The Enneagram is a powerful tool for self-observation and a way for me to observe how I think, feel and behave as well as my underlying motivations. Without observing myself I’m prone to act habitually from an unconscious script that plays all the stories that I have attached to what life has presented me. I get to rewrite the script of my life every time that I consciously inquire into what is arising in me. It is interesting how the act of observation has an effect on what is being observed. I don’t need to judge what I observe, I just need to notice.
As an ardent student of the spiritual content of the Enneagram, my life works in direct proportion to my application of the spiritual psychology contained therein. This application is in daily life where the rubber meets the road. It is called “having a practice”. And what is it that I’m practicing? The Holy Ideas of the Enneagram: Holy Perfection, Holy Will, Holy Law, Holy Origin, Holy Omniscience, Holy Faith, Holy Plan, Holy Truth and Holy Love. When I consciously choose to operate in daily life from the higher mental aspects of the Holy Ideas, I experience the higher emotional aspects of the Virtues: Serenity, Humility, Veracity, Equanimity, Non-Attachment, Courage, Constancy, Innocence and Right Action. The Holy Ideas and the Virtues experientially work in tandem to reinforce each other.
Type One: Holy Perfection/Serenity
I am guaranteed to suffer when I resist “what is” in the moment. When I don’t accept people and situations as they are I will suffer, leading to anger and resentment. If a situation is “supposed” to be different than it is, it would be. I cannot change anything unless I first “accept”. Acceptance and non-judgment are key to my serenity. My job is to surrender to “what is” in the moment and make conscious choices from there. Everything is “perfect” in the moment because “it is”. It doesn’t have anything to do with things (me included) being flawless. To use a seeming paradox, I’m perfectly imperfect.
Type Two: Holy Will/Humility
There can be a “willfulness” in attaching to that I know what others need or what they should do. This leads to arrogance and pride in regard to myself and my “helping”. Everyone is better served when I can say “I don’t know” sometimes. “I don’t know” is an honest stance. In recovery programs the third step prayer asks to “relieve me from the bondage of self so that I may better do thy will”. This refers to our enslavement to the egoic mind and release through surrender to a higher Will and our higher Self. There is an experience of Holy Freedom and an inner spaciousness that comes from realizing that I don’t have to compulsively help. The illusion that my personal effort is required to make good things happen is surrendered. The weight has been lifted from my shoulders. The experience of Humilty is in feeling that I am in proper perspective to the Universe. I don’t have to be constantly feeling “above” or “below”.
Type Three: Holy Law/Veracity
The Universe and its operation through me is underpinned by a variety of laws both physical and metaphysical. Holy Law posits that God/The All and Everything acts through me, as me. The Christ spoke directly to this when he stated that “The Father and I are One” (John 10:30), piercing the illusion of a separate “doing” and accomplishing. Upon contemplation, who’s “doing the doing”? Who am I really? From Indian philosophy, Karma Yoga deals with the effects of action in the world (the accrual of karma) and promotes the experience of “doing” with letting go of the attachment to results. “Letting go” aids in aligning my will with natural law through which all things are done. Law is always operating. Veracity (truthfulness, honesty, accuracy) enables me to look beyond the trappings of my “idealized self” and experience myself as a vehicle through which the All and Everything expresses. It feels good to get out of my own way!
Type Four: Holy Origin/Equanimity
“The nameless gave birth to the universe,
And the infinite variety of things that populate it.
All of creation yearns to return to their Source,
To bring completion and fulfillment.”
Tao Te Ching, Chapter One, “Origins” by Lao Tzu (translated and interpreted by David Burke)
The ancient Chinese philosophical text, The Tao Te Ching, reminds us of our cosmic origin in the formless and how it takes form in the variety of things in the universe, including us (spiritual beings having a human experience). There is a cycle of form into formlessness that completes and fulfils the yearning of creation for the connection to Source and the unity that underlies Reality. The existential pain of feeling abandoned and alone in the universe, separate from Source, is crushing. The yearning can be viewed as Source calling out to us through a “divine discontent” that seeks union and an end to separation (the domain of the ego). The poet Rilke alludes to the call of Source when he writes in Book of Hours, “Hasn’t my longing ripened in you from the beginning as fruit ripens on a branch?” In Reality, we are not separate from Source or anything for that matter. Dualism creates the illusion of separateness. We take refuge in the experience of being a wave on the ocean of Being. How can a wave be separate from the ocean? Equanimity enables us to ride the wave of things coming and going, rising and falling, being born and dying…this is knowledge of the way it is.
