148. Note and repetitions of the “Two Standards”

In the secluded form of the Spiritual Exercises this meditation might be made as the first of the daily schedule on the fourth day of the Second Phase, and then we repeat it two times during the day. The last exercise of the fourth day is the next entitled “Three Types of Attitude”[1].

Similarly, in the everyday format of the Exercises – which we have first of all in mind when writing “Finding Our Way” – we have four sessions for the fourth period, of which the first three is dedicated to the “Two Standards” and its repetitions and the last treats the “Three Types…”

During the repetitions of the “Two Standards” meditation we review the points that moved us the more. In order to help the repetitions we give here additional material that can be read and worked on along with the review and sharing. We close also these review sessions with the triple prayer to Mary, Jesus and the Father. Given the importance of this part of the Exercises process, if it is necessary the companions are free to prolong the time dedicated to these repetitions. The schedule we give is always only a guideline, otherwise the companions should decide of the pace of going through the Exercises process, and a calm, relaxed, and reflective way of doing this is always preferable. The general rule is that we stop with a particular exercise, point, or reflection while we feel that it “gives some fruit” and go ahead to the following points only when see that we have “exhausted” the present material.

First repetition: Enneagram Exercise

This Enneagram exercise is based mainly on Richard Rohr’s study[2] and in it the companions can identify their enneagram types, which will give an indication where they need the grace of healing in general and which gifts to ask for in order to serve the value system of the Kingdom of Christ. As a descriptive and empirical typology the Enneagram has its advantages and weaknesses. No typology can express the richness of the human person and does not intend to “close” people in categories, but proves to be helpful tool to grow in self-knowledge. The goal of this exercise is to support the conversion process, the turning from unhealthy and sinful tendencies symbolized by the standard of Satan and turning toward authentic modes of living, that is, toward the standard of Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit.

A circle in which nine points are linked together and are numbered represents the enneagram types. These nine types are named by their number - expressing that none is better than the other - and they are identified by nine “root sins” and compulsions that are characterizing them. The companions might want to design the circle, where the point “Nine” is usually at the top of it. On this diagram they can record notes as we go ahead in this exercise; they need a separate diagram for each. These nine “root sins” (meaning that these are at the source of our sins) are the traditional seven “capital sins” (pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony and lust) complemented by two other sins, fear and deceit. The fact fear and deceit escaped the attention of Western spirituality, has made its mark on our society, which is typically falling into these “root sins”.

The nine types belong to three centers, “head”, “gut” and “heart” corresponding to the three physiological systems – nervous, digestive and circulatory – and each center contains three distinct personality types. The neighboring group  “Eight” “Nine” and “One” belong to the “gut”, “Two” “Three” and “Four” to the “heart” and finally “Five”, “Six” and “Seven” to the “head”. We sign on the diagram the centers by dividing the circle in three at the appropriate points. The search for our type begins with finding our center.

All of us are endowed with a mind (for knowledge and seeking truth), an instinct (for survival and life), and a yearning (for love and acceptance). We have a need and a capacity for all three, but early in life one of the centers becomes our preferred focus of being and in consequence we are biased as we live out of one of these three centers and need conversion toward a fuller life. These are all good drives, but when we depend on them excessively, can nevertheless lead us to into blind and sinful kinds of behavior. Conversion means for each type freedom from the one-sidedness and to live the best of the basic drive, which we can characterize by the three theological virtues of faith hope and love. Let us see the centers shortly and choose which is likely ours, and take notes on the diagram.

- The head types prefer to approach the world rationally; they have to be “right”. They first reflect on situations, to see “How things fit together?” They usually are withdrawn types while their deep feelings are hidden and their prayer life seems to be dry and out of a sense of duty. Prayer forms like discursive or picture meditation appeal to them. They need the grace to move from thinking toward acting, toward other people and to turn their doubts into faith, which is the theological virtue characterizing this center.

- The gut people react instinctively, they strive be “first” or “best”, and seek for power and justice. Their reaction to new situations is “Here I am, deal with me”. They are ruled by some sort of aggression and tend to hide their anxiety. Quiet meditations like centering prayer are good for them. With the help of the grace they can turn their energy into concrete and personal love, their typical theological virtue.

- Heart people seek to be “original and unique”, establishing them as distinct. They are concerned with being for others, with prestige and image and their typical question is “Will you like me?” Heart people have an imaginary thermometer in the air to sense how things are going. They have a sense of responsibility and think that they know what is good for others, are active and kind while hiding their aggressiveness or sadness. They like communal forms of prayer; solitude and passivity are hard for them. They need the grace of trust and acceptance towards God and through healing and spiritual growth they become able to live their theological virtue, the real hope.

