Integration of Essence:
True Nature in Our Lives

Integrating the Higher Qualities of our Essence into our Lives

SYNOPSIS: This blog reviews what the higher essential qualities of the nine Enneagram types mean to me. For each type, I clarify the meaning of the words used in the Enneagram teachings, define how I experience these qualities, and give clear and short examples. I state the meaning of essence as “those qualities of being that underlie all external manifestations and are always present in one way or another,” such as hope, faith, and love.
Then I describe a process for integrating these essence qualities into our lives, integration being the interweaving of these differentiated parts into ourselves, into our experience of ourselves. Often, this involves access to our own peak experiences as a resource, as a peak experience is one that included a direct experience of our essential higher spiritual qualities. In Enneagram terms, these are our inherent virtues. Integrating our inherent virtues into our everyday modus operandi over time results in transformation, a sustainable growth that can be experienced in our soma, our hearts, and our minds.

Descriptions of the Types’ Virtues and Essential Spiritual Qualities

David Daniels on Integrating Each Enneagram Personality Type's Unique Spiritual Qualities & Virtues to Discover Your True SelfThe essential qualities, meaning our embodied inherent virtues, and our Holy ideas — which are mental qualities — exist at the core of our being, at the hub of existence and at the core of our collective unity.

We all have had “oneness-of-all” experiences at some point. For example, when we either listen to or play music, find ourselves in a wondrous scene in nature, ski effortlessly down a a mountain of white powder, get swept away in blissful sexual union, when full of intention and deep in prayer, during meditation or a deep reflection, when experiencing delicate and beautiful acts of kindness, when imbued with warm, unconditional love, we are at “one” with all that there is. Moments of oneness may also occur in times of great challenge and when there seems to be little choice.

David Daniels on Enneagram Personality Type Specific Virtues & Spiritual Qualities Necessary for Unity With All & SelfAt such a time we may find ourselves deep inside of ourselves and incredibly still. I do not mean drug experiences or “highs” per se. Peak experiences are manifestations of our connection to all there is, a sense of unity; peak experiences are characterized by an utter presence in the moment, are indelibly imprinted in memory and registered across all the senses, they include a sense of profound wonder and awe. In unity, there is a simple knowing that our divine, essential qualities are at our core and at our disposal and they are what live on about us, long after our bodies have expired.

We need to know that our virtues and Holy ideas are not just experienced cognitively, but also emotionally, and energetically, i.e., somatically. When integrated into our personality, they change the structure of our lives, literally the substance of our being. And integration requires the development of grounded receptive energy, which I call the great emulsifier, as it allows our essential qualities, meaning, our virtues, and Holy ideas, to infuse our personality structure and liberate us from the confines of our originally formed, self-referenced core beliefs and habit of mind.

When we are doing our work, using the “5As” of the Universal Growth Process, and we need to go to a resource state, one good way to do that is by recalling and re-experiencing one of our peak life experiences. A peak experience would be a time in our lives when we had experienced ourselves as fully present, imbued with our inherent virtues, and utterly awake to ourselves and others and  some form of grace that was filling the moment. Recreating such a state allows for the integration — the infusion — of our virtues into our day-to-day personality structure.

Simple Definitions

Remember, our essence, our “true nature,” is that which underlies all external manifestations and is permanent and unchanging (Webster’s Dictionary). Within our Enneagram community’s definition of “essence,” essence qualities, comes a bit more delicacy and qualities than Webster has to offer us. My simple understanding of what “essence” means, in Enneagram speak, is more so that the Holy Idea is the higher mental quality and that our inherent virtue is our higher emotional quality. These qualities are both a definitive part of our true nature. They belong to us. And what’s important to each of us is to integrate both the higher mental and high emotional quality, of our virtue and Holy idea, into our daily lives.

What follows are the type-by-type descriptions of each of the inherent virtues and Holy ideas.

