A person who thinks all the time, has nothing to think about except thoughts. One can lose touch with reality while engaged in this practice and therefore lives in the world of illusions. Repetition of words and chatter in a mind that is actively reckoning and calculating is not bad if done in moderation, but if executed excessively, then we become lost to the true nature of our experience in the world. That is to say that we have forgotten on “how” to experience the world around us, and even within us! We confuse signs, numbers, words, symbols and ideas for the authentic world. We have become detached to the true relationship we once held with nature because we erroneously and mistakenly confuses our thoughts and ideas for the world itself. We miss the essential connection to nature by a contrivance of mind. We fabricate, construct, and make conclusions from logic that only serves to hide the true essence of our experiences. Our experience is convoluted and replaced with our mental representations of what we actually experience.
Reality is the sound of the gong, not our symbols or words that describe the sound it makes. We do not need to determine what key the pitch is in, if there is any major or minor harmonic resonance in the sound we hear. Whether any dissonant aspect of what we hear for our experience to be complete need be explained. We simply just listen without judgement. In analogous manner, our approach to solve human problems is precisely the activity we employ to overcome these problems that we want to resolve. so what exactly can we do? The ideals we create are all manifestations of these problems we are trying to escape from. In our attempt to solve our quandaries, we cannot help but create much of our paradox in that our attempt to get away from them is contingent on our ideas of them.
“I know that I ought not to be selfish, and I would very much like to be an unselfish person, but the reason I’d like to be an unselfish person is that I am very much a selfish person and would far more love myself and respect myself if I were unselfish.”
When you look into yourself, there is nothing you can really do. We cannot feel any other way than what we feel at the moment we feel it. We think if we come to a dead-end that we fail. The answer to finding the way is in our allowance of it to happen without interference. If we find that we cannot transform ourselves, one should not be discouraged since it is not be a gloomy announcement. Rather, we have discovered a very important communication. This is telling us that we cannot transform ourselves because the “you” that you “imagine”, that is capable of transforming ourselves, does not really exist.
An ego, or an “I” is separate from my emotions and thoughts, it is separate from my feelings and my experiences that we are supposed to be in control of. We cannot control them because it is not there. The “I” is our image of ourselves. It’s composed of what other people have told you about yourself, who you are and how they have reacted to you that gives you an impression of the sort of person you are. The image we usually have about ourselves, what our egos tell us, does not include our social contexts and all of our relationships within our self-image. What we conceive to be ourselves is simply the marriage of the illusion of the futility. As Alan Watts puts it….”We are the apertures of the universe exploring itself.”
The western schools of thought from antiquity to today often philosophize about the distinctions and nature of our being. They invent a vast lexicon that enables them to describe our reality, and have argued about it since the birth of the philosophical branches such as Ontology, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. But if we look to the east, we find alternative schools of thought that have a variation on the approach and recognize that we are both the preceptors of sensory perception and rationalistic logic. We use both methods to shape the world. As an empiricist, our perceptions create the world. But when we do not contemplate it, there is no need to label or name what we experience since it is what it is without our labels, words, or symbols. As a rationalist, we create, interpret, and experience the world by way of proxy through our minds, thoughts, and ideas.
It is when the mind is attuned properly, that we will see that there is no difference of being what you are as the knower and what you are as the known. In this state we are simply attuned to the ever-present now. Between ourselves and all that is in the world outside us becomes a unified happening. A oneness with the world.
If we see ourselves in a correct way, then we align with the rest of how nature functions. There is nothing wrong with us, but we needn’t feel guilty because we “feel guilty”! When we meditate, we simply watch what is going on without judgement, or analysis. When we hear music, we do not understand it though our words, but only through the musical vibration itself. We become aware of the vibrations that stimulate our being and go no further in analysis of this experience.
What is going on outside us that can be observed, is also the process for what goes on inside of us and that we can monitor this as well. All nervous system activity that is experienced outside of ourselves, (sights, sounds, tactile simulations, tastes) can likewise be experienced (via mental thoughts, ideas, concepts) from what is stimulating us on the inside. The notion of time is never of consequence in meditation. The focus is always on the ever-presence of nature.
Still the mind, become a friend and blend in with what is not in motion by listening to what is in motion. Do not let the mind take you to the past or the future, but remain in the present. Learn to listen to what is present. Hear the sounds that are all around you. The activity of observing our breath can be of great benefit to a mind that is awake. It is something that we do without our willing to do it since it is an autonomic function of our respiratory system. So to do we listen to the sounds that we hear from where we sit. We are only concerned with what is as it is. Simply just an eternal now to be experienced as it happens. Live in the moment and the mind will calm it’s echos of futile pondering. When we are happily absorbed with what we are doing, we have forgotten about “ourselves” and our egos. We can’t very well do that and worry or think anything serious.
A restless mind is one that is not operating with receptivity. It has closed itself off to what can be experienced without the “self” involved. A well-trained mind does not disturb the presence of what is by forcing the experience. We simply just watch what is happening. Inside of ourselves, and outside of ourselves happening simultaneously can be allowed to just be.
The Enneagram is a geometric figure that maps out the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships. It is a development of modern psychology that has roots in spiritual wisdom from many different ancient traditions. The condensation of universal wisdom, the perennial philosophy accumulated by Christians, Buddhists, Muslims (especially the Sufis), and Jews (in the Kabbalah) for thousands of years. The heart of the Enneagram is the universal insight that human beings are spiritual presences incarnated in the material world and yet mysteriously embodying the same life and Spirit as the Creator. Beneath surface differences and appearances, behind the veils of illusion, the light of Divinity shines in every individual. Various forces obscure that light, however, and each spiritual tradition has myths and doctrines to explain how mankind has lost its connection with the Divine.
One of the great strengths of the Enneagram is that it steps aside from all doctrinal differences. It has helped individuals from virtually every major religious faith to rediscover their fundamental unity as spiritual beings. The Enneagram is not a religion, however; nor does it interfere with a person’s religious orientation. It does not pretend to be a complete spiritual path. Nevertheless, it concerns itself with one element that is fundamental to all spiritual paths: self-knowledge.
Without self-knowledge, we will not get very far on our spiritual journey, nor will we be able to sustain whatever progress we have made. One of the great dangers of transformational work is that the ego attempts to sidestep deep psychological work by leaping into the transcendent too soon. This is because the ego always fancies itself much more “advanced” than it actually is. Real self-knowledge is an invaluable guardian against such self-deception. The Enneagram takes us places (and makes real progress possible) because it starts working from where we actually are. As much as it reveals the spiritual heights we are capable of attaining, it also sheds light clearly and non-judgmentally on the aspects of our lives that are dark and unfree. If we are going to live as spiritual beings in the material world, then these are the areas we most need to explore.
Presence (awareness, mindfulness), the practice of self-observation (gained from self-knowledge), and understanding what one’s experiences mean (an accurate interpretation provided by a larger context such as a community or spiritual system) are the three basic elements needed for transformational work. Being supplies the first, you supply the second, and the Enneagram supplies the third.
The Nine Types:
1 THE REFORMER
The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
2 THE HELPER
The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
3 THE ACHIEVER
The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
4 THE INDIVIDUALIST
The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
5 THE INVESTIGATOR
The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
6 THE LOYALIST
The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
7 THE ENTHUSIAST
The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
8 THE CHALLENGER
The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
9 THE PEACEMAKER
The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent
Type One In Brief
Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At Their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.
Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective
Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced
Enneagram One with a Nine-Wing: “The Idealist”
Enneagram One with a Two-Wing: “The Advocate”
Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), methodical Ones suddenly become moody and irrational at Four. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), angry, critical Ones become more spontaneous and joyful, like healthy Sevens. Learn more about the arrows.
Confucius, Plato, Salahuddin Ayyubi, Joan of Arc, Sir Thomas More, Mahatma Gandhi, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Prince Charles, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, Jimmy Carter, Michelle Obama, Al Gore, Hilary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Elliot Spitzer, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Osama bin Laden, George Bernard Shaw, Thoreau, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), Martha Stewart, Chef Thomas Keller, Michio Kushi (macrobiotics), George Harrison, Joan Baez, Celine Dion, Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Bill Moyers, George F. Will, William F. Buckley, Keith Olbermann, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Maher, Tina Fey, Katherine Hepburn, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Julie Andrews, Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Harrison Ford, Helen Hunt, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, “Mary Poppins,” “Mr. Spock,” SNL’s “The Church Lady”
Type One Overview
We have named personality type One The Reformer because Ones have a “sense of mission” that leads them to want to improve the world in various ways, using whatever degree of influence they have. They strive to overcome adversity—particularly moral adversity—so that the human spirit can shine through and make a difference. They strive after “higher values,” even at the cost of great personal sacrifice.
History is full of Ones who have left comfortable lives to do something extraordinary because they felt that something higher was calling them. During the Second World War, Raoul Wallenburg left a comfortable middle-class life to work for the protection of thousands of European Jews from invading Nazis. In India, Gandhi left behind his wife and family and life as a successful lawyer to become an itinerant advocate of Indian independence and non-violent social changes. Joan of Arc left her village in France to restore the throne to the Dauphin and to expel the English from the country. The idealism of each of these Ones has inspired millions.
Ones are people of practical action—they wish to be useful in the best sense of the word. On some level of consciousness, they feel that they “have a mission” to fulfill in life, if only to try their best to reduce the disorder they see in their environment.
Although Ones have a strong sense of purpose, they also typically feel that they have to justify their actions to themselves, and often to others as well. This orientation causes Ones to spend a lot of time thinking about the consequences of their actions, as well as about how to keep from acting contrary to their convictions. Because of this, Ones often persuade themselves that they are “head” types, rationalists who proceed only on logic and objective truth. But, the real picture is somewhat different: Ones are actually activists who are searching for an acceptable rationale for what they feel they must do. They are people of instinct and passion who use convictions and judgments to control and direct themselves and their actions.
In the effort to stay true to their principles, Ones resist being affected by their instinctual drives, consciously not giving in to them or expressing them too freely. The result is a personality type that has problems with repression, resistance, and aggression. They are usually seen by others as highly self- controlled, even rigid, although this is not how Ones experience themselves. It seems to them that they are sitting on a cauldron of passions and desires, and they had better “keep the lid on” lest they and everyone else around them regret it.
Cassandra is a therapist in private practice who recalls the difficulty this caused her in her youth:
I remember in high school getting feedback that I had no feelings. Inside, I felt my feelings intensely and yet I just couldn’t let them out as intensely as I felt them. Even now, if I have a conflict with a friend and need to address an issue, I rehearse ahead of time how to express clearly what I want, need, and observe, and yet, not be harsh or blaming in my anger which is often scathing.
Ones believe that being strict with themselves (and eventually becoming “perfect”) will justify them in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. But by attempting to create their own brand of perfection, they often create their own personal hell. Instead of agreeing with the statement in Genesis that God saw what He had created, “and it was good,” Ones intensely feel that “It wasn’t—there obviously have been some mistakes here!” This orientation makes it difficult for them to trust their inner guidance—indeed, to trust life—so Ones come to rely heavily on their superego, a learned voice from their childhood, to guide them toward “the greater good” which they so passionately seek. When Ones have gotten completely entranced in their personality, there is little distinction between them and this severe, unforgiving voice. Separating from it and seeing its genuine strengths and limitations is what growth for Ones is about.
Type Two In Brief
Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At Their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.
Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
Basic Desire: To feel loved
Enneagram Two with a One-Wing: “The Servant”
Enneagram Two with a Three-Wing: “The Host/Hostess”
Want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about themselves.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), needy Twos suddenly become aggressive and dominating at Eight. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), prideful, self-deceptive Twos become more self-nurturing and emotionally aware, like healthy Fours. Learn more about the arrows.
Paramahansa Yogananda, Pope John XXIII, Guru Ammaji (“The Hugging Saint”), Byron Katie, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan, Monica Lewinsky, Ann Landers, Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay Cosmetics), Leo Buscaglia, Richard Simmons, Luciano Pavarotti, John Denver, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, Dolly Parton, Josh Groban, Music of Journey, Bobby McFerrin, Kenny G, Paula Abdul, Priscilla Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Danny Thomas, Martin Sheen, Jennifer Tilly, Danny Glover, Richard Thomas “John Boy Walton,” Juliette Binoche, Arsenio Hall, Timothy Treadwell “Grizzly Man,” “Melanie Hamilton Wilkes” (Gone with the Wind), “Eve Harrington” (All About Eve), “Dr. McCoy” (Star Trek)
Type Two Overview
We have named personality type Two The Helper because people of this type are either the most genuinely helpful to other people or, when they are less healthy they are the most highly invested in seeing themselves as helpful. Being generous and going out of their way for others makes Twos feel that theirs is the richest, most meaningful way to live. The love and concern they feel—and the genuine good they do—warms their hearts and makes them feel worthwhile. Twos are most interested in what they feel to be the “really, really good” things in life—love, closeness, sharing, family, and friendship.
Louise is a minister who shares the joy she finds in being a Two:
I cannot imagine being another type and I would not want to be another type. I like being involved in peoples’ lives. I like feeling compassionate, caring, nurturing. I like cooking and homemaking. I like having the confidence that anyone can tell me anything about themselves and I will be able to love them….I am really proud of myself and love myself for being able to be with people where they are. I really can, and do, love people, pets, and things. And I am a great cook!
When Twos are healthy and in balance, they really are loving, helpful, generous, and considerate. People are drawn to them like bees to honey. Healthy Twos warm others in the glow of their hearts. They enliven others with their appreciation and attention, helping people to see positive qualities in themselves that they had not previously recognized. In short, healthy Twos are the embodiment of “the good parent” that everyone wishes they had: someone who sees them as they are, understands them with immense compassion, helps and encourages with infinite patience, and is always willing to lend a hand—while knowing precisely how and when to let go. Healthy Twos open our hearts because theirs are already so open and they show us the way to be more deeply and richly human.
All of my jobs revolved around helping people. I was a teacher who wanted to be sensitive to children and help them get off to a good start. I was a religious education director in a number of parishes. I thought that if people learned about the spiritual life, they’d be happier…The most important part of my life is my spiritual life. I was in a religious community for ten years. I married a former priest, and we both have our spirituality as the basis of our life together.
However, Twos’ inner development may be limited by their “shadow side”—pride, self-deception, the tendency to become over-involved in the lives of others, and the tendency to manipulate others to get their own emotional needs met. Transformational work entails going into dark places in ourselves, and this very much goes against the grain of the Two’s personality structure, which prefers to see itself in only the most positive, glowing terms.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Twos, Threes, and Fours in their inner work is having to face their underlying Center fear of worthlessness. Beneath the surface, all three types fear that they are without value in themselves, and so they must be or do something extraordinary in order to win love and acceptance from others. In the average to unhealthy Levels, Twos present a false image of being completely generous and unselfish and of not wanting any kind of pay-off for themselves, when in fact, they can have enormous expectations and unacknowledged emotional needs.
Average to unhealthy Twos seek validation of their worth by obeying their superego’s demands to sacrifice themselves for others. They believe they must always put others first and be loving and unselfish if they want to get love. The problem is that “putting others first” makes Twos secretly angry and resentful, feelings they work hard to repress or deny. Nevertheless, they eventually erupt in various ways, disrupting Twos’ relationships and revealing the inauthenticity of many of the average to unhealthy Two’s claims about themselves and the depth of their “love.”
But in the healthy range, the picture is completely different. My own [Don Riso’s] maternal grandmother was an archetypal Two. During World War II, she was “Moms” to what seemed like half of Keisler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, feeding the boys, allowing her home to be used as a “home away from home,” giving advice and consolation to anyone lonely or fearful about going to war. Although she and her husband were not wealthy and had two teenage children of their own, she cooked extra meals for the servicemen, put them up at night, and saw to it that their uniforms had all of their buttons and were well pressed. She lived until her 80’s, remembering those years as the happiest and most fulfilling of her life—probably because her healthy Two capacities were so fully and richly engaged.
Type Three In Brief
Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At Their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others.
Basic Fear: Of being worthless
Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile
Enneagram Three with a Two-Wing: “The Charmer”
Enneagram Three with a Four-Wing: “The Professional”
Want to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves from others, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), driven Threes suddenly become disengaged and apathetic at Nine. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), vain, deceitful Threes become more cooperative and committed to others, like healthy Sixes. Learn more about the arrows.
Augustus Caesar, Emperor Constantine, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Prince William, Condoleeza Rice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Lewis, Muhammed Ali, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Bill Wilson (AA Founder), Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Werner Erhard, Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Bernie Madoff, Bryant Gumbel, Michael Jordan, O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Sting, Whitney Houston, Jon Bon Jovi, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Tom Cruise, Barbra Streisand, Ben Kingsley, Jamie Foxx, Richard Gere, Ken Watanake, Will Smith, Courteney Cox, Demi Moore, Kevin Spacey, Reese Witherspoon, Anne Hathaway, Chef Daniel Boulud, Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest, Cat Deeley, Mad Men’s “Don Draper,” Glee’s “Rachel Berry”
Type Three Overview
We have named personality type Three The Achiever because when they are healthy, Threes really can and do achieve great things in the world. They are the “stars” of human nature, and people often look up to them because of their graciousness and personal accomplishments. Healthy Threes know how good it feels to develop themselves and contribute their abilities to the world, and also enjoy motivating others to greater personal achievements than others thought they were capable of. They are usually well regarded and popular among their peers, the type of person who is frequently voted “class president” or “home coming queen” because people feel they want to be associated with this kind of person who acts as a stand-in for them. Healthy Threes embody the best in a culture, and others are able to see their hopes and dreams mirrored in them.
Threes are often successful and well liked because, of all the types, they most believe in themselves and in developing their talents and capacities. Threes act as living “role models” and paragons because of their extraordinary embodiment of socially valued qualities. Healthy Threes know that they are worth the effort it takes to be “the best that they can be.” Their success at doing so inspires others to invest in their own self-development.
Threes want to make sure their lives are a success, however that is defined by their family, their culture and their social sphere. In some families, success means having a lot of money, a grand house, a new, expensive car, and other status symbols. Others value ideas, and success to them means distinguishing oneself in academic or scientific worlds. Success in other circles might mean becoming famous as an actor, or model, or writer, or as a public figure of some kind, perhaps as a politician. A religious family might encourage a child to become a minister, priest, or rabbi since these professions have status in their community and in the eyes of the family. No matter how success is defined, Threes will try to become somebody noteworthy in their family and their community. They will not be a “nobody.”
To this end, Threes learn to perform in ways that will garner them praise and positive attention. As children, they learned to recognize the activities that were valued by their parents or peers, and put their energies into excelling in those activities. Threes also learned how to cultivate and develop whatever about them is attractive or potentially impressive.
Eve is a successful business-woman:
My mother trained me to perform. I was about three when I performed my first solo in front of the church congregation. I got a lot of positive strokes for that and went on to perform in front of audiences throughout high school, either through music or debate. To this day, something mystical happens to me when I get in front of an audience. I ‘turn it on.’ I am called on frequently as a public speaker and some of my professional colleagues say that they hate following me on the program because I am such a hard act to follow!
Everyone needs attention, encouragement, and the affirmation of their value in order to thrive, and Threes are the type which most exemplifies this universal human need. Threes want success not so much for the things that success will buy (like Sevens), or for the power and feeling of independence that it will bring (like Eights). They want success because they are afraid of disappearing into a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness: without the increased attention and feeling of accomplishment which success usually brings, Threes fear that they are nobody and have no value.
The problem is that, in the headlong rush to achieve whatever they believe will make them more valuable, Threes can become so alienated from themselves that they no longer know what they truly want, or what their real feelings or interests are. In this state, they are easy prey to self–deception, deceit, and falseness of all kinds. Thus, the deeper problem is that their search for a way to be value increasingly takes them further away from their own Essential Self with its core of real value. From their earliest years, as Threes become dependent on receiving attention from others and in pursuing the values that others reward, they gradually lose touch with themselves. Step by step, their own inner core, their “heart’s desire,” is left behind until they no longer recognize it.
Thus, while they are the primary type in the Feeling Center, Threes, interestingly, are not known as “feeling” people; rather, they are people of action and achievement. It is as if they “put their feelings in a box” so that they can get ahead with what they want to achieve. Threes have come to believe that emotions get in the way of their performance, so they substitute thinking and practical action for feelings.
Jarvis is a well-educated and accomplished business professional; he sees that this pattern developed in him at an early age:
I had no conscious awareness of this at the time, but when I was a child, I wasn’t allowed to have my feelings at all. They counted for nothing in the framework of my stepfather’s concept of what it took to be successful. I developed the habit of denying my feelings and instead focused on performing and getting good marks in school.
Threes report that when they realize to what extent they have adapted their lives to the expectations of others, the question arises, “Well, then, what do I want?” They often simply did not know; it was not a question that had ever come up before. Thus, the fundamental dilemma of Threes is that they have not been allowed to be who they really are and to manifest their own authentic qualities. At a young age, they got the message that they were not allowed to have feelings and be themselves: they must, in effect, be someone else to be accepted. To some degree, all of the personality types have been sent the same message, but because of their particular background and makeup, Threes not only heard it, they began to live by it. The attention they received by performing in a certain way was their oxygen, and they needed it to breathe. Unfortunately, it came at a high price.
Marie, a skilled therapist describes the contradiction—and the pressure—of this orientation:
For most of my life, people always noticed when I was involved in any kind of activity, and they have usually looked to me for some sort of direction. This has been a two-edged sword because while I wanted to be noticed and approved, the burden was that I had to be perfect—and that was tough.
Type Four In Brief
Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At Their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.
Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance
Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an identity)
Enneagram Four with a Three-Wing: “The Aristocrat”
Enneagram Four with a Five-Wing: “The Bohemian”
Want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and surround themselves with beauty, to maintain certain moods and feelings, to withdraw to protect their self-image, to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else, to attract a “rescuer.”
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), aloof Fours suddenly become over-involved and clinging at Two. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), envious, emotionally turbulent Fours become more objective and principled, like healthy Ones. Learn more about the arrows.
