Models of Personality in Buddhist Psychology

Personality is a word that has manifold connotations, and it cannot be singly defined according to a single ideology. Hence, isn't it natural to be confused as to what or how different traditions might define it or which category fits best into our ideology? Personality, or a person's distinct way of thinking, feeling, and acting, is a crucial subject in psychology and alludes to our consistency. Buddhism contributes to psychology because it is a comprehensive theology that emphasizes personality, and Buddhist teachings on personality are widely found in Pali Canon and commentaries.

The Five Aggregates in Buddhist Personality

The Five Aggregates (Paakkhandha), the most important Buddhist personality assessment, has these five elements. Humans understand me, My, and Mine, these five categories of processes. Thus, they might be broadly referred to as personality variables.

  • The Sum of All Matter

  • The Overall Sentiment

  • The sum of cognition (perception)

  • The sum of voluntary acts

  • The Sum of All Consciousness

Buddhism has recognized the five basic types of human personality, a partial separation of personalities. This examination of the five aggregates used by Buddhism to describe personality seeks to incorporate the idea of a non-permanent substantial and the absence of a soul. The examination of said Five Aggregates places a clear emphasis on the Buddhist route to spiritual development

As a result, the five Collates are transient (anicca), vulnerable to suffering (dukkha), and insignificant (anatta). Samyutta Nikya's analysis of the Five Combines makes plain how transient and insubstantial they are. These personality analyses in Buddhism can be seen in contemporary psychological studies.

Other Typologies According to Different Traditions

After achieving Emancipation, the ascetic Gotama became known as the Buddha. The Buddha first scanned the globe as part of his goal to spread the Dhamma out of compassion. The Majjhima Nikya's Ariyapariyesanasutta describes how the Buddha viewed beings with many positive and poor attributes, including

A remarkable description of personality types is mentioned in the most well-known post-canonical scriptures, the Visuddhimagga, the Path of Purification. Considering their physiological and cognitive characteristics in society, one can observe numerous similarities among the people in this situation. Individuals have very varied ways of thinking and behaving toward one another.

Situation-Specific Explanations

Buddhism provides context-specific explanations of personality. The Lokadhmmasutta of the Aguttara Nikya emphasizes the importance of remaining calm in the face of worldly calamities. Gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and condemnation, and happiness and unhappiness are the first four. As this Sutta underlines, these eight cannot shake the wise. According to Buddhism, none of these vicissitudes can unsettle the Buddha or the Arahants.

The Three Typologies

Exploring these personality types can teach us a lot regarding ourselves, not the least of which is that these impersonal inclinations are not who we are and do not have to be firmly identified. Realizing these ingrained inclinations enables us to recognize the incredible relativity that is constantly occurring. For instance, in any given circumstance, some people will see the positive side of things, while others will dwell on what is amiss and become quite perplexed. The greedy, furious, and misguided types are the three primary personality categories in Buddhist psychology, and these three answers fit each. It is not derogatory to allude to these individuals.

We are programmed in one manner or another, but awareness can teach us how to transcend whatever conditioning we may have. Every type has a pure and a partially purified version, indicating that each collection of inclinations contains a gem, and we can remove it and alter it through mindfulness. The issue is fixation, which occurs when we have a predetermined manner of responding to everything, not the propensity itself. We have a vast array of possibilities thanks to mindfulness.

Greedy Type

This personality type is the sort of individual who steps into space and focuses on the things they like, consider charming, or deem appealing while ignoring everything that may be broken, coming apart, or wearing out. This individual will remark, "It will all work out," when a problem is brought up at a meeting while we are left wondering, "How?" The Visuddhi Magga, a commentary written in the Theravadan Buddhist school in the fifth century, describes the greedy type as follows: "They exaggerate insignificant virtues, downplay serious flaws, and, when they leave, they act with remorse as if they were reluctant to do so. In its refined form, this propensity to only see the good changes into a readiness to approach all facets of life and live it more fully, without restricting or concealing."

Angry Type

The irate personality is distinct. They may not be furious, but they have a habit of focusing on what is incorrect, difficult, or impeding in achieving one's goals. When someone of this kind enters a room, they immediately notice anything that bothers them; for example, they might notice a burn scar on the carpet or a coworker's unhappy demeanor. This kind of individual will quickly say, "It will not work," whenever an offer is provided while in a meeting. We could be asking ourselves, "Why not? Why couldn't it function? This kind of person is described in the Visuddhi Magga as follows: "They focus on insignificant flaws while downplaying true merits, and when they leave, they act without remorse and with a sense of urgency." This is converted into perceptive wisdom in its refined form. In addition to seeing problems more often than not, this propensity also includes a willingness to examine deeper than most people are prone to and an honest recognition of what is uncomfortable or undesired.

Deluded Type

The type that is deluded tends to be hazy or disorganized. The strong urge is to fall asleep or tune it out when anything goes wrong. Even if something is excellent, we may only partially appreciate it. This type is usually calm and needs more perceptional clarity if educated to focus and hone attention. Visuddhi Magga declares: "Any observable object will cause a person with a misled temperament to imitate what others are doing. They react negatively when they hear others condemn and positively when they hear others laud, but they truly sense calmness within themselves—the calmness of ignorance!" This type of person takes a while to process a problem or opportunity at a meeting and is only sometimes sure how they experience it. The refined form of delusion is a true serenity coupled with lucid and precise attention rather than being dependent on missing minor details or withdrawing from participation in life.


Buddhism divides people into many categories based on their degree of physical and spiritual development, level of knowledge and understanding, memory span, level of responsibility, and other factors. The Buddhist writings reveal several personality types, and Buddhist teachings classify different personality types according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. His idea and Buddhist teachings are largely similar. Buddhism's four main paths—the Stream-Enterer, Once Returner, Non-Returner, and Arahant—are directly related to a person's personality development. We can comprehend the distinctiveness of personality types in Buddhism as a result.

Updated on: 06-Feb-2023


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