Living Overview


Following an overview of the Living Enneagram, using the lifecycle of a bean plant as an illustration, go deeper into each of the nine points.



Learn how all of us are cycling thru all nine stages of transformation as we awaken and evolve.

Meanwhile our particular character type is profoundly shaped by its corresponding stage in this universal lifecycle of change.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a time-tested wisdom technology that supports human flourishing. Learning how is well worth your time.

The Enneagram is ancient, with unknown origins. Traces of its teachings can be found in Pythagoras, the early Christian monastics, Sufism, and other traditions. The symbol has nine points (ennea means nine), with connecting lines forming three shapes: a circle, a triangle, and a hexagon. Energy moves along these lines, making the Enneagram a dynamic symbol.

G.I. Gurdjieff called the Enneagram “the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language which has as many different meanings as there are levels of people.” The Enneagram is a kind of Rosetta stone for mapping and relating different systems of knowledge.

Thus, there are many “Enneagrams.” The Living Enneagram combines two: the Personality Enneagram and the Process Enneagram. Each of the nine character types in the Personality Enneagram forms around, and takes on the characteristics of, its corresponding stage in the Process Enneagram, which maps the universal process of transformation.

The Process Enneagram describes nine stages in a universal process of transformation. Each of its Nine Points is one step on a journey which endlessly repeats as evolution continues to unfold. This process can be seen everywhere, large and small: from the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly to the cosmic life cycle of a star.

All nine personality types move through all nine stages of change. Yet each type can get especially stuck in the stage of its number. For example, a Type One can get perfectionist around Stage One in its evolutionary process, namely, orienting to a core intention or values, and creating an appropriate holding environment.

Each type also becomes an “expert” on its related stage. It helps to know where your personality style faces particular challenges when growing and integrating, and what wisdom your style is especially suited to offer to others in their own process of change.


The Personality Enneagram describes nine character types, or personality styles. No Enneagram type is better or worse than any other. Nor are we reducible to any one “category.” The Personality Enneagram is not about putting us in boxes; it is about helping us to see the exact dimensions of the box of our own making . . . and thereby find freedom!

Everyone runs all nine personality patterns; yet, each of us runs one core type as our foundational pattern. We also frequently run the patterns of the numbers to which our type is connected by lines in the Enneagram symbol. For example, Type Eight is connected to Seven and Nine on the circle — it’s “wings.” And Eight is connected to Five and Two within the symbol — it’s “connecting lines.”

We each have a unique personality based on the infinitely various ways energy moves along these lines to exert influence on our core type, often in different areas or times of our lives. Other factors contribute to our uniqueness, such as how our instincts interact with our personality type, and how our personal history shapes our story.

Different teachers use different names for the nine types. The names are not as important as feeling into the patterns themselves. My names are shown in the above figure drawn by Margarita Fernandez in Claudio Naranjo’s watershed work, Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View.

Below you will find an introduction to each of the nine personality types.

Sketch by Margarita Fernandez, in Naranjo, Claudio, M.D.  Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View. Nevada City, CA: Gateways/DHHB, Inc. 1994. Page 20.

Path of Growth

The Personality Enneagram gives us a map for finding more freedom from our conditioned personality patterns, as well as for developing these patterns over time in a process of integration.

In the Personality Enneagram tradition, Don Riso and Russ Hudson famously offered nine levels of development for each of the nine types, as found in their well-known work, The Wisdom of the Enneagram. In the below descriptions of the nine types, I provide under the Integration tab a few words for each level as pointers.

The Living Enneagram offers additional teachings facilitating growth, in that each personality type can discover where in the universal process of change it can fixate or stall.


Like the bean plant illustration? Consider these online courses examining how the Living Enneagram maps other natural processes of change. Taking a course also supports the teachings on this website!

Learn More

Journey through each Enneagram Point and discover how its stage in the process of change impacts the human personality type it forms. Click to explore!

Points 1 - 2 - 3

The change lifecycle begins with orienting to the environment, relating to others who provide resources, and coming forward to present oneself and take action. Type Ones perfect the orientation; Type Twos pour attention into relating; and Type Threes are all about showing up and shining.

Points 4 - 5 - 6

The midway struggle involves deepening to gather needed resources to face the "death" of change, clarifying what is happening, and letting go into that which is greater. Type Fours long for evermore depth; Type Fives concentrate on perceiving clearly; and Types Sixes discern the reliable refuge for surrender.

Points 7 - 8 - 9

The lifecycle ends with celebrating new possibilities for acting and being, impacting others and the world positively, and integrating in a period of rest before initiating a new cycle. Type Sevens optimize the celebration; Type Eights make a big impact; and Type Nines connect all things.


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