The awareness that the cosmos objectively exists now; that this existence is its own definition, and continues whether an individual understands it or not; and that the individual experiences the truth of Reality most completely when he views each moment fresh, without preconceptions about what should be happening.
The Holy Idea for ennea-type Eight is Holy Truth. It refers to the unity of existence, and includes and goes beyond Essence and the Absolute. To understand what the Holy Truth is, we need to first investigate what truth is.
The first type or level of truth that we encounter is what we call relative truth. Relative truth is the fact of what is happening, and we call it “relative” because it is specific to the person, the situation, and the time in which the experience is taking place; this means it is constantly changing. For example, the relative truth right now is that you are sitting reading this book, and a while ago the truth was that you were doing something else. The relative truth depends on the situation, and tells us the facts of what is happening now. These truths are the most obvious ones, and are the points of departure for contacting a deeper level of truth.
If you inquire more deeply into the relative truth of a situation, you will find that the psychodynamic and existential bases of it begin to reveal themselves. Then, at some point, you might start to experience what we call the essential truth, which is the presence of Essence itself. For example, let’s say that you find yourself fantasizing about eating some ice cream. The relative truth is that this is what is going on in your mind. If you inquire into the desire for the ice cream, you might realize that you are feeling alone, and that this brings up a sense of missing a particular kind of contact. Then, as you stay with that, you see that you’re wanting a certain kind of love that reminds you of your mother. You realize that your mother’s love tastes a little like ice cream. This might lead you into experiencing a quality of love that is sweet and soft, and that makes you feel cared for and loved. As you contact this quality of love, you are in touch with the actual essential aspect that you long ago identified with your mother. This level of the truth of the situation is the essential truth. That truth is a quality of love that is present in you but is only felt on a relative level as the desire for ice cream.
On this essential level, the facts of your situation take on a sense of meaning, of richness and of depth, because they usher you into the realm of what truly exists, beyond the surface of things. An essential truth is not a thought, an idea, a reaction, or an action; its most important characteristic is that it is an ontological presence—it has a substantive existence. Although the relative truth of a situation can take us to the essential truth of it, the essential level is not dependent upon the situation. It is self-existing; it is its own realm existing independently of who we are and what we are doing.
The essential truth helps us understand what is really happening and what exists beneath the appearance of things. A fantasy of eating ice cream is simply an image in your mind, and even real ice cream disappears or changes form after it is eaten. The love that it may evoke or reflect, however, has an intrinsic and unchanging existence, although your awareness of it may come and go. It exists as a presence that is substantive and real; it has energy, affect, and potency.
If we continue pursuing the truth of the situation, the essential truth will continue to expand and reveal ever-deeper dimensions of Being until, at some point, we come in contact with the formless dimensions of Being. When we first encounter Essence, we experience it in the dimension of form, contained within us, in other words, “There is love in my heart, will in my belly, clarity in my head,” and so on. At a deeper level, the presence of Essence expands and loses its boundaries, and we realize that it is actually boundless. This is the beginning of experiencing the formless or boundless dimensions. The first formless dimension that we usually encounter, as discussed in Part Two, is that of Living Daylight: a love that is not just within you, but is every-where—pervading everything, penetrating all boundaries.
So we have moved from the fact of what is happening to what truly exists within you, and from there to what truly exists beyond your body—what exists in the whole cosmos. In the boundless dimensions, Essence still has the quality of being a presence, a fullness, and a richness. As our experience deepens, the boundless dimensions keep revealing themselves in continuing depth, one after the other, as we penetrate deeper and deeper concepts within our mind, and these dimensions will lead us eventually to the deepest, innermost truth—absolute truth. This dimension of the Absolute is beyond all concepts, including that of existence or non-existence.
It is not that there is a formless or boundless dimension that pervades everything or is the essence or everything, since seeing it this way creates a dichotomy that does not exist. It is not as though there is me and there is my essential nature. The formless dimensions bring in another kind of perception, which is of Being as a formless, boundless, real existence, a substantial presence that is not contained by any boundary. When you experience pure, translucent, self-existing boundless presence, you see that it is not only the fundamental nature of Essence itself, but also of everything that exists. It exists in everything, and everything exists in it. We see here that the universe is ultimately pure Being, and that this pure Being not only supports us, infuses us, and is our nature, but more fundamentally, that it constitutes us. It is completely inseparable from what we are. So it not only pervades and fills the universe, but it is the universe. This understanding that there is no universe separate from this pure boundless self-existing Beingness is a more complete level of the truth.
