The Enneagram is in you — you’re not in your Enneagram.
Without a doubt, the Enneagram is one of the most accurate and helpful personality systems available today. We love the Enneagram and even teach Enneagram Coaching!
Because not only does it accurately help us to understand our personalities, but it also provides a clear map for our personal growth — showing us our blind spots and helping us to accept the natural blueprint of our personality design.
To learn more about the 9 Enneagram types have a look at my free video course here.
Once you understand the Enneagram and discover your type, it can be tempting to identify completely with being an Enneagram type.
If you are someone that is interested in Enlightenment, then you need to challenge your thinking to go beyond the Enneagram type.
This does not mean that there is a personality above the Enneagram type, it means that beyond the Enneagram and beyond the personality in its entirety is the true self.
The simplest way to explain this, is to say that you are not in your Enneagram type, but rather that the Enneagram type is within you.
In the study of the self, which is a path to enlightenment, there is a helpful practice called subject object discrimination — learning to discern the difference between the self as the subject and the objects that arise in the self.
Another way to explain this would be to say that the self is pure awareness, and that the contents of awareness are the objects of awareness.
If we believe that our Enneagram type is who we ultimately are, this creates a subtle bondage to a limited self.
The Enneagram can ironically be very helpful when learning to discern subject from object. Because it is so accurate, it becomes glaringly obvious, that “I am not my personality”.
I once imagined a box called Type 9 on the Enneagram (since my Enneagram type is 9), and I imagine placing in this box everything about my personality and character that could well be an expression of being a Type 9.
I thought about everything that felt like being me. And weighed up whether this characteristic belonged to my Enneagram point or not. If it fitted with my Enneagram points I imagined putting it in the box.
Now keep in mind that the Enneagram is complex and has many subtle levels of understanding.
The Enneagram is not about behaviour it is about underlying causes and unconscious reasons for behaviour.
Also, each type can express at low, medium or high levels of expression — which are like levels of health. As the mind becomes more enlightened, the Enneagram type action naturally moves to its highest expression.
But I’m going on tangent, let’s get back to my point!
Once I had sifted through all of the aspects of my character, placing each one that was an expression of my Enneagram type in my imaginary box I was astonished because I was left with nothing.
Everything that I thought of as “me” turned out to be a pattern, an archetype, an expression of my Enneagram blueprint.
This could be quite a shocking and unsettling discovery, had it not been for the fact that I already knew myself as the subject, as pure awareness. So in fact though it was surprising, it was validating and helped to strengthen the enlightened perspective that was already taking hold in my mind.
Do remember that the Enneagram, just like your thoughts, feelings and body sensations, are all objects in awareness. The simple test for whether something is you, as pure open awareness, or is the contents of awareness, is to check with the question, “Is this something I can be aware of?”
If you can be aware of something, then it is not ultimately the subject of experience, it is the contents of experience, it is an object.
Can I become aware of my Enneagram personality traits?
Yes I can!
Therefore, even though the Enneagram is incredibly accurate, feels intimately close and personal, and is incredibly helpful knowledge, it is still not ultimately the true self.
We could say that it is how the true self expresses in life. But the true self is not limited, where as the Enneagram personality types are limited.
Here are some intuitive dialogues with my apple tree self about how the Enneagram can support the path to enlightenment.
How can I remind myself that my fears and desires belonged to my personality and not to my true self?”
The movements of the personality can cause pain or pleasure. Just like an apple tree grows towards the light, and it grows away from any source of pain, personalities are trying to avoid what hurts them and seek what specifically nourishes them.
To see this is very natural process can be helpful. But it is important for you not to identify with these movements of the personality. It is in fact the identification with personality, that can keep the personality as a prison for the mind and heart and gut.
If you were trapped in a prison but didn’t know you were in the prison and had never seen the outside of the prison, you might decorate the walls. If somebody said to you, “are you in a prison?”
You would argue that you are not in a prison.
The personality can be like a prison.
You might resist learning about our personalities for fear that you will be put into a box.
But most minds are already in the personality prison, they simply do not know. And when you do not know that you are in the personality prison, there is no escape.
This is why, understanding your Enneagram personality type is so important and helpful on the path to finding the true self.
The true self is not in the prison, the prison is in the true self.
By studying your Enneagram personality, you have to get distance from it and look at it objectively. By looking at it objectively you have already left the prison. To see something, you have to be separate to it.
You have to be the witness of it.
By studying your Enneagram you take the position potentially of the witness.
This is the opportunity that learning the Enneagram offers. But, many people don’t take this opportunity.
They observe and witness the personality, standing outside of the prison for a moment, and then identify completely with the Enneagram, and put themselves back into prison.
So remind yourself that your fears and desires belong to your personality so that you can ultimately be free of your fears and desires.
This is not to say that you must try to push against, deny, or force your fears and desires to change. In fact only the personality ever pushes or pulls towards or against anything.
This is the snake eating its tail and giving birth to itself at the same time.
The personality fight against itself, tries to devour itself, but in so doing strengthens and gives birth to itself.
Knowledge in the form of compassionate understanding is most helpful here.
When we experience a strong fear or a strong desire, instead of fighting it, trying to fix it or denying it, compassionately be with it. Understand that it is a part of the personalities program.
Without enlightenment and self-knowledge the personality really has no choice.
The personality program cannot operate at its highest when self-ignorance is dominant. When you know the true self, this can automatically support the growth of the personality to its highest expression.
Like giving water nourishment and sunlight to an apple tree — self-knowledge takes the blueprint, the natural design of your Enneagram point to its highest natural expression.
At first it can be helpful to discern, “I am not my personality.”
This is needed to establish yourself as the subject of experience, as pure open and unchanging awareness. Once you are clear on this level of understanding please remember that you have not completed the circle.
You are not separate to the prison of the personality. You are not separate from your body your mind your heart or your gut. You’re not separate from your personality.
Then it becomes necessary to embody truth that you have discovered. To reclaim the personality.
Think of an oasis in the desert. When thirsty animals come to drink, and are nourished and healed by the clear water. When you know your self as the true self, as pure open awareness, let the mind and heart and gut come to you for healing.
Let the personality prison be healed by the open whole space, that is the true self.
Everything seeks enlightenment, even the personality.
You might need to be gentle with yourself, because knowing what you truly are is contradicted to a personality that is limited and flawed. Two personalities that experiences fear, shame and anger. The true self is not opposed to the Enneagram personality limitations.
If you consciously and mindfully work to bring the gifts of your true self to your personality, you will see great healing.
An alchemy of the personality from prison to purposeful life expression.
I created a free “Discover the 9 Enneagram types in 90 minutes”video course for you to enjoy.