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Type Five: The Need to Perceive

Enneagram Part Three: Head Center

Type Five: The Need to Perceive
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Omniscience, Holy Transparency

Virtue: Detachment

Passion: Avarice [1]

Fives are discoverers of new ideas, researchers and inventors; they are objective, questioning, and interested in exploring things in detail. They can be provocative, surprising, unorthodox, and profound. Fives may naturally possess strong contemplative gifts. Fives who are doing their inner work connect their knowledge to a search for wisdom and a sympathetic knowledge of the heart. They have a quiet inner power and are tenderly emotional, loving, polite, hospitable, and gentle.

From their earliest days, the primary experience of many Fives is a sort of emptiness. They go through life and gather what they can get in the hope of filling up their inner vacuum with thoughts, ideas, knowledge, silence, and space.

Fives try not to be drawn into the whirlpool of feelings and events that are a fact of life. It’s important to them to maintain calm—at least externally—and to keep their emotions under control. In reality, most Fives have an intense emotional life. But at the moment something happens it’s as if their feelings are blocked. Fives register it with their eyes, ears, and brain; and they can stand alongside the event with seeming objectivity. Once they are alone, they can begin to evaluate it. Using their head, feelings are ordered and “brought into line.” That’s the method by which Fives gradually get in touch with their emotions. Someone has aptly said that the symbolic plant of Fives is green lettuce, which has its heart in its head.

Fives can be outstanding counselors. They seem to have an unlimited capacity to listen and absorb everything when listening to others. Their ability to withdraw themselves emotionally in the process can help those seeking advice appraise their situation more clearly, soberly, and realistically.

In the early stages, Fives think they can secure their lives by being informed about everything in as much detail as possible. Fives will always need yet another course, another seminar, another semester, another book, another silent retreat. But eventually they realize that the information they pick up from the outside world will never be sufficient.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson write about the emergence of Essence in the Five:

The Five’s drive for knowledge and mastery is the personality’s attempt to re-create an Essence quality that we might call clarity or inner knowing. With clarity comes the Essential quality of nonattachment, which is not emotional repression or detachment but the lack of identification with any particular point of view. Fives understand that any position or idea is useful only in a very limited set of circumstances, perhaps only in the unique set of circumstances in which it arose. Inner guidance allows them to flow from one way of seeing things to another without getting fixated on any of them. [2]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 125. Chris defines these terms as follows (see pages 246-248):

Holy Ideas: The unique state of mental well-being, specific to each of the nine types, in which the mind is centered and connected with the True Self.

Virtues: Like the nine fruits of the Spirit [see Galatians 5:22-23] the Virtues are . . . gifts of a centered heart that is present, nonreactive, and at rest in the True Self.

Passions: The inverse of the Virtues are the Passions . . . [which] emerge as the heart indulges the Basic Fear that it will never return to its essence and therefore seeks out coping mechanisms that ultimately compound each type’s state of emotional imbalance.

Chris’ upcoming podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), begins March 24, 2020 and is available for subscription on most podcast platforms!

[2] Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 231.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 115-116, 121, 124.

Image credit: Female Head (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, second half of 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What [Eastern traditions] all agree on is the true nature of Mind is complete stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Boundless stillness, peace, clarity, forever and ever, amen. So I would say that the Head Center gives us the possibility of sensing, recognizing the Eternal Presence that’s right here in the midst of phenomena. —Russ Hudson
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