A Brief Overview of the Enneagram Symbol

The Enneagram provides a powerful framework for accelerating self-knowledge, for releasing human suffering; for living life with more awareness, flexibility and effectiveness; and for experiencing the expansiveness and liberation of our spirit. Through the Enneagram, we discover that we have always held the key to that which we have been seeking.

The Enneagram symbol itself is ancient.   It encompasses three main figures:  the circle, the triangle and the hexad. Each of these figures is symbolic of three Laws of the Universe, in Gurdjieffian language.  Each of these Laws is based on principles of reality, and are relevant from the smallest microcosm to the more expansive macrocosm of life.

The Circle:  The Law of One

Words often used with the Circle are ‘Unending,’  ‘Unity,’ and ‘Wholeness.’  This image represents Oneness, that All come from the same Source, birthed from the same particles of  energy.  In the most awakened state, the interconnectedness with All That Is moves beyond a nice platitude to a stunning experience of being a particle of light in an ocean of light.

In addition, each of us have all of the nine Enneagram points and dynamics within us. Thus, we experience a paradox of being both an individual and being connected to every other type, and to all that is.


The Triangle:  The Law of Three

The triangle is connected to points 9, 3 and 6 on the Enneagram symbol.  The triangle represents the triadic nature of reality.  Western culture is deeply steeped in dualism, which shows up as the polarities of life, e.g.:  either/or, black/white, us/them, you/me, doing/being, day/night, right/wrong, material/spiritual, as examples.  Dualism creates struggle as it locks thinking into a narrow set of possibilities, blinding us to potential possibilities and resolutions that transcend the usual way of looking at life.   Opening to the triadic nature of life invites us to come into presence, and allow a new, unexpected way to arise. 

We also work with the Deep Living ‘Triangle of Identity’ that identifies hidden dynamics that shape major patterns within the personality and reveals the nature of the limited sense of self.  Each unawakened Enneagram personality type has its own version of the Triangle of Identity.  As yet another paradox,  we can recognize what we habitually pursue, what we habitually avoid, how we habitually cope and how our self-identity is reinforced, all which takes us away from our soul’s deepest desires.

The Hexad:  The Law of Seven

 We are part of a universe in constant motion. The Hexad is an irregular shape, representing the movement of the life force, of consciousness, of change itself.    Galaxies are being formed and destroyed.  Our own earth is in constant motion within our solar system, and on this globe itself, enormous change is taking place.  So it is with every particle, every cell, with every human being, Evolution and devolution are active dynamics influencing every interaction.

At the core of our human condition is the belief that we are in control of our lives.  Clearly, from an expanded perspective, the reality is that much is out of our control. 

The question we can ask is what is our role as a participant in this evolutionary reality?  Among the many practices and tools that are incorporated into the Deep Living Approach to becoming more conscious, is the recognition that as spirit-infused human beings, we are, in fact, on a trust walk.

These three symbols form the foundation of the work of awakening to reality.

The Nine Points

Nine points are delineated along the Enneagram Circle, each point connected to other points by lines, indicating a dynamic flow and interrelationships among the points which reflects the change inherent in life.

Each point represents a particular personality type (a particular expression of the human condition and of consciousness) with its own internal blueprint (visualized in the Inner Iceberg), inner commentary, and perception of self and of the external world. Each point also represents a specific connection to that which is still, spacious and eternal within-that which is beyond the limitations of the personality.

What really distinguishes one personality type from the other are the underlying (hidden) dynamics or motivations that shape one’s behavior, thinking, way of being in the world.  In Deep Living language, we refer to this as ‘what’s under the water line” in our Iceberg Model, shown below.

What is illustrated here, in a ‘visual shorthand’ form, are the many influential dynamics (shown below the ‘waterline’ of the Iceberg) that are hidden to our awareness, and that affect our visible behaviors (shown above the waterline).    There is a specific Iceberg representation for each of the nine Enneagram types.  Through gaining awareness of these invisible dynamics, the nature of what we have taken to be reality is shown to be very limited.  And that opens the door to healing what are likely lifelong coping mechanisms and leads to a fresh, alive experience of authenticity.

Additional Notes and Cautions

  1. It can be tempting to identify your type, be amazed about what you learn and begin to understand other people.  That’s a great and important start on your Enneagram journey.  If you stop there, it is likely that your Enneagram type can become another basis for self-identity, and rather than freeing you, it can further crystalize your sense of self and your bubble of reality.  The Enneagram was not given to us to enhance our self-identity but to awaken us to the mystery of who we are beyond type.
  2. It can be tempting to try to type someone else.  We recommend caution around this, and to leave room for error, as there are dynamics at work that we just can’t see in others.  We also recommend that you be cautious if someone tries to tell you what your type is.  That again is because only you can actually recognize the inner dynamics at work.  Just allowing yourself to experience the process of this self-discovery is in itself very powerful. 

We recommend the next steps to discovering your dominant orientation to life:

    1. Obtain a copy of the Deep Living book
    2. Meet with a coach who can guide you in this process.  Deep Living facilitators can provide a discovery process to support you in having an unbelievable “AHA!”
    3. Join one of the Deep Living circles.
    4. Join our list to learn about new opportunities being offered.

Through the Deep Living Lab's (formerly Deep Living Institute) approach to the Enneagram, you can find your way home to yourself, to your amazing strengths and to your Essential and Eternal Nature.


Free Download

Check out the Preface to Roxanne's book on Deep Living and join our online community enews list.