Genesis and the Enneagram

“Behold, Man has become like the Unique One among us, knowing good and bad……”

Introduction to the Enneagram of Co-Creation

The concept of co-creation introduces a novel understanding of the Enneagram that bridges and integrates psychological and spiritual theory and practice.

Fundamental to this approach is the conviction that human beings, through the exercise of free-choice, are ultimately self-creating. Our deepest striving is to know the essential truth about ourselves, and about life, and to live our lives as an authentic expression of that truth.

Personal truth is arrived at through the alignment of our highest spiritual yearnings, with the aspects of ourselves that are expressed through our relationships with others, and in our attempts to manage and gain mastery over our lives in this physical world.

At the centre of this perspective is the belief in personal agency, free-choice, the responsibilities and accountability inherent in these notions. Personal development through self-awareness and having an active involvement in the shaping and crafting of ourselves through the exercise of personal agency is seen as the primary responsibility of anyone who wishes to lead a fully spiritual life.

Spirituality is seen as the ultimate expression of our humanity and represents the highest potential inherent in our humanity.

This article will begin by describing how our ways of being in the world develop. Learning to live in the world means being able to position ourselves in the world, navigate through life and relationships pursuing our needs.

The different ways that particular people master these challenges is described with reference to the Enneagram Symbol. Lastly, the practical implications of this new perspective for Co-Creation will be discussed.

“In the beginning…………”

The Development of Personality

The issues with which we grapple with from the time we are first conscious remain key issues throughout life, only taking on more complex and elaborate forms as we grow older. It is therefore useful to begin our understanding of people’s ways of being in the world by understanding the basic elements of child development.

The issues in psychological development with which we grapple have corresponding counterparts in spiritual development. For example basic trust versus basic mistrust becomes mirrored on the spiritual level by faith, trust and hope.

In understanding child development it is important to keep in mind that the infant’s first experience of life, beginning with the dawning of consciousness in the womb is pre-verbal and thus pre-cognitive and unformulated. The world for an infant is a world of immediate experience, and of being extension of oneself.

The first experiences of life therefore make profound and lasting impressions on the infant who does not have the experience or language to make sense of or find meaning in experience. Because these impressions are formed pre-verbally, and without any cognitive filters, they cannot be accessed verbally or cognitively. And yet these initial impressions of life inform the person’s way of being in the world from then onwards.

While they cannot be accessed through language and thus thought of or described, they do get activated in circumstances that re-evoke the issues of the primary context in which they formed, namely where the person has to grapple with perceived or real issues of safety or survival. These issues float around within us as unformulated discomfort. This unformulated material has been termed implicit memory.

Through conscious exploration, and with the use of a map like the one proposed in this and other perspectives, we retrace our steps, making sense of the navigational themes, beliefs feelings and ideas that formed our own early maps. In so doing we give them form and meaning, transforming them into resources by making explicit the blind-spots but also the potential implicit within them.

“Let us make man……”

The Three Primary Challenges of Being in the World

Starting from a position of being merged with our mothers, an extension of our mother’s bodies, we move into the world through progressive stages of separation from our mothers starting at birth. The primary issue we confront from the outset is survival as we move from a merged state into the world of separateness and autonomy.

This means having to find and define our boundaries, our own place in the world, and then establishing our relationship with the world that we perceive to be outside of ourselves.

How we accomplish this task influences the extent to which we perceive the world as being separate or as being an extension or ourselves. Our experience of the world and our expressions of self in the world can be understood in terms of our relationship as this sense of duality.

In order to relate to the world we have to navigate our way through complex interpretations and meanings pertaining to our place in the world and how the world works, as well as being able to transact with the world in order to meet our own needs and respond to the needs of others.

“Behold, I have given to you all…….”

Scarcity and Abundance: The Two Primary Life Orientations

It is through our earliest experiences in life that we form one of two lasting and pervasive impression of life that dramatically informs our perception and way of being in the world.

The first orientation is called abundance and is based on the knowledge that:

1) we are welcome in the world;

2) we have essential value and therefore can take our rightful place in the world;

3) we can make demands on the world to protect, hold and nurture us and meet our needs;

4) our inner substance has value and power and can positively affect the world and that the world is willing and able to respond to us;

5) we can therefore surrender in faith and trust to the process of our lives;

6) we can be in touch with and express our true needs and feelings directly and trust that we will be loved for who we are;

7) we can expect our authentic expression of self to be accurately perceived, understood, and receive appropriate response;

8) we can trust that what we have or not is what we need for our own good;

9) if we are hurt we can trust ourselves to recover;

10) we can affect the world positively through beneficence, namely just by giving of the best ourselves to the world in an authentic way.

