Friday, March 28, 2008

Remembering Essence Through The Enneagram Part II

Step Two Losing the “I” - You’re Not Who You Think You Are

If indeed our Enneagram Point is who we are not, then how can it act as a map for rediscovering and remembering Essence? Each of us, depending on our Enneagram type, lost specific qualities or aspects of Essence. Our personality contains the “clue” to our search to regain these lost qualities. Each Enneagram Point or type contains a distortion of the lost qualities of Essence within the personality’s inherent worldview. Because we feel the loss of Essence so keenly, we cling to the distortion of the lost qualities strongly. We identify ourselves by these distortions of Essence within our personality. We believe we are as we describe ourselves. We must lose the “I”, surrender our small identity, ego, or personality to reclaim these Essential qualities again. Each Enneagram type has a different pathway back to Essence, and it is “mapped” out in the personality itself.

The qualities of Essence for each type are listed below:
Type One Perfection and Serenity
Type Two Humility and Will
Type Three Veracity and Hope
Type Four Equanimity and Origin
Type Five: Non-attachment and Omniscience
Type Six: Faith and Courage
Type Seven: Joy and Work
Type Eight: Innocence and Truth
Type Nine: Love and Right Action

Each of us lives out a “mimic” of the lost qualities of Essence associated with our Enneagram type. This “mimic” is encoded into our personality and shows itself whenever we say “I” am a certain kind of person. If we pay close attention to our belief of “I” am, we can uncover and remember our Essential nature. Let’s look at Types One through Four to see how our personality can begin to show us the way home to Essence and who we truly are.

Type One - “I” am a Good Person
The path back to Essence is a path of remembering. We begin to remember our essential self. Our personality gives us a vital clue to finding our way, to an individual experience of Essence. For the One, striving to correct error, to continually improve is a mimic of a forgotten quality of Essence: Perfection. In essential Perfection, we glimpse the inherent perfection in imperfection. Perfection simply IS - it exists with out our needing to correct or judge it. In fact, when we “remember” Perfection, we realize that it has always been so. Imperfection was merely a construct. Our striving to correct, to reform was an echo of our true search - for the wholeness of Perfection.
Many Ones tell me that they experience moments of this Perfection in Nature. Nature is non-judging and inherently perfect as is. It has no need to be groomed or changed. It radiates the Is-ness of holy Perfection. This recognition finds the One experiencing Serenity, a pure non-judging state of peace. No need to correct, improve, or reform. Perfection already exists and it has always been here. These moments of Perfection and Serenity are sacred openings to Essence for the One. The key to integrating this feeling is to carry the remembrance of this essential Perfection into daily life, even when you are not dissolved in the Essence experience.

Type Two - “I” am a Loving Person
For the Two, Essence manifests through Humility as she discovers that it is not her personal will that brings her love when she works to ensure others’ dependence on her. Rather, she finds that a higher Will works through her as she serves. The Two learns to stay at home to herself, rather than allowing her energy to escape through her heart center to others. She establishes her center within herself. Initially, this can be a terrifying experience where keeping her attention focused on her own heart can find her with a gaping maw of emptiness. If she stays focused, however, she will find the emptiness is no longer terrifying, but spacious. She discovers the “cave of the Heart” where there is room to cradle all of humanity and more, endless potential to love and serve as a conduit for Will acting through her.

Type Three - “I” am a Successful Person
The productive Three focuses on doing whatever it takes to ensure that they are successful in others’ eyes. It is very clear that they have to “make things happen”. Often it is a failure that cannot be converted to a success that causes the Three to question his chameleon-like deceit and emphasis on doing and appearing successful. Doubt opens the way to true Veracity where the Three examines his authentic desires, beliefs, and preoccupations. “What do I truly wish to do?” the Three asks himself, rather than “What will I be successful doing?” or “How can I spin this to make me look good?” Often, a period of not-doing or just “being” allows the Three to realize that he is intrinsically lovable and will survive without adapting or “making it happen.” He regains the lost Essential quality of Hope. Things work whether the Three does them or not. He doesn’t have to make everything happen, to ensure he is worthy in others view. He finds essential worth inside. Then supported by Hope and tempered with Veracity, he can put his talent for producing and selling in service of a chosen higher purpose or calling.

Type Four - “I” am a Sensitive Person
The Four feels deeply, profoundly. From the heights of ecstasy to the depths of despair, the Four explores the intensities of the emotional realm. Her antipathy for that which is ordinary and mundane color her existence with flair and uniqueness, as she longs for the missing element in her life. Yet, she paradoxically finds Essence through the cultivation of the ordinary, through the “flatness” of simplicity. The lost quality of Equanimity gentles and smooths out the emotional ups and downs. The Four discovers the extraordinary contained within the ordinary. Cultivating the balanced energy of Equanimity leads Four to the recovery of her Essence where she finds that the missing piece that she has searched for throughout her life has always been with her. She finds the Source, Divine Origin within herself illuminating the realization that there has never been anything missing. She is and has always been fully complete. That which she has longed for has always been with her. And whenever she touches Essence, she remembers her wholeness and completeness.

We’ll look closely at personality and Essence for Types Five through Nine in the next blog entry. (Adapted from The Everyday Enneagram by Lynette Sheppard.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Remembering Our Essential Self Through The Enneagram

We have all had glimpses of Essence, when personality falls away and we act or feel from a place that is more than our small self. These are often referred to as peak or mystical experiences. When boundaries blur and awareness expands and we know who we really are. We feel connected with everything, open and expansive. Pure peace and joy exist and we know without knowing how we know, that this is our true nature - our Self. This is our unchanging Essence.

