Have you studied the Enneagram?  I’ve been immersed in it recently and it’s got me searching my heart. Socrates said that Plato said,  “An unexamined life is not worth living.”   I am inclined to agree. Increasing self-awareness is at the core of recovery, the spiritual path.  It builds humility, making us right-sized, shrinking arrogance and leading to greater honesty and through all that promoting change. The Enneagram breaks humanity down into 9 personality types and rings deeply true for me.  As I remember a past mentor telling me, I am an 8.

enneagramThe Enneagram was brought to the west by the rascally Russian philosopher Gurdjieff but was probably developed within the mystical side of Islam, meaning Sufis. All the substantial religions, including Christianity have an esoteric/mystical wing.  Muslim scholars grew and refined sciences & arts long before western man: astronomy, mathematics including algebraic calculus and more.

My enneagram states:

“Eights find their identity as enforcers of justice {why I always loved Marvel comics like the Avengers! 🙂 }, taking pride in their willingness to defend the weak.  Eights survived their childhood by taking a tough personal stand.  (As an eight said, ‘I thought I was looking for the truth, which came out as questioning authorities’)  Eights carry a suspiciousness of ambiguous presentation, mixed messages, or unclear chains of command. The preferred state of existence is highly amped, fully energized forward motion. {Thankfully growth and age mellow some things 🙂 }  An eight will happily go into control mode to make goals materialize.

And on it goes.

This, I’m mildly chagrined to say, is me.  I’ve studied it before but it is really ringing true these days.

If you couple that impulse with the release I received from ending the denial of my addiction you have a vitalized combo. To me, shining the light on what’s wrong with our society as the first step toward creating a more just world is liberating and necessary so I always feel like, “What are we waiting for, let’s get to it?”  Yet there is great wisdom in patience.

We are surrounded by examples of change agents. Allow me to give you a few examples, starting with one in our own back yard:

Here’s a link to the summary email from Morganton’s Jim Van Hecke who promoted a lovely conference -Carolinas Conference on Addiction and Recovery- that brought many aspects of the community together to look at our common problems and find solutions, building community in the process.

Here’s a link to a CNN story about a West Coast success story of epic proportions. It’s about an agency, Homeboy Industries and a Priest who helps stoke hope in former gang members.   His motto is, “You’re not as bad as the worst thing you’ve ever done.”   No matter what, most of us can relate to that.  If you’re interested there’s a full documentary.

Lastly I loved this documentary, Slingshot. It chronicles the story of inventor Dean Kamen, best known for the Segway. He made his fortune developing medical delivery systems and then set about to use engineering to aid humankind.  The thing about the Segway that’s not  well known was that it come out of his development of a much better wheelchair. The wheelchair is amazing and from that came the stabilizing engineering that gave him the Segway.

Like people moving their chairs around on the deck of the Titanic, we seem to ignore foundational issues this country has.  Or we see but feel unable/incapable of a response. We resist the fact that the hull has a great big gash in it and until we heal the breech we are doomed.  Sadly, this makes me sound like so much of the bombast and blather that counts for political campaigning these days. That is absolutely not what I am talking about. I’m talking, at this Holiday season, about love and our hearts and the growing of a collective vision. That ideal is still and always an option for us.  The truth is if we look at our own shadow than we can stop being mad at others for theirs.  So I have to say I appreciate and am grateful for the chance to do that with you.

There will be a holiday coming soon, but allow me to stop and wish you all the best.