The Assemblage Point

[P]erception takes place because there is in each of us an agent called the assemblage point that selects internal and external emanations for alignment. The particular alignment that we perceive as the world is the product of the specific spot where our assemblage point is located on our cocoon.

Carlos Castaneda, The Fire From Within

I don’t know about cocoons, but I completely understand the concept of the assemblage point. It’s the unique perspective from which we view ourselves, other people, and the world at large. It’s the perspective from which we assemble the world. We aren’t aware we’re doing it. We don’t even know we have an assemblage point. We’re under the impression that what we see “out there” is simply what’s out there. We believe that the way we think and feel and respond is entirely appropriate to whatever it is we’re thinking and feeling about or responding to. The way those other people think and feel and respond, however, is obviously just plain wrong.

Assemblage point and Enneagram type are really pretty similar. They might even be exactly the same thing. And the purpose of identifying one’s assemblage point is the same as the purpose of identifying one’s Enneagram type: to recognize it in order to escape from its trap.

[F]irst of all, one must become aware that the world we perceive is the result of our assemblage point’s being located on a specific spot on the cocoon. Once that is understood, the assemblage point can move almost at will, as a consequence of new habits.

That makes it sound easy when, of course, it’s anything but. The subject of developing new habits alone would (and will) take up multiple posts. A stable and rigid assemblage point feels normal. Even though it limits us, it’s the ground we’re used to standing on and it feels comfortable. But a comfortable straightjacket is still a straightjacket. Fortunately we can choose whether to keep wearing it or we can look for a way out of it.

In The Fire From Within, Castaneda says that the spot where the assemblage point is located is not a permanent feature, but is established by habit. The same is true for Enneagram type: the compulsions and characteristics of type are kept in place by habit, but they are not permanently fixed in place. We don’t change from one type into another. There wouldn’t be much point in exchanging one set of compulsions for a different set. But we can move away from the spot where we feel so comfortable but from which we can’t see anything that isn’t immediately in front of us. We can stretch and grow. We can expand the area of our perception, extend our range of motion.

Several years ago, I co-facilitated a couple of substance abuse groups with my friend, Donna, who is a Type 9. She and I had considerably different tolerances and approaches, yet we worked well together. And after co-facilitating those groups for a while, I learned a little about how to access some of the better qualities of Type 9, which—as it turns out—come in quite handy in counseling situations. Until that experience, 9 was the type I least related to or understood, so this was somewhat of a personal epiphany. And if I was able to move my assemblage point—which was so far on the other side of 8 it was almost at 7—even a little bit toward 9 on the opposite side, I figure just about anything is possible.

2 responses to “The Assemblage Point

  1. Pingback: The Path of Most Resistance « Nine Paths

  2. Pingback: Subliminal Persuasion? | Nine Paths

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