Monday, August 9, 2010

Guru enneagram types

I recommend the enneagram for anyone interested in personal growth, spirituality, egos, psychology, criminology, defence mechanisms, or just understanding the motivation behind a particular negative behaviour. The system describes 9 ego fixations. It must be emphasised that this is just about the ego, not the real essential person. The ego is just a valid defence mechanism for when we feel threatened.

It’s a very deep and complex system, but here are the basic descriptions:

Type 1: Perfectionist. Fixated on improving things in a moral sense. Under pressure, ones are judgemental and always pushing for improvement in themselves and others. Example: Margaret Thatcher - vibe of righteousness.

Type 2: Pleaser. Fixated on sustaining relationship by pleasing others in the hope that their own needs will be met by those others. Under pressure, twos are intrusive and manipulative and can suddenly fly into rages when their needs aren’t met. Example: the Jewish mother stereotype - vibe of fussing and interfering.

Type 3: Status-seeker. Fixated on how others perceive them, so they do things that others seem to approve of and try to appear to be the kind of person others like. Under pressure, threes are liars and shallow. Example: Tom Cruise - vibe of smooth professionalism.

Type 4: Romantic. Fixated on high romance either in love or the arts. Under pressure, fours are elitist and self-absorbed. Example: Gwenyth Paltrow - vibe of longing for the far away.

Type 5: Observer. Fixated on avoiding emotions and entanglements. Under pressure, fives are distant and emotionally stingy. Example: Mr Burns from the Simpsons - vibe of loving money over people.

Type 6: Defender. Fixated on dangers. Under pressure, sixes either group together in an us vs them stance or find an individual to pick on. Example: Mel Gibson - vibe of defence and attack.

Type 7: Escapist. Fixated on avoiding pain and restriction. Under pressure, sevens are superficial and flighty. Example: Richard Branson - vibe of flightiness and busyness.

Type 8: Boss. Fixated on controlling their lives for their own benefit. Under pressure, eights are pushy and domineering. Example: Hernando Cortez - vibe of power and control.

Type 9: Peace-seeker. Fixated on avoiding internal and external conflict. Under pressure, nines are lazy and passive. Example: Ringo Starr - vibe of passivity and “don’t rock the boat”.

Note that you can also have a wing, which is an influence coming from either side of your number. So, for example, a 2 might have a 1 wing, and therefore be a martyr subtype, or a 2 might have 3 wing, and therefore be a host subtype.

It’s good to know your guru’s ego type so that you can separate the good aspects of their teaching out from their neurotic aspects. Remember that this is just about their ego defence, not about who they really are. So following are my guesses at the enneagram types of some gurus:

Adi Da: This case is tricky. I’m guessing 8 because he is a larger than life kind of guy. But he has characteristics of 2 (wanting devotion from others), 7 (loves to be the centre of attention and to be superior), and 3 (likes prestige).

Ammaji: 2. Loves to have others devoted to her.

Andrew Cohen: 1. Judgemental, controlling, obsessive, moralising. He has a 2 wing - clingy, intrusive, and suffocating.

Anthony Robbins: 3. Superficial and success oriented.

Barry Long: 1. “Get your life right.” I think he had a 9 wing because he was a bit distant and didn’t like disturbance.

Buddha: 5. All about renunciation.

Byron Katie: 2. When she’s practicing her technique on people, she’s all schmaltzy and affirming of others like a smothering 2 - “Yes, darling.”

Deepak Chopra: 3 or 7. A phoney recycler/rationaliser/magical thinker.

Gangaji: 4. So says her hubby.

Isaac Shapiro: 9. Slothful. I think he has an 8 wing - activated more by instincts than ideals.

J Krishnamurti: 6. Ranted about not following authority. Some people think he’s an incarnation of, or channelled, the Lord Maitreya - as if the LORD MAITREYA would be so obsessed with not following authority!

Jesus: 2. Emphasised love. Flew into a rage with the moneychangers. Maybe a 1 wing - principled and a martyr. Of course, it’s hard to pick historical figures because we don’t know them well.

John de Ruiter: 9. Long-haired, zoned out, slothful.

Ken Wilber: 5. He’s a mindy theoriser.

Mother Theresa: 2. Caring for others, enjoying having others dependent on her.

Nisagadatta Maharaj: 8. Lion-like bigness. Play by my rules or get out!

Osho Rajneesh: 7. He was an eternal child and master of rationalisation and always wanted to be smarter than others. He called himself the master of masters. He’s also a big synthesizer of various theories.

Papaji: 8. Lion-like bigness.

Ram Dass: 7. Oral fixation, magical thinker, synthesizer.

Ramana Maharshi: 5. Living in a cave is classic 5 behaviour. Rarely strayed off topic.

