The Paths of Transformation
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At the beginning of our transformational work, it is easy to feel
frustrated and overwhelmed. It is also easy to begin to see the personality
as an enemy that must be defeated since it is, after all, the repository and
residue of so much "baggage" from our past, with all of its hurts,
damage, and disappointments. When we are tempted to think this way, it is
good to realize that the personality is not separate from us—in fact, it
is an important and legitimate part of ourselves: the problem is simply that
we mistake the part for the whole. Personality depends on our identifying
with certain states, feelings, thoughts, and reactions even though
whenever we do so, we experience ourselves as less than the totality of
who and what we really are.
The spirituality of the Enneagram does not divide us into good (Essence)
and bad (personality), but simply recognizes that when we are identified
with our personalities, we forget that there is much more to us. The
personality has the function of closing us down so that we can feel more
defended against a threatening and uncertain world. At one time in our
lives, in childhood, this response was adaptive and necessary. We had to
identify with whatever qualities we found in ourselves in order to defend
ourselves more efficiently and to find our place in the world.
But if we were able to stop identifying with our personality right now,
who would we be? What would guide our actions? Who or what would be speaking
in us? If, all of a sudden, the "autopilot" that directs many of
our actions is no longer in charge, how would we be able to live?
There are no predetermined answers to these questions since we are not
talking about finding a better formula or more rules to live by. We are
talking about transformation—changing our state of Being—which requires
being aware in the present moment. This inevitably leads to learning how to
interfere with our habitual patterns, which in turn entails some degree of
discomfort. But if we are willing to allow this discomfort, we can suddenly
emerge from the tangle of reactions, plans, self-images, and tensions that
constitute our regular life and realize that we are here. We exist. We
are real. When we experience this recognition, it is like walking out
of a fog bank.
Of course, learning to be more present is an art and takes practice—in
fact, that's what spiritual practices are about. They help us cultivate
awareness so that we can become more present to our lives and the miracles
which are unfolding around us at every moment. Because the personality
operates "in the dark: and depends on tension and identification, when
we become present, it cannot operate in its usual automatic way and the
deeper qualities of our heart, mind, and body—our Essential
nature—manifest themselves. In this state, we see reality more clearly,
and when we are in touch with reality, truth governs. In the land of truth,
there are no contradictions, no conflicts, no hindrances, and no fears. But
first, we must learn to be present.
The personality is always composed of a small fraction of the total range
of our potentials. It contains imitations of the real, more expansive
qualities of our Essential nature which include joy, love, peace,
compassion, strength, understanding, and many other priceless qualities.
Moreover, our Essence awakens us to the beauty all around us—to the gifts
of nature and the miracle of other people. In every moment, there are
treasures and sources of delight, if we could only open to them. In the
world of personality, we are too filled with our own projects and
preoccupations, worries and hopes to notice the exquisite pleasure of being
alive and the astounding variety of life.
Paths of Transformation