So we see that the enneagram gives us a clear map of the different dimensions of spiritual reality. A beautiful thing about using the enneagram to describe Being in this way is that it offers a complete and balanced vision of our essential nature. Nothing seems to be missing and no one aspect is seen as more important than another. This is helpful as we explore the world of our spiritual reality so that we do not over-emphasise certain experiences and neglect or ignore others. One of the big dangers on the spiritual path is to be attracted and become attached to a particular state of realisation. This is more likely to happen if we do not clearly see that Being has different ways of manifesting.
The realisation of the specific properties of being leads to specific effects in the consciousness. Again we can use the enneagram to give an overview of how each property of Being affects us. These are positive effects which support us as we progress along the spiritual path.
1. COMPLETION leads to natural morality and responsibility as we see that Being is what gives meaning to life.
2. ABUNDANCE leads to generosity, affection and friendliness.
3. VALUE gives self-esteem and awareness of our potential.
4. MYSTERIOUS DEPTH leads to an aesthetic appreciation of the beauty of reality.
5. CLARITY gives us autonomy as we remain objective about emotions and instincts.
6. SUPPORT leads to certainty.
7. FREEDOM leads to lightness, curiosity and joy.
8. INDESTRUCTIBILITY gives us courage and expansiveness.
9. ONENESS is an intimacy with reality that is deeply relaxing.
Each property of Being touches us in a certain way that is positive and profound. These qualities have always been consciously cultivated by the spiritual traditions in order to support development. It is also good to be aware that the properties of Being are already in us, they are our essential nature, so we do not have to create these qualities, all we need to do is to acknowledge their reality and then to see how they are distorted and limited by the ego-self. The more we acknowledge and recognise the properties of Being the more trust can develop that Being is basically good. This trust in our fundamental nature sustains us through the challenges and difficulties of the spiritual path and life in general.
The Enneagram of Being and the Personality Types.
For those already familiar with the enneagram of personality types the most important difference when working with the Enneagram of Being is that we become intimately involved with all nine points on the enneagram. Each of the points on the enneagram represent an aspect of our essential nature. All of the qualities represented on this enneagram are within us, they are the characteristics of our true nature. A completely integrated realisation of Being therefore implies an integration of the whole of the enneagram.
It is important to realise that the integration of the aspects of Being is actually a natural process. The qualities seen on the Enneagram of Being do not have to be manufactured, they are inherent to our nature, this means that these qualities spontaneously manifest as we come to spiritual maturity and disidentify from the structuring and conditioning of the ego-self. The qualities of points other than our own type might seem alien to us on the level of personality but they become available to us all on the level of Being.
Let us now look more specifically at the personality types in relation to each of the aspects of Being. The approach taken here is that the nine enneagram types express on the level of personality a particular dimension of Being. This means that the personality types each reflect a set of positive qualities that are inherent to the spiritual reality. Taking this approach we can understand the patterns of personality in a different way. We see that the patterns of personality are not fundamentally the result of conditioning and environment (although these certainly play an important role in how we are formed) but are more deeply grounded in aspects of Being itself. To acknowledge each type as representing a divine quality will reconnect us to the spiritual roots of the enneagram tradition.
We can go around the enneagram again, looking at each of the properties of Being and how they are reflected in the personality types. At the same time we will see how the realisation of the nine dimensions of Being (significance, abundance, value etc.,) affect and energise our consciousness. Each point has a particular characteristic flavour which is expressed in the personality type and which arises in all of us as we become more transparent to Being.
To experience Being is to know what is most important for us. Being is what completes life. Without Being the world is empty of presence and depth. So to be in contact with this dimension of the completeness of Being mobilises the qualities that we see in the type one personality. These qualities include responsibility and integrity, seeing what our priorities are and what it is we need to focus on. There is a visionary sense of where we are going and that there is something constructive that we can aim for. This is a higher goal, an ideal that even rises above considerations such as comfort and safety and for which we are prepared to do our best and to dedicate ourselves. A natural sense of morality arises out of this, there is clarity about what is the right thing to do. All of these qualities are reflected in the type one personality and can arise in all of us as we realise the significance of Being.
Being is abundant, there is no limit to the outpouring of goodness, there is always more and reality is endlessly giving. There is no need to search outside ourselves, the essential nature of Being is what we are and what we are contains everything we need. The type two personality expresses the abundance of Being in her generosity and willingness to help others. This personality is aware that the fulfilment of the human heart comes through giving to each other. Connectedness and personal appreciation are valued, as well as doing things in a spirit of friendliness. Our type two friends can give us a feeling of being loved for who we are, not what we do; this is very personal. This form of personal love and empathy as seen in type two comes up in us all in relation to Being, the feeling of being personally cared for by the universe. To apprehend our Being is to experience personal love for ourselves, for own essence.
Being is precious beyond all material wealth, beyond all attainments, it has ultimate value. In the realisation of Being we realise that Being is our own nature and that we are therefore inherently precious. This sense of precious personal value is seen in the type three personality. The type three person is aware of their own worth and qualities and is concerned with allowing these qualities to manifest in the world. There is an awareness of how to make things happen so that our potential can be fully realised and can have an impact in reality. There is an optimistic engagement with life that is based on the knowledge of our own worth. Each of us will encounter this experience of personal worth and value as we come into our Being. The individual spark of consciousness is like a precious jewel moving towards it’s personal destiny. Seeing the inherent worth in our Being it is natural to express and manifest our personal potential.
4. MYSTERIOUS DEPTH
The dimension of mysterious depth means that Being has no end to how it can be revealed to us, it is endlessly deep, at the same time it is mysterious. The mystery is that we can have no way of knowing how Being will unfold. The type four personality is acutely aware of individuality and of being unique; uniqueness is reflected in the mystery of Being in that we each of us have a path of realisation that is personal to us. The type four personality also reflects depth, there is a willingness to encounter emotional depth, to engage in conscious suffering, and this brings up deep compassion. For each of us to realise Being there is a need to engage in the mysterious personal unfoldment, even though this will take us beyond defences into touching into our most painful places. Facing our pain allows compassion to arise and makes clear that our engagement with suffering may be difficult but it also has a poignant beauty that opens up the heart.
Clarity in the spiritual sense means being able to disidentify from the content of our experience and to see that this is not who we really are. This kind of objective clarity is reflected in the many of the meditative practices of spiritual traditions. The quality of objective clarity is embodied in the type five personality and is expressed also in the scientific world. This quality has the penetrative clarity that can reveal the secrets of nature and understand all aspects of reality. This clarity is also seen in mysticism and spirituality, Buddhism for example is often described as the science of the mind, a way of understanding the ultimate nature of reality. Type five people are able to disengage from their emotional and instinctive reactions in order to gain this clarity of perspective. Clear objectivity is also a characteristic of the realisation of Being, we are able to directly see and know the nature of reality. Objective clarity can have a neutral, clean and spacious feeling to it. The objective experience also brings autonomy with it, we are autonomous from the content of our heart and mind, without becoming detached. The veils and distortions of conditioning, emotional patterns and false beliefs are seen through.
Being is the true support because it is the most fundamental thing, it is the basis of everything and it is never not there. Because of Being we have reason to trust, to know that things will work out. The type six personality is keenly aware of how much we need support as human beings. From the type six perspective we are aware of human vulnerability, that we are relatively small and vulnerable creatures with a short life. This brings with it an awareness of interdependence and community, that we can help and support each other, especially in times of trouble. The type six personality also expresses alertness and aliveness and this can be experienced by all of us as we wake up to our situation. We wake up to the fact that we have a precious opportunity in this short life. The contemplation of our mortality and vulnerability has always been used in the spiritual traditions to bring a sense of urgency and to mobilise energy for realisation. From the security of knowing ourselves as Being we are called to support others come to terms with the difficulties of the human condition.
