18.02.2018

The Bible and the Enneagram - Nonduality

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In the beginning God…

One of the foundational building blocks for the Enneagram is nonduality, a word which I did not know before I was introduced to the Enneagram. The basic meaning of nonduality is “not two” or “non-separation.” It is the sense that all things are interconnected and not separate, while at the same time all things retain their individuality. (Nonduality.org/what-is-nonduality) Another way of putting it is that, from a certain point of view, only God exists or nothing exists apart from God. Nonduality means there is only One.

This concept, like the word, was new to me and foreign to my notion of God before I encountered the Enneagram. In my understanding of Christian teaching, a lot of emphasis was placed on sin, ourselves as sinners, and our separateness from God’s holiness. Yes, I certainly understood our reconciliation to God through Jesus’ work on the cross. But, honestly, it often seemed more a future reality than a present one because, even with Jesus’ work on the cross, Christians, like me, who followed Jesus still sinned and still experienced separation from God. Most of my life as a Christian did not reflect the notion of nonduality. I was much more aware of my separateness from God, and any unity seemed like a temporary, apart from normal, experience, not a way of life.

However, when I started looking for nonduality in the Bible, I found the idea in many scriptures, beginning with the first four words. “In the beginning God..” (Genesis 1:1) These words are echoed at the end of the Bible in Revelations 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Taken together, these two passages speak clearly of a point of view in which there is only One, there is only God.

And it’s not just at the beginning and the end. The three main images used for the church in the New Testament all have this sense of interconnectedness, a oneness with God and each other while also retaining individuality. The Church is the bride and family of Christ (Ephesians 5, Romans 8, etc.). The Church is many parts in one body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Romans 12, etc.). And the Church is a “holy temple in the Lord…a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2, 1 Peter 2)

Plus, many, many other passages speak of a variety of notions of oneness and interconnectedness in God or Christ. John 1:3 says, speaking of Christ, “Through him all things were made…” Colossians 1:15-20, speaking also of Christ, says, “in him all things were created…in him all things hold together…God was pleased to … reconcile to himself all things [through Christ].” And Paul talks about Christians being “in Christ” over and over again throughout his letters.

Finally, Jesus himself prays specifically in John 17 that Christians would be “one…just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us…” These verses give us our best biblical description of the relationships of the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons in one being. And Jesus prays that Christians would be part of that unity, that oneness.

So, what difference does this make? Paul states it clearly in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is, clearly, in the Bible a sense of our oneness with God, of our interconnectedness with God in Christ, right now, not tomorrow, not when we get to heaven, not when we figure things out, and not when we stop sinning. And this is not just a metaphor, any more than a marriage or family is just a metaphor. It is, from a certain point of view, reality. Just as real as the breath we take.

Any sense that God has abandoned us, that we are separate from God and his love for any reason, is an illusion, a blocking of this reality. Any sense that it takes effort or work on our part to be with God is an illusion. Sometimes a very strong and convincing illusion, but an illusion nonetheless. Our work is not to produce something new in our relationship with God, but simply to recognize and let go of the illusion. The learn to anchor ourselves in the reality where we cannot be separated from God.

This is one place where studying the Enneagram has helped me draw closer to God. Viewing myself as inherently separate from God meant that our being together, my being with God was an unnatural state that needed to be created or maintained by an effort on somebody’s part, and when it didn’t feel like God was making it happen, I assumed I needed to. Broadening my point of view has helped me receive and live more of God’s grace. [Enneagram image from http://www.fitzel.ca]

 

Read 1103 times Last modified on 24.11.2018

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