The three Instincts — Self Preservation, Sexual (Attraction), and Social — are a critical component in integrating any genuine spiritual awakening in our lives. Without a thorough understanding of the role they play in our development, lasting change tends to be elusive. Although the Instincts are not a new concept in the Enneagram world, for many students there remains a lack of clarity about where they came from, what their importance is, and what they mean for our Inner Work. They are frequently over-simplified for didactic purposes, much like reducing the richness of the Enneagram types to handy stereotypes. For example, there is more to the Self Preservation instinct than a neurotic focus on food and money. Social Instinct dominant people do not necessarily like groups, and Sexual Instinct dominant people are not the only ones who want a “one-on-one” relationship. The key value in understanding the Instincts lies in grasping and working with the unconscious imbalances between them when we are being run by our ego fixations.

In this session, we will explore the Instincts in terms of the original teachings of Gurdjieff, as well as their place in the biology and evolution of human beings. We will also look at how we each prioritize or “stack” the three Instincts, and how working with the `blind spot’ (or least-developed Instinct) is one of the most effective methods for lasting self-actualization. Participants will gain a much better idea of the central role of the Instincts in the process of self-transformation, and leave with clearer, more concrete ideas about sustaining their own growth process.

Don Riso, M.A., is one of the foremost teachers and developers of the Enneagram in the world today. A best-selling author in the field, he is President of Enneagram Personality Types, Inc., co-Founder of The Enneagram Institute, and a Founding Director of the IEA. Don’s five best-selling books, co-authored with Russ Hudson, have sold over a million copies worldwide and are available in many foreign editions. Convinced that the Enneagram would not be taken seriously without grounding in modern psychology, Don devoted himself to clearly and systematically describing the types and the elements of the system as a whole. Don and Russ’ contributions to the Enneagram are described in detail on our website in the article Enneagram Contributions. Don lives in upstate New York.

Russ Hudson is one of the principal scholars and innovative thinkers in the Enneagram world today. Russ brings a long-standing involvement in several spiritual traditions, including the Gurdjieff Work and the Ridhwan School. Russ is the Executive Director of Enneagram Personality Types, Inc. and co-Founder of The Enneagram Institute. He is a Founding Director and former Vice-President of the IEA. He holds a degree in East Asian Studies from Columbia University in New York, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He lives in Manhattan.

Don Richard Riso
Russ Hudson


2007 IEA Global Conference

Redwood City, California, USA

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