Just back from another great week on retreat with Enneagram friends & students who also meditate and are committed to Buddhist practice. It’s a joy to work with both of these lens on the inner life in a way that mutually supports, deepens, and expands both. Buddha-Dhamma is still my bread & butter, while Enneagram plays a valuable support role. An added perk is that in Siam, we can use Thai Buddhist language to step outside the rather Christian language used in the West.
The retreat went nicely (after some initial adjustments with a new site that wasn’t used to silent retreats). The staff was friendly and adaptable. The small pack of dogs befriended us and we were all buddies in the end. We followed more or less the same format as last year, which is designed to conserve my energies and health. Officially “nobly silent,” but this is Siam where nothing is strict like in the “law-abiding” West. Still, quiet enough (except for the world’s loudest toilet flushes!).
Qigong & chanting start the day, with 6-7 hours of sitting & walking spanning pre-dawn till 9 pm. A talk each morning which featured the Seven Factors of Awakening and how they emerge out of Anapanasati (mindfulness with breathing). The Enneagram focus was how “Knowledge-Vision” (in Thai we use this Buddhist term rather than the so-called “Holy Ideas”) emerge through the relaxing of the World Views & Foci of Attention of each type. (Go here or here if you are unfamiliar with Enneagram terminology.)
I met with each “type group” twice to discuss meditation practice from both Buddha-Dhamma & Enneagram perspectives. This is always very rich, with the Enneagram helping to sharpen the focus on what’s coming up and how to “work with it.” Each evening, I interviewed one of the types in terms how the relaxing of type, their world views, habits of attention and thinking, etc. show up in their lives and how the more awakened “new way of seeing” emerges. These “panels” managed to surface everyday life examples that were nothing big or special and thereby more revealing than the special moment examples that tend to dominate memory. Fun! And meaningful for all present.
Many thanks to all who participated, including friends at the Komol Kimthong Foundation who have been organizing these retreats for more than a decade.
Increasingly, I’m thinking that this is my contribution to the Enneagram world should it ever been interested. I’m more a teacher of Buddhism and meditation than Enneagram, yet can’t help but use the Enneagram when the opportunities arise regularly around meditation and other Buddhist practices. Further, meditation grounds the Enneagram much more deeply than the merely psychological and memory based applications, both for students and myself.
Lastly, prayers of peace & mutual compassion for all of Siam midst its current turbulent social-political impasses.