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How Would You Cross The River?

by Evelyn on October 2, 2008

(Photo by Endlisnis on flickr)

How would you cross the river? Which out of the below 9-styles are you:-

ONEs approach the river from the one and only perfect place to cross.

TWOs start to cross the river, then double back to help others to cross. As they get to do this, they never get to cross themselves.

THREEs wear their best and wait at the edge until they are the center of attention. Then, they do attractive, eye-catching strokes as they cross the river.

FOURs use a variety of fancy styles and even do a water ballet.

FIVEs never get into the river. They hide behind trees and take notes on what everybody does.

SIXes distrust the river currents. They wait for the security of others to take the ferry across the river.

SEVENs splash and dive and generally have a party, and it doesn’t matter if they ever cross the river.

EIGHTs march into the water and swim upstream against the current.

NINEs amble into the water and float downstream with the current.

Enneagram Profiling: How An Understanding Can Help You

Tool For Self Awareness

The Enneagram is an ancient system that describes nine basic types of people. However, it does not merely describe personality profile; it unveils each of your underlying motivation and how you approach life.

enneagram types

Enneagram also helps you to examine the distortions and biases that cloud your mind. It reveals how you respond to stress and pain, through the lines that a type connects to. In short, understanding your profile type and why you act in a certain manner through Enneagram is a form of awakening. Via the lines of the grid, you also find out where your next natural growth areas, called the Direction of Integration, are.

Improve Your Relationships With Others

Understanding Enneagram also allows you to see the core of who others are and to provide you with an avenue of increased understanding, tolerance and validation of other viewpoints. You appreciate the diverse natures of others, helping you to foster and cultivate deeper and more meaningful relationships.

Roadmap For Spiritual Growth

According to Raj Ravindran, my coach from the Enneagram workshop that I attended last Saturday, its use has been around for more than 2,000 years already.

The Enneagram has been used as a framework for meditation and growth. For the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, the Enneagram is known as the “face of God”. In ancient times, Christian healers have identified antidotes to the seven deadly sins in Enneagram types. On the other hand, Buddhist teachers use the Enneagram as a map of attachments, guiding meditators on their path to awakening.

What The Enneagram Means

How the wings and lines configure, and the energy that you are centered in, will account for every aspect of your personality.

1.What Energy Are You Centered In?

2,3 and 4 are centered in heart energy. They are emotional based people
5,6 and 7 are centred in head energy. They are mental based people.
8, 9 and 1 are centered in gut/body energy. They are strong willed people.

2. Wings
Wings are the adjacent numbers to your Enneagram type. If you have a strong wing, the tendencies of that number show up strongly in your personality. For example, if you are a type 4, you can have strong 5- or 6-wing or both.

3. Lines
The other influence or tendencies come in the form of lines. They also correspond to the Direction of Integration and how you tend to respond negatively when under stress. Here is where you learn what your “gaps” or missing traits are, in order to lead a more fulfilled life.

Why I Am Now So Keen On Enneagram

I was not interested in “boxing” people up according to personality types. Hence, I had an initial reluctance to learning about Enneagram. However, I soon saw the potential of applying it for my own personal self-growth, from spending my entire weekend reading about it after the workshop.


I began to appreciate that the process of living is primarily to move in the Direction of Integration and up the 9 levels of Development, under each personality type. The difficulties that we have been facing in our lifetimes are precisely set up so that we can transcend our basic personality type (and our ego) to evolve to a higher state.

Growth, in all aspects and beyond measure, is achieved by moving along the Direction of Integration and up the Levels of Development. To attain the highest (the Level of Liberation) of the 9 Levels of Development, we become our highest essence, our (Higher) self at its best.

“Living in essence becomes a matter of transcending our ego and in so doing, of discovering and developing our truest self. The search for essence or self-transcendence is not an escape from life but the reverse: a commitment on our most profound level of consciousness to participate in our own creation. ”
—- Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types by Don Richard Riso

We cannot live without form. The essence of being human is expressed through our personality. So if we can learn to integrate and live in alignment to our true Self, we would have gained mastery over our ego.

You may ask: so what would the ultimate goal, according to the Enneagram, be? The goal would be to acquire and integrate all the healthy components of each personality type. You become centered in the highest values and the healthiest of all types. You transcend above form, above ego. You evolve into higher states of consciousness. Your purest essence is now reflected through your personality. You radiate love.