Rumi, Frédéric Chopin, Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, Gustav Mahler, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Edgar Allen Poe, Yukio Mishima, Virginia Woolf, Anne Frank , Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen, Anaîs Nin, Tennessee Williams, J.D. Salinger, Anne Rice, Frida Kahlo, Diane Arbus, Martha Graham, Rudolf Nureyev, Cindy Sherman, Hank Williams, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Maria Callas, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Ferron, Cher, Stevie Nicks, Annie Lennox, Prince, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morrisette, Feist, Florence ( + the Machine) Welch, Amy Winehouse, Ingmar Bergman, Lars von Trier, Marlon Brando, Jeremy Irons, Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder, Kate Winslet, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, tattoo artist Kat Von D., magician Criss Angel, A Streetcar Named Desire’s “Blanche duBois”
Type Four Overview
We have named this type The Individualist because Fours maintain their identity by seeing themselves as fundamentally different from others. Fours feel that they are unlike other human beings, and consequently, that no one can understand them or love them adequately. They often see themselves as uniquely talented, possessing special, one-of-a-kind gifts, but also as uniquely disadvantaged or flawed. More than any other type, Fours are acutely aware of and focused on their personal differences and deficiencies.
Healthy Fours are honest with themselves: they own all of their feelings and can look at their motives, contradictions, and emotional conflicts without denying or whitewashing them. They may not necessarily like what they discover, but they do not try to rationalize their states, nor do they try to hide them from themselves or others. They are not afraid to see themselves “warts and all.” Healthy Fours are willing to reveal highly personal and potentially shameful things about themselves because they are determined to understand the truth of their experience—so that they can discover who they are and come to terms with their emotional history. This ability also enables Fours to endure suffering with a quiet strength. Their familiarity with their own darker nature makes it easier for them to process painful experiences that might overwhelm other types.
Nevertheless, Fours often report that they feel they are missing something in themselves, although they may have difficulty identifying exactly what that “something” is. Is it will power? Social ease? Self-confidence? Emotional tranquility?—all of which they see in others, seemingly in abundance. Given time and sufficient perspective, Fours generally recognize that they are unsure about aspects of their self-image—their personality or ego-structure itself. They feel that they lack a clear and stable identity, particularly a social persona that they feel comfortable with.
While it is true that Fours often feel different from others, they do not really want to be alone. They may feel socially awkward or self-conscious, but they deeply wish to connect with people who understand them and their feelings. The “romantics” of the Enneagram, they long for someone to come into their lives and appreciate the secret self that they have privately nurtured and hidden from the world. If, over time, such validation remains out of reach, Fours begin to build their identity around how unlike everyone else they are. The outsider therefore comforts herself by becoming an insistent individualist: everything must be done on her own, in her own way, on her own terms. Fours’ mantra becomes “I am myself. Nobody understands me. I am different and special,” while they secretly wish they could enjoy the easiness and confidence that others seem to enjoy.
Fours typically have problems with a negative self-image and chronically low self-esteem. They attempt to compensate for this by cultivating aFantasy Self—an idealized self-image which is built up primarily in their imaginations. A Four we know shared with us that he spent most of his spare time listening to classical music while fantasizing about being a great concert pianist—à la Vladimir Horowitz. Unfortunately, his commitment to practicing fell far short of his fantasized self-image, and he was often embarrassed when people asked him to play for them. His actual abilities, while not poor, became sources of shame.
In the course of their lives, Fours may try several different identities on for size, basing them on styles, preferences, or qualities they find attractive in others. But underneath the surface, they still feel uncertain about who they really are. The problem is that they base their identity largely on their feelings. When Fours look inward they see a kaleidoscopic, ever-shifting pattern of emotional reactions. Indeed, Fours accurately perceive a truth about human nature—that it is dynamic and ever changing. But because they want to create a stable, reliable identity from their emotions, they attempt to cultivate only certain feelings while rejecting others. Some feelings are seen as “me,” while others are “not me.” By attempting to hold on to specific moods and express others, Fours believe that they are being true to themselves.
One of the biggest challenges Fours face is learning to let go of feelings from the past; they tend to nurse wounds and hold onto negative feelings about those who have hurt them. Indeed, Fours can become so attached to longing and disappointment that they are unable to recognize the many treasures in their lives.
Leigh is a working mother who has struggled with these difficult feelings for many years:
I collapse when I am out in the world. I have had a trail of relationship disasters. I have hated my sister’s goodness—and hated goodness in general. I went years without joy in my life, just pretending to smile because real smiles would not come to me. I have had a constant longing for whatever I cannot have. My longings can never become fulfilled because I now realize that I am attached to ‘the longing’ and not to any specific end result.
There is a Sufi story that relates to this about an old dog that had been badly abused and was near starvation. One day, the dog found a bone, carried it to a safe spot, and started gnawing away. The dog was so hungry that it chewed on the bone for a long time and got every last bit of nourishment that it could out of it. After some time, a kind old man noticed the dog and its pathetic scrap and began quietly setting food out for it. But the poor hound was so attached to its bone that it refused to let go of it and soon starved to death.
Fours are in the same predicament. As long as they believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with them, they cannot allow themselves to experience or enjoy their many good qualities. To acknowledge their good qualities would be to lose their sense of identity (as a suffering victim) and to be without a relatively consistent personal identity (their Basic Fear). Fours grow by learning to see that much of their story is not true—or at least it is not true any more. The old feelings begin to fall away once they stop telling themselves their old tale: it is irrelevant to who they are right now.
Type Five In Brief
Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At Their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.
Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable
Basic Desire: To be capable and competent
Enneagram Five with a Four-Wing: “The Iconoclast”
Enneagram Five with a Six-Wing: “The Problem Solver”
Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
WWhen moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), detached Fives suddenly become hyperactive and scattered at Seven. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), avaricious, detached Fives become more self-confident and decisive, like healthy Eights. Learn more about the arrows.
Siddartha Gautama Buddha, Albert Einstein, Oliver Sacks, John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), Stephen Hawking, Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Georgia O’Keeffe, Salvador Dali, Alberto Giacometti, Emily Dickinson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Agatha Christie, James Joyce, Jean-Paul Sartre, Susan Sontag, Stephen King, Ursula K. LeGuin, Clive Barker, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jane Goodall, A.H. Almaas, Eckhart Tolle, Meredith Monk, Glenn Gould, John Cage, Kurt Cobain, David Byrne, Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, Jane Siberry, Trent Reznor, Thom York (Radio Head), Alfred Hitchcock, Marlene Dietrich, Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, Werner Herzog, Tim Burton, David Lynch, David Fincher, Jodie Foster, Gary Larson (“The Far Side”), Annie Liebovitz, Bobby Fischer, Julian Assange (“Wikileaks”), Aaaron Swartz, The X Files’ “Fox Mulder,” “Dr. Gregory House”
Type Five Overview
We have named personality type Five The Investigator because, more than any other type, Fives want to find out why things are the way they are. They want to understand how the world works, whether it is the cosmos, the microscopic world, the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms—or the inner world of their imaginations. They are always searching, asking questions, and delving into things in depth. They do not accept received opinions and doctrines, feeling a strong need to test the truth of most assumptions for themselves.
John, a graphic artist, describes this approach to life:
Being a Five means always needing to learn, to take in information about the world. A day without learning is like a day without ‘sunshine.’ As a Five, I want to have an understanding of life. I like having a theoretical explanation about why things happen as they do. This understanding makes me feel in charge and in control. I most often learn from a distance as an observer and not a participant. Sometimes, it seems that understanding life is as good as living it. It is a difficult journey to learn that life must be lived and not just studied.
Behind Fives’ relentless pursuit of knowledge are deep insecurities about their ability to function successfully in the world. Fives feel that they do not have an ability to do things as well as others. But rather than engage directly with activities that might bolster their confidence, Fives “take a step back” into their minds where they feel more capable. Their belief is that from the safety of their minds they will eventually figure out how to do things—and one day rejoin the world.
Fives spend a lot of time observing and contemplating—listening to the sounds of wind or of a synthesizer, or taking notes on the activities in an anthill in their back yard. As they immerse themselves in their observations, they begin to internalize their knowledge and gain a feeling of self-confidence. They can then go out and play a piece on the synthesizer or tell people what they know about ants. They may also stumble across exciting new information or make new creative combinations (playing a piece of music based on recordings of wind and water). When they get verification of their observations and hypotheses, or see that others understand their work, it is a confirmation of their competency, and this fulfills their Basic Desire. (“You know what you are talking about.”)
Knowledge, understanding, and insight are thus highly valued by Fives, because their identity is built around “having ideas” and being someone who has something unusual and insightful to say. For this reason, Fives are not interested in exploring what is already familiar and well-established; rather, their attention is drawn to the unusual, the overlooked, the secret, the occult, the bizarre, the fantastic, the “unthinkable.” Investigating “unknown territory”—knowing something that others do not know, or creating something that no one has ever experienced—allows Fives to have a niche for themselves that no one else occupies. They believe that developing this niche is the best way that they can attain independence and confidence.
Thus, for their own security and self-esteem, Fives need to have at least one area in which they have a degree of expertise that will allow them to feel capable and connected with the world. Fives think, “I am going to find something that I can do really well, and then I will be able to meet the challenges of life. But I can’t have other things distracting me or getting in the way.” They therefore develop an intense focus on whatever they can master and feel secure about. It may be the world of mathematics, or the world of rock and roll, or classical music, or car mechanics, or horror and science fiction, or a world entirely created in their imagination. Not all Fives are scholars or Ph.Ds. But, depending on their intelligence and the resources available to them, they focus intensely on mastering something that has captured their interest.
For better or worse, the areas that Fives explore do not depend on social validation; indeed, if others agree with their ideas too readily, Fives tend to fear that their ideas might be too conventional. History is full of famous Fives who overturned accepted ways of understanding or doing things (Darwin, Einstein, Nietzsche). Many more Fives, however, have become lost in the Byzantine complexities of their own thought processes, becoming merely eccentric and socially isolated.
The intense focus of Fives can thus lead to remarkable discoveries and innovations, but when the personality is more fixated, it can also create self-defeating problems. This is because their focus of attention unwittingly serves to distract them from their most pressing practical problems. Whatever the sources of their anxieties may be—relationships, lack of physical strength, inability to gain employment, and so forth—average Fives tend not to deal with these issues. Rather, they find something else to do that will make them feel more competent. The irony is that no matter what degree of mastery they develop in their area of expertise, this cannot solve their more basic insecurities about functioning in the world. For example, as a marine biologist, a Five could learn everything there is to know about a type of shellfish, but if her fear is that she is never going to be able to run her own household adequately, she will not have solved her underlying anxiety.
Dealing directly with physical matters can feel extremely daunting for Fives. Henry is a life scientist working in a major medical research lab:
Since I was a child, I have shied away from sports and strenuous physical activity whenever possible. I was never able to climb the ropes in gym class, stopped participating in sports as soon as it was feasible, and the smell of a gymnasium still makes me uncomfortable. At the same time, I have always had a very active mental life. I learned to read at the age of three, and in school I was always one of the smartest kids in academic subjects.
Thus, much of their time gets spent “collecting” and developing ideas and skills they believe will make them feel confident and prepared. They want to retain everything that they have learned and “carry it around in their heads.” The problem is that while they are engrossed in this process, they are not interacting with others or even increasing many other practical and social skills. They devote more and more time to collecting and attending to their collections, less to anything related to their real needs.
Thus, the challenge to Fives is to understand that they can pursue whatever questions or problems spark their imaginations and maintain relationships, take proper care of themselves, and do all of the things that are the hallmarks of a healthy life.
Type Six In Brief
Type Sixes are committed, security-oriented types. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others.
Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance
Basic Desire: To have security and support
Enneagram Six with a Five-Wing: “The Defender”
Enneagram Six with a Seven-Wing: “The Buddy”
Want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to fight against anxiety and insecurity.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), dutiful Sixes suddenly become competitive and arrogant at Three. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), fearful, pessimistic Sixes become more relaxed and optimistic, like healthy Nines. Learn more about the arrows.
