Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies
Practical Paths to Higher Consciousness
-- Lisa Betts-LaCroix,
Past President - SF Coaches, Star of Unapix film, Dance Me Outside
A Detailed Description:
The Integral Enneagram is a model of consciousness development, specifically designed to illuminate and illustrate a cogent and pragmatic process for individuals to use in this development. In many ways it is a map as much as a model, as it can illustrate the obstacles and roadblocks of one's consciousness development, as well as showing the hand-holds or "stones across the stream."
In the creation of a new model, when the primary aim is to be as comprehensive as possible, it is both efficient and effective to embrace synthesis. As is often said, there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel – as long as it works.
There are a vast number of disciplines and models currently available, and each may have genuine value to contribute. The fatal flaw seems to be when any one of them is touted as the singular “universal solution,” while excluding or competing with other theories. When a discipline or model attempts to address areas beyond the original intention of its development, compromises, vagueness, generalities, ambiguities, and all-out inaccuracies ensue.
This is the premise of our intention to develop a discipline and model that synthesizes the working aspects of existing structures with new information obtained through working with real-world clients.
In developing a process that would have measurable and verifiable results, we looked at currently available processes; specifically where these systems either broke down or lost measurability. The aforementioned flaw of the “universal one way excluding all others solution” seemed to be at the forefront of these breakdowns. In attempting to create and own one-size-fits-all processes, inaccuracies and inefficiencies abound. There needed to be a way to address transmitting the information to people in a way that they could truly implement and integrate.
Following a one-size-fits-all method of reaching the most people requires establishing the intellectual equivalent of a lowest common denominator, which once again is fraught with fallacies and inaccuracies. All people do not work/think/process the same way. Some systems resonate with certain types of people, subsequently resulting in higher levels of success. When other types of people (who don’t resonate with that system) are not able to achieve that success, or even to stick with the program, they start to believe it is their own fault.
This only furthers feelings of shame and inwardly repeated stories reinforcing low self-esteem. In fact it is possible to show multiple paths to a similar goal, and allow people’s natural processing of the world around them to dictate which path they choose. This has the tremendous upside of alleviating virtually every resistance or stumbling block to a person’s acceptance, understanding, and implementation of the steps necessary to the process of achieving their potential.
Why Types are Important
In seeking a process that was squarely aimed at the client’s best interests, it becomes obvious that the more tailored and specific the program or discipline, the more effective that program or discipline would be. This means that the criteria most important to the application of any program would be the client’s processing style or Type; how the client takes in, sorts, and processes sensory, emotional, and conceptual information.
That style or “typology” would determine the vehicle for transmitting the program or discipline (the method of teaching, as well as what is being taught). Again, having different approaches to the same goal achieves the same end, with a much higher incidence of success.
That goal, re-stated, is the “ascension” and growth of consciousness development and evolution. The basic structure of all disciplines sharing this aim is relatively straightforward. Again, not needing to re-invent the wheel, Integral Psychology and Spirituality has synthesized thousands of disciplines to arrive at a generally accepted ascension model of this evolution. That model shows our consciousness moving from the child’s narcissistic perspective, up through holding multiple perspectives, and eventually to a stage of being capable of holding all perspectives. In the language of Integral Psychology and Spirituality, this is a three-tiered model consisting of Pre-cognitive, (pre-rational) Cognitive, (rational) and Trans-cognitive (trans-rational). Beck's (via Graves) Spiral Dynamics would place this at Four Tiers: Concrete, Formal, Pluralistic, and Integral. Each of these stages of consciousness have characteristics that manifest differently in the different types, (translation of input) and yet have general similarities with regard to one’s actual ability to process and evolve (transformation of processing).
Starting with this goal of consciousness development, and the premise that all roads leading to that goal are equally valid, the starting point of developing a methodology would have to be addressing these different paths, and how they are dictated by people’s natural processing styles or typologies.
This is what drew me to the the Enneagram, in establishing Types for the model. The Enneagram, woefully misunderstood by most laypeople and unfortunately by many practitioners, is incredibly accurate in illustrating our deepest core motivations and unconscious drivers. What we do as a result of those motivations and drivers is a completely different story, and unfortunately the story many people focus upon.
The motivations behind observable behavior are almost always a mystery to us, unless we engage with the person performing the behavior, and ask them. Even then, people are often confused about why they do what they do, so this requires artful, and in-depth questions to draw out the deeper drivers. This is not easy or fast, and we return to the commercial profit aspect of how much time a practitioner (not to mention a layperson) is willing to spend pursuing this information. The easiest way to look at this is that we can do totally different things for the same reason as often as we can do the same thing, for completely different reasons. The reasons or motivations speak to who we are, how we process the world around us, and thus what our path to higher consciousness would be. Our behaviors say little more than what we’ve learned, how we react, and maybe an inkling into our survival strategies.
