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  • By Peter Zappel


“KNOW THY SELF.” ~ Socrates

Sometimes in life, important information arrives just when we most need it. Introspective and spiritual seekers notice that their lives seem driven by a “theme,” a repeating pattern of thoughts, feelings and actions. We are vaguely aware of a stubborn personality tendency which surfaces with remarkable predictability when we are faced with challenges and the stresses of life, taking us out of the present moment and into the trance of our ego. The Enneagram reveals exactly what is going on within us. In this way Dr. David Daniels, clinical professor of psychiatry, Stanford University, has described the Enneagram as a “liberation psychology” and is an important step in our spiritual awakening. The Enneagram can be seen as a bridge between psychology and spirituality with the power to awaken our essential self and unmask the false self of ego.

Until you make the unconscious, conscious,

it will rule your life and you will call it fate.

~ Carl Jung

Paraphrasing Russ Hudson, we all want to manifest our “best self,” but usually feel we are falling short so we keep striving (a highly admired quality in our culture). We want to believe that better things are still possible for us. But it seems there is always something interfering with our fulfillment and happiness. Even when we get what we want, happiness is short-lived, and we stay unfulfilled. We wonder why we are seemingly unable to find true and lasting happiness. In lucid moments we may ask ourselves: Why am I so convinced the future, what will be, will surely be better than what is? Why so much investment in the future when we know that in the future we will die?

Now, however, in the present moment, we are alive! How easily we forget. This situation is not surprising given the fact that the ego reflexively rejects the present moment in favor of an illusory future. We believe that we do not even exist apart from our emotionally-charged personal storyline filled with fact and fiction, pride and drama. We have a deep and profound attachment and investment in the “story of me,” which is at the root of our discontent. Even though the past is long gone, we can’t let go of it. We live as if the suffocating past were a reality, now. Nor can we let go of our fear of the terrifying future and our certain death.

This is the painful world of ego, with its tiresome repertoire of obsolete responses, automatic reactions and self-defeating attitudes. We desperately cling to illusions about our hoped-for “tomorrow,” filled with the gratification we desire, while ignoring the actual satisfactions available now. Between the past and the future, the present moment becomes the “rock and a hard place” for the ego, instead of the only place happiness can be found.


The Enneagram can help us on our journey of self-discovery by offering specific information about our mental, emotional and instinctual inner states and help lead us to higher levels of awareness and personal fulfillment. The first step is the desire to be free. The second step is understanding the predicament we are in. The third step is developing honest self-observation, which offers us the critical opening needed in awakening to the truth of who we are apart from the trance of our personality.

The Enneagram can be seen as a hybrid, combining ancient wisdom traditions with the insights of modern psychology. It is not a “method” or technique, but rather a road map of our inner workings, and therefore, a revealing diagnostic tool, essential to know for our awakening and growth. Most of us are usually surprised to learn just how differently others see things. In fact, we’re often amazed, even shocked, to learn that others’ interpretation of the exact same event or phenomenon is the opposite of ours. The Enneagram explains why. It gives us deep insight into the nine “distortion filters” through which human beings see the world and how these “perceptual lenses” drive our attitudes, fuel our emotions and influence our actions. The Enneagram is explicit in elucidating the nine mental, emotional and behavioral patterns human beings possess. It reveals the nine “focuses of attention” and how they can distort a clear perception of objective reality and undermine our full potential by pointing out our blind spots.

It is important to understand that we are NOT a TYPE, but essential unified consciousness. However, our incarnation brings separation, individuation, and a particular orientation to how we see the world, a perceptual lens through which we view reality. This lens triggers consistent emotions, beliefs, presuppositions and compulsive actions, which characterize our point on the Enneagram symbol. It is critical to know that we all have ALL of the nine Enneagram types within, but one type is our default position, our home base. However, because the Enneagram is a dynamic circumplex model (not merely static categories), we have access to all of types to various degrees and under certain circumstances. But our Type is the place we usually dwell, habitually making predictable judgments, triggering strong feelings and motivating repetitive compulsive, often self-defeating actions. It could be said that each Enneagram type is searching for something in particular, striving “to be,” one might say. This explains why we too often misunderstand each other.

This is a short summary of what each Enneatype pays most attention to and strives for. Where our attention goes, our energy and actions follow. (Please note that everybody, to some degree, has ALL of these “strivings,” but one in particular has most of our attention most of the time. For example, everybody wants to feel “peaceful” and harmonious, Enneapoint 9, but for Type 9 this is the MAIN “striving” in life.)

Type 1, the Reformer, seeks perfection and strives to be correct

Type 2, the Helper, seeks connection with others and strives to be loving and helpful

Type 3, the Achiever, seeks accomplishment and strives to be outstanding

Type 4, the Individualist, seeks a special identity and strives to be unique

Type 5, the Investigator, seeks to be informed and competent and strives to be detached

Type 6, the Loyalist, seeks assurance and safety and strives to be secure

Type 7, the Enthusiast, seeks positive experiences and strives to be excited

Type 8, the Challenger, seeks control and independence and strives to be powerful

Type 9, the Peacemaker, seeks harmonious relationships and strives to be peaceful

The Enneagram is a gift for those interested in self-realization and spiritual awakening. It is NOT the territory, but a useful map. It shows us the existential predicament we are in while revealing the pathway to greater awareness, fulfillment and happiness. These can only be found with “presence.” When we lose presence, when the chips are down, we sink into the various neurotic patterns of our false self, the ego. The Enneagram is NOT about improving our personality or polishing it up to make us more successful and desirable in the world, but about understanding our inner landscape so that we can find balance in our lives as our compassion, love and kindness blossom.

Peter received his professional Enneagram training at the Enneagram Institute in New York from Don Riso and Russ Hudson, the world’s leading Enneagram authors and teachers. Peter is the author of numerous in-depth articles in the Enneagram Monthly, the leading publication in the field and has written hundreds of blogs as co-founder and administrator at Enneagram Openings and Enneagram Daily, top online Enneagram communities. He has been teaching the Enneagram for ten years and is presently offering classes and workshops in Humboldt County. He offers both individual consultations and group sessions. For more information call or text: 408-645-9673 ©Enneagram Revelations, All rights Reserved, 2019

Ready to learn more? Here are some suggestions.

Begin Your Enneagram Journey Here:

Come to A class:

Peter is hosting four, by donation intro classes.

These will lead into a more in-depth study series for those who are interested.

Thursday, Sept 26th at 6:00 pm at Isis

Saturday, Oct 5th at 1:00 pm at Isis

Sunday Oct 13th at 11:00 am at Wholistic Heartbeat

Monday Oct 21st at 2:30 pm at Wholistic Heartbeat


Cost: Suggested Donation $5; no one turned away for lack of funds.

Location Addresses: Isis, Upstairs in Suite #48 Sunny Brae Centre in Arcata. Wholistic Heartbeat 1660 Central Ave, Suite A in McKinleyville

Contact: Peter at 408-645-9673 or


Take an online test: The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator is a great one. This test is free This test is more comprehensive and costs $12


Pick up a book at your friendly local book store. One of our favorites is: The Wisdom of the Enneagram:

The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

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