This week on The Road Home Podcast, Ethan Nichtern discusses the intersection of Buddhism and enneagrams with internationally renowned meditation teacher and author, Susan Piver.
Susan Piver has an international reputation as an exceptionally skillful meditation teacher. She teaches workshops and speaks on mindfulness, innovation, communication, relationships, and creativity. Susan has been a student of Buddhism since 1995, graduated from a Buddhist seminary in 2004, and was authorized to teach meditation in 2005. In 2012, she founded The Open Heart Project, the world’s largest online-only meditation center. Susan is also a New York Times bestselling author. Her newest book is The Buddhist Enneagram: Nine Paths to Warriorship. You can keep up with Susan on Instagram and Twitter.
The Buddhist Enneagram
Susan Piver discusses how she became enthralled with enneagrams. An enneagram is essentially a personality type. Understanding our enneagram can help us determine what situations we work best in, what style of communicator we are, and other general characteristics. Susan believes that an enneagram is a type of terma. A terma is an ancient Buddhist treasure/technique left for future generations to uncover. Mysteriously, there is not a known author or creator of the nine enneagrams. However, it is said that it was first found by a Greek man in a cave near Pakistan. Others have claimed to be trained in enneagrams by archangels or wise elders. Despite the mystery surrounding the origin of the enneagram, many of us have heard about the system. If you are interested to know your enneagram, there are many free tests online.
Tune into Ep. 131 of Metta Hour with Sharon Salzberg and Sylvia Boorstein to hear about the Buddhist personality types.
The Energies of Enneagram (21:39)
Ennea is the greek prefix for nine. The Enneagram is a circle containing three groups of three energies. Enneagrams 8,9, and 1 make up the intuitive triad. Numbers 2, 3, and 4 are the emotional triad. Lastly, enneagrams 5, 6, and 7 are parts of the mental triad. A good way to see which enneagram you are is to look at your stress response. Do you handle stressful situations with your intuition, emotions, or your thoughts? Understanding where we fit within the enneagram system can help us study our sense of self and to understand others, similarly to the astrological zodiac.
“We all have all these kinds of intelligence, but for each of us, one of them predominates.” – Susan Piver
Enneagrams and Better Communication (42:10)
In each enneagram, there are things that we thrive in and things that we struggle with. Susan says that in her own marriage she has seen how these elements affect her communication with her husband. For example, as an enneagram 4, Susan really needs to find meaning. In arguments, this was her trap. Meanwhile, her husband focused on assigning blame. Understanding her natural urge to seek meaning was at disharmony with her husband’s need to place blame, she decided to first try acknowledging each of their errors. Then, they could move on to finding meaning. This changed the course of their conversations because she was able to speak his language. Knowing your partners’ enneagram can help you open up the channel of communication and adapt to their strengths and weaknesses.
“You have all of that in the enneagram, the thing that points to your unique brilliance and your unique trap. The trap and the brilliance are on a spectrum with each other. Just like nirvana and samsara are inseparable, the passion and the virtue are inseparable.” – Susan Piver