To understand our soul's desire it might be helpful first to understand our ego desire. The best way to do this is to understand how to categorize the ego. We like the Enneagram personality system because it is a useful tool for categorizing human behavior.
Some critics of personality models say things like "the Enneagram just puts people into boxes, and creates division". You may be one of those people so just bear with me.
Indeed the Enneagram is categorical, however, in our opinion, the tendency to name things is an inherently human tendency and has a practical usefulness in understanding the world, when not used dogmatically and inflexibly.
Labeling is only necessary in as much as the label itself provides a signpost for understanding our surroundings and the people within it. It is the value judgment of labels that can become a problem, not the label itself. Just as a tree is no better than a rock, a Type Two is no better than the Type Seven.
Additionally, just like most people can distinguish between a horse and a lion, personality types are the same way. Our egos overlay our energetic, psychological, emotional and physical system making it an integral part of our human experience, and as such can be recognized just like any other classification. (Sometimes we as humans like to think that taxonomies don't apply to us, but anthropology would tell us otherwise.)
We can see the types clearly displayed through language use, facial expressions, body styles, conflict and relationship styles, fears, desires, and strengths and weaknesses. We use these methods a lot in our coaching and teaching to help identify Enneagram types. (Let me tell ya, getting to the point where you can look at someone and tell what type they are is both fun and a little distracting. )
However, we are not the label itself (in this case a Type Three or Type Six). They are merely a signpost. Let me explain:
Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, states that the unquestioned identification with the labels of the world is what creates suffering, and because we cannot see beyond our labels, we therefore lose the ability fully experience the present moment without constant judgment. We become slaves to these labels and the judgments that they imply.
However, without the signposts of the world, the human brain (which needs some form of cognitive organization), would have a more difficult time finding solid footing and things would seem chaotic.
The Enneagram model is merely another signpost, or tool, that can be used to understand our fellow human beings. The Enneagram, if worked with on a compassionate and dynamic level, can help us to transcend the limiting boxes that we are already in, unlock our own potential, and understand and relate to the essence in others.
The nine personality styles have probably been in existence since the human developed the ego in order to cope with the craziness of human life.
It is as though there are nine invisible human tribes and most people are consciously unaware that they exist, but all people belong to one of these tribes, speaking the same language and expressing the same fundamental psychological and emotional experiences.
If we can find our tribe (or type) we can begin to feel a sense of familiarity in finding ourselves and settle into the understanding that others share some fundamental characteristics with us.
Nonetheless, the Enneagram does not seek to eliminate the inherent individuality of each person, but rather gives us a starting place to understand others.
Another human fact: human beings love anything that makes life easier. The Enneagram gives us a map, which makes psychological work easier. And nobody wants to be that douche that won't ask for directions.
In many spiritual and religious traditions, this process of ego identification is referred to as naming the demon. If we name the demon we can have control over it. However, it is important in our modern understanding not to completely demonize the ego.
Our egos are necessary to some extent. The ego can help us function in the day to day world and can help us to achieve practical results. It is when we cannot disengage our ego/personality that it can become a problem.
The ego should be a bit like a well-insulated jacket that we can take off when we no longer need it, but one that can help to protect us when necessary.
Soul Desire Vs. Ego Desire
Each type has a characteristic ego desire and soul desire depending upon their personality style. The soul desire is the integral part of oneself that wants to be in touch with their highest purpose. This is the desire which feeds your spiritual center and provides you with a contentedness, as well as a sense of fulfillment that is pervasive and permanent.
Each personality, at its integrated state, brings in a unique and valuable flavor to the overall human tapestry. Without the contributions of all the types human life would be incomplete.
If you think of the personality as an electric tool and the soul or spirit as the electricity which powers it, then it helps to give a more tangible symbolism for how these two things work in tandem.
Ego desire is the part of the self which wants to differentiate itself from others. The ego desire is the part of us that keeps striving for happiness, but never finding.
Ego desire believes that we must seek fulfillment in the physical world in order to be whole. The ego is not entirely wrong in that we are physical beings living on the Earth and we have specific needs, weaknesses, strengths and wishes.
The soul desire of all human beings is to just be and to eliminate suffering. Our individuated soul desire is a unique way of performing our individuated essence and is linked in some ways to our ego or personality type. It's the gold at the end of the rainbow, so to speak.
We must first recognize our ego desire if we are to unlock and work with our soul's desire. Once we unlock that potential we can work from the higher part of our selves and stop getting in our own way.
The 9 Ego Desires
Our Ego desire is categorized by our ego's marching orders. Below are the every-day ego messages we may tell ourselves that we must adhere to to "be okay". For those of you unfamiliar with the Enneagram the types are numbered 1-9.
You may identify with a few of them, but one will be dominant, and this is likely your personality style. Recognizing these messages takes some honest self appraisal. Remember virtually everyone has an ego, it's the part that makes us human. It's your survival mechanism to survive human life.
- The Ethical Perfectionist-To be perfect right and without error.
- The Effusive Helper-To be kind, giving and without need.
- The Successful Achiever-To be attractive, successful and without failure.
- The Creative Individualist-To be unique, intuitive and without the mundane.
- The Remote Scholar-To be knowledgeable, competent and without ignorance.
- The Loyal Skeptic-To be certain, safe and without doubt.
- The Excited Adventurer-To be free, excited and without limitations.
- The Powerful Leader-To be powerful, authoritative and without weakness.
- The Peaceful Mediator-To be agreeable, open and without complication.
The 9 Soul Desires
Soul Desire: The soul desire ushers in something for both the individual self and others. It is both self renewing and a universal gift. It is the unique way our spirit can behave in the world on a higher more integrated level.
- To be serene and forgiving and bring virtue into the world.
- To be unconditional and self-renewing and bring kindness into the world.
- To be inspirational and self-aware and bring hope into the world.
- To be creative and equinanimous and bring insight into the world.
- To be objective and perceptive and bring loving detachment into the world.
- To be courageous and secure and bring faith into the world.
- To be abundant and joyful and bring vision into the world.
- To be vulnerable and magnanimous and bring strength into the world.
- To be awake and balanced and bring peace into the world.
You may be thinking "that sounds wonderful, how do I bring that into the world?" The first step in any journey is recognizing there's a journey. So beginning to identify the ego messages is a massive start, and as you may know, many people would prefer to blissfully walk around unaware of what their doing in the world.
Waking up is sometimes hard to do, but the rewards to consciousness outweigh the pain of unconsciousness.