Krishnamurti, Johannes Brahms, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, George H.W. Bush, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Grisham, Mike Tyson, Bruce Springsteen, U2’s Bono, Melissa Etheridge, Eminem, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Marilyn Monroe, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Mark Wahlberg, Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mel Gibson, Sally Field, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Page, Paul Rudd, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ben Affleck, Hugh Laurie, Katie Holmes, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Ellen Degeneres, Andy Rooney, Katie Couric, Newt Gingrich, Alex Jones (Infowars), Rush Limbaugh, Chris Rock, Lewis Black, Larry David, Seinfeld’s “George Costanza,” Lord of the Rings’ “Frodo Baggins”
Type Six Overview
We have named personality Type Six The Loyalist because, of all the personality types, Sixes are the most loyal to their friends and to their beliefs. They will “go down with the ship” and hang on to relationships of all kinds far longer than most other types. Sixes are also loyal to ideas, systems, and beliefs—even to the belief that all ideas or authorities should be questioned or defied. Indeed, not all Sixes go along with the “status quo:” their beliefs may be rebellious and anti-authoritarian, even revolutionary. In any case, they will typically fight for their beliefs more fiercely than they will fight for themselves, and they will defend their community or family more tenaciously than they will defend themselves.
The reason Sixes are so loyal to others is that they do not want to be abandoned and left without support—their Basic Fear. Thus, the central issue for type Six is a failure of self-confidence. Sixes come to believe that they do not possess the internal resources to handle life’s challenges and vagaries alone, and so increasingly rely on structures, allies, beliefs, and supports outside themselves for guidance to survive. If suitable structures do not exist, they will help create and maintain them.
Sixes are the primary type in the Thinking Center, meaning that they have the most trouble contacting their own inner guidance. As a result, they do not have confidence in their own minds and judgments.
This does not mean that they do not think. On the contrary, they think—and worry—a lot! They also tend to fear making important decisions, although at the same time, they resist having anyone else make decisions for them. They want to avoid being controlled, but are also afraid of taking responsibility in a way that might put them “in the line of fire.” (The old Japanese adage that says, “The blade of grass that grows too high gets chopped off” relates to this idea.)
Sixes are always aware of their anxieties and are always looking for ways to construct “social security” bulwarks against them. If Sixes feel that they have sufficient back up, they can move forward with some degree of confidence. But if that crumbles, they become anxious and self-doubting, reawakening their Basic Fear. (“I’m on my own! What am I going to do now?”) A good question for Sixes might therefore be: “When will I know that I have enough security?” Or, to get right to the heart of it, “What is security?” Without Essential inner guidance and the deep sense of support that it brings, Sixes are constantly struggling to find firm ground.
Sixes attempt to build a network of trust over a background of unsteadiness and fear. They are often filled with a nameless anxiety and then try to find or create reasons why. Wanting to feel that there is something solid and clear-cut in their lives, they can become attached to explanations or positions that seem to explain their situation. Because “belief” (trust, faith, convictions, positions) is difficult for Sixes to achieve, and because it is so important to their sense of stability, once they establish a trustworthy belief, they do not easily question it, nor do they want others to do so. The same is true for individuals in a Six’s life: once Sixes feel they can trust someone, they go to great lengths to maintain connections with the person who acts as a sounding board, a mentor, or a regulator for the Six’s emotional reactions and behavior. They therefore do everything in their power to keep their affiliations going. (“If I don’t trust myself, then I have to find something in this world I can trust.”)
Although intelligent and accomplished, Connie still has to wrestle with the self-doubt of her type:
As my anxiety has come under control, so has my need to ‘check out’ everything with my friends. I used to have to get the nod of approval from several hundred (just joking!) ‘authorities.’ About nearly every decision would involve a council of my friends. I usually would do this one on one: ‘What do you think, Mary?’ ‘If I do this, then that might happen.’ Please make up my mind for me!’…Recently, I’ve narrowed my authorities to just one or two trusted friends, and on occasion, I’ve actually made up my own mind!
Until they can get in touch with their own inner guidance, Sixes are like a ping-pong ball that is constantly shuttling back and forth between whatever influence is hitting the hardest in any given moment. Because of this reactivity, no matter what we say about Sixes, the opposite is often also as true. They are both strong and weak, fearful and courageous, trusting and distrusting, defenders and provokers, sweet and sour, aggressive and passive, bullies and weaklings, on the defensive and on the offensive, thinkers and doers, group people and soloists, believers and doubters, cooperative and obstructionistic, tender and mean, generous and petty—and on and on. It is the contradictory picture that is the characteristic “fingerprint” of Sixes, the fact that they are a bundle of opposites.
The biggest problem for Sixes is that they try to build safety in the environment without resolving their own emotional insecurities. When they learn to face their anxieties, however, Sixes understand that although the world is always changing and is, by nature uncertain, they can be serene and courageous in any circumstance. And they can attain the greatest gift of all, a sense of peace with themselves despite the uncertainties of life.
Type Seven In Brief
Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over- extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At Their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.
Basic Fear: Of being trapped and in pain
Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content—to have their needs fulfilled
Enneagram Seven with a Six-Wing: “The Entertainer”
Enneagram Seven with an Eight-Wing: “The Realist”
Want to maintain their freedom and happiness, to avoid missing out on worthwhile experiences, to keep themselves excited and occupied, to avoid and discharge pain.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), scattered Sevens suddenly become perfectionistic and critical at One. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), gluttonous, scattered Sevens become more focused and fascinated by life, like healthy Fives.Learn more about the arrows.
The 14th Dalai Lama, Galileo Galilei, W.A. Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Amelia Earhart, Richard Feynman, Wassily Kandinsky, Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Noel Coward, John F. Kennedy, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin, Silvio Berlusconi, Malcolm Forbes, Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Suze Orman, Leonard Bernstein, Chuck Berry, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Fergie, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Russell Brand, Sacha Baron Cohen, Federico Fellini, Steven Spielberg, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, John Belushi, Joan Rivers, Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Mike Meyers, Bruce Willis, Robert Downey, Jr., James Franco, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlie Sheen, Cameron Diaz, Paris Hilton, David Duchovny, Larry King, Howard Stern, Simon Cowell, “Auntie Mame”
Type Seven Overview
We have named this personality type The Enthusiast because Sevens are enthusiastic about almost everything that catches their attention. They approach life with curiosity, optimism, and a sense of adventure, like “kids in a candy store” who look at the world in wide-eyed, rapt anticipation of all the good things they are about to experience. They are bold and vivacious, pursuing what they want in life with a cheerful determination. They have a quality best described by the Yiddish word “chutzpah”—a kind of brash “nerviness.”
Although Sevens are in the Thinking Center, this is not immediately apparent because they tend to be extremely practical and engaged in a multitude of projects at any given time. Their thinking is anticipatory: they foresee events and generate ideas “on the fly,” favoring activities that stimulate their minds—which in turn generate more things to do and think about. Sevens are not necessarily intellectual or studious by any standard definition, although they are often intelligent and can be widely read and highly verbal. Their minds move rapidly from one idea to the next, making Sevens gifted at brainstorming and synthesizing information. Sevens are exhilarated by the rush of ideas and by the pleasure of being spontaneous, preferring broad overviews and the excitement of the initial stages of the creative process to probing a single topic in depth.
Devon, a successful business woman, shares with us some of the inner workings of her Seven mindset:
I am definitely a list person. It’s not really for memory since I have a great memory. It’s more for downloading information so that my mind won’t spin on it. For example, I was at a concert where the tickets were hard to get and very expensive. I couldn’t sit through it. My mind was torturing me with the things I needed to do. Finally, I had to get up and leave. This was very upsetting to the person I went with and I missed a good show.
Sevens are frequently endowed with quick, agile minds, and can be exceptionally fast learners. This is true both of their ability to absorb information (language, facts, and procedures) and their ability to learn new manual skills—they tend to have excellent mind-body coordination, and manual dexterity (typewriting, piano playing, tennis). All of this can combine to make a Seven into the quintessential “Renaissance person.”
Ironically, Sevens’ wide-ranging curiosity and ability to learn quickly can also create problems for them. Because they are able to pick up many different skills with relative ease, it becomes more difficult for them to decide what to do with themselves. As a result, they also do not always value their abilities as they would if they had to struggle to gain them. When Sevens are more balanced however, their versatility, curiosity, and ability to learn can lead them to extraordinary achievement.
The root of their problem is common to all of the types of the Thinking Center: they are out of touch with the inner guidance and support of their Essential nature. As with Fives and Sixes, this creates a deep anxiety in Sevens. They do not feel that they know what to do or how to make choices that will be beneficial to themselves and others. Sevens cope with this anxiety in two ways. First, they try to keep their minds busy all of the time. As long as Sevens can keep their minds occupied, especially with projects and positive ideas for the future, they can, to some extent, keep anxiety and negative feelings out of conscious awareness. Likewise, since their thinking is stimulated by activity, Sevens are compelled to stay on the go, moving from one experience to the next, searching for more stimulation. This is not to say that Sevens are “spinning their wheels.” They generally enjoy being practical and getting things done.
Frances, a successful business consultant, sounds more energetic than is humanly possible—and yet, she is a typical Seven:
I am highly, highly productive. At the office, I am joyful and my mind is running at its best. I might create several marketing campaigns for a client, work on the outline for an upcoming seminar, talk out a difficult problem with a client on the telephone, close two deals, make a project list, dictate a few letters and look up to see that it’s 9:30 a.m. and my assistant is coming in to start our work for the day.
Second, Sevens cope with the loss of Essential guidance by using the “trial and error” method: they try everything to make sure they know what is best. On a very deep level, Sevens do not feel that they can find what they really want in life. They therefore tend to try everything—and ultimately may even resort to anything as a substitute for what they are really looking for. (“If I can’t have what will really satisfy me, I’ll enjoy myself anyway. I’ll have all kinds of experiences—that way I will not feel bad about not getting what I really want.”)
We can see this in action even in the most trivial areas of their daily lives. Unable to decide whether he wants vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream, a Seven will want all three flavors—just to be sure that he does not miss out on the “right” choice. Having two weeks for a vacation and a desire to visit Europe brings a similar quandary. Which countries and cities to visit? Which sites to see? The Seven’s way of dealing with this will be to cram as many different countries, cities, and attractions into his vacation as possible. While they are scrambling after exciting experiences, the real object of their heart’s desire (their personal Rosebud, as it were) may be so deeply buried in their unconscious that they are never really aware of precisely what it is.
Furthermore, as Sevens speed up their pursuit of whatever seems to offer freedom and satisfaction, they tend to make worse choices, and they are less able to be satisfied because everything is experienced indirectly, through the dense filter of their fast-paced mental activity. The result is that Sevens end up anxious, frustrated, and enraged, with fewer resources available to them physically, emotionally, or financially. They may end up ruining their health, their relationships, and their finances in their search for happiness.
Gertrude is busy establishing her career and family now, but she looks back at how this tendency contributed to her getting a rough start in life.