When the Enneagram is used to model motivations and drivers, the observed behavior makes sense. When the Enneagram is used to label people’s behavior, the model is reduced to a parlor game.
Additionally, simplifying the model to reduce people to a singular type, again labeled by a behavioral or singular character trait, causes the model to lose accuracy and depth. Riso and Hudson's work in taking the Enneagram of Personality to a more three dimensional view within psychological health, and highlighting the flow from disintegration through integration makes a far more complex picture of personality drivers accessible to most people. Theirs is probably the most well-known approach to the psychological insights of the Enneagram of Personality, and have done for its popularity what Bill Gates did for personal computers. What concerned us was the average person getting the impression that they were suddenly qualified as Psychologists to work with people in this area, which could result in mis-use or even abuse, even if unintentional. A non-psychologically centric approach to consciousness would be necessary.
As the study spread throughout the world, the dynamic and fluid nature originally described by Georges I. Gurdjieff (@1910) got simplified and made somewhat more static as it was being specifically applied to any singular aspect, disseminated, and taught over time. This would again be evidence of the “lowest common denominator” principle entering the process of using one way of teaching to everyone reducing accuracy and detail. Thankfully, the Universal Truth behind the teachings of the Enneagram still survive.
"Man's eyes are dazzled by the bright play of the colors of multiformity, and under the glittering surface he does not see the hidden kernel of the one-ness of all that exists."
-G. I. Gurdjieff
Some disciplines, such A. H. Almaas' Ridwan School Diamond Approach have worked to honor the complexity and dynamics throughout multiple aspects of the Enneagram (psychology, spirituality, physical well-being), although their training does require about 10 years to complete (Almaas would probably laugh at the term "completion," as spiritual growth is truly an infinite journey/process).
To use the Enneagram to its fullest in the pursuit of our understanding of ourselves, we need to look at all the information it gives us about all the parts of ourselves that it describes. Rather than factoring down to a singular type, perhaps with one wing, perhaps with two wings, depending upon which school you follow, the model we’ll be exploring looks at each of us as a kind of choir or stew, made up of five component types; each contributing to create the complexity that we find in real people. Gurdjieff referred to Five Types living in harmony and creating the complete person, although his description of the Five Centers was quite different from our synthesis:
"We know that in it are five main centers: thinking center, formulatory apparatus, emotional center, moving and sex centers. The one-sided development of any one of them leads to hypertrophy, the type of a one-centered man. There will be five such main types. But if all five centers are developed in one man, he "locks up" within himself the pentagram by the fact that he brings his life and the work of all five centers into harmonic correspondence. By manifesting according to law and living harmoniously he represents the finished physical type of man. He is the type of the synthesis of 5 in 1. He is one, and at the same time five, for he can live just as one of the five and like all together."
-G. I. Gurdjieff
For people less familiar with the Enneagram, “type” in this particular context, refers to a lens of perspective, or filtration process by which each of us takes in and sorts the world around us. It is generally accepted that in the Enneagram of Personality, we have a core type, a disintegration or stress type, and an integration or confidence type. The dynamics of their influence are usually described as “going to” that type (as in a One going to Four in stress, or going to Seven in confidence). Although this is an easy way to grasp a general concept, the unfortunate inference is often that a person changes from being one type to being another type. This is the inference not the implication, and is more about the person's grasp than the teachings.
Different schools adhere to aspects of certain "dogmas" in varying amounts. Where Don Riso's sub-types are emphasized in some schools, they are merely "assessment tools" in others, and minor points of interest in still others. The Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies's position on sub-types is that the dialogue inspired by these disagreements is far more valuable than adherence to a rule. We view the sub-types as another filter or lens system to view ourselves through. Everyone relates to themselves and the environment through aspects of self-preservation, social standing, and sexuality. The interrelationships are inextricable. (Wilber takes a non-Enneagram related view of these "sub-types" in a larger context in 1995's "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution," Shambala Press.)
In our view, (IIES's editorial stance, if you will) the sub-types are somewhat behavior-centric, which is still working from the outside to the inside, trying to understand the inside. Furthermore, when viewed through the lens of consciousness development, Survival, Sexual, and Social Sub-Types are strategies, which shift in accordance with levels or stages. And it becomes quite subjective to create a clear line of delineation where a Sexual or Social Sub-Type doesn't on some level believe their Survival depends upon these strategies.
