Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Three Buddhist Personality Types

Dhr. Seven, Amber Dorrian, Maya, Wisdom Quarterly;
The Couch, originally used for psychotherapy, Freud's office, England. Note Buddhist statuary.

Buddhist Character Analysis (Aukana)
Drawing from ancient Theravada Buddhist teachings, authors Robert Mann and Rose Youd present the three main human character types and their three counterparts.
This Abhidharmic "Buddhist Psychology" is preserved in The Path of Purification (Visuddhi Magga) by Buddhaghosa, All individuals possess each of the three traits and their flipside, but some personality types may be dominant in one or two.
These roots of character condition everything we do:
  1. greed (craving) vs. confidence (faith)
  2. hatred (ill will) vs. wisdom
  3. delusion (confusion) vs. speculation (clarity).
Joyful novices (
Buddhist Character Analysis is the study of these psychological or "personality types." It gives greater insight into human behavior patterns, karmic habits, rebirth, and the nature of reality.

Observing how these roots permeate all aspects of our behavior -- mental, verbal, and physical -- we can begin to appreciate the depth and subtlety of the Buddha's insight and formulation of the Teachings.
The cause of and cure for suffering: ignorance vs. wisdom (
Attraction, aversion, and delusion (lobha, dosa, and moha) are personality features we are all born with. They linger in our hearts manifesting to greater or lesser degrees.
Enlightenment is the result of attenuating them long enough for wisdom to uproot them. They are harmful tendencies, in an ultimate sense, although conventionally we may assume we are unable to do without them.
They have conditioned our karma for countless aeons leading to all manner of upset -- craving, resentment, wrong views, culminating again and again in disappointment and distress (suffering). So have their direct opposite categories: non-greed, non-hate, non-delusion. The positive personality types -- faith, wisdom, speculation -- are the other side of the coin. They are not ultimately good in and of themselves but lead to that ultimate good: nirvana as non-clinging because things are seen as they are really are and always have been.
We will not magically see things just as they are. We have carried the burden of delusion and ignorance for inconceivable lengths of time (uncountable maha kalpas). The Dharma, or what may really be called "Buddhism" is not ultimately a set of beliefs; it is a set of instructions on how to see the liberating Truth for ourselves. That knowledge-and-vision liberates. Faith, belief, allegiance, words, and books do not.
(Khanh Hmoong/
Our understanding of human nature is considerably enhanced and much of the distress entailed in relating with people is smoothed out of our lives when we understand the types.
If we follow the "path of purification" laid out by the Buddha and gathered from wise scholar-monks by Buddhism's most famous commentator -- author not only of The Path of Purification but also the parallel work preserved in Chinese, The Path of Freedom (Vimutti Magga) -- we can utilize this increased sense of calm and ease as an essential step on the road to the beyond-beyond.
We can restrain craving, anger, and confusion; we can cultivate confidence (faith), wisdom (intelligent discernment), and speculation (clarity, non-confusion). And by developing understanding of the true nature of reality, we can finally transcend them all. Long before that, we can rein them in. And by doing so we reduce our suffering and increase the happiness and security of any realm we are in.

1 comment:

Chai Tea Mum said...

Thanks for this. Needed it today! :)