Next obvious question: will it bring about enlightenment? I would like to say yes. But in all honesty, maybe; maybe not. One of the limitations of the Enneagram is that the quest itself may not bring about wisdom or perfection. I seriously doubt that achieving enlightenment is about following a system either. Then again, I have to be reiterate here: I am in absolutely no position to advise on how best to attain enlightenment.

Still, there is no denying that using the Enneagram as a guide can aid in the expansion of the Self. Through the grid, you see that wholeness is found in the most unlikely places. It is about embracing your weaknesses. It is about filling the void inside. It is only when you integrate the hollowness of your Being that you can become One. In short, the Enneagram is a framework to spiritual wholeness and may I conclude, a tool for increasing your divinity.

Life is a process of creative discovery. Expansion never stops in the unfolding of all there is. In your awakening to deeper insights and new dimensions, you experience a shift. You take actions, that reflect your purest and truest essence. Experiencing a shift from personality to essence is nothing but the realization of your Highest Self.


I have chosen not to go into details about what each type of personality means, for I cannot possibly condense everything into an article post. My finding is that the Enneagram is a superior form of personality profiling. It is a dynamic system to assist in self awareness and transformation. I have identified some additional resources that you can turn to:

1. Free Enneagram online test
2. Free ebook download here.
3. Additional reading: Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types by Don Richard Riso
4. Integrate along your Direction of Integration according to your Enneagram type in a classroom setting with a team of hot dudes; James, Raj and Lance. More info can be found on their site here, which is in the midst of a revamp. Do not let that stop you from contacting them at awake[at] with the email title: “Help Me Cross the River in More Ways than One!”

Questions For You

 (Photo by mikebaird on flickr)

How would you cross the river? What type of personality type do you think you are?

Want to know what is my basic type? Well, Raj did an assessment for me while chatting over coffee. (Oh yes, lessons are conducted informally and with lots of jokes in between!) To guess what is mine, look for the clue in this post. No prizes though; it is way too obvious!

Lastly, I’m also intending to conduct a small reader survey. After having read the basic intro above, would you be keen to find out more about how you can integrate Enneagram Personality Profiling for personal growth? If so, please state your interest in the comments below.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
PeaceLoveJoyBliss October 3, 2008 at 3:17 am

Hi Evelyn, I understand myself well enough to know that I have little of the 6 in me, and I don’t think I’m analyzing too much. In fact, I strongly believe I’m spot on with naming your type and wing-type.

It’s apparent you’re trying to pass yourself off as the Optimist (I mean, look at that picture at the end of your post! *wink*), but I think this is a mistake. Your coach, in realizing how serious you are as a 1, might be trying to get you to be less serious, perhaps even going so far as to suggest that you’re an Optimist to balance out your strong Achiever orientation, but I don’t think this is the right way to go to encourage your growth.

As you know, the point of the Enneagram is to wake us up to our full potential, to help us identify our true essence and then find our paths of least resistance to go beyond it to be all that we can be. I know how much of an Achiever you are, and I know how much you enjoy being a Helper. Yes, you can certainly be an optimist, but I wouldn’t believe for a moment that The Optimist is your true essence.

The harsh critic within (being the Achiever that you are) is going to rise up against me here, but please understand that I say all of this with the best of intentions, with kindness in my heart.

Best wishes,

Laurie | Express Yourself to Success October 3, 2008 at 3:58 am

I’d have to say I’m a 1, but would amble like a 9 and wish I could join the 7s.

Thanks for the links in the Resource section. As I was finishing the post I was thinking “now how can I get more information on this?” Then voila – there’s a list with an ebook (which I’ve already downloaded) and a book recommendation (which I’ve already put on my list when I’m out shopping). I guess you can tell that I would be keen to learn more. Thanks!

Lance October 3, 2008 at 4:57 am

You make this difficult, only getting to choose one Evelyn! I’m struggling between three of them. But…I’ll pick one (so I don’t get in trouble!). I’m going with 2. Which are you? I’m thinking a two also…

And, yes I’m interested in more information on this whole Enneagram Personality Profiling.

I find it interesting that I struggled to choose one answer – I wonder if that’s common…

Sony Handycam October 3, 2008 at 5:17 am

None of the above. I would ask for help from some friends and together we would build a bridge. That way no one has to get wet and the bridge is available for others who want to cross later. :)

Dot October 3, 2008 at 11:39 am

Although my choice was 6, the online test shows me exactly tied between 1 and 4.

