Main Pages

By Region



Enneagram of Specific Reactions

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Enneagram of Specific Reactions?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Enneagram of Specific Reactions

1. Enneagram of Specific Reactions

Facets of Unity, pg. 291

Point 1 – Holy Perfection

For ennea-type One, the loss of basic trust is seen through the lens of comparative judgment, and the result is the reaction of trying to make yourself better. You believe that something is wrong with you, and so you try to fix yourself. There is a resentful attitude of comparing, judging, and criticizing yourself, and an obsessive and compulsive activity to change or modify yourself or your experience.......... See also p152. Another way that the activity of the specific reaction can manifest is as an obsessive tendency to prove to oneself and to others that there is nothing wrong with us, that we do live up to the right standards, and that we are right. Some people, for instance, always need to be right, regardless of what the situation is. This attitude of always proving to ourselves or to other people that we are perfect and right is a way to cover up the belief or feeling that there is something wrong with us. It’s a reaction formation, doing just the opposite of what we consciously or unconsciously believe about ourselves. If we really feel we are okay, why do we have to prove it? Why do we need to compulsively prove that we are right? If we really felt okay about ourselves, we wouldn’t need to confirm it.

Facets of Unity, pg. 150

Point 2 – Holy Will, Holy Freedom

In the face of the loss of the sense of holding, your basic trust in the universe disappears. You come to feel that the universe is against you, or at least not with you, and so the specific reaction arises of willfully pitting yourself against what is. The specific reaction, then, for this ennea-type is that of willful action. This stance, which characterizes ennea-type Two, is one filled with pride and stubbornness in which you assert, “I am going to get my own way.” People of this ennea-type have a strong willfulness; it is important to them that things go their way and that what they make happen is important because otherwise, they feel castrated and humiliated. The fake will is very crystallized, and there is a stubborn resistance to feeling that they can’t have their way since that would make them feel castrated. So instead of feeling that whatever is happening is just what’s going on, you feel that your will is ineffective and hasn’t worked if things aren’t happening the way you want them to or think they should. This reaction of willfulness against the sense of humiliating castration implicitly contains not only the belief that you have a separate will and can choose and determine what happens, but also that you know how things should go.

Facets of Unity, pg. 134

Point 3 – Holy Harmony, Holy Law, Holy Hope

This striving is a reaction formation to the sense of helplessness, and at the same time, it is an imitation of the energetic dynamism of Being. Rather than being intimately connected to Being, however, it is an expression of, and a defense against, the deep sense of helplessness and emptiness experienced as inadequacy. So the striving is both an expression of the disconnection from Being and an activity that cuts one off from Being. It is the activity of the ego which does not trust that Being or God is doing everything, will do everything, and, if one surrenders to it, its optimizing thrust will spontaneously deliver us. This striving embodies egoic hope, as opposed to the flow that expresses the optimism of Holy Hope. Egoic hope makes us react and disconnect from our experience, while Holy Hope makes us relax and open up to the unfolding that is carrying us harmoniously to fulfillment.

Facets of Unity, pg. 274

Point 4 – Holy Origin

The absence of the Holy Idea also manifests as the absence of trust because the holding is lost, which leads to the absence of basic trust. So the specific reaction that results is the expression here of distrust filtered through the belief in a separate identity. It is the ego activity of control—the attempt to control one’s experience so as not to experience the feeling of disconnection. This activity of controlling basically supports the identification with the ego, which creates a fake center, to avoid experiencing the absence of a real center.......... See also p201. So the specific difficulty of disconnection and the specific reaction of control become the core of this ennea-type, formed around the seed of the delusion. Dealing with this core is usually a painful or scary process, but if we are to see through it so that this core can dissolve and we can reconnect to the Holy Idea involved, we have to go through it. Control is an expression of distrust, so if you allow yourself to lose the control, the distrust will be exposed. This distrust then needs to be explored, because its absence makes you feel frightened and therefore, having to control. As you feel and explore it, you might get in touch with the specific difficulty, and ultimately with the delusion that forms the kernel of both. So as we are seeing, every time we explore the core of an ennea-type, we are dealing with a whole constellation, a whole complex.

