Yesterday, we saw how the Enneagram has a built-in dynamic quality, portraying for each personality type (designated by one of the numbers from 1 - 9) the paths for integration and disintegration respectively.
However one significant weakness here (which also indeed applies to the
Myers-Briggs typology) is that it remains neutral as to the various levels of
development (on the full spectrum).
For example in Western Psychology, adult development is largely confined to -
what I designate as - the first two Bands on the Spectrum with adult development predominantly based on the second.
And this band relates to the specialisation of (linear) analytic
type understanding of a merely conscious nature.
In particular this understanding completely dominates the present
mathematical and scientific worldviews which in many ways serve as the new
religion for the present age!
However a crucial weakness of this worldview - despite its admitted great
triumphs - is that it is greatly lacking a true holistic dimension (which
directly relates to unconscious development).
In like manner the very capacity for integration with respect to the
personality entails significant growth with respect to the unconscious.
Therefore one can seriously question the extent to which true integration
for the various personality types (with respect to any preferred system) can
take place without dealing with the vertical - as well as horizontal -
profiles for the various types.
As always, my initial interest in this area of development sprung directly
from personal experience.
Through most of my 20's, I found myself completely immersed in a profound
darkness that seemingly bore no relationship to the normal experience of others (as I then
For one day in the week some calm would reign with respect to the inner storms and
travails prevailing and I would pursue some quiet spiritual reading in a Dublin library. There
I discovered the "The Dark Night" by St. John of the Cross which
resonated to a remarkable degree with my own experience.
Some years later, when this stage had passed I began to realise that St.
John's account itself reflected a particular personality type (that we both
So using The Enneagram, I would classify him as a 4 (with a strong 5
wing). In Enneagram terms every primary number type, is linked to a
(as wing) on either side. So a 5 for example will therefore have either a
a 6 wing!
Therefore while undergoing the most intense inner subjective experience, he
could still view it in a detached objective manner.
Then in somewhat complementary manner I had come to see my own personality as
a 5 (with a strong 4 wing).
Now when one looks at the diagram for the Enneagram there is one unusual
Therefore this would tend to signify that for this personality mix (in
particular) that an especially important gap in the personality must be bridged
to achieve true integration.
In fact, Jung - though not a spiritual contemplative in the accepted sense
- writes about a similar type crisis or "night sea
And again I was to realise that my later resonance with the writings of Jung reflected a very similar personality profile!
However it took me some time to properly accept that other personality
types could pursue a very different path to integration.
Therefore the "dark night" crisis - as portrayed by St.
John - that I long accepted as the gold standard for authentic spiritual
integration - in fact reflects but one extreme version that especially applies to
people with a particular personality mix.
At the same time, I made another interesting discovery.
I was reading a book "the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas" by Etienne Gilson and
attempting to find a modern explanation as to why Angelology was seen as such
an important part of the medieval theological system.
Then the following sentence triggered the crucial insight that I was looking
"The angels are creatures whose existence can be proved and in
exceptional cases observed; their suppression would render the universe as a
I had been just been reflecting on the holistic significance of
transcendental numbers (such as π) when in immediately struck me that by
replacing angels with transcendental numbers we get the following equivalent statement:
"The transcendental are numbers whose existence can be proved
and in exceptional cases observed; their suppression would render the system of
numbers as a whole unintelligible."
So in fact Cantor (who
proved the unique existence of transcendental numbers without reference
to any actual examples) and St. Thomas could therefore be seen to have
been pursuing the same intellectual issues regarding the nature of the
infinite under the separate veils of Mathematics and Theology
Now the significance of transcendental numbers in a holistic context is that
they relate to a highly refined spiritual intuitive type of understanding, where
both conscious and unconscious aspects of understanding are closely linked.
This then led me to a modern psychological way of looking at Angelology as a somewhat
mythical attempt of exploring the higher powers of the unconscious mind (which
especially find development through authentic spiritual contemplation).
In other words, from this perspective, Angelology points to the hidden unconscious potential of the
In this sense it is remarkable that the Thomistic system - derived
from the Pseudo-Dyonysius - in fact represent a (vertical) Enneagram.
hierarchical ranks of angels are distinguished (with three degrees in
each hierarchy) which ascend from initial
contact with the material world to their most purely spiritual
(as Seraphim and Cherubim).
In like manner spiritual contemplation starts from a dualistic
base where spirit intermingles with (gross) phenomena before
eventually - all going well - culminating in pure union with God.
It is also interesting in this regard that the same Pseudo-Dyonysius equally
had an important influence on developing the doctrine of the via negativa with respect
to mystical development (which ultimately culminated with "The Dark Night" exposition of St. John of the
So we have two Enneagrams, the standard (horizontal) version which
implicitly assumes the same level of development for all types and a (vertical)
Ennegram, which in a somewhat mythical manner portrays the various stages that
all types must pass through to achieve full spiritual union.
However a severe dichotomy still exists as between both types!
My own considerations on this issue initially centred on consideration of the - extended - 24 personality types classification.
Again these are divided into 3 main groups (of 8 types).
The first group comprising “real” types are most firmly rooted in the
actual world of form.
Therefore personality integration for these personalities is unlikely to require substantial exploration
of the “higher” vertical levels.
In fact the centaur - which would be the highest of the middle levels -
represents a good model of what is required here for successful integration.
Therefore with sufficient centaur type development, such
be freed to engage with the (actual) world in a flexible and creative
manner. However this involvement would not require specialised
development with respect to the unconscious.
The second group are made up of “imaginary” types that gravitate naturally
to the creation of a potential reality (expressive literally of the
Integration is likely to be more problematic for these types, who can experience considerable difficulty in integrating their unconscious instincts with
the demands of actual living.
For successful integration, such personalities may require a much
greater degree of “higher” contemplative development to cleanse their
creative desires of
excessive ego involvement. They may also require greater sustained
involvement with the conventional middle levels.
In practice however, as we see so with creative writers, actors etc. successful integration is rarely achieved, with substantial
personality difficulties often preventing satisfactory adaptation to
every day life.
The third group are made up of the “complex” types (paradoxically also
intrinsically the most simple) where the desire for authentic being chiefly defines
The secret for integration here lies in the innate capacity of the will to navigate
the perilous route to true being.
When successful this offers the greatest opportunities for substantial
exploration of the more advanced levels on the spectrum.
However even then life is more likely to resemble a continual journey, where
one’s final destination can be approached but never quite fully attained.
I did then - combining the insights of the two Enneagram models - attempt to express both aspects as a Septagram
(with both horizontal and vertical developmental dimensions).
The first grouping (based on the 4 personality types) related to the number
1463 (in base 8, which again is a cyclic prime).
So all personality types - allowing for the dynamic interaction of positive
and negative directions in a real and imaginary manner - can be derived from
these 4 fundamental modes.
The second group based on 3 levels relates to the number 275 (again in base
8). This now points to the possibility
of vertical growth between levels. Depending on type, 1, 2 or 3 hierarchical
levels will here in general be required for successful integration.