The Wisdom of Gary Zukav and the Enneagram

The Wisdom of Gary Zukav and the Enneagram
Gary Zukav

“Reality is what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is what we believe.
What we believe is based upon our perceptions.
What we perceive depends upon what we look for.
What we look for depends upon what we think.
What we think depends upon what we perceive.
What we perceive determines what we believe.
What we believe determines what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is our reality.” – Gary Zukav


I’ve been dabbling into the teachings of Gary Zukav lately. I was introduced to him through Oprah Winfrey, who says his book, “Seat of the Soul,” was the a huge influence in her life. She embraced his belief of being aware of the intention behind all your actions and it changed the face of her show. His teaching on  intention is pretty powerful stuff.  Searching for more Zukav wisdom, I was looking through some of his more quotable statements when a couple of them struck me as very Enneagram-ish. Meaning, he has the same idea of spiritual growth as the teachings of the Enneagram.

For example, there is this lovely quote.

“Changing the world begins with the very personal process of changing yourself, the only place you can begin is where you are, and the only time you can begin is always now.”

The Enneagram teaches you can only change you. You can’t change others.

“There is no other way to change something or someone for the better except to occupy it first. The only person you can occupy is yourself. That is why the only person who can change you for the better is you. Without your decision to change and your commitment to change, you will not change.”

The Enneagram also teaches that the way you look at the world determines your behavior. If you have a belief that danger is around every corner and the world is unsafe, that is how you will see the world. You will constantly live in fear, always preparing for the worst. The Enneagram helps you understand why you see the world the way you do. When you understand why you see the world the way you do, you can begin changing that viewpoint. This goes along well with Gary Zukav’s teaching about intention.

 “Your intentions are your nonphysical causes that set energy into motion. They create a multitude of effects and, therefore, determine the experiences of your life. This is one of the most important things that you can know. It is also something that you can see for yourself is true.”

Credit Matt Collamer via Unsplash

Finally, the Enneagram helps us understand that others see the world differently than we do. The people in our life are walking around looking though different lenses and experiencing the world differently. When you understand someone’s Enneagram personality, you have insight into how they see the world. You understand that communicating with people expecting them to speak your language and behave the way you want them to is unreasonable. Instead, when you understand others world perceptions, you learn to communicate with compassion.

“Only choices made in love are compassionate. There are no exceptions. Do you have the courage to act with an empowered heart without attachment to the outcome? If not, you have no ability to give or experience compassion. That is the shocking truth.”

Furthermore, some of Zukav’s quotes seemed to apply directly to specific numbers. I found this fascinating because the Enneagram teaches that each number serves a purpose. And when those purposes come together, you find spiritual perfection. So, spiritual health is expressing all 9 numbers. That is a very hard task to accomplish. We have a hard enough time living in our own personality.

Gary Zukav addresses all 9 numbers in his spiritual teachings. Below are the quotes I found for each number and a bit of an explanation. Please keep in mind that what I’m saying about each number is very basic, when each individual person’s personality is much more complex. It’s like saying, “Trees are green.” This statement is true. But it is more true that there are a million different shades of green that make up the different types of trees.

Ones – The Reformers

 “The essence of a person is not the clothing she wears or the things he does. People who love them do not stop loving them when they change clothing or do other things. Your essence is not even your history, culture, race, or what you think and do. It is your soul.”

A defining characteristic of a One is an inner critic. We all have an inner critic, but from what I understand, the inner critic of the One is relentless. This critic is constantly criticizing the one to “do” better and “be” better. An unhealthy One believes that if they look perfect and behave perfect, they are a good person. And being a good person is very important to a One. When they are good, they feel safe and loved.  Zukav’s quote explains that this road isn’t going to make you feel like a good person. Instead, it creates a prison of your own making. Nothing you do on the outside will create a sense of peace.  Only by accepting yourself, with all the flaws included, will you find peace.