Tycoon Dreamer | Tycoon Dreams October 3, 2008 at 11:54 am

Wow! Great article. I’ve never heard of the Enneagram before but I think I’ve seen the diagram somewhere. I am a 5,6,7. I like to think about things before I go do it. Yup, I’m analysis-paralysis man. But lately, I’ve been working towards just getting things done and not worrying about over-analyzing things.

Evelyn October 3, 2008 at 11:55 am

@Mags, it would have been nice to have your inputs, with your experience in Enneagram. My coaches are trying to help their clients with moving out of the “boxes”. They realize that not many people know how to integrate for growth.

It’s nice to get to know you better :-)

@Robin, you’re another One? You’re in good company around the blogosphere. So many Ones for friends!

Evelyn October 3, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Hello Christopher, hmmm…it’s interesting that you see me as an Achiever or a Type One as well. Indeed, I do see certain traits in me that can point to a One.

Believe me…I’m not trying to pass off as anything. I don’t feel the need to. It is not in the interest of my coaches to suggest anything either. If I recall my few conversations with Raj, his style was a mere invitation for me to analyze for myself what my type was. He refused to provide me an answer but gave me enough questions to ponder over.

I am definitely aware of your kind intentions. Let me thank you for taking the time to analyze what my profile type is. Your analysis is detailed and has sent me into deeper thoughts.

Love, light and truth,

Evelyn October 3, 2008 at 12:22 pm

@Laurie, you know…each type has its strengths and weaknesses :-)

I just checked with my coach. The book he likes best is Head versus Heart and Our Gut Reactions: The 21st Century Enneagram by Michael Hampson.

@Lance, oh…it’s not me who say that you have to choose one type. Blame it on the Enneagram!! According to the Enneagram, each of us has a basic type. It is the wings that give us our shades of character.

It’s not uncommon not to know. Not knowing simply means that it is time to get to know yourself best…LOL!! If you are to ask me, I think you’re a 2! But don’t take my word for it. I am not an expert in this field!

@Sony, how ingenious!! And because you can dream up another possibility and this points to creativity, I’d say that you are a type 4.

@Dot, don’t rely on the online test. A complete profiling requires you to answer a lot more questions and to go through an interview. Alternatively, you can borrow a book on Enneagram to help identify which type you really are.

@Tycoon Dreamer, it’s good that you have identified where your potential “stuck” points are and doing something about it. Well done :-)

Betsy October 3, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Hi Evelyn,
Not surprisingly, I am a 9. But 1, 2, and 3 were within several percentage points. Maybe I’m more aware of the toll being a 9 takes on the self? Very interesting test! Thanks!

PeaceLoveJoyBliss October 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Hi Evelyn, I appreciate your feedback on my comment.

I’m glad to hear you’re not trying to pass yourself off as something you’re not, for this would be a violation of your true essence. Judging from the tone of your feedback to others in this thread, I was genuinely concerned that this was what you were doing.

I’m also glad to hear that your coach, Raj, explored your type in the style of an invitation. For this is exactly what is required to come to an understanding about something as complex as your core essence.

In our exchange of ideas and viewpoints, I’ve come to realize more fully that no one can presume to know (or question) your true essence. They might have strong opinions or objections about it, but ultimately, with enough knowledge and experience, only you can know.

Love, light, and truth,

Rita October 3, 2008 at 3:47 pm


I read and re-read your response to me. I believe that were we to do this “in the blind” – not knowing what each number meant afterwards, I would consistently come up with the equivalent of 9 every time. None of the others work for me. Were 9 not there, I would have gone with 2 – but after carefully considering drowning as an alterntative.


Brandi Magill October 3, 2008 at 4:30 pm

I am definitely a #2…sometimes I get in too deep as I forget to take care of myself. Beautifully written post might I add!

Evelyn October 3, 2008 at 6:52 pm

@Betsy, basic fears of the nine are loss and separation. Your Direction of Integration, or where your growth path is most natural to be, is three. As you move up to and if you are already in the Healthy Levels of Development, you are fulfilled, intensely alive and fully connected to self and others.

@Rita, you’ve got a good point there. Don’t attach yourself to the “labels”. Just look at the numbers and do not exercise any judgement.

What is important is to separate the behavior from your underlying motivation (which makes up the core and essence). Your behavior may mislead you into believing that you are another type; but in actual fact, your actions are being driven by something else (which is your true Type).

@Brandi, thanks for participating! What’s cool about the twos are that they’re compassionate, generous, funny and very kind.

Friar October 4, 2008 at 9:13 am

What about another category? :

People who use available resources on the shore-line, to make the crossing easier for everyone else.

