What are the virtues of the spirit? Are they theoretical, philosophical concepts in holy texts or something more tangible and concrete? Is cultivating spiritual virtues possible? Find out how to walk your soul path and open these gifts.
Western theology likes to rebrand, rename and repackage all things spiritual. They have a list of virtues too. However, they differ from those we will discuss. We possess the keys to opening up gifts locked in our psyche. All we need is courage and the desire to be a better person. If this description fits
What Are Spiritual Virtues?
Organized religion has a hierarchy of qualities they refer to as virtues, but they are subjective and theoretical values, not virtues. (1) We don’t want you to get sidetracked by their version of these gifts; we want to live the expression of these positive principles.
Christianity has seven virtues, which are the antidotes for the seven deadly sins. There are four cardinal and three theological virtues. The cardinal virtues come from Ambrose, a 4th Century Catholic. The theological virtues come from their holy text, 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.
The cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. To this, you add three theological virtues. Exactly what are the virtues of the spirit in Christianity? They define them as character traits that lead to good behavior. These are necessary to combat sin.
Cultivating spiritual virtues in Christianity requires penance or suffering. You can also buy your way out of the suffering of sin with offerings and indulgences. If you don’t make restitution for your sin, then you are doomed to an eternity in hell. In Western theology, the virtues come when you pay for them.
What Are the Virtues of the Spirit?
What we are talking about differs completely from the doctrine of Western theology. We are referring to the higher values of the psychic structure within our personality and instincts. It’s a part of our DNA that we can experience and express. These elements are noble qualities of our souls. It has nothing to do with religion; it is all about consciousness.
These gifts are part of our nature; when they are alive and balanced, they make us well-adjusted and healthy humans. These gifts are the legacy of our ancestors. You cannot learn them from reading a book. You can’t wish or pray them into being. Nor can you pay for them. They are not antidotes to appease an imaginary friend. Instead, these are elements of your psyche you learn to access, experience, and put into action.
So, what are spiritual values in Western religion? They are tools they use to create cash flow relabeled to make them sound spiritual.
The way we find and open these gifts is by looking within. You can’t find the gifts locked in your soul by reading books, praying, pretending, or listening to teachers.
“If you cannot find the truth within yourself, where else do you expect to find it?” — Dogen
This quest is the inner call, what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey (1). It is that inner voice urging us to explore the unknown. When we start our quest, we must realize that growth is not always linear. We digress and progress, but we will succeed if we continue.
Sometimes growth comes in great leaps. However, most of the time, change is incremental. These are small, sometimes imperceptible steps. So, it’s vital to keep a spiritual journal. Using a journal will help us see our growth. This simple tool allows us to spot patterns that may hold us back.
How do the virtues of the spirit relate to our personalities? They are the higher values possible for each of the nine basic personality types. Each type has its path and its own set of challenges. Presence is the common element to help all personality types move toward integration. Presence enables the real you to show up. To do serious inner work, we must be present.
The dominant cultural narrative is against you walking your own path. Organized religions don’t want you to investigate the gifts they cannot control. They want to keep you as a paying customer. If you find your way, you threaten their cash flow.
Your Soul Path Cultivating Spiritual Virtues
Below is a simple way to describe these virtues and how each personality type can put these higher philosophy arguments into action:
Appreciation is a virtue that enables a greater understanding of self. It helps us see and understand the qualities we possess. It is similar in effect to Thankfulness but different in focus. This virtue enables us to accept our flaws as unique expressions.
Blissfulness is a virtue of the spirit we equate with transcendent silence. We associate a state of awareness with the absence of internal dialogue. Bliss is pure awareness without the roadblock of the Ego. It is a place of healing, which facilitates the flow of energy.
Gratitude is a virtue of perspective. It helps us to see and appreciate value. It allows us to see our situation in a way that shows us the lesson we would otherwise miss. On the list of spiritual virtues, it is the one that is the most noticeable and actionable.
Happiness is a state of well-being. It is living with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction. This virtue results from living with a sense of playful purpose.
Serenity is the inner peace and balance state, a quiet place amidst the activity. It is the quality that helps us balance the mind’s intuitive and analytical aspects.
Thankfulness is an awareness of the fragile nature of life on this planet. This virtue helps us to overcome our existential fears.
What are the Virtues of the Spirit in the Enneagram?
Each personality type has several default components. This system uses a questionnaire to determine our default personality and instinctual types. Finding your default personality type is the first step of the Enneagram of Personality. Knowing your type is only the beginning of the Enneagram process. It gives you the perspective for positive change.
There is a concept within the Enneagram known as integration. (2) To become more integrated means becoming whole. Cultivating spiritual virtues changes your thinking. We can access these higher virtues we start to remove all the roadblocks within our psychic structures. Integration opens the door to more options, so we are not confined to our default personality type’s default settings.
It is not a mood or change of attitude but a concrete change made possible because of new neurological connections. When we make fundamental changes in thinking, we change the structure of the brain.
