Finding Your Unique
offers powerful insight into our personality styles, but we sometimes forget its transformational potential. The journey along our
spiritual path is enhanced when we recognize both the
self-fulfilling and self-defeating aspects of the illusory masks we call
"personality." However, we continue to remain unfulfilled to the degree that we abide by our nine
conditional rules of habit: "I must...
...correct what is wrong."
...take care of others' needs."
...achieve and get results."
...regret what is missing in my life."
...beware of potential problems/threats."
...be positive, upbeat, look to the future."
...be in control."
...respond to others' ideas and expectations."
While each of these nine
frames of reference shows up in a fixation motivated by a passion (a driving
force), no one is completely
separate from the other eight. Ones, for example, are fixated on perfectionism ("I must correct what is
wrong") and their passion for anger. But who among us does not struggle with anger or
perfectionistic behaviors? I believe we each can benefit from the lessons of
with the parallels between the Enneagram paths of transformation and the path of
(liberation) in the
Buddhist tradition. Both recommend–
the Buddhist tradition, practitioners are advised to work on the
paramitas (perfections) which must be cultivated in
pursuit of satori. Though not an expert on Buddhism, it appears to me that
many of these qualities also fulfill the transformational Enneagram
paths. All the paramitas are considered essential in our progress as human
beings. Some bear an uncanny resemblance to virtues associated with particular Enneagram
relied on John Snelling's translations in The Buddhist Handbook (with
Pali equivalents from the Theravada school, pp. 68-69):
comparing the two systems to demonstrate
sameness. I invoke the
wisdom of Buddhism to bolster our ability to bring about transformation. For example, the key noble quality
of adhitthana (determination or
commitment to spiritual practice) seems basic to Enneagram transformation. Below are
nine other parallels I've drawn:
is impassioned by anger and fixated on perfectionism – a path to satori is
patience, the willingness to accept conditions that do not conform to one's ideal.
Twos have the
passion of pride and when fixated on entitlement their caring
for others is conditional – a path to satori is
loving kindness, which is true compassion
is vanity, their fixation is deception (the need to
always see oneself and be see as successful) –
speaking from the essential self and not through personality
needs, is a way to satori.
Fours live with the passion of envy and the fixation of dissatisfaction
– satori can be sought through
equanimity; seeing all events as intrinsically neutral; it is
desire that grades things as "good" or "bad."
Fives have the passion
of hoarding, with a fixation on detachment (they seek information but keep
themselves from emotional connection) – they can seek satori through
generosity, giving freely of oneself so
energy flows in the other direction.
is the passion (experienced as anxiety or hyper-vigilance), accusation the
fixation – satori becomes possible with
morality; living with integrity, recognizing one's own contribution to situations instead of playing
Sevens are driven
by the passion of gluttony, with enthusiasm as a fixation (having fun and
"the good life") – a path to satori is the well-known one of
moderation and letting go of materialism.
fixation on power and control stems from the passion of
wisdom is a way to
satori; a shift to more altruistic and benign modes of operating, a focus on service to
Indolence is the
Nine's passion; the fixation is self-forgetting (resulting
from their other-directedness) –
energy is a way to
satori for Nines; the willingness to stay focused on
their own purpose, without distraction.