January – 2020
Greetings! Hoping your year is off to a good start. Like everyone else, I am sincerely hoping that 2021 brings some improvements to all, particularly around the effects of the COVID pandemic. Last January seems an age ago—I started the year in Rome, Italy, and went from there home and then to a 5 week trip in Egypt, followed by work at the Esalen Institute and the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in California! Then the lockdown began, and I have been home for the most part ever since. So January brings curiosity about what lies ahead. There is a flurry of activities as many people I work with are seeking to get things started. More on that in a bit.
I am currently in a hotel in midtown Manhattan, concluding a “Staycation” birthday weekend right here in my hometown. I was deeply touched by the many hundreds of well-wishing messages I received, and despite being physically on my own this birthday, I felt the love of many people. So thank you. Walking around midtown, I can see little signs of recovery since I went exploring back in April, but I can also see that we still have a long way to go. I feel fairly certain that we will not be going back to many of our old ways, so it is a good time to ponder what sort of life we might choose now that we are going to be living into different circumstances, individually and collectively.
There are several new projects lined up. This week I begin teaching a new course on the Shift Network on the Ancient Roots of the Enneagram. By this title, I am not suggesting that there is a single lineage behind the Enneagram, but to highlight how the ideas that frame Enneagram teachings, and which the system emerged from, can be found and studied. The course will not be a history lesson per se, but more an opportunity to look at these venerable traditions freshly through the lens of the Enneagram, and to see what implications they may have for our current world situations. I think it is worth noting that when many of these teachings were being formatted, people were experiencing the end of the classical era and the beginning of the Middle Ages—a time of tremendous change. That course will be held on Wednesdays over the next seven weeks and you can find details on the Events page here on the site.
Starting on February 25, I will be joining my friend and colleague, Cheryl Richardson, for a year long course on working with the instincts. The premise here is pretty straight up: real change is not easy. And a sign that we have actually integrated some of the wisdom of the Enneagram into our lives would be a greater balance and consciousness around the instinctual aspects of our lives. People often ask me, “besides being present more often, what can I do to develop?” And while nothing much real happens without presence, the instincts provide us with some areas where shifts of behavior are important and hugely supportive of our growth. Cheryl, who worked closely with Oprah Winfrey for many years, has a tremendous practical wisdom—she sees clearly how little changes in how we live their lives can make huge differences in where we end up. So while we will of course describe the instincts and the subtype combinations, we will be putting a lot of focus into how to leverage that knowledge into practices and behavioral shifts that will support us in creating more of the lives we want. I am really looking forward to this one!
Also in February, during the week of Feb 1 – 5, I am honored to be part of the Shift Network’s Global Summit on Mysticism, hosted by my colleague and friend Mirabai Starr. The conference will look at the mystical branches of the great religious traditions of the world, and feature speakers such as Matthew Fox, Krishna Das, Anne Lamott, Andrew Harvey, Gangaji, Father Richard Rohr, Imam Ade Mendes, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Elizabeth Lesser, and many more. Although as a Five, I would not have foreseen it, I seem to be more and more sought out to speak about the mystical dimensions of our spiritual traditions, and I am very happy to be among such brilliant company, and talking about matters both timeless and very timely.
March will bring a new year long course on the Enneagram and race relations, justice, and diversity issues, and I will be co-facilitating this with my friend Dr. Deborah Egerton. We were originally planning to start this in January but decided to wait until March due to the large number of courses starting now. This also gives us a little more time for planning and co-creating some magic for the course. We were inspired by the notion that many of the emotional issues behind racial issues lie in a deeper place in our psyches—they are in a real sense wounds, and not easily accessed or healed by conventional dialogues. Our feeling is that the very work we use to explore the imprints at the roots of our Enneagram patterns will also work on socially generated, collective hurts that are created in similar ways. We are hoping this course will be the beginning of a growing conversation.
We will be carrying on with our Monday teaching series co-created with Catherine Bell and the Awakened Company. We just finished up our nine-week series on the nine Enneagram points, and are now launching the next series of courses which will be on a variety of deeper topics and applications. A really beautiful community has been forming around these classes, and we have all been excited and delighted to be able to delve into the inner workings of the type structures in such depth through this online medium. We hope that the next courses will be as fun for you to attend as they were for Catherine and me to create.
As of now, there are still no in person classes planned for 2021, although this could change as the year develops. I have been in conversation with Annette Kahler and Brian Taylor at the Enneagram Institute, and we are definitely hoping to find a way to offer programs this year, and with any luck, to bring back the Fundamentals Courses which were so popular before the pandemic hit. We will let you know here as soon as we know ourselves. I have also been in conversation with Cynthia Bourgeault, and we are exploring ways to lead a retreat toward the latter part of the year. I had had some communications with A.H. Almaas (Hameed Ali) along similar lines, and we will be talking about this more in the coming weeks. Again, check in here to find new developments.
My new Audio Book from Sounds True, “The Enneagram: Nine Gateways to Presence,” will be released on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. I finally got a chance to listen to it, and I am very happy with the quality and with the content. I think it is an excellent presentation of what I have been teaching these days, and the production and packaging are both superb. I recently pre-recorded an session hosted by Tami Simon, the founder of Sounds True, and it will be aired on the 26th to coincide with the release of the new audio book. This will be my first major release since the revisions to Discovering Your Personality Type some 18 years ago. We were quite overdue for an update! You can preorder the audio book at The Enneagram – Sounds True
Although the start of the year has been surprisingly busy, I am determined to get going on the new book. My assistant, Amanda Chambers, has been helping me by gathering relevant transcripts of my teaching to work with, and she and Joey Jacob have been working with me to clear my schedule to allow the time and space to “dig in” to this project. While I still look back at The Wisdom of the Enneagram with great pride, there is SO much I have learned and taught since then, and I think some of the content will help clarify many of the recurrent questions I see in Soclal Media. The book will include my take on all the classic components of the Enneagram (passions, virtues, etc.) as well as looking at the nine patterns as departure points for inner work. There will be more of what I have culled from my explorations of western mystical traditions, inner Christianity, the Diamond Approach Work, and of course Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way. So I have my work cut out for me! I may convey my progess and/or frustrations in the process here. 😊
Lastly, I suspect in the coming months I will continue to expand the conversation in my work, beyond just talking about the Enneagram types, to a broader investigation of western spirituality and the reawakening of these traditions. I am particularly interested in a more thoughtful exploration of a more coherent and mutually supportive relationship between rational, scientific understanding—absolutely vital in my view—and the mystical sensibility which aims at exploring the intimate world of human experience, which is often not reducible to the realm of logical understanding, but which does have its own language and system of meaning. I believe when these two come together, we have the tools we need to explore reality, and to have a rich and creative life.
Happy New Year! May we be given the inspiration and courage we need to move into this new time. And we may we know the compassion and mercy to be with the losses we have received along the way.
Love and blessings,