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Excerpt – from the Preface to Roaming Free Inside the Cage:

Why another book on the Enneagram? There are already so many excellent books on your bookstore shelf that will introduce you to it, help you to determine your type, and invite you to explore your type more deeply. Some are kind of kitschy and fun, whereas others are scholarly and pedantic. Some reflect a Christian perspective, others have a slightly Buddhist or Sufi flavor, while yet others try to be psychologically mainstream and secular. Where does this one fit, and why might you want to read it? Ultimately, of course, you will have to be the judge of that, but I’ll give you the short answer right up front. At first blush, the Enneagram seems a typology, a system for describing psychological types. It is a bit more complicated and sophisticated than some other systems out there, but for many people the Enneagram remains first and foremost a typology. I believe this is really unfortunate. To my mind the Enneagram does not describe nine types of personality, one of which is yours. It describe nine ways to not be all of who you are, one of which you have unconsciously made your own. The purpose of discovering your type is not simply to know how to better describe yourself, but to transform how you relate to both yourself and the world around you so that you may live more freely as the person you were meant to be. 

The Daoist phrase for this process is “the transformation of things.” The kind of transformation they are talking about is not a physical makeover of the objective world. For the Daoists, objects and events have little objective meaning in the first place. A situation’s meaning is determined mainly by the observer’s relationship to it. Thus a situation’s meaning can change as one shifts how one relates to it. This shift makes it possible to spontaneously find the adaptive path in any given situation, without effort or coercion. Zhuangzi, a Daoist sage from the fourth century BCE, poetically called living like this “wandering at ease in the cage.” His phrase suggested the title of this book. The cage can be just about anything: the country you live in, a terrible boss, your marriage, the state of your health or wealth, your personality, your body, or your mind. Daoism doesn’t have much interest in leaving any part of the present world behind. It does not seek the Absolute in some nirvana or heaven. It simply wants to learn how to live freely in the world at hand. Nor does it care much for understanding “absolute” truths, of which it remains consistently and thoroughly suspicious. It doesn’t want to know about but to know how. In this book, I want to bring Daoism’s pragmatism to the Enneagram. I don’t want just to tell you what your type is but how to grow spiritually within its parameters.

A second small advantage of this book may result from the fact that I have spent my professional life as a clinical psychologist specializing in the developmental problems of infancy. Working with infants gives you a fascinating, different view of humanity. At least, it does this once you give up the notion that babies don’t know anything and can’t do very much. We used to think of them as blank slates upon which the environment wrote a life. The past fifty years of research has shown us that they are from the start far more active, aware, and “human” than we suspected. And how does this help us to use the Enneagram more effectively for our own development? The short answer (the long-winded ones you will wade through later on if you read the book) is that the infant we once were is in the many ways closer to our true self than the adult person we have become. Much of our true self was left behind in our hurry to grow up and join the race. The Enneagram is a kind of map, showing us how to get back there once again, this time with all of our adult smarts included. Daoism understood this in its own way, even though it had very little interest in child development, a much later western contribution to culture. Many statues of Daoist immortals show a fat, smiling old man dancing while carrying an infant. The infant holds the key to his joyful appearance, for unlike adults, the infant is open to and trusting of a presence it does not attempt to define or control.