Know Thyself

Working With the Internal Logic of the Nine Types

When we cross the threshold into our thirties, something happens to our strident march into the future: we start looking around at the expensive car, the fancy house, the busy kids, and the gym membership, and asking, "Is this it?"  Even for those who have none of these, after thirty, we start to realize that we need a more adult-like way of dealing with stress besides alcohol and late nights because whether or not we've checked off any of the Big Four Milestones yet-- marriage, career, family and home-ownership-- we've crossed a lifechanging mountain range that ends in a vague and lingering itch that's very hard to scratch.  At thirty, we've reached a horizon with very few big landmark, life-defining moments left in the long stretch before us, and we ask ourselves, "This is everything I've been working towards?" 

 A possible point of view from those who are still trying to get past milestone #1.  Image and article from  The Onion .

A possible point of view from those who are still trying to get past milestone #1.  Image and article from The Onion.

Not that life after thirty is a drag- I personally love it- but however you've appraised your progress, the daily routine of the nine to five-- couched on either side by groceries, traffic, line-ups, meal prep and alarm bells-- is the hallmark of the adult life.  The endless string of expensive birthday presents, mortgage payments and bills can be overwhelming, and a lonely slog if we're single or in a relationship that isn't working.  Whether we're raising children, working nine to five, or trying to get a book published, most of us after thirty would very dearly like a break: some rest, a sick day, a week at a retreat centre, a hug, a spa day, or a month-long Sabbatical to work on a side-project.  If we stop and reflect on the pain after such a break is over, we start to understand the Buddhist principle of impermanence: any comfort and pleasure in life is too short. 

In describing modern life, Buddhist monk Chogyam Trungpa could easily have been describing any adult's pre-internet days (which he was), but even moreso now that we have computers and smartphones.

Everything is suffering because the experience of our life becomes a nuisance.  We are not just saying, "Our baby is a nuisance; therefore we should send him or her to the babysitter".  In this case, nuisance is not ordinary nuisance, but fundamental nuisance.  Whenever you try to do something, it is always a nuisance....

Technology is supposed to integrate our day-to-day activities to create more of a flow, but when they don't work, the constant stop and go of the flow exposes the irritation in the gaps separating our happy moments.  We can be forgiven for trying to satisfy our cravings and aversions in our twenties- unless we were raised by enlightened parents, we tend not to know any better.  But when we have to become responsible adults and start saving for retirement, we need to develop a more mature way of handling ourselves in those irritating fissures.  Otherwise, we'll start to justify an over-reliance upon our unique ego distractions, things we do to make us feel a certain way, to help amplify the good feelings on either side of the cracks.  Trungpa uses a mundane example to illustrate how satifying our cravings leads to a feeling of emptiness:

For instance, you have a good cup of coffee in your hand.  You put cream and sugar in it, and you stir it with satisfaction.  You inhale the aroma, you drink, and you have a great sense of satisfaction.  At last!  A good cup of coffee.  You have been looking forward to it for a long time.  But now you have drunk it- it is gone, and your appreciation has become pain.  You feel as though you never drank that cup of coffee at all.  It is all gone, which is quite disheartening.  You could fill the gap by drinking a second cup, but the second cup dissappears as well, and you end up drinking so much coffee that you feel sick.  (The Path of Individual Liberation, pg. 14-15). 

"That's right, kids: people come in all shapes and sizes, but we're all assholes."  - College Humour

Married people are blessed with the stability of a long-term relationship while at the same time, cursed with having someone specially suited to point out how they're being assholes much of the time.  Single people just have their own internal critic to worry about, the voice chiding us to change.  One of the biggest causes of insanity in the West is that we don't know how to change.  As in, what are the core fundamentals to changing?   Our society is no longer connected to its mystical heritage that tells us how, and in fact, we've disavowed it in favor of science.  We know if we want to lose weight, we have to go to the gym and eat less, but what happens when we can't control our overeating and can't make it to the gym enough times to make a dent?  Science is doing its best to give us the answers, and science is wonderful, but are we losing weight as much as we want?  Is there a more fundamental level where change starts?  This is what this article is about- the nine different ways that people with different personality types need to understand about themselves first before they can change.  It has to do with how we deal with the gaps between the happy moments.   Surprisingly or not, there are not two, not five, not eight, but nine ways our ego selves handle the gaps.

If the feelings of nuisance -or being a nuisance- prod us into painful enough territory like rejection, failure or loss, after more than enough false leads that bring home the painful reality that we're the ones causing our own problems, we'll start our journey inwards, looking for true Reality behind our egoic delusions.  This is a difficult journey, but the most rewarding one, and invitations are only extended towards select individuals.  Actually, getting an invitation feels more like getting hit on the head with a brick, or slapped across the face every morning for 18 years, or having the carpet ripped out from underneath your feet after years of building up stability.  So if you've "received" a ticket, lucky you.  But you need to be outfitted with the right gear before you get too far into the journey.

