The Nine Types & Their Essential Qualities
The Riso-Hudson understanding of the Essential Qualities is always evolving. This article presents some different Essential Qualities for each type than those we are teaching now. For our most current understanding of the Essential Qualities for each type, see Katy Taylor’s article, Ego and Essence: An Exploration of the Types as a Continuum.
Contacting our Essence is always a matter of recognizing our identifications, fears, and resistances, and bringing our attention to our experience in the here and now. As we do so, we become increasingly aware of a vast number of Essential qualities that arise perfectly to support whatever issues we are facing. Indeed, the more we move up the Levels of Development and are less encumbered by our ego identities, the more we have access to all of the Essential qualities.
Our Essential nature, however, is vast and subtle, and manifests in a multitude of ways and at a variety of levels. Here we are most concerned with the qualities of Essence that are "closer" to the surface—that is, more generally accessible to our daily awareness. These aspects arise to support our inner Work any time we remember ourselves and come back to some contact with Presence. The Enneagram delineates some of the most important of these qualities, and by describing them, we may be able to see how they constantly support our transformation. Each of the nine points can be thought of as contributing an important ingredient for our development. We may also begin to see how the personality attempts to fill in the gaps in our development by imitating them. Over time, we can develop an increased sensitivity to these states, which gradually enables us to identify with our True Nature instead of our personality.
Of course, as with everything else in this book, reading about the Essential qualities or having an intellectual understanding of them is not the same as having a direct experience of them. For that, consistent practice is needed, preferably with the support of others as we have previously mentioned. Also note that the Essential aspects described here are only a departure point and are by no means complete or definitive.
From point Eight, we experience Essential Strength. Strength is an expansive energy, and when it is manifesting we feel large, solid, capable, and alive. Not surprisingly, essential strength arises in defense of our souls—it protects our process and its integrity. It provides a foundation and ground that gives us the ability to discriminate present, real experience from projections and reactions from the past, as well as to tolerate more painful, subtle, or empty states. Without this quality, we may have profound experiences, but we will not be able to embody or sustain them in any meaningful way.
From point Nine, we experience a sense of Unity or Wholeness. We know that we are not only connected with everything else, but that we are not a "separate object." We directly experience the oneness of reality, and our essential union with all creation. Further, we understand that this unity is dynamic, alive, and ever-changing. We know love as the force that breaks through all false boundaries and identities to restore this experience of wholeness. The realization of this state brings a deep satisfaction and contentment—a profound sense of well-being. We feel at peace with reality and with our place in it. We are able to function effectively in the world while knowing that what we are is "beyond" the world.
From point One, we experience Wisdom. This quality is related to the Buddhist concept of right action. Wisdom manifests as brilliant intelligence, an ability to see exactly what is needed in the moment and to act accordingly. This intelligence is not based on any set of principles, guidelines, or rules, but rather arises spontaneously whenever it is needed. It gives us the ability to respond to situations effectively, with an economy of energy—neither too much nor too little. Further, when we are manifesting this quality, we are able to communicate our insights clearly and authoritatively. We are patient, steady, capable, and radiant.
From point Two, we experience Unconditional Love. This quality gives us a tremendous freedom from the inherent neediness of the ego. Knowing that we are connected to the very source of love, and that we cannot lose it, allows us to interact with other human beings in whatever way the moment dictates, without any concern that we will be disliked or rejected. Further, when we are truly and authentically experiencing love as part of our Essential nature, we see that love does not belong to anyone, including ourselves, and recognize that everyone around us is also a manifestation of love. We know that it is not our duty to go around "loving" everyone, but to live in the presence of love such that others may also remember that they too are in the presence of love. Further, love is a tremendously powerful force for dissolving all that is false in us. Few of our illusions about ourselves or others can stand long in the presence of real love. In this respect, we see how love represents the active or dynamic part of truth, and that they are intimately related.
From point Three, we experience Essential Value. When we are manifesting this quality of Essence, we do not need to do anything to feel valuable or worthwhile. We do not need to work at developing our self-esteem because we fully experience our intrinsic value as Being. We feel the profound pleasure and satisfaction of existing—a sense of enjoyment pervades our entire presence. This aspect predisposes us to behave benevolently toward others: experiencing our own essential value, we do not need to manipulate others or our environment in order to see ourselves in any particular light. We experience ourselves as a shining, star-like presence—a source of radiance in the world.
From point Four, we experience Equanimity. Once we open to the riches of the heart and to the inexhaustible wonder of living in truth, we are filled from moment to moment with a kaleidoscope of powerful impressions, sensations, and feelings. Equanimity gives us the capacity to contain all of these ever-changing qualities without being swept into emotional reactions about them. Because the nature of spirit is ever changing, our experience of ourselves and of life is also constantly changing. Equanimity allows the identity of the Essential self to participate in the cornucopia of experiences and inner qualities without clinging to or fearing any of them, and without regretting their passing. In this way, the sense of oneself continually deepens so that powerful experiences are fully felt but do not overwhelm the Essential identity. We are able to feel both the heights of ecstasy and the full intensity of suffering without becoming lost in either.
From point Five, we experience the Essential quality of "Direct Knowing." This quality is quite distinct from the ego’s form of thinking, which is generally characterized by inner talk or inner visualization, often accompanied by a process of sorting information and "data retrieval." In direct knowing, however, the mind is silent, and open, and we are supported by the awareness that we will know whatever we need to know as we need to know it. Even the acquisition of new information, skills, or experiences will be guided by an inner knowing that does not arise from the ego’s feelings of insufficiency. Direct knowing arises out of a direct experience of the pristine empty space of mind, thus, it allows us to be free of attachment to any particular perspective. We know that in different moments and situations, different perspectives may be more useful, and that our Essence will guide us to whichever perspective is most suitable. This inner clarity also allows us to be unattached to the phenomenal world, because when we are functioning in this capacity, we see all objects and events as arising and disappearing within a vast and unfathomable mystery. We see the world as a dance of exquisite gestures and movements within the shining void.
From point Six, we experience Essential Will. This quality manifests as a sense of being "imbedded" in reality—solidly supported by the ground of Being. It gives us a capacity for endurance and persistence in our Work, and an ability to confront situations without anxiety. We feel as if we are "held up" by a solid ocean of Presence that supports and guides us. Further, we do not need to fill our minds with plans and strategies, because we are directed by a silent wellspring of inner guidance that functions harmoniously with our circumstances and with our environment. It brings a sense of unshakable confidence and a clear sense of direction. The more we open to this quality, the more actively it manifests in our world, leading us exactly to the experiences we most need for our development.
From point Seven, we experience Essential Joy. When this quality manifests, we are filled with an expansive, sunny presence that lets us know that we are moving in the right direction. We feel grateful for the wonderful and mysterious gift of our lives, and experience a profound wonder and curiosity about our journey. We deeply feel the presence of our true spiritual home, and feel it calling us back. As Essential joy arises in us, we know where true value lies, and are fortified to do whatever is necessary to return to what our heart truly desires. We know what we love, and joyfully open to deeper aspects of our True nature.
The Enneagram of Essential Qualities
From Understanding The Enneagram, revised edition, (2000) p. 375 ff.
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