The Enneagram of Holy Ideas: Relationship Help Through Understanding The Loss of Holding, and Uncovering Potentials for Basic Trust.

AH Almaas, in his book, Facets of Unity, The Enneagram of Holy Ideas, points people towards a grace, ease, or relaxation that can help our relationship with our selves, and our significant other.   Understand how one’s personality partially grew out of an attempt to try and establish a safe, dependable, holding environment, which opens up the nine Holy Ideas.   These ideas below help one’s soul relax, trust, and just Be when the specific reaction, difficulty, and delusion of each type are seen and worked through in a safe environment.   Relationship with one self, and in intimate relationship, can be more adult, and in the moment, which deepens love.



E1: Perfection – nothing needs to be added to or taken away from reality

E2: Will – no free-will; everything happens out of necessity

E3: Harmony – no true causality; everything changes together

E4: Origin – nothing is separate from reality; everything is a part of reality

E5: Omniscience – nothing is separate from other things; everything affects everything else

E6: Strength – reality exists (there is something there)

E7: Plan or Wisdom – reality unfolds by itself

E8: Truth – reality is unified

E9: Love – reality is good, inspires appreciation, evokes ecstasy



Excerpts below from the book Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas, by AH Almaas.

Enneagram 9’s

“Loss of holding leads to a SPECIFIC REACTION of sleep, apathy, and indolence (inattention). In other words, a forgetting of who you are and forgetting objective reality. Which leads to a SPECIFIC DIFFICULTY of INFERIORITY, a painful sense of a deficient impoverished soul. (Which is shared by all the types in their own ways.) When one believes one’s soul isn’t rich or precious, it naturally follows that you wouldn’t see any point in working on yourself, and this creates the deep inertia in 9’s, so easy to get lost in the particulars and activities of everyday life, at least one is surviving, even if it’s like drab, gray, cold wintry days inside, more important to watch tv, like a football game, the bashing on the field making us feel SOMETHING through the thick skin of one’s consciousness.

Learning to tolerate, feel, and move through this specific difficulty of inferiority opens up the inherent Holy Love, in 9’s, and in all of us! The sweetness, delight, lightness, blissfulness, and ecstasy can imbue all of experience.”


Enneagram 1’s

“Loss of holding led to SPECIFIC REACTION of trying to make oneself better, comparative judgment, prove one’s rightness, prove one’s goodness, to create safe holding. As adults, get busy watching yourself, comparing yourself, and judging yourself…Is it better or less than something else? To make it better means you believe there is something wrong, which means you don’t see holy perfection. The SPECIFIC DIFFICULTY that there is SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU is what’s difficult to tolerate, so trying, improving, high standards/expectations, can be a way to cope and earn love.   Feeling this “wrongness” in a safe way opens one up to the DELUSION that something is wrong someplace, which begins to open HOLY PERFECTION. That whatever you make out of gold is still gold, that whatever form the jewelry takes it is still fundamentally gold. You are perfect just the way you are, acceptable, golden already, no real need to improve.”


Enneagram 2’s

“Loss of holding experienced as not getting your own way, which is experienced emotionally as a state of HUMILIATED CASTRATION, the specific difficulty, an enormous blow to your pride –deflating, humiliating slap in the face, like vitality and force taken away, so who one is isn’t effective or powerful.

So specific reaction arises of willfully pitting oneself against what is, that of WILLFUL ACTION, the pride of “I am going to get my own way.” (Otherwise feel castrated/humiliated.)   So instead of feeling that whatever is happening is just what’s going on, 2’s feel their will is ineffective, which gives rise to the characteristic physical, mental, and emotional influences (manipulations/seductions) that can happen with 2’s.   Sensing in to all this in a safe way can lead to the holy freedom of independence from any state or dimension, HOLY FREEDOM, just being. HOLY WILL or grace surrenders your own iron will, prejudices, or preferences so that there’s flexibility and resiliency, no need to push the process in any direction.”


Enneagram 3’s

“Loss of holding experienced as an environment where one needs to be a separate and independent doer, that no one is taking care of you adequately.   This leads to the SPECIFIC DIFFICULTY of HELPLESSNESS.   The SPECIFIC REACTION to this is VANITY: you feel abandoned, no one is taking care of you, and you feel it’s all up to you.   So the specific reaction is ACTIVITY to cover up the helplessness, which manifests as an efforting, a pushing, a constant obsessive and compulsive need to be active, achieving, doing, and succeeding. The SPECIFIC DELUSION is the belief in a separate and independent doer, which is a consequence of not perceiving Holy Law or Holy Harmony, that everything is the unified functioning of Being/Truth/Grace.   When one realizes that you don’t have to do it all, there is a sense of release and relief, and you can allow things to unfold by themselves.”


Enneagram 4’s

“Loss of holding experienced in the SPECIFIC DIFFICULTY as state of feeling disconnected, estranged, alienated, cast out, abandoned; a disconnection from one self, from reality, from the Source. (Which can give 4’s a sense of melancholy, despair, and sadness.)