Few of us live in Essence, however. In fact, most of us cannot even return there when we wish. We spend hours on the cushion meditating or alone in nature, hoping those moments or glimpses will grace us again.

These pursuits are worthwhile and increase our chances of experiencing Essence. But what is truly important is how the experiences of Essence inform our everyday lives. How do we make sense or meaning of our “peak” experiences? How do we integrate the large Self we encounter through moments of Essential connection with the small self that must live in the temporal world everyday? How do we wear our personality lightly, so that Essence can shine through in every moment?

In the Everyday Enneagram book, I describe four simple (not easy) steps to make Essence part and parcel of our everyday life. They are:

Step One - Remembering
Step Two Losing the “I” - You’re Not Who You Think You Are
Step Three - Cultivating Essence
Step Four - Integration - Live As If

When we diligently and joyfully practice these steps, Essence becomes as natural as breathing. Which of course, it is! And of course, we will backslide, forget, and fumble. I do and I WROTE the steps! And when this happens, we just dust our spirits off and practice again. Each time, it is easier and we believe it more.

Step One - Remembering
The first step to incorporating Essence as part of everyday life is remembering that Essence is always here, within us. This sounds deceptively simple - to remember. Yet it requires clear intention, focused attention, and profound commitment. We continually forget our true nature, even if we have experienced it more than once. We get caught up in the hectic pace of daily life. In fact, the last thing we feel we need is yet another thing to remember! We can barely keep track of the absolutely necessary aspects of running our lives
And yet, when we lose the memory of our Essential being, our life is less fulfilling. Something is missing. We lose touch with our deeper Self, our soul. Remembering our Essence infuses our ordinary existence with meaning and purpose. We feel our soul’s connection to the Infinite.

So how can we remember Essence? It might help us think of Essence as being like the sun. The sun is always shining even though clouds may obscure its light. It is there even when we cannot see it. Similarly, Essence is always with us. Even when we have forgotten our true nature, even when our personality blocks it from our view, Essence continues to shine through us. We are so much more than our small self, the self defined by our personality, the “I” we think we are. Remembering takes only a moment of awareness, of being awake to our infinite, unbounded Self. It only requires bringing our attention and focus to this remembering to infuse daily life with a sense of Essence.

We’ll talk about Step Two in the next blog entries - each of the types has a different, cherished “I” or identity that can block our reunion with our Essential selves. We’ll explore each in depth.
(some material adapted from “The Everyday Enneagram” by Lynette Sheppard)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Enlighten Up - The Enneagram and Spiritual Growth

In the beginning of learning the Enneagram we explore the psychology of personality. We discover that we are a specific Enneagram type or point. We learn who we are and how to expand ourselves from the confinement of our default mode of seeing, believing, acting.

However, when we incorporate the Enneagram as an adjunct to our spiritual practice, we find a paradoxical truth. Your Enneagram type is who you are not! Or more accurately, it describes only a very small part of you. You are so much more than a Seven, Four, etc. More even than the unique attributes that are yours alone. Your personality is like a pair of glasses through which you perceive life, others, even yourself. The glasses have a particular tint depending on your Enneagram type - a Seven tint, a Three tint, a Five tint etc. Mine also contain a Lynette filter - with my unique view of the world. Your glasses have your individual filters as well. These personality “glasses” color who we think we are. But who are we really? Who was I before I formed a “self”? Who were you?

The use of the Enneagram as a map for higher consciousness or spiritual growth is a natural outgrowth of Self-Development work. As we begin to loosen the grip of the habitual personality, and see that it is not all that we are, we wonder “who am I beyond this personality?” Who am I without this protective covering or these filters? We naturally want to make meaning of our existence - what is our place in the scheme of things? What is the meaning of life? How can I find union with the Divine? Whatever our religious leanings or beliefs, the Enneagram map helps us use the personality as a pathway back Home to Essence, God, Goddess, Oneness, Universal Light, Atman, Nirvana, etc.

Enneagram theory espouses that we all came from Essence. In the beginning, each of us contained the potential of all nine points equally within. We were all One. Then we differentiated or had a fall from grace (we took birth.) We lost Essence. We chose one of the nine ways of being in response to this loss. The drive or cardinal tendency became a substitute for a lost quality of Essence. In this way, the personality contains the key to our specific dilemma - the map to our particular way Home to Essence. The keys to the kingdom are within us. Like our own little guidebook to heaven - right inside us.

We’ll explore using the Enneagram for spiritual seeking, growth, and conversion further in the next several blog entries. (Material adapted from The Everyday Enneagram authored by Lynette Sheppard)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Enneagram as a Form of Listening

When I first learned the nine Enneagram types a couple decades ago, I was enthralled with trying to figure out who others were vis a vis the Enneagram map. (Thanks to my teachers, Helen Palmer and David Daniels, I was smart enough not to share my observations when they were not requested.) I listened raptly for clues in people’s speech and mannerisms that would illuminate their type for me. And a funny thing happened.

I REALLY listened. I actually HEARD what another was saying without formulating my reply or jumping ahead to guess what they might say. Did I have a hidden agenda? Well, yeah, I wanted to know what made them tick. Or at least the little bit of information about an individual that the Enneagram type provides. I wanted to understand from the best of intentions: so that I could honor him/her. And as is so often the case, I was generally unable to figure out anyone’s Enneagram type that quickly.

But here’s the truly great news. People began to say to me, “Wow, you really understand me,” or “I’ve never felt so heard.” And I realized that it didn’t matter a whit if I figured out someone’s type or not. What mattered was fully-present-in-the-moment listening. Genuinely caring about another’s story is a true gift. If we never get anything else from learning the Enneagram, this capacity to listen would be so much more than enough. Learning type is overrated - caring enough to hear another’s words is a profound lesson that will enrich our lives.