The Enneagram’s Human Triad

Continuing in a review of William Schafer’s characterization of the enneagram, the members of the Human Triad are core exemplars of the three ways to create enlightened human society: FIVES through science, EIGHTS through the politics of power, and TWOS through service. They stave off rejection by providing necessary, important functions and becoming powerful in their own right.

  • enneagram human triadFIVES offer thoughtful analysis and rational viewpoints; they move away from others to deliver reason and perspective.
  • EIGHTS offer strength and protection; they assert what is required at any given moment.
  • TWOS offer care and support; they move towards others to meet needs.

The members of this triad are shut off: FIVES from acknowledging that they have needs and cutting themselves off from them; EIGHT from releasing their grip on the environment to control their needs; and, TWOS from meeting their own needs through a natural flow of give and take.

Life Force Receptive
Emotional Regulation Competency
Positive Outlook
Center of Intelligence Head

Type FIVE: The Observer

According to Schafer, FIVES have lost sight of original awareness through Holy Omniscience and Transparency. This divine principal states that we are whole and complete, knowing whatever is known from the inside out. This endowment enables a generosity of spirit from a wellspring that never runs dry.

FIVES embody a scarcity mentally in which needs, dependencies, and interactions with others prove draining. They fear loss of resources and being left totally depleted. They erect boundaries, cling tightly to what they have, and resolve to do with less. The generosity of origin squeezes into avarice.

That path to growth lies in Nonattachment, surrendering everything and embracing life with an open and grateful heart. In self-emptying, they can experience the fullness of illumination.

Type EIGHT Protector

According to Schafer, EIGHTS have lost sight of Holy Truth, that gut-level openness to authentic presence. It’s an acknowledgement that life can never move against itself.

EIGHTS find embodiment a threat. They narrate the world through the lens of Self vs. Other, separateness, opposition. A lost inner source of energy morphs into a passion for excess and resistance to that which is threatening. They may even stir up trouble to make the outer world cohere with their inner vision of it. It’s all about power, where power suppresses frailty and vulnerability. They believe sheer force prevents them from being hurt.

EIGHTS must recognize that there is an element of weakness in all strength. Essential Being was never weak or insignificant. There is freedom in Innocence. The real defeat is to divide rather than belong, to fight rather than live.

Type TWO: The Connector

According to Schafer, TWOS have lost sight of the fact that life force is intentional and purposeful. Each moment unfolds meaningfully with the divine process concerning itself with personal destiny – a.k.a., Holy Will and Freedom. The individual and collective do not act in opposition. Rather, full individuality better serves the needs of the whole.

In early life, TWOS lost the feeling of personal significance, as though life force had forgotten them. They seek emotional connection in the world, often forcing the give-and-take in relationship rather than letting it happen naturally. It renders them uncomfortably pinned between their own needs and those of others. Their energies collapse into an intense effort to care for others while unconsciously calling attention to themselves. It may feel ego-gratifying but can be exhausting.

TWO’s antidote lies in Humility, accepting their limits and expressing gratitude for life as it is. While at root they manifest a spiritual longing for connection, they need to stop trying to act lovable and allow love to act.