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Enneagram of Ego Ideals

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Enneagram of Ego Ideals?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Enneagram of Ego Ideals

1. Enneagram of Ego Ideals (Idealized States of Being)



Elucidation of the Spiritual Qualities that the Nine Ego Ideals are Unconsciously Mimicking

Keys to the Enneagram looks at a different dimension of the Enneagram of personality. As we know, each Enneatype takes on certain strategies and behaviors based on its distorted view of reality. Through the lens presented in Keys we see that these manifestations are shaped by a belief that there is an ideal way to function and appear. This is referred to as the ego ideal. The holy idea is the deeper perspective of truth that is lost when the Enneatype becomes disconnected from its deeper ground. The ego ideal is a vision of optimal functioning that the Enneatype orients toward to compensate for this disconnection. What Keys does is elucidate the spiritual qualities that the nine ego ideals are unconsciously mimicking. These qualities are actual states of being that shape and color our individual consciousness from the inside. If recognized and embodied, they will relax the fixated orientation of the Enneatype and open the way for recovering the perspective of the spiritual ground of reality.  Keys to the Enneagram, pg. xxiii

Point 1 – Idealized Brilliancy

Point Ones can look wholesome and bright-eyed. This actually reflects the idealized quality of essential intelligence, and we will understand why as we study it. Most people think that intelligence has to do with our IQ, with our brain, or with how many synapses or how much gray matter we have. Or we believe we are born with a certain degree of intelligence, which is mental and has to do with being clever, bright, or brilliant in our ideas, thoughts, theories, or proposals. We sometimes call smart people brilliant. But what does brilliance have to do with intelligence? Do these intelligent people shine and radiate light? Did Einstein illuminate a dark room when he entered it? Of course not, but this notion points to a deep intuition about real intelligence that explains the metaphor  of brilliance. Real intelligence turns out to be a quality of being that shines with an intense brightness, which led us to call this aspect brilliancy. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 69

Point 2 – Idealized Merging Love

It is easy to see how the various traits and behaviors listed above—and many others that characterize the shell of this type—are all attempts to regain or actualize a kind of essential love and, most significantly, how the basis of the ego ideal is to approximate and imitate some of this essential love’s characteristics. It is very important for us to realize that conventionally we do not truly understand love, only some of its characteristics. Further, even those characteristics tend to be self-serving and, hence, distorted. For our present study it’s important to recognize that there is not just one love but many kinds of love and that the word love encompasses approximations of several distinct essential qualities of love. Twos tend to idealize and desire not just any form of love, but one specific kind of love: the love that embodies the principle of connection, of feeling intimately connected through increasing degrees of intimacy, all the way to total merging and oneness. Of course, Twos actually want and need all of the kinds of love, but what they idealize is the particular way our spiritual nature expresses its love. All kinds of love are important in relationships and are expressed mostly in that context. But this particular love is central for relationships because it is the glue that makes them real relationships. Many of us vaguely remember this kind of love from our very early life. It is a primary quality that pervades the good mother-child relationship in the first few months, and even the first year, of infancy. It is the basis of healthy attachment, for it is true connection. Most of us seek it later in our relationships, especially in our intimate love relationships. But others of us avoid it depending on the dynamics we experienced in our early relationship with our mother (or mothering person). Or we can be ambivalent about it, tending to experience unsureness and difficulty in sustaining a healthy relationship or marriage. This kind of love is not simply an appreciation for or liking of another, which actually points to a different essential quality of love. It is not passionate ecstatic love either, for this again points to a third quality of love. All are important for relationships but most relevant for us here is the merging love, which literally forms the relationship, provides the essence of genuine connection, and helps the relationship endure beyond a mere encounter. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 56