 The Enneagram symbol.  Image courtesy of  the Enneagram Institute .

The Enneagram symbol.  Image courtesy of the Enneagram Institute.

One of the most useful tools you'll want to take with you to help you understand your your ego's thesis statement is the Enneagram, a personality typing system, kind of like Myers-Briggs, but much more profound and helpful if you actually want to change anything.  You can imagine the Enneagram like a healing labyrinth, inviting us into its geometry to become more and more aware of our unconscious emotional, mental, and instinctual patterns and how we relate to those of others.  Of course, there is no actual labyrinth traced out on the ground somewhere; it's just a symbol, but a dynamic one nonetheless, and its function, paradoxically, is to liberate us from our patterns, to unfold us from our self-contradictory internal logic to one that serves us so we're not always shooting ourselves in the foot.  You might say the Enneagram is for soothing the irritations in the cracks between our happy moments for an integrated experience of our true nature, who we were really meant to be when we're in flow.

Embedded within the name of the Enneagram are a couple hints about what it's about.  The first part of the word, "Ennea", is the Greek word for the number nine, and the suffix, "-gram" hints that there's some kind of systemic philosophical scaffolding behind the number.  Indeed, the Enneagram is a way of understanding types in nature that reflect nine qualities what to means to be in integrity with yourself, complete, and well, holy, if you will. 

  Enneagram Dinner Party .  Illustration by Elizabeth Wagele.

Enneagram Dinner Party.  Illustration by Elizabeth Wagele.

Let's say you have nine friends, one of each type.  Your type One friend is the Perfectionist who shows us what it means to be a moral, serious, and upstanding person.  They want to do good and they hardly ever get angry.  If they do, they'll suppress it unconsciously and become really nice instead, because feeling angry isn't a "good" feeling.  While they want to be in complete integrity with themselves, they end up splitting themselves off from their bad parts, ironically creating a dualism within themselves.

Your Type Two friend is the Helper who shows us how to be a sweet, loving person.  They're always complimenting you and giving you banana bread and casseroles.  They want to be helpful because love is what makes the world go around, but they suppress their own needs because having needs is selfish, let alone stating them.  So they have to get their needs met a round-about way... like kind of tricking you into giving it to them.  For example, eventually after enough compliments and banana bread, you'll start feeling either grateful or guilty and you'll wrap the Type Two in the same brand of love and affection they've been lavishing on you. 

Your Type Three friend is the Achiever, the cheerleader, the type who shows us how to be winners.  They're the perky friend who always surprises you with how competent they are.  They get a lot of things right- they can be quite efficient and productive- because they study successful people to learn their secrets.  Their inner contradiction is that their drive to be seen as successful is "a tad" stronger than the need to actually do the things necessary to be successful.  So the image takes precedence over the actual homework needed to look as dazzling as they want to look, and oh how loathe they are to be found out for the corners they've cut.

Type Four is the moody, creative friend who has the same drive for a positive image like the Three, but whose melancholic moods and their feelings of deficiency hold them back from starting things, finishing things, marketing their things, or saying anything positive about themselves in general.  Like the Three, Fours are ashamed of their deficiencies, but unlike the Three, don't do anything about it; in fact, they hide their true self behind their inadequacies. They retreat into their emotional lives to create a fantasy self that they'll probably never actualize unless they become aware how their moods are controlling them and preventing them from getting any significant work done on their goals. 

Type Five is one of the "head types."  Now ask 50 people if they're "head, heart, or gut types", and all 50 people will tell you they're "head types", even though the nine types are evenly distributed between the three.  It's just that we all hear ourselves think too much these days due to all the distractions around us.  But few types demonstrate more clearly the thrill of linking new concepts together and the hell of having no place to go but the head.  This is nerd culture archetype, the one who you ask how they are and they tell you about something in the news or about computers, as if information is supposed to be the answer to a subjective question like how their day was.  GIving you information is their way of connecting with you.

Type Six is also a head type, but, as Russ Hudson explains, while Fives try to know everything as a defense against the uncertainty of the world, Sixes are constantly looking for those people outside themselves who know the answers.  Masters of projection, Sixes look for anything that looks secure, true, honest, reliable like an organization, a boss with a good reputation, or a confident and reliable spouse.  A Six can finally relax when they've found them, and holds on to them, denying that they might be a source of knowledge themselves.

Your type Seven friend is the Enthusiast that is always busy moving from one fun activity to the next and you can barely keep up with them.  One day they're learning how to fly a plane; the next day they're getting their realtor's liscence and planning a trip around the world.  The Seven's internal contradiction is they want to experience everything life has to offer, but as Russ Hudson explains, never allow "anything to touch [them] deeply, and only in allowing things to touch [them] deeply is there any possibility of transformation."

