Thursday, April 3, 2008

Losing the “I” of Personality - Enneagram as Path to Essence

The previous blog entry explored losing the “I” as a path to illuninating Essence. for Enneagram Types One Through Four. We now will examine the particular identities or “I”’s that must be relinquished for Types Five Through Nine.

The Five - “I” am a Wise Person
The Five’s thirst for knowledge drives him. Avarice or greed for knowing compels the Five to grasp for information as for a life preserver, protecting him from the reckless seas of human emotion and desire. The Five practices detachment as a protective defense, to shield him from others demands or overwhelming stimuli. This detachment is a mimic for the lost Essential quality of non-attachment, where to be connected or disconnected are equal. Detached Fives are very attached to privacy, minimization of needs, personal space, conservation of time and energy.
Reconnecting with Essence, the Five finds unlimited energy and potential. Through this Essential experience the Five awakens to omniscience, where he realizes that he has always known all that there is to know. Divine Omniscience fills him with pure safety and peace with no need to learn or grasp. His quest for knowledge ends when he discovers that the wisdom he seeks has always been an essential part of him.

The Six - “I” am a Loyal Person
Fear and doubt drive the Six to search for a person or cause in which she can place her trust. When the Six envisions the worst case (abandonment, death, etc.) and decides that it is worth risking, she will commit with a fierce, incontestable loyalty. Though doubt and fear still exist, the Six is able to mobilize herself through certainty and bravado. Yet certainty and bravado are distortions of the Six’s lost Essential qualities of Faith and Courage. Certainty masks doubt and bravado is a mustering up to “overcome” fear.
However, when the Six accesses true Faith, there is an innate ability to live comfortably with uncertainty, knowing deeply that everything turns out for the best. Everything will be all right, no matter what the outcome. Certainty is rigid and brittle, while Faith is open and peaceful. In Faith, the Six is comfortable with not-knowing. The Six can use bravado as a way to jump in to danger with both feet, to put everything on the line. When engaged in action, fear falls away. Yet, bravado can put the Six in real danger or foolhardy situations. Real Courage comes into play when the action simply must be engaged in. Fear may still exist, yet right action deems the exercise of activity fueled by Courage, where clear understanding of risks exists, and action is still appropriate. Risks and fear are simply part of the equation, and unlike bravado, Courage is quiet and purposeful. Bravado is exhilarating and exciting, placing it all on the line, letting action overwhelm fear, proving yourself bigger than the fear. When informed by Faith and Essential Courage, you KNOW that you are not fear, and have nothing to prove to yourself or anyone else. You are simply acting as you must.

The Seven - “I” am a Happy Person
The Seven’s giddy exuberance and “happiness” serve as a mimic for the lost Essential quality of Joy. Real joy is a calm, quiet experience, a fullness and gratitude for whatever life offers. The Seven senses that Joy was lost and frantically works to recapture it through sampling all that life has to offer, while avoiding what feels like Joy’s polar opposite of pain. Sadness and difficulty are circumvented whenever possible, and reframed into positives when they cannot be sidestepped.
If the Seven is lucky, she will eventually confront the darker side of life. She will come up against a pain too immense to reframe or avoid, or find ennui in chasing yet another rainbow of sensation, asking herself “Is this all there is?” Then the whole of life can begin to be accepted, and true Joy can be seen as a combination of the dark and the light of human experience. An acceptance of “what is” can allow the Seven to float in the peacefulness and completeness of essential Joy. No longer needing multiple options or escape routes, the Seven finds herself able to focus singlepointedly on Work, on dedication to completion as well as process. In this, she may find herself committing to Work that is a vocation or calling, infused with essential Joy.

The Eight - “I” am a Strong Person
To the strong, decisive, full-steam-ahead Eight, it seems to him that he knows the truth. Truth is important, and it will come out in a fight or confrontation. You’ll find out what people are really made of. The difficulty is that the black-and-white thinking Eight believes that his truth is everyone’s truth, and that everyone should see it his way. This absolute belief that he knows the truth of matters dissolves when he finds Essential Truth. Essential Truth is expansive and has room for holding all truths, including paradox. The Eight finds out that he doesn’t have the “only” truth or the “real” truth. In fact, his truth is only part of the larger Truth that holds all individual versions of truth. The Eight finds himself awed by a vast and Essential Truth, that contains and transcends all the small truths we hold so dear. He feels a direct connection to Truth and it becomes a pathway to Essence.
Eight’s insistence on having his way is a mimic of another lost quality of Essence - that of Innocence. An innocent child does not impose his way on others, yet is pure and clear in his desires. When a child pursues his wants and needs, there is no thought of win or lose. He knows what he wants and moves toward it with clarity, curiosity, and wonder. Getting what he desires does not mean someone else loses nor that he must control the situation. When in touch with Essence, the Eight can regain this lost Innocence. Rather than controlling or needing to push his agenda, he encounters the world with the appealing freshness and innocence of a youngster.

The Nine - “I” am a Peaceful Person
The Nine’s boundariless nature leads to indiscriminate merging - a type of unenlightened “Oneness” with everything. As the Nine evolves and develops a boundaried, separate self, she finds that she may choose when and when not to merge. As she connects with her individual Essence, she regains the lost quality of Essence: Love.
As the Nine regains a boundaried Love, she learns to listen to her own heart’s priorities as well as those of others. When Love includes the Nine in it’s embrace, she is able to act on her own behalf as easily as for others. She is able to differentiate and perform Right Action, rather than drown her own priorities to keep peace at any costs. Even conflict may be appropriate and lead to Right Action. True peace is found through reclaiming and remembering the qualities of Essence.

(Adapted from “The Everyday Enneagram” by Lynette Sheppard. Visit our main website at

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