Personality Types

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From lecture 43, THREE BASIC PERSONALITY TYPES: REASON, WILL, EMOTION:

There are three basic types of human personality. The first type governs his or her life and reactions mainly with reason. The second type does so mainly with emotion, and the third does so with the will. In other words, the three personality types are dominated by reason, by emotion, and by will. In your self-search it will be useful for you to find out which type you are. A personality is never completely one-sided; every person is a mixture of types, but one is always predominant. In some cases, the predominance is obvious; in others, the mixture is more complicated, and therefore the predominant type is more difficult to detect.

In the ideal personality, each of the three aspects has a rightful place. The harmonious person functions with each aspect in a perfect way. Since there is no completely purified human being, however, the three trends are often directed into wrong channels, aside from imbalance or predominance. For instance, where reason should prevail, emotions do, or vice versa.

When, in your inner work, you penetrate your soul, your images, your wrong conclusions, the layers of your errors and whatever you may encounter, this approach will give you added understanding about who you are, what you are, how you are in reality.

Let us begin with the reason-type, the personality governed predominantly by reason. Those who conduct their lives mainly by the reasoning process are apt to neglect the emotions. They are afraid of emotions. They thwart and cripple them, and in doing so they cripple one of the most important instruments in life, namely, the intuition. Those who are afraid of emotion cannot trust their intuition, because intuition is blurred by their fear of it, by their distrust of its supposed intangibility. The reason-type often secretly looks down on the emotion-type. He or she is proud to be so steeped in the reasoning process. And the will, which is not necessarily self-will, is, in this type, used mainly to follow deductions made with the reasoning process, seldom paying attention to the emotions or intuitions, which also should be heeded.

Such a person of reason is often an intellectual, perhaps a scientist. He or she is often an agnostic or even an atheist, who tends to be materialistic. However, it would be a gross generalization to state that all, or even most, reason-types are spiritually less developed or aware than, for instance, emotion-types. This is not so. There are many highly developed and spiritually awakened reason-types, just as there are awakened emotion-types. They differ only in the approach.

The reason-type finds it more difficult to experience the divine within. The emotion-type encounters other difficulties. Furthermore, the reason-type has great difficulty with intuitive judgment of others and of the self. The will, which is a necessity in life for all, is used onesidedly by both types. The reason-type uses will premeditatedly, often overcautiously, whereas the emotion-type is carried away by emotions and uses willpower unconsciously and erratically. The harmonious personality finds the healthy middle way and uses the will rationally or emotionally, depending on the situation. The will should be a servant both to reason and emotion.

It will be easy for you to see that the reason-type goes through life missing a great deal of experience, mostly out of fear and pride. This type fears that emotion might lead to an experience he or she will be unable to cope with. Emotional life necessarily carries uncertainty and risk, whereas the rational type tries to keep everything well ordered, “knowing” at all times where one stands, and avoiding the emotions, which leave one at sea.

The emotion-type is equally onesided. Predominantly emotional people often pride themselves that only they are capable of truly feeling. They secretly look down on people they derogatorily label “intellectuals.” Yet, the extreme of this type is not one iota less removed from harmony and divine law than is the extreme reason-type. It is true that the emotion-type tends to have a good intuition and is sometimes less afraid of feeling and inner experience than is the reason-type. However, the emotion-type, contrary to the reason-type who holds life’s reins too tightly, often loses his or her grip on life’s reins altogether. The overemotional person completely loses sight of the fact that reason also is God-given. Such people are just as arrogant as the reason-type who looks down on the emotion-type. They are often so carried away by uncontrolled feelings that they not only lose control over themselves but become blind to that which is often most important for their lives and development. Due to their overemphasis on the emotional side, they neglect the equally important reasoning functions of thinking, discriminating, selecting, and weighing. They must learn to use the intellect to curb the wild emotions that, without necessarily being impure, flow without purpose or direction. Only then can they use the will properly.

Uncontrolled emotions bring havoc into the extreme emotion-person’s life, as well as into his or her surroundings. The temptation to give in to the emotions is at first manageable, but the longer one gives in to them, the more difficult it becomes to resist the temptation, until one is simply carried away by the torrent of uncontrolled emotions, which destroy everything in their wake. Such a person cannot help being selfish and destructive, although this kind of selfishness is different from the selfishness of the reason-personality type.