Type 1

Holy Idea: Holy Perfection
Virtue: Serenity

Holy Perfection means the undivided oneness of all at the core of our being, without judgmentalness. This we experience in the body as a calm abiding and as a simple appreciation and an acceptance of differences and variations, which is experienced as the virtue termed “serenity.” Then, all experience, including the vital instincts, occurs without resistance as we experienced when we were little children. Thus, all positive and negative feelings occur within us without resistance, and anger, frustration, and impatience abates. This means we are in the natural flow of positive and negative experience, which gives us a non-judgmental, more accepting perspective. In this stance of being, it becomes impossible to intentionally harm, through mindless condemnation, another being or the self. Where there is acceptance there is love, and where there is love there cannot be separation or alienation. Within the serene and loving heart, there is inexplicable goodness and a natural alignment to our dignity and integrity.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 1?

  • Moving from a cognitive habit that my way is the right way to cognitive awareness that true or natural perfection includes my way and other ways, both rights and wrongs, accepting differences.
  • Moving from emotionally contained anger inside to serenity with others.


Type 2

Holy Idea: Holy Freedom (Freewill)
Virtue: Humility

Holy Freedom means that the real needs of both self and other get met organically and systemically by a greater will than our own will. This creates the intra-personal freedom to exist in the natural flow of giving and receiving, and to do without pride, this virtue is termed, “humility.” For example, we experience this natural flow in the mother-infant nursing experience where both are being nurtured and in the emergency-responders unwavering response to tragedies and environmental disasters. We sense what is appropriate to both give and to receive, both of which provides congruence. With humility in the forefront, we are free to operate without an attachment to our pride, without an attachment to fulfilling the needs of self or others. Where there is humility there is love, and where there is love there cannot be ingratiation or manipulation. Within the humble and loving heart, there is inexplicable gratitude and a natural flow of divine reciprocity.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 2?

  • Moving from a cognitive preoccupation that others need me and I need to give to them to a cognitive awareness that the world naturally gives and takes.
  • Moving from emotional pride with others to an internal emotional humility.


Type 3

Holy Idea: Holy Hope (Law)
Virtue: Veracity

Holy Hope means that things get done, according to universal laws and not solely upon the effort of the individual doer. This provides enduring hope for the future, which in turn allows for the expression of our true self, our own authentic feelings, this virtue termed “veracity.” We witness this natural unfolding when we go out into nature. Observing nature allows for the organic experience of what really needs doing and what doesn’t, thus, no moving forward beyond feelings and, hence, no continuous go-ahead energy and no self-deception, self-ignoring takes place. Then, and only then, can there be a harmonious blend of doing and being, of accomplishment and presence, to self and others. The integrated Type 3 knows that love emanates from our qualities of being, not solely from qualities of doing, which further allows for a genuine expression of our real feelings and of our real and natural state of being. When this occurs, the heart is infused with a powerful sense of authentic presence.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 3?

  • Moving from a mental preoccupation that I am the doer to cognitive awareness that the world organically moves forward with or without my efforts.
  • Moving from emotional urgency/deceit to emotional honesty with self and others.


Type 4

Holy Idea: Holy Origin
Virtue: Equanimity

Holy Origin means that in the original state of being whole and complete and connected exists in each moment with nothing of substance or importance missing or lacking. The infant in utero is a beautiful example of existing in complete connection. No wonder there is such a wail at the time of birth, when the physical connection between mother and infant is severed. Being in a state of oneness with all creates inner calm. A complete acceptance of what is exists with what is actually present, this virtue is termed, “equanimity.” Not superior, not inferior, not more than and not less than. Gratitude for “what is” and for an appreciation for life’s experiences are meant to abound. In this equanimous, balanced state, no over-expressed emotions dominate. The body moves appropriately through life’s circumstances. Longing for what is deemed “lacking” abates and energy then diverts to only those things that are truly worth pursuing or enhancing. Where there is equanimity there is love, and where there is love there cannot be a sense of lacking or disappointment. Within the accepting and loving heart, there is unyielding appreciation and a continual sense of wonderment and delight.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 4?