The perception that Being constitutes the totality of everything is what is generally called a mystical experience. Before this, you may have spiritual experiences, but when you experience the oneness and the unity of existence, you are on the level of the mystical. In the dimension of Living Daylight, you experience that everything is made out of love. When you look around you, everything might appear, for example, to be made out of a pink and sweet diamond-like taffy substance, and be pervaded with a wonder, a beauty, and a sweetness.
So the experience of boundlessness that arises as we move into the formless dimensions becomes the deepest level of truth that we perceive. On the level of the Supreme (the dimension of Pure Presence or Pure Being), for example, you realize that everything is a translucent Beingness. You see that it is not as though translucent Beingness is in everything or that everything exists in it, but that everything is the translucence. It is inside things, outside things, and in between them. There is no place that is not translucent Beingness. On this level of the Supreme, there is no separation between what we call appearance and reality, the form and the meaning. They are all one thing; there is a unity.
The perception of this unity arises through merely seeking to understand the truth of the situation. It is not a matter of generating a particular experience; you just open your eyes to what is here. When you experience this level of truth, you not only perceive this inherent unity, but you also see that as you stay with one boundless dimension, it reveals another, deeper one. Dimensions of formless Being reveal themselves until we come to the origin and source of all dimensions, the Absolute. Initially, you might experience the Absolute as the source of everything, but as your experience matures, you realize that everything is the Absolute—there is no separation. The full experience of the Absolute is that there is nothing but the Absolute. Just as you have seen that love constitutes everything on the dimension of Living Daylight, and Being constitutes everything on the level of the Supreme, here we see that the Absolute constitutes everything. So as our understanding of the nature of reality deepens, it becomes more and more mysterious and nonconceptual, until it arrives at this dimension of the Absolute in which the nature of reality reveals itself as a profound mystery.
However, none of the levels of truth that we have been describing is what the Holy Idea of Holy Truth refers to. Holy Truth is the perception that all these levels are actually one thing, that all the dimensions constitute a complete state of unity. In other words, all the dimensions of reality are completely inseparable from one another, and all are the same thing. This is the perception that there is absolutely no duality—either horizontally (between objects) or vertically (between dimensions). So although we experience ourselves moving progressively into deeper and deeper dimensions of reality as our inquiry becomes increasingly subtle, Holy Truth is the perception that all these dimensions exist simultaneously. They are all facets of the same reality, so the sense of a hierarchy is ultimately illusory.
To understand how all the dimensions exist as a unity, let’s take the example of the physical body. At the level of relative truth, we first see the appearance of the body: we see its shape, we notice the limbs, the face, the expression. Penetrating beneath the surface, we realize that there are muscles, bones, organs, blood vessels, and so on. This level would correspond to the essential truth. If we investigate into the nature of these inner components, we will see that they are all made out of molecules. These molecules reveal themselves to be made out of atoms which, in turn, are made up of sub-atomic particles. These levels would correspond to the progressive truths of the formless dimensions. Investigating even more deeply, we discover that these are ultimately space, corresponding to the Absolute level. Are the sub-atomic particles or the organs separate from the outer form of the body? No. All these dimensions are present and interpenetrate each other. You couldn’t take one level away and leave the others remaining. Although the Absolute is the ultimate reality that remains unchanged if you take everything else away, all levels of reality exist as a totality all the time. They form a unity.
Holy Truth, therefore, negates duality. It tells us that there is no such thing as discrete, separate existence. However, we know that for the consciousness of the ego-self, the sense of separateness is fundamental. So Holy Truth challenges and ultimately dissolves the ego’s sense of separateness.
While one does experience the sense of unity when experiencing any of the formless dimensions, the perception here is of the unity of the dimensions themselves. The Buddhists call this “total completeness,” while the Sufis call it the “all-inclusive state,” or the “Divine Being,” whose all-inclusive name is Allah. Allah, then, does not refer to any particular dimension or state, but refers to all that exists—at any time, on all its levels and in all its dimensions—as a unity. So you could call the perception of Holy Truth objective truth, reality, the universe in its totality, Divine Being, unity of existence, or total completeness.
Oscar Ichazo’s definition of Holy Truth is: “The awareness that the cosmos objectively exists now; that this existence is its own definition, and continues whether an individual understands it or not; and that the individual experiences the truth of Reality most completely when he views each moment fresh, without preconceptions about what should be happening.”
