December – 2020

by | Dec 1, 2020 | The Enneagram Blog

Hello and welcome to my latest blog entry. I am writing to you from a brief vacation in Maui, Hawaii—my first ever trip to the Hawaiian Islands. I know that a very busy winter lies ahead for me, so it has seemed like a good plan to step away from my schedule and take a few days of body and soul restoration before plunging back into the next series of tasks. It is as beautiful and relaxing here as everyone who has ever been here has told me, and I am enjoying having some more unstructured time. I am also here at the suggestion of my friends Deborah and Walter Egerton—they were looking for a break too—and they brought along some family and friends as well. So there is a nice balance of quiet time for me (I am still a Five!) and rich time for sharing and conversing.

As I sit here this afternoon, I am looking back at the months since my last blog, and freshly appreciating what a strange and challenging year it has been. I suspect few of us realized how long this pandemic and the difficulties associated with it were going to last, but we are all learning to adapt, and doing our best to get to the other side of this crossing. I hope that you, like me, have found some new applications for your energy and time, and have been able to find ways to take care of yourself, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have been impressed with how some of my friends and associates have come up with very creative solutions and have even acquired entirely new skills. In my own case, it has been a time to get more focused on what I really want to be contributing in the time ahead.

The last few months have been very busy for me, and I will catch you up on the latest activities, plans, and thoughts. There are new teachings in the works, new collaborations, and some major writing projects. In the coming months, I also plan to do shorter and more frequent entries here on this website, and to begin posting some articles that I hope will be of interest—among them a series on the history and roots of the Enneagram. I am renewing my studies and research into that area and I feel this is a good place to share my ideas and findings.

Aside from this trip to Hawaii, I have only left Manhattan once during the last eight months, and that was to go to New Mexico for a few days. New Mexico has been a favorite getaway for me for many years, and I have come to love its amazing skies and the color and richness of its culture and of the high desert. I had originally planned the trip (pre-COVID) to have some meetings. For a while, it seemed that we would be able to have the meetings despite the travel restrictions, but plans changed and everything got canceled. I decided to go anyway, as a break from my time in NYC, and to take in some other impressions. I am glad I did!

Don’t get me wrong. NYC has been just fine, and some of the more sensational articles about the place falling apart are highly exaggerated. Mostly, we New Yorkers are carrying on, following protocols, and doing our best to live our lives. I can say with some pride that we went from the hotspot epicenter of the pandemic to the third lowest rate of infections and deaths in the US. Rates are rising again, but are still well below the national average. Crime rates have gone up, but I note that they have pretty much everywhere, which is not shocking considering how many people are out of work.

In any case, the trip was enjoyable, and I did get to spend time with some dear friends and colleagues. Notably, I got to have some quality time with my friend Mirabai Starr in her beautiful home turf—Taos. I also got to visit with my dear friend Richard Rohr. As many of you may know, Richard has been dealing with cancer for some time, and has to be extra careful in where and how he spends his time. So it was quite lovely to get to take a few walks, to meditate together, and share a meal with him. He was with a number of his team members from the Center for Contemplation and Action (CAC), and I really enjoyed meeting and/or reconnecting with each one of them. We had a beautiful hike along the Colorado River near Taos, and it was all wonderfully grounding and inspiring. I might add that I could feel significant healing and recovery from my heart event last year. I was able to walk good distances and at a fairly high altitude without exhaustion or becoming winded. Last year, prior to my surgery in Paris, I could barely walk around town in Santa Fe or Taos without great exertion and fatigue. So bowing again to the doctors and nurses who helped me.

Isn’t it interesting how quickly we have learned to use online technologies to carry on? I still prefer the possibilities of in person get togethers when it comes to inner work, but I have been impressed by how much we can actually achieve in this time through these technologies. I also note that the online platforms allow students to participate from different countries and cultures, many of whom could not be part of an in-person program. So I am much appreciating the inclusiveness that Zoom and other platforms are providing in our work.

Many of you have read through communications from the Enneagram Institute, that I am no longer the President. This is true, and as the EI note mentioned, I am focusing more on setting up my own organization and on writing my next book. This has been an entirely friendly and cooperative move, with both the Institute and myself happy with our decisions and looking at new ways we can work together. I will continue to teach Foundation courses as well as other retreats and classes with and through the EI, and we hope to be offering those again at the Barn when such gatherings are feasible again. We have also discussed the possibility of doing some online classes in the interim, but nothing has been decided yet. We will let you know about that as soon as we arrive at a best way to offer such courses.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Annette Kahler, who is stepping in as the new president of the Enneagram Institute. I have known Annette for several years, and we get along very well. She has a great heart and real integrity, and I feel she is going to do a great job helming some new initiatives at the Institute. I thoroughly look forward to working with her and with Brian Taylor who will be co-leading the Institutes directives and activities. I suspect you are going to be happy with some of the new ideas as well.

