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Where the Enneagram is Going | Vertical and Horizontal

At the recent IEA (International Enneagram Association) conference in Denver, the IEA asked me to do a video tape for them to put on their website. For the most part, they wanted me to talk about the 2014 IEA conference in San Francisco a year from now. But they asked me another question that I had no immediate answer to give: where is the Enneagram going?

Because I am more introverted than extroverted, I needed more time to think about this than a running tape machine in front of me would allow. About 15 minutes after the taping, an answer popped into my brain: vertical and horizontal. To be more precise, I saw a vertical and horizontal line, and here’s what it means:

For about 10 years, the Enneagram has been going horizontal. In other words, it has been spreading across the globe – think of a major continent or country in which there is not increasing Enneagram use – and it has been spreading in a vast array of applications: business, education, government, high school and college use, prison work, screen writing, therapies or all kinds, spiritual guidance, architecture, and more.

In 2003, Judith Searle and I co-chaired the IEA conference, and the whole conference was devoted to the applications of the Enneagram. It was, by almost every standard, a very successful conference, and I remember Judith and I scratching our heads to conceive the different tracks and to then find top quality presenters for each track. We could find them, but it was a search. If it were to be done today, it would be which presenters could we choose from a wide variety of possibilities.

The IEA has also witnessed a true international emergence, with more international affiliates than I can count – just as a small sample: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, and more. This is also horizontal, mean spreading laterally. And the lateral spread will continue because the Enneagram has lateral momentum.

Now it is time to also go vertical with the Enneagram. To go vertical is to go into the pure depth, the deep development. Vertical also means to go higher. There are many who already do this, but the recent tide has been more horizontal. Don Riso and Russ Hudson have always been vertical, as has Helen Palmer. Leslie Hershberger is vertical, as are Bea Chestnut and Uranio Paes. Claudio Naranjo has also been vertical with his in-depth knowledge and study of the 27 subtypes. I am actually, by inclination, more vertical than horizontal, although my work has been more horizontal with some key vertical elements contained within. But in the last six months, I have been getting back to my inner vertical, working in vertical depth anywhere I can. And I am loving being back to my vertical roots.

The Enneagram is spreading horizontally in accordance with the natural flow, and many of us are helping this along, which is good and which I hope continues. At the same time, the Enneagram is a deep, vertical system, and to go vertical is to also be in the natural order of the Enneagram. I believe that going vertical and horizontal simultaneously is where the Enneagram is going. Can we all go there?

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