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 one of the principal and supervising teachers of the Diamond Approach® to Inner Realization, leading groups in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the United Kingdom, and is a member of the leadership council of the Ridhwan School, home of the Diamond Approach®. Her first book, "The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul", was published in 2001 by Tarcher/Penguin; and her second book, "The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues: Finding the Way Home", was released in 2008. In addition to her artwork, she is working on her third book, about relationship and spirituality.
Sandra became involved in spiritual work when she began studying
with Dr. Naranjo, a pioneer of the consciousness movement, in
1970 while still in art school. Naranjo was one of the first to
incorporate psychology into spiritual practice, relying primarily
on the understanding contained within the enneagram system for
the psychological portion of his teaching.
The enneagram itself is a nine-pointed figure contained within
a circle. It made its first appearance in the West in the work
of the Armenian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff, who claimed that it could
be used to understand all processes in the universe. Some of the
ways that he interpreted the symbol are contained in the writings
of his students — P.D. Ouspensky’s "In Search
of the Miraculous", and J.G. Bennett’s "Enneagram
Studies". Its next appearance was in the work of the Bolivian
mystic Oscar Ichazo in the sixties. He used the enneagram to understand
human experience both in an egoic and an enlightened state. He
presented one set of enneagrams delineating nine enlightened perspectives
on reality, referred to as the Enneagram of Holy Ideas; as well
as the inner felt-sense of those free of ego, described in the
Enneagram of Virtues. Their correlates, the set of enneagrams
describing our state when identified with our ego or personalty
structure, are collectively — and somewhat misleadingly
— called the Enneagram of Personality. It is this set of
enneagrams that has become widely used as a system of psychological
typology, derived largely from the work of Naranjo.
Naranjo studied with Ichazo in Chile in the late sixties, and
when he returned to California, began to teach the system. He
filled out its understanding with his depth of psychological and
spiritual knowledge, and used it as a tool for transformation
in the groups he called SAT, standing for Seekers after Truth.
Sandra was a member of the first SAT group, in Berkeley, California.
During and after that period, she was exposed to many different
forms of psychological and spiritual work, including Tibetan and
Theravada Buddhism, Sufism, and Fourth Way teachings, and pursued
vipassana meditation in depth.
One of her friends and group mates in the first SAT group was
Hameed Ali, who writes under the name of A.H. Almaas. In the years
that followed the ending of the group, he began to develop the
spiritual path called the Diamond Approach® to Inner Realization.
Picking up in many ways where that first SAT group left off, Almaas
developed a profound and revolutionary way of engaging the ego
or personality structure such that it could be used to reconnect
with Being or True Nature. Rather than adhering to the traditional
spiritual perspective of the ego as an enemy to be transcended
or overcome, Almaas showed that it was possible to move through
it. He saw that by experientially contacting its contents and
questioning the underlying assumptions behind them, they naturally
dissolved, revealing deeper levels of reality. He also saw that
Being arises in many different qualities, such as universal love,
peacefulness, compassion, and so on, and that each of Its manifestations
correlates to a particular set of psychological issues and structures.
Using the method of becoming fully present to our experience and
experientially inquiring into it, the dimensions of Being associated
with each sector of the ego naturally reveal themselves. With
its intricate map of Being and the personality and its powerful
practice, the Diamond Approach® has proven to be a profoundly
transformative path for thousands of people throughout the world.
Sandra began working with the Diamond Approach® in 1981, and
is now one of its principal teachers. Perceiving the dearth of
material being published on the enneagram that presented it as
the spiritual tool that it is, she decided to write her first
book, "The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces
of the Soul". In it, she conveys both the basic information
and the spirit of the enneagram that she learned from Naranjo,
as well as its further amplifications by Almaas and herself. Her
second book, "The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues: Finding
the Way Home", explores how the enneagram maps the pitfalls
and obstacles we all face on the path of personal transformation.
It also provides sound guidance in dealing with them, and shows
us how working through them affects us. The Diamond Approach®
forms the ground for her approach to the enneagram in both of
these books. She is currently working on her third book, about
relationship and spirituality, leading Diamond Approach® groups
in the U.S. and the U.K., and pursuing her artwork.