“Authentic power is the real deal. You can’t inherit it, buy it, or win it. You also can’t lose it. You don’t need to build your body, reputation, wealth or charisma to get it.”


Twos – The Helper

Credit Remi Walle via Unsplash

The defining belief of Twos is that if they take care of others, they will feel safe and loved.

“Some people feel good about helping others, and they do so often. They do not realize that their good deeds have a second agenda. They want to be appreciated.”

Unhealthy Twos can easily read what others need and give and help easily. They give and give and don’t understand why other’s aren’t reading what their needs are and giving back. This leads to a very angry Two.

“Caregivers attract caregivers and live in a community of love. They are energized by their caring, fulfilled and they love life. Caretakers attract caretakers and live in the company of resentful victims who see themselves as misused and are fatigued from constant giving with no return.”

Healthy twos understand that they need to learn to take care of themselves and part of self-care is asking for what you need. Twos genuinely enjoy helping others. Healthy Twos understand not to expect anything in return.

 “Caregiving has no second agendas or hidden motives. The care is given from love for the joy of giving without expectation, no strings attached.”

Threes – The Entrepreneur

Credit Ruthson Zimmerman via Unsplash

Threes believe their only self-worth is through successes. They are goal oriented, moving on to the next goal before savoring and celebrating the previous success.  As long as they are achieving, they feel safe and loved. When the shield of success is gone, all that is left is them, and that is terrifying.

“Anything that we do to make ourselves feel worth and safe is a flight from the pain of powerlessness. Every pursuit of external power – every attempt to change the world or a person in order to make yourself feel valuable and safe – is a distraction from the pain of powerlessness.”

Only when a three fails do they realize that the people around them love them for who they are, not what they do.

Fours – The Romantic

Fours have a belief system that they are broken in some way. That everyone else has got what they need to be safe and loved and somehow they didn’t get it.

“Unworthiness is the inmost frightening thought that you do not belong, no matter how much you want to belong, that you are an outsider and will always be an outsider. It is the idea that you are flawed and cannot be fixed. It is wanting to be loved and feeling unlovable, or wanting to love and feeling that you are not capable of loving.”

Fours take this story on as their identity. They are very emotional, holding on to emotions and identifying with them instead of experiencing them. When Fours are unhealthy, they hold on to this idea of being broken, playing the victim. When they learn to let go of the brokenness, and see the good parts of their personality, the good parts of their identity, they let go of this victim belief system. Only then do they feel seen and heard.

Fives – The Investigator

Fives believe they are safe if they gather as much knowledge as possible. They believe that there is a limited amount of resources, including their own energy. They have fears that life is somehow going to demand more of them than they can deliver. So Fives often live in a minimalist way, believing if they can survive with this little, they will be safe. Therefore, Fives gather as much knowledge and resources as possible.  Unhealthy Fives are unwilling to share their resources, whether it be energy, knowledge or materials. They are very private people, often not sharing personal information.

“Trust allows you to give. Giving is abundant. As you give so it shall be given to you. If you give with judgment, limitation and stinginess, that is what you will create in your life – judgment, limitation, and stinginess.”

Healthy Fives learn to trust their environment and their capability to handle anything that comes their way.

Sixes – The Loyalist

Sixes are the most fear based number on the Enneagram. They are the “if it can go wrong it will go wrong” people. Sixes are constantly looking out for danger and planning for the worst case scenario.  They don’t trust others or themselves. They doubt their own decisions. Sixes are known for having a “committee” in their head constantly debating decisions, fearing to make the wrong choice.

“Each time you choose not to act on a frightened part of your personality, you create authentic power – and you grow spiritually. The frightened parts of your personality come less frequently and with less intensity, and the loving parts fill more and more of your consciousness.”

When Sixes learn to trust themselves, and trust that things will work out, they find peace.

Sevens – The Enthusiast

Credit Park Troopers via Unsplash

Sevens are constantly running away from emotional pain by having new experiences and ideas. They are the “Tiggers” of the Enneagram. When unhealthy, they will move into a frenzy of action that eventually becomes chaos as they run from emotional pain. Only by stopping to experience the pain will they heal.

“Painful emotions show you what prevents you from creating harmony, cooperation, sharing and reverence for life.”

Eights – The Challenger

Eights are afraid of being vulnerable. Therefore, they try to maintain power over their world. They do not like to be controlled or feel powerless.

“The pain of powerlessness is excruciating. It is the most painful experience in the earth school, and everyone shares it.”

It’s only when Eights learn that vulnerability is the only way to truly connect to people that their healing happens. And they are often surprised how grateful the people in their life are when they share their softer side.

“The hardest times to choose love are the very times when you can most grow spiritually. In fact, they are the only times you can grow spiritually!”

Nines – The Peacemaker

Credit Priscilla du Preez via Unsplash

Nines believe that in order to feel safe and loved, everything must be peaceful. In order to maintain the peace, Nines disappear, allowing others to take the lead, avoiding all conflict. Therefore, Nines don’t really think about their own wants and desires. Instead, they merge with their friends and family. By merging, the Nine can stay in flow of everyone else’s agenda, avoiding conflict. Nines pay no attention to their own lives, especially their own needs and desires.

“Your life is yours to live, no matter how you choose to live it. When you do not think about how you intend to live it, it lives you. When you occupy it, step into it consciously, you live it.”

Nines begin their path to healing when they wake up and realize they have a life to make separate of those around them. Only then do they realize that they have special gifts that the world needs. And only by living their own life will they be able to share them. They learn that it is okay to create conflict if they are living their truth and doing what is best for themselves.

 “Compassion is loving others enough to say or do what is appropriate from an empowered heart without attachment to the outcome.”

The Teachings of the Enneagram

We learned these old beliefs and behaviors in childhood. This way of living worked for a while. But as we move into adulthood, these old behaviors and beliefs no longer work. It is obvious that our reactions are unhealthy and begin to only cause problems in our life. The Enneagram teaches us how to switch this belief system, avoiding unhealthy choices.

 “This is how to avoid recreating painful situations: Take the time to discover your real intention before you act. If it is to change someone or the world so that you will feel safe or better about yourself, don’t act on it, because it is an intention of fear and can create only painful consequences.”

Once we learn what our personality is, we begin to observe our behaviors. From there, it is possible to catch ourselves before behaving in the unhealthy patterns of our personalities, and instead choose a healthier response.

“We cannot control what emotions or circumstances we will experience next, but we can choose how we will respond to them.”

I love the Enneagram because I believe it can help anyone grow and love themselves if they only take the time. There are different levels of understanding the Enneagram, and different levels of healing. I believe that by just figuring out what your Enneagram personality is and the belief system of that number, you have taken a step to healing. Whether you choose to walk further down that path is up to you.

If you are interested in the Enneagram, check out my Enneagram Blog. It describes all the numbers and has links to tests and learning resources.

If you would like to contact me via email for more detailed information, or if you have questions, I am happy to help. You can contact me at I also offer Enneagram one-on-one sessions if you want to dive even deeper. You can check out my services page or email me for more information.

For more information on Gary Zukav, check out his website. There are also tons of videos on YouTube.

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I am a yoga and meditation teacher, energy healer and I teach Enneagram workshops. I'm here to help people grow and find their true selves.

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7 Comments on “The Wisdom of Gary Zukav and the Enneagram

    • Interesting Question! Off the top of my head I’m thinking 9 as they can see things from other people’s point of view, and I think you would need that for the observations he has made. My second thought is a very healthy 5. Going back to observations, 5s are the great observers of the world. And a healthy 5 would be able to incorporate the emotions involved with the observations. I looked on line to see what popular opinion was, but didn’t find anything.

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