Let’s break this down and see what we can understand. “The awareness that the cosmos objectively exists now.” He is saying that the totality of all that exists, on all its levels (which is what he means when he uses the word cosmos), is the nowness of experience and that this totality objectively exists. It is “its own definition,” meaning that it does not depend on our opinions about it; and “continues whether an individual understands it or not,” meaning that it actually exists whether or not we understand it. To experience reality fully, one must view “each moment fresh, without preconceptions about what should be happening,” meaning that if we are completely open and not filtering our experience of the moment through our subjectivity, we will see this unity existing right now, and that now does not refer to time, but to the immediately apprehended existence of the universe itself.
So everything that is conceivable and experienceable exists right now as one. The formless dimensions, the essential states, and physical reality are not separate from each other, nor are physical objects separate from each other; there is no division anywhere—only complete unity. The alchemical concept for this is the idea of the macrocosm, the totality of the universe.
The Sufi view of this Holy Idea is expressed in the following poem by Shabistari, from The Secret Garden:
He whose great soul is never vexed by doubt
Knows of a surety that there is but one
Existence absolute. To say “I am the Lord”
Belongs to God alone: his personality
Is not with thee; fancy and thought lie hid.
God’s glory may by none be shared; therein
I, thou, and we are not, for all are one.
The person and the existence join in one,
For unity admits no variance.
He who is free from self, when he obtains
That freedom, through his echoing soul resounds
“Verily I am God,’ and in eternity
Is opposition overwhelmed, and then
The pilgrim and his progress are but one.
Concord and incarnation spring from variance,
But unity is born of pilgrimage.
So nature’s order from existence springs,
Nor God his slave, nor man his God becomes.
Concord and union here may never be,
For to see two in one is error’s core.
Creator and created beings are
Alike a dream, nor is what seems to be.
. . .
What is that atom greater than the whole?
. . .
There is one atom greater than the whole—
Existence; for behold the universe
Is, yet that universe itself is being.
Being is various in outward form,
but in its being there is inward unity.
(Shabistari, 1969, pp. 48, 71)
Shabistari is saying that to understand and experience this unity, we have to experience Beingness. It is only in Beingness that we can perceive the unity. If we look at reality from the egoic perspective, we don’t see unity; we see discord, opposition, and duality. But if we experience Beingness and allow it to guide us, it will lead us to the formless dimensions and the experience that things don’t exist separately from each other. On this level, we see that separateness is not ultimately real, and that although objects may appear discrete, in reality all objects actually make up one thing.
This understanding is expressed from a Buddhist perspective in the following passage by the Tibetan lama, Longchenpa. It is taken from his text on the mantrayana tantra, which is written from the state of unity itself, as though it were expressing itself. You will notice that the language is very similar to that of some of the theistic approaches.
All experiences and life-forms cannot be proven to exist independently of their being a presence before your mind, just like a lucid dream.
All that is has me—universal creativity, pure and total presence—as its root.
How things appear is my being.
How things arise is my manifestation.
Sounds and words heard are my messages expressed in sounds and words.
All capacities, forms, and pristine awarenesses of the buddhas;
The bodies of sentient beings, their habituations, and so forth;
All environments and their inhabitants, life forms, and experiences;
Are the primordial state of pure and total presence.
(Longchenpa, 1987, p. 32)
Not realizing that everything we can perceive is nothing other than the manifestation of one’s mind is called samsara in Buddhism. Samsara, the delusional state, is seen from Longchenpa’s point of view as not recognizing the unity of what is.
What follows is another section from You are the Eyes of the World, in which the nondual doctrine of Dzogchen, or total completeness, is described:
[Because my creativity is beyond all affirmation and negation,]
I determine all events and meanings.
Because no objects exist which are not me,
You are beyond perspective or meditation.
Because there does not exist any protection other than me,
You are beyond charismatic activity to be sought.
Because there is no state other than me,
You are beyond stages to cultivate.
Because in me there are from the beginning, no obstacles,
You are beyond all obstacles; self-arising pristine awareness just is.
Because I am unborn reality itself,
You are beyond concepts of reality; subtle reality just is.
Because there is nowhere to go apart from me,
One is beyond paths to traverse.
[Because all buddhas, sentient beings, appearances,
Existences, environments, inhabitants]
Arise from the quintessential state of pure total presence,
One is beyond duality.
Because self-arising pristine awareness is already established,
One is beyond justifying it; the transmission of this great teaching provides direct entry into understanding.