There wasn’t anything to do at home or in the tiny Southern town I grew up in. I was dying to get out of it and go someplace more exciting. When I was 16, I started dating, and before long I got pregnant, but the father didn’t want to marry me—which was okay since I didn’t want to marry him, either. It wasn’t too long before I found somebody else, and we got married, and I got to move to a larger city. But it didn’t really work out the way I wanted because after I had the baby, we broke up and I had to move back home. I stayed there for a year or two to get my feet on the ground. When things were looking bleak, I married someone else. I’m 19 now and I guess I’ve done a lot already.
On the positive side, however, Sevens are extremely optimistic people—exuberant and upbeat. They are endowed with abundant vitality and a desire to fully participate in their lives each day. They are naturally cheerful and good humored, not taking themselves too seriously, or anything else for that matter. As we have seen, the Basic Desire of Sevens is to be satisfied, happy, and fulfilled, and when they are balanced within themselves, their joy and enthusiasm for life naturally affect everyone around them. They remind us of the pure pleasure of existence—the greatest gift of all.
Type Eight In Brief
Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At Their Best: self- mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring.
Basic Fear: Of being harmed or controlled by others
Basic Desire: To protect themselves (to be in control of their own life and destiny)
Enneagram Eight with a Seven-Wing: “The Maverick”
Enneagram Eight with a Nine-Wing: “The Bear”
Want to be self-reliant, to prove their strength and resist weakness, to be important in their world, to dominate the environment, and to stay in control of their situation.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), self-confident Eights suddenly become secretive and fearful at Five. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), lustful, controlling Eights become more open-hearted and caring, like healthy Twos. Learn more about the arrows.
G.I. Gurdjieff, Richard Wagner, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Oskar Schindler, Fidel Castro, Martin Luther King, Jr., Lyndon Johnson, Mikhail Gorbachev, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Saddam Hussein, Senator John McCain, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Serena Williams, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Keith Richards, Queen Latifah, Courtney Love, Jack Black, Chrissie Hynde, Pink, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis, Mae West, Sean Connery, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Russell Crowe, Sean Penn, Harvey Keitel, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Roseanne Barr, Barbara Walters, Rosie O’Donnell, “Dr. Phil” McGraw, “Tony Soprano”
Type Eight Overview
We have named personality type Eight The Challenger because, of all the types, Eights enjoy taking on challenges themselves as well as giving others opportunities that challenge them to exceed themselves in some way. Eights are charismatic and have the physical and psychological capacities to persuade others to follow them into all kinds of endeavors—from starting a company, to rebuilding a city, to running a household, to waging war, to making peace.
Eights have enormous willpower and vitality, and they feel most alive when they are exercising these capacities in the world. They use their abundant energy to effect changes in their environment—to “leave their mark” on it—but also to keep the environment, and especially other people, from hurting them and those they care about. At an early age, Eights understand that this requires strength, will, persistence, and endurance—qualities that they develop in themselves and which they look for in others.
Thayer is a stockbroker who has worked intensively on understanding her type Eight personality. She recounts a childhood incident in which she could clearly see the development of this pattern.
Much of my tenacity and toughness comes from my Dad. He always told me not to ‘let anybody push you around.’ It was not okay to cry. I learned to master my weaker side early on. At the tender age of eight, a huge horse ran away with me. When an adult caught the horse, I resolutely dismounted without a tear. I could tell my father was proud.
Eights do not want to be controlled or to allow others to have power over them (their Basic Fear), whether the power is psychological, sexual, social, or financial. Much of their behavior is involved with making sure that they retain and increase whatever power they have for as long as possible. An Eight may be a general or a gardener, a small businessman or a mogul, the mother of a family or the superior of a religious community. No matter: being “in charge” and leaving their imprint on their sphere is uniquely characteristic of them.
Eights are the true “rugged individualists” of the Enneagram. More than any other type, they stand alone. They want to be independent, and resist being indebted to anyone. They often refuse to “give in” to social convention, and they can defy fear, shame, and concern about the consequences of their actions. Although they are usually aware of what people think of them, they do not let the opinions of others sway them. They go about their business with a steely determination that can be awe inspiring, even intimidating to others.
Although, to some extent, Eights fear physical harm, far more important is their fear of being disempowered or controlled in some way. Eights are extraordinarily tough and can absorb a great deal of physical punishment without complaint—a double-edged blessing since they often take their health and stamina for granted and overlook the health and well-being of others as well. Yet they are desperately afraid of being hurt emotionally and will use their physical strength to protect their feelings and keep others at a safe emotional distance. Beneath the tough façade is vulnerability, although it has been covered over by layer of emotional armor.
Thus, Eights are often extremely industrious, but at the price of losing emotional contact with many of the people in their lives. Those close to them may become increasingly dissatisfied with this state of affairs, which confounds Eights. (“I don’t understand what my family is complaining about. I bust my hump to provide for them. Why are they disappointed with me?”)
When this happens, Eights feel misunderstood and may distance themselves further. In fact, beneath their imposing exterior, Eights often feel hurt and rejected, although this is something they seldom talk about because they have trouble admitting their vulnerability to themselves, let alone to anyone else. Because they fear that they will be rejected (divorced, humiliated, criticized, fired, or harmed in some way), Eights attempt to defend themselves by rejecting others first. The result is that average Eights become blocked in their ability to connect with people or to love since love gives the other power over them, reawakening their Basic Fear.
The more Eights build up their egos in order to protect themselves, the more sensitive they become to any real or imaginary slight to their self-respect, authority, or preeminence. The more they attempt to make themselves impervious to hurt or pain (whether physical or emotional), the more they “shut down” emotionally to become hardened and rock-like.
When Eights are emotionally healthy, however, they have a resourceful, “can-do” attitude as well as a steady inner drive. They take the initiative and make things happen with a great passion for life. They are honorable and authoritative—natural leaders who have a solid, commanding presence. Their groundedness gives them abundant “common sense” as well as the ability to be decisive. Eights are willing to “take the heat,” knowing that any decision cannot please everyone. But as much as possible, they want to look after the interests of the people in their charge without playing favorites. They use their talents and fortitude to construct a better world for everyone in their lives.
Type Nine In Brief
Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At Their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.
Basic Fear: Of loss and separation
Basic Desire: To have inner stability and “peace of mind”
Enneagram Nine with an Eight-Wing: “The Referee”
Enneagram Nine with a One-Wing: “The Dreamer”
Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.
The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)
When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), complacent Nines suddenly become anxious and worried at Six. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), slothful, self-neglecting Nines become more self-developing and energetic, like healthy Threes. Learn more about the arrows.
Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Grace of Monaco, Claude Monet, Norman Rockwell, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, John F. Kennedy, Jr., General Colin Powell, Walter Cronkite, Carl Jung, Carl Rogers, Joseph Campbell, Walt Disney, Jim Henson, Garrison Keillor, Walter Cronkite, Gloria Steinem, Tony Bennett, Ringo Starr, Carlos Santana, James Taylor, Janet Jackson, Jack Johnson, George Lucas, Ron Howard, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, Jeff Bridges, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman, Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Harrelson, Geena Davis, Jason Segel, Lisa Kudrow, Toby McGuire, Zooey Deschanel, “Mister Rogers,” “Homer & Marge Simpson”
Type Nine Overview
We have called personality type Nine The Peacemaker because no type is more devoted to the quest for internal and external peace for themselves and others. They are typically “spiritual seekers” who have a great yearning for connection with the cosmos, as well as with other people. They work to maintain their peace of mind just as they work to establish peace and harmony in their world. The issues encountered in the Nine are fundamental to all psychological and spiritual work—being awake versus falling asleep to our true nature; presence versus entrancement, openness versus blockage, tension versus relaxation, peace versus pain, union versus separation.
Ironically, for a type so oriented to the spiritual world, Nine is the center of the Instinctive Center, and is the type that is potentially most grounded in the physical world and in their own bodies. The contradiction is resolved when we realize that Nines are either in touch with their instinctive qualities and have tremendous elemental power and personal magnetism, or they are cut off from their instinctual strengths and can be disengaged and remote, even lightweight.
To compensate for being out of touch with their instinctual energies, Nines also retreat into their minds and their emotional fantasies. (This is why Nines can sometimes misidentify themselves as Fives and Sevens, “head types,” or as Twos and Fours, “feeling types.”) Furthermore, when their instinctive energies are out of balance, Nines use these very energies against themselves, damming up their own power so that everything in their psyches becomes static and inert. When their energy is not used, it stagnates like a spring-fed lake that becomes so full that its own weight dams up the springs that feed it. When Nines are in balance with their Instinctive Center and its energy, however, they are like a great river, carrying everything along with it effortlessly.
We have sometimes called the Nine the crown of the Enneagram because it is at the top of the symbol and because it seems to include the whole of it. Nines can have the strength of Eights, the sense of fun and adventure of Sevens, the dutifulness of Sixes, the intellectualism of Fives, the creativity of Fours, the attractiveness of Threes, the generosity of Twos, and the idealism of Ones. However, what they generally do not have is a sense of really inhabiting themselves—a strong sense of their own identity.
Ironically, therefore, the only type the Nine is not like is the Nine itself. Being a separate self, an individual who must assert herself against others, is terrifying to Nines. They would rather melt into someone else or quietly follow their idyllic daydreams.
Red, a nationally known business consultant, comments on this tendency:
I am aware of focusing on other people, wondering what they are like, how and where they live, etc. In a relationship with others, I often give up my own agenda in favor of the other person’s. I have to be on guard about giving in to other’s demands and discounting my own legitimate needs
Nines demonstrate the universal temptation to ignore the disturbing aspects of life and to seek some degree of peace and comfort by “numbing out.” They respond to pain and suffering by attempting to live in a state of premature peacefulness, whether it is in a state of false spiritual attainment, or in more gross denial. More than any other type, Nines demonstrate the tendency to run away from the paradoxes and tensions of life by attempting to transcend them or by seeking to find simple and painless solutions to their problems.
To emphasize the pleasant in life is not a bad thing, of course—it is simply a limited and limiting approach to life. If Nines see the silver lining in every cloud as a way of protecting themselves from the cold and rain, other types have their distorting viewpoints, too. For example, Fours focus on their own woundedness and victimization, Ones on what is wrong with how things are, and so forth. By contrast, Nines tend to focus on the “bright side of life” so that their peace of mind will not be shaken. But rather than deny the dark side of life, what Nines must understand is that all of the perspectives presented by the other types are true, too. Nines must resist the urge to escape into “premature Buddhahood” or the “white light” of the Divine and away from the mundane world. They must remember that “the only way out is through.”
To invest into a memory that will only take you down a road that cannot be traveled is futile and counter-productive. It takes us away from the here and now, and it only impedes our well-being when we give nostalgic cadence to this venture. Memories are not necessarily bad for us, but if we continue to give energy to a particularly unpleasant memory, if we continue to fuel the abstraction of a once possible reality that has never been, then we are only allowing the dream world to take control over our emotional domains. We can of course use this to divert our energy to change something in our present lives today, and to that I would say that it would be good motivation to take action in the now which is moving forward and out of our regretful past. But if we gather these memories on a remorseful platform, then we are only harming ourselves as they reignite bitter pains that haunt us again. Even after years of such happenings, we can continue to drown ourselves in unnecessary emotional toxic energy that can consume our better natures.
The idea of forgiveness is a very powerful charm against past transgressions or foiled endeavors. Learning to create another path when one door shuts, is vital to wasted time brewing about something that your mind can tend to let fester if no action is taken. When our footsteps take on a direction, we sometimes meet obstacles that prevent the path chosen, as we can also stray from our original intent by just the same analogy. But if we ponder our true resolve and find that we should not give up and continue to try, sooner or later we just may find what we were searching for. On more occasions than not, we will most likely discover our destiny by chance and accident more than any thought out plan we devise ourselves.