In the absence of this basic trust, the SPECIFIC REACTION is the expression of DISTRUST filtered through the belief in a separate identity through the ego activity of CONTROL: to control one’s experience so as not to experience the feeling of disconnection. The SPECIFIC DELUSION is the concept of separate identity, that the 4’s identity exists on its own, so there can be great pride in having an original, unique, and independent self.   The holy idea of HOLY ORIGIN tells us this is a delusion, since our true identity is the Absolute/Universal/Unity of everything.   That The Source is not something that is an other. It is the very nature of what we are and everything that is.   Independent entityhood compassionately dissolves over time.”


Enneagram 5’s

“Loss of holding results in experiencing oneself as small, isolated, cut-off, empty, and impoverished; the state of deficient isolation, which is the specific difficulty for 5’s. Loss of holding results from the belief in SEPARATENESS, the specific delusion for 5’s.   The specific reaction to all this pain is to WITHDRAW in an attempt to hide from reality, resulting in characteristic emotional withdrawal and deadness of sorts, a dissociation from mind and body.   The loss of the holy idea of OMNISCIENCE is the loss of the perception of INTERCONNECTEDNESS, and what arises is the conviction that we are separate entities (a fundamental principle of ego.)   As we abide with the Holy idea that we are unique and individual WAVES OF A VAST OCEAN, our need for separating boundaries begins to relax; individualized person who is AT THE SAME TIME AN INEXTRICABLE PART OF THE FABRIC OF THE LIVING UNIVERSE.”


Enneagram 6’s

“The loss of holding resulted in the specific reaction of FEARFUL INSECURITY (hard to tolerate, this frightening sense of groundlessness from inconsistent parenting). To cover up this difficult feeling, the specific delusion of CYNICISM, which underlies the specific reaction of DEFENSIVE SUSPICIOUSNESS, that 6’s use to protect against the feelings of inadequate holding.     Real holding from within arises as the delusion is felt and becomes conscious, and cannot be maintained, as not all of reality is inconsistent and fearful.   As the delusion dissolves, the state of HOLY STRENGTH arises which is the recognition of one’s essential nature and FAITH in it, a sense of trust and confidence and ease.”


Enneagram 7’s

“The SPECIFIC DIFFICULTY, in the experience of the absence of holding, is seen as the loss of the capacity to know what to do.   It’s a feeling state of disorientation, a sense of being lost, don’t know which way to go, because of something lacking in you, that 7’s can learn to tolerate/move through in a safe way, that transforms this pattern.   Here the resulting distrust is filtered through not perceiving the Holy Plan, and the SPECIFIC DELUSION is that one can know which direction to take, that of PLANNING.   You create your own plan and engage in ego activity instead of surrendering to the Holy Work or Plan.   This is common with all ego structures, the moment one tries to direct your inner process, you believe you know what you’re supposed to experience in the next moment.   Holy Wisdom means understanding that you do not know what’s going to happen next, and so the only thing that you can do is relax. You relax, you are. You become present, become presence, then real work can happen, and the real work is the unfoldment…”


Enneagram 8’s

“The loss of holding results from parenting that has lost the holiness, beauty, and harmony, and therefore has a negative tinge to it.   The child’s sense is that something is fundamentally wrong, like “original sin”. You know something terrible has happened, don’t know exactly what it is, you don’t know it was the loss of your original state. This feels like a disconnection, a loss, a falling from grace; you no longer live in the Holy Truth.   Through filter of duality, the SPECIFIC DELUSION here, one thing becomes perceived as being in opposition to another, and one side is guilty.   Someone has committed a crime or a sin, must be found or punished. Ultimately, you blame yourself for no longer being divine, and later this blame is projected onto others in order to protect yourself from the self-hatred that would otherwise result.   The SPECIFIC DIFFICULTY here is a sense of badness, guilt, and fundamental sinfulness.   To attempt to deal with this hard-to-feel difficulty, the SPECIFIC REACTION is self-blame, which is based upon the sense of duality and opposition, which ultimately blossoms into the attempt to get revenge. A sense of great betrayal arises, not just because your parents didn’t see your real nature, but that YOU stopped seeing it. Something like: someone hurts you, and the pain involves a loss of the sense of unity. Retaliate by hurting them in the same way, in belief that doing so will enable you to rid yourself of your own pain and restore the sense of unity.   In the Biblical sense, it’s “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”.

Understanding this deeply will mean that Holy Truth can arise, which includes everything – including the guilt and the self-blame. Holy Truth is all-inclusive and all-encompassing, otherwise it would not be holy. Holy Truth chooses all people, they are its life.   So according to the Idea of Holy Truth, reality, when seen objectively, has no divisions in it. It exists, it is now, and it is nondual.”




The Enneagram of Holy Ideas is AH Almaas’ clear way of showing how higher spiritual realities are a potential for all people.   Your relationship with your self, and your significant other, can deepen as you bring each Holy Idea within reach, which uncovers inherent Basic Trust, which was always there inside! This relaxation and trust opens up intimacy, with one self, and in relationship, in deeper ways than one can imagine!


Jim Bowen MA LPC has been assisting individuals and couples since 1992, with offices in Boulder and Denver. Contact Jim with email or call him at 303-534-8717. Why not call for a free consultation?