  • Moving from a cognitive preoccupation that only “I do not have” to a cognitive awareness that ”everyone has some things and don’t have other things”
  • Moving from intense internal feelings to emotional balance with what is and what is not.


Type 5

Holy Idea: Holy Omniscience
Virtue: Non-attachment

Holy Omniscience means a direct and assured inner knowing independent of sought-after thinking, postulating, and the effort that goes into deriving studied conclusions. There’s an infinite amount of energy that comes from “knowing” and trusting in one’s ability to “know.” Infants exemplify a trust in this kind of knowing and in the natural gift of life’s energy source as infants only live in the present moment, without cognition. Thus, life energy flows freely from the world and to the self, this virtue is termed, “non-attachment.” Consequently, we are designed to move forward into life and toward nurturance and not away from the requirements and claims of life in what is witnessed as retraction, isolation, and avarice. There is an astuteness about what is required in life and what isn’t, and we experience more than adequate life energy flowing freely from, to, and through the body. There is a liberating understanding that the mind itself and on its own is not what manifests and conjures up direct experience, only a heartfelt connection and the presence of being brings forth direct and assured knowing.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 5?

  • Moving from a cognitive habit of stinginess and inner control to mental awareness that all can be included and dealt with as it unfolds.
  • Moving from emotional greed of one’s own time and space to opening to what is brought externally by the world that is really needed.


Type 6

Holy Idea: Holy Faith
Virtue: Courage

Holy Faith means having a true faith in self, other, and in the universe. To me, this means grasping that nothing, even death, can destroy the divine, higher qualities of essence and the oneness of all that which we are a part of, at the core of our being. Faith allows for our meeting of real danger with a conviction of purpose, this virtue is termed, “courage.” Courage is the opposite of magnifying incremental dangers and focusing on how anything and everything could go wrong.

In a state of courage that leads us to foundational faith, we recognize and come to own the responsibility for our own existence and we come to trust in the process of becoming our own authority. Then, we naturally face hazardous or fearful situations by addressing them, rather than turning away from them or struggling to go against them. Parents exemplify this when protecting their children fearlessly and all of us exemplify this when venturing out into new, unexplored, uncertain situations. Love, devotion, and mindfulness function as another kind of courage; it’s the kind of courage that just “knows” what to do, at the moment required. It’s an access to an inherent, almost downloaded, conviction that provides a supportive, loving, and trustworthy form of guidance and directive.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 6?

  • Moving from a cognitive habit of cowardice/doubt to cognitive awareness that the world can be accepted as is without doubt.
  • Moving from emotional fear to emotional courage with guiding oneself and with real external danger.


Type 7

Holy Idea: Holy Work | Holy Plan
Virtue: Sobriety

Holy Work/Plan means the embracing of the all of life with a focused concentration and with the ability to travel the spectrum of consciousness, fully and freely. This allows for an adherence the present moment with a steadfast constancy, this virtue is termed, “sobriety.” This means that we embrace the pain and sadness of our lives as well as the pleasures, stimulations, and joy, and we embrace it all with an open, receptive, willing heart, with a presence to both self and to others.

Young children exemplify this by being fully present to what occurs at any given point in time, both the delight of life and the pain. Gluttony of the mind for endless future possibilities, options, and adventures abates. Instead, we are fully grounded in the utter fabric of our lives, experiencing the totality, the full spectrum of life, including the vast and potentially disturbing dimensions of our inner terrain. Then, commitment develops as a result of unwavering effort and dedication for its own sake, for our sake, for the sake of a very full and rich life, naturally ensues.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 7?

  • Moving from a cognitive preoccupation of a pleasant future to a cognitive awareness that the here and now work is just as good.
  • Moving from emotional gluttony for external excitement to an inner knowing that I can bring in what is actually needed, both pleasure and pain.


