Thomas Keating in The Human Condition argues that everyone is called to recover from something, even if it’s only childhood. Unless we embark upon the spiritual journey, we are practically helpless to do much about escaping from our emotional programs for happiness rooted in our fundamental needs early on for affection and esteem, safety and security, and power and control plus our cultural condition that leads to frequent, if not habitual, frustration. As the pain of this frustration increases, the psyche then represses these traumatic experiences into the unconscious where the negative energy is warehoused in the body. This is why the religious and spiritual traditions suggest disciplines or programs to reduce the amount of energy we put into these emotional and cultural programs for happiness that seek external rewards and approval, often at the price of our own morals and integrity.
Thus we are all driven by a deep inner restlessness. We may feel this restlessness as a sense that something is missing in us, although it is usually difficult to define exactly what it is. We have all sorts of notions about what we think we need or want—a better relationship, a better job, a better physique, a better car, and on and on. We believe that if we acquire that perfect relationship or job or new “toy,” the restlessness will go away, and we will feel satisfied and complete. But experience teaches us that the new car makes us feel better for only a short time. The new relationship may be wonderful, but it never quite fulfills us in the way we thought it would. So what are we really looking for?
If we reflect for a moment, we may realize that what our hearts yearn for is to know who we are and why we are here. But little in our culture encourages us to look for answers to these important questions. We have been taught that the quality of our life will improve primarily if our external fortunes improve. Sooner or later, however, we realize that external things, while valuable in themselves, cannot address the deep restlessness of our soul.
The Enneagram (pron: ANY-uh-gram) is a guide for the study of the human nature. It maps nine primary perspectives on our world and provides a panoramic view of the human condition.
The Enneagram describes our motivations, the ways we express what we are thinking and feeling, and how we interact with others. It reveals the stories we tell that shape our lives. This spiritual psychology shows how we have survived by creatively adapting to conditions, and shows us how we can move beyond the human conditions and the destructive programs for happiness to joyful thriving.
The Enneagram has many practical applications ad is an effective tool for development of personal spiritual leadership and personal mission statements for people in all walks of life, including executives, counselors, coaches, teachers, boards of directors, legal, medical and helping professionals, parents, students, and anyone eager to understand the human condition and its influence their programs for happiness more fully.
For more on personal spiritual leadership and the role of personal mission statements see chapters 3 and 6 of Maximizing the Triple Bottom Line Through Spiritual Leadership and Cultivating Spiritual Leadership.
For more on the Enneagram: See the Enneagram and Personal Growth.