Creative Integration: The Enneagram Symbol and Bruno Barnhart’s Christian Nonduality
Carol Jackson, a member of the The Future of Wisdom Northeast Wisdom Study Group, shares her work bringing her experience with the enneagram to Bruno Barnhart’s book. Looking specifically at his exploration of nonduality and Christianity, Carol focuses on what Bruno calls “baptismal identity” and the unitive awakening that flows forth from it as the “essential connective focus and generative point of our Eastern turn.” Carol maps the unfolding process Bruno describes on the enneagram.
As a brief introduction for those who have not read the book, and a reminder for those who have, in “Chapter Three, Movement II: The Eastern Turn,” Bruno Barnhart speaks to the dynamism of the meeting of East and West in the second half of the twentieth century. He believes this led to, “a single great emergence: the re-discovery … of the ‘interior East’ of Christianity.” This is expressed, as Bruno sees it, “through bringing together the realization of the nondual Self and baptismal initiation.” He talks about “the baptismal reality as a communication of light and life, grace and truth, fullness and the knowledge of God”, and as a “pivot of identity” with Jesus. A “participation in divine life,” is a life lived with Spirit that is “relational…on the one hand, …nondual and purely interior, on the other.”
Bruno then introduces nine points of Christian nonduality that “flow from this baptismal identity–the pivotal ‘illumination’–as its corollaries.” Through this process he imagines “the new reality, the widening continuum of divine self-communication and of immanent divinity in the human person and in humanity,” deepening within us as our experience falls into the darkness within us, into life, the soil out of which faith, hope and love emerge as fontality. These nine points of process relate to the incarnation of divine nonduality, as it becomes manifested in form, movement and matter. Bruno elaborates upon this process point by point for the remainder of the chapter. The section that captures Carol’s attention begins on page 72 and ends on page 97.
The section, “Theological Corollaries of the Principle of Nondual Baptismal Identity,” contained concepts that seemed central to me as I come to appreciate what non-duality means to my journey. I wanted in some way to hold onto this material and the enneagram provided a template for me to accomplish this for myself. It does not begin to reflect the depth of the material in the book and for this I apologize for even making the attempt from this small section. The book is a powerful piece of wisdom in itself and contains more than I can hold in my intellect. I am hoping to find a place in my heart for it though.
There is another quote from the book that reflects my current state:
“…the human spirit is breaking out of some invisible mental container into an unbounded field of possibility that is, once again, hospitable to sapiential consciousness…”
Below is my attempt at the placement of material onto the process enneagram. The words in italics are direct quotes taken from the book. After the symbol there are additional quotes to elucidate each of the points on the symbol.
“… invincible coherent force of the person of Christ … a strong unitive force, a unitive principle
… draws together and holds together all reality. (p76)”
The Principle of Unitive Identity “… God is within us … our self … a union … nothing stands between us and God … human existence and its history join identity, nonduality. Our being with God is at once relationship and identity, dual and nondual. It is of great importance that this inner structure be brought to light today and that this two-sided truth be expressed with courage and persistence.” (p74-76)
Unitive Interpretation of the Christ-Mystery “… an inclusive Christology which is an expression of our own participation in the mystery … draws together and holds together all reality … gravitational force of divine unity … The unitive light … opens the mystery of Christ to its deepest and fullest meaning.” (p76-77)
Unitive Interpretation of the New Testament “… primary literary expression of the mystery of Christ … pervaded by this unitive principle … two axes: union with God … communion with other human persons … moral and social implications. It will be manifest in our own resonance with the word, our progressive union with the word, our personal unity realized in contact with the word: as our own assimilation to the One.” (p77-80)
World/Matter, Baptism: In Gurdjieff terms, a shock point, the affirming force, the baptismal identity of the world and matter, of non-duality.