Type 8

Holy Idea: Holy Truth
Virtue: Innocence

Holy Truth means the stamina, wherewithal, and embrace of the truth, which resides in all beings in all moments, and is not just found in our own version of truth. This virtue, termed innocence, enables us to come freshly to each situation without prejudice, agendas, or power motives. A natural, exuberant life energy then arises to meet each situation, each person, and each moment we are experiencing within ourselves.

This kind of innocence, purity, then allows for the appreciation of the greater truth, which is the oneness of all, at the core of being. Proportionality, the arising of adequately responsive energy, fitting the situation, results. This stance allows for us to experience each person’s truth, their power as well as their boundaries, in a dignified, respectful, and mindful way. Vulnerability is welcomed as a freshness in the moment, and tender open-heartedness prevails for all involved. We experience this virtue of innocence in young children who eagerly explore the totality of life with curiosity, vibrancy, and presence.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 8?

  • Moving from a cognitive habit of my truth and retribution to a cognitive awareness that the world naturally will sense and arrive at the truth and find balance organically.
  • Moving from emotional intensity imposed on others/outward to more of an internal emotional feeling of innocence and unprejudiced feelings or unbiased power.


Type 9

Holy Idea: Holy Love
Virtue: Right Action

Holy Love means the blissful state of unconditional love and of union wherein everyone belongs equally, with dignity, autonomy, and acknowledgment. This allows for the physical experience of appropriate and proactive mobilization, appropriate to any given situation and as such, takes into account the self equal to, not more than or less than, all others. This virtue is termed “right action,” which, when accompanied by an engaged heart, leads to an incredible amount of authentic intra-personal power and the power of a grounded presence. Thus, right action allows us to act, to “show up,” in the world in a way that supports our true nature, the authenticity of our being, the dignity of both self and other.

Inertia toward the self (self-forgetting and resignation) are no longer comfortable or viable ways of self-soothing. From this stance, a true and honest empathy, a genuine care, and a compassion for both the self and for all, radiates our every step. There is acceptance of the self, without refusal, denial, or shutting down. We take the actions appropriate for the situation and for the vibrant self, and the actions needed and that which are essential to each given situation.

What does greater wholeness look like for Type 9

  • Moving from a cognitive habit of referencing others and indolence of own self love to cognitive awareness that both others and self are equal and worthy of love.
  • Moving from emotional laziness of own feelings and externally merging with others to emotional appropriateness for self and others.


Integrating our Inherent Virtues: The Process of Transformation

Here I answer the questions, “What does it require of me to bring this kind of integration in to my life?” and “What are the ingredients of my own integration?” “How do I integrate my inherent virtues?”