We follow with the presentation of the nine types of which now the companions can choose the likely one by testing themselves against each description. This they should do personally, each finding his or her own type. First of all they need to search in their center chosen above. We do not have to agree completely with every word or statement in the description of the type we choose as “most” likely. Some part of the description might not fit, but we need to look at the overall picture when rating the types. However, with time it happens sometimes that people discover themselves to belong to a different type from that thought at first, which is a normal thing. Sometimes the type in which we feel disturbed is the right one for us, sometimes we feel at home clearly in one of them. Sometimes what we thought to be our virtue is our root sin, and the truth is that usually we have all the nine compulsions but one will more likely or dominantly characterize us. The Enneagram supposes that our gifts used in inauthentic ways become a source of sin while with the grace of conversion it becomes authentic and life-giving virtue. We will see also that each type has traits of both its neighbors on the circle, which are called usually the “wings”. One of the “wings” might be stronger in a particular person and this colors further the characterization into subtypes. We give the basic compulsion, the root sin and a short description of the characteristic behavior and indicate the positive, “redeemed” side of the unique gift of each type and the fruits of the spirit toward which grace moves them. The fruits of the spirit represent the opposite side of the root sin and are basically from the traditional “catalogues of virtues”. These are mainly the biblical nine fruits of the Spirit in Gal 5:22 (love, joy, peace, patience, amiability, kindness, fidelity, gentleness, self-control), the seven messianic gifts of the spirit in Is 11:2 (awe and respect before God, piety, knowledge, strength, counsel, insight, wisdom) and the list of the four cardinal virtues (justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude).

The dynamics of this exercise is to move through the dialectic of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis. Once the companions identified their type taking into consideration also the “wings” (thesis), the next step is to dis-identify themselves from it, saying: “Yes, it’s me, but it is only a part of me” (anti-thesis); finally in a synthesis they accept their shadowy side and learn to live with it. Once we are able to laugh at our compulsion then we are free of it and open to discover in it our gift and the fruit of the Spirit given to us. Let us follow now with the presentation of the types, take notes on the diagram and see which are more likely ours.


Type One: their compulsion is the “need to be perfect”, their root sin is the anger and their fruits of the spirit are patience, peace, serenity, kindness and gentleness.

Ones are idealists, longing for justice, truth and moral order with a strong sense of right and wrong. As children they were told to be “good boys” and “good girls”, to be “model child”. This demanding voice is behind their strive for perfection, for improving things and their fear to make a mistake. Their temptation is the search for perfection, which can render them overtly critical and perfectionist. They typically have problems with anger, resentment and impatience, which they don’t admit usually, since being angry is an imperfection. They turn their anger in “good works”, but most of it remains repressed and they are never satisfied. At their best they are wise, discerning, realistic, and noble, even morally heroic. The reverse of their root sin, the fruit of the spirit, which characterizes the mature person, is patience and cheerful tranquility. Some call Ones “the reformers”, this is the gut type that is more near on the diagram to the heart center.


Type Two: their compulsion is the “need to be needed”, their root sin is pride and their fruit of the spirit is humility.

They are caring, empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted, sometimes sentimental and flattering. As children often they felt that to be loved they need to meet conditions, or early needed to become emotional supporters of their familiars. Twos are generous and self-sacrificing, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed and to control others through their service. The temptation of Twos is to continually help others and deny their own needs; in consequence they have a chaotic emotional life. They typically have problems with possessiveness and real self-knowledge is hard for them. Their root sin is pride, to feel themselves better than others since they serve. Twos repress their needs and project it on others, while in reality they are extremely needy, dependent on others to feel their worth. “Do to others whatever you would have them to you” (Mt 7:12) is “poison” for them if they take it at face value. Sometimes they rebel to show how independent they are. At their best Twos are unselfish and altruistic and have unconditional love for others. It is a sobering and humbling experience when they recognize that they give in order to receive, through which mature Twos become really humble. Two is called also “the helper” and belongs to the heart types and is the nearest to the gut center on the diagram.


Type Three: Their compulsion is the “need to succeed”, their root sin is deceit and their fruit of the spirit is honesty and truthfulness.