With our Integral Enneagram, you are who you are (dynamically stable - an oxymoron?) inside, regardless of your behaviors. Stress and confidence evoke parts of you, in differing amounts, and in different situations (and triggered by different things). Keeping with the choir metaphor, somebody starts singing louder, or even taking a solo. Keeping with the stew metaphor, adding carrots or adding lots of potatoes will change the flavor of that stew, even when the primary components are the same.
Furthermore, the influence of both wings all the time add dynamics of inner conflict, the specifics of which were heretofore much more difficult to isolate, and thus process. The relationships between these parts or perspectives describe the dynamics (much like planets or atoms influence one another). Thus we start to look at the individual as being a “constellation” of types, each type having it’s own solar system of motivations, drives, and fixations.
The Big Three
When Ken Wilber addresses “types” in Integral Theory, he usually breaks it down to what he calls the “Big Three.” These are Art/Beauty, Science/Truth, and Goodness/Morals (also broken down to pronoun perspectives: the I, the It, and the We). These correspond beautifully with the primary Triads of the Enneagram, and their foci: Heart, Brain, Intuition. The parallels are delightful. (Those of you familiar with NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming will recognize these three perspectives as being similar to the Self, Witness, and Other, but with built-in motivations.)
The Heart Triad is generally concerned with questions of identity (who am I and how do I fit in?) Interestingly the traditional Enneagram of Personality locates a type called the “artist” in this triad - that type also known for internalizing their fixations. The perspective Wilber affixes to this triad is the “I.” (In NLP this most closely maps to the Self position).
The Brain Triad is generally concerned with questions of safety (how can I be safe and how can I trust you?) Interestingly, the traditional Enneagram of Personality locates a type called the “scientist” in this triad - also known for internalizing their fixations. The perspective Wilber affixes to this group is the “it,” the most objectively detached pronoun, seeking truth through scientific objective means. In NLP, this view is the “detached” Witness.
Finally, the Intuitive Triad is generally concerned with questions of “rightness” (why aren’t things/people as they should be?) Interestingly the traditional Enneagram of Personality locates a type called the “reformer” in this triad - that type also known for internalizing their fixations. Wilber affixes the “we” perspective to this group, as they seek a way for “us” to live together in the world. The Other in this case needs a "we/us" motivation to bridge with NLP. With that, taking the position of the Other enables you to hold another’s perspective, thus creating an “us” possibility.
Integral Theory and the Enneagram once again support and enrich each other as parts of the same model of human consciousness (as do many other models and disciplines from the Eight Arms of Yoga to the mind-mapping of NLP).
Up to this point, the model could still be flat or two-dimensional, and that is the next part to be addressed. Going back to our model of consciousness being one of ascension through stages, we can see that each of our five component types are individually occupying a range of stages or altitudes, and once again the amalgamation of these is what is seen by the outside world.
Personality vs. Consciousness
Another major differentiation between the Integral Enneagram and the Enneagram of Personality (currently enjoying prominence in the coaching world) is in the approach to “depth” and development. Riso and Hudson describe nine levels of psychodynamic stages, which can dovetail in certain places with the spectral model of consciousness development used by Integral studies. However, because they are working with the Enneagram of Personality, their level divisions are within the realm of psychotherapy, and thus different. In fact, at the lowest levels, psychodynamic scales and consciousness scales can be diametrically in opposition.
Don Riso described the lowest levels of psychodynamics as 'pathological destructive' (often self-destructive) and delusional. (Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery, Houghton Mifflin, 1987) The lowest levels of consciousness, (in Integral studies) are basic survival and self-preservation, requiring vigilance and heightened awareness of real surroundings. Tenets of evolution would indicate that psychological dysfunctions such as delusions or self-destructiveness would hinder and be in opposition to survival. Of course all things being AQAL, there has to be an intersecting sub-set, destructive and delusional in their survival strategies. Nevertheless, for the most part, this is a place where the Enneagram of Personality and the Integral Enneagram diverge; obviously, psychological “health” and higher consciousness are not synonymous, so the Levels of Altitude will be different.
A person can be psychologically healthy without having their consciousness in a Turquoise or Indigo Stage. Likewise, a person can be quite conscious, with unresolved psychological issues. Although the delineation between psychology and consciousness is exceptionally tricky to navigate, in the real world, we know it when we interact with it.