The emotion-type person needs first to realize that what he or she has been so proud of has ceased to be an asset because of its extreme manifestation. This type must cultivate the faculty of selecting, deliberately thinking and planning. This selecting process is the beginning of wisdom.

The emotion-type also uses will, of course, for no one can exist without doing so. But the emotion-type uses will chaotically and impulsively, without planning or deliberation. Submerged in unchanneled instincts rather than constructive intuition, such a person loses balance in life, just as the reason-type does in the opposite way.

Both are subconsciously afraid of their opposite extremes, and therefore they remain in their own extreme. They thus act from a wrong conclusion. Led by the wrong conclusion, they feel or unconsciously think that their own extreme is a better solution to life than the opposite type’s. The reason-type, afraid of losing control, cuts out not only a major part of life’s necessary experience, but beauty and happiness as well. The emotion-type fears that curbing and disciplining his or her nature will eliminate something valuable in life. Both are wrong — for only the harmonious middle path leads to the complete solution.

Although there are obvious representatives of both types, there are many more who are not quite so clear-cut: a person may be overemotional or overintellectual in some aspects of their personality, yet be more balanced, or even tend to the opposite extreme, in other aspects. Or, the person’s true nature may be masked. For example, a basically emotional person chooses, because of fear and immature currents, a mask of intellectuality that is foreign to her or his true nature. Such a person may appear outwardly very calm and controlled, but inside is caught in a storm of emotions, unable to find peace until starting to work toward achieving a proper balance.

In the third category is the will-type who is altogether different. Will is supposed to be a servant, never a master. Ideally the will should serve equally the reasoning process and the emotional and intuitive faculties. The will-type makes a master of the servant. This brings the personality out of focus in a way that can become dangerous.

Like the other two types, such persons may unconsciously look down on both of the others. The will-type thinks or feels something to the effect of, “The reason-type is just an intellectual who talks well and has wonderful theories, but it is all in the abstract. Nothing is accomplished by that. Nothing is achieved. I am the achiever.” The emotion-type, who accomplishes even less, is even more despicable to the will-type. The judgment is right in both cases, as the other two types are right in their judgments about the other extremes. But all the types are wrong in believing that their own extreme is better than those extremes they look down upon.

The person of will, for whom the servant is the master, is out for achievement and tangible results. This focus tends to make such a person impatient and apt to forfeit the very result he or she seeks. It cripples the reasoning process, which, joined with the emotional nature, leads to wisdom. Without such wisdom, people either cannot accomplish what they set out to accomplish or, if they succeed, cannot benefit from the accomplishment in the right way and thus will lose it again. The will-type tends to lose sight not only of caution but also of many aspects and considerations of life that are essential in order to gain truth for the self, for others, as well as for any given situation.

The person of will also neglects the emotional side, fearing emotion as much as the reason-type does, but with a different purpose in mind, which is often unconscious. Emotions are acceptable to the will-type only so long as she or he remains master of them; otherwise, emotions might hinder this person’s aim. The will-type, like the reason-type, also misses an integral part of the life experience, of giving one’s self up to a feeling without knowing the outcome and the possible advantage of doing so.

These are three broad types, my friends; as I said, you do not always find a personality with characteristics so predominant that the type is easily recognizable. You all know many human beings, and since it is always easier to know the other than the self, you may form certain conclusions about your fellow creatures from the angle I have described. In most people two of the three faculties are predominant, whereas the third is crippled. In a great many others, all three faculties function, but each functions in a wrong channel, at least in some respects, while the proper functioning is insufficient and does not apply to the whole personality.

You may remember the lecture I gave about the active and the passive forces, in which I said that both currents are necessary for the healthy human soul. It would be just as wrong to be an entirely active person as to be an entirely passive one. Actually, such a person does not exist, although there may be a predominance of one trait in many a person. But what frequently happens is that the active current flows through the channel destined for the passive current, and vice versa. It is similar with reason, emotion, and will. Even when there is no outright predominance, emotion perhaps is used where reason should function, and vice versa; the will does not function where it should, yet often it functions where it should not.

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