In abundance, there is no fear or sense of competition or threat because the world is seen as being my world, and the enrichment of others enriches my world. Abundance is therefore an essentially ecological approach to life. This is very different to a narcissistic sense of entitlement. Abundance embodies hope and avoids arrogance. Abundance is where hope, faith and trust meet.

1) In abundance we feel safe within ourselves, and within the world, and are therefore able to be fully present and responsive to the world and to own inner life. It is where we feel free to be in touch with and express our authentic experience of life in the moment. We are well aware that our map is not the territory, but rather represents wisdom and resources collected over time, and that we have to be open and present to ourselves and to the world in order to perceive the territory for what it is.

The other life orientation is the opposite of abundance and is called scarcity. In scarcity we perceive ourselves to be unworthy and separate from the world that we believe is essentially hostile and indifferent to us.

In scarcity we objectify and commoditize ourselves, and have to therefore be pre-occupied on protecting and serving ourselves. In scarcity we have to keep our focus on survival behaviour, manipulating, and taking from the world what we can, and hold a self-serving orientation to life. In scarcity we are unable to trust our own experience or the world, and thus cling to our old, sometimes even infantile inner map, and follow that regardless of how inaccurate it is for the territory of our immediate experience.

In scarcity, the inner map becomes for us the territory. When the map proves to be ineffective because we are applying it out of context, we both rigidly and blindly cling to the map. We try to modify the world in order to fit the world to the map, or modify ourselves in order to fit who we appear to be, to the map.

“And the Earth was empty and without form……”

The Enneagram Symbol: A Landscape of Infinite Possibilities

The Enneagram Symbol in this perspective is seen to represent the “landscape of infinite possibilities” of perceptions of and ways of responding to life. Each point then represents merely a map of the whole, the whole being a Divine view of reality.

These maps, or “points of reference” as they are known in this perspective, are comprised of the distinctions and resulting themes, pre-occupations’, strategies and placements of attention that we learned to invest and specialize in, or that simply became habitual as we forged our sense of separateness and managed our survival in the world.

While numbers on the Enneagram Symbol are referred to in this system as “points of reference”[1], the numbers on either side represent the “themes that lie in the wings”. The inner lines are known as the lines of “transient migration”.[2]

Each of the maps, encompassing the primary point of reference, the themes in the wings, and the lines of transient migration, are what we use to position ourselves, navigate the landscape of infinite possibilities and psychologically transact with others. They represent the maps as well as the instruments that we use to make sense of the world and manage our lives.

These points of reference become established early in life, and become reflexive and seemingly entrenched. As we grow older, if our primary orientation is scarcity, then we tend to merely elaborate upon them and generalize the use of them in most situations of life, to the exclusion of other possible pints of reference, even when they are ineffective or even self-defeating.

In abundance these maps provide a basic orientation and spring board from which we can explore further, and, with an open heart and an unencumbered mind, artfully and seamlessly maneuver our way through infinite possibilities available for human experience.

The themes that lie in the wings and the points at the lines of transient migration, offer possibilities for expansion of our repertoire, into ways of perceiving and being that are always available to us, but which are not aware of or have too little used for them to become known to us as part of our dominant story about who we are.

How we experience and use our themes in the wings or lines of transient migration, whether we draw upon the valuable wisdom and resources inherent in them, utilize them purely as survival tactics, depends on whether we are in the scarcity or abundance orientation.

The centre of the diagram is a tenth point, a point of “wholeness” that radiates out from the centre and then spreads out into what are known as the nine points. The nine points of reference describe the ways that we focus attention, create meaning and consequently respond.

“Where are you?”

By knowing universal aspects of human consciousness, wisdom and experience reflected in each point of reference one is able to contextualize one’s own view, and find the limitations of that view, as well as seeing what other possible perspectives one could embrace, in order to align ones approach to life more closely with ones true intentions and ideals. We may thus create meanings that allow us to have a coherent life narrative. In so doing we begin to live an intentional life, on purpose rather than by accident.

The possibilities inherent in the entire landscape are available to each of us. Each of us actually expresses all the points of reference in our ways of being, sometimes explicitly and at other times implicitly.

What is conventionally termed personality is the habitual over-use, often in a defensive manner, of the wisdom inherent in a particular point of reference. Since we developed “personalities” in order to survive in the world, we fall back most rigidly and tenaciously on these ways of being when we feel under any type of threat.

