The Oral Tradition

Historically, the Enneagram has always been taught orally. Even with the advent of multi-media, it is still recognised that a deep understanding of both the material and of oneself is best learned by seeing and hearing groups of people of the same 'Enneagram Type' speak about their lives and about how their personality impacts upon it. This method transmits far more of the power of the system than can possibly be conveyed by the written or spoken word.

In 1994, David Burke established The Australian Enneagram Project utilising this method. The Project, now administered jointly by the Australian Enneagram Community (AEC) and the Australian Institute for Enneagram Studies (AIES) continues to use the oral tradition as its primary teaching method, recognising that observing or participating in a personality panel series is one of the most effective methods of developing self-awareness and consequently the ability to manage and moderate the personality.

Self Awareness
The Oral Tradition operates under the premise that individuals themselves are the experts on their own personality type and how it manifests in their lives.

During an Enneagram Personality Panel, participants are invited to explore and discuss their personality and the things that are important to them and to consider the impact of their personality on the people and environment around them.

The Oral Tradition is more than a simple narrative, that is, more than an individual story or collection of similar stories from the panellists. The Oral Tradition is a methodology that allows members of the community to experience the reality and intimacy of the panellists' lives.

Because our habitual focus of attention is usually so ingrained in our way of being that it is hidden from our conscious awareness, participants in the oral tradition are actively engaged in developing the ability to self-observe.

Self-observation is learning to recognise the objects of your attention (and the tenacity with which they occur) and your subsequent, habitual response to them.

The ability to observe and talk about your habits of thinking, feeling and sensing helps to make these habits less compulsive.

The Australian Enneagram Community is indebted to the many thousands of panel participants over the years who have volunteered to sit on Enneagram panels and openly and honestly share their lives and contribute to the collective wisdom that is The Australian Enneagram Project.


The Australian Enneagram Community (AEC) is a community based organisation that offers Panel Series, workshops, colloquiums and other opportunities throughout the year to learn about the enneagram.


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