When I was in grad school, I did a lot of reading to look for Enneagram patterns in the wisdom traditions (I looked primarily at Christianity and Buddhism ).

Concurrently, I was doing my Enneagram training. In listening to panels, you can see people’s core “vice” as they share their stories.

You can also see something else when they begin to relax the compulsive story and pattern: their virtue shows up.

For instance, when a 4 can slow down their tendency to notice what’s missing, breathe, drop inside themselves and relax their envy/longing for what’s missing (their vice), EQUANIMITY (their virtue) shows up on its own. They don’t have to “try to be balanced.” It’s what’s left when they relax the longing and envy.

Did you know the root word of “virtue” is “virs” which means “life force?”

The Enneagram “Vices and Virtues”:

Ones: Anger/Serenity

Twos: Pride/Humility

Threes: Deceit/Honesty

Fours: Envy/Equanimity

Fives: Avarice/Non-Attachment

Sixes: Fear/Faith

Sevens: Gluttony/Constancy

Eights: Lust (Excess)/Innocence (Coming fresh to each moment where you can sense the truth)

Nines: Sloth (Self-forgetting)/Right Action

The Enneagram identifies the cognitive-emotional habit of nine types. Each type as its own habitual attentional style with a core emotion that drives the pattern. Within this structure, there is a somatic response that accompanies the emotion. There are three primary afflictive emotions in Enneagram theory which are concurrent with neurobiological research: anger, fear and panic at loss of connection. (Jack Killen MD, David Daniels MD, Dan Siegel, MD). These three primary emotions correspond with the three centers of the Enneagram (Anger: Body, Fear: Head and Panic: Heart).

So I am thrilled to see my friend, Dr. Kristin Arthur’s post in IEA Nine Points, the online magazine for the International Enneagram Association. She digs into Freud (psychological patterns), Damasio (a neuroscientist who describes patterns in neurobiological terms) and Evagrius, Evagrius, a 3rd century monk who some call the founder of the Enneagram (although I suspect someone saw our patterns sooner…Evagrius just happened to write down his observations).

She writes:

“To me, it seems obvious that Damasio is perfectly describing, in neurobiological terms, what Evagrius was describing in terms of demons. I believe that Damasio is describing what was going on inside the monks when they experienced themselves as being attacked by demons.

But Damasio understands this “unrestrained triggering of a specific set of negative emotions” as an unfortunate side effect of the evolution of consciousness, not as something that evolved because it served an adaptive purpose in itself. A bug, not a feature.

Evagrius believed the opposite, that the demons were an essential aspect of the human condition who served the purpose of enabling humans to learn about their true nature. A feature, not a bug.”


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