In survival mode we lose sight of the infinite alternative possibilities for perceiving, interpreting and responding to the world. It is as if the more fearful or threatened we feel, the tenaciously we focus on and cling to our internal instrument panels and the less we are able to perceive or respond to the world as it is.

The points of reference represent particular ways of being with which people become so identified with and reliant upon in order to feel safe, that we use them even when they are compromising our safety. A scarcity orientation leads to a placement of attention that references past experience and focuses on current obstacles or sources of threat. This often leads to a recreation of the past or an inability to perceive alternative safe options in the present.

What we experience in ourselves, as well as what we tend to perceive in others, is the world filtered through our own preferred or primary point of reference. However the other points of reference express themselves through us, albeit in an obscured form, distorted our particular point of reference. For example all people distract themselves by entertaining multiple options and not committing, however one only sees this directly in point 7. All people have the Teflon coating that stands in the way of them “getting it”, however one only sees this directly in point 9.

By finding how one’s behaviour actually expresses all the points of reference, one is able to overcome the limiting aspects of those strategies and embrace the wisdom inherent in the other points of reference in order to become liberated from one’s own self-limiting fragmented view.

To follow on from the examples, in discovering how one keeps oneself distracted, the inner point7, one could work on focus and commitment. Through understanding the inner 9 one could discover all the strategies that one employs to avoid being moved or being accountable and become more engaged, present and responsive.

“And The Man assigned names……”

Partners in Creation

At the deepest level spiritual life means partnering in the creation of the world. This means firstly, influencing the world through our actions. The world we perceive is partially the world that reflects back to us our own influence. That reflection in turn informs our participation in life and relationships.

Another and more essential meaning of creating our world, implicit in the foregoing statement, is the creation of our world and ourselves, through the way that we view and make sense of our world and ourselves. How we describe the world to ourselves, the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are, and about life, influence our behaviour and ways of being in the world.

When we say that the eyes are the windows of the soul, we can interpret this to mean that the way in which we view our world is what informs our actions in the world. Our ways of seeing the world, and our consequent actions, are thus revealing of our deepest motives and intentions. They mirror who we really are at that point in time.

We all tend to share an idiosyncrasy in that we tend to describe our reality in ways that exclude or deny our own participation in the world that we perceive and experience. This is because to admit fault seems to be an admission of being essentially flawed and therefore not loveable.

The sense of being essentially flawed, lacking and therefore unlovable, evokes in our minds a sense of scarcity. Scarcity triggers the early feelings of impotence and of not having the substance or power to affect our world in order to get our true needs and feelings heard, understood and responded to appropriately. This is why people defend and justify their behavior, regardless of how obviously destructive it has been and regardless of the contradictory evidence and proof of their self-deception, as if their very survival, at least on a psychological, depended upon them being right.

Intrinsic to the scarcity orientation is the notion that the truth about our true needs, feelings and the motives and intentions that arise out of our inner experience are dangerous. Of course, when we conceal our true feelings needs and intentions behind the mask of deception and manipulation, believing that that is the ideal strategy for survival, we end up eliciting the very reactions we so deeply fear.

Because of our denial of responsibility or agency, our participation in the creation of our own reality remains opaque to us, forming a blind-spot in our perception of ourselves.

When we act in dishonest or manipulative ways, the reactions of others to our behavior, serves to reinforce our belief in the scarcity perspective, namely that we are not loveable enough to get our needs met through legitimate expression of those needs.

Perceiving honesty as a threat to survival, we tend to respond to this dilemma by refining of escalating our ruses, in order to get the responses from others that we desire. Thus scarcity tends to be a self-perpetuating process, because we constantly through our blind-spots, create self-fulfilling prophesies.

Spirituality means recognizing that partnering in creation of the world outside of ourselves, and of our personal world which is one in the same. It means therefore that we have to honor others as ourselves, and seeing our own good, and the good of others, as being inseparable from each other.

We thus cannot speak of personality in isolation or as being located in the person. The Psychology of Self Creation is thus a perspective of how personality develops and finds expression through relationship.

“And the woman perceived……..and she took of its fruit and she ate.”

Mindfulness in Co-Creation

The world in which we live, being a mirror of our own consciousness, reflects back to us who we are at any given point in time. Through mindfulness we can use the world to awaken our deeply held beliefs and convictions, motives and intentions, about life which may be limiting, self-defeating or simply destructive.

