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Discussion Starter #1
For those of you who know a bit about Buddhism and the dharma, I'm very curious to hear your thoughts on what The Buddha's MBTI might have been. (Obviously this is a bit of a thought experiment, as he's an ancient, but...I'm curious as to what you think.) To most of the Enneagram theorists, it seems pretty clear cut that he was the best possible version of a five with a four wing. I am guessing an introvert and intuitive, but beyond that can't seem to pin it down. T makes sense because he was so "scientific" and logical, in a sense, but his logic revolved around emotional systems and psychology. F makes sense because he was so focused on compassion and the end of suffering as being the utmost ideal and possibility, but he made such a logical system out of it...if you look at the texts, there are so many lists, instructions, etc. He presented such a complex emotional and psychological ideal as an objective system. Kind of fascinating!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
ISTP all the way.

Buddha was like the chillest mf ever.
LOL! See, I can't really see that...if you read and study the stories and texts, it's all about these huge picture intuitions and constant searching for intangible things...I can't see how he would be in any way an ISTP...anybody who's enlightened is going to be "chill" :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've always thought Buddha was an INFP because he was more laid-back than Jesus, who was an INFJ.
Interesting...I've heard it said that Jesus was INFP...the sort of "reluctant hero" bleeding heart archetype...and things get pretty complicated when you read about the beginning of Buddha's life and how he wasn't chill at all, he was totally freaked out about death, old age, illness, and suffering and he was trying systematically to master it, in a sense. It wasn't till he was enlightened that he calmed the f down, so to speak.
 

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Interesting...I've heard it said that Jesus was INFP...the sort of "reluctant hero" bleeding heart archetype...and things get pretty complicated when you read about the beginning of Buddha's life and how he wasn't chill at all, he was totally freaked out about death, old age, illness, and suffering and he was trying systematically to master it, in a sense. It wasn't till he was enlightened that he calmed the f down, so to speak.
Well then, maybe Jesus was an ISFJ. I think that most reluctant heroes who people usually type as INFPs are ISFJs. Their Fe is what makes them so selflessly heroic, while not having a high intuitive function is what makes them reluctant I guess. However, Jesus was definitely intuitive, being a prophet, so maybe he was an INFJ. I guess Buddha could be an ISFP or even some kind of IxFJ, but he seems like a phlegmatic 9w1, which usually means INFP.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well then, maybe Jesus was an ISFJ. I think that most reluctant heroes who people usually type as INFPs are ISFJs. Their Fe is what makes them so selflessly heroic, while not having a high intuitive function is what makes them reluctant I guess. However, Jesus was definitely intuitive, being a prophet, so maybe he was an INFJ. I guess Buddha could be an ISFP or even some kind of IxFJ, but he seems like a phlegmatic 9w1, which usually means INFP.
I think all types end up seeming a bit nine-ish when they are very very healthy (enlightened!!) but I'm pretty sure the Buddha was a 5. This might not make sense on the surface in some ways, but I've read Enneagram experts talk about it, and it makes a lot of sense. He was a scientist of the spirit, so to speak. He literally sat there and said, "I'm going to observe my mind and human life without reacting until I fully understand it." And that is literally the essence of Buddhist meditation (at least Vipassana/Insight Meditation)--to watch, observe, and completely understand human nature. Many teachers in the West, such as Goenka, even discuss it that way...I went on a monastic retreat in Thailand and the monks there taught it that way, as well...that the dharma is about the objective way things are, that this is like a science, and the Buddha invited everybody to explore, investigate (a word that's used a lot), and "prove it" for themselves. Buddha was the ultimate "observer."

Buddha as ISFP is very interesting...I'm not sold on the idea that he could have been anything other than N, but I am open to hearing more.
 

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I think all types end up seeming a bit nine-ish when they are very very healthy (enlightened!!) but I'm pretty sure the Buddha was a 5. This might not make sense on the surface in some ways, but I've read Enneagram experts talk about it, and it makes a lot of sense. He was a scientist of the spirit, so to speak. He literally sat there and said, "I'm going to observe my mind and human life without reacting until I fully understand it." And that is literally the essence of Buddhist meditation (at least Vipassana/Insight Meditation)--to watch, observe, and completely understand human nature. Many teachers in the West, such as Goenka, even discuss it that way...I went on a monastic retreat in Thailand and the monks there taught it that way, as well...that the dharma is about the objective way things are, that this is like a science, and the Buddha invited everybody to explore, investigate (a word that's used a lot), and "prove it" for themselves. Buddha was the ultimate "observer."

