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Type FOUR: The Need to Be Authentic

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Enneagram: Week 2

Type FOUR: The NEED to Be Authentic
Sunday, May 1, 2016

This week we will continue describing the Enneagram types, focusing on the ways the ego tries to falsely protect what it thinks is itself. As Russ Hudson says, “We all want something real; we’re just going about it in a way that can’t work.” [1]

FOURs once lived serenely as an essential part of a united and beautiful world. But one day the union and beauty were seemingly broken. So for much of their lives FOURs desperately try to create an outer world of balance and symmetry. Hudson describes the essence of FOUR as “the mystery of our true identity. It feels oceanic, deep, unfathomable, mysterious. . . . [FOURs live for] beauty, intimacy, and depth . . . the markers of drawing closer to our [original] union with God.” [2]

The ego believes its job is to recreate that original blessing. But nothing is as good as the original, so FOURs are left feeling bereft. As much as they strive to be aesthetically attractive, to be exceptional, to be creative, “they can’t stop feeling their grief for their disconnection from the Beloved.” [3] They once knew the eternal wholeness/nothingness of God, and how it included and incorporated the dark. Now, feeling separate from God, they often seem to revel in suffering and darkness.

The root sin of FOURs is envy. Their life is primarily shaped by longing: the longing for beauty and the wish that the world and life would fit together into a harmonic whole. Often in their childhood they had the experience of the present being unbearable and meaningless. This may have been due to a painful loss that left them longing for their lost love to return and redeem them. Positive role models may have been missing, so the child turned toward their inner world for identity. They became more at home in the realm of the unconscious, of symbols and dreams, than in the real world. Symbols help FOURs to be with themselves and to express themselves. Metaphors for reality are almost more exciting than reality itself, if you are a FOUR. Thus their love of art, poetry, music, theater, etc.

Unredeemed FOURs may believe that for some reason they are guilty of causing the loss, rejection, or privation, so they consider themselves “bad.” This shame may trap them in a cycle of repeatedly producing situations in which they are rejected or abandoned. It doesn’t help that longing seems more important to them than having. As soon as they possess the object of their desires, they are generally disappointed. It is part of their inability to live in the present, which is always full of defects and deficits: as soon as their longing is realized, there is always something to find fault with.

FOURs are converted when they realize that their identity is not composed of the worst things that have happened to them. As Hudson says, “What you are is a magnificent mystery, a manifestation of God, existing now. And there’s always the call of the Beloved, trying to call us home, right now to this meeting of lovers. In this meeting of lovers, we find out who we are. . . . When we are present it doesn’t mean that the longing goes away, but it is purified. Then we receive the FOUR’s virtue, which is equanimity . . . a spaciousness of the heart that lets me feel whatever needs to be felt without rejecting that feeling or adhering to it. So I am not pushing any feelings away and neither am I stuck in them in perpetual victimhood. All weather of the heart is welcome to a healthy FOUR. In that state there’s room and expansion for longing to become a fire, a passion that can take me all the way to the marriage that we were all promised, of the Bride and the Bridegroom.” [4] Thus FOURS often tend to be pan-erotic, androgynous, and seldom have any trouble understanding LGBTQ people. They are much more natural at non-dual thinking.

Gateway to Silence:
Open me to love.

[1] Russ Hudson, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey (CAC: 2009), disc 4 (CD, DVD, MP3 download).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001), 46, 98-100.

Is the Enneagram new to you? Are you wondering, what is the Enneagram? How can the Enneagram help me? Which number on the Enneagram am I? Does the Enneagram work? This is just one post in a two-week series about the Enneagram. Click here for an introduction to the Enneagram and links to additional reflections and resources on the topic.

Image Credit: The Enneagram Diagram. CAC archives.
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