Stages of Consciousness: New Colors
And while we're on Stages, you'll notice that the spectral bands of color used in Integral Studies have been expanded as well, to include real world evidence of demarcations (and resolve a few debates at I.I., and elsewhere). In the current spectrum used by Integral Studies, (when not using the Spiral Dynamics model) there is a leap from Orange to Green, skipping Yellow, as Yellow is still widely recognized as the Integral Stage from Graves, Beck, and Cowan's Spiral Dynamics models. Caution to the wind regarding confusing people, rectifying this (from our perspective) omission provided a solution to modeling a hot debate topic in Integral Studies. The Green Stage, identified by its Pluralism, Cooperation, and Acceptance, has been split into a "healthy" and an "unhealthy" version of the same stage, which doesn't "show up" on existing models. This is the "Mean Green Meme" that Wilber talks about when discussing Boomeritis, and the decidedly not-particularly Green attitudes of this group. Wilber has now added a "Mean" meme to other stages as well (Orange and Blue most notably).
The "Mean Green Meme" shows up for most people as outwardly accepting in word, but not deed. They are not accepting of those "who don't agree with their definition of Green," which is more along the Worldcentric Views (able to take 3rd person perspective) of the Orange band. There needed to be a band of color that explained the "Almost Green" Consciousness. The, "if you wear Birkenstocks and are Vegan, only then are you one of us" style of Green (which is not Green by its "accepting/pluralism" definition). Thus we add a Yellow band to accommodate the not quite ripe Green band. Another way of looking at this would be going from the "us versus them" to an "us and them," which maintains the duality, while moving toward cooperation.
In addition, this model has a Blue band after Turquoise, and before Indigo, pushing Indigo a stage higher. This is to accommodate a level of Consciousness that our current Consciousness is incapable of conceiving. This is following the "you don't know what you don't know" philosophy. Rather than put a ceiling on Consciousness Evolution, it made sense to put a stage in place that signifies an area of Consciousness beyond where we currently are able to dream; built in expandability. Theoretically, this would be the virtual Ninth Chakra, hovering above the crown of the corporeal head. Connecting higher consciousness with something beyond. Something we haven't yet discovered, but may well discover in the future.
From the perspective of levels of consciousness or stages, we are looking more at the capacity or ability to process from increasing numbers of perspectives. When we allow all of our five component types (Enneagram Core Type, Integration, Disintegration, and both Wings, or in Gurdjieff's five components: Thinking Center, Emotional Center, Movement Center, Formulatory Apparatus, and Sex Center) to be identified at their stages relative to one another, we arrive at an extremely accurate “map” of a person’s processing style, their internal conflicts, their probable external conflict triggers, linguistic modalities, and in fact, an extremely clear Integral or AQAL (All Quadrants All Lines) view of a person, allowing for dynamic shifts, growth, internal interactions, and a path toward true inner equilibrium.
Another concession to real-world evidence and striving for usefulness was adding the threads of vestigial stages to the model. Over the years we have referred to this as the "Gum on the Stairs" principle; alluding to the visual of stepping in colorful chewing gum and then tracking it up a spiral staircase. A little less shows up on each ascending step, but to ignore the existence of that vestige, is to ignore the elastic pull from its corresponding stage. The vestigial threads also serve double duty symbolizing the cumulative and absorbing nature of integration.
One hypothesis linking specific Types to specific Stages, is that each ego structure type, or Enneagram Type "resonates" with a corresponding meme indigenous to its stages of consciousness development. (For example, the "might makes right" meme of the Red Stage has more pull for an Enneagram Eight or a One than it will for an Enneagram Seven, who will be more drawn to the magic, animism, and kin spirits of Magenta). These influences show up during the continuous cycling motion of our development, and pull us toward certain stages, like a kind of internal gravity. The Institute is continuing to study this principle, potentially linking memes, stages, and Types to specific energetic vibrations, with a possibility of harmonic resonance at its root.
Using the Model
By bringing each of our component types into conscious focus, we can do work (exercises, practices, etc.) to free ourselves of the limiting beliefs and habits preventing these components from their natural evolution and ascension. The elevation of these parts of ourselves previously holding us back will no longer weigh down our total Self's ascending path (as we integrate Dharana and Dhyana; perceptual and sustained awareness into our “way of being.”) Furthermore, when our component aspects are in equilibrium, balance, and harmony, we have the inner and outer congruence necessary to ascend up that path of consciousness development and evolution far more easily. We no longer have unconscious or subconscious conflicts that sabotage pursuing that which we desire. We no longer waste our time pursuing that which is not in line with our ethos of self, with others, and environment (Yamas and Nayamas).
Looking at this from an engineering or physics standpoint, we eliminate the inefficiencies of the mechanism, thus using our energy only toward the best results.
The Integral Enneagram must by definition integrate the IOS (Integral Operating System) with the Enneagram, rather than merely placing them side-by-side. They are not two studies, but pieces of the same picture, each enriching the other.
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