Eight and Nine are body types, but they're complete opposites to each other.  Both of them have an intelligence around the instinctual centre- the gut.  They use their gut energy primarily to stop things in their tracks before they affect their way of doing things.  Unlike the Twos, Threes or Fours who press their faces up against the window of someone's soul to see how they need to act in order to gain approval, the gut types just act how they want to act and it's up to you to make a berth around them.  You can think of them as having issues around their first chakras- where issues of boundaries and "hereness"-- how you take up your space on the earth-- are of primary importance.  Body types enforce their boundaries without having to spend a lot of time thinking about them.

The Eights are the Challengers.  They're the friend who goes after what they want, whether loudly or quietly, but very directly, and aren't ashamed or ambiguous about their desires or drives.  They do what they need to do to survive- it's a tough world out there, and Eights know it.  They can be brusque and use too much energy, volume, or sneaky underhanded tactics to get control of their environment, but it comes from a fear of someone getting control of them, whether financially, physically or otherwise.  Their irony is the most obvious of the nine types- if you're grabby and pushy about getting what you want in life, you'll inevitably push people away.

Finally, your sweet Nine friend - the peace-loving, gentle Nine is the laid-back friend who will never impose on you.  They'll invite you over to their house or to the gym with them to relax or do push-ups together.  They just want everyone to get along, but they think they'll cause conflict by asserting themselves, so ironically, under stress, the self-effacing Nine unwittingly causes conflict by receding into into a stone wall of stubborn - yet deceptively peaceful-looking- silence as a way of asserting their autonomy.

Application

If we've reached a certain age and we're smart, we'll start to notice how our internal contradictions are working against us and we'll start to do some inquiry around some of our most obvious self-destructive habits. 

We can take some advice from Plotinus, the neo-Platonist who urged us to forgo things that promise immediate gratification for things further down the line with a bigger payoff.  In the language of the ancient Greeks, we're forgoing "The Many" for something that looks more like "The One".

In Plotinus' way of seeing things, the One is the Source of all creation; it is uncreated and eternal.  Contemplation of the One is where we lose our ego self.  Think how truly satisfying it would be to not only not be an asshole anymore, but to lose the identity on behalf of whom the asshole acted so that you see that you're One with everyone else. 

We can understand our essential nature by contemplating how we are a manifestation of one of nine divine forms, we have the essence of The One within us.

In other words, our very own personality type can lead us toward the source of those pure essence qualities we're trying to cultivate in our lives- vibrancy, success, attentiveness, calm and peace.  Each of us represents a facet of The One, or The Truth, or a legitimate viewpoint on true reality.

So why nine and which one are you?  Let's first look at why the number nine is so important.

 The nine original Egyptian gods, whom the Greeks dubbed "the Ennead".  Image from  this person's Flickr account .

The nine original Egyptian gods, whom the Greeks dubbed "the Ennead".  Image from this person's Flickr account.

The ancient Egyptians had a base 10 numerical system -- most likely because of our ten fingers-- and the first nine numbers, to them, each reflected a core spiritual principle that applied to natural life.  The number one stood for perfect unity, two stood for connection, three stood for a finished process, and so on.

The Egyptians also had developped a complex mythology around the original family of nine gods.  Today we call it the Egyptian Ennead.  They were the nine primary deities who created each other, the heavens, the earth, and everything else in the manifest world.

The fact that nine gods arose from the One (Atum) speaks to how Egyptians understood the number nine to represent completion.   

With the genesis of the nine gods from the One, the creation theology of Heliopolis is completed.  The number nine is, numerologically speaking, a limit that cannot be surpassed without returning once again to the beginning." 

 The Eyptian numbering system.  Notice how the number ten is a curved line, indicating a "return to one".  Image from  archives.sayan.ee . 

The Eyptian numbering system.  Notice how the number ten is a curved line, indicating a "return to one".  Image from archives.sayan.ee

Horus was the last god to emerge from this incestual family of gods.  He's not pictured, but he represents the number 10, which is a mirror image of Atum.  So we see the return to one.

As their mathematical and geometrical principles were just as useful in the manifest world as in the inner world, we can appreciate how Egyptians viewed "humanity [as] a complete process within a complete universe" (Schneider, 1994)

Nine represents the boundary between the mundane and the transcendental infinite.
— Michael S. Schneider, A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science

As in the Egyptian tradition, the Greeks approached the study of truth through mathematics and geometry.  In fact, you couldn't study philosophy until you'd learnt the essentials- how a circle represented one, wholeness, and perfection; two represented division, polarity and inevitably, the search for connection back to the One; three represented a finished product arising from the tension of the two opposing polarities. 