Buddha as ISFP is very interesting...I'm not sold on the idea that he could have been anything other than N, but I am open to hearing more.
Well, this makes Buddha sounds like an INTP, but he couldn't have been that cold, so I guess he was an INFJ.
 

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For those of you who know a bit about Buddhism and the dharma, I'm very curious to hear your thoughts on what The Buddha's MBTI might have been. (Obviously this is a bit of a thought experiment, as he's an ancient, but...I'm curious as to what you think.) To most of the Enneagram theorists, it seems pretty clear cut that he was the best possible version of a five with a four wing. I am guessing an introvert and intuitive, but beyond that can't seem to pin it down. T makes sense because he was so "scientific" and logical, in a sense, but his logic revolved around emotional systems and psychology. F makes sense because he was so focused on compassion and the end of suffering as being the utmost ideal and possibility, but he made such a logical system out of it...if you look at the texts, there are so many lists, instructions, etc. He presented such a complex emotional and psychological ideal as an objective system. Kind of fascinating!
I know this is an old thread, but I was curious about this same idea and Google'd it, and this came up :)

The real answer to carolyn_z's question is: none of the above.

If you read the Buddhist suttas, you'll see that the Buddha's basic teachings included 2 very important steps to ending the cycle of suffering and attaining full Enlightenment as he did:
1) abandoning "personality view" ("sakkyaditthi") - giving up all sense of there being an inherent "self."
2) abandoning craving and clinging - being content with everything, good bad and otherwise, and not having preferences that cause us to crave and then cling to what we crave.

As you can immediately see, these two fundamental points are completely incompatible with personality tests and type indicators, which have their basis in "self view" and then the preferences of that perceived "self."

If the Buddha was presented with the MBTI assessment, he would likely respond to it the way he responded to many people in his day who questioned his views or tried to challenge him: he would say "the questions are not valid" since they assume a basic and solid "self," and he would refuse to even answer. Time and again the Buddha stated he was only interested in the ending of suffering and all speculation and theorizing on other topics (such as whether the cosmos are eternal, or is there a soul [atman] that lives after death, etc. etc.) was irrelevant and unnecessary.

And given his absolute separation and lack of involvement in mundane, unskillful existence, it's nearly impossible to pin down whether he was an "E" or "I" or "N" or "S" or whatnot - he was none of the above and all of the above, completely superseding all such worldly forms and labels. As XNFX stated, I believe that the historical Jesus Christ would also fit that definition and exist completely outside such definitions.
 

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Buddha and Jesus would be completely outside the typing system. As perfect human beings, they would embody the positive traits of all the types and the negative traits of none.
 

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I know this is an old thread, but I was curious about this same idea and Google'd it, and this came up :)

The real answer to carolyn_z's question is: none of the above.
If you think some MBTI types aren't substantially more likely than others to have Buddhist perspectives, I'd strongly disagree with you, and so would Carl Jung — who said that the Buddha's introverted attitude was what "started [him] on his life's quest."

In the spoiler is some recycled reckful for you on that issue (from Which type's mindset does Zen Buddhism reflect?"):

 
For what it's worth, Jung viewed Buddhism as a quintessential manifestation of introversion... but it's important to keep in mind that the people Jung viewed as well-defined "introverts" were really MBTI INs, not just MBTI introverts.

A lot of people whose exposure to Jung is mostly limited to what they hear on MBTI forums or other not-so-great internet sources think Psychological Types is mostly about the eight so-called "cognitive functions." But in fact, Jung spent more of Psychological Types talking about the many things he thought extraverts had in common and introverts had in common than he spent talking about all eight of the functions put together.

