The nine dimensions of the spiritual reality of Being and their relationship to the enneagram types.
This paper is to present the enneagram as a map of the spiritual reality of Being. This map takes us beyond the enneagram of personality types and into the realm of realisation of our spiritual potential. In order to make this shift we need to become aware of the reality of Being and how it arises in consciousness. The Enneagram of Being gives us a wonderful way of differentiating the aspects of spiritual reality making us more aware, more articulate and more able to relate to our spiritual world. The Enneagram of Being is a rare and beautiful thing because it gives us a complete and balanced overview of the properties of our spiritual reality.
The vision put forward here is not only that we can recognise the aspects of Being on the enneagram and see their connection to type but also that we can integrate ALL of these aspects. The Enneagram of Being is used as a vision of wholeness and as such it invites healing and integration. Each point on the Enneagram of Being reflects an aspect of our essential nature, therefore each point is a potential that can be experientially realised. Using all nine points in this way opens up a powerful new possibility for people interested in the enneagram. Each point represents qualities that are inherent to our essential nature but that have become distorted or limited, primarily through our identification with the ego-self, which will separate us from Being. When we work with the enneagram of personality types we are primarily concerned with our own type, from the wider perspective of the realisation of Being however, all nine points on the enneagram become personally and intensely relevant to us.
This new approach also gives us a different way of looking at the personality types. The approach taken here makes clear that the types, at their core, are each a reflection of an aspect of Being. This means that each type is expressing something deeply positive and good about reality. It has been my personal experience that people feel empowered, touched and very much seen when the relationship to a particular aspect of Being is fully acknowledged.
It has also been my experience that a good working knowledge of the types will inform our understanding of the various aspects of Being. We could say that each of the personality types teaches us about a dimension of spiritual reality. This means that our everyday experience of the types can act as a bridge to the subtle and esoteric dimensions of mystical experience.
A note on the terminology
I have chosen the term ‘Being’ for its relative neutrality. It would also be fitting to use words such as ‘God’, or ‘Buddha-nature.’ My understanding is that when used by mystics of all traditions these terms refer to the same experience of spiritual reality.
‘Being’ as a term also has some limitations and difficulties. One limitation is that it can seem impersonal and as such it does not do justice to the loving, compassionate and relational flavours of realisation. Another problem is that ‘being’ seems to be connected to ‘existing’ and what is referred to here is actually beyond the polarity of existence and non-existence as we normally think of it. Concerning words and the mystical experience it is perhaps best to quote the Christian saint, Dionysius “And always when the ascent is complete there will be nothing one can say of it, for it is wholly united to that which is beyond all speech.”
The Spiritual Path
The realisation of the spiritual reality of Being is notoriously difficult to talk about and describe, the enneagram can help us to articulate and understand this subtle dimension of experience. Awakening to Being we enter the realm of non-duality, an experience that is beyond time and space, even beyond existence and non-existence. Being is not created therefore it cannot be destroyed. It is often felt as divine since the experience of Being is beyond our conventional concepts and mind which also makes it difficult to apprehend and to acknowledge. Despite these difficulties it is clear that the experiential realisation of Being is a definite human potential, some might say the highest human potential. According the accounts of the masters and mystics who have an ongoing realisation of Being this experience is true liberation and it brings the ultimate fulfilment to the human soul. The mystical traditions also assert that as long as we are not experiencing our spiritual reality we are in a state of separation which causes deep suffering.
The Enneagram of Being helps us to recognise the characteristics and properties of Being, how these characteristics and properties are reflected in the personality types and how they affect each of us as we progress on the spiritual path. This new way of applying the enneagram invites to embark on a beautiful journey, a journey that literally takes us beyond what we can imagine, a journey of profound integration and radical transformation.
Like all adventures this journey in to the depths of our Being has it’s ups and downs, there are obstacles to be overcome, fears to be faced, periods of hardship and difficulty. At the same time something deep inside knows that this journey is the most worthwhile enterprise we can undertake. It leads us to an intensely personal and valuable discovery of our own unique nature. This journey is a process of clarification about who and what we are, a disentanglement from the confusion of egoic distortions and limitations. For those of us who have worked with our enneagram type the journey has already begun. As we become conscious of the patterns and fixation of enneagram type these patterns lose their grip on us. Awareness itself loosens our identification with old habits and patterns. It is natural to let go of restricting patterns once they are seen. We begin to discover that we are not who we thought we were, we are waking up to a larger reality.
The process of becoming conscious of the ego-self as a whole will make this ego-self more transparent and flexible so that consciousness can expand and Being can shine through. This process takes us way beyond working with enneagram type to the revelation that we are ultimately not our beliefs or our emotions. In the deepest sense we are not even our physical bodies and we are certainly not separated from the spiritual reality of Being in the way we normally believe ourselves to be. As a separate self we are bound to feel on some level selfish, insecure, needy and defensive. The illusion of egoic separation from Being feeds mental agitation, emotional distress and physical tension in such a way that we cannot relax into the moment and spontaneously experience the Being which is always present. Realising the deep truth that we are Being means freedom from ignorance, from false attachments and from fears. It is freedom from the belief that we are separate selves, defined by our personal history. It is freedom from the belief that what we need is always outside us. The truth to be discovered is that we are a unique personal expression of Being itself, this means integrating and embodying all of the properties of Being that are represented in the enneagram. This is therefore a journey to wholeness, to a natural state where nothing is missing. Also this is a journey of radical transformation, this is not about fixing the ego-self but about shifting to a different point of reference. We move from being identified with being a separate self to realising that we are part of the reality of Being, which is the essence of everybody and everything.
Michael Welsby is one of the first enneagram teachers to start operating in the Netherlands. He has been working with individuals, companies and government organisations for almost twenty years. Recently he has begun to re-orientate his work toward people who are interested in using the enneagram for spiritual development and consciousness work.
You can contact Michael at [email protected]