Life is full of fortuitous contingencies. Much of what comprises our lives are the resulting realities we discover and eventually meet; they are not necessarily the determiners of our fate, but rather, they are just the multitude of circumstances we will find ourselves in. These are what I call the fortuitous contingencies that populate our existence. In my experience I have been fortunate enough to benefit from mistakes and miscalculations I’ve made and the mistakes and oversight’s of others by proxy. But when we act upon something we try to envision, we are an agency working to create much of what can be possible as we engage the world before us.
If we stay static, much of our possible world will never be realized. We will limit our world, and miss out on opportunities. If we continue to be static, we may never learn the lesson that it is never too late to change. It is never too late to take some action that will bring you closer to a goal you may have abandoned some time before. I know we may all have some regrets, but I also know that we can learn from them and the sooner we dust ourselves off from the fall, the sooner we can once again act upon the world and bring about some different result on the next time around. If we are to give up, if we are to impose a learned helplessness and become a walking corpse, than we are not living as we ought to be. We are disrupting our creative forces that can lead us to change and deliver us from a superfluous redundancy in our lives.
Action is the key in our exoneration of our regrets. If we take action, than we can move forward without giving our scornful selves any energy to use. Actions taken can absolve us from regret. Do not let our derisive afterthoughts gain any power over our lives. The actions we evoke with proper guidance can lead us to new chapters in our lives sans the baggage if we disallow any accumulation. Live in the moment today, and much of the hesitation will fade away after practice. I do not mean to suggest that if it feels good than do it. I am not prescribing a hedonistic philosophy, but rather one that appreciates what is present when one attends to the moment we experience. If we allow our common sense to guide us, than perhaps we may make some sense out of a wondrous world full of opportunity, surprise, and adventure that would have otherwise been invisible to us. We can often live too much in the past and in the future without really attending to what is going on now. How ’bout you?
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.”
“There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
“The only victories which leave no regret are those which are gained over ignorance.”
― Napoléon Bonaparte
“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“No I am not Prince Hamlet nor was meant to be
Am an attendant lord one that will do
To swell a progress start a scene or two
Advise the prince no doubt an easy tool
Deferential glad to be of use
Politic cautious and meticulous
Full of high sentence but a bit obtuse
At times indeed almost ridiculous—
Almost at times the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind Do I dare to eat a peach
I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
To know oneself, one would think that we must know what our ego tells us. This internal opinion about who we are as a person is a central assumption about the idealization and realization of a self we help create. The defining characterization of what we stand for, and what we believe to be true about relating our thoughts to ideas of who we think we are, both in the physicality and in the psychic features of ourselves become the starting and ending points of our existence. The conscious awareness of how we define our existence within our mental states has been argued over thousands of years by the philosophers, scientists, and mystics that call themselves human beings. We are in a class of being that has distinguished itself among all the other animals that inhabit this earth.
If you are one to look up at the stars at night, if you are fascinated by the endless stars in our cosmos and become filled with wonder asking questions about our natures, than you can understand that many times before us, there were others who sought to understand their place in the universe among the other countless galaxies as well. How we see ourselves can have some dramatic implications in our lives. How we chose to live, how we associate with others, and what will be the intent of our behaviors in everyday life may just be founded on one striking principle that we come to know over the years; our own ego.
How we define ourselves, and the decisions we make that will ultimately affect our relationships and environments we navigate including how we relate with ourselves is fundamental in the development of our consciousness.
The implications to such definitions can lead to some very astonishing conclusions, and lead us to act upon those ideas. No matter how rational we think we are, or how irrational we become, we still assign ourselves to a set of ideas that we believe make up our being, something that is usually separate and somewhat isolated from other beings. An examination of the ego can lead us to many roads traveled.
The symbolism of ourselves can lead us to make some very mistakenly held beliefs about what truly is, and our experience of it! You will find below ways to look at ego as identified by several explanations following this text. I apologize for the redundancies but felt that a thorough discovery of what an ego entails in general terms would be helpful in understanding the problems we become immersed in when discussing ego. It has created many problems today, just as it has done in bygone days since many of the identifying characteristics have not changed and if left to the impetuous mind, then never a glance into the mysteries of the soul could be truly uncovered. These lost lambs of humanity would stay in the mystical, and would wander through their existence without the knowledge of how we help create the illusive ego that touches everything we see and do without really even knowing it.
some thoughts on ego….
Ego as defined in the dictionary is the thinking, feeling, and self action that is conscience. It is aware of its distinction from the self of others and from the objects of its thought and other operations. It has since taken on the meaning as the part of the self that is the enduring, conscious subject of varying experiences. In Freudian psychology it is the conscious aspect of the psyche that develops through contact with the external world and protects the organism by resolving conflicts between the id and the superego as to conform best with reality. The Id being the unconscious part of the psyche, independent of a sense of reality, logic, and morality but actuated by fundamental impulse towards fulfilling instinctual needs. It is the reservoir of psychic energy or libido. The superego being that part of the psyche that, with or without conscious support, acts to secure the conformity of the ego to parental, social, and moral standards.
The collection of processes originating in and/or associated with the brain, involving conscious and subconscious thought, interpretations of our experiences, perceptions, insights, imagination and the like are what can be considered to be the usual defining structure of what mind can be. Our memory and what we remember, our opinions, sentiments, convictions, desires, inclinations and our wishes. Our intellectual power or capacity represented by our intelligence. Faculty of cognition and intellect, as opposed to the will and emotions.
In some views, mind is seen as related to the Spirit or intelligence seen as the basic substance of the universe and distinguished from matter. In this regard mind is a psychical being.
In some religions and theologies the “Mind” it is the Divine Principle or God.
Relative to awareness, ego is seen as that aspect. The ego, as typically used is seen as related to that aspect of our being that is aware and/or aware of itself. Ego is seen as the thinking, feeling, and action self that is conscious of itself. We refer to “my” beliefs, “my” thinking, “my” opinions, where as other simply say we are “in our ego.” It is the ego which is seen as being aware of being distinct or separate from others and from the objects of its thought and other operations of the mind and body.
As working definition, mind is what we think and believe, who we think we are and how we think the universe works based on all the experiences we have had. It is what we allow ourselves to feel and not feel and the decisions we make and not make, on what we think and feel. Mind assimilates all that we have experienced and provides a perspective from which to view and experience phenomena. Since mind is continually assimilating all that we experience can continually transforming itself.
Ego is the identity mind constructs from what it thinks and believes about itself. Ego is the identity mind gives to itself. Ego is what we use to describe who we think we are. To the mind, the awareness which resides in the mind, or view from behind the mind, is seen to live in the ego. In reality, ego is a filter or a lens which colors how the awareness behind mind views the experiences it has. As long as there is a mind there will be an ego. The issues is how clear is the filter or lens through which the awareness of mind views the experiences it has.
Awareness is that which perceives, observes and watches. It has no identity. It is seen to live in mind but actually lies behind mind and never changes. We can access the awareness and set outside the filters and lens of the mind and ego by becoming a detached witness. The more we can detach ourselves and only witness what is, as it is, the more we move into an identification with the awareness.
The more we identify with the identity mind gives itself based on the experiences it has experienced, the more we are attached to our ego. Here we see whatever we experience as happening to us personally. The more we detached from the identity mind gives itself, the more we move into the perspective of the detached witness and into a more pure awareness. The more we move into the perspective of the detached witness the more we can see that mind simply creates a vehicle to experience and the more the awareness that has the experience recognizes what happens to them is not personal.
The ego is simply who we think we are. The “I,” that becomes awareness of its own existence and recognizes its own existence as a separate being and who defines itself by the experiences it has in life, has little power to change that fact that it exists. We cannot make ourselves not exist because we already are. We exist and we continue to exist because there is a flow of energy that sustains our being.
We are a creative living process continually redefining ourselves. How we characterize the energy we feel both as an adult and a child is that our perspective has, and will, change over time.
In this regard, the “I” is not frozen. It continually evolves and defines itself based on its experiences but it is selective in what it chooses to define itself. Yet, all the experiences it has are not always used. Only selected experiences are used to create the ego and define the who and what mind thinks it is and how it has been harmed or hurt or helped by the world. In more ways that first realized, it is only because we experience what we do in the same body that keeps the identity that we have about the same.
Ego is not something with which we are going to do without or get rid of. The western mind tells us we cannot escape the ego, rather it is something that will always be there and it is either active or inactive, and we of course can choose to turn it on or off. Ego is neither good nor bad and is only a vehicle for experience. The suggestion that we can meet a better understanding is humorously indicated in the video clip below.
To think we can escape and/or transcend it, it is simply the illusion of mind. The question is, “How do we construct the ego we have and do we allow our ego to change to create something different?” It is completely malleable if we allow it to be. The issue arises when we become attached to the ego or some attribute or characteristic of the ego. In many cases, the attachment we have to the ego holds us back and causes pain just an any other attachment.
The ego is the product of the belief system and the mind that holds the beliefs.
The ego, especially, the enculturated ego fears death. The enculturated ego develops as a result of the experiences of the body and how we have been taught to experience life. Many of these experiences are at protecting the body from injury, pain and death. Hence the enculturated ego see itself as experiencing what the body experiences, namely, injury, pain, suffering and death. Often the enculturated ego transfers this fear of dying into the Transcendental ego. Any suggestion of changing the ego or transforming the ego gives rise to the possibility of its death and it quickly moves to defend itself and prevent the change. The enculturated ego is the ego or identity our mind creates and we assume as a result of our enculturation. It is not the ego that results from the experiences we have had. Rather, it is an identity we assume based on how we have been taught to interpret life and understand ourselves by our society. Usually there are experiences we deny to satisfy our enculturation. As such, we do not develop an ego that is truly representative of the experiences we have had.
Ego absorption is the essence of narcissism and the story of Narcissus. In ego adsorption we lives to serve the ego. A healthy ego is vitally necessary to claim our birthright as a being of unlimited creativity and as the creator that we are. Self love is equally important to create this healthy ego. However, self-absorption of the ego is harmful to our being. The constant worrying, analyzing and thinking of our ego about itself and preserving and/or serving itself prevents us from being present to what is, as it is, and becoming aware and climbing out of our habits and conditioning. When absorbed in the ego, we cannot see reality as it exists in the present. Our ego, which is only a construct of our thinking based on our conditioning, has assumptions, preconceived ideas, biases, prejudices and the like which are constantly getting in the way. Yet, there is no need to transcend the ego or somehow try and do away with it. We must learn to control the ego and use it as the vehicle it is and not allowing it to control our lives. When ego controls our lives, we do become narcissistic and have an excessive admiration and fascination with ourselves to the point of self-destruction. In doing so, we stay in more of an infantile state of creative development in which the self is the only object of our interests and not growing up and maturing. When we become self-absorbed we do become the Narcissus.
The major causes of ego absorption is not love of self. If one truly loves themselves they would have that love to give to others for they would understand what the other needs to feel whole and complete. Self absorption with ourselves that causes us to become the Narcissus is fear, the desire of the ego to keep itself out of fear, and trying to feed the ego by satisfy its longing and perceptions of its beloved. However fear is probably the greatest cause of ego absorption.