Geometry is ... the bridge between the One and the Many.
— English philosopher John Michell

Commensurate with their love of geometry, when the Greeks conquered the Egyptians, they absorbed a lot of ancient mathematical principles of the pyramid builders into their own culture, but then added dimension to it.  In an ancient Greek math class, young students would learn the shape and volume associations with each number between 1 and 9.  One was represented by a circle, the picture of unity and perfection; two was represented by the dyad, the two-sided shape that results from two half circles joined together.  Three is the triangle, and so on.  Each shape had very important qualities that helped you understand the spiritual and philosophical significance of each form. Mathematics educator Michael Schaffer points out that the phrase "sacred mathematics" gets thrown around a lot without people really understanding it, but it really means that mathematics is sacred when it helps you discover the hidden spark of the divine within yourself. 

The Greek philosopher Pythagoras-- who was probably educated in Egypt-- "considered the first ten numbers to be seed patterns for all the principles of the cosmos", says Schneider. 

Schneider elaborates:

Nine is the final number having a specific identify.  It represents the highest attainment to be achieved in any endeavor.  Nine is the unsurpassable limit, the utmost bound, the ultimate extension to which the archetypal principles of number can reach and manifest themselves in the world.  The ancient Greeks called nine 'the horizon', as it lies at the edge of the shore before the boundless ocean of numbers that repeat in endless cycles the principles of the first nine digits.  Nothing lies beyond the principles of nine, which the Greeks called the Ennead.

Throughout history and across religions, we see repetitions of this principle.  In the mystical sect of Judaism, Kabbalah, there are nine sephirot (the circles connecting the lines) in the Tree of Life, with the number 10 assigned to God himself.  The nine sephirot denote the nine manifestations of God in the natural world. 

The Tree of Life was actually instrumental in clarifying the connection between spiritual qualities and emotional health in the early 1940's.  It was a chance insight while studying the placement of the sephirot that led Bolivian mystic Oscar Ichazo to try to not only match up the nine qualities with the nine points on the Enneagram, thereby assembling the first dynamic model for how the nine personality types ebb and flow into each others' territory depending on mental and emotional resilience, but he placed them in the correct order.  For example, on the Enneagram at least- not on the Tree of Life- Type Fives are connected by a line between 8 and 7.  When a Type Five person is stressed, they will deteriorate to the negative qualities of the number 7 like being frazzled and hyper, but when they're at their best, they're embodied and secure not needing to know everything, while putting their ideas into action.

The search for Reality leads us inevitably toward the type, the enigmatic one that lies behind the obvious world of the Many.
— John Michell

Healing The Enneagram Types with Geometry

So now that we've established why the number nine is such an important number, how does knowing ancient Greek geometry help us become integrated, healthy, and whole people today?  We could call this the sacred part of geometry right here.  understanding the geometric representation (The One) behind our type helps us uncover our gifts and heal from our inner contradiction.

In the Enneagram, Type One is the perfectionist.  People of this type want everything to be "just right".  They are bothered by disorder, messes, spelling mistakes, and they abhor people who take shortcuts.  Their eyes scan for disorder so they can put it in order.

To the Greeks, the number One was represented by a perfect circle.  Circles represented the mother that gives birth to all of the shapes via the vescies pisces.  The world was frequently depicted in European paintings as enclosed in a circle containing all creation.  Because the Type One longs to be in integrity with itself, it vehemently denies (represses) everything in it that it feels to be bad, predominantly its anger.  So irony of ironies, the Type One, who wants the most to be in integry with itself ends up the most split apart from itself than any of the other types.  Type Ones can heal by identifying with the all-encompassing circle that accepts the good and the bad in them instead of denying the bad.  Knowing their tendency toward repressing the parts of themselves they don't like, and knowing that they're represented by an all-enclosing circle can help them become aware of their tendency to judge themselves so harshly.

Again, the number four is represented by the Tetrad, the first of the geometrical shapes to have 3-D depth to them (think of the pyramid shape) whose flat surface gives it maximum stability. Conversely, people who are Enneagram type Fours are always trying to attain greater and greater depths by mimicing their true Essence nature represented by the Tetrad, but tend to get seduced and entranced by their ego that persuades them that reality is only in the shadows and depth, and end up- ironically- the most depressed and unstable of the types. By returning to their Essence nature through self-awareness practices like meditation, Fours can become more healthy and stable like their representative shape. Also, he might pair up with Cynthia Bourgeault or Russ Hudson who have one of the most fine-tuned understandings of the Law of Three, a critical ancient Egyptian principle that serves as a lynchpin for the entire lot of numbers 1 to 9.

Conclusion

One important figure in Enneagram history who didn't get mentioned in this article is the Chilean psychiatrist who studied the Enneagram under Oscar Ichazo.  He brought it up to California in the early 1970's.  Claudio Naranjo was a psychiatrist-in-residence at Esalen at Big Sur, and started fleshing out the type descriptions, using material gathered from his work with his own patients.  To introduce the topic of the Enneagram, he quotes Dr. Oliver P. John, author of the Big Five Inventory, and professor at University of California, speaking about the need for an objective personality typing inventory.