Type Five: Holy Omniscience/Non-Attachment
“Take no thought how or what ye shall speak;
for it shall be given you in the same hour what ye shall speak”
Holy Omniscience can be likened to knowing without knowing how you know…the cosmic “download”. There is a direct “knowing” of Essence and Reality beyond conceptual thought that is perceived with a penetrating clarity that does not require the exertion of the egoic mind to understand. We know the Intelligence behind our limited ego minds. A veil has been lifted. Through practicing Non-Attachment we feel transparent and nothing is “stuck” in our consciousness. The more we give away, the more we keep. There is a great “letting go” of the constrictive thinking and feeling that there is not enough of ourselves, energy, resources and experiences. Anything Real cannot be depleted. The Universe is abundant. It is when we are constricted that we experience lack and limitation. In the moment we have everything we need.
Type Six: Holy Faith/Courage
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”
“Doubt is the prose of the mind;
Faith is the poetry of the heart;
Aspiration is the song of the soul;
Realization is the dance of life.”
The “kingdom” is experienced in consciousness and is the “felt” experience of being supported by the Ground of Being that is existing right now. This is Faith that is beyond belief and is rooted in experience. Through the experience of Holy Faith we trust and have courage born of accepting our own inner authority to respond spontaneously to what arises in the moment not bound by beliefs, habit and doubt. We come to what Life presents with an inquiring attitude. Breathe…
Type Seven: Holy Plan/Constancy
When we are continually in a state of anticipation, planning, future orientation and the gluttony for experience we are not fully present to all that is occurring in each moment. In surrendering to the unfolding of Holy Plan we are able to be more constant in each moment, remembering that in each moment we are having the optimal experience for our souls to have. It is not a particular experience that creates satisfaction, but the quality of our awareness and presence that determines how fulfilling each moment is. Pain is as much of each moment as pleasure, and contentment is experienced when we do not reject any aspect of our experience. The ego’s desire to steer reality in a preferred direction is seen through. The ultimate pleasure is in the journey itself. The deepest level of the soul knows that we are part of the Holy Plan.
Type Eight: Holy Truth/Innocence
“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
In being obsessed with controlling things to happen “my way”, we suffer in thinking that we must maintain ourselves as separate from what is actually occurring out of fear that what is happening will control us. When we realize that we are not separate, we no longer feel controlled by all the nuances of life. The Holy Truth is simply that “All is One.” There is only one Reality, one existence that is here happening right now. All of the different levels of existence, all of the endless manifestations, light and darkness, surface and depth, being and non-being, form and formlessness are all part of one unfathomable reality that collectively is the Truth. Everything is an aspect of the one, indivisible Reality. All dualities are seen as fundamentally illusory. Everything exists in God — this is non-dual perception of Reality. In this knowledge is liberation and the peace that surpasses understanding. We come to experience Reality with the Innocence of “new eyes”.
Type Nine: Holy Love/ Right Action
“You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.
I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.”
“Interrelationship” by Thich Nhat Hanh
Through self-forgetting and distractibility we don’t remember that we are integral to the workings of the Universe. Without each of us as co-creators, the Universe wouldn’t exist in the same way. Holy Love is a state of Being wherein we know ourselves as Love and are worthy of being seen. Through the dynamism of Holy Love we loosen self-forgetting and take Right Action, moving forward for self. Everything is made from Divine Love. We are made in the image and likeness of the Divine. The Divine loves us as It loves Itself. Love is a living, dynamic force dissolving all barriers and boundaries, working to restore to our awareness its unity with Truth.
Ron Esposito,M.A. is a certified Life Coach at the Conscious Living Center and an Enneagram Teacher in the School of Conscious Living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He will be presenting on the Holy Ideas at the IEA Global Conference in late July in San Francisco.