Because of this identification of ego with the body that has created its experiences, humans look for security and safety for both their body and their ego no matter how secure and safe they may actually be. Additionally, most people look for this security and safety in the external world. For example, we look to money and wealth, another person, or a place within society that can give us the security we seek. We live physical life from within a body and think the things that can protect the body will also protect the ego. So ego protects itself just as it would protect its body. We work to create an external world of safety and security thinking our egos will be safe and secure because our bodies are protected and taken care of to prevent its harm and injury.
However, relative to the ego, safety and security comes from within for the ego is a construct of our internal world and cannot be injured and harmed from anything externally. We ourselves, who have created the ego are the only one’s who can injury and harm the ego. We place our selves in circumstances that are ultimately harmful and painful to either our body or our ego thinking we are going to protect our ego. Then when we are somehow harmed internally or externally because of the situation in which we, ourselves, have place ourselves, we blame the external world and hold it accountable for what we experienced.
Transcending the ego not about “getting out of ego” or some how leaving the ego behind. Rather is it about not being bound by the ego and allowing ourselves to redefine ourselves as necessary or at will.
The Buddhist tradition defines the ego differently than the classic Freudian tripartite reinterpretations of the classic Greek philosophical versions.
The feeling of a separate “I”, which we call ego-consciousness, is directly related to the strength of ignorance, greed, and hatred. The deepest meaning of ignorance is the believing in, identifying with and clinging to the ego, which as we have seen, is nothing but an illusive mental phenomenon. But because of this strong clinging to ego-consciousness, attachment/desire, anger/hatred arise and repeatedly gain strength.
The ego needs activity to exist. Like and dislike, attachment, aversion, greed and hatred are the main overt activities of the ego. The more want and aversion we have the more alive we feel, the more real and concrete the ego seems. In reality, the ego depends on want, its life-blood is desire. The ego and want are like the two sides of a coin — one cannot exist without the other. The ego is projected desire, and desire is projected ego. It is like pedaling a bicycle: if we go on pedaling, the bicycle goes on moving; but if we stop pedaling the bicycle will start slowing down and eventually stops. The more we go on generating want the ego seems very real. When desiring stops the ego then appears as an illusion.
This is why want cannot be satisfied. If we stop want (and this means aversion also) then our sense of self starts getting weaker, it starts to dissolve. Actually, the objects we desire, like or dislike are not really that important. They are merely scapegoats or excuses for the activity of the ego, to prevent ego-death. Any object will do. Though to keep from appearing foolish, superficial or unwise the ego comes up with all kinds of good-sounding reasons and justifications for why it needs to acquire something or get away from something else.
That is why people in the West, especially in America, have yard or garage-sales. They have attics, closets, and garages full of things they don’t use any longer, and not because it is necessarily worn out or broken. Some of it — clothing, toys, gadgets, tools, etc. were probably used very little or perhaps never. These people need to empty out their closets and attics to make room for more. Much of it, including the shopping trips, are simply more activities, more life-saving ruses of the ego. And even getting upset, irritated, and angry at others for seeming trivial things is often only more excited energy to make the ego seem more alive.
However, at the same time it entails and generates a lot of suffering. So we can see the direct connection between ignorance, desire and the ego.
This is why it is so difficult for the average person, who does not meditate, to quiet their mind and experience total rest. We are called human beings, but a better term would be “human doings”. Even in sleep the body will toss and turn and the mind goes on dreaming. The hardest thing for the average person to do is to sit still, not move the body at all, close the eyes, and do not go to sleep or get lost in daydreaming. After a few minutes they would become increasingly restless, wanting to do something. They cannot simply enjoy just being.
This is because the ego-self would feel uncomfortable, strange, useless and either go to sleep or start dissolving. The latter is in fact what happens during deep concentrated meditation. That is why many people shy away from or do not want to meditate. Many who do meditate, cannot go into deep meditation for very long. The ego shrinks away from the deep silence (even unconsciously) because it feels like death -ego death.
Ego or “I” consciousness arises as a resistance to the flow of impermanence coming through the senses. Resistance manifests as attraction or aversion to sense stimuli, including our thoughts, memories, and emotions etc. When attraction and aversion subside resistance also subsides and along with it the strength of ego awareness subsides. This can be directly observed during meditation.
Desire is also directly related to the past and future. When we see, hear, smell taste, touch, and think, the mind unconsciously brings in our past memories of attraction and aversion and reactions to the present sense stimulation, and then it projects these into the future with the subsequent thoughts, emotions, and reactions in the next moments (or microseconds). So the conditioned mind is always moving between the past and future, and this movement activity creates the illusion of time. It also creates the illusion of “I” consciousness. Both time and the ego are simultaneously created through the deepest inner activity of the mind, generated by ignorance and desire.
The practice of mindfulness or vipassana meditation is essentially a practice of keeping the attention in the present moment, being aware of whatever the body and mind is doing in the present moment. We try not to let the mind get carried away with attraction or aversion or allow it to stay lost in thought. We tune the attention on the flow of impermanence as it arises and passes away through the six senses. We try to watch and let go of resistance to discomfort or pain, to open up and relax more and more into the present.
‘”Buddhi” in Sanskrit means the “pure intellect/’ the mind which is free from the conditioned influence of the emotions so that no biased or prejudiced observations or deductions are construed The minds of most people operate under all kinds of biases and perversions so that all of their perceptions and thoughts are tainted and conditioned to function in set patterns In this way they can never perceive things in their true nature. The power and scope of their mind remains limited and confined. The Buddha, the Awakened One, was one who had freed his faculty of intellect from all distortions in order to clarify it to the greatest possible degree. From that point he was able to develop an acute awareness and insight into how the mind and body function together As his insight deepened he discerned the why and wherefore of the mind and body and all the phenomena related to them Through his perfected insight the Buddha saw the complete cycle of cause and effect, the law of Karma as it pertains to the elements of mind and matter, and directly experienced how it operates.
He saw that the root cause of the suffering and unhappiness which living beings experience is rooted in their own mind. By cultivating awareness and acquiring control over the operation of the mind a person can alter, eliminate, and destroy those root causes which bring misery, sorrow, and frustration in his life. He can create and develop other root causes which will bring about the gradual and eventual ending of all sorrow and confusion. He would then be free from all doubts, regrets, remorse, anxiety, and restlessness which would disturb his well-being; he would be an inspiration for others and be able to help them effectively.
That is exactly the teaching and practice which the Buddha first discovered for himself and then, out of great compassion, explained and methodically offered to the world The Buddha was the great doctor of the mind who cured his own mind of the great disease-ego/conceit. He was also able to expound and describe in detail the cure by which any person could likewise purge his mind of the great affliction called “Ego,'” and of all of the attendant sorrow, pain, and grief which inevitably accompanies such a disease. So an appropriate title for those Teachings which are called Buddhism could well be termed ‘The Way to Peace and Happiness.”
When we can rest the mind (consciousness) more and more in the Present, then the past and future, desire and the ego all start dissolving. And with this suffering also vanishes. This is direct experience of the Dhamma, of the Four Noble Truths.
Depending on how you view the term ego, or how you chose to structure the consciousness we have to formulate the relationship you have with yourself, the result can have some profound metaphysical applications to the way you live your life, and some of the problems you can find yourself in while negotiating these set of rules you have mapped out for yourself.
The Wiktionary definition adopts this version from 1998, Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth; When every thought absorbs your attention completely, when you are so identified with the voice in your head and the emotions that accompany it that you lose yourself in every thought and every emotion, then you are totally identified with form and therefore in the grip of ego. Ego is a conglomeration of recurring thought forms and conditioned mental-emotional patterns that are invested with a sense of I, a sense of self.
The attachment that a person makes to the idea of who they are is an example of how this bonding of the idea of themselves goes into the psychological identification of themselves.
Tis a sorrowful epilogue to man when we have to negotiate those in power that sustain great cadences of problems resulting from ego.
“It was the general opinion of ancient nations, that the divinity alone was adequate to the important office of giving laws to men… and modern nations, in the consecrations of kings, and in several superstitious chimeras of divine rights in princes and nobles, are nearly unanimous in preserving remnants of it… Is the jealousy of power, and the envy of superiority, so strong in all men, that no considerations of public or private utility are sufficient to engage their submission to rules for their own happiness? Or is the disposition to imposture so prevalent in men of experience, that their private views of ambition and avarice can be accomplished only by artifice? — … There is nothing in which mankind have been more unanimous; yet nothing can be inferred from it more than this, that the multitude have always been credulous, and the few artful. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or labouring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. As Copley painted Chatham, West, Wolf, and Trumbull, Warren and Montgomery; as Dwight, Barlow, Trumbull, and Humphries composed their verse, and Belknap and Ramzay history; as Godfrey invented his quadrant, and Rittenhouse his planetarium; as Boylston practised inoculation, and Franklin electricity; as Paine exposed the mistakes of Raynal, and Jefferson those of Buffon, so unphilosophically borrowed from the Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains those despicable dreams of de Pauw — neither the people, nor their conventions, committees, or sub-committees, considered legislation in any other light than ordinary arts and sciences, only as of more importance. Called without expectation, and compelled without previous inclination, though undoubtedly at the best period of time both for England and America, to erect suddenly new systems of laws for their future government, they adopted the method of a wise architect, in erecting a new palace for the residence of his sovereign. They determined to consult Vitruvius, Palladio, and all other writers of reputation in the art; to examine the most celebrated buildings, whether they remain entire or in ruins; compare these with the principles of writers; and enquire how far both the theories and models were founded in nature, or created by fancy: and, when this should be done, as far as their circumstances would allow, to adopt the advantages, and reject the inconveniences, of all. Unembarrassed by attachments to noble families, hereditary lines and successions, or any considerations of royal blood, even the pious mystery of holy oil had no more influence than that other of holy water: the people universally were too enlightened to be imposed on by artifice; and their leaders, or more properly followers, were men of too much honour to attempt it. Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind.
What makes you flourish? With all of life’s adversity, with all the challenges, and with all the struggles, what is it that helps us get through the mire? How does your hubris hinder the process?
The Greek word that usually gets translated as “happiness” is eudaimonia, and like most translations from ancient languages, this can be misleading. The main trouble is that happiness (especially in modern America) is often conceived of as a subjective state of mind, as when one says one is happy when one is enjoying a cool beverage on a hot day, or is out “having fun” with one’s friends. For Aristotle, however, happiness is a final end or goal that encompasses the totality of one’s life. It is not something that can be gained or lost in a few hours, like pleasurable sensations. It is more like the greatest value of your life as lived up to this moment, measuring how well you have lived up to your full potential as a human being. For this reason, one cannot really make any pronouncements about whether one has lived a happy life until it is over. For the same reason Aristotle argues we cannot say that children are happy, any more than we can say that an acorn is a tree, for the potential for a flourishing human life has not yet been realized. As Aristotle says, “for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1098a18)
“Happiness depends on ourselves.” More than anybody else, Aristotle enshrines happiness as a central purpose of human life and a goal in itself. As a result he devotes more space to the topic of happiness than any thinker prior to the modern era. Living during the same period as Mencius, but on the other side of the world, he draws some similar conclusions. That is, happiness depends on the cultivation of virtue, though his virtues are somewhat more individualistic than the essentially social virtues of the Confucians. Yet as we shall see, Aristotle was convinced that a genuinely happy life required the fulfillment of a broad range of conditions, including physical as well as mental well-being. In this way he introduced the idea of a science of happiness in the classical sense, in terms of a new field of knowledge.
