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Guide The Enneagram of Society: Healing the Soul to Heal the World (Consciousness Classics)

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Saint Augustine said of this meta-sin that original sin consists of an aspect of ignorantia and another of dificultas. Today, we would translate this as: a disorder of awareness and an interference with action. A non explicit element in this Augustinian dichotomy, though one commonly understood as an essential aspect of sin, is what theologians such as the Venerable Bede called "concupiscence" — equivalent to what Buddhists have also seen at the heart of sin: a hyper-desire trishna, attachment.

Little is said nowadays in the modern lay world concerning "sin," and those who still preserve the term in their vocabulary are suspected of being traditionalists or guilt-ridden. On the other hand, much is said of pathologies.

We apply the language of medicine to the problem of consciousness, and by doing so we inadvertently rescue the original sense of the word sin that had almost been forgotten after the contamination of the notion of wrongness as a dysfunction with that of wrongness as evil. The psychiatric perspective has invited us to think not so much of evil acts or destructive behavior as of dysfunctions, confusions or deviations of the impulses.

And it is in this last term that we find the original meaning of hamarteia — a borrowed term from archery used to designate sin in the gospels, and whose original meaning was not hitting the target. Here, original theology meets with today's psychopathology, because since Freud we also understand the faults of the psyche as deviations of energy — impediments that interpose themselves between spontaneity and action, causing an overflow of psychic energy towards secondary ends. The difference between sins and pathologies is, however, the locus of responsibility: in so far as "sin" accuses, making the individual responsible, "pathology" excuses, making past or present causes beyond the individual himself responsible.

While we are victims of mental and interpersonal pathologies, we are responsible for our sins.


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Obviously, each of these perspectives has its use and thus they complement one another, since we are at the same time physical beings subject to a causal universe, and beings — more than animals — made responsible by a spark of freedom. Is it appropriate then to talk about certain basic aberrations of psychic life — call them sins or pathologies?

The Christian tradition replies affirmatively, and offers us its teaching with respect to the capital sins — differentiated forms of expression of the single sin that are at the head caput of all that we can do wrong in our relationship with others, with life, and with ourselves. While pathologies have been described by psychology mainly as constellations of symptoms or characteristics that belong to the sphere of action "character traits" , sins such as pride or envy point towards the sphere of motivation.

We may say that these are destructive desires, exaggerated desires — "passions" — even when they are sometimes not forms of attraction but rather of repulsion, and some may be described as a passion for being dispassionate. Love gives, while passions constitute forms of insatiability: a neurotic need cannot be satisfied except transitorily, because deep down it demands something that doesn't exist. Carefully considered, the passions reveal themselves to be a thirst for Being, ultimately based on a loss of contact with the Being — i.

It is clear that the doctrine of the seven capital sins as well as that of the Trinity is not to be found in the gospels. Scholars believe that they both reached the heart of Christianity through the Hellenistic cultural context in which early Christianity developed and in which spiritual doctrines from Babylonian esotericism survived. Yet although we find no systematic mention in the gospels of the seven sins, we do find them with the greedy as the "inebriated" and the lustful as "fornicators" even before the gospels were written — in one of the epistles of Horace, each in relation to a particular antidote.

Fervet avaritia miseroque cupidine pectus: Sunt verba et voces, quibus hunc lenire dolorem Possis, et magnam morbi deponere partem. Laudis amore tumes: sunt certa piacula, quae te Ter pure lecto poterunt recreare libello. Invidus, iracundus, iners, vinosus, amator, Nemo adeo ferus est ut non mitescere possit Si modo culturae patientem commodet aurem. You are bloated with vanity: there are certain expiations that can revive you if you read a certain book three times precisely. The envious, angry, indolent, inebriated, sensual — none is so savage as not to be able to be tamed, as long as they have the patience to dedicate themselves to learning.

The first written testimony we have regarding sins in the Christian tradition seems to me to be the most perceptive of all — assuredly a reflection of the subtlety of the desert fathers and of their participation in a living tradition. Among the hermits who constituted the core of Christianity in the first centuries , Evagrius born in Greece was the first to leave us writings. It is thought that he was the first to bring together in a coherent system the teaching of the desert fathers with respect to the life of prayer.

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Ascetic life for Evagrius is "the spiritual method whose aim is to purify that part of the soul that is the seat of passions. It has been said that the desert fathers were able to elaborate the theory of sins because they also had the practice. Evagrius was heir to Origenes and to Gregory of Nyssa, as well as a direct disciple to one whom Dante, in his Paradise of the Contemplative, calls "Macarius the Great.