I'm not a John Beebe fan, but he certainly characterized Jung's perspective accurately when he said:

It was C.G. Jung, of course, who introduced the language we use today: words such as function and attitude, as well as his highly specific names for the four functions of our conscious orientation (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition), and the two attitudes through which those orientations are deployed (introversion and extraversion).
...
For Jung the attitude type was the primary thing, and the function type a kind of subsomething that expressed that attitude in a particular way. Accordingly, he organized his general description of the types in terms of the attitudes, describing first "the peculiarities of the basic psychological functions in the extraverted attitude" and then going on to "the peculiarities of the basic psychological functions in the introverted attitude."​

As Jung saw it, the dynamics of the human psyche revolved first and foremost around a single great divide, and that divide involved two all-important components — namely, introversion/extraversion and conscious/unconscious. And it's also worth noting that Jung believed that the ultimate reason there were extraverts and introverts in the first place was that extraversion and introversion represented two competing evolutionary strategies, each successful in its own way. Here's how he described them:

There are in nature two fundamentally different modes of adaptation which ensure the continued existence of the living organism. The one consists of a high rate of fertility, with low powers of defense and short duration of life for the single individual; the other consists in equipping the individual with numerous means of self-preservation plus a low fertility rate. This biological difference, it seems to me, is not merely analogous to, but the actual foundation of, our two psychological modes of adaptation. I must content myself with this broad hint. It is sufficient to note that the peculiar nature of the extravert constantly urges him to expend and propagate himself in every way, while the tendency of the introvert is to defend himself against all demands from outside, to conserve his energy by withdrawing it from objects, thereby consolidating his own position. Blake's intuition did not err when he described the two classes of men as "prolific" and "devouring." Just as, biologically, the two modes of adaptation work equally well and are successful in their own way, so too with the typical attitudes. The one achieves its end by a multiplicity of relationships, the other by a monopoly.​

And the result of the corresponding genetic machinations was that, as Jung saw it, introverts tend to be "reserved, ... rather shy people," with "a hesitant, reflective, retiring nature that keeps itself to itself, shrinks from objects, is always slightly on the defensive and prefers to hide behind mistrustful scrutiny"; while extraverts tend to be "open" and "sociable," with "an outgoing, candid, and accommodating nature that adapts easily to a given situation, quickly forms attachments, and ... will often venture forth with careless confidence into unknown situations."

And as for how Mother Nature went about causing that introverted approach to the world (from an internal standpoint), Jung said that the psychodynamic mechanism behind introversion involved a projection of negative unconscious contents by the introvert onto the people and things of the external world, which in turn caused the introvert to falsely perceive that those people and things were charged with negative energy (libido), which in turn caused the introvert to feel threatened by those people and things, and fear them, and mount a defense which took the form of, among other things, (1) avoidance, and (2) a process of "abstraction" by which the introvert reduced people and things to their abstract qualities, thereby (as Jung explained) "withdrawing libido from the object ... to prevent the object from gaining power over him."

And conversely, Jung characterized extraversion (in general; not just extraverted feeling) as a process involving "empathy," and contrasted the essential empathy at the core of the extravert's relationship to the "object" with the "abstraction" at the core of the introvert's relationship with the object.

In the first chapter of Psychological Types, describing the ways in which several of the bitterest doctrinal controversies in the early Christian church reflected the E/I divide, Jung wrote that beneath those controversies "lies the great psychological schism. The one position attaches supreme value and importance to the sensuously perceptible; ... the other maintains that the chief value lies with the abstract and extra-human."

"The man who is oriented to the idea [— i.e., the introvert —] apprehends and reacts from the standpoint of the idea," Jung explained. "But the man who is oriented to the object [— i.e., the extravert —] apprehends and reacts from the standpoint of sensation. For him the abstract is of secondary importance, since what must be thought about things seems to him relatively inessential, while for the former it is just the reverse."

