The Enneagram of the Passions and Virtues

By Sandra Maitri

What follows is part of the Afterword from my second book, The Enneagram of the Passions and Virtues: Finding the Way Home. It speaks about the inner journey and the place of the enneagram as a useful map of its terrain. In particular, I am highlighting the place of the passions and virtues here, as that is the central focus of the book. I am offering this to you as it expresses my orientation to the enneagram as a whole and to this sacred odyssey.


On this journey, there are places that we all must visit, places that we invariably all pass through. This is what the enneagram maps out for us. This is its gift and its value for us. This is not a rapid journey but one for which we need enormous patience. We cannot rush the process, no matter how good a map we have. We must remember that our soul has its own timing, the time it takes to really see ourselves objectively and digest our insights, which can’t be hurried, and which is always individual.

And even though there are common ports of call along the way, this is a journey that each of us must make on our own. While many of the places that we pass through are collective — ones that we all must visit — nonetheless we each must pass through them within our own self. We must traverse them in the aloneness of our own soul. We may have guides for the journey, and in fact almost all of us need them since the territory is so slippery and elusive, so full of hidden pitfalls and abysses. But no matter how much guidance we get, in the end it is our own personal journey.

This journey necessitates a great deal of hard work and discipline, since facing ourselves goes against the grain of our conditioning and, at least initially, is never easy. It calls upon us to embrace our inner reality, and to do so with courage and realism. It requires that we experience ourselves fully and intimately, with infinite sincerity and truthfulness, profound vulnerability and openness of heart. It requires nothing less than the virtues themselves. When we align our consciousness with the attitudes that are the virtues, our process opens up. When we stay caught up in the passions, the territory we travel through stays the same, repeating endless variations of the same scenery, while the soundtrack just keeps replaying the same old song. As we become skilled in traveling our inner landscape, the virtues themselves are informing our soul.

And this is a peculiar journey, full of paradoxes and unlike any other, since on this odyssey, we don’t arrive anywhere. There is nowhere to get to except right here. The traveling itself transforms the landscape. Before we know it, everything looks and feels different and we are changed, even though the terrain is all the same.

This is not a journey for everyone, nor is it a trek that anyone is forced to make. In fact, you can’t be commandeered into it. You have to choose to do it. And you have to undertake it wholeheartedly if you are going to get anywhere — even though that turns out to be where you started. You certainly don’t have to make this trip; life in many ways can seem easier if we don’t. But if you are one of those who cannot rest without exploring, if you have always had a particular homesickness that nothing in life resolves, if you can’t remain cozily asleep in the familiar and the known of your life and must set out on the daring adventure of discovering yourself, it is my sincere hope that this book has given you some signposts that are useful in your travels.

Sandra Maitri is the only prominent teacher of the system of the enneagram to have learned it when it was originally taught by Claudio Naranjo, M.D., beginning in 1970. She is currently a supervising teacher of the Diamond Approach® to Inner Realization, leading groups in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the United Kingdom. Her first book is titled, The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul.

For information about Sandra Maitri’s work, click here to visit her website.


Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2017 Catalyst, Issue 11: Enneagram