Because all phenomena do not exist apart from me,
One is beyond duality. I fashion everything.
(Longchenpa, 1987, p. 35)
So according to the Idea of Holy Truth, reality, when seen objectively, has no divisions in it. It exists, it is now, and it is nondual. There is no me, no you, no other, no universe separate from God; no universe separate from the Void; no you and Essence, no personality and Essence; no physical body and soul—all these distinctions are illusions and are not ultimately real. There is only one thing, and it cannot even be called “one” because if you call it one, you are comparing it to two, and it is not one in contrast to two. It is nondual, an indivisible existence, no matter how you look at it or think about it. While the different teachings may emphasize different qualities of this unity, seeing it from the perspective of love or awareness, for example, the assertion here is that fundamental to reality is the fact of unity. All the religions assert this sense of the all-inclusiveness of reality. Another way of saying it is that God is everywhere, omnipresent. Holy Truth is the way that the teaching of the Enneagram of Holy Ideas expresses this understanding.
We must remember that the nature of the whole of reality is not expressed by Holy Truth alone. It is described by all three Holy Ideas at the top of the Enneagram. If you really experience the unity of all things, you also recognize the inherently loving quality of that unity. The existence of Holy Love is the existence of a loving, gentle, positive quality. Plato referred to the ultimate reality as the Good, indicating that he perceived the intrinsic positivity of it. We will explore this in more detail in the chapter on the Holy Idea for ennea-type Nine. If you experience the unity described by Holy Truth, you will also experience its fundamental rightness, its Holy Perfection. You will see that everything that happens is perfect because all is happening exactly as it should. You will see the beauty and harmony of whatever happens because that is what is; it is the truth of the moment seen without the interference of the perspective of the ego. We will expand on this in the chapter on the Holy Idea for ennea-type One. These three Holy Ideas are interconnected, and together they describe the nature of reality.
In some traditions there is a debate about what the ultimate reality is: Is it the Absolute, or is it the state of total completeness? The Sufi and Kabbalistic traditions take the view that the Absolute is the ultimate reality. The Indian traditions are divided, with the Vedantists taking the Absolute to be ultimate, while some of the yogic paths take the state of total completeness to be ultimate. The Buddhists disagree: The Theravaden tradition believes the Absolute is ultimate, while the Tibetan Buddhists are divided. The Nyingmapa sect believes that the state of total completeness is ultimate, while the Gelugpa believe the Absolute is ultimate.1
In my view, there is no need to decide, since freedom has nothing to do with what state you experience or take to be ultimate. So the question is largely a matter of how you define “ultimate truth.” If you define the ultimate truth as that which is left when everything that can be removed is removed, you are describing the Absolute. It is the state most devoid of any creation or concept, reality reduced to its simplest minimum. If you define ultimate truth as the actual state that is experienced if there is no manipulation or conceptualization of your experience, you recognize it as the state of total completeness, because there is no duality present in it. The state of total completeness is all-inclusive, with the manifest and the unmanifest existing in nonduality. Everything is present, including the Absolute, which is seen as its inner nature.
In either case, the perception of the unity of all of existence—Holy Truth—remains the same. It is the perception that there are no divisions and no duality between things, that everything is one Beingness, one existence. This is the reality beyond egoic reality, true existence independent of the personal mind. It includes everything without any separations, and it does not matter whether you call it God, the One Mind, the state of the Buddha, the Tao, or the Divine Being.
The most important understanding of Holy Truth is that physical reality and true existence are not separate. Physical reality is made up of objects which can be discriminated. If you perceive the world exclusively through the physical senses, you perceive only discrete objects, such as people, trees, animals, rocks, clouds, oceans, earth. If you experience this level only, which is the basis of the egoic perspective, the universe that you see is dualistic. But if your perception is unobscured by your beliefs, your inner perception becomes unblocked, and the universe looks quite different. If your perceptual capacities are clear, you recognize that other dimensions exist in addition to physical reality, such as love, Beingness, and awareness. At this level of perception, you see that there is only one existence, one homogeneous medium. This medium encompasses physical reality, which is one particularization of it. Objects are seen as objects, but they are not discrete—they are more like waves on the surface of an ocean, lacking existence without the whole of the ocean. So differentiations exist, but not ultimate divisions.