    • Built into our character structure (type) are the three basic needs for security/trust, dignity/autonomy, and identity/connection. These fundamental needs are shared by all mammals and, furthermore, go back 100 million years in our evolution. When we don’t feel secure – when we cannot trust something – we experience anxiety, fear, all the way to terror.When we are confronted with obstacles to getting what we want and need – including that which challenges our dignity and sense of self – we experience frustration, anger, all the way to rage. And when we aren’t connected to our selves or to others – when we don’t feel loved – we experience sadness and shame, all the way to distress and utter panic. These big mammalian emotions are vital to ensuring our survival; they so often dominate our lives as they are meant to alarm us into making life-saving adjustments. While these big mammalian survival systems are running, they tend to push our higher essence qualities into the proverbial background.
    • Our Enneagram type structure, among other functions, serves the vital function of meeting these basic survival needs. Our personalities are structured to ensure that we avoid or fight off threats to our survival, relying on these powerful, basic aversive emotions of fear/terror, anger/rage, and panic/distress, which are connected to security/safety, worth/wants, and love/connection. Thus, we get upset and reactive when our type-related basic beliefs and fundamental avoidances (“false core drivers”) are triggered (often non-consciously) by perceived threats to these fundamental needs. And remember that a “negative emotion,” an aversive emotion, has 5-10x the power of a positive emotion because, over evolutionary history, they so relate to immediate survival. Thus we are held in the confines of our type structure.
    • In humans, the reward, feel-good systems (triggered by care, affection, attunement and touch) combined with the aversive emotions of panic/distress, shame and sadness (stemming from feelings of loss and grief), pushes us to pursue connection, love, and relationships. We must have contact with others, including the experiencing of caring for and being cared for, because loving contact releases the positive hormone oxytocin and the neurotransmitter dopamine, the bonding and feel-good agents and that which helps us alleviate panic and distress.What’s so important to understand is that humans have the longest period of developmental dependency on caregivers. Why is this? It has to do with the fact that we are born with such under-developed, not-yet-fully-programmed brains, which provides us with tremendous capacities to grow, thrive, and manifest unlimited possibilities. It also sets us for tremendous vulnerabilities, the intrusions of the wrong kinds of stimulation or abuses, lack of critical nurturance, and all that which can set us up for developmental trauma, emotional suffering, lack of proper development and psychological damages. Humans are fully dependent on the quality of care, love, bonding, and attunement we receive in infancy on up, to develop properly and potentiate our true nature.
    • The way to work with each of our Enneagram type’s fundamental core beliefs and avoidances, and corresponding type-related issues, is to put into action with the best of our intentions the Universal Growth Process’ 5As, which features Awareness (self-observing grounded presence), Acceptance (open-hearted non-judgmentalness with what’s observed), Appreciation (staying grateful for the positives that go away, during conflict), Action (befriending reactivity, pausing to get centered and receptive to the self, then inquiring and discerning what is at the root of the reactivity, and then taking conscious action in a way that respects self and other), and Adherence (practicing the “5As” process across daily life).
    • Lastly, the action step needs a resourced state that’s familiar, drawn from a previously positive, victorious, somatic experience. Learn how to recall a time when we experienced a relaxed, “sense-of-self state” where we were grounded and present, all the way to recalling a “peak experience,” one where our inherent virtue was running the show, and we were embedded in it. Then, from a receptive, embodied stance say to yourself, “Come back now, I can integrate [the state of self, the virtue, the positive quality, that same dignified stance, that same experience of self] and behave accordingly. For me, leading with Type 6, this could be, “Come back, David, to the experience of having faith in myself, others, and in the universe. You know this state. From it, you can move forward with this challenge, you can handle it, and your virtue of courage is right here with you.”

What is your view?

I look forward to hearing from you, give this process a try and let me know how it goes.

Has this article helped you to further understand your inherent virtue and the Holy Idea for your type?

Please embellish – I would love to hear how we can come to understand these qualities more deeply.

In order to integrate these qualities more readily into our lives, we need to do the work of liberation, liberating ourselves from the reactivity of our personality structure and from the core beliefs that hold us confined and inflexible. Please share what has worked for you, as far as this integration?

Paradoxically, it’s in fact our reactivity that provides the best window into our true nature and our need for development. By pausing and exploring the reactivity itself, we learn so much about ourselves. Genuine curiosity is the key to this process. How has curiosity helped you come to know yourself better?

Lastly, how does working with our personality reactivity and coming in contact with our core beliefs allow for our inherent virtues to come further online and more a part of our everyday interactions with life?

5 Responses to “Integration of Essence:
True Nature in Our Lives”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Asking for clarification…my Type 9 statement would be along the lines of…

    “Come back Rosie, to the experience of Holy Love.
    “I know this state.
    From it, I can move forward with Right Action.”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Very helpful for my Type 7 in understanding what sobriety in this context means. Also, in relating to a Type 5 and acknowledging how we can talk and interact with more understanding of each other. Thank you for your insights.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Beautifully written, David, and of course timely too. We need to hear more about our virtues and how to integrate them. Thank you.

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