Previously, I talked about trances. What trances are, and the fact that human beings are pretty much all under an assortment of cultural, religious, regional, familial and other trances.Â The enneagram is a trance at the level of personality.Trances are much like the psychological concepts of scripts, injunctions and drivers. If you don’t know what those things are, click the link. Or not. Up to you. Basically, trances, scripts, injunctions, and drivers are all ways we avoid having to pay attention to reality. We set the RV cruise control on autopilot, and go back to make a sandwich.
If the enneagram is a description of nine different trances based on nine different flawed worldviews, the truth is really, they all spring from one, central, humdinger of a flaw.
In Thomson’s parables book, he mentioned Jesus’ statement that you can’t serve both God and money. That’s a pretty strong statement. He didn’t say you had to choose between God and power, or God and sex, or God and self, even. Why money?Â Thomson’s theory is that it all comes down to economics.
The first law of economics is supply and demand, presupposing a world of scarcity.Â There isn’t enough of whatever it is you need. This is not the world that Jesus described repeatedly as “the Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is a world of abundance.
So perhaps what Jesus is saying, is that you either go through life as a citizen of the World of Supply and Demand, or you go through it as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. One person can’t have belief both that there isn’t enough to go around (a supply and demand worldview) and that there is enough for everybody (a Kingdom worldview).
When you boil it down to the elementals, it comes back to Mel Gibson’s speech in Signs. You either believe there is Someone up there looking out for you in a world where the divine intervenes on your behalf, or you figure you’re pretty much on your own in a hostile (or at best neutral) environment.
That’s it, folks. That is the source.
In Captivating, John and Stasi Eldredge talk about the Genesis story, and their description of the Fall goes completely along with this theory. Eve believed God was holding out on her. What if her failure wasn’t primarily about obedience? What if it was primarily a failure to trust in God’s goodwill towards her?Â If the “original sin” is the action she took, wasn’t it prompted by a belief that is completely the opposite of faith?Â So what’s really the original sin in this situation: disobeying a command, or losing faith in God’s love?
The tempter came up to her, and said “You don’t have all that you could have. All that you should have. If you want a better life, you have to take it for yourself. God is holding out on you.” And Adam, standing elbow to elbow with her at the time, fell for it, too. (The word that’s translated as “with her” implies close physical proximity, up to and including “being with her in the Biblical sense.”)
So once you’ve decided that God is not looking out for you, the world becomes a very unfriendly place. If you believe that the Creator is basically out to get you, what does that do to your perspective on the Creation?
Assuming that God is good and means the best for us, breaking with that belief is a break with the nature of reality itself.Â Once we break with reality, we have to decide how to make our way in the harsh new world. The world that doesn’t support us and provide for us. The world where we have to take what we want and need for ourselves.
Welcome back to the enneagram. Because the types flow from nine different decisions we make about the best way to navigate this new, hostile terrain.
Imagine an infant. An infant has a purely self-centered worldview. The world exists simply for him to enjoy. The mother exists to hug and coddle and feed him. The moon and stars hang in the sky just for him. And he doesn’t really perceive any boundaries or separation between “me” and “the world” or “mommy” or reality. It’s all just one big “me.”Â An infant’s worldview is startlingly similar to the mystic, noetic concept of being One with all reality, variously referred to in different religious traditions as holy communion, nirvana, or enlightenment.
And then a new concept enters the picture: the world doesn’t actually bend to his will. He doesn’t get the food instantly when he wants it. He doesn’t get picked up magically when he wants it. Suddenly it becomes clear: there’s me, and there’s everything else. And I have to figure out how to get what I want and need from that big, scary, “everything else.” Oh, the humanity!
So our little Adam (or Evie) makes a decision, at a startlingly early age, about the best way to get what he or she wants from this big, scary, hostile thing called reality. “If I am/do (fill in the enneagram compulsion here), then I will be okay.” That decision gets set in stone in their little psyche, and the trance begins. No need to take in any more of reality than that.
But what if that’s a fundamentally flawed worldview?Â What if I’m okay no matter what I do or am?Â What if my negotiations with reality, the currency of exchange I develop to get what I need, is not only unnecessary, but instead creates much of the lack I perceive?Â What if I’m bartering so intently for bread and water that I don’t even see God is standing next to me, offering a feast for free?
Told you this was going to get deep.