Like any field of scientific study, personality psychology needs a descriptive model or taxonomy of its subject matter... a taxonomy would permit researchers to study specific domains of personality characteristics.... Moreover, a generally accepted taxonomy would greatly facilitate the accumulation and communication of empirical findings by offering a standard vocabulary or nomenclature....  Most every researcher in the field hopes, at one level or another, to be the one who devises the structure that will transform the present Babel into a community that speaks a common language (Naranjo, 1994).

Wouldn't it be remarkable if the structure psychologists were looking for was beneath our noses this entire time?

 

 

 

 

 

Open letter to the National Science Foundation

I was watching some Bill Nye videos online today, and there was a dismissive comment made about astrology being a pseudo-science.  I guess I'm really late to the astrology table and I haven't learnt to cower in fear before the scientific community, I suppose, so I was really surprised.  Everyone I've introduced astrology to has had their jaws drop to the floor with how accurate it is.  So I decided to google, "Astrology pseudo-science", and it turns out I'm on the wrong side of current thinking on astrology among scientists.  Well, I aim to change that. 

Tonight I wrote a letter to the National Science Foundation, who, every second year, survey Americans on, among other things their views and opinions on scientific matters.  One question asks respondents, "Do you think astrology is scientific?"  And to the horror of the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, in 2014, 45% of Americans thought astrology was somewhat or very scientific. I admire these guys a lot, but I disagree with them on 1) the validity of the question's wording, and 2) their interpretation of the statistic.

What does it really mean to "believe in" astrology, and how can the NSF encourage a little more sanity and groundedness around Americans' spirituality?

Hi there, my name is Erin Mulligan and I'm the owner of Rhode and Company in Canada where we (I for the moment) advocate for better spiritual literacy.  We also advocate for scientific literacy, just so you know; we just believe one is no greater than the other. 

I have a suggestion for changes to the wording in your question on your Science and Engineering Indicators poll about opinions on astrology.
 

You ask if Americans think astrology is scientific, but my guess is you're actually trying to gauge if people think it's accurate, or useful, or if they make decisions based on what they learn from their chart.  Am I right?  Of course it's not scientific.  You'd have to change the definition of science in order for a wisdom tradition to squeeze into the Aristotilean delineation around logic and reasoning.  Asking if astrology is scientific is like asking if women are men.  Clearly they fall into very distinct categories; one is for knowing the outer world, and the other is for knowing the inner world and they use different skill sets entirely.  You certainly wouldn't use science to measure someone's emotional intelligence, so why is astrology- a beautiful, robust, and incredibly useful system being measured against its "male" counterpart? 

Carl Jung would have called these two categories I'm referring to as the masculine and feminine principle, or the animus and the anima; Asians would call it the yin and the yang.  My guess is it's probably a little out of science's grasp to try and measure a mystic tradition, so why go there?  As far as I know, astrology isn't trying to impress science, just like women aren't asking men, "Am I a legitimate human being?" and Italians aren't asking the French, "Are we French enough for you?"  Astrology is a language unto itself that takes many years to learn, and decades to master.

By selecting, "yes, I believe it's scientific" pollsters are opened up to guffaws by actual scientists like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who know that you need to meet a certain set of standards to say something is scientifically valid- a legitimate pursuit, but not astrology's aim.  Asking people to judge if astrology is a science necessarily makes them look foolish because astrology is in an entirely different epistemology, just like the Buddhist practice of mindfulness is a third and equally powerful epistemology.

Self-knowledge correlates with higher emotional intelligence, which in turn correlates with better leadership skills and reported life happiness-- all skills neceessary for getting the world's population out of some of the toughest dillemmas it's ever faced.  And yet the inner world is a very vague and mysterious place sometimes.  Ask any wife if their husband can clearly articulate why they always [fill in the blank with something that annoys the hell out of them], or ask any man if their wife can do the same.  Just like women's medicine has always baffled male doctors, so we don't expect male scientists to automatically "get" a feminine spirituality*.  It takes a motivation to start with usually, like a divorce or a death in the family, or a serious illness, and then a journey begins.

Not only do we call on society to honor the male and female principle, but as Jung also said, we have both the feminine and masculine within each of us, meaning all of us have the impulse to explore and learn about our outer worlds, as much as to explore and learn about our interior world.  In men, the latter impulse is discouraged, as you are probably well aware, and as the numbers of STEM graduates reflect.  Making "believing in astrology" a lightning rod for scientists by getting pollsters to conflate it with science does nothing to encourage the self-knowledge journey (which, by the way, happens in men later in their careers, often as they're retiring and can't have the same impact as if their aha! moment happened in their 30's).