Within my own organization, the big news is that we have been joined by Amanda Chambers, who is functioning virtually as my new assistant. She will be helping me maintain my schedule as well as responding to requests for my time and attention. She is also running a Facebook page for people who have been attending my online classes (Awakening with the Enneagram.) Amanda and I have been friends for many years, and she brings a powerful background in Clinical Social work and much experience in working with diverse people and responding to their needs. It has been a huge help to me to have her onboard and working closely with Joey and me. Also, while many of you have connections with me on social media, I would strongly advise you to contact Amanda if you have requests or questions for me. I get so many notes and questions, it is a big risk that yours will “fall through the cracks.” But if you send notes to Amanda, she will make sure that I receive them. She can be reached at

As many of you know, John (Orpheus) Luckovich has been my assistant for a number of years. He has helped me in countless ways, and will always have my gratitude and appreciation. John is stepping into his own career in new ways, and has a new book on the Instincts, titled The Instinctual Drives and the Enneagram, coming out in early 2021. It is an excellent book on the topic, and one that really ought to be part of your Enneagram library. We wish John every success as he moves into taking his place in the Enneagram world.

My sister, Joey Jacob, continues to grow in her capacities as the manager of our little organization. She has been acquiring many new skills, but also getting to know the broader “cast of characters” that we work with. Most crucially, she has been instrumental in focusing the resources of our company in service to our greater aims. Much gratitude to Joey for all she has been doing. I hope you will get the opportunity to know Amanda and Joey in your dealings with our organization.

As for online courses, current or upcoming, I will be continuing to offer Monday morning classes through Catherine Bell’s marvelous organization, The Awakened Company. (There are links to these classes available on the “Events” page on this website. We are into a multi-week exploration of the inner workings of the nine points on a more essential level, doing one point per week. We have done the Eight, Nine, and One, and will be beginning with the Two next Monday. Recordings are available. It has been a joy co-creating these events with Catherine, and we have some other plans and projects in the making that we will be unfolding over the next year.

I am going to be involved with three (!) different year-long online courses next year. One will be a course I will lead with Cheryl Richardson on the instincts and on discovering practical ways to develop them, balance them, and integrate their wisdom. That course will begin in February, with notices coming from me and from Cheryl in the next few weeks. I will also be co-facilitating a course with Dr Deborah Egerton on the Enneagram as a tool for working with diversity and race relations. We have been brainstorming ideas for this one for many weeks, and are both very excited to share it. This will begin at the end of January, and notices for it will be available soon. Lastly, I will be doing a new seven-week course for the Shift Network called “The Spiritual Roots of the Enneagram,” and this will also be coming out around the beginning of February, with various pre-course offerings and notices in December and January. This will follow after the Shift’s Enneagram Global Summit, which is featuring over 55 speakers this year, and promises to be the best ever. After my course, the Shift is also going to be offering a yearlong, broad-survey course on the Enneagram. More details on that soon. There are other possible courses being discussed, and I will inform you here as they become more definite.

The new Audio Book from Sounds True has a publication date now: it is due for release on January 28, 2021. Again, the title is “The Enneagram: Nine Gateways to Presence” and I am much looking forward to having it out and seeing how people respond to it. One of my main goals these days is to provide material and circumstances in which those interested can take a deeper dive into the authentic roots of the system—to have a chance to experience real inner work from the traditions “behind” the Enneagram and with a looser structure than would ordinarily be found in a spiritual school. So new books, teachings, and groups will be coming out in the next couple of years.

I am blocking off time next year to focus wholeheartedly on the new book without trying to cram writing sessions in between meetings. So this promises to be a rich and creative year for me, and hopefully the fruits of that will be available to you soon!

I am also delighted to let you know that two of my colleagues have Enneagram-related books coming out in the near future. Sandra Maitri, who has written two fine Enneagram books already, is releasing a more personal offering, When the Heavens Opened, describing her youth in the San Francisco Bay Area in the tumultuous era of the late 1960s, as well as her introduction to the Enneagram through Claudio Naranjo’s SAT group and her meeting with the young A.H. Almaas. It is a rich and engaging book, touching in its honesty and humanity. And speaking of Almaas, he is about to release his long-awaited Enneagram book, The Keys to the Enneagram. Almaas’ book looks at the particular way he has learned to use the essential states behind the patterns of each of the Enneagram types as a way of opening up access to our Self beyond fixation. He intends it as a bridge to the more challenging material in his classic on the Holy Ideas, Facets of Unity, and I anticipate that it will reach a much wider audience. I am very happy to have these additions to Enneagram publications available to everyone.

Lastly, with the recent passings of Claudio Naranjo and Oscar Ichazo, not to mention the earlier passings of Don Richard Riso and Dr David Daniels, and with the recent, well-earned retirement of my colleague Helen Palmer and Richard Rohr’s stepping out of travel for his self-care, it occurs to me (and to others) that I remain one of the last standard bearers from the first generation of Enneagram teachers in the modern world. At times that feels a bit heavy, and at other times, I feel a lightness of heart and great gratitude to be given this good work to do in my life. I have many wonderful colleagues, including a few left from those early days, and I also, more than ever, feel that “the universe has my back” and that we are indeed, as Don Riso said to me in his final hours, “doing something good.” I sincerely hope that the body of teachings we are unfolding now will support your journey, whether you are seeking help in your work or personal relationships, or you are seeking to serve as a facilitator of the Work in some more committed way.

Happy Holidays! And as we move toward the winter solstice of this most memorable year be a time of inward awakening, and renewal for all of us.


Love and blessings,