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Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

The Enneagram (Part 2)

Type Nine: The Need to Avoid

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Nines once knew that it was all about love and everything was connected, operative, and effective. Their Soul Child had the optimism and motivation of the Three—that all could be worked out and fixed because God is Love. It is an effective and workable universe. When it appears this isn’t true, they give up; they stop trying to find any other pattern. “If love does not work, then it is basically an incoherent universe and I want out, or at least I refuse to cooperate.”

Nines are in the center of the gut triad. Their response to the shock wave of perception is “Everything is just too much. I’m not going to feel it. I’m just checking out.” Their sin is called sloth or laziness, but it’s a description of their lack of focused energy. They spend their life taking the path of least resistance. They love to procrastinate and constantly need a fire lit under them. Nines like to go with the flow.

They often consider themselves simple and uncomplicated and present themselves accordingly. This makes dealing with Nines easy. Nines are honest; they have no hidden motives. Nines are very humble. They like to stay in the background and cultivate the self-image of not being anything special. Because Nines don’t take themselves so seriously or demand attention, they are often overlooked by others—which does hurt them, although they seldom admit it.

Almost everything that approaches Nines from the outside world is exhausting and draining. They spend their energy avoiding or deadening inner and outer conflicts and suppressing strong feelings. When they get to the point where they can no longer move at all, they absolutely need outside help in the form of love and attention. It works wonders for them, but it is only a start. The life task of Nines consists in discovering and developing their feelings of self-worth and their own inner drive in order to become independent of continual outside impulses.

Nines are natural peacemakers. Precisely because they themselves often have no clear standpoint, they are capable of shifting to and accepting any standpoint whatsoever. They can understand both sides and bring them together under one umbrella. Nines somehow harmonize all the conflicting energies present at a meeting. Perhaps it’s because their ego is not in the way. Perhaps it’s the peace of their body, refusing to be bothered by it all. Nonviolent resistance comes naturally to a Nine.

Unlike the energy-laden high tension of their Eight and One wings that bristle with passion and commitment to justice and a better world, Nines are gentle prophets. Their peaceful radiance is disarming. They can work very effectively precisely because they are indirect. Ones and Eights frighten others away; people feel threatened by them. Nines, by contrast, awaken trust so people are much more willing to work with them.

The conversion of the Nine comes when they are taken seriously and placed inside a structure where they can see they are able to get things done—and that others love them and believe in them, as does God. Their gift, as always, is the opposite of their sin. It is decisive action like that of a healthy Three. They know they must take their small and honest place in a very big plan. Then they can confidently do their part because they trust that they are being used in spite of themselves, as we all are.

Adapted from The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective,
pp. 47-48, 180, 181-182, 184, 187-188, 192
and The Enneagram: The Discernment of Spirits
(CD, DVD, MP3 download)

Gateway to Silence:
I want to see all—my sin and my gift.


Interested in deepening your
understanding of the Enneagram?


The Enneagram and Grace: 9 Journeys to Divine Presence,
a presentation by Richard Rohr and Russ Hudson,
explores the power of the Enneagram as a spiritual tool.


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