(i.e. logs, ropes tied to trees).

You could label those the “Bridge Builders”.

I think they’d be much smarter then the dumb eights, who just waste all that energy and plow against the current.

(Sorry, I think eights are just STUPID!)

Even going diagonally, with the current, is so much better. 😉

J.D. Meier October 4, 2008 at 11:25 am

Great post Evelyn.

The Achiever sounds like a perfectionist. Seems like to be an achiever in today’s world you need to be flexible and a bridge builder.

The law of attraction in action? (or at least R.A.S) I happened to be researching personality types and lenses for human behavior. I just got done reviewing the 16 types in Myers-Brigg and now I see your write up on the 9 basic types.

I like the fact you showed the dimensions of the Enneagram (mind, body, heart). Briggs uses inward/outward energy, processing information, decision making, and how you organize your life.

Rita October 4, 2008 at 3:03 pm

When will you be revealing your mumber?

Al at 7P October 4, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Hi Evelyn – I never knew about enneagrams until this post. I’m a big fan of personality types, but not to box other people, rather to better understand myself. This was a great exercise!

Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk October 4, 2008 at 6:00 pm

I’m a Six, which is why I have a blog about Transforming Stress Into Personal Power.

I love the Enneagram for the insights it gives. I’m a Tom Condon fan myself and have several of his tape series and have attended one of his workshops. I also like the book The Enneagram Made Easy.

Lisa October 4, 2008 at 6:27 pm

I’m a six and studying the Enneagram has made a tremendous difference in my relationships. Sixes tend to be critical of others. I’ve learned to be more compassionate and not make snap judgments of others. I’ve learned to stop looking outside myself for the answers and to trust my intuition more, and trusting myself has led to trusting others more. One of my favorite books is The Enneagram in Love & Work by Helen Palmer.

Ariel - We Are All One October 5, 2008 at 6:02 pm

The enneagram! I’m so glad you brought this up, Evelyn. I’m a five with a six wing.

It’s amazing how eye-opening the enneagram can be. It really gives you some deep insights into your personality, enlightens you to the realization that other people see the world in a totally different way than you, helps you better relate to other people in a way that is most effective for them, and so on. It’s an extremely valuable tool.

Evelyn October 5, 2008 at 7:32 pm

@Friar, you sound like Sony (read above). Ingenuity or new ways of looking at things are traits of the creative person. I’d say you are a type 4 too! Just a guess & having some fun here…LOL!!

@J.D. Meier, rightly put. The Achiever is the perfectionist with an inclination to the heart energy, as compared to the Peacemakers. They make very good leaders.

I really need to go over my notes on the Myers-Briggs test once again. I did it some years back. However, I did not take to it then. I could have some resistance to personality profiling previously.

Funnily, I am now taking to the Enneagram. I can’t quite put my finger to it.

@Rita, pretty soon :-) I was so busy during the entire weekend, with new learning! I am in the midst of a draft, which I will be publishing some hours from now.

@Al, have you worked out your Profile Type yet? You did not say.

@Jean, thanks for sharing about your site and recommending a new name to learn Enneagram from. I’d be interested to check these out!

@Lisa, I’m looking for a book on Enneagram for relationships. You must have heard my prayers :-)

@Ariel, ahhh…you’re a big fan too!?! Wonderful! I’d like to learn more from others on how Enneagram has helped them improve their lives. I’d like to read more real life examples!

Pink Ink October 6, 2008 at 7:20 am

Evelyn, I know this was a “serious” post, but I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the descriptions! Hate to admit it, but I’d probably be 6! :-)

MizFit October 6, 2008 at 9:32 am

a 2.

didnt think Id get across but I sure love helping others and seeing THEIR JOY at reaching the other bank.

Katie West/Life Renovations October 6, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Hmm…this was a fun post with great comments….even kept me awake when I was determined to get to bed!

I think it is funny that someone was so against an 8 type because (sorry to be literal but I used to lead wilderness trips) when crossing a river, you are to face upstream the same way like when you are ferrying a canoe across a river. You aren’t actually working against the river but using its force to guide you along with your own efforts. It is actually a more empowered approach that passively floating like 9.

Anyway, just a thought as I was having fun with it. What about the “maven” that is a nickname my friend’s have for me. The person that people know has done research and turn to as a resource and at the same time is not afraid to set their own course.

Okay, maybe I will go take the test now and find out what “type” I am…thanks Evelyn. I love this kind of stuff and challenging it too (gosh, what does that say?!)

