Inner Work – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert’s book – The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective

by Mark Votava

51E4hrZVAiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Radiate an ease and assurance

“The special talents of THREES often cause them to radiate an ease and assurance that inspire confidence. This allows them to spread a good atmosphere around them. They have an easy time getting jobs done efficiently and competently, aiming for and achieving personal goals, as well as inspiring and motivating other people and making it possible for them to get ahead too.”

2. Idealism

“The temptation of SEVENS is idealism. It has several aspects, SEVENS must be sure that they are working for a good cause, one that brings joy to them and to other people. One result of this is that they deny and repress the aspects of their activity that might hurt other people… One of the most frequent defense mechanisms is rationalization. A SEVEN can repress thoughts about the injustices of the world economic system, arguing that it wouldn’t make the poor any happier if we gave up our money and our possibilities. The pain of a separation can be softened for a SEVEN by looking for rational reasons why a relationship failed – and quickly turning attention to the positive aspects of a new situation…”  

3. Develop a healthy realism

“Among the life task for FOURS is to develop a healthy realism and direct their longing toward reachable goals. FOURS have to work at seeing that their attention remains in the present and doesn’t continually digress into the past or the future. FOURS must find their energy without constantly slipping from one extreme into the other, without being up one minute and down the next. It must not always be euphoria or depression. Their ‘objective observer’ has the job of asking: ‘Isn’t a little joy and a little sadness enough – at least now and then?’”

4. Want to be right at all costs

“False Consolation: ONE goes to FOUR. Unredeemed ONES want to be right at all costs and to judge others. They are overzealous, impersonal, and full of suppressed anger. When ONES are at the end of their rope, they direct their aggression against themselves and take on the subjective, melancholy, depressed, and self-destructive characteristics of an unredeemed FOUR… The arrogant self-image of the FOUR (‘I’m something special’) can also lead stressed-out ONES to begin to flatter themselves…”

5. A hard time accepting praise

“Most SIXES have a hard time accepting praise. They suspect there’s a trick behind it, that they’re being suckered. If you want to be accepted by a SIX, you should incorporate a minimum of constructive criticism in your praise: that will make it more credible.”

6. Inner work

“So long as we cling to our prejudices and identify with our preconceived views and feelings, genuine human community is impossible. You have to get to the point where you can break free from your feelings. Otherwise in the end you won’t have any feelings; they’ll have you. Sometimes one meets people who are free from themselves. They express what moves them – and then they can, so to speak, take a step backward. They play an active part in things, but you notice that they don’t think they’ve got a corner on the truth market. Without this kind of ‘inner work,’ which consists in my simultaneously putting myself forward and relativizing myself, community is doomed to failure… Learning it is really hard work…”

What do you know about the enneagram?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

 “Votava invites his reader to enter into a world where one is reminded of the wonders of life. Mysticism may not be that out of reach after all. The gifts God gives us – the body, the mind, the sounds and silence around us – are, in the end, the path to God. Mark Votava’s words are like drinking tea with honey, but don’t be fooled. The Mystical Imagination is not for the faint-hearted. The work of silence, of deep reflection and of material sacrifice are, as Christ warned us, a difficult path indeed. But what a beautiful path it is, if we are to trust Mark Votava’s wonderful instincts.” Jenna Smith, author of A Way: The Story of a Long Walk

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Embracing community is not simply a strong Christian value in which we all just try to get along, but rather is about becoming, together, the presence of Christ to one another and the world. Mark Votava invites us into that possibility in this book, in parts equally practical, personal and prophetic. It is high time for us to rediscover The Communal Imagination.”  Jamie Arpin-Ricci, author of The Cost of Community