Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Former Jesuit Says, "Buddism Is The Spiritual Tradition That Has Influenced Me The Most"

Ex-Jesuit Don Riso, one of the founders of the Enneagram Institute, told David Ian Miller that “the Enneagram, as I've defined it, is a guide to self-observation. It is a way to map the spectrum of personality and illuminate those dark areas.”
There are nine different Enneagram types, each of which has nine states of development. “You could spend your whole life on one of these levels,” said Riso.
“Or you could move from one level to another, as most people do, depending on various circumstances and the stresses operating on them from moment to moment.”

You move from level to level when you have “awareness” and are “willing and able to go against the habits of your personality type,” said Riso.
Those at the lower levels, who are “asleep to themselves,” “need the help of some external force” --- “therapy or a spiritual teacher,” for instance.
“Enneagram knowledge alone is not enough,” said Riso.

Riso said the Enneagram provides a spiritual path “to see reality directly.” “To me,” he said,
“reality is spiritual. If God is real, God is by definition the most real thing there is ... The world of maya, the world of illusion, in which we live, is not ‘the really real.’”
In it “we are dealing with mental constructs: our projections, our reactivity, our fears -- all kinds of things in our mental world.”

To Miller, noting that “religious groups” like the Catholic Church have been critical of the Enneagram, Riso said they “get scared” because
the Enneagram is “not dogmatic. It's not a religion. It is an invitation to spirituality, to learn about spirituality for yourself and to investigate your own experience of the divine in your life.” Religion’s big problem today “is that people are not taught how to have spiritual experiences. If they did, then they might not need organized religion anymore
--- at least, that is the underlying fear.”

Though a former Jesuit, Riso said Buddhism is the spiritual tradition that has influenced him most.
“Sufism has also been important to me,” he continued. “I would say that my spirituality is fairly nondenominational.
I think the seeking comes from a desire for the truth in whatever form it appears, especially in my own personal experience. I've never been much of a joiner, and I've never been one to read tons of books to find answers.”

Link (here) to the full article first published in 2007 in the California Catholic Daily.

Link (here) to an article by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. entitled,
Enneagram: A Modern Myth.


shadowlands said...

“willing and able to go against the habits of your personality type,”

I call that a moment of clarity accompanied by God's Grace,or repentance.
He doesn't mention Jesus,or the Cross(at least not in your excerpt).
What has he done with the whole redemption message?How does he deal with sin,eg have his guilt removed? I guess he just applies his sparkly enlightenment and it dissapears eh? No need for the shedding of Christ's Precious Blood? Blaspheming twerp.Sorry,I wasn't that mad when I started commenting,it's just some of these well educated types seem as 'daft as a brush' in (MY)reality.I'd like to see how he copes with a bad toothache.I bet he seeks outside help then,pain relief isn't always an inside job of illumination!

Joseph Fromm said...


I like your style. He is leading others away from Christ and getting paid for it. I wonder what was going on when he decided to leave the Society?



shadowlands said...

Something temporary,but tempting got in the way of the eternal,maybe the esteem he received from his eneagram teachings,perhaps the money too, and he was not prepared to surrender it....yet.
We have to surrender everything eventually,even the body we stand up in,which is also on loan.
Sin satisfies the senses for a time,and offers pseudo spirituality,but it's not real.A simple lit candle and a Hail Mary whilst kneeling can offer an oasis to the suffering soul.At least,that's my experience,after years of faffing about trying to justify my sinful nature's inclinations with the world's measurements.

shadowlands said...

Sorry Joe,my name is Ros.I forgot to sign off,it's the Jesuit's.They are beginning to get to me.......haha!

TonyD said...

Here is the question I ask myself -- How should I respond to someone saying “I believe in X and it is good”?

As a first pass, I want to stay true to “love God” and “love your neighbor”. And, since those are the two greatest commandments, it is generally true that “loving God” is best expressed through “love your neighbor”.

So how do I express “love your neighbor” in this situation? Well, I have to take their values seriously – as seriously as I would take my own values. That is, not taking someone’s values seriously is, in effect, ignoring God’s commandment. Thus, my response to an absurd belief really defines myself before God. (That is something I say to myself when I am confronted by random belief systems – aliens, mantras, rock Gods, etc.)

Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, I hope to have the humility to know that I am not God, and God is capable of instruction, correction, and using anyone’s beliefs to His advantage. Again, my response acts to define myself before God.

So, while I may make suggestions to the person (or not), I generally try to respect their values and look for some way to support my values, their values, and community values. Generally, there is some “compromise” – I use the word compromise hesitantly. In obeying “love your neighbor” I am really obeying God’s commandment. That is not compromise. It is living the commandments. Ironically, it is those who insist on the “truth” that are often ignoring God’s greatest commandments.

As a personal aside, this is both wonderful and horrible. It is wonderful to know that God is truly working in this existence -- through miracles and situations that are unseen by those involved. It is horrible to understand that most people are so far removed from God. Sadly, those most distant are often those who think they are acting on His behalf.

shadowlands said...


Who do you say Jesus of Nazareth is?

TonyD said...


Jesus combines both Man and God.

But I'm not too overly concerned about this particular belief.

I've known people with some odd beliefs that seemed more Christlike than many with orthodox beliefs.

shadowlands said...

Thank you for your reply. C S Lewis,a Protestant,said this about Jesus.He believed we should be extremely concerned about our particular belief regarding Him.Why do you think he(C S Lewis) thought that?

"You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and call Him a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to".


TonyD said...

I think CS Lewis makes a valid point. His audience is the world at large, and, generally speaking, there would be benefit from learning from the moral teachings of Jesus.

Most of the people I interact with, on the other hand, asked themselves "Who is Jesus" many years ago. And, since then, have moved on to questions more akin to "How do I reflect the will of God in my life?" or "How do I become more Christlike?".

Such questions are not easily answered. There are many people who have read the Bible many times, and can quote pretty much all the words of Jesus - but still struggle with issues such as how to live "love your neighbor".

In a nutshell, the recognition that "others values" are one of my values (as commanded by God) helps resolve many problems created by my ego and lack of humility.

shadowlands said...

Tony,why does creation exist at all? I mean,in your belief system? thanks again for responding.Who's idea was it,and why and what for,ultimately?

TonyD said...


Like many others, I can only offer fragmentary answers to those questions.

I'm willing to go so far as to say "lessons" are what we do here. But the scope and ultimate purpose of those lessons isn't fully defined. We only have some scattered, incomplete pieces of information.

I really miss the tradition of not using the word "God". I think that people tend to personify God through his actions and our perceptions. Transcendence is real.

shadowlands said...


Hi again,I notice on youtube people are coming up with all sorts of new names for Jesus.They also insist on missing certain letters out,as the name is unutterable apparently.This drives me nuts.So many new laws and regulations.I prefer the bit in scripture that says"Whoever call's on the name of the Lord,shall be saved".
I have found this to be true,both practically,emotionally and dare I say spiritually?
I am sensing you believe we are all God,but some of us just don't know it yet.Did you ever believe in Christianity,or call yourself Christian,in the traditional sense?

TonyD said...

I have no problem with either those who "rename" Christ, or those who "call on the name of the Lord". And I certainly believe you when you say that you've found that to be effective.

Similarly, I don't claim to know if God is in everything, or isn't. There are plenty of mysteries that leave room for interpretation. I try to maintain humility about such things.

And I would confidently describe myself as Christian in the traditional sense.

Of course, that is somewhat disingenuous. It is like saying that I am Buddhist in the traditional sense - everyone has their own interpretation of what that means. And, ironically, it seems that the more I learn about both Catholicism and Christianity, the more I understand that I don't understand.

TonyD said...

I noticed how “un-Catholic” it must appear when I take no position on “God in Everything”. After all, the Church has made multiple statements on this topic.

I consider this analogous to a Physicist, who knows that the sky only “seems blue”, but does not feel compelled to correct each person who says “Isn’t the sky beautiful blue today”. Judgement is required. Someday, there may be a particular situation where it is appropriate for the Physicist to correct that person.

Thanks for listening Ros.

shadowlands said...

Thanks for listening too,Tony.All good wishes in this pilgrim's progress.

Mark G. said...

I guess we'll have to call this one "Bad Jesuit".