Point 3 – Idealized Personal Essence

It is true that in its enshrining of the unique individual, Western culture is frequently enshrining the ego. But we have to wonder where the West got the idea that the individual with its personal uniqueness and variation is important in the first place. An even more important question is why do all human beings appear as individuals and live as such until they become aware of the vastness of the nondual, infinite, transcendent reality? Where did the soul learn to structure herself as an individual? Another observation that the nondual teachings tend to ignore is that no two realized nondual masters are the same, which points to the fact that individual difference is not incompatible with nondual equality. It is also true that some human beings intuit a real individual as being one who is successful at being a true human person with true personalness and a capacity for relational contact and effective functionality, and one who makes human life meaningful instead of understanding it as an illusory stage on the way to the transcendent vastness. The idealization of type Three comes from this obscure intuition, but it is patterned by what one’s society or group thinks of as an exemplary human individual. This erroneous ideal is compounded by the additional influence of one’s particular personal history and one’s encounters in life. The ideal does not appear as the individual or person but as some associated characteristics of the essential quality: those of efficiency, competence, and excellence, especially in doing. Threes idealize efficiency and strive hard to be as proficient as possible. They try to be effective in their drive toward success and be competent in all that they do. They are focused on not wasting time, being down to earth and practical, and creating excellence to the best of their ability. But maintaining their image of efficiency and competence is important only for achieving what they believe will make them the human paragon of success in their society. Then they will have become what a human being “ought” to be, bringing with it acclaim, love, and admiration. Threes believe this will restore the lost love and attuned holding that will finally make it possible to simply relax and be, without a care in the world. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 82

Point 4 – Idealized Essential Identity

Fixated Fours experience themselves as more than an individual with some differentiating characteristics. At the center of their sense of individuality, their sense of self, is a feeling of identity, of who they are. This is true of ego in general, for ego is the soul that became structured as an individual with a sense of identity. You can be an individual and not have a sense of who you are, but the feeling of identity provides the emotional and conceptual marker that tells you who you are through the changes of life and the passage of years. It is always you, regardless of the changes that occur during encounters with life situations. Modern depth psychology has shown that issues around our sense of identity can be destabilizing and make us more sensitive and narcissistic. The extent of instability around our sense of self determines our degree of narcissism, which the Diamond Approach understands as the distance our identity is from who we really are. In spiritual teachings in general, we don’t find a clear distinction between the individuality of ego and its identity. They are conflated as the ego or the self that stands in the way of our realization. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 97

Point 5 – Idealized Diamond Guidance

To understand the Five ego ideal that patterns the external part of the fixation (that is, the shell, not its core), we need to have some understanding of the idealized spiritual quality. We arrive here, as we did for type Seven, at another diamond vehicle. For type Seven the idealized quality was associated with the Markabah, the pleasure vehicle, domain of essential pleasure. We saw that it had all the various essential qualities but in a particular configuration and in a form where each quality was a different kind of pleasure. So, kindness is experienced as pleasure, intelligence is experienced as pleasure, and so on. Though each feels and tastes differently, the vehicle encompasses all of them. For type Five, we refer to the manifestation of our spiritual or essential nature as the diamond guidance or “nous.” Diamond guidance refers to our essential intellect. Ordinary intellect is but a reflection of essential intellect since it is not connected to our true nature. This manifestation of our spiritual or true nature is not that well known or documented. It is rare to find somebody who actually knows essential intellect in its specificity and its functionality, and who embodies it in such a way that it expresses itself in their life. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 137

Point 6 – Idealized Personal Will

The type Six idea of will is more akin to willfulness and what is commonly known as an unbreakable will, which can be so inflexible and hard that, when idealized, it is referred to as an “iron” will. Many consider an iron will to be a good quality. However, this iron quality makes a person defensive and inflexible, even insensitive and inhuman. It also appears as hardheadedness. We can confidently say that Hitler had an iron will because he persistently exercised ruthless authority and did so at the expense of many victims whom he suspected or feared. This reflected the fact that he was disconnected from true will and most likely was suffering from a sense of castration and deficiency that he defended against with an unrelenting dedication to power and authority, a dedication that could not deviate or retreat, change course or yield. Of course, most Sixes are not like Hitler, but we are using his example to show in caricature how far this distortion of personal will can go. Most Sixes have a distortion of personal will but in various degrees, some of them coming close to true will. The term we use in our teaching to refer to this kind of defensive determination is “false” will. When we find ourselves willful in an intractable and insensitive way, we can actually sense in our solar plexus an iron ball that is hard and unyielding. Though solid and impenetrable, it is a poor imitation of true will. False will is unrealistically exaggerated and unhelpful for learning and inner development or for serving others and their well-being. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 43

