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Sandra Maitri  – ‘Introduction to the Enneagram’

Interview by Iain McNay

Iain:   Hello and welcome to Conscious TV, my name is Iain McNay and today we are going to talk about the Enneagram. Very briefly, it is a system of understanding your personality. There are nine basic personality types, and today we have as our guest Sandra Maitri, who is a spiritual teacher and knows a lot about the Enneagram.  "Hi Sandra."

Sandra:  Hello

Iain:  Sandra has actually written two books on the Enneagram, which I am going to hold up here so you can see the books briefly [holds up two books to show the viewer], and we will talk about these books in a little more detail towards the end. Sandra, I wanted to ask you first of all, before we get into the Enneagram itself, how your spiritual adventure started? What kind of age in life were you? What triggered it? Where did you take that adventure to start with?

Sandra:  Well, probably the first, what I would call, spiritual experience, I ever had, was when I was about eight years old and I would sit in a chair and say my name over and over and over again to myself, and then I would find myself not understanding who I was anymore and kind of leaving, and merging, with a higher consciousness.  I didn't understand it as that, at the time, but I do now. I told my mother about that experience and she got very freaked out and she said, “You know... I don't want to hear about this”. So, I pretty much forgot, for a long time, that there was anything else.

Iain:  It's quite, an evolved experience to have, at an early age, isn't it?   

Sandra:  Yeah, yeah, I read a book, where one person whose name is, I think Suzanne Summers… she wrote a book called 'Collision with the Infinite'.

Iain:   Suzanne Segal, her name is.

Sandra:   Segal, that's right and she described the exact same experience. I was just shocked when I read it, because I had never heard of anyone else, who had ever done anything like that and I don't know where I got it from.  I imagine it's a past life, probably.  Anyway, so then, I would say that the doors of my perception opened as a teenager in Haight-Ashbury which was near where I lived.

Iain:  That was in California.

Sandra:  [nodding] in California yes, we lived quite close to San Francisco, so I would skip out during school and go up there and I started to see another reality, another potentiality and at a certain point I got really convinced, that if it was really real, there had to be a way to access it directly without drugs.

Iain:  So when you say, you saw another reality, what do you mean by that?

Sandra:  I perceived it, my whole visual sense of reality changed, the way I was seeing other people was in a very altered way, in terms of conventional reality. I was basically seeing a sense of oneness.

Iain:  The inter-connectedness...

Sandra:  Yes, right, and that had a really deep impact on me and I really wasn't consciously seeking, I don't think.  I was mostly, consciously suffering and trying to get some help and...

Iain:  So was that hard to integrate into your life as you knew it at that time, that experience?

Sandra:  Yeah, it was impossible to integrate; although the culture around me was very supportive.  You know, because I was living during the late sixties...

Iain:  Flower power time, peace.

Sandra:  Exactly.

Iain:  LSD and dope and things.  And the music was also very inclusive, somehow, wasn't it?

Sandra:  Right, yeah, and the Beatles, of course, were a very strong influence and in some ways the Beatles had a lot to do with my spiritual search.

Iain:  Really?

Sandra:  Yeah, I met them twice [laughing]

Iain:  Really, tell us about that, how did that come about?

Sandra:  I was living in Bangkok, my dad was stationed over there, and there was a little tiny article in the Bangkok Post one day, and it said, “the Beatles are coming on their way to Australia”.  Do you remember the Australian tour?

Iain:  No, not really in detail, no, no.

Sandra:  Oh OK, anyway, they went to Australia, early on in their career and I really didn't know anything about them but my girlfriends knew all about them.  Their father knew the Minister of Tourism in Bangkok and we got press passes and we got to go out to the plane.  So we gave them flowers, you know, and we were on the TV and stuff and for a fifteen year old it was just incredible. [laughing]

Iain:  Unbelievable, yeah.

Sandra:  And then, one day after school, I was sitting around with my girlfriend and I said, well you know, if they went that way [to Australia] well they are probably coming back that way too.  So we started going out after school, to the airport, every single day.  Then finally, the guy at British Air, one day said, "Well, if you don't tell any one else and you are here tomorrow night at such and such time, they will be too."  So we went back to the airport the next day and…

Iain:  And did you tell anybody else?

Sandra:  No [shaking head from side to side] of course not.

Iain:  [laughing] You wanted to be the exclusive ones.

Sandra:  Right, Right [nodding].  So we got to spend an hour with them.

Iain:  Fantastic.

Sandra:  Yeah, yeah

Iain:   Was that before they discovered the Maharishi or afterwards?

Sandra:  It was before, before.

Iain:  But they were moving that way somehow, weren’t they?

Sandra:  I think they were tuned into a whole wave length that my generation picked up on and just kind of went with.  So they were quite a strong formative force in my life really.

Iain:  OK, so you were having this feeling of oneness.  And where did it go next, your journey?

Sandra:  Well, I was, let's see, the next stage…  I was around twenty and I was in Art school in Berkeley, and I had another terrible relationship, and I was pretty miserable and I was looking for help, and it was quite an unsought for thing but, my friend came over one night with this blurb about this guy named Claudio Naranjo who was a very important figure in the human potential movement in the States, and, he was the first person, really, to begin integrating spirituality and psychology, and he had worked with Fritz Perls at Esalen [Esalen Institute] so he was a Gestalt practitioner and he was starting a group.  I was looking for a Gestalt group, that was the sort of, the happening therapy, of the time, and he was offering a Gestalt therapy group that was also a spiritual group and I said, well great - that sounds fabulous.

Iain:  Right, bringing the two together. [merging and interweaving both hands while talking]

Sandra:  Right, I didn't really know what I was getting into at all, but I went over to his house and he had a group of about a dozen of us there, and, Hameed Ali was one of the people there, the founder of The Diamond Approach, who writes under the name of A.H. Almaas.

Iain:  Right.

Sandra:  And Claudio did what he calls Trespasso, which is basically a transmission.  Looking into each person’s eye and transmitting being.  Consciousness.

Iain:  Does that mean, he says what he sees and gives you advice?

Sandra:  No, No.  He was just deeply in a state of presence...

Iain:  Energetic?

Sandra:  Energetically [nodding] communicating and that just, knocked my socks off.  It was unbelievable and I was sold and that was it.  And, I signed up to the group and it was quite an adventure. Quite a… quite a crazy adventure in many ways.  He had just come back from working with Oscar Ichazo in Arica, Chile [Arica Institute] and Ichazo taught the system of the Enneagram, which is the system of nine different personality types. Claudio was just back, in like a couple of months, from that whole training and that was part of what he was teaching us.  So we learned it in the context of spiritual unfoldment and spiritual development.

Iain:  And this group you were in, I think that was called SAT, which stands for Seekers After Truth?

Sandra:  Right.

Iain:  That sounds a fascinating title.

Sandra:  Well, he stole it from Gurdjieff, it's the same name that Gurdjieff had for his little band of followers.
And there was a lot of a gurdjievian kind of feel to the way that Claudio was leading the group.

Iain:  It was Gurdjieff, I think, who first used the Enneagram, in a slightly different way.  I don't know where he found it from but it's supposed to be five thousand years old.  So do you want to tell us, a little bit, as you now the history of the Enneagram, from Gurdjieff towards Claudio?

Sandra:  Well, just backing up a little bit, I don't think any one knows where the Enneagram came from.  What Gurdgjieff said is that he had learnt it from the Sarmoung Brotherhood, a secret brotherhood probably in what's currently Afghanistan, and Claudio always said, he thought, that probably Ichazo learned it there as well.

Iain:  In Afghanistan.

Sandra:  In Afghanistan, yeah, yeah, although he never really said.  And later on he said that he channeled it, I think.  I am not quite sure if that is the exact way he put it…  but nobody knows for sure.  The Gurdjieff way of using the Enneagram was quite different; it had to do with understanding cycles in the universe.  Like, the movement of the planets and the days of the week and the musical scale.  So, different sets of cyclic processes were things that he used the Enneagram to chart.  And Ichazo was really the first to use it to understand personal consciousness.

Iain:  So he kind of adapted it a bit… so there was more potential in the Enneagram...

Sandra:  I don't know if he adapted it, or if he learnt it that way.

Iain:  What was your response when you first heard about the Enneagram? What did it do for you as such, in terms of the journey you just started?
Sandra:  Well, it was a huge part of that journey.  We basically lived and breathed the Enneagram.  None of us somehow, seemed to be working in those days and we just spent all of our time processing, and talking about our own experience and really bringing the map to life within our own direct experience.  So, it was a very, very powerful map for me and for my friends, my colleagues at SAT as well.  It took a lot of the guesswork out of ourselves out of some of the things about ourselves that maybe we wouldn't have wanted to see.  Here it was in this map and it was kind of like… yeah that's right, this is how I am; these are parts of my personality.

Iain:  So you, fairly early on, discovered what Enneagram type you were?

Sandra:  Yes, I was fairly sure that I was one of two of them and there was one I would rather be and of course I was the other one [Iain and Sandra laugh] and I just went up to Claudio one day and I asked him.  He said, "What do you think?" and I said, "I think I am either this, or I am that" and he said, "You are that" and I said, "OK, I got it, it makes sense."

Iain:  And that helped you understand yourself more, I guess?

Sandra:  Yes, yes, and that was thirty eight years ago and I think I could say that there really hasn't been a day that has gone by since then, that the Enneagram hasn't had some place in my understanding of myself and also of others.  So for me, it's been a very powerful map.

Iain:  So this group you were in, the SAT group, lasted about four years and you also learnt other forms of spiritual practice... and psychological explorations.  So what were the other main influences in that group?

Sandra:  Claudio dragged in every spiritual teacher that came through Berkeley at the time.  So, I met Tarthang Tulku, who is a very well respected Tibetan Buddhist Lama.  There was a Thai Theravada Monk he was a monk of the time, Dhiravamsa and there were Hindu teachers, Sufi teachers… let’s see what other traditions am I leaving out?  Even Scientology, we met a couple of renegade scientologists at that time.

Iain:  Right, so all in all, you had a really good picture of what was available and you could see what worked for you and what was worth integrating and developing.

Sandra:  Yes, exactly.

Iain:  When you left that group I think you then became involved in A H Almaas in the Ridhwan School?

Sandra:  Well it wasn't as direct as that. Actually I came over here to meditate.

Iain:  You came to Europe, you came to the UK?

Sandra:  I came to the UK, yeah.  East Anglia, precisely.

Iain:  East Anglia, where about?

Sandra:  This little tiny village called Leverington, near Wisbech, near Peterborough.

Iain:  OK, it's nice round there, very flat.

Sandra:  [smiling and nodding] very flat, yes.  The Thai monk that I mentioned Tarthang had a meditation centre there and he invited me over to become trained as a teacher in meditation.  So I came over and lived here for two years, I guess I was in my late twenties.

Iain:  And I guess after that, you went back to the States?

Sandra:  Yes.  It was a very sheltered existence at the meditation centre, and one day I was looking out the window and just kind of thinking things over.  And I really felt that if what Buddhism had to teach was real, it had to be something that one could use out in the world.  I just felt a really strong calling to go back to and to not live in a monastic [way] - we were not really monastic we did not take orders or anything or take vowels - but we were pretty, pretty, isolated.  So, I came back to the States and all my friends started telling me about this fabulous work that my old, house mate actually, Hameed, had began to develop and I was of course, green with envy, for quite a while and wouldn't have anything to do with it and I kept hearing how fabulous it was...

Iain:  You were quite resistant at the time, weren’t you?

Sandra:  Yeah, Yeah, a couple of years and then a very close friend of mine, Karen Johnson, who you know…

Iain:  I do, yes.

Sandra:  Who, I had been a room mate in Art school with, was helping me out one day.  I was going through some difficulty, personally.  I was dealing with a hard space within myself and it was actually the space I had been stuck in from the period when I had been meditating.  The meditation kind of brought me deeper and deeper into myself and right up to the edge of my personality structure and into a great deal of deficiency and she said, "Could I work with you for a minute?" and I said, "OK" and she just kind of started asking me questions and before I knew it, within five minutes, I had completely gone through the stuck place I had been in for two years and I said, "Oh my god, I have to learn how to do this".  So, I started working with Hameed, I called him up and said, "Hameed" and he said "Sandra" and I said, "Yeah, I'd like to come to your group" and he was very sweet, he said, "I'm deeply honoured" and that was, let's see...1981, I can't do the math, but quite a long time ago.

Iain:  That's 27 years ago.

Sandra:  Yeah, so I have been working with The Diamond Approach ever since and I am a teacher of it.

Iain:  That's right; yes [smiling].  Coming back to the Enneagram, and for people who don't really know what the Enneagram is, let's give them a brief, a very brief, overview.  As we were saying earlier, there are nine different personality types.  Now, I know from my limited knowledge of it, that each type has a potential.  So just run through and talk about, for maybe a minute or something, each personality type and what the potential is.

Sandra:  Sure. I would look at it, more, the other way round.  The whole theory… the way that I learned the Enneagram rests on, is that our ego structure or personality structure develops as a result of loss of contact with spiritual reality, ground of being, true nature, whatever one wants to call it, the Divine, and that loss happens in early childhood, usually in the first four years.  And that each of the nine types develops a core belief about the nature of reality and therefore the nature of oneself as a result of that loss.  So each of the types is based on a fundamental distortion or delusion about reality.  That creates all sorts of suffering for each of the types and very particular kinds of suffering.

Iain:  So we have lost touch with who we really are.

Sandra:  Exactly, exactly.  So, the potential is reclaiming who we really are.  So, briefly, moving around the Enneagram beginning with point 9 which is considered the archetype, this central ennea-type is kind of like… if it were a white light and the others were refracted through a prism, they would be variations on the same theme.  So the Personality Type 9 is basically the principle of going to sleep on one’s ultimate nature.  So the whole style that develops is based on going to sleep on oneself.  Turning away from oneself, getting preoccupied, getting busy with what is going on outside and not paying attention to oneself.

Iain:  So how would that manifest practically in someone’s life?  So if they are listening to you talking about these nine types and they are playing a little game trying to spot their type what would be the major characteristic for them to look for?

Sandra:  A sense of worthlessness.

Iain:  So personally, they feel worthless.

Sandra:  Yeah, that other people are much more interesting, much more special, that they [other people] have characteristics that are important but that they [themselves] don't.  They tend to be people who harmonise a lot.  They can see other people's realities quite well and so they are very good mediators.  Part of it, is that they like things to stay peaceful.

Iain:  Yes, that's a quality… being able to mediate, isn't it?

Sandra:  Yeah, yeah, you can see where other people are coming from and you can kind of connect the dots between people.  So they tend to be very gracious, very loving people, but very self absenting - "I'm not very important".

Iain:  OK

Sandra:  So the next type, moving around the wheel of the Enneagram, point 1 are the perfectionists of the Enneagram and they have lost contact with their inherent perfection, the inherent rightness or suchness, as they say in Zen Buddhism of oneself and of how things are and because of that, the fundamental belief is that something is wrong somewhere and their job is to fix it. 

Iain:  So they feel things should be perfect, so they see imperfection everywhere, is that right?

Sandra:  Well, looking at it slightly differently, they assume that things are not perfect, so they need to fix them, either in themselves or in other people.  So, they can be quite critical, quite judgmental, preachy and picky.

Iain:  They have high standards in a way, for themselves and others?

Sandra:   Very high standards, yes and they tend to identify themselves as good people, doing the right thing.

Iain:  OK.

Sandra:  So, 2's are the dependents of the Enneagram.  Their basic conviction is that, they are not fundamentally loveable, and that what they need to do is to become a very special indispensable person, to someone very important, or a group of important people.  So it is through the connection that they get a sense of self, and it is through the self importance in relationship to others, that they get a strong sense of self.

Iain:   Right, and they are also the helpers aren't they?  They are going out and helping people a lot, and through that they often loose their centre.

Sandra:  Exactly, exactly right.  They are so busy anticipating other people’s needs that they don’t really tune into their own and basically the game is: ‘giving to get’.  It's like the Christian maxim of do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.  So they do unto others and they hope that others will do unto them, in kind.

Iain:  Yes, doesn't always work though, does it?

Sandra:  Doesn't always work that way and then they get very annoyed.  That's one of the ways that one can distinguish if that’s your ennea-type.

Iain:  OK, we got number 3 next.

Sandra:  Yes, so number 3 are the achievers and the quintessential image types of the Enneagram. And their core belief is that only the surface matters.  Only the presentation, the product, the result.  So, how I get there, what it takes to get there, what kind of corners I have to cut, or however devious I need to be, it doesn't matter because it's the end achievement that matters.  So their sense of self worth comes from achieving a lot, being successful and being recognised as such.

Iain:  I think they are also quite hung up on image as well, aren't they? Their personal image is quite important to them.

Sandra:  Yes, yes, they tend to present the image of their culture or their sub-culture.  Whatever the ideal, the ego-ideal essentially is, they attempt to become it.  So they kind of shape shift in order to look like what's needed, what’s wanted, what's the best. 

Iain:  OK, yes.
Sandra:  Point 4.  Point 4 are the melancholics of the Enneagram and their basic conviction is that they have lost contact with true nature, which if you are abiding in true nature, you know isn't possible.  We are true nature - we might not be conscious of it, and so to feel that we have lost it, as 4's do, doesn't ultimately make any sense.  This whole personality style is based on longing. Longing for some lost 'other' who is the beloved, the perfect beloved, and the personality style is one of being unique and special, sensitive.  They very much pride themselves on their finely attuned sensitivities which they are convinced are much more sensitive than other people’s.

Iain:  They are a bit more tragic/romantic about it, aren't they?

Sandra:  Yes, exactly, exactly.

Iain:  I think the thing that I always find with 4's is that they think the grass is greener the other side of the hill.  That is the dissatisfaction you were talking about, like… if I lived over there, life would be better.

Sandra:  Right, right, and that translates internally to a sense that, whatever I have, or whatever is going on with me, isn't as good as what is happening with that other person.  So that is their suffering, it's a very painful ennea-type. 

5's are convinced of their ultimate separation from other people and so, they tend to be hoarders, they hold onto what they have, because there is the sense that I am an island and who knows if another ship is going to show up or not, so I should preserve what I have here.  They tend to hide, they are self contained. 

Iain:  Yes, they are quite secretive in a way aren't they?

Sandra:  Yes, yes and often what they hold on to and look to, as what will help them, is knowledge.  If they can understand things well enough, then maybe they will feel safe.  So, the next type… unless you have any questions?

Iain:  No, no, we are coming onto my type now, number 6.

Sandra:  So 6’s, as a result of being identified with the body, which we all become as we develop a personality structure, and because bodies are temporary, bodies get sick, bodies get hurt...

Iain:  They don't always work very well, I find.

Sandra:  Right, they don't always work very well, right [laughing].  So there is a sense of fear that dominates this type and the character structure is built around looking out for danger, [looking for] what could possibly happen and trying to ward it off, in some way…

Iain:  Prepare for it.

Sandra:  Prepare for it, yes.

Iain:   I find that is a big thing, yes.

Sandra:  Yes, so there is a conviction that something terrible is going to happen sometime…

Iain:  [Laughing] That's right.

Sandra:  …and "I just need to figure out when".

Iain:  Yes, figure out, and prepare the best I can.

Sandra:  So they are very vigilant, convinced that there is danger.  On the other hand if we really know that who and what we are is something that can't be destroyed, which is the truth of our nature - not so true for our body - but definitely true for our nature, then we have a potential for liberation from fear.

So point 7, is another fear type, they are corners of the Enneagram, it's a longer story but anyway 7's have the reputation of being dilettantes, of being people who don't go deeply into things but kind of explore lots and lots of things on the surface and gain lots of information and collect it, but never dive too deeply into things.  And a lot of that is because they are afraid of pain.  So they value being up, being happy, being OK and they are kind of phobic around pain.  They tend to be gluttonous you know, it's like… I don’t know if you have ice cream shops [in the UK] where they have many, many different flavours. 

Iain:  I think we do [have ice cream shops] but I have never been in one, like Ben & Jerry's or something?

Sandra:  Yes, or like a sweet shop, they want one of everything, just to have a taste of it, not...

Iain:  Have an adventurous quality, don't they?  They want experience.

Sandra:  Yes, they want to have a little bite of everything life has to offer and they want to make connections between things.  They want to pull all of these disparate experiences together and have a sense of how things work, what the map is, what the plan is.  What the big picture is.  Joseph Campbell was a great 7 in terms of unifying the mythology throughout human history and understanding the overall schemes.  Another… well, it's disputed, but I think, Ken Wilbur is a 7 due to his vast charting of spiritual states of consciousness.  So basically 7's have lost contact with the sense of the big picture, so they try to figure it out. 

8's are the bullies of the Enneagram, the tough guys and girls, and they value very much being strong and not  showing any of the vulnerable or soft human emotions.  So being strong, being on top and nothing happening to them that could be devastating and so on, is what they really value.  They tend to be rather pragmatic and whatever they can experience through the five senses is what's real and the rest is basically bullshit, as they would say.

Iain:  Yes they are kind of, typical big company bosses a lot of the time aren't they?  Quite ruthless, very determined, very focused but not very humanitarian.

Sandra:  Right, exactly.

Iain:  I know a few 8's yeah.  It's interesting, very briefly an aside, I did this Enneagram workshop with you a few years ago in Germany and one of the exercises we did in this workshop was you divided us up into the various Enneagram types and 1's get together, 2's get together etc. and the 8’s corner was empty [laughing] as there were no type 8's in the workshop [both laughing] which for me it kind of defined what the 8's are like, they kind of are very… "I don't need this kind of stuff".

Sandra:   Right, yes, [8's would say] this is a lot of airy fairy, expletive [laughing] yeah, but the interesting thing is - as you know I lead a couple of groups here in the UK - I have got quite a few 8's in those groups.

Iain:  OK, that's good, maybe the British 8's are more open to that, than the continental ones.

Sandra:  I don't know why… it is the same in the States, there are very few 8's in spiritual circles, although there have been a number of 8 teachers, like Gurdjieff for instance, Swami Muktananda, the infamous Madame Blavatsky who founded Theosophy.

Iain:  If we take people in the news at the moment would you know what their type is, what would Sarah Palin be, do you know what her Enneagram is?

Sandra:  Oh let's see Sarah Palin… I am not really sure, she comes across a lot as a 3 I would say, either a 3 or a 1.  She has a lot of that fundamentalist doing, what she considers to be the right thing and wanting to 'off' those who don't do the right thing, which is very 1 ish.  So that's a possibility, although she looks more like a 3.

Iain:  Right and McCain and Obama how do you feel they would stack up in category?

Sandra:  Well I think Obama could be a 3, possibly.  He has the same kind of charisma that John F Kennedy had who was a great 3, you know, who really embodied the cultural current of the time, the cultural idealism, and expressed it, so that is a possibility.  McCain I would say he is either a 1 or an 8.  He has quite a temper apparently, so that's a 1 or an 8, I would imagine.

Iain:  and what's our own Gordon Brown here, do you think?  Do you know much about him?

Sandra:  He strikes me as being an 8 actually.  Tony Blair was way slicker, much smoother.  I think he probably was a 7.

Iain:  That would make sense.

Sandra:  Yeah and he had a famous relationship with George Bush who I think is also a 7, so there was a similarity there.  I think there was an affinity in terms of their personality styles.

Iain:  I also remember you saying at one point that countries can have Enneagram types as well, which I found very interesting, so what for instance would the US be and the UK be.

Sandra:  Well let me just say, first of all that much of my understanding of that, comes from Claudio Naranjo, so it's not something that I originated. I like to really reference my sources.  Well, America is to me a very uneasy blend of 1 and 3.  You all – England - got rid of the most puritan, the factions and they went to America, and there they are, with a lot of - how can I put it? - do good mentality, trying to be good people, very upright people and being very hateful towards those they don't consider to be good, or right, or moral.  So that whole moral majority idea is very much a1 ish thing.  And then there is the rugged individualism of America which is very 3 ish, doing whatever it takes to achieve. And achievements, making money, recognition, fame,  all those things that America unfortunately is exporting to the rest of the planet.  You know, as a cultural ideal it is very 3 ish.  So Britain strikes me as a blend of 1 and 4.

Iain:  Really? OK

Sandra:  Yeah, there's that… the stiff upper lip, and the putting on a good show of things [Sandra holds herself in a very straight, almost rigid, no expression stance] and yet suffering underneath, under the surface, which is very 4 ish.  And the Victorian strain in British culture feels very 1 ish to me, similar to the puritanical strain but not quite so much.  But, it was much more surface here, [in Britain] appearances mattering, rather than actually what was going on.  A lot could be going on under the surface that nobody need know about and may be so, still to this day, I don't know the culture that well anymore.  That's very 4 ish [nodding]

Iain:  I want to move on to talk about the two books you have written, maybe we could start first of all with 'The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram' and just give us a little more insight into what someone could learn from this book about themselves.  It's not a basic book about the Enneagram, but it's a very deep book and brings in lots of different angles.

Sandra:  OK, [laughing]

Iain:  And I like what you said to start with, because I still somehow use the Enneagram.  If I could just briefly talk about myself: my experience of the Enneagram is that it’s been so helpful to me, I learnt it in the Ridhwan School quite early on and not only has it helped me to understand myself better, and be less hard on myself at times, because I know, it's a basic trait of the conditioning I have.  It shows me my potential, but also I found it immensely useful, especially in business.  If there is someone I don't get on with and I have difficulties with, I don't really understand, I do a bit of a research into the books I have and try to see if I can work out, from what I know about them, their Enneagram type.  And if I read about that, understand that, I can put myself in their shoes and try to understand them.  It makes my relationship with them far easier because I understand them.
I know that you take that understanding far deeper and it's a way of working, what I would call in my language, working back from the personality towards our ultimate potential.  So we don't have so long left, we have a few minutes, I don't know if you want to just briefly talk us through how that is portrayed in your book and what people can learn from your book.

Sandra:  Well, to me it is a very simple book [smiling] but nonetheless what I sought to do in that first book, there was a plethora of books on the Enneagram when I wrote that book.  And it was kind of a wave that had already moved through the culture really, so I was quite lucky with [finding] my publisher.  But the reason that I wrote the book was because what was being taught was simply the Enneagram of personalities; the 9 ennea-types and their characteristics, without any sense of what their potential was.
So to me that's a rather hopeless situation to be... I mean, it's all very well and good to understand how one's personality works, but, what else is there to us?  So that was why I wrote the book. I was trying to bring into the Enneagram world and people's understanding of the Enneagram, the whole context in which I learned it. So, what was your question? I forgot.

Iain:  Well, now I just want to get some idea of what a person might get in terms of understanding, from the book.

Sandra:  Well, I think...

Iain:  I think you have answered it fairly well.

Sandra:  Well, I think what you have also said Iain, is a sense of empathy, of understanding, how other people work, and instead of observing how people are behaving that may be problematic for oneself and feeling like they are doing something to us, or they have got it wrong, just understanding that this is simply another style.  It's a whole other take on reality and on how to live, how to be, how to behave and it obeys… people’s patterns obey nine different styles.  It's rather obvious once one knows the map.

Iain:  Right and your second book, which is ‘The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues’, just take us through that very briefly as well.

Sandra:  The map of the Enneagram of passions and virtues, helps us understand different inner orientations that support our personal development, or personal growth, personal unfoldment, becoming more conscious of ourselves.  So, basically, The Enneagram of passions and virtues helps us to look at the difficult emotions that we get into and what other possibilities, might be.  Different ways of relating to the world.  So in other words, we talked about envy in the 4 ennea-type and 4's are really racked with envy.  It's a sense of, "Oh God, it's so much better over there, than what I have here" and by understanding that it is a passion, a type of knee-jerk reactive pattern, and that an alternative to that is looking toward oneself and seeing the goodness within oneself, and accepting oneself, can really change that quite painful orientation to reality.

Iain:  It seems like, in a way, you are mapping out a process, you are mapping out a possibility for people to allow movement forward in themselves, or I would use, the way forward, but you would probably say, more like back into the real them.

Sandra:  Well, it's the same thing, I think that forward movement, is a movement into what's true about us. Yes that's a good way to put it, it is basically setting a context, so that we have in our minds what our potential is as human beings and to feel that we are not stuck.

Iain:  Exactly, we might feel like we are in a trap, but somewhere, we may not see the way out, but there is a way out.  The way out is, in [within], understanding [ourselves] and then the door starts to open and the trap starts to disentangle.

Sandra:  Yes, right

Iain:  So I know, you do run some seminars in Wales, sometimes, I think twice a year and that’s the Ridhwan School which is the A H Almaas, Hameed Ali School, which has been ongoing for a few years.  I think those groups are closed at the moment aren't they?

Sandra:  Yes.

Iain:  But maybe something opens in the future on that.

Sandra:  Yes, I work with about… I guess it's around, 200 people who come from, actually, all over.  One person flies from Katmandu to come to the group.  People come from South Africa, a lot of Norwegians, interestingly enough it's the old Viking trade route, or the ‘plunder’ route, or however one wants to look at it.

Iain:    Well, thank you very much for coming onto conscious TV and I hope we can meet you again next time you are over and talk in more detail about the Enneagram, which I think will be very interesting for people. 

Sandra:  That would be good.

Iain:  Thank you Sandra and thank you for watching conscious TV and we will see you again soon.  Goodbye.


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