On the other hand!  We agree that making decisions based on horoscopes in the newspaper or online is quite a bad idea.  General horoscopes like that are written in very, very broad brushstrokes based on the 12 ancient archetypes.  Not always, but sometimes they can be quite accurate-- I got into astrology because I read a horoscope that said I was going to double-book myself that week, and that Wednesday, I actually triple-booked myself.  It made me do a double-take.  However, I have also then gone on to make the mistake of basing decisions on what I read on a horoscope from the internet, and now that I've learned my lesson, I just get readings done by a  professional astrologer which are more accurate because they have my specific birth data.  So I no more advocate for sloppy spiritual practices than you do for sloppy scientific ones.  My astrologer, by the way, studied with Carl Jung's daughter and is one of the most highly sought-after astrologers in the United States.  She was recommended to me by a male 50-something American angel investor, a former Fortune 50 executive who has his own spiritual practice now.


The mission of my company is to raise the profile of ancient self-knowledge traditions that grew out of Socrates' admonition to know yourself before pursuing any other kind of knowledge.  Science, math, and engineering are wonderful and meaningful pursuits, but in order for their practitioners to be fully "in touch" with reality, they need to be counterbalanced by the feminine principle of the dark, mysterious, inner, and the spiritual.  These characterisitics are notions that balance out the brazen, often unfounded over-the-top self-confidence and old-boys' club mentality that has gotten our environment into some pretty deep trouble.

In order to encourage thoughtfulness, groundedness, and sanity around spirituality, I ask you to please re-think how your astrology question is worded.  I believe you can make a difference in western mentality by changing it so people aren't forced to choose between astrology and science. 
 

All my best,

Erin Mulligan

Rhode and Company

 

*By calling astrology feminine, I don't mean to exclude men from the practice or benefits of astrology.  I just mean it calls for a kind of intuition that Jung associated with the anima.  Any man can develop it, just as any woman can develop characteristics associated with the animus.

Next step: Now that gay marriage is legal, let's go all the way with gender issues

I wrote this manifesto last night.  It started off that I was just going to write "I fucking love immigrants" somewhere on my site- I couldn't figure out where, so I was like, "I'm just going to write a manifesto, and I'll include that in there. (I don't know why but I just love immigrants sooo much.  They've added so much to Regina over the last 30 years.)  So but the rest is good too- that's my call-to-action for the Western world.

  Carl Jung recognized that we all have the male and female principle within us.  Maybe not like this.  Maybe in a more ethereal way.   Image unattributable because it's from one of those leech sites with all those ads.

Carl Jung recognized that we all have the male and female principle within us.  Maybe not like this.  Maybe in a more ethereal way.  Image unattributable because it's from one of those leech sites with all those ads.

1.  We call for equal status for science, math, logic, and capitalism on the one hand; and mysticism, the void, spirituality and myth on the other.  In Jungianism, these two elements are the animus and the anima; the male and female principles; in the Asian tradition, the yin and yang.  They both originate in similar times and cultural contexts, and they should be rejoined together after millenia of separation.  Neither is superior to the other, nor can they operate fully without the other.  Both are needed for balance in all areas of life. 

  Copernicus was a physician who studied astrology.  The two fields have a surprising amount of overlap.   Image from Wikipedia.

Copernicus was a physician who studied astrology.  The two fields have a surprising amount of overlap.  Image from Wikipedia.

2.  We champion A) self-knowledge (inner) education for the corporate and scientific (yang) communities; and B) business and tech (outer) training for communities of a yin inclination.  Both sides need the other to be fully in touch with reality, because in both camps, our egos viciously lead us away in search of false realities, cementing our antimony.  The future of the planet depends on learning about the interior world as much as the exterior world, and vice versa.

3.  We believe that when more people practice mindfulness, and learn to apply the Enneagram, and other self-observation and self-knowledge tools, the world will be a better, healthier, and safer place.  Self-knowledge engenders leadership; emotional intelligence brings about more "presence", as opposed to reactivity and craving, which the Buddha warned against.

4.  We call for political leaders with a mindfulness and self-awareness practice instead of those who are identified with a particular party.  When self-awareness practices become mainstream, bi-partisanship can be achieved, opening us up to more creative solutions to the world's problems. 

5.  We fucking love democracy.  In the end, though, the capacity for self-awareness is going to be more radical and effective than democracy is currently. 

  New immigrants to Regina, 2013 .  Image from cbc.ca. 

New immigrants to Regina, 2013.  Image from cbc.ca. 

6.  We also fucking love: immigrants, female orgasm, the internet, entrepreneurship and venture capital, High Maintenance (although sobriety's great), Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrology, New York, LGBT, history, pictures from your vacation, sarcasm, and this.

Being Funny in Business (or at least having attitude)

Businesses with snark are fun, but you have to have actual snark.  You can't just fake being edgy because people will see right through you. 