“… The New Testament, primary literary expression of the mystery of Christ … Unitive understanding is a gift to those who believe and are baptized (shock received), a fruit of the baptismal anointing with the Holy Spirit … and the process of inner work (conscious work) continues on a higher level … a new unitive knowledge (or gnosis) of God, of Christ, of the Christ-mystery … subjective … a personal participation not only of knowing but of being.” (p77-81)
A New Theology Centered in the Explicit Unitive Principle “… a new level of explicitness … from objective mystery of Christ to a personal participation in the mystery … the essentially participatory character of Christian life and of sapiential understanding becomes more clearly evident, the unitive nature of the divine self-communication finds more adequate expression and the principle of nondual theology … is … freed both from blind subordination to the biblical word and from captivity to abstractions imported from the world of Greek philosophy.” (p81-82)
Unitive Anthropology “…an understanding of the human person deriving from the person’s identification with Jesus, the incarnate Word of God …grounded or centered in the unitive dimension … associated with baptismal initiation and the new identity … oneness with God. … in this oneness is “capable of all reality” … as a “transcendental” it pervades … all human life, love, relationship, freedom and activity … according to the pattern of the mystery of Christ … corresponding to the figure or “mystery” of the cross … intensely alive in this present world … transcendence or unitive openness of the human person is the ground and basis of every significant human experience and action … transcendent and historical … vertical and horizontal, corresponding to the cruciform representation of the Christ-mystery … spirit and history.” (p82-87)
Fullness at the Beginning “… baptismal identity …. the ideal to which they sought to conform their lives … permanent measure of their new identity … the spectrum of scriptural meanings opens up … to an illuminated reading of scriptural text and to concrete action in the world.” (87-88)
Consciousness/Spirit, Eucharist: The Gurdjieff term for this point is Intentional Suffering. It stands between the identity with Christ and the human condition reflecting the challenge that marks the journey to wholeness.
“… It is implicit in the Christian’s baptismal identity with Jesus that the divine fullness is newly present in us … the divine plentitude came into the world in Christ and was poured into humanity. The consequences for understanding of Christian life are revolutionary. The fullness is yourself, what you are in Christ and in God. To know this in actuality is freedom.” (p87-89)
“Eucharistic participation is the moment of ritual actualization of the new koinonia” (p79, included here because I think the sacrifice of the body and blood marks this point of intentional suffering)
The Trajectory of Life: “… from Baptism to Eucharist … Christian life emerges, gradually manifesting an intrinsic form of its own. This pattern can be deduced from the life of Jesus … he heard a voice from heaven declaring “you are my beloved son,” and the Holy Spirit descended upon him … his public life unfolds … his death on the cross … the sacramental expression of that death … institution of the eucharist … proceeding from baptism to eucharist. The life of a Christian can be understood … following the same pattern … gift of life of Self in baptismal initiation through a life of service to the final gift of self in death… Through the witness of such a life and/or death the spark of faith and of the awakening divine life is enkindled in other persons … until it has touched all human beings.” (p89-90)
Contemplation as Conscious Experience of Baptismal Identity: “…pure consciousness, in which the subject as such disappears (Merton) … an experience of our identity at its non-dual or divine-human level … experience of God and an experience of one’s deepest identity … there remains also the properly relational aspect, a personal encounter with God in faith and love.” (p95)
History Understood in the Light of Unitive Self-realization: “… a unitive light that irradiates the mind and shines on all the objects of human perception and thought … development of a human individual takes place in this unitive light of consciousness and the self-awareness of the person is awakening to this light itself at one’s center … unitive consciousness is recognized also in its objectifications and descents into the material world.” (p96)
The Reconciling Force, the Great Amen, the holy
wholly evolutionary force within us
and all around us moves onward.
posted June 18, 2019 by Carol Jackson
Carol has found the enneagram symbol a useful tool in understanding her spiritual journey. She first encountered the symbol when she became a certified Enneagram of Personality teacher through The Narrative Enneagram in 1998. The Law of Three and Seven became the path for interpreting the meaning of the symbol beyond the personality. She has not been involved in a Gurdjieff group but has found many of her questions answered in exploring the Gurdjieff work through books, the internet and especially through the writings of Lee Van Laer. Carol is retired from the field of social work, a member of the Enneagram Center of the Ohio Valley and is a spiritual director.
Carol shared her interest in relating Bruno Barnhart’s Future of Wisdom to the enneagram during a meeting of the Northeast Wisdom Second Friday study group. One of the gifts of the study group has been to provide people with a place to engage in this work together. The Future of Wisdom, a courageous and insightful work that is not easy to tackle alone, opens beautifully when taken up by the group. Carol’s enneagram is a stunning example of how we might come to a deeper integration through drawing connections to what is at work within us and taking up the relationships between practices and fields of experience and knowledge. May her further deepening with the material inspire our own. Her willingness to share her creative process is much appreciated!