A 1,700 Year-Old Love Tool

M. David Bradshaw
3 min readMar 12, 2020

Rediscovering Your True Self With The Enneagram

“To thine own self be true.”
-Shakespeare, Hamlet

“Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know Thee.”
-Augustine, Confessions

The Enneagram

Imagine discovering a spiritual tool — which dates back at least 1,700 years to the early Desert Fathers as well as the Sufi mystics — which is capable of empowering you to better understand yourself and others by integrating your ‘false’ self with your ‘True’ self to create a whole, new you!

This, in a nutshell, is the benefit of grasping the ancient wisdom and power of The Enneagram, according to Richard Rohr, the famed Franciscan teacher, author, and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, NM.

According to Rohr, “The Enneagram is a tool that can help us move from dualistic thinking (mind vs. spirit, good vs. bad, in vs.out) to non-dual consciousness. It helps us recognize and forgive the paradoxes that we all carry, what we might call our ‘sins’. It insists that our virtue and our passion are two sides of one coin.”

The nine personality types identified in the Enneagram each have specific strengths and weaknesses. For example, my primary type is a 9, which has the strengths of patience, humility and serving as a peacemaker, but on the flip side, 9‘s can also be prone to procrastination and lacking focus.

As we discern the primary personality types of our self, family, friends and soulmates we gain the ability to love them more fully and with greater spiritual wisdom. As Proverbs 20:5 says, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; But a man of understanding will draw it out.”

“Eventually we have to admit that our mistakes and failures (our ‘sins’) are our greatest teachers,” writes Rohr. “The work of spirituality is to make our presence to Presence possible by keeping the heart space open (through love), the mind space right (through contemplation), and the body resting in the present moment.”

The Enneagram places these nine personality types into three broad categories; the body/gut, the heart/emotions, and the head/mind. Each of us responds to external circumstances from one of these primary receptors — which are then further expanded into three sub-categories or numbers (#1–9).

Rohr explains, “Those who are alert and awake in all these three centers of Intelligence (body/heart/head) at once can experience Presence. The Enneagram points out nine particular ways we avoid being present in the moment.”

The goal is to move beyond the shallow ego self (or false self), which can be defined as “a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment,” as Eckhart Tolle puts it. The Enneagram helps us align our inner purpose — who we really are (or our True self) with our outer purpose — what we do.

Rohr is not alone in calling us to learn the art of being “present in the moment.” Spiritual teachers such as Ram Dass (Be Here Now) as well as Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) have stressed the importance of presence, as opposed to living in the past and/or worrying about the future — as most people do too much of the time.

In summarizing the ultimate goal of the Enneagram Rohr says, “The goal of the entire spiritual journey is union in love. And love is not achieved by any performance principle, but it is something we ‘fall into’ when we are not in full control.”

This ‘falling’ Rohr speaks of is the same process of embracing humiliation, transformation and surrender which is at the heart of all spiritual traditions. It is the “losing of our life to find it,” Jesus spoke of.

“The necessary shifts in consciousness require a new approach to spirituality that transcends past religious cultures of fragmentation and isolation,” writes Wayne Teasdale in The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions.

I strongly recommend reading The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert. It can serve as a tool for discernment and a gift which can help transform lives, lead people to God and release the great giftedness within each of us.

-Free 5-min. Enneagram Test
-Detailed Enneagram Test $12:
-An excellent Summary of the 9 Enneagram Personality Types:
-Free YouTube video course on The Enneagram by Richard Rohr: