So Why the Enneagram for Development?

SYNOPSIS OF THE ARTICLE: The most vital reason for the Enneagram work is its role in human development and the survival or our species. Here I present the simplified four levels of development from lowest to highest: (1) Pre-conventional, impulsive and self-protective (=ego centric); (2) Conventional, conformist (= ethno centric); (3) Post-conventional, self-aware, autonomous (=world centric); and (4) Non-conventional, integrated and unitive (=universe centric). The Enneagram work is all about increasing our level of development especially in becoming more world centric wherein we appreciate and honor differences.

So, Why the Enneagram? | Increasing Our Level of
Developmental Well-being

By David Daniels, M.D.

“The need is not really for more brains,
The need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people
Than those who won for us
Against the ice, the tiger, and the bear.”

– From the “Immense Journey” by Loren Eisley

This is one of my very favorite quotes. For me, it represents our crucial human need to develop past our earlier levels of being on the planet. We need an expanded appreciation of the positive possibilities for our species. And the Enneagram offers a key way to evolve ourselves into expanded and more inclusive levels of consciousness and emotional intelligence. For the Enneagram is all about understanding ourselves and others; all about appreciating differences; all about reclaiming a separate self from which we can truly join in union with others; all about opening our hearts to ourselves and others in non-judgment; and all about reclaiming and integrating in our higher qualities – all representing the work of transformation.

In terms of levels of development simply put we will in the process become more world centric. I have simplified the levels from integral psychology into four basic ones. We can readily understand these.

  • Pre-conventional: Impulsive and Self-protective (ego centric). We all know that we can do destructive behaviors when upset. But this impulsive, totally self-referenced level explains why we as a species can so readily kill and pillage others who don’t give us what we want or need. Others are simply objects, basically nothing more.
  • Conventional: Conformist (ethno centric). Here we can love those with whom we are identified – our religious group, race, culture, and even team. But we can denounce and even annihilate those who aren’t in our group. They are children of a lesser god so to speak. We all know this from “ethnic cleansing” and the daily news. This explains how mothers (and fathers too) send off their sons into battle for the sake of the church, country or whatever.
  • Post-conventional: Self-aware to Autonomous (world centric). Here there is an ability to include diversity, to expand the boundaries of inclusion and see other groups’ point of views. In the process we become more accepting and generally less destructive. The down side results from belittling the “lesser” levels.
  • Non-conventional: Integrated and Unitive (universe centric). This is a rare “species.” This is life beyond ego and ethnic identifications. Very, very few of us have reached this level, certainly less than 1%. Yet it remains a possibility.

The Enneagram work helps us move into the world centric stance, thus providing hope for the future for all who embrace it. I believe this move represents a core value of the various Enneagram schools. It gives hope to Loren Eisley’s words of our need for a “gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger, and the bear.”