When Dollar Shave Club came out, I was like, "You can do this??  You can have fun and run a business??"  I don't know how many times I've watched their video.  It still gets me.

Curbed media is snarky and sarcastic to the point of being rude sometimes.  The people in the comments are entitled, whiny and rude to the columnists sometimes, which is why I unsubscribed a while ago (also, too many e-mails) but they're a well-informed community, and I still get a laugh out of the articles.

curbed.jpg

Here's another shaving business- a men's barber shop that had the right attitude for their clientele.  I say "right attitude" with caution because I just mean it fits with their customer's personality.  A local barber shop here in Regina was trying to do the same thing, but limit it to men only, and a local woman complained to the Human Rights commission that it was exclusionary.  I don't know how it ended up, but let me tell you there was a lot of snark directed at her.

There are so many more good ones out there.  As someone whose approach to life has been "how do you want me to be because I'm sure I can be that way", I'm starting to ask myself, what if I was just myself?  I know it's cliche to say "be yourself", and I'm in this business of "knowing yourself", but believe it or not, I'm just starting to ask who I really am when I'm not trying to please people.  We shall see what emerges from that!



7 words to describe yourself

Last night I had a conversation with a friend about what it takes for women to get ahead in the work world.  We look around and see that some of us aren't being developped, and we have talents we could be applying in certain capacities that aren't.  My friend said that neither of us sell ourselves well enough.  We can both cite people that aren't as smart or educated, but know how to sell themselves, and have gotten further ahead than we have. 

Now that I know the Enneagram and can more or less identify types, I look for the type Eights wherever I go, because they know how to sniff things out where others don't.  I have the pleasure of working with three or four Eights, and I watch them really closely.  Their natural ability to sell themselves, say no, see through bullshit, protect their boundaries, strategize, figure out where the opportunities are, maximize their efficiency, protect their rights and resources, and stay focussed on long-term goals help them get ahead by miles compared to others who get sidetracked by little things that eventually drain them of their energy.  Eights know how to ask for things, or even just insinuate themselves into awesome situations because they know how make it clear to their boss that their needs are important.  They just carry themselves that way.

 A list of things I wanted from 1991. 

A list of things I wanted from 1991. 

I went out for breakfast with my mom this morning, and she handed me a piece of paper she found when she was cleaning the house, and it was a list of things I wanted, from 1991.  One of the items was a raise.  When I was a kid, I got 25 cents a week for weeding our massive backyard garden (this was Regina in the insect-infestation era of the 80's when you couldn't step anywhere outside without crunching on a grasshopper or a cricket- going into that garden was terrifying), cleaning the bathroom, and vaccuuming.  25 cents was pretty piddly, even for the recession of the late 80's when I was doing these chores.  Other kids in my grade were getting 5$ a week.  I did ask for a raise, and I think I eventually got one in high school.

In Joanne Wilson's blog this morning, she invited her readers to do an exercise started by Paul Holdengraber of the New York Public Library, and describe yourself in 7 words.  My first instinct was to think of all the things that held me back from getting that raise, or getting my talents used, or finding the right circle of influence.  But then I decided to go along with the spirit of the exercise, and say 7 positive things I knew were good about me.  I felt like I was cheating, like someone opened the front doors to a Tiffany's store and said, go ahead and take 7 items from the shelves- you can have them for free.  But it was the best exercise I'd done in a while, and I'm going to incorporate it into my course.

Here are mine: "Fierce, loyal, protective, opinionated, creative, talent-cheerleader, big-picture-seer.

What are yours?

 

Alchemy Summer School- Getting ready for launch

As I sit waiting at the car wash, I thought I might as well blog from my iphone.  I've been working on my Alchemy Summer School page, so take a look over there and tell me how it looks. It's not finished, but if you like the general direction I'm going with it -- or even if you don't-- please tell me. There's a one minute video that will knock your socks off --that I'm looking for feedback on-- but again, it's still in beta mode.

Yesterday I received word that the wonderfully gifted astrologer Marina Ormes has accepted my invitation to teach with us this summer, so -- as she was the last one-- I'm very happy that I can proceed with full speed now.  I'm going to start advertising the Alchemy class on Monday next week, and I'll be "coming out of the closet" as a blogger- so leave please some comments in the comment spaces below any of my posts you're in flaming agreement or disagreement with and I'll respond.

Good feedback, constructive  feedback. I want it all. I know some of you read the blog every day so I'd appreciate if you let me milk you for all you're worth at this point in the game.  I know I have some pretty sharp readers.  Some of you stop by every so often, and I hope you feel free to share your wisdom as well.

As popular venture capitalist and blogger Fred Wilson says, it's nice to have supporters in your blogging community-- very nice-- but the contrarian ones are the ones who keep you on your toes and keep you honest, hard-working, and humble, and nothing would honor or delight me more than to have a handful of contrarians.  (I also accept cheerleaders, btw).  Open up a disqus profile and I hope to see many of you regulars on the other side when this is "live".