Essentially, Aristotle argues that virtue is achieved by maintaining the Mean, which is the balance between two excesses. Aristotle’s doctrine of the Mean is reminiscent of Buddha’s Middle Path, but there are intriguing differences. For Aristotle the mean was a method of achieving virtue, but for Buddha the Middle Path referred to a peaceful way of life which negotiated the extremes of harsh asceticism and sensual pleasure-seeking. The Middle Path was a minimal need for the meditative life, and not the source of virtue in itself.
One of Aristotle’s most influential works is the Nicomachean Ethics, where he presents a theory of happiness that is still relevant today, over 2,300 years later. The key question Aristotle seeks to answer in these lectures is “What is the ultimate purpose of human existence?” What is that end or goal for which we should direct all of our activities? Everywhere we see people seeking pleasure, wealth, and a good reputation. But while each of these has some value, none of them can occupy the place of the chief good for which humanity should aim. To be a supreme end, an act must be self-sufficient and final, “that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1097a30-34), and it must be attainable by man. Aristotle claims that nearly everyone would agree that happiness is the end which meets all these requirements. It is easy enough to see that we want money, pleasure, and honor only because we believe that these goods will make us happy. It seems that all other goods are a means towards obtaining happiness, while happiness is always an end in itself.
It seems that our unique function is to reason: by reasoning things out we meet our ends, solve our problems, and hence live a life that is qualitatively different in kind from plants or animals. The good for a human is different from the good for an animal because we have different capacities or potentialities. We have a rational capacity and the exercising of this capacity is thus the perfecting of our natures as human beings. For this reason, pleasure alone cannot constitute human happiness, for pleasure is what animals seek and human beings have higher capacities than animals. The goal is not to annihilate our physical urges, however, but rather to channel them in ways that are to our natures as rational animals.
Thus Aristotle gives us his definition of happiness:
…the function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. (Nicomachean Ethics, 1098a13)
In this last quote we can see another important feature of Aristotle’s theory: the link between the concepts of happiness and virtue. Aristotle tells us that the most important factor in the effort to achieve happiness is to have a good moral character — what he calls “complete virtue.” But being virtuous is not a passive state: one must act in accordance with virtue. Nor is it enough to have a few virtues; rather one must strive to have all of them. As Aristotle writes,
He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life. (Nicomachean Ethics, 1101a10)
According to Aristotle, happiness consists in achieving, through the course of a whole lifetime, all the goods — health, wealth, knowledge, friends, etc. — that lead to the perfection of human nature and to the enrichment of human life. This requires us to make choices, some of which may be very difficult. Often the lesser good promises immediate pleasure and is more tempting, while the greater good is painful and requires some sort of sacrifice. For example, it may be easier and more enjoyable to spend the night watching television, but you know that you will be better off if you spend it researching for your term paper. Developing a good character requires a strong effort of will to do the right thing, even in difficult situations.
Aristotle would be strongly critical of the culture of “instant gratification” which seems to predominate in our society today. In order to achieve the life of complete virtue, we need to make the right choices, and this involves keeping our eye on the future, on the ultimate result we want for our lives. We will not achieve happiness simply by enjoying the pleasures of the moment. Unfortunately, this is something most people are not able to overcome in themselves. As he laments, “the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1095b 20).
Later in the Ethics Aristotle draws attention to the concept of akrasia, or weakness of the will. In many cases the overwhelming prospect of some great pleasure obscures one’s perception of what is truly good. Fortunately, this natural disposition is curable through training, which for Aristotle meant education and the constant aim to perfect virtue. As he puts it, a clumsy archer may indeed get better with practice, so long as he keeps aiming for the target.
Note also that it is not enough to think about doing the right thing, or even intend to do the right thing: we have to actually do it. Thus, it is one thing to think of writing the great American novel, another to actually write it. When we impose a form and order upon all those letters to actually produce a compelling story or essay, we are manifesting our rational potential, and the result of that is a sense of deep fulfillment. Or to take another example, when we exercise our citizenship by voting, we are manifesting our rational potential in yet another way, by taking responsibility for our community. There are myriad ways in which we can exercise our latent virtue in this way, and it would seem that the fullest attainment of human happiness would be one which brought all these ways together in a comprehensive rational life-plan.
There is yet another activity few people engage in which is required to live a truly happy life, according to Aristotle: intellectual contemplation. Since our nature is to be rational, the ultimate perfection of our natures is rational reflection. This means having an intellectual curiosity which perpetuates that natural wonder to know which begins in childhood but seems to be stamped out soon thereafter. For Aristotle, education should be about the cultivation of character, and this involves a practical and a theoretical part. The practical part is the acquisition of a moral character, as discussed above. The theoretical part is the making of a philosopher. Here there is no tangible reward, but the critical questioning of things raises our minds above the realm of nature and closer to the abode of the gods.
For Aristotle, friendship is one of the most important virtues in achieving the goal of eudaimonia (happiness). While there are different kinds of friendship, the highest is one that is based on virtue (arête). This type of friendship is based on a person wishing the best for their friends regardless of utility or pleasure. Aristotle calls it a “… complete sort of friendship between people who are good and alike in virtue …” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1156b07-08). This type of friendship is long-lasting and tough to obtain because these types of people are hard to come by and it takes a lot of work to have a complete, virtuous friendship. Aristotle notes that one cannot have a large number of friends because of the amount of time and care that a virtuous friendship requires. Aristotle values friendship so highly that he argues friendship supersedes justice and honor. First of all, friendship seems to be so valued by people that no one would choose to live without friends. People who value honor will likely seek out either flattery or those who have more power than they do, in order that they may obtain personal gain through these relationships. Aristotle believes that the love of friendship is greater than this because it can be enjoyed as it is. “Being loved, however, people enjoy for its own sake, and for this reason it would seem it is something better than being honored and that friendship is chosen for its own sake” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1159a25-28). The emphasis on enjoyment here is noteworthy: a virtuous friendship is one that is most enjoyable since it combines pleasure and virtue together, thus fulfilling our emotional and intellectual natures.
The Golden Mean
Aristotle’s ethics is sometimes referred to as “virtue ethics” since its focus is not on the moral weight of duties or obligations, but on the development of character and the acquiring of virtues such as courage, justice, temperance, benevolence, and prudence. And anyone who knows anything about Aristotle has heard his doctrine of virtue as being a “golden mean” between the extremes of excess and deficiency. Courage, such as, is a mean about the feeling of fear, between the deficiency of rashness (too little fear) and the excess of cowardice (too much fear). Justice is a mean between getting or giving too much and getting or giving too little. Benevolence is a mean between giving to people who don’t deserve it and not giving to anyone at all. Aristotle is not recommending that one should be moderate in all things, since one should at all times exercise the virtues. One can’t reason “I should be cruel to my neighbor now since I was too nice to him before.” The mean is a mean between two vices, and not simply a mean between too much and too little.
Furthermore, the mean is “relative to ourselves,” indicating that one person’s mean may be another person’s extreme. Milo the wrestler, as Aristotle puts it, needs more gruel than a normal person, and his mean diet will vary accordingly. Similarly for the moral virtues. Aristotle suggests that some people are born with weaker wills than others; for these people, it may actually be a mean to flee in battle (the extremes being to get slaughtered or commit suicide). Here we see the flexibility in Aristotle’s account: as soon as he begins to lay down some moral rules, he relaxes them in order to take into consideration the variety and contingency of particular temperaments.
Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean is well in keeping with ancient ways of thinking which conceived of justice as a state of equilibrium between opposing forces. In the early cosmologies, the Universe is stabilized as a result of the reconciliation between the opposing forces of Chaos and Order. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus conceived of right living as acting in accordance with the Logos, the principle of the harmony of opposites; and Plato defined justice in the soul as the proper balance among its parts. Like Plato, Aristotle thought of the virtuous character along the lines of a healthy body. According to the prevailing medical theory of his day, health in the body consists of a proper balance between the opposing qualities of hot, cold, the dry, and the moist. The goal of the physician is to produce a proper balance among these elements, by specifying the proper training and diet regimen, which will of course be different for every person.
Similarly with health in the soul: exhibiting too much passion may lead to reckless acts of anger or violence which will be injurious to one’s mental well-being as well as to others; but not showing any passion is a denial of one’s human nature and results in the sickly qualities of morbidity, dullness, and antisocial behavior. The healthy path is the “middle path,” though remember it is not exactly the middle, given that people who are born with extremely passionate natures will have a different mean than those with sullen, dispassionate natures. Aristotle concludes that goodness of character is “a settled condition of the soul which wills or chooses the mean relatively to ourselves, this mean being determined by a rule or whatever we like to call that by which the wise man determines it.” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1006b36)
In conclusion, according to Aristotle, what is happiness?
Happiness is the ultimate end and purpose of human existence
Happiness is not pleasure, nor is it virtue. It is the exercise of virtue.
Happiness cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life. Hence it is a goal and not a temporary state.
Happiness is the perfection of human nature. Since man is a rational animal, human happiness depends on the exercise of his reason.
Happiness depends on acquiring a moral character, where one displays the virtues of courage, generosity, justice, friendship, and citizenship in one’s life. These virtues involve striking a balance or “mean” between an excess and a deficiency.
Happiness requires intellectual contemplation, for this is the ultimate realization of our rational capacities.
My personal discovery of questions I’ve had to negotiate led me to make some of these observations I’ve pondered on recently…
Don’t wait for change to come to you and spontaneously happen
Initiate the changes yourself in actions and small measures that lead you to your goals; the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step
Don’t be a poem of the fool
Find your purpose and realize your passions. If you don’t allow obstacles to limit your possibilities, then you can make the necessary adjustments and move on.
If it doesn’t work – change your method
Seek out new ways if you find that you continue to get stuck in same rut.
Life is better when it can be shared
Having other people help support you emotionally is essential for a fully developed experience. We cannot become islands unto ourselves and escape human connections because we risk isolation and feedback that is necessary for our growth.
Align your intention with your actions
Sometimes our actions do not complement our intentions.
Humble yourself by providing some service to others
Sometimes others help us see what to be grateful for when we lose sight of gratitude and humility
Laugh at your own mistakes
Humor is an essential part of not taking ourselves too seriously. Part of being human is knowing we cannot always predict the right outcome for our behaviors; we are not perfect beings, but continue to strive to do the right thing since we learn through making mistakes when we meet the world full of unknown variables we cannot otherwise grow without adapting the experience we find ourselves in. Keeping ourselves grounded will be a choice that makes the most sense. Seeking to support the middle ground in our avoidance of extremes and excesses that usually have consequences to our actions is advisable since sense perception and hedonism can subdue our better natures.
“When we are young, we spend much time and pains in filling our note-books with all definitions of Religion, Love, Poetry, Politics, Art, in the hope that, in the course of a few years, we shall have condensed into our encyclopaedia the net value of all the theories at which the world has yet arrived. But year after year our tables get no completeness, and at last we discover that our curve is a parabola, whose arcs will never meet.”
“Don’t flounder in the preambles of the past
Wounded with regrets; don’t let autumnal
Nostalgia blind you to the sounds and scents
Of the present’s Spring; you’re a native of
The pellucid moment, make it infinite beyond
The curving snake of passing time and space.
Learn to die in the infinitely elusive moment.”
“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.”
― C.S. Lewis