Good job getting so many folks invested!

Evelyn October 7, 2008 at 3:57 am

@Pink Ink, I’m glad that you are having fun! You used the words “hate to admit it” in your feedback. In my opinion, there is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just the way you are; being more careful and all. We need diversity, otherwise we’d all end up the same!

@Mizfit, that’s nice! You are the nurturing type that friends and family like to turn to!

@Katie, I hope this post did not rob you of too much sleep…LOL!! Yes…there is no wrong or bad Type, really. Eights may be more empowered but they are not as “giving” as compared to the Nines. What’s important is to embrace healthy traits, be aware of how you react to stress and also grow in the path of least resistance.

Hmmm…I guess that to be a maven does not take away operating out from home base first. You then develop the healthiest traits that naturally aligns to your core Type, for more empowered living.

Oh do go ahead and take the test. Don’t forget to post your results in this post or the next on which Type you are! It’s a great way for other bloggers to know you better too!

Katie West/Life Renovations October 7, 2008 at 6:16 am

Funny. Funny. Same thing happens when I take the Myers Briggs. I was almost exactly even in several different categories. 1, 2, 9, 7, 6, 3 were all within a couple points of each other.
But ultimately, I guess I would say I am a 1 with a strong 2 wing.

So much fun. As usual, you have great energizing posts!

Evelyn October 7, 2008 at 6:29 am

Hi Katie, don’t rely on the online test totally. When I took the test, I ended up with a different Type. In my opinion, if you have been working on yourself and are very involved in your self growth, you would have gathered a ton of healthy traits across all Types. It’s easy to be off the mark.

Also, if you have in your life experience encountered many different situations, you would have employed different life strategies. I shared more of these in my new post.

It’s good to reflect and determine what your underlying motivations are. Honestly, I won’t be surprised if you are a One with a strong 2-wing!

Thanks for participating in the fun! I have to confess that I enjoy provoking my readers into more thought and challenging them on the creative front!

Love, light and truth,

Chad @ Sentient Money October 8, 2008 at 6:47 am

Interesting, but I’m not sure how useful it is, as my type would change by the situation. I tested out as a type 5, but I can guarantee I would be a type 1 or 8 in the river crossing scenario. The good thing about these tests is that they make us think, but I don’t know how much we can take away from they type we test out as.

Enjoyed the article, so I will be back.

Grace October 10, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Hi Evelyn,
I’m definitely an 8. What nice wings, though. A very nice introduction to Enneagram work!
My favorite creek has recently taken to replacing the stepping stones with LOGS to traverse across. Not half as much fun!

Very nice post. G.

CK Reyes October 11, 2008 at 5:28 pm

I’ve taken a class on the enneagram and my number came up as 70% when I took this free test. Have you read, “The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram?” I love it. How do you imagine one would look for their purpose in life according to each number? I’d be very interested to have your opinion on this…

Evelyn October 12, 2008 at 1:32 am

@Chad, I operate out of other Types as the situation calls for as well. I’m pretty sure that most of the bloggers would report the same.

But according to the Enneagram, we have a home base, a core. It is the core that drives most if not all of our actions. If we can know what exact Type we are, we also have a clearer idea of our gifts, temptations, stress points, etc.

The Enneagram is different from other personality tests. It is a dynamic system. It is a way to show you out of the “box” that you are in. One of the pitfalls of other personality profiling tests is that you are put into a box (a defined set of attributes) but then, you are not shown the way out. Enneagram helps you with this.

Oh yes…do come back to my site. I’d be exploring more stuff about the Enneagram. I’ve been trying to make space for learning from my coach. His experience and knowledge is helpful in understanding Enneagram’s practical applications rather than reading from a book.

Thanks for enjoying my post!

Evelyn October 12, 2008 at 1:37 am

@Grace, definitely a clever idea to build logs across the river! If you have one, I’m sure that I’d hop on and dance across too!! Thanks for liking this post!

@CK Reyes, no…I have not read the book yet. I’d be keen to read it, if it is any good. I’d be posting more articles on Enneagram. Do keep a lookout for them!

Liara Covert October 17, 2008 at 6:17 am

This is a fascinating post. Its interesting to note that some people do not fit comfortably or easily into one particular category. I am familiar with mixed personality types that would feel they fall under more than one number described by this spiritual roadmap. To me, each experience is a new opportunity to learn more about yourself. Raising self-awareness is meaningful.

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