Thursday, November 27, 2008

Buddhist Personality Types

At the 3-month retreat at IMS in 2005, Myoshin Kelly gave a very funny talk on the traditional Buddhist personality types. (It was Hallowe'en, which seemed like a good time for talking about the masks we wear.) I was inspired by that talk to write the following quiz. Being me, I emphasized the funny side of the types; I also followed Myoshin's lead in breaking the aversion type down into anger and fear, which is not part of the traditional teachings. The text of the quiz is copied below; follow the link for a version with scoring.

This is my highly un-scholarly presentation of the traditional Buddhist method of classifying personalities. The categories (Greed, Deluded or Confused, Aversive-Angry, and Aversive-Fearful) correspond to the Three Unwholesome Roots. Everyone is greedy (angry/fearful/confused) sometimes, and everyone has the potential to be free from these causes of suffering. But when you start out on the journey of liberation, you need to know where you're starting from. If your natural tendency is to anger, different practices will be useful to you than if your natural tendency were to confusion. Ready to find out your faults? Let's go be spiritual warriors!

1 In school, I was always
chatting with my friends.
correcting the teacher.
sitting at the back hoping the teacher wouldn't call on me.

2 When I get to the beach the first thing I say is
"Check out that hot lifeguard!"
"There's garbage lying everywhere!"
"Do you think there's an undertow?"
"I forgot my swimsuit...again..."

3 My morning routine is
extensive. I don't want to leave the house until I look my best.
hurried. There's nothing wrong with going out with wet hair.
never routine. My car keys are never where I thought I left them, so I'm always running late.

4 My wardrobe is
carefully chosen. I love to wear flattering clothes by prestigious designers.
functional. I mostly dress to be under the radar.
crammed with everything I've ever worn. It's so confusing getting dressed in the morning. Sometimes a friend will point out that I've combined stripes and plaid again.
basic. I don't waste time following fashions.

5 When a friend suggests an activity, my automatic response is,
"That's the best idea I've ever heard! Let's do it RIGHT NOW!"
"That is completely lame."
"It sounds dangerous," or "I'm not in the mood."
"I guess...if you want to..."

6 School. Extracurricular activities.
I was a cheerleader, duh!
I organized the Amnesty International club and hassled everyone to join.
I mostly stayed at home and listened to my Morrisey albums.
I did whatever my friends were doing.

7 School. Social life.
My social life suffered because I tended to steal people's boy/girlfriends.
My social life suffered because I alienated people by correcting their pronunciation.
I was pretty much a loner.
I hung out with the same group of people all the time.

8 People would be happier if
they took time to enjoy life. People don't focus on the positive side of things enough.
they lived better lives. How can you be happy if you're not doing what's right?
they just mellowed out. What's the point in making such a big deal out of everything?
they slowed down. I don't understand why most people feel like they have to take on so many responsibilities.

9 Shopping
is a sport, and I'm in the major leagues.
is a necessary evil. I go in, get what I need, get out again.
is a nightmare. With twenty brands of jam on the shelves, how am I supposed to pick one? And let's not even talk about clothes shopping. I daydream about having a personal shoopper who will tell me what I need.
is a necessary evil. I go in, get what I need, get out again, before someone pisses me off and I have to kill them.

10 At dinner time, I think
"Wow, this looks great! I wonder if there's more?"
about the calories and cholesterol per serving.
"It's dinner time already? Where did the day go?"
"The lettuce is wilted."

11 At the movies, I'm most likely to say
"That actor is totally hot."
"The script is totally derivative."
"Why are they shooting at that one guy?"
I prefer to go to the movies by myself, thanks.

12 My friends' affectionate nickname for me is
Silent but deadly.
The Space Cadet.

13 My motto is
"Nothing succeeds like excess."
"If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."
"Look before you leap."
"When the going gets tough, the tough take a nap."

14 Okay. I admit it. Sometimes I can be
deceitful, if it will help me get what I want.
bitchy, when people aren't doing things right.
anxious and paranoid.
clueless--but my fantasy world is just so much more interesting than the real world.

15 What people appreciate most about me is
my fun-loving nature.
my penetrating intellect.
my easy-going, accepting nature.

16 When things aren't going my way, I figure
they'll improve as soon as I get that one thing I want (a raise/a new partner/a fancy dinner/new clothes)
it's someone else's fault, and I should help them see the error of their ways.
things are probably just going to get worse, and I should lay low for a while.
...could you repeat the question?...What are you talking about? Everything's fine. Really.

17 I think I'm probably
the greedy type--or, as I like to call it, the sensual type.
the aversive type--but it's not my fault I'm so fearful or angry: it's the fault of my upbringing. Or maybe I am just a bad person. *sigh*
the confused type. The situations I get into would be funny if they were happening to someone else. see myself in all the types. I'm not sure. What do you think?


MomLes said...

Pretty accurate, I'd say, and quite helpful too.

Heidi said...

I thought I had a ballpark idea about my type, but I was wrong. While doing my research I found the Tricycle article and quiz, and now this your original quiz. Your original is better. Thanks!