Point 7 – Idealized Pleasure Vehicle

It is amazing how close Sevens are to the spiritual quality they idealize and yet how far they can be from actually experiencing and knowing it as it is. It is not an easy quality to access, since it is not simply a quality of spirit, or what we call an essential aspect. It is a grouping of the essential qualities together in a particular configuration that we term a “diamond vehicle.” Diamond vehicles are carriers of wisdom about various elements in the nature of the soul and its journey of unfoldment. This particular vehicle requires what the Sufis refer to as the Latifa of qalb, or heart, which they associate with the prophet Abraham and the color yellow. The center of this quality of joy is a place slightly above the left nipple (just as the red of strength is at the right side and the white at the solar plexus). It might open for  some people, without them noticing, when they are happy in a carefree way, especially when they are not concerned about anything and are relaxed and at ease. Usually, however, the moment we notice we are joyful, it tends to close down, for the quality of joy is extremely subtle and vulnerable to the mind and emotional reactions. It is actually, in this respect, the most subtle of the lataif. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 109

Point 8 - Idealized Strength

Point Eight’s idealized strength is an approximation, a poor imitation of true strength. It perceives strength physically or socially as brute strength or strength of character. But this is strength as seen from the animal point of view, where we feel we are in command, the top dog, or the unchallenged leader of the pack. This strength is sometimes expressed in extreme ways, as in the case of Joseph Stalin, who displayed unimaginable excesses of brutality and aggression, and Saddam Hussein. A more mature and moderate example of an Eight is Winston Churchill, who stood courageously against Nazi aggression and led Britain in the dark years of the Second World War until victory was achieved. More recently, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, was an Eight who stared down widespread opposition as she remade the British social contract through austerity and breaking the power of the unions, among other things. These character traits give us a feel for an expansive strength that—when distorted by ego—can become vulgar, offensive, and cruel, resulting in bullies and ruthless dictators. Teasing out the essential quality requires seeing the positive and truly effective constructive expression of aggression. We must go beyond what appears nonhuman, unacceptable, and not useful—what is destructive and dysfunctional—to reveal the positive quality the ego is trying to emulate. Of course, different Eights express the essential quality of strength in different ways with varying degrees of distortion, imitation, or approximation. Only with careful observation can we discern the common elements that, in their totality, point to what is real behind the fixated manifestations. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 27

Point 9 – Idealized Boundless Love

Nines want to bring peace by avoiding conflict and difficulty. The quality of divine love makes it possible to bring peace, meaning, and harmony, but only by confronting the difficulty. It is not the quality that is needed in actually confronting and grappling with the conflicts and difficulties. For this we need essential strength and will, along with essential intelligence and compassion. However, the quality of divine love gives us a basic sense of trust, a feeling of being held by a benevolent presence that comforts and soothes. It is actually what is needed on the spiritual path at times of difficult transitions, such as big losses or fragmentation. These are often times of trial, fear, or challenge. Boundless love is what allows the seeker to feel trusting enough to deal with the situation and to move on to other as yet unknown dimensions. It can work similarly in dealing with difficulties of the world and of our ongoing life as well. It grants us trust and ease, which make it possible for us to harness other essential qualities that ensure that the mediation or peacemaking is real and effective. I have referred to it as loving light or living daylight in my book Facets of Unity. Keys to the Enneagram, pg. 127

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