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             I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known,             
so I created the creation so that I can be known."

Hadith Qudsi

"He who knows his self, knows his Lord"

Hadith, Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)


The Enneagram is an ancient Sufi system, which has recently been used to describe nine personality types. This 'Enneagram of the personality' maps psychological aspects and traits of the ego, exemplifying its emotional, habitual and character fixations.

Depending on its sensitivities, every soul develops a particular personality. These sensitivities are shaped and nurtured by the early family environment and other such factors. The result is the development of the personality or ego, with all of its components. For some time, modern psychology has held the view that if a family environment were perfect, fixations of the personality would not develop. This theory however, holds little realistic bearing. All people, regardless of background or upbringing, develop fixations along with their personalities. It is in exploring this issue that we begin to ask ourselves questions like: 'Why is a particular soul placed in that particular family environment which propels the soul to develop a particular personality?' and more importantly, 'What is the real purpose of the journey of life?'

The Enneagram offers two levels for interpreting and understanding the personality. The first allows for recognition and classification. The second and most profound function of the Enneagram takes us beyond the personality to the realm of the essence of the self. As such, the Enneagram is a model of consciousness that reveals the existence of the personality as a veil to essential self.

"God made the creatures as veils. He who knows them as such is led back to Him, but he who takes them as real is barred from His presence"

Ibn al-Arabi

Through Sufism, the Enneagram can become the vehicle, freeing us from the confines of the personality and delivering us to the realm of the Real. The ego fixations (habitual patterns of emotional reactions) of the nine personality types function as veils, obstructing us from experiencing Reality. However, by observing and purifying the ego, we can endeavour to free ourselves of the entrapment of the mind and the thoughts of the personality. Thus the Enneagram, as a means for self-observation and study, can play an important role, guiding us to spiritual unfoldment and God-consciousness.

"The creations of God are only signs of the existence of God. They are not the Reality. The only Reality is the Real. They were created in order that man could understand the ultimate Reality that lies hidden within God's signs. You will be able to reach Him only if you go beyond the signs."

Bawa Muhaiyddeen

In the Qur’an, the story of Adam and Eve subtly reveals the journey of mankind. The temptation of the ego, (represented as Satan), is indicated in the following verse:

"And thus he led them on with deluding thoughts"

Qur’an 7:22

The moment Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree, they become conscious of their nakedness. In other words they become self-conscious, as opposed to their previous state of God-consciousness.

Then, God the All Knowing, with full knowledge of what will happen, sends Adam and Eve down to earth to stay for a while (the duration of each person's life), and gives them (us) this key;

"O children of Adam, indeed We have bestowed upon you from high, garments to cover your nakedness, and as a thing of beauty, but the garment of God-consciousness is the best of all."

Qur’an 7:26

In the Enneagram, we begin to clearly see the cloak of the personality, which covers God-consciousness. The work of Sufism is to remove this cloak and, God willing, become a God-conscious person again. In this state, we do not live through the confinement of the personality, but are present with the one true Reality, fulfilling the purpose of this life.

The Story of the Blacksmith

"There was a blacksmith who was unjustly imprisoned and who miraculously escaped. Many years later when he was asked how he had escaped, he said that when he was in prison his wife, who was a weaver, had woven the design of the lock to his prison cell into his prayer rug. Realising that the prayer rug contained the design of his cell's lock, he made a deal with his jailer to get some tools to make some small artefacts, which the jailer then sold, for a profit. Meanwhile he also used the tools to make a key and one day he made his escape." (From Idries Shah)

God has already given us the key as has been said before. Man's role is to realise that he is in the prison of the personality, and to understand the design of his particular cell.

"Sufism is the spiritual way or 'Tariqah' to free man from the prison of multiplicity, to cure him from hypocrisy and to make him whole, for it is only in being whole that man can become holy"

Seyyed Hossein Nasr

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For further information contact the
Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies (ACS)
Phone: (02) 9955 SUFI (7834)
or email: acs@australiansuficentre.org

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