Physical Reality and Nonduality
Surprisingly, this perception of unity makes physical reality itself appear more concrete, not less. It appears more three-dimensional, with more sense of depth. Ordinarily, when experiencing the state of Oneness, physical reality is seen as the surface, with the boundless dimensions as the underlying depths. But when the boundless dimensions are perceived as interpenetrating the physical, the three-dimensionality is enhanced. Everything stands out, feels more real, more present, and more itself, in a sense.
In the experience of nonduality, it is not as though physical reality were a dream emanating from it—that perception would still be dualistic. When duality is seen through, physical reality is imbued with the essential dimension, and the two become one. This gives the physical more reality, more substance, more existence, more meaning, more depth, and more dimensionality. When you look at people, they seem more substantial, and even their bodies appear more physical, in a sense. Every object and person has a concreteness and a definiteness that makes each appear more defined, more present, and more complete, because your experience of them includes the depth of the true existence. When everything is perceived as the Absolute, each atom, each form, has its depth. The Absolute not only underlies everything, but penetrates all of manifestation. Depending upon which dimension you are experiencing, everything you perceive acquires the depth and beauty of that dimension.
Reality itself is seen as the beauty and the grace of that dimension. So the totality of the universe is the Absolute or the Supreme, for instance, manifesting as beauty. Your body, your thoughts, and your feelings, then, are not separate from the truth, but are part and parcel of it. They are the truth itself. And the truth is there in every atom, every thought, every feeling, everywhere. So it is not your inner nature; there is nothing else but the truth.
In nonduality, the unification is complete. This is very different from one’s initial experiences of essential reality in which there is you and your body, and Essence is felt to be inside you. To understand the difference, let’s suppose that the state of Essence you are experiencing is the Pearl, the Personal Essence. In this case, you feel as though a full pearl is filling your belly or the whole of your body. Now, imagine that instead of the pearl filling your belly or your body, each one of your atoms is made out of that pearl. The sense of each atom as a pearl is still physical, but it feels like the fullness of the pearly existence. This is what I mean by unity. The physical and the essential become one. It is not that the physical is filled by the essential, but rather that the physical is the essential. In the same way that your muscles are composed of atoms, so the whole of your body is made out of Beingness.
When this sense of unification is complete and there is no duality in your experience, physical reality itself is experienced as the ultimate reality. Then all of physical reality, including all its objects and all of its manifestations, is seen as that beautiful, substantial, and fundamental reality. It is not separate from it, it doesn’t come out of it, nor is it filled by it—it is it. Grace doesn’t happen to physical reality; physical reality itself is the grace, is the beauty, is God. This is what Buddhists refer to as the Great Seal, the Mahamudra, in which all that you feel and see are unified with true nature. It is the unity of appearance and emptiness. This is one way of understanding what I mean by unity without duality. There is no separation at all, no division at all, no distance between the surface and the depth—in fact, there is no surface and no depth. There is no inside and no outside. They are the same thing. The unity is the complete interpenetration, the complete intermixing of inner and outer. It becomes all of one quality, all of the same thing.
Experiencing this unity reveals to us that life is beautiful. Prior to this, when you experience yourself moving from the state of the physical or of the personality to the state of the essential or of the boundless dimensions, there is the feeling that life is a problem. The best option seems to be to get away from life, and one may long to disappear or die. From the perspective of unity, there is no such thing as dying, nor of being reborn. There is no such thing as ego death, and no such thing as enlightenment either, since you are already the unity. This is the state of affairs all the time and always—before you develop an ego, when it is dissolving, and after you are dissolved. All those parts are the unity itself, and so you are not going anywhere.
This is why Longchenpa indicates in the poem quoted above that there is no path to take, no state to attain, and no technique to use. All you need to do is recognize that the state of total completeness is the state of everything right at this moment. If you don’t interfere or manipulate things and just let them be the way they are, you will experience this state of unity, which I sometimes refer to as the natural state since it is allowing things to be as they naturally are. This is reality, this is enlightenment, this is God. You don’t need to change anything or be anywhere other than where you are. Even if you are experiencing suffering, that suffering itself is the reality, and absolutely nothing needs to be done about it.
This understanding explains why reality is also called Holy Perfection, the Holy Idea of ennea-type One. Holy Perfection means that everything is perfect at all times because there is never anything or any experience that is not the reality of the Holy Truth. Even when you experience yourself as separate from the reality, that is again the reality. So from this perspective, there is no need for a person to do anything—you don’t need to practice, you don’t need to understand yourself, you don’t need to do any work on yourself since everything, including yourself, is already in the state of unity.
