pensamento, 1997
Caminho Para Ser Livre ( The Way To Be Free), Editora Gente, 1995.
Edward F. O Arquétipo Cristão (The Christian
Archetype), Editora Cultrix, 1995.
Enneagram of Society: Healing the Soul to Heal the World, Gateways
Structures: Self-Analysis for the Seeker, Gateways Books & Tapes,
Neurosis : An Integrative View, Gateways Books & Tapes, 1994.
---The Way of Silence
and the Talking Cure, Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2006.
J.G. Gurdjieff : Making a New World Bennett Books, Santa Fé,
New México, 1992
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
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: http://www.enneagramdimensions.net
in the Articles section.
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.
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
Please refer to the Appendix
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