There are nine personality types in the Enneagram that correspond with the nine principles on the list of spiritual virtues. That means there are nine doorways through which we can open these virtues. That’s good news because no matter your primary personality type, there is a doorway to these higher ideals. These have nothing to do with the religious concept of virtues or sin.
“What are the virtues of the spirit in a practical sense? They are the highest values of the human spirit. You know instinctively what they are we you see them in action. They are Gratitude, Love, Appreciation, Serenity, Joyfulness, Happiness, Thankfulness, Blissfulness, and Mindfulness. With these tools, we can conquer ourselves … And so then… the world does not need to be conquered.” — Guru Tua
The doorways to your soul path are not within your default personality type. Instead, we find integration at the personality type at the point of integration. We must move beyond our default thought patterns to integrate, which isn’t easy. Following your soul’s path expands the available attributes.
Next, we learn about the thought triggers that send us toward integration or disintegration. We can traverse in either direction rather quickly. So, inner work investigates both directions while enhancing our inner observational ability.
Our personality’s essential elements are our default personality type, plus the two types at the integration and disintegration points. The first doorway to the “virtues of the spirit” is the point in the direction of integration.
We should not discount the point of disintegration. The “point of disintegration” is a second doorway to the spirit’s virtues. We can gain entrance to this higher value once we fully open the door toward integration. Then the higher values of our default personality type are also available. Therefore, the basic triad becomes a corridor between all three points. The more integrated we become, the more we put these higher philosophical arguments into action.
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 showing the direction of integration for the nine types. We’ll explain how each type corresponds with each virtue.
This chart shows how “type one” integrates by moving to “type seven,” and type one’s direction of disintegration is toward type four.
Personality as a Doorway
The movement between integration and disintegration pathways provides the first doorway to the virtues of the spirit. Cultivating spiritual virtues is a conscious inward journey. One of the best tools for this is the repeating question exercise. With this method, you discover the thinking processes and values which are boundaries to your integration.
Type One — The Reformer
If this is your default personality type, serenity is the “virtue of the spirit,” which is the most readily available. The Reformer, type one, has a passion for order. Because the world is not orderly but sometimes chaotic, serenity grounds this type. It enables “type ones” to move more freely toward “type seven.” They learn to embrace and appreciate what they are and are free to move to type four to the balance of Thankfulness.
Type Two — The Helper
Type two. These 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 stability to move in the direction of integration to point eight, where strength becomes Mindfulness.
Type Three — The Achiever
The achiever longs to open their hearts to Joyfulness. It’s the discovery that joy exists beyond and despite achievements. This virtue of the spirit 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 — The Individualist
Type four is the individualist, so feeling like they are a part of the world is the key to Thankfulness. Finding the calm sea of emotion and life enables movement to the serenity of type one. They gain the strength to move towards the trust of Love within type two.
Type Five — The Investigator
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. It provides the fuel to find Mindfulness at type eight. Moving to the virtue of appreciation at seven is also more available.
Type Six — The Loyalist
Blissfulness is the doorway to quench the fire of anxiety, and it is the first doorway for the loyalist. The anchor of happiness awaits the loyalist at type nine. It complements the Joyfulness of life at point three.
Type Seven — The Enthusiast
The enthusiast finds appreciation and 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.
Type Eight — The Challenger
The challenger needs Mindfulness to open the virtues of the spirit. The often “tough” projected energy finds its purpose in the Love of point two, so the challenger finds Gratitude to let go instead of controlling, moving to point five.
Type Nine — The Peacemaker
Type nines are the most likely to misidentify their type. The peacemaker personality type sees themselves reflected in the other personality types more naturally than any other personality type. Happiness is the anchor and hardest door for this type to open. Once the first door opens, they can find Joyfulness at point three. Blissfulness is often a surprising revelation for all types, but point six is the perfect complement to balance this type.
All nine types are labels to describe common traits of personality. The triads above are the starting place. We have access to all nine personality traits and all nine virtues of the spirit. Personality and instinct are necessary mechanisms that connect our consciousness to our bodies.
The Observer is that part of us who “is” listening, watching, and 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 that triggers our “gut” feelings. So we are learning to fine-tune an instrument of experience as we awaken and undertake the journey of spiritual exploration.
The “virtues of the spirit” help us conquer our failings and balance our lives. In this way, we do not need to dominate others; it is the opposite. We can then open our hearts and lives to promote friendliness, compassion, and happiness to everyone and everything.
Our inborn spiritual desire to seek the unknown and explore our awareness fuels our journey. You do this as you create a path of your own. Mythologies are signposts that show us we can do it. They point the way, but we all have different lives. We must find our way.
Your soul path is unique. Don’t get distracted or sidetracked by religious dogma. Above all, regularly connect with the source of being. Learn about and use the ancient spiritual technologies of spiritual exploration to forge your path. Namaste. “Blessed Be.”
(1) Modern theories in philosophy and religion: https://archive.org/details/moderntheoriesin00tulluoft
(2) The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/311053.The_Wisdom_of_the_Enneagram