It is from this perspective that some teachings, including the Buddhist Maha Ati teaching, say that there is no need to practice—you don’t need to meditate, to sit in any posture, or to visualize any deity. The only practice is to relax, because you are already there and nothing needs to be done. So in that tradition, whenever you see any egoic manifestation, you just relax. If you are more advanced, you don’t even need to relax, since you are already in the state of unity, so being relaxed or unrelaxed is irrelevant.
This is the foundation for the practice of Dzogchen, which is taught by the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a tradition that works in the nondual only, and is said to be for people possessing superior capacity. The idea is that the state of unity, the natural state, is not something to be attained; it is the state of affairs all the time. If you think that there is something to be attained, you are creating a duality, since you are implicitly saying that there is a natural state and an unnatural state. From the Dzogchen perspective, the natural state is always the state that is occurring; you are just not always recognizing it as such. Even when you are not aware of it, you are in it. The only difference is that when there is recognition, you suddenly see the depth, the concreteness, the reality, the beauty, the harmony, and the grace of how things actually are. You see how things are already perfect, and this is why another name for total completeness is the Great Perfection.
The perfection of reality includes even what we call imperfection from the egoic perspective. Reality is a perfection that cannot become imperfect. In the language of the Enneagram, this is the Idea of Holy Perfection. The moment you see that there is nothing but God, you recognize that everything is perfect at all times and at all points in space. If God is everything that is, how can there be imperfection? When you don’t like some manifestation and you want things to be different, all it means is that you have not surrendered to the Holy Will. You have your own prejudices and ideas about how things should be, and these could form the basis of your own personal religion!
The Idea of Holy Truth is that nothing is excluded. The ego is not excluded, thinking is not excluded, reactivity is not excluded, neurosis is not excluded, and the physical realm is not excluded. This is because there is nothing but the One, so there is no other. Obviously, when there is one and no other, “one” is not being used in the mathematical sense. Pythagoras taught that numbers start with three: One is God, two is the Logos, and three is the beginning of creation. Since reality is one and there is no other, how could there be duality? So every time you experience a new dimension of Being, you realize that it is part of the One, which includes all numbers, so the two resulting from the new dimension is included within it. This is difficult to conceptualize, because this One is an infinite existence. Since it has no boundary and encompasses infinite space, you can’t conceive of it as the mathematical one. When you demarcate one area of physical space and then another, can you say that there is more than one space? Both are subsets of, and included in, the all-encompassing space.
The state of unity, experiencing that everything makes up one thing, appears in all the boundless dimensions. The sense of it becomes progressively deeper, until one experiences that all the dimensions are unified. This is a progressive attainment and it doesn’t happen all at once. You might, for example, experience the unity of the dimensions of Living Daylight and the Supreme, in which case the experience of unity would have the transparency and clarity of the Supreme, as well as the whitish-yellow hue and sense of delicate love and grace of Living Daylight. Or the sense of unity might be experienced between the dimensions of the Nameless (Nonconceptual) and the Supreme. But the experience of the complete unity is a much more difficult attainment.
Generally, most people initially experience unity while experiencing one of the formless dimensions by itself. So if one is experiencing the state of unity on the level of Living Daylight alone, it would be the sense that everything is love; or if one is experiencing it on the level of the Supreme by itself, it would be the sense that everything is pure Being, pure presence. Again, this is not the experience that everything is made out of love or of Being, which is the experience of these dimensions still infused with duality; but that the whole universe is Living Daylight or is the Supreme. This is the state of unification.
In any case, the level at which one experiences the unity is not relevant to the Idea of Holy Truth. The most important thing about the state of unification is that there are not two. Egoic consciousness is, by its very nature, based on division. If there is no duality in your perception, the ego is non-existent. The study of the Holy Ideas is not the study of the building blocks of ego—these are elucidated when exploring the essential aspects and the formless dimensions. Here, we are studying the principles that hold the building blocks of ego together.
So in this study of the Enneagram of Holy Ideas, the first principle that we encounter which holds the ego together is the belief in duality. This is one of the subtlest and deepest principles, without which the ego could not exist and function in the way it does. It arises as a result of the loss of perception of Holy Truth. When a direct perception about reality is lost, which is to say that when one of the Holy Ideas is lost to our experience, what arises is not a particular state, but rather a distorted, erroneous, mistaken idea about reality, which we call a delusion. In other words, the loss of each Holy Idea leads to a specific delusion associated with that point on the Enneagram. So one of the fundamental properties of reality, as described by Holy Truth, is its nonduality. When the oneness of reality is not perceived, the delusion of duality arises. This delusion is the perception that the differences and separations between things that exist are ultimate, that this is the true state of affairs.
