Exploring the Relationship between the Enneagram & the Chakras
Both the Enneagram and the Chakras are “maps” for consciousness evolution. In other words, they are broad schemes of the integral human development process. However, there are some essential differences between them, namely:
While the Enneagram distinguishes and describes in detail psychological features for each of nine personality “types” (ennea-types), the Chakras system is a unified system for human development, regardless of any personality style or “type”.
Furthermore, their respective starting-points are not the same. The Enneagram focuses principally on a psychological level, related to the “types” or personality styles; and second, it offers a spiritual or transpersonal perspective regarding the Essential qualities, the Virtues and Transcendent Ideas. But the Chakras system focuses mainly on the vital energy in the human body; and second, it reveals psychological awareness in describing the chakras.
In the Chakras system, every human being is capable of fully developing their potential and achieving a wise life through the process of allowing the chakras to be gradually opened. This process involves overcoming certain existential “challenges” and therein gaining an increased level of maturity, detachment, generosity and open-mindedness. The existential challenges represent specific psychological obstacles that block each chakra, as follows:
1st Chakra – blocked by fear.
2nd Chakra – blocked by guilt.
3rd Chakra – blocked by shame.
4th Chakra – blocked by sadness.
5th Chakra – blocked by deception.
6th Chakra – blocked by illusion.
7th Chakra – blocked by attachment.
According to Eastern spiritual tradition, the practice of regular meditation focusing on each obstacle is the best way to unblock the energy of the chakras, in order to progressively eliminate the harmful influence that these obstacles have on the mind.
The first three chakras operate on the “personal” level. The personal level involves an inner work focused on discovering and accepting oneself.
The last three chakras belong to the “transpersonal” level. The transpersonal level involves abandoning oneself, or more precisely, detaching oneself from the self-image –the ego– and the illusion that one is actually “separated” from the all other beings. In doing so, one achieves a rising awareness of the unity and interconnectedness existing among all beings. The transpersonal level aims at a mystical kind of awareness, which only will be true if one has first worked deeply on the personal and transitional level.
The forth chakra, the heart chakra, is the “bridge” between the personal and transpersonal levels. It corresponds to the “transitional” level. Represented by the heart chakra, the transitional level “bridges” the other two evolutionary levels. The transitional level involves, on the one hand, overcoming obstacles on the personal level (fear, guilt, shame), and a deep understanding and loving acceptance of oneself. On the other hand, it implies a willingness or sincere intention to minimize the importance of self-image, the “ego”, in order to progressively experience love for all beings and an intuitive wisdom that are qualities of the transpersonal level.
The evolutionary map presented by the Enneagram is surprisingly linked to the seven chakras. Beyond our own personality type and instinctual subtype, the Enneagram invites everyone to know oneself and fully develop their own potential through the seven levels of the inner work that correspond to the seven chakras with each chakra pointing to specific vital aspects:
Self-Preservation Instinct / 1st Chakra: Physical health, personal care, money management.
Sexual Instinct / 2nd Chakra: Relationships, significant people, creativity.
Social Instinct / 3rd Chakra: Self-esteem, social image and personal achievements.
Passions / 4th Chakra: Deep motivations.
Virtues / 5th Chakra: Authentic self-expression.
Cognitive-Fixations / 6th Chakra: Delusions and illusions.
Transcendent Ideas / 7th Chakra: Attachment.
The Enneatype identification is only the first step. But mere knowledge (or identification) of a typological “tag” is insufficient. After identifying one’s type and instinctual subtype, we have at the same time a double challenge — to continue knowing our self and, above all, to develop those aspects of the personality that are less developed.
This is the evolutionary level specially that can guide us toward greater self-knowledge. So, despite our dominant instinctual subtype, we should ask ourselves questions such as:
1st Chakra / Self-preservation Instinct:
How am I addressing my self-care, e.g. my physical health, body care, eating, sleeping, and hygiene? How am I managing my money? What do I need to change on these areas?
2nd Chakra / Sexual Instinct:
What about my significant relationships? Am I caring for them properly? Where and how am I not paying adequate attention to my emotional relationships? How am I interacting with my partner and closest friends? On which activities do I expend my biggest energy and creativity? What might I improve on these areas?