Threes are efficient, self-assured, attractive, and charming; they are good at finishing their job, achieving their goals and motivating other people. As children usually they were rewarded with love for their achievements, for good marks in school and similar. Threes are ambitious, competent and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and they like to win. Their constant question “How am I doing?” Their temptation is efficiency, they identify with their project try to avoid failure at any cost, even if they need to polish truth up. In order to win they tend to oppress truth, to deceive and to lie, which is their root sin. Together with fear, deceit is the most dangerous “hidden defect” in our society as we did not name it so in our lists of “capital sins” and consequently didn’t see it historically. Threes mostly deceive themselves, thinking that their lie is truth. They are good actors, as usually they are preoccupied with their performance, and of the impact they make, but can fall in vanity. At their best Threes are self-accepting, authentic, good organizers and possible role models who inspire others. The fruit of the spirit of Threes is honesty and truthfulness; they are able to unmask society’s lies. This type is called also the “achiever”, in the middle of the heart center on the diagram.


Type Four: their compulsion is the “need to be special”, their root sin is envy and their fruit of the spirit is equanimity, harmony or “even-soul-ness”.

Fours are sensitive, introspective and extravagant; more at home in their dreams than in reality. They are artistically creative, longing for beauty and harmony. Fours have the constant question in the back of their mind “What do you think of me?” They want to impress people and they have a sort of artificial spontaneity; they are used to rehearse mentally before acting and feel as to be on a stage observed by others. As children they had generally painful experiences and losses, which turned them toward the inner world, but they long for love and to “go far away” while dreaming of a beautiful future. Fours direct anger toward themselves, so they are often experience guilt and self-pity and fall into depression and melancholy. Life is a tragic experience for them; they need to be sad sometimes in order to be happy. Their temptation is to strive too much for authenticity, naturalness and originality; Fours try to avoid ordinariness, monotony and try to express themselves in symbols, which are supposed to alleviate directly unbearable situations. The root sin of Fours is envy toward who has more style, more class but also toward normal, simpler people; they often experience jealousy, too. At their best Fours are inspired and highly creative, expressing something universally valid. Their fruit of the spirit is harmony, balanced and deep emotions; mature Fours are able to deal with real life, understanding and helping others in psychic distress. The type is called also the “individualist”, and it belongs to the heart center on the side toward the head types on the diagram.


Type Five: the compulsion of this type is the “need to know”, their root sin is greed or avarice and their fruits of the spirit are objectivity and generosity.

Fives think before they act, they are open and receptive for new facts, often feeling a sort of emptiness, which they long to fill. As children they experienced a lack of intimacy or their ambient was too intrusive, forcing them into the inner world. Fives are passionate collectors of almost everything from ideas to books and stamps and so on. Their motto is “My home is my castle”. The temptation of Fives is knowledge, to know more than other people represent power for them. They are introvert observers; withdrawn to defend themselves they often also compartmentalize reality and friends in distinct areas. Their root sin is greed, they collect but do not like to give, and might fall into avarice. At their best Fives are good listeners and as they are able to concentrate and focus on situations they are excellent counselors and advisors. They can have contemplative gifts, and capacity to develop complex intellectual systems, they are researchers, visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in a new light. The fruit of the spirit of Fives is objectivity and generosity as they put their gifts at the service of others. Detachment is at the same time their greatest gift and their main weakness. The type is called also the “investigator”, belongs to the head center on the diagram, they are closest to the heart types.


Type Six: their compulsion is the “need for security”, their root sin is fear and their fruit of the spirit is courage.

Sixes are reliable, good team players, responsible, and trustworthy. They can be cautious and indecisive, often having self-doubts and mistrust. As children they often had cold parents, were punished or beaten and did not learn trust themselves. They look for authorities for security and would like to see a black and white world; they are the conservative bookworm type. Sixes obey without making their own opinion, are pessimists and anxious about success. Sixes can be phobic or contraphobic, seemingly very different groups. Phobic Sixes are hesitant, careful, evasive and easy to lead, while contraphobic Sixes deny fear by overcompensating it, disguise it by put-on hardness, often they become members of aggressive groups or pursue dangerous sports. Their temptation is the continuous search for security and authority; they prefer orthodox, fundamental groups and closed systems. Law is very fascinating for them and they like the military, where the hierarchy is clear. They defend themselves by projecting negative motives or hostility to others. The root sin of Sixes is fear, which together with deceit (the root sin of Threes) is not recognized as “capital sin” in Western spirituality and in consequence presents a real danger for our society, where the most frequent type seems to be the Six. As they search for security, they are vulnerable to unquestionable allegiances and false loyalty to some sort of traditionalism; they try to avoid doubt blindly obeying and clinging to laws, norms and rules. Phobic Sixes can fall into cowardice, while contraphobic Sixes rebel against their panic by taking high risks. At their best all Sixes are dependable, responsible, faithful and loyal, gifted with empathy and courageous defenders of the oppressed. Courage is their fruit of the spirit as they overcome their fears and become even heroic in moments of crisis. Six is called also the “loyalist” and is the central type of the head center on the diagram.