Fear of God fortifies your faith, my son. Continence, in turn, affirms this fear. Patience and hope make of this virtue something solid and implacable and give birth to apatheia. This knowledge is finally succeeded by theology by which I mean, naturally, wisdom or gnosis and supreme beatitude. It is interesting to note that in the formulation of capital sins in Evagrius — the very first — the list comprises not seven, but rather eight. Of equal or greater interest is the fact that Evagrius does not call them sins, but rather deals with them as "thoughts" —"bad thoughts" today we would say "destructive thoughts" and later on as "passionate thoughts.

Evagrius' list includes, apart from pride which heads the current Gregorian list, but was the last in his , vainglory. He describes it as a subtle sin that is easily developed in souls who practice virtue, and that it leads them to want their efforts to be publicly known, since they seek acknowledgement. In addition to the seven sins that our Gregorian system recognizes, Evagrius recognizes the fault by which the devil is sometimes recognized when he is called "the lord of lies. An expert in human characters might perhaps nowadays find the expressions "falseness" or "inauthenticity" more appropriate.

This is why, strictly speaking, one should not think of a different doctrine when subsequent theologists talked of the seven capital sins. What is different in most Buddhist traditions is that what wanders from body to body is not a soul, but a continuum of consciousness. Present life is embedded in a potentially endless cosmic process which includes even the gods.


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In the West, since the time of Lessing, reincarnation has been understood far more optimistically as a process of learning and progressive individual fulfilment. Spiritualism, theosophy, anthroposophy and New Age all see reincarnation as participation in cosmic evolution. This post-Christian approach to eschatology is said to answer the unresolved questions of theodicy and dispenses with the notion of hell. When the soul is separated from the body individuals can look back on their whole life up to that point, and when the soul is united to its new body there is a preview of its coming phase of life.

People have access to their former lives through dreams and meditation techniques. Divisions which New Age proponents claim need to be overcome include the real difference between Creator and creation, the real distinction between man and nature, or spirit and matter, which are all considered wrongly as forms of dualism. These dualistic tendencies are often assumed to be ultimately based on the Judaeo-Christian roots of western civilisation, while it would be more accurate to link them to gnosticism, in particular to Manichaeism.

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The Enneagram of Society: Healing the Soul to Heal the World

The fundamental principles of New Age thinking. A global response in a time of crisis. The perennial philosophical question of the one and the many has its modern and contemporary form in the temptation to overcome not only undue division, but even real difference and distinction, and the most common expression of this is holism, an essential ingredient in New Age and one of the principal signs of the times in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

An extraordinary amount of energy has gone into the effort to overcome the division into compartments characteristic of mechanistic ideology, but this has led to the sense of obligation to submit to a global network which assumes quasi-transcendental authority. Its clearest implications are a process of conscious transformation and the development of ecology. What has been successful is the generalisation of ecology as a fascination with nature and resacralisation of the earth, Mother Earth or Gaia, with the missionary zeal characteristic of Green politics.

The Earth's executive agent is the human race as a whole, and the harmony and understanding required for responsible governance is increasingly understood to be a global government, with a global ethical framework. The warmth of Mother Earth, whose divinity pervades the whole of creation, is held to bridge the gap between creation and the transcendent Father-God of Judaism and Christianity, and removes the prospect of being judged by such a Being.

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This is a fundamental point which pervades all New Age thought and practice, and conditions in advance any otherwise positive assessment where we might be in favor of one or another aspect of its spirituality. The essential matrix of New Age thinking.


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The essential matrix of New Age thinking is to be found in the esoteric-theosophical tradition which was fairly widely accepted in European intellectual circles in the 18 th and 19 th centuries. It was particularly strong in freemasonry, spiritualism, occultism and theosophy, which shared a kind of esoteric culture. In this world-view, the visible and invisible universes are linked by a series of correspondences, analogies and influences between microcosm and macrocosm, between metals and planets, between planets and the various parts of the human body, between the visible cosmos and the invisible realms of reality.

Nature is a living being, shot through with networks of sympathy and antipathy, animated by a light and a secret fire which human beings seek to control. People can contact the upper or lower worlds by means of their imagination an organ of the soul or spirit , or by using mediators angels, spirits, devils or rituals.

People can be initiated into the mysteries of the cosmos, God and the self by means of a spiritual itinerary of transformation. The eventual goal is gnosis , the highest form of knowledge, the equivalent of salvation. Esoteric teachings are handed down from master to disciple in a gradual program of initiation.