Chapter 7 of Psychological Types is devoted to a discussion of Worringer's book Abstraction and Empathy. Worringer had written about an aesthetic duality that hinged on whether the artist's attitude toward the external world was positive/empathetic or negative/abstract. As Jung explained:

Since antiquity, our general attitude to art has always been empathetic, and for this reason we designate as beautiful only those things we can empathize with. ... And yet another art-principle undoubtedly exists, a style that is opposed to life, that denies the will to live, but nevertheless lays a claim to beauty. When art produces life-denying, inorganic, abstract forms, there can no longer be any question of the will to create arising out of the need for empathy; it is rather a need that is directly opposed to empathy—in other words, a tendency to suppress life. Worringer says: "This counter-pole to the need for empathy appears to us to be the urge to abstraction." As to the psychology of this urge to abstraction, Worringer continues:

Now, what are the psychic preconditions for the urge to abstraction? Among those peoples where it exists we must look for them in their feeling about the world, in their psychic attitude towards the cosmos. Whereas the precondition for the urge to empathy is a happy pantheistic relationship of confidence between man and the phenomena of the external world, the urge to abstraction is the outcome of a great inner uneasiness inspired in man by these phenomena, and its religious counterpart is the strongly transcendental colouring of all ideas. We might describe this state as an immense spiritual dread of space.​

Jung said that a typical introvert had a defensive, "abstracting" attitude toward the external world because, as Jung explained, he "finds himself in a frighteningly animated world that seeks to overpower and smother him. He therefore withdraws into himself, in order to think up a saving formula calculated to enhance his subjective value at least to the point where he can hold his own against the influence of the object. ... [The introvert] retreats mistrustfully before the daemonism of objects, and builds up a protective anti-world composed of abstractions."

Jung says it's "significant that Worringer describes the influence of the object [on the abstract artist] as fear or dread. The abstracting attitude endows the object with a threatening or injurious quality against which it has to defend itself." And Jung agreed with Worringer that the abstracting attitude was particularly characteristic of Oriental art. As Jung explained:

[What Worringer calls] "the great inner uneasiness inspired in man by the phenomena of the external world" is nothing other than the introvert's fear of all stimuli and change, occasioned by his deeper sensitivity and powers of realization. His abstractions serve the avowed purpose of confining the irregular and changeable within fixed limits. ... Worringer rightly says of Oriental art:

Tormented by the confusion and flux of the phenomenal world, these people were dominated by an immense need for repose. The enjoyment they sought in art consisted not so much in immersing themselves in the things of the outside world and finding pleasure there, as in raising the individual object out of its arbitrary and seemingly fortuitous existence, immortalizing it by approximation to abstract forms, and so finding a point of repose amid the ceaseless flux of appearances.

These abstract, regular forms are not merely the highest, they are the only forms in which man may find repose in face of the monstrous confusion of the world.​
...
For an illuminating insight into the Oriental attitude, we may turn to the "Fire Sermon" of the Buddha:

All is on fire. The eye and all the senses are on fire, with the fire of passion, the fire of hate, the fire of delusion; the fire is kindled by birth, old age, and death, by pain and lamentation, by sorrow, suffering, and despair.... The whole world is in flames, the whole world is wrapped in smoke, the whole world is consumed by fire, the whole world trembles.​

It is this fearful and sorrowful vision of the world that forces the Buddhist into his abstracting attitude, just as, according to legend, a similar impression started the Buddha on his life's quest.​

It should be noted, however, that we know today — thanks to Isabel Myers, a boatload of Big Five psychologists, and decades of data — that Jung's conflation of abstraction and introversion (and "concretism" and extraverts) was one of his biggest mistakes. Not only are there abstract extraverts (ENs) and concrete introverts (ISs), but an introvert is no more likely than an extravert to choose the abstract side of the MBTI S/N items that focus on the abstract/concrete duality.

Buuut setting that category muddle aside, was Jung correct to believe that the people who he viewed as well-defined "introverts" — i.e., MBTI INs — were the ones most inclined to exhibit a Buddhist perspective on (and adopt a Buddhist approach to) the world? I think he was.
 

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Buddha and Jesus would be completely outside the typing system. As perfect human beings, they would embody the positive traits of all the types and the negative traits of none.
Is that really true about the negative traits? Isn't the buddha also irritated at some days?
Making it more likely the negative traits come out?
 

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Is that really true about the negative traits? Isn't the buddha also irritated at some days?
Making it more likely the negative traits come out?
Actually no, the Buddha didn't get "irritated" after his Enlightenment.
By virtue of having completely cut all craving and becoming, there would be nothing for him to get irritated at, since irritation is always a result of our reality not matching with our expectations. For the