People often mistype at 9, taking it literally. “My biggest fear is losing my loved ones, losing myself, losing my lifestyle.” Sure. That’s human.
9 is the crown of the enneagram because it deals with the central theme that enneagram exists in order to confront, which is that life is impermanent, and none of us know our true essence. We have to build up defenses to survive in this world, as a necessity. Those defenses form patterns, which can be understood as enneagram types. Many claim enneagram is inborn and it is clearly observable in babies. What this means is, the brain is programmed a certain way which lends itself to the emergence of a specific pattern. The innate need for a survival pattern is essentially human, and that’s why everyone has an enneagram type.
So why do we have to “survive” through defenses? Because people perceive themselves as separate entities, separated from one another. People perceive “you against me” and “me vs. death.” They see life as separate from death; thus, a fear of separation occurs. You are separate from death, so how do you retain your life? There’s a fear of impermanence and of the inevitability we all have to face: that one day, we will lose everything.
9s take this fear on at the deepest level: to combat this fear, they metaphorically resist being ‘born’ – leaving the womb creates separation. Unconsciously, they bury awareness of the most painful aspects of their personhood. Some 9s don’t hold tightly to anything, including their own ego. These are the well known “ephemeral 9s” – not quite “owning” their aggression, not owning their own self, going with the flow. This is their attempt to defend against impermanence and it can lend itself to ‘premature enlightenment.’ “I’m not combative, nor am I separate or different from you. I have a permeable ego. There is no ‘I.'” Other 9s may cling to something that makes them feel alive. It could manifest as an attachment to anger or melancholy, an obsession with a person, hyper-rumination or any other pattern – the key is ‘falling asleep to the self.’
This is the crown of the enneagram, as it is the purest manifestation of the defense against death, which reads to our mind as “impermanence and losing everything” since we see it as being separated from our life and our ego, rather than seeing ourselves as simply part of a grand cycle. We need our ego in order to push ourselves to survive. Without ego, why take care of our kid instead of every kid equally, regardless of the effects this has on our own offspring? Life would fall apart without ego but, at the same time, it’s still a delusion. A necessary delusion. Since everyone believes it and lives by it, that, in a way, makes the ego very “real.”
So is it really a delusion? I don’t know. It’s more like a coping strategy that results from the reality of how the human mind works.
The other core types are additional defenses against losing yourself, impermanence, nothingness, dissolution. Each type is a fixation on a different aspect of the human experience. We all have all these experiences and “sides” to us, which is why many of us can relate to many types, if not all, if we are honest with ourselves. But each type gets fixated on a specific aspect of the experience of being human, thus forming a different core defense pattern.
Enneagram can’t be conceived of as a mere set of traits. Motivations do not exist in a vacuum, and behavior should evidence the core motivation; but in order to spot a type, we need to understand what lies at its essence. To truly grasp the meaning of enneagram, it has to be understood in terms of the egoic battle against impermanence.