Behaviour is directed by the future, by what outcome we would like to achieve in the future, and not by the past as many believe. Our behaviour thus a reflection of our deepest intentions, motives and desires. We are however, often not aware of the nature of these intentions, motives and desires. Through mindfulness we may also discern the world reflected within ourselves.

We are, through mindfulness also able to discern the unrecognized, unacknowledged, or unexplored aspects of ourselves that reflected are in the world. We perceive these parts of ourselves through the ways in which we are moved, touched or inspired by others as well as through human endeavours such as art, culture and religion.

“My brother’s keeper…”

Shared Humanity

When we speak of the world, we are referring to the community people who share our world. We become mindful of our participation in the creation of our world, when we perceive ourselves in others, through the way they respond to us, mirror us or emulate us and express through their ways of being, aspects of our shared humanity. It is though relationship that we are able to see our growth challenges as well as our potential.

In abundance we are able to be beneficent in our approach to life. The practice of beneficence means expressing qualities like unconditional giving, kindness, generosity and forgiveness. The practice of beneficence creates over time, the habits of attention, and investment in descriptions of the world that reflects an abundant orientation. Such practice has the ability to progressively transform ones very consciousness into an abundance orientation towards life.

In thinking and responding in ways that reflect an abundance approach, the world tends to respond to our behaviour in abundant ways, thus reinforcing our sense of abundance.

The same principles apply to the scarcity orientation. In scarcity one demands, takes and manipulates the world, thus provoking scarcity response from others.

Thus scarcity begets scarcity, and abundance begets abundance, both in ones own consciousness and in the ways that the world responds to and thus mirrors ones consciousness.

“And behold, it was very good”

Abundance: The Essential Truth About Life

In this model, abundance is seen as the essential Truth about life because it implies an awareness of the inherent Spirituality in oneself and in the world. The abundant orientation is about being awake to the Truth, and a scarcity orientation is viewed as being asleep, or in Neuro-Linguistic Programming language, being in our trance.

The metaphors of our trance or sleep are descriptions of how we protect ourselves, through self-deception and self-justification, from acknowledging aspects of ourselves that because of a scarcity orientation we deem unlovable and therefore as being by extension a threat to our survival.

The choice to be awake is a choice to be scrupulously honest with ourselves about the self-serving way that we distort reality or entrance ourselves in order to defend what, as a result of losing sight of our spiritual essence, we believe we need to be in order to survive and ultimately be loved in the world.

“……….In Our image, after Our likeness”

The Psychology of Co-Creation

The view of this model is that we are fundamentally self-creating beings and that we create ourselves through our exercise of free choice. While nature and nurture interact with each other to shape our awareness and responses to life, there is a third aspect of the person that is able to be self-aware and exercise “personal agency”, understanding all of the inherent and extraneous influences on oneself and consciously taking a position that is based on the choice to make ones participation in the world and expression of one’s highest ideas and values.

By deepening our self awareness we can more consciously and responsibly choose our preferred ways of being and align our awareness and response to our most deeply held values and higher purposes.

Abundance is founded upon the belief that our essential value as a people, is based on the knowledge that we are created in the image of our Creator. Living a spiritual life means developing our ability to express through the practice of beneficence the essence of our Creator embodied in ourselves, which is love.

Spirituality implies the alignment of our personal meaning and mission with what we regard as ultimate truth namely, to make our lives and ways of being become an expression of our Creator’s will. This means by implication, that one believes wholeheartedly in free choice and the accountability and responsibility for how we choose to exercise free choice.

The deepening of “mindful”, reflective self-awareness is the responsibility of anyone who believes in free choice. The more profound ones level of self-awareness the more conscious a person can be of their choices, and consequently the more accountable they can be for their choices.

The view proposed in this model is that one’s circumstances rather than causing ones responses, constantly challenge the individual to demonstrate their commitment to a chosen way or preferred way of being. Ones circumstances bring out and reveal the person, through the choices one makes and the manner in which one construes and responds to ones reality, rather than directly causing behaviour.

Living life one’s life as an expression of abundance means being the embodiment of love and peace, and living in a state of true intimacy with the world. This means perceiving oneself and others through loving and compassionate eyes, seeing the perfection in ones own and other people’s process of moving towards Spiritual evolvement. It means moving beyond the obstacles, to that state through which growing ones sense of abundance enables self-awareness, congruence, honesty and integrity and reverence for others and spiritual consciousness.


[1] The points are not named in this perspective. The perspective does not use the seven capitol tendencies.

[2] The concepts of integration and disintegration, stress and security are not used in this perspective.

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