Thinking with the Flood: the Holy Omniscience of 5

The Holy Idea of Enneagram 5s is Holy Omniscience, which is represented in the Tarot by card 14, Temperance. Here is what the brilliant Helen Palmer has to say about the 5s Holy Idea:

“Like all the higher abilities indicated by the Enneagram’s teaching, access to omniscience is gained through a non-thinking state of mind. It is not a question of knowing all the facts.....or developing a brilliant conceptual framework within which to arrange the facts. It is more like being able to engage the inner observer in such a way as to merge one’s own awareness with impressions of the past, present, and future of all possible events.” (‘The Enneagram’)


This ties in beautifully with the interpretations of Temperance posed in ‘Meditations on the Tarot’, which the anonymous author considers the ‘arcanum of inspiration’. In the search for truth, we “demand that [it] must entail clarity. Guided by this principle we endeavor to be precise, but in doing so we effect an intellectual enclosure. That which is enclosed is *clear*, yes, but it is separated by the enclosure from the great flood of truth (of which we have taken possession of only a drop). The drop is clear, but it is only a drop taken from the flood, i.e. from the great context of truth.”

So thus, the practical exercise and the spiritual lesson of Temperance is learning to ‘think with the flood’ “no longer think alone, but rather together with the anonymous ‘choir’ of thinkers above, below, yesterday, and tomorrow.”

How does that resonate with the merging awareness with past, present, and future that Helen Palmer postulates as the Holy Omniscience available to 5s? It’s stunning, right?!

In pursuit of inspiration, there are reminders in ‘Meditations’ to not reduce our questions to “how”, but to keep “who, what, and why” always in our hearts, as children. “Say to yourself that you know *nothing*, and at the same time say to yourself that you are able to know *everything*....[arm yourself] with this healthy humility and this healthy presumption of children.”

Temperance calls the notoriously boundaried 5s to open themselves and soften themselves to information that isn’t gathered, but rather inspiration that is available and abundant as a flood. Here is where we learn to ‘think on our knees’, as they say in ‘Meditations’, for inspiration is the “marriage of activity and passivity in the soul”. This is the balance of nothing and of everything, of these polarities circulating within us. The inner duty of Temperance is to “understand the totality of miracles and disasters which is life and the world.” This sounds like the definition of Holy Omniscience to me.