Enneagram Four and pain? Anyone relate?

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Daniel Johnson, modified 8 Years ago.

Enneagram Four and pain? Anyone relate?

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
I don't know if anyone has studied the enneagram, but it seems I mostly line up with the descriptions of number 4 on the enneagram.

A while back, I read a couple pages out of this book:
Spiritual Dimensions of the Enneagram

It described the Enneagram Four as being one of the most painful in spiritual development. That has stuck with me ever since.

Another Enneagram author, Stephen Wolinsky, describes 4 as the masochist.

At one point, I remember Bruno talking to me about a number of people in this community who seemed to have a larger share of pain and suffering in their practice. I wonder if there may be a correlation within this enneagram model.
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Oliver Myth, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Enneagram Four and pain? Anyone relate?

Posts: 143 Join Date: 6/10/11 Recent Posts
I've done a work on enneagram too and I like that book you mentioned a lot. The way it describes spiritual development makes tons of sense to me and Sandra Maitri has another book that goes into enneagram further...

As far as four being the most painful, I think its more about the way they think of their suffering. I notice that fours try to be perfect socially or internally or whatever, and when they fail they assess themselves over and over. Thru that re-assessing they tend to identify with not being the person they want to be, so their suffering comes more in the form of self-blame than compared to an ennea-8 who feels suffering from percieved slights or ennea-2s who feel like people aren't giving them what they deserve, or ennea-9s who just want everything to go away and so on.

I think the trick for ennea-4s is to stop the self-assessing and do a practice without constantly analyzing half-way thru. Of course, this is really hard for them sometimes too...


Enneagram is pretty cool. I found AH Almaas's book to be the most rich and yetconfusing book. Its meant for folk past 4th path MCTB as far as I understand it.

Hope you don't suffer any more than you have to!
Oliver
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Enneagram Four and pain? Anyone relate?

Posts: 489 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
I've dabbled on-and-off in the enneagram for over a decade. I consider myself reasonably adept at typing people.

However, I'm doubtful of the utility of enneagram for spiritual practice. In theory, enneagram is supposed to help you overcome your ego fixation. The theory is that each type is in fact a strategy of identification: 1 is identified with perfection, 2 with love, 3 with success, etc. But each of these vices has a flip-side, meaning you can leverage it toward spiritual awakening. In this way they're similar to the four Buddha figures in Tantra.

Yet in practice, all I ever see is people using enneagram to deepen their identification and to script themselves into worse neuroticism.

"I'm a four, therefore I'm tortured. Look at how special my pain is."

More than half these people aren't even fours, but it doesn't matter. People who want to be miserable will use every means at their disposal to be miserable.

I recommend handling this stuff very, very lightly. If it helps you see a pattern in yourself, great. Use that information to help improve yourself, though, not to script yourself into douchey behavior. "Well what do you expect? I'm a 9 after all."

Just let that stuff go like all the other stories, and things go a lot more smoothly.
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Andrew Ken, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Enneagram Four and pain? Anyone relate?

Posts: 52 Join Date: 2/27/12 Recent Posts
That's very interesting. I've been interested in the Enneagram but have never really looked into it closely.

I am also quite clearly a type 4. Reading the descriptions about what a type 4 is makes me cringe. Sounds like the worst type to me, haha. But I guess that is the whole point about what is hard about being 4.

I'm not sure how it could even be possible to measure the actual suffering that different types go through, but it's certainly reasonable to suggest that certain types can make the matters harder for themselves (and thus in some way increase the overall suffering they have).

But if it is indeed true that 4s suffer more, in any case, I assume that it is only true in the sense that the issues they have with themselves are simply added on top of the other difficulties in dharma practice, and that if you are living a "healthy" type-4, then it shouldn't be any harder than any other number, right?

I can relate to the circular stuck-ness and victimisation that is described in the four type.. something that happens to me a lot is wishing I had opposite personality traits to the ones I have. But all of that is Bullshit in the Big Picture, and it's horse shit in the little picture, so personally,

I would suggest taking a look at which of the aspects of unhealthy-defeatist type-4 are troubling you and working to make them the healthy versions! And any notion that because we are type 4, things are gonna be way harder for us, is total victim bullshit and you know it! Easier said than done, I've actually spent the past 2 days being very shitty in the 4 sense.


There might be a slight correlation but there are a bazillion other very real factors to consider, I'm sure a huuuuge amount of them are due to strange beliefs, personality disorders, self denial and repression that can unfortunately happen in spiritual communities (with buddhist ones being subject to their own unique quirks and bullshit around the big dangerous word "ego") and all sorts of typical normal human suffering stuff that isn't at all limited to the little slice of the overall pain-sphere that the types4 have.

I hope that was helpful in some way

I think the best way to handle all this would be to keep the practices separate.

-So on the one hand, we should work to keep the negative traits of our enneagram in check, and when aspiring to healthy living, do so in accordance with our type and taking care of its ups and downs,

-And on the other hand, when doing dharma practice and meditation, not think about any of that stuff, and instead focus on doing the practices cleanly and realise that in the absolute sense, the suffering we go through is on a completely different measurement/line and is not correlated with enneagram stuff at all.

insight practices are about getting a clear/er grip on the absolute self and the enneagram stuff on the relative self, and getting them mixed up sounds to me like the type of thing Daniel Ingram cautions us against in MCTB, imho.

what do you think?
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Daniel Johnson, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Enneagram Four and pain? Anyone relate?

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Hey, thanks for all the responses emoticon

To clarify, in my original post I didn't mention anything about the 4 being more difficult or tortured or special or anything, I said more painful. I notice that much of my daily life is painful, and that development often comes with growing pains. I notice that pleasure in meditation is very rare for me... like the ratio is probably something like about 1 hour of pleasure for every 20 hours of pain, roughly speaking. The idea of a "bliss junkie" seems so foreign to me. I have seen people who look like they may be bliss junkies, but I have never understood how they got there. It seems that first you have to have the capacity for feeling bliss before you can become a junkie with it.
(Maybe I am just not very skilled at meditation or something?)

Oliver Myth:
As far as four being the most painful, I think its more about the way they think of their suffering. I notice that fours try to be perfect socially or internally or whatever, and when they fail they assess themselves over and over. Thru that re-assessing they tend to identify with not being the person they want to be, so their suffering comes more in the form of self-blame...


I think this may be part of it, but I wonder if it might be something more fundamental, like the way in which the body physically contracts in response to stimuli, or perhaps the way in which sensory information is processed in the brain. My experience is that even if I take all the story out of it and the assesments, it seems that this sense of self is regularly contracting into painful tension patterns, and in someway it's the contracting which is somehow reinforcing the sense of self... like the ennea-4 gaining a sense of identity through this pain.

Oliver Myth:
I found AH Almaas's book to be the most rich and yet confusing book. Its meant for folk past 4th path MCTB as far as I understand it.

Yes, I read much of that book and enjoyed it at the time. I don't think I was personally past 4th path but still much of it made sense to me. It is a very different take on the topic. I haven't read any spiritual books in a long time, however.

Fitter Stoke:
Yet in practice, all I ever see is people using enneagram to deepen their identification and to script themselves into worse neuroticism...


Yes, this is why it took me two years between the time I first read that book and when I posted here. For the most part, I think the enneagram can be fuel for neurotic psychologizing.

However, I think there may also be something physical to it, like genetic perhaps, and that it may be more than just a "story." It's like if I had some physical disease I would want to diagnose it and treat it accordingly, not just say "drop the story." I'm not necessarily saying that ego fixation is a disease, but it has some similarities. emoticon

Andrew Ken:
I am also quite clearly a type 4. Reading the descriptions about what a type 4 is makes me cringe. Sounds like the worst type to me, haha.


Yeah, I feel for you. emoticon

Andrew Ken:
I'm not sure how it could even be possible to measure the actual suffering that different types go through.

It's tough to measure a subjective experience, but I think there may be quantifiable variables at play.

I actually don't think there would be any correlation between suffering and enneagram type, because everyone suffers. So, perhaps I should just stick to the term "pain." Pleasure can also be full of suffering, but I don't think I experience this type of suffering as often.

Andrew Ken:

insight practices are about getting a clear/er grip on the absolute self and the enneagram stuff on the relative self, and getting them mixed up sounds to me like the type of thing Daniel Ingram cautions us against in MCTB, imho.

what do you think?


I absolutely agree that they are different practices. I think the type of sensations that are experienced in this moment are absolutely independent to the realization that those sensations are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self.
Jasmine Marie Engler, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Enneagram Four and pain? Anyone relate?

Posts: 69 Join Date: 5/1/12 Recent Posts
Daniel;

I don't know much about enneagrams, but I deeply believe in mental realities controlling the physical realities. I know from watching my boyfriend that sometimes, the ways that he meditates seem very strict and rigid. I feel as though, if I tried to sit in those perfect positions while meditating, I would cry from pain and frustration all the time. This may be what is meant by the need to be a perfectionist? Would it be probable for you to take out the portions of practice that are causing you pain at such a physical, irritable level, and just live in the moment for one week, impulsively doing what your body wants during meditation? For me, this could mean anything from being in a butterfly position with my legs spread as far as they can go, to lying straight upon the floor so that my whole spine is in alignment. It could mean walking and focusing on my breath, or just trying to focus on looking people in the eye when I speak with them, and working on hearing their true intent.
I've found that if I follow these impulses of my bodily state, then my body does not become the focus; instead, it smoothly flows into the mosaic of my consciousness, and I can focus on the practice that I want to focus on. At the moment, that is usually mindfulness of either the internal or external self (either myself in my body, or my connections with others).
Not saying that this will work for you. I'm simply saying that, each time you find yourself in physical pain (or mental pain) that seems to be inhibiting you, simply take the time to notice it, and make allowances for it. This process of removing yourself from the stressor may lead to more fruitful practice, and cause you to feel less negatively toward the experience. Because, when we have negative experiences, they tend to reinforce the idea of negativity associated with whatever part of your life.
For example, I am currently studying paralysis in stroke and TBI patients, and the concept of biofeedback. On a physical level, this is the same concept of mental reinforcement influencing your current pattern of existence. In their case, it means that, since they are so used to the idea of not being able to move their limb, the brain cannot cognise the movement of the limb when movement may once again be possible. They need a release from that experience (Dr. Ramachandran used a mirror box, in the case of amputees) in order to be released from the association of pain.
So, I'm simply suggesting that you don't allow your body and mind to develop habits associated with pain. Find your mirror box; change your position, change your lifestyle, find what works for you. And, through this process, don't get attached to any of it. If you stick with "one way," it will eventually become the irritant. So allow yourself the reality of the moment. One can say that I am Wiccan, not Buddhist, so my definition of meditation is not as strict in many ways as that of a Yogi, but I've reached many of the same states my boyfriend (who is Buddhist) has, by his own definitions, without knowledge of the definition of these states. So does it have to be? I'd be interested in whatever you find out about yourself, or your practice.

Love and Peace,
Jazzi

http://www.beckleyfoundation.org/2010/10/25/vs-ramachandran-on-your-mind/

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