The Dalai Lama says that "everyone wants peace and happiness, no one wants pain and suffering."

The Dalai Lama says that "everyone wants peace and happiness, no one wants pain and suffering." If that is the case, why do so many people routinely experience so much conflict and unhappiness? The Enneagram is a nine-pointed diagram that can provide some answers.

The Enneagram describes nine character types, each of which has a "fixation" or "chief feature" that helps to determine the type's characteristic view of the world from a psychological perspective. The fixation is a cognitive error, specific delusion, perceptual bias, or knot in the mind caused by a particular configuration of ego, something that distorts our thinking function and later affects our emotional body and patterns of behavior. We don't see reality accurately, as it actually is, but rather a highly skewed version of it based on our psychic structure and history, with all of its emotionally charged memories.

Psychologists call the process of perceiving the present through the veil of the past, and our own personal issues in the present, "transference" and "projection." With just a little study and practice we can begin to notice and relax through these distorted views to gain access to higher states of consciousness that help us embody and live from a place of inner peace and contentment. Now let us take a brief tour of the nine character types:

Type One, "The Perfectionist," often views reality through a veil of anger and resentment. But when he or she relaxes and becomes receptive, he or she experiences the inherent perfection in all things, people and situations.

Type Two, "The Helper," often views reality through a veil of pride, manipulation and flattery. When he or she becomes receptive, he or she perceives the natural, free-flowing freedom of love and in relationships.

Type Three, "The Motivator," often views reality through a veil of self-deception and vanity. When he or she becomes receptive, he or she perceives the truth that he or she is a human being, not a human doing, and this provides hope for themselves and the world.

Type Four, "The Romantic," often views reality through a veil of envy and melancholy. When he or she becomes receptive, he or she experiences gratitude for what is arising in the moment and the beauty that he or she already is.

Type Five, "The Observer," often views reality through a veil of avarice, objectivity and detachment. When he or she relaxes and becomes receptive, he or she drops the boundaries and isolation and thus gains access to almost unlimited knowing or omniscience.

Type Six, "The Loyal Skeptic," often views reality through a veil of fear and doubt. When he or she becomes receptive, he or she finds true faith.

Type Seven, "The Epicure," often views reality through a veil of planning for his or her own pleasure and possibilities. When he or she becomes receptive, he or she can intuit the higher wisdom and direction for his or her soul's evolution.

Type Eight, "The Protector," often views reality through a veil of lust and the desire to strike back, or vengeance. When he or she becomes receptive, he or she understands the truth that there is no need for constant conflict because we are all, ultimately, one.

Type Nine, "The Mediator," often views reality through a veil of emotional laziness and inner sleepiness or indolence. When he or she becomes receptive he or she can be filled up with dynamic, right action and loving presence.

Although most Enneagram teachers now believe we are born predisposed to becoming a certain type, we are not born with our fixation — that develops later in life in reaction to environmental circumstances. And what has been acquired can be made conscious and transformed. The result will be contentment — the perfect union of peace and happiness.

Carl Marsak, M.A. is offering a workshop "The Enneagram and the Dramatic Life: Using Film to Understand the Nine Personality Types" at the Ashland Library, Gresham Room, Sun. March 27th, 10 to -6 p.m. Information: www.ashlandenneagram.com.

Rogue Valley residents are invited to share inner peace insights and experiences. Send a 600- to 700-word article to Sally McKirgan at innerpeace@q.com