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Enneagram history, sub-types, and what’s in it for you
Episode 7915th August 2021 • The Big Self Podcast • Big Self School
00:00:00 00:44:17

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Today we’re answering some of your fantastic questions, and it is making for a great show. 

Could you give us more background on the history of the Enneagram? 

We give credit to a 20th-century pioneer of the Traditional Enneagram, Oscar Ichazo. We also briefly touch on the influences and how it reached the west.

Interesting sidenote: According to Gurdjieff’s student JG Bennett, the Enneagram was developed in the 15th century by mathematicians in the Sarmoun mystery school to express principles symbolized by the newly discovered decimal point. The Enneagram as a symbol represents aspects of mathematical laws — law of three, law of seven, law of one.

Could you tell us a little more about what the sub-types are about? 

Among other things, we discuss the three basic instincts, why they tend to be overlooked in North American teaching of the Enneagram, and how the combination of your type and instinct comprise what we call the sub-type.

What is the value or point of the Enneagram besides recognizing your type?

We love this question because it’s something we all consciously or unconsciously wonder about as we begin to learn more about ourselves in really any format, any personality typology. In fact, the more we learned about the Enneagram from its many teachers, and the more we understood about ourselves and others as we are in personality, the more we realized that learning our type was just the beginning. It alone is not the point. 

We are machines, and we live our lives on autopilot. Whether it’s our habits and patterns, our negative emotion traps, our inability to see ourselves clearly, identification, we live our lives unconsciously. We are asleep to ourselves. Also, it:

  • Moves you out of your machinery, wakes you up (use only if you're into self-development work) can actually be detrimental to identify type and leave it there, double down on your patterns, shame
  • Helps you grow efficiently and shows you your personalized path for growing 
  • Identifies blind spots that you can’t see

Time Stamps:

3:25--Who Oscar Ichazo is

5:40--George Gurdjieff gets a lot of credit for bringing the Enneagram to the West, and why

9:39--To see where the Enneagram is now and give Claudio Narajano credit for his contributions

14:23--The sub-type piece of the conversation is often left out in the U.S.

20:19--Why did Chad believe certain sub-types were associated with being introverted or extroverted

28:28--Shelley really wants people to start understanding their sub-types as a piece of their self-understanding

32:14--We are asleep to ourselves

36:50--Why could it be dangerous to only use the Enneagram as a typing system and stop there

38:03--What Gurdjieff said you will get from becoming one of his students

40:17--The Enneagram reveals things you didn't even know were self-sabotaging you

Ready to unlock your potential? Check out our Enneagram Guide at

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