Type Seven: their compulsion is the “need to avoid pain”, their root sin is intemperance or gluttony and their fruit of the spirit is joy and sobriety.

Sevens radiate joy, optimism, idealism and spontaneity; they live the moment with humor and laughter. While cheering up others all this high spirit serves to protect them from facing pain and anxiety. Sevens often had traumatic experiences too great to bear them so they repress negative feelings, rationalize and color up their memories. Keeping a constant smile Sevens conceal a great sadness. Sevens are extroverted, curious and versatile. They constantly seek exciting experiences, showing many talents and like to try out different interesting jobs. Sevens like to be self-employed or to work in teams. They have problems with impulsiveness, impatience and don’t like authority, neither the limitation by superiors nor the pressure of exercising power. Their temptation is idealism, and while striving for good causes their denial of negative aspects of reality can be hurtful for others. Their root sin is intemperance or gluttony, “more is always better” for them; they want more joy as possible and usually talk too much. They are vulnerable of consumerism also in spiritual things recognizable in certain charismatic gatherings or in the New Age movements, in their dealing with suffering and avoidance of social issues. At their best Sevens focus their talents on worthwhile goals and learn to be satisfied. Their fruit of the spirit is true joy and sobriety, a “nevertheless” joy despite all the difficulties of life. Sevens are called also the “enthusiasts”, and as their rationalizing shows they are head people, near to the gut center on the diagram.


Type Eight: their compulsion is the “need to be against”, their root sin is lust and their fruits of the spirit is innocence, tender love and mercy.

Eights are strong, powerful, and aggressive with a passion for truth and justice. In confrontation with Ones who want to be “good boys” and “good girls”, Eights want to be “bad” ones; also, Eights don’t apologize or admit mistakes as these look like weaknesses. They have experienced repression as children, and arrived to the impression that the world does not tolerate weakness and they can trust only themselves. Their parents might have rewarded strength and courage; others had indulgent and permissive parents whom they tested how far they can go. Eights are harsh also toward themselves, perceive life as hostile and threatening and while constantly defend the inner child they don’t allow themselves to be vulnerable. They often take the side of the weak and oppressed. Their temptation is that struggling for justice they become revengeful retaliators, punishing the guilty and the “bad”, even if it happens to be themselves. Eights deny their limits and weaknesses and repress their softer side. Eights feel they must control their environment, sometimes become intimidating; enjoying power, confrontation and conflicts. Their root sin is lust or shameless exploitation, possession and suppression of another person. At their best Eights are self-mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous and inspiring leaders. Their fruits of the spirit are innocence and mercy, tenderness and love as they learn to accept the defenseless child in themselves and in others. Eights are also called the “challengers” and belong to the gut people.


Type Nine: their compulsion is the “need to avoid” in general everything, their root sin is laziness and their fruit of the spirit is decisive and clear action.

Nines are the peacemakers and arbitrators as they accept others without prejudice and see the positive aspects in both sides. They are easygoing, supportive, calm and lovable, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. As children they felt often neglected, unnoticed and overlooked; neither outbursts helped so they learned to keep their anger for themselves and in case of conflicts to maneuver and understand both sides. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They are the friends from whom no sign arrives for months, since they don’t take usually the first step, but they will rejoice for the contact as if no time had passed. Their temptation is to belittle themselves and they have fear of revealing their inner life. They depend on others to notice and stimulate them to action. Nines tend to withdraw, to take refuge in sleep or addictions. Their root sin is laziness or indolence, traditionally called also acedia. At their best Nines are indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts. Their fruit of the spirit is clear action when after much hesitation finally they reach a decision. They can work then very effectively and be committed fighters for peace and justice. Type Nine is called also the “peacemaker”; in the middle of the gut center at the top of the Enneagram diagram.


[1] See [133] and [136] where we told that from the second to the fourth day there are only four exercises scheduled daily.

[2] Richard Rohr-Andreas Ebert, Discovering the Enneagram. An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey, (New York: Crossroad, 1990).