It’s hard to find teaching about the virtues of the spirit. Our Western culture focuses on expanding, conquering and controlling. This mindset puts the individual in a state of continual tension. Not much room for cultivating the virtues of human nature.
“Gratitude, Joyfulness, Happiness, Love, Thankfulness, Blissfulness, Appreciation, Mindfulness, and Serenity; these are the virtues of the spirit. With these tools, we are able to conquer… not the world, but ourselves. And, so then … the world does not need to be conquered.” — Guru Tua
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that there are nine virtues of the spirit and also nine personality types in the Enneagram. That is there are nine doorways through which the virtues of the spirit can be opened. The starting place is not our main default personality type but rather the personality type where we integrate.
Doorways to the Virtues of the Spirit
First of all, realize that growth is not always linear. We digress and we progress. Growth is sometimes in great leaps, but most of the time it is incremental. If we are involved in inner work, our practice. And, if we have patience and persistence then we will realize results.
What Exactly are the Virtues of the Spirit?
Below is one simplified way to describe these virtues:
- Gratitude helps us see our situation in a way that lessens panic and opens up our thinking. Gratitude is a virtue of perspective.
- Joyfulness is an inner condition of well-being and good spirits. It’s a key to our health and wellbeing.
- Happiness is a state of well-being that we are living with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction.
- Love is a sublime virtue of connection. A sense of deep and authentic caring, empathy for everyone and all things.
- Thankfulness as a virtue is the supreme awareness of the fragile nature of life on this planet and our benefit from its bounty.
- Blissfulness as a virtue of the spirit is a state of surrender enabling energy to flow freely.
- Appreciation is a virtue which enables a greater understanding of self, and recognition of the qualities we possess, this extends outward and so is similar in effect to thankfulness but different in focus.
- Mindfulness in the sense of a virtue of the spirit is both observing and directing the activities of the mind. It is observation without judgment. It is thought and action with right purpose.
- Serenity is the state of inner peace and balance. Serenity is the quiet place amidst the activity.
The Enneagram as a Doorway to the Virtues of the Spirit
Each personality type has several default components. Our main default personality setting. When you begin working with the Enneagram learning your default is the first step. We learn that we have paths of integration and disintegration toward other personality type traits. We can traverse in either direction rather quickly. So, inner work investigates both directions. Our default type plus the two types at the points of integration and disintegration give us one of the triads that are helpful in understanding our personality The virtues of the spirit are contained within each type. So, the default triad which is associated with our default personality type contains the first doorways to the virtues of the spirit.
One of the easiest ways to understand how our personality types relate to one another is by a graphical representation of the Enneagram. Below is the Enneagram show direction of integration for the nine types.
- Enneagram direction of integration Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
This chart shows how for example type one integrates by moving to type seven. And, type one’s direction of disintegration is toward type four.
Virtues of Spirit as Initial Triad Doorways
The movement between the two easiest pathways provide the initial doorways to the virtues of the spirit. This is one way to describe the relationship. It’s not the only way.
If this is your default home personality type then Serenity is the first virtue of the spirit that is most available. Reformer type ones have a passion for order. Because the world is filled with chaos serenity is what helps to ground this type. This enables type one to move more freely toward seven where embrace Appreciation for what they are, what they have. And, also the freedom to move to type four to the balance of Thankfulness.
Type two are the helpers of the world. Love is the natural virtue to resolve here. This expansiveness enables the movement to the balance of Thankfulness at four. It also provides the stability to move in the direction of point eight where strength becomes Mindfulness.
The achiever longs to open their hearts to Joyfulness. This is the door which opens when joy is discovered beyond and in spite of achievements. This joy enables movement to type six where Blissfulness is the key to calming anxiousness. It also provides the road to type nine where Happiness anchors life.
Type four is the individualist but feeling like they are a part of the world is the key to Thankfulness. It’s finding the calm sea of emotion and life that enables movement to the Serenity of type one and strength to move towards the trust of Love within type two.
To the investigator, it’s the truth that matters, but Gratitude is the virtue of the spirit that enables them to “let go” and be grateful. This provides the fuel to find Mindfulness at type eight. Moving to the virtue of Appreciation at seven is also more available.
Blissfulness is the doorway to quench the fire of anxiety. This is the first doorway for loyalist. The anchor of Happiness awaits at type nine. This complements the Joyfulness of life at point three.
The enthusiast finds Appreciation the balance needed to find meaning in everything. Gratitude opens the heart further at point five. Serenity is the perfect virtue of the spirit to balance life for the seven.
The challenger needs Mindfulness to begin opening the virtues of the spirit. The often “tough” projected energy finds it’s purpose in the Love of point two. Moving to point five the challenger finds Gratitude to let go instead of controlling.
Type nines are the most likely to misidentify their type. The peacemaker naturally sees themselves reflected in the other types more naturally than any other type. Happiness is the anchor and hardest door for this type to open. Once the first door is open then they can truly find the Joyfulness at point three. Blissfulness if often a surprising revelation for all types but point six is the perfect complement to balance this type.
All nine types are labels we use to describe common traits of personality. The triads above are simply the starting place. We have access to all nine personality traits and so too all nine virtues of the spirit. Personality and instinct are simply necessary mechanisms that connect our consciousness to our body. The Observer is that part of us who “is” listening, watching, feeling as we live out our experiences. It’s the person who you are talking to inside your mind. It’s that part of us the triggers our “gut” feelings. So, in a way, we are simply learning to fine-tune an instrument of experience as we awaken and undertake our own path of spiritual exploration.
The virtues of the spirit help us conquer our own failings and balance our lives. In this way, we have no need to conquer others. In fact, just the opposite. We can then open our hearts and lives to promote friendliness, compassion, and happiness to everyone and everything.
Above all, connect regularly with the source of being. Develop your own path. Learn about and use the ancient spiritual technologies of spiritual exploration to forge your own path. Namaste. Blessed Be.