Enneagram Nines and Holy Love

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In a previous article I briefly explained some of Sandra Maitri's ideas from her book The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram


cover of the book The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram, by Sandra MaitriA quick recap: we come into life at one with a particular aspect of Being (there are nine, known as the Holy Ideas). We soon separate from that state. The ego swoops in, filling that wound and initiating a lifelong attempt to recapture that divine union by simulating it. 


Here's how that plays out with Enneagram Nines, known variously as the Peacemaker, the Mediator, Nobody Special.  


Nines are initially attuned to Holy Love: the deep inner knowing that all of reality is inherently benevolent, loving, and wonderful. This isn't a denial of death, suffering, disease or destruction, but an understanding that, as Maitri puts it, "the fundamental nature of all creation is beneficial and propitious." 


Then the separation hits. Suddenly not everything is an expression of love and goodness, but some things are. Some people are. And some aren't. For instance, me. Other people are worthy of love and regard, and of participating in all of the good things in life, but I'm not. So a baseline belief about oneself develops: the feeling of being unlovable, unworthy and unimportant. 


Nines are characteristically pleasant people. Easy-going. They can find common ground with pretty much anyone, and get along with anyone. They don't assert their needs. If the group wants to go somewhere, they're happy to go along. If they're left alone, that's totally fine. Keep the peace. With others, and with myself. 


Nines famously love comfort. Physical, emotional and mental. Even spiritual. It's easier to go along with what's already established than to rebel or charge into unknown territory. Routines are good. So are diversions. Music. Trivia. Hobbies. Gadgets. Games. Naps. Dreams. Nature. Art. Philosophical speculation. 


All of this is a way of avoiding the truly important questions. And why shouldn't I avoid them? Who am I, anyway? Nobody special. Why pay attention to my inner life? Why do the personal and spiritual work that would benefit me and bring me into closer contact with the ineffable? 


This sense is so profound, and exists at such a base level, to even question it would be like questioning the solidity of the ground or the wetness of water. 


So Nines avoid. They might settle into the couch and watch great big heaping loads of TV, or they might be workaholics, but the genuinely vital questions about life and about themselves are left unexplored. And in the meantime, they're pleasant, loving, accepting people, their personality simulating the warmth and universal peacefulness of Holy Love. 


But if a Nine learns to become present, she'll turn her focus from the needs of the outside world to what's truly important - the workings of her soul. She'll become aware of the pain inherent in her broken contact with her essential nature. If she can stay with this exploration rather than narcotize herself from it, that sense of deficient emptiness will change. 


As Maitri says: 


Eventually, the shell of her personality will become more and more transparent to Being, and as this happens, she will find herself experiencing, embodying, and manifesting the quality of Being she has tried to emulateā€¦ Her inner experience will gradually change from feeling deficient, unloved, unimportant, and overlooked to feeling sustained, taken care of, and inseparable from a beneficent universe filled with love and blessings.

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  • Comment Link Drew Wednesday, 04 July 2012 17:27 posted by Drew

    What a wonderful story! I see myself in this article right up until the gender change at the end(but then that is the nature of academic writing isn't it? One must be willing to go from being a 'he' for a great deal of written work, to a 'she' in an evolving feminist consciousness, and back and forth as subject matter and authors' whims dictate). Substitute appropriate gender here as desired.

    This Sandra Maitri has some cool observations and holds out some fascinating possibilities. Thank you, TJ.

    I believe there is further to go in this exploration. Depending on outside influences, the nature of the simulation and the degree to which it precludes the deepest self-exploration, even in an environment of self-exploration is one aspect. Then, there's the physical body one may inhabit and how that can colour the reactions this inherent nine may receive, shunting him into roles that prevent finding common ground and instead force an attempt to generate a higher ground and make it common in an unwillingness to settle for an unappealing lowest common denominator.

    Over time, the deeper nine self may emerge as a result of ongoing losses of everything else that has "value" in the system of agreement. Faced with self-enforced solitude, the exploration goes on, as work dries up, the tv becomes unsatisfying, and being pleasant, loving and accepting becomes hateful and unacceptable. This path to deeper knowledge and a return to a sense of union with all...this is no steady state, no final ground. Finding sustenance, care, love and blessings, like any nameable aspect of life, becomes fodder for the mind to repeat and compare and contrast, requiring faith and commitment to overcome daily evidence to the contrary.
    In this place, the shell of personality may be seen through the reflection of others, and the difference between simulation and actuality may become definable.
    Otherwise, the generation of a pleasant house of cards built of new terminology without a foundation in experience becomes yet another simulation. However, the promise of a beneficent universe is so appealing, that if it is discovered to be possible, a new world as it were, then experience, manifestation and embodying may emerge in balance with the universe which may have been less than beneficent heretofore.

    Inner experience versus(or in concert with) external reality being what it is. Things eroding and exploding in different time frames. Celebrating all this from our water-cooled engines of perception.

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Thursday, 05 July 2012 17:34 posted by TJ Dawe

    Drew, you bring up some very important parts of the picture (and I hope it goes without saying that Sandra Maitri's exploration of the topic is quite a bit more extensive than my summary of it in this article)(I really can't recommend her book highly enough).

    There are many factors that impact a person's level of health, that is, how entrenched they are in their ego's desires. The level of health of one's community is definitely a part of it - Wilber refers to this as the Centre of Gravity. It acts as a magnet. If you're below it, it tries to pull you up. But if you go above it, it tries to drag you back down.

    Physical health has an impact, for sure. Bad health leads to greater stress, and greater stress makes it a lot harder to be present. And our culture sends up the message daily: eat greasy, fatty, salty, sugary food. Narcotize yourself. And this just makes any problem of any kind worse.

    Something Richard Rohr says in his book on the Enneagram (one of my favourite books - up there with Sandra Maitri's, actually: The Enneagram, a Christian Perspective) is that people most often get into the Enneagram at or after 40. Up till then, the personality seems to meet our needs. It works. Up to a certain point. And then it starts to wear thin. And a person thinks "there must be something more." And that's when they might look into the fact that they're dancing to their ego's puppet strings. And explore what they can do about it.

    But many many many people don't. They might reach a point of frustration, but just entrench themselves further. Or maybe they never reach that point of frustration. Why not? I'm interested in finding out more about that. Not quite sure where to look, though.

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