Ramesh Balsekar: 7. Master of rationalsation. Many Neo-advaita gurus are 7s. That genre of so-called enlightenment is great for 7s because they can be instantly enlightened without any effort and then they can rationalise any signs of unenlightenment away by claiming that they aren’t the doer - Andrew Cohen called this “The Advaita Shuffle”.

Sailor Bob Adamson: Maybe 6. He once said to me that when he was younger he thought everyone was against him.

Stephen R. Covey: 1. All about the so-called traditional “character” ethic.

Wayne Liquorman: 8. He seems to live by the code “My way or the highway.”

Keep an eye out for changes and additions in the comments section. Please feel free to disagree with these or add others. I’m particularly keen to figure out Adi Da’s type, and to be more certain about Jesus’ type. Can you help with that?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. good analysis.

    It seems obvious that your ego fixation applies to your egoic behavior. If you are beyond ego, then here would not be any fixation. I believe that Jesus is a fictional character, but if we were to believe the stories about him, then his egolessness would mean that no type applied. He and the father were One.

  3. Fascinating! I've been enjoying a few of your insightful comments over on Balloon Juice, Martin, so came over here to read your work. What about Wayne Dyer? He's been an interesting person to watch over the decades in his own evolution. 3?

    I'm quickly trying to guess my own personal mentor, Brugh Joy, and am getting 5. I've been meaning to look into the enneagram in depth for a while so this is a great prod. You should do a similar post for popular political bloggers and politicians!

  4. Thanks for your comment, Laura.

    Wayne Dyer? He's a lot like Deepak Chopra - a recycler of new age nonsense, imvho! So, yes, maybe 3. But he is also quite the rationaliser, so maybe 7.

    I just skimmed Brugh Joy's website. I get the feeling he's a 7. This quote sounds like 7 because of the emphasis on sensuality (7) rather than understanding (5):

    "Walking the earth in preparation for Mt. Kailash and Its Koras showered me with innate senses of order, rhythm, space and time unknown to me through any mechanical movement. Bliss filled communion of body/mind intoxicated every step….every sound…every sight….every smell. Even the weather was delicious in huge variation and rapid sequence. Any vehicular travel became a gate into abstraction and seductive power..."

    Also, I saw he was into Ayahuasca, which is a classic drug for 7s because of how it fills the senses.

    Those are just quick guesses.

    Regarding enneagram types of bloggers and politicians: maybe I could do a post on them, but I am less confident about their types. Here are some guesses:

    Bush: 6.
    Cheney: 8 (or maybe 6).
    Rumsfeld: maybe 5.
    Obama: probably 3 although some think he's a 5.
    John Kerry: maybe 5.
    Hillary Clinton: maybe 1.
    Tony Blair: 1.
    John Cole: maybe 6 or 4.
    Bill Clinton: maybe 3.
    McCain: maybe 6.
    Reagan: 3 or 9.
    Schwarzenegger: 3.

  5. And...

    Yes, I recommend getting into the enneagram. It is incredibly powerful. Sometimes it gives you x-ray vision into people's motivations. But it is also very confronting. If you take it seriously, then it forces you to face your core phobias and resistance to the wholeness of life. But once you face it intelligently and without force, you definitely make huge progress. But some people treat it superficially and it actually reinforces their resistance to life.

  6. Like the vibe essence on the types.
    I would say Obama 9 with 8 wing
    Clinton is a sure-fire 7

  7. Anonymous,

    Have to disagree on Obama. Another politician said that he disagreed with Obama in public and Obama threatened to hit him if he embarrasses him in public again. I would suggest that's classic 3 behaviour. But it's hard to go by actions cos they don't always reveal motivation. Enneagram is about motivation.

    Clinton as a 7? Maybe. It would fit if Hillary is a 1. Male 7 with a female 1 is common.

  8. Thanks for posting this article. My guess for Adi Da would be a Type 4, as from reading his autobiography, it appears he considered himself unique and special (called himself The Bright). Also, he never got a job, which seems to be to be the 4's hatred of the ordinary and mundane (and maybe a 3wing which accounts for his success). As for Jesus, I haven't a clue! :)

  9. Adi Da as a 4 doesn't fit his bold extroversion, but it does fit his elitism and interest in art/photography. Regardless, these days, I am thinking he is a 2. He was always complaining about his sacrifices and how he isn't loved and appreciated enough. Classic 2 stuff. Also, a friend pointed out that a lot of cult gurus are 2s. I think that might be right.

    Jesus fits 2 best: special relationships with God, martyrdom, humility, fits of rage, message of love. But, again, it's hard to analyse historical figures because the data is weak.

  10. Jesus is all the 9 types ! See the Enneagramm-Book by Richard Rohr

    1. We are all, all 9 , just favoring one perception or number a little more strongly. When all false perceptions are healed the enneagram is like a wide open aperture, to the eternal soul of us all.

  11. Isaac Shapiro and Byron Katie are probably both 8s.