As I sign off today, I feel very lucky.  I may not know exactly what I'm doing (I actually don't), but I feel like this vision would happen with or without me, and I'm just along for the ride.  When I sit back and think about where society is going spiritually, environmentally, technologically, and in other ways over the next twenty to fifty years, I get excited to think that I might be part of that discussion; I want people to know themselves, and find out how interesting they are once they get past the conscious layer of their inner world, and my heart beats to that rhythm.  I'm a servant to my calling, though- you can't wrestle with it, argue with it or force it- you roll with it.  As Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg says, when someone offers you a seat on a rocketship, you shut your mouth and get in. 

Best,

Erin

 

Teamwork and the instincts

 The wink is a good example of a microcosm of the sexual instinct- a contracting of energy. 

The wink is a good example of a microcosm of the sexual instinct- a contracting of energy. 

I've been thinking a lot about the instincts for the last few days, and I had a conversation with a friend last night about them.  I'm working with some people on a project with different instinct stacks (the instincts being self-preservation, social, and sexual), and although it's doable, it takes intention and awareness- preferably on both parties' part.  If we take self-preservation out of the picture for a second and just look at social and sexual- social energy difuses the energy of the team and spreads it out, kind of like you would imagine a Chinese fan spreading out from one point.  It's an expression of enjoyment of the connections between the members of the group.  Historically, being part of a group has represented security and comfort because there is strength in numbers, and when you have a lot of friends, you have any number of people to lift you out of your slumps and help you keep going.

Sexual energy (we're not talking literal sex in this case- it's more the need for intensity, although yes, sex is a part of it) is always trying to focusing the energy towards a point by  contracting it.  So this energy is an expression of enjoyment of the bonds between two people.  Concentrating the energy in a conversation makes sexuals feel more alive.  Instead of a fan, their energy in a conversation is reaching for something- a point at the end. 

Obviously, then, working on a team with people of varying instincts requires sensitivity and personal awareness because the energy can be contracting and expanding at the same time.  When the situation is intense, a social might break the intensity with a joke.  When things are flatlining, a panicking sexual might say something ridiculous and unexpected to tighten the energy back up again. 

The goal of personal work is to use everything as your teacher.  The teacher here is that both instincts can be intimidating to people if they don't have it high up in their stack.  So socials without the sexual instinct high in their stack feel excluded (and therefore offended many times) by the sexual instinct, because a conversation between two sexuals is really meant for two.  Being alone is tough for these guys, and there's an itch to get out and be with another person, preferably more. 

When I'm with someone who feels uncomfortable with my energy, I'm reminded to just be present to them, breathe... detach myself from the virtue of my own instinct stack...  We have all instincts within us, but one will be our top priority, another will be our second priority, and the third one we kind of ignore.  When we start paying attention to and nurturing the bottom, underdevelopped one, we become whole people.

You can see the differences in the two approaches in so many areas of life. 

You can tell a salesperson is sexual because they can move straight towards a close without difficulty, and sometimes it's more like a gallop; the customer barely has a chance!  This product is just so exciting!  You can tell a salesperson is social because they will focus more on the chitchat with the client, feeling out their energy, the people accompanying them, and where they fit into the politics of the group.

On a dating site, socials might initiate a conversation with a match by saying simply, "Hey."  Sexuals, worried that won't go anywhere, might ask a question of their match.

On the playground, sexuals will play in small groups with a precious couple friends.  On a bad day, they may even play alone, although no one really likes that.  Socials will be playing with groups, but the trap there is fighting when someone threatens their position in the group.  Socials put up with a lot more, though, to keep those bonds intact.  Sexuals need to make more of an effort to keep the bond intact.

Whereas sexuals without a high priority for social feel excluded in social situations (and not because people are actively excluding them, although over time, it might become that way) and just don't know where to look or how to behave at a party.  Being with a group is tough for them, and there is a pull to go be alone.

Parties and networking events just make sense to socials.  Sexuals want to peel their skin off it's so uncomfortable.

 

Western Philosophy- the Big Three

 The remaining columns of the Temple of Appollo in Delphi, Greece.

The remaining columns of the Temple of Appollo in Delphi, Greece.

I always get confused about the order that the three great Western philosophers come in, so I finally looked it up, and it's Socrates that came first, then Plato, then Aristotle; the mnemonic being SPA. 

Each was a student of the one before them, and each was inspired by the Delphic Oracle, a tiny bit of wisdom inscribed into the entrance of a temple to Appollo in Delphi, Greece, a few generations before Socrates: Know Thyself. 

This 2-word injunction, probably passed down from the Egyptians, who pre-dated the Greeks, is the foundation of Western philosophy.