Facets of Unity, pg. 200

Point 5 – Holy Omniscience, Holy Transparency

The specific reaction in response to this painful sense of deficient isolation is to withdraw in an attempt to hide from reality. If you feel small, deficient, and isolated, it means that you feel inadequate to deal with reality, so the reaction of this ennea-type is to want to avoid dealing with reality, to hide from it, to try to separate, withdraw, run away from it, to break off contact—basically to not stay in touch with whatever reality is presenting. This reaction again implies the delusion of separateness, since you have to believe you are a separate individual to believe that you can hide or withdraw from reality. What you most want to get away from is the state of deficiency itself. But when you withdraw and you don’t let yourself experience it, this behavior becomes generalized, and you end up avoiding everything in your attempt to avoid seeing or experiencing any difficulty, pain, or hurt. This reaction escalates into the personality complex of ennea-type Five, with its characteristic emotional withdrawal and deadness, and the dissociation of mind from body. So the core of this ennea-type is a state of impoverishment and the schizoid defense of withdrawal and avoidance.

Facets of Unity, pg. 108

Point 6 – Holy Strength, Holy Faith

The specific reaction of ennea-type Six is characterized by an alert, paranoid kind of suspiciousness, always being on the look-out for danger. If you are around someone having this kind of reaction, they might ask you all sorts of questions, and you can tell that the underlying attitude is one of fear, suspiciousness, anger, and aggression, as though they are wanting to expose some selfish motivation within you that they are sure is there. You can sense the fear and insecurity in the person, as well as their attempt to protect themselves; they don’t know whether they can trust you, and already suspect you. This reaction is a defense against an environment that appears hostile and threatening, but it is also the main defense against the inner sense of fearful insecurity. One is always suspicious and on the defensive, for relaxation and trust would bring an expectation of external danger, as well as the feeling of insecurity and vulnerability in the face of it.......... See also p243. So, in spite of the opposite styles, both a phobic and a counterphobic Six have the specific reaction of defensive suspiciousness. The former will withdraw and overtly display a suspicious stance, while the latter will charge ahead in order to override the defensive reaction. The defensive suspiciousness can be directed not only outward, but also toward yourself. This could take the form of being suspicious of your own motives or not letting yourself go deep inside yourself, because you fear what you’re going to find there, and you suspect it won’t be good.

Facets of Unity, pg. 243

Point 7 – Holy Wisdom, Holy Work, Holy Plan

We have seen that the specific reaction of each ennea-type is the expression of the lack of basic trust as it is filtered through that type’s specific delusion. Here, the resulting distrust is filtered through not perceiving the Holy Plan and the delusion that one can know which direction to take. The reaction is to try to create orientation. This is the specific reaction of planning. Planning is nothing but creating direction for your future actions. It implies the absence of trust that there is already an inherent plan that is oriented toward the actualization of your potential. This plan is already present in your inherent nature, and all you need to do for it to unfold is to be yourself in the present. You don’t need to, nor in fact can you, plan your enlightenment. You just need to be true to who you are at the moment, and your unfoldment will happen on its own. But instead of surrendering to the Holy Plan, you create your own plan and engage in ego activity instead of surrendering to the Holy Work. Planning indicates that you have an idea in your mind of how you should be and how you should live and what should happen within yourself and in your life. This means that your orientation is coming from your mind, and that it is determined by a goal that you are attempting to arrive at in the future. It’s coming from your lower intellectual center, instead of your higher intellectual center, the source of the Holy Ideas.

Facets of Unity, pg. 182

Point 8 - Holy Truth

Ultimately, all self-blame comes down to blaming oneself for not being enlightened. Universally, there is a core place within all ego structures where one feels guilty for not being a realized Being. The guilt, as we have seen, has to do with the fact that (in Christian terms) you have been thrown out of paradise—yet you don’t blame God for this; you blame yourself. The deeper you go into understanding the sense of guilt, the more you realize that you feel guilty for not being real. This is particularly relevant when you have realized the essential aspect of the Point, the Essential Identity (see The Point of Existence, Almaas 1996). Here you see that you have carried within you a profound sense of guilt for losing contact with your true nature. A sense of great betrayal arises, not just because your parents didn’t see your real nature, but that you stopped seeing it. You abandoned what is real in you; you abandoned yourself. Each ennea-type will experience this guilt in a slightly different way, as it is filtered through the lens of each one’s specific delusion, but this guilt and self-blame for the loss of contact with Being is universal to all egoic experience

Facets of Unity, pg. 94

Point 9 – Holy Love

The specific reaction here is the expression of distrust filtered through the delusion that lovableness and hence, love, are conditional. The soul goes unconscious or “falls asleep” to its true reality and the reality of existence. This falling asleep to one’s true nature is true of all egos—you can feel this quality in everyone whose soul is not awake. It is a particular state of the soul that feels groggy, barely aware of what’s happening, heavy, thick, and dull. The falling asleep is basically a giving up, a resignation, forgetting and going unconscious. Even if you had an essential experience yesterday, you don’t remember it today—it is as though it made no impression on your soul. It didn’t wake you up or change you. So regardless of what experiences you’ve had, your soul is still asleep, not awake to the objective reality of things.......... See also p225. We have seen how the specific delusion of this ennea-type appears in the specific difficulty of inferiority, and seen how this leads to the specific reaction of going to sleep, going unconscious. Another way of describing the reaction is that it is forgetting who you are and forgetting objective reality. This is why the particular practice needed to wake up is that of self-remembering.

Facets of Unity, pg. 222

Source of Distrustful Reactions

The inadequacy of the early holding environment leads not only to the loss of contact with Being, as reflected in the loss of a particular Holy Idea, but also to the loss of basic trust, which is an innate, unquestioned, and preverbal confidence in reality. This loss leads to specific distrustful reactions determined not only by the inadequacy of the holding environment, but by the particular delusion that results from the loss of the particular Holy Idea. The specific delusion, the specific reaction of distrust, and the particular way in which the self experiences the inadequacy of the holding environment (the specific difficulty, which is again qualitatively determined by the particular delusion), form the elements of each fixation’s particular core. These three elements develop simultaneously as a consequence of the loss of Being, which results, at least partially, from the inadequacy of the early holding environment.

Facets of Unity, pg. 14

Summarising Enneatype Reactions

Implicit in the ego, then, is a fundamental distrust of reality. The failure of the holding environment leads to the absence of basic trust, which then becomes disconnection from Being, which leads to reactivity, which is ego activity. The Enneagram maps the various ways the ego develops to deal with the absence, disruptions, ruptures, and discontinuities of holding. The reaction for Point One is to try to make the holding happen by improving oneself. For Point Two, it is to deny the need for holding but, nonetheless, be manipulating and seducing the environment to provide it. For Point Three, it is to deny the need for it but pretend to oneself, “I can do it on my own. I know how reality can be and how I’m going to develop and I’ll make it happen.” For Point Four, the loss or absence of holding is counteracted by denying that there is a disconnection from Being, while at the same time trying to make the environment be holding through attempting to control it and oneself. For Point Five, the reaction is to not deal with the actual sense of loss and not feel the impingement directly through withdrawing and isolating oneself, avoiding the whole situation. For Point Six, the strategy is to be more in touch with the fear and distrust, being defensive and paranoid about the environment. For Point Seven, it is by planning how to make it good, and fantasizing what it will feel like, rather than feeling the pain of the loss of holding. For Point Eight, it is to get angry about the loss of holding and to fight the environment to get it back, to try to get justice, and to get revenge for the hurt. For Point Nine, the reaction is to smooth the whole thing over and act as though everything is fine, living one’s life in a mechanical and dead way. This is how the nine ennea-types develop: out of reaction to the loss of basic trust.

Facets of Unity, pg. 44

Universality of Specific Reactions

These reactions are manifestations of disbelief in, distrust of, lack of faith in, paranoia about, suspicion of, a sense of betrayal by, anger at, or even hatred of, this intelligence. The issue here is your relationship to this intelligence, which—if you conceive of it theistically—is your relationship with God. If your mind is more impersonally oriented, you’ll think of it as your reactions to whatever intelligence or presence infuses the universe—which is functionally the same thing as the concept of God. These reactions have a history of hurt, frustration, and a sense of betrayal by God, and they are universal in the sense that everyone who is identified with an ego experiences them in one form or another.

Facets of Unity, pg. 47

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach