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Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
The Enneagram (Part 2)
Type Five: The Need to Perceive
Monday, June 2, 2014
The Five appears to be the headiest of all the head types (Five, Six, and Seven). Their primal experience as an Eight Soul Child was of the absolute order of God and the genius of controlling all the parts in one working universe. Fives go inside the mind to find the power that they were denied, or denied themselves, in the external world.
The sin of the Five is avarice (or greed), and they are avaricious for knowledge, thoughts, ideas, silence, and space. To them, knowledge is power and they can never know enough to fill the emptiness they feel inside. Fives always need yet another course, another book, another silent retreat. They are always observing, often from a safe back corner. Fives spend most of their lives behind a one-way mirror through which they can look out, but won’t let you look back at them.
Fives try not to be drawn into the whirlpool of feelings and events but instead develop their own kind of “objectivity.” It’s important to them to remain calm—at least externally—and to keep their emotions under control. In reality, most Fives have an intense emotional life. But at the moment something happens, it’s as if their emotions are blocked and always come limping behind. At first Fives register something with eyes, ears, and brain; they can stand alongside the event with seeming objectivity. As soon as they are alone, they begin to evaluate it, once again from the head. That’s how they gradually get in touch with their emotions, if they do at all.
Detachment can be seen as the virtue of the Five. Fives can be outstanding listeners and counselors. Their ability to withdraw themselves emotionally can help those seeking advice to appraise their own situation more clearly. But detachment can also be seen as the Five’s greatest weakness. Among the life tasks of Fives is learning commitment and action. Fives have to fall in love passionately. “Learning to love” is one of their great challenges because it crashes up against their wish for distance. Fives who won’t allow themselves to “lose their heads” in love are incomplete. Without it, they remain emotionally stingy all of their lives.
Meditation and prayer are for Fives crucially important sources of power. Fives need to cultivate their inner world in order to find the courage to devote themselves to the outer world. The latter becomes possible only when the inner world is experienced as less threatening, when Fives have found repose and security in God and hence in themselves. Meditating on the Incarnation, that is, the commitment and passion of Christ, his readiness to get his hands dirty and heal human beings by touching them, can reconnect the Five with their Soul Child, the Eight.
Redeemed Fives link their knowledge to a search for wisdom and strive for a sympathetic knowledge of the heart. They have a quiet inner power and are tenderly emotional, loving, polite, hospitable, and gentle—while also protecting strong personal boundaries.
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