To realise ourselves as Being is to realise our freedom. This is true liberation, to move beyond any limitations, to realise that our true nature cannot be defined or even captured in concepts. Being also cannot be defined by the past because it is only in the present moment and each present moment is new. There is a boundless creative flow. The type seven personality is an embodiment of the dimension of freedom, type seven embodies creativity and novelty, always coming up with new ideas. This is the energy of the now, the energy of eternal youth. The qualities of lightness, freshness and playfulness come along with freedom, there is no need to hold on to anything because we know that something new will come up to replace it. In the realisation of Being we experience the enormous openness of freedom. We do not know what is going to happen from one moment to the next, we can allow all experiences to arise, we are open to all possibilities. Realising the freedom of Being means that we are free of outcomes, there is nothing we need to hold on to, nothing we need to avoid so there is a tremendous lightness.
Although Being is spiritual it is real beyond anything we encounter in the material world. Being has an absolute reality; without the ground of Being nothing else could exist. The spiritual reality of Being is eternal and we can experience this dimension as indestructibility. Type eight is the embodiment of indestructibility in the enneagram. Type eight is the type that is robust and strong. The type that is courageous and expansive, boldly willing to take risks and that simply grows stronger in adversity. The type eight person is willing to meet the challenges of life and is glad to taste everything that life has to offer. Coming into this aspect of Being we experience the power of reality, that it confronts us and challenges us and that this confrontation is drawing forth our capacities and our goodness. Realising Being as our nature there is confidence in our reality, the essential nature of our Being is something solid that gives us the courage to face our fears and difficulties. We want to engage with life, to expand beyond limitations and to live life to the full.
The oneness of Being means there are no separating boundaries, all is one; this is non-duality. To realise the dimension of Oneness means the end of searching, we are already there, there is no need to do anything or to go anywhere. The type nine personality is an expression of the peace and harmony of being at one with the universe. From this perspective there is tolerance and understanding of all differences. The apparent conflicts of polarities and opposites are resolved. The type nine person understands that there is no need to get caught in reactivity, she embodies the quality of equanimity that is so prized in many spiritual traditions. The only way to experience the oneness of Being is to work through the structuring of ego. Ego gives us the sense of being a separate self that needs to defend and maintain itself, especially in the face of Being. From the ego perspective we are terrified of Being because it seems to engulf us. In the reality of realisation we are embraced in loving kindness that allows our ego boundaries to relax.
Here we see that in essence each of the types reflects an aspect of Being. Each aspect is part of the whole, none is more important than the other. When we understand our type as an expression of part of the reality of Being we see that type is essentially positive. There are of course distortions and limitations when these properties of Being are appropriated by the ego, and much has been written about this in the literature on the enneagram types. At the same time it is empowering to see the fundamental goodness and truth at the heart of each type.
As well as giving us insight into the spiritual origin of each type we are also invited to explore the enneagram as a model of our personal and spiritual potential. The way to liberate these qualities of our Being is to recognise that the identification with the ego-self is the primary obstacle to the spontaneous realisation of our true nature. For most of us this is a process that involves uncovering layers of identification, structuring and conditioning that are impressively extensive and often well defended. This path therefore requires deep sincerity, courage, dedication and, above all, compassion.
As we work toward the realisation of Being with the enneagram we develop into more mature and balanced individuals, embodying and expressing all of the points in the enneagram – significance, abundance, value, mystery, objectivity, confidence, freedom, courage and the equanimity of oneness– in a sense the realisation of these qualities gives us everything we want and need. These qualities do not come from outside, they are within us waiting to be liberated.
I wish to acknowledge and thank my teachers. First Helen Palmer for her in-depth, intimate and compassionate introduction to the enneagram types. I am also particularly indebted to A.H.Almaas for the Diamond Approach method which has introduced me to Being and provided a long-term structure and community for exploring spiritual reality. My wish is that the work represented in the Enneagram of Being will reflect the integrity and depth of both of these influences.
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]