3rd Chakra / Social Instinct:
Do I accept myself as I am, including my faults? Am I patient in facing my mistakes? Do I tend to be too rigid or too lenient with myself? How much importance do I give to what others think of me? Does my self-worth depend on my achievements and failures? Do I distinguish what I am from what I accomplish? or do I feel I “am” my accomplishments?
At the second evolutionary level, we will work on the dominant passions. Usually, they operate as deep, unconscious motivations. Here, we focus on the heart chakra, the fourth chakra. According to ancient traditions of both Eastern and Western wisdom, the “heart” is the passion’s seat, which man must know and master to not be dominated by them. This is the time for people to work on their dominant passion. And such work certainly takes many years as one explores self-observation and self-reform.
As we said, the heart chakra is the “bridge” to the higher evolutionary level of consciousness. It corresponds to the transpersonal level. But the human heart must face its own passions. We all have within us, potentially active and operative, the nine passions noted in the Enneagram system: (1) Anger, (2) Pride, (3) Vanity, (4) Envy, (5) Greed, (6) Cowardice, (7) Gluttony, (8) Lust, and (9) Mental-Laziness.
One of these is necessarily our own dominant passion, our “Achilles heel”. It is essential to work extensively with the passions –with both our dominant passion and the others, before we can move to the next evolutionary level. At this point, we might ask ourselves:
Do I know and accept my dominant passion? What passion is next for me in terms of intensity? Can I distinguish on a day-by-day basis when my dominant passion is “working” me (even if other people do not notice it)? Can I identify how and how much my dominant passion has affected my life and relationships? On a scale from 1 to 10, how much am I attached to my dominant passion, as if it were the “core” of my own personal identity? What am I doing to make that my dominant passion have less of a harmful influence on my life?
Third, after working deeply and steadily with the passions, we can move to work over other spiritual aspects such as our fixations, virtues, and the “holy” or transcendent ideas. The virtues and the transcendent ideas operate on the level of Essence or Being, as opposed to the level of Ego, including its passions and cognitive-fixations. (Note: While the fixations strictly relate to the Ego’s level, traditionally the fixations have being worked jointly with the transcendent ideas, since the latter are the “antidotes” for the fixations. This is the reason why in this case the cognitive-fixations are placed in the first transpersonal-level footstep, at the 5th chakra).
The 5th Chakra is related to authentic self-expression. While the Ego is a “false self”, which we have identified with during the formation of our personality, behind the ego, behind the “mask” that is our personality type (from the Latin, “persona” = mask), is our Essence, our authentic self, our essential self.
From the Enneagram spiritual-perspective, the virtues are Essential qualities. So, they are not the result of human “effort” to become oneself “virtuous”, but they manifest themselves spontaneously in a person’s life while their internal barriers being removed. That is, while a person is becoming more and more self-conscious, working to be less and less dominated by the passions, one becomes more able to love all beings without distinction.
The virtues operate as profound spiritual, altruistic motivations rooted in universal love. They are opposed to the “deficiency-motivation” that are the passions, whose roots are fear, ignorance and attachment.
Working on the 5th chakra involves removing the obstacles (passions) that prevent the expression of our Essential qualities, the 9 virtues; namely,
Serenity (as opposed to Anger) – “Anger is not necessary; I accept things as they are.”
Humility (as opposed to Pride) – “I have needs too, and I need help.”
Authenticity (as opposed to Vanity) – “I am as just I am, with virtues and defects.”
Equanimity (as opposed to Envy) – “Let it flow; everything comes and goes, and I accept it.”
Generosity (as opposed to Greed) – “I give and receive; I share what I have and what I am.”
Courage (as opposed to Cowardice) – “I can do it!; I trust myself, and I trust the universe.”
Temperance (as opposed to Gluttony) – “I enjoy everything, every moment; I live in the present.”
Compassion (as opposed to Lust) – “There is more strength in resisting than in attacking; I forgive you.”
Diligence (as opposed to laziness) – “I do not evade myself in the inertia; I am aware and loving, here and now.”
The 6th Chakra is related to the mind’s functioning –both conscious and unconscious– including intuition. So to achieve a clear mind and an objective view of things, it is necessary to purify the mind as far as we can from prejudices and cognitive-mistakes. The Enneagram refers to “cognitive-fixations” rather than specific implicit-cognitive-mistakes. Cognitive-fixations necessarily correlate to the passions. (Note: There is no consensus about the name of cognitive-fixations, even some authors point to several fixations correspond to each passion). To wit:
Criticism – “Always there is a mistake in anything. I know how things should be done.”
Seduction – “I can give you what you need. You need me.”
Deception – “I am what I accomplish. I am what I look like. I am the best one.”
Dissatisfaction – “Only it matters the worst from the present and the best from the absent”.
Stinginess – “I don’t have enough. Don’t ask me so much. So many demands bother me.”
Doubt – “I cannot trust anyone nor anything. There is a danger anywhere.”
Planning – “There is always a plan B. Why settle for what has already been done?.”
Revenge – “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Showing weakness is unacceptable.”
Indolence – “Ok, it’s all good. By adapting myself, I avoid conflicts.”
The fixations can be worked in two ways: directly, from self-observation, by sharpening the eyes to see the fixations acting daily in life, almost autonomously, i.e., when we work through them without a conscious propose. In fact, the fixations –attachment to the passions– operate from our “automatic pilot”, i.e., they work like emotional-cognitive patterns on which we rarely put attention, but they are underlying our usual thinking, feeling, acting and reacting to daily events. Moreover, some people propose to work on the fixations indirectly, i.e., through meditation practice, focusing on the transcendent ideas, the “antidotes” for the fixations.
The 7th Chakra is the “gateway” to connect our self with the transcendental level of essence, with the universe as a transcendental whole. The transcendent ideas (also called “holy” ideas) are precisely that. They work in the human mind as different approaches to the universe in its ultimate unity, integrating the whole diversity in the unity. So whoever fully opens the 7th Chakra also achieves a transcendent perspective from the holy ideas, and perceives the illusory nature of the both separation and disconnectedness, which are the typical ways the ego sees itself and everything.
In other words, the ego has a fundamental illusion believing that all things are “separate” from one another; that every person, everything is something “discrete”, separate from everything else. Hence, the ego’s basic orientation is “Every man for himself”. That is exactly the meaning we give to the term “egoism”, the idea that everyone should look out for himself and worse, that individual actions have no impact on the other people, nor on everything else. “Everyone — the ego thinks — must do what one wants,” as if this doesn’t have consequences, as if each ego is an “isolated entity” having an own universe. But it’s not, we all are in the same universe. The actions of each one impacts one or another, visibly or imperceptibly, at all times. But this is very difficult to perceive unless we have a mind detached from any kind of selfishness.
In short, the nine holy ideas are objective perspectives on the transcendent unity of the universe. We could synthesize them as follows:
Perfection – “Everything is made from being".
Will – “In the world there always are tendencies and initiatives.”
Consistency – “In the diversity underlies harmony.”
Origin – “All things refer to the same origin.”
Connection – “Everything is connected.”
Faith – “I can trust the being, because the being is.”
Plan – “Behind the change underlies a sense, an order, a why.”
Truth – “Truth means unity; the separation is just an illusion.”
Love – “To love is to do good.”
We are made whole by our journey along this evolutionary “double entry” map. As we can see, both the Enneagram and the Chakras are systems aimed at raising the level of consciousness, to integrate different existential learning that leads a person to achieve a widening, wiser mind, a more loving, detached attitude, and a less selfish being.
To emphasize it once again, nothing good arises from the simple knowledge of our personality type. That is only the “first step” in the process of the consciousness evolution and the full development of our potential. The work of self-knowledge, self-observation and meditation can extend our inner-freedom range, so that we can gradually escape from the automatic passions and cognitive-fixations. In summary, we need:
Knowledge of our instinctive subtype, identifying and working on the predominant one among them.
Identifying our dominant passion and working on its influence in our decisions and actions.
Growing the virtues.
Dismantling the fixations.
Meditation on the transcendent ideas.
All of these healthy actions fit, as we saw, in the gradual unblocking of the seven Chakras that leads us to the goal of a waking, generous, wise and loving consciousness.
Published on Nine Points Magazine ~ September 5, 2015