The enneagram has fascinated the western world in the twentieth century like no other metaphysical concept. From Sufis to Gurdjieffians to Aricans to Jesuits to pyschotherapists, the nine-pointed diagram* not only continues to increase in popularity but has redefined character and type in the psychological and psychiatric models used today. (*a single equilateral triangle with an inner hexagon.)
G.I. Gurdjieff (1877-1949) is credited with bringing the enneagram to the western world. Gurdjieff unveiled the enneagram to Russian students in the early 1900's. Mr. Gurdjieff's school attracted some of the brightest, smartest, and most talented people of his day. They included P.D. Ouspensky, considered one of if not the greatest mathematician of the day; Thomas DeHartman, musician; Jeanne DeSalzmann; Kathern Mansfield, actress; A.R. Orage, writer; and Dr. Maurice Nicoll.
Gurdjieff lived in Kars, near the Black Sea, a region steeped in Christian, Armenian, Assyrian, Islamic and Zoroastrian traditions. He traveled throughout Asia, Afghanistan, India, and the Middle East in search of the truth of human existence. He studied with Hindus, Buddhists, Shamen, Sufis, Christians, and anyone else he felt would lead him closer to his goal. Once he achieved his goal he set out, even more determined, to teach what he had learned, awakening. Gurdjieff leaves a legacy that will motivate men and women for generations to seek the truth. (more Mr G - one of Mr. G's teachers)
In the early 1960's Oscar Ichazo reintroduced the enneagram in a big way. Oscar taught initially in Arica, Chile, where he introduced his ideas to such noteworthy spiritual adventurers as John C. Lilly and Claudio Naranjo. The Arica Institute opened in the US in 1971 with the promise of "awakening" by studying the enneagram and practicing certain exercises.
Claudio Naranjo later taught the enneagram at the Esalen Institute, a spiritual retreat in Big Sur, California. Claudio went on to co-found S.A.T. (Seekers After Truth) in Berkeley with Kathy Speeth (who grew up in Gurdjieff's community).
It is Dr. Naranjo's work that is encountered mostly today, whether through Helen Palmer, the Jesuits, or Don Richard Riso. Each one has added a different "flavor" to the soup and studying each one will inform a person as to his or her own "type" and what to do to "fix" the situation.
Dr. Naranjo has written books on the enneagram: Enneatypes in Psychotherapy, and Enneatype Structures, Self-Analysis for the Seeker. He has a video called DSM-III in the Light of the Enneagram. Dr. Naranjo is the honorary president of two Gestalt Institutes, Fellow of the Institute of Cultural Research in London and member of the US Club in Rome. He is considered one of the pioneers of the Human Potential Movement. His other books, in English and Spanish, are a wealth of information and insight into Gestalt Therapy, mythology, and spiritual practices. Indra's Claudio Naranjo Links.
Are there others that teach like Gurdjieff?
E.J. Gold, who has been called "the most interesting descendant of Gurdjieff," and practices the principles of the enneagram much in the same way a zen master does, going about his or her daily life while demonstrating to others the fundamental truths of the Universe in the simplest of tasks.
Mr. Gold, an artist, musician, writer, and spiritual master, gathers no moss, and neither do his students if he has any say about it. E.J., as he's called by friends and students, is a prolific writer of insightful spiritual technical manuals, as exampled by the title of one book, Practical Work on Self, which lays out twenty-four spiritual exercises that anyone can easily do. Two of EJ's other books, The Human Biological Machine as a Transformational Apparatus, and Life in the Labyrinth, offer the reader radical and revolutionary perspectives on life, love, and the multi-dimensional universe in which we exist. E.J. teaches through his music, art, and if you're lucky, through personal encounter. EJ authored The American Book of the Dead, and founded the Institute for the Development of the Harmonious Human Being. This includeds Gateways Books & Tapes, The Museum of Ancient and Modern Art and others.
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