Because of the way the mind functions, the loss of an Idea leads to a deluded idea about reality. You cannot just not have a principle of reality, because the mind can’t function without one. So if there is no perception of the fundamental unity of all of existence, then there is the perception of duality. If there is duality, there is the loss of unity. The loss of unity is the loss of the condition of the natural state of total completeness. Basically, it is the loss of God Consciousness.
The belief in duality will remain in place as long as there is no understanding of Holy Truth. The ego by its very nature assumes duality: the belief that who I am is ultimately separate and discrete, and that all other manifestations are also separate and discrete. This results in divisions in our minds between ultimate truth and the world, spirit, and matter, Absolute Truth and relative truth. God and the universe, God and myself, you and I, ego and Essence. This belief in division as ultimate is a conviction so deeply ingrained in the soul that it is one of the last things we can even contemplate confronting, let alone releasing.
Even after a long time traveling the spiritual path, we cannot conceive that this might be an assumption about reality rather than the truth. We think, “This is how reality is—everyone knows that. My parents believed it, my teachers believed it, scientists write books on how things are fundamentally divisible, and everything seems to work according to this knowledge.” This conviction is so deeply entrenched that it has become an organizing principle for the very particles of our souls. Like a magnet arranges particles of metal, this conviction arranges our souls so that we can’t even imagine that things could be otherwise. We are, metaphorically speaking, always pointing north, and so we think that this is how reality is. Letting go of the magnet would mean realizing that that orientation is not reality, and that things are actually much more free-flowing than we thought.
The sense of duality, then, arises through the loss of the Holy Truth; and the Holy Truth, as previously discussed, has the qualities of goodness, of positivity, of being loving. In Holy Truth, the multiplicity is in unity at all levels, and everyone and everything is holy. The word holy in the language of the Enneagram is not used in the usual dualistic sense: that which is opposite to the bad, the mundane, or the human. Holy means objective, how things really are beyond the cloud of egoic experience. So here, holy means objective truth. When you are experiencing the state of Holy Truth, everything becomes hallowed, filled with a sense of wonder, beauty, and grace. There is a sense of holiness to the experience, and those who live in this state are called “holy” in the spiritual traditions.
So the experience of duality is imbued with the loss of that holiness, beauty, and harmony, and therefore, has a negative tinge to it. This loss will be experienced as the sense that something is fundamentally wrong. The closest thing to this sense is the feeling of “original sin.” You know something terrible has happened, but you don’t know exactly what it is; you don’t know it is the loss of your natural state. The term Dzogchen in Tibetan literally means the natural state of the human individual, the condition where everything is completely the way it should be—and this is what you have lost. This results in a very deep state of something that we call “sin.” It feels like a disconnection, a loss, and a falling from grace; you no longer live in Holy Truth.
You sense that what is most true and precious has been lost and destroyed, and that someone or something is to blame. Through the filter of the delusion of duality, one thing becomes perceived as being in opposition to another, and one side is guilty. The loving and perfect truth has been lost, and so someone has committed a crime or a sin here, and must be found and punished. This is the position of the ennea-type Eight, which has been called Ego Venge. Ultimately, you blame yourself for no longer being divine, and later this blame is projected onto others in order to protect yourself from the self-hatred that would otherwise result.
When children experience that something goes wrong, they tend to blame themselves. Regardless of whose fault it really is, the quality of self-blame in the ego leads the child to take the responsibility. Even when children are sexually or physically abused, they always believe it is their own fault. From the perspective of the Enneagram of Holy Ideas, the depth of the sense of self-blame is not dependent upon what actually happens, but is due to the absence of the perception of Holy Truth. So, universally, children blame themselves for the loss of their sense of being divine, for their fall from grace. The result is a deep anguish and sense of guilt which becomes the primary source around which other guilts later accumulate.
The moment you place blame on yourself or others, you are not only experiencing the loss of the preciousness of the state of unity, but you are also reaffirming the sense of duality—of there being a you and an other. Blame, then, whether of self or other, indicates that the ego is already operating within the delusion of duality. If you are in touch with the inherent unity of all of existence, if it is all one thing, blame simply does not make any sense.
Ultimately, all self-blame comes down to blaming oneself for not being enlightened. Universally, there is a core place within all ego structures where one feels guilty for not being a realized Being. The guilt, as we have seen, has to do with the fact that (in Christian terms) you have been thrown out of paradise—yet you don’t blame God for this; you blame yourself. The deeper you go into understanding the sense of guilt, the more you realize that you feel guilty for not being real. This is particularly relevant when you have realized the essential aspect of the Point, the Essential Identity (see The Point of Existence, Almaas 1996). Here you see that you have carried within you a profound sense of guilt for losing contact with your true nature. A sense of great betrayal arises, not just because your parents didn’t see your real nature, but that you stopped seeing it. You abandoned what is real in you; you abandoned yourself. Each ennea-type will experience this guilt in a slightly different way, as it is filtered through the lens of each one’s specific delusion, but this guilt and self-blame for the loss of contact with Being is universal to all egoic experience.
The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. From this perspective, we can see that the fruit is the experience of duality, the first departure from the state of unity, the first division. So because you are not in a state of total completeness, you feel guilty and bad, and have an attitude of punishing and hating yourself. This gets projected, and you attempt to remedy the situation by getting revenge. This is the constellation or complex that results from the loss of Holy Truth.
Revenge is really the ego’s attempt to regain the original state of unity. It is a way of trying to get rid of the guilt and the pain through a convoluted line of reasoning that goes something like this: Someone hurts you, and the pain involves loss of the sense of unity. So you retaliate by hurting him or her in exactly the same way, in the belief that doing so will enable you to rid yourself of your own pain and restore the sense of unity. This is the rationale behind the Biblical phrase, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”
The nine delusions arising from the loss of the nine Holy Ideas are the seeds around which the cores of the nine ennea-types develop, and while each is most dominant for the ego structures of that type, the nine are present in all ego structures. The delusions, then, form the nine principles inherent in all ego structures and lives informed by ego. We have seen how the loss of Holy Truth leads to the delusion of duality, and how out of this loss of true reality—this state of “the fall” arises the painful sense of badness, guilt, and original sin. Self-blame ensues for not being divine, which becomes self-punishment and the attempt to avenge oneself This constellation forms the core, the major psychological constellation related to this point of the Enneagram, out of which the whole ennea-type develops.
The Holy Ideas are different forms of the perception of the soul in a completely open and transparent state, that is, the soul in touch with Living Daylight. The loss of this state of openness and wholeness—whether it results from normal egoic identification with a separate sense of self or from the contraction away from contact with experience that is involved in reacting to a sense of the loss of holding—inevitably results in the loss of the sense of unity, connection, perfection, love, flow, and so on.
The core constellation is actually one unified process with three facets: 1) As we saw in Part One, the loss of an Idea is the same process as the loss of a sense of holding in the environment and the loss of basic trust. So the loss of Holy Truth leads to the specific delusion of duality. 2) Loss or inadequacy of the holding environment results in the painful egoic state that we call the specific difficulty. Here, the loss of holding, filtered through the delusion of duality, results in the specific difficulty of a sense of badness, guilt, and fundamental sinfulness. 3) The loss of basic trust, filtered through the delusion, results in what we call the specific reaction of each point, and just as the loss of a sense of holding results in the loss of basic trust, the specific reaction is an attempt to deal with the specific difficulty. Here, it is the reaction of self-blame, which, as we have seen, is based upon the sense of duality and opposition, and which ultimately blossoms into the attempt to get revenge that is characteristic of ennea-type Eight.
The Holy Truth includes everything—including the guilt and self-blame. It is all-inclusive and all-encompassing; otherwise it would not be holy. The belief that some manifestations are holy and others are not, or that some people are chosen by God and others are not, is not the Holy Truth. The Holy Truth chooses all people—they are its life. This is why it is said that, “The sought becomes the seeker.” The Holy Truth itself manifests as the seeker looking for the Holy Truth. So the journey is a matter of the seeker finding out that he or she is what is sought. When we know this, we realize that there is no need for seeking.
1. When I mention other religious or spiritual traditions and their points of view, I am not saying that my understanding of them is authoritative. I am referring to their descriptions of various states and understandings in the light of my own experience, explicating their knowledge through my own understanding. Someone of a particular tradition might say that they mean something slightly different and that I am misinterpreting what they mean. In referring to a particular tradition, I am not sanctioning it, or even agreeing with its tenets. There are distinct differences between the Diamond Approach and other traditions, although there are also many similarities in perspective. I am simply using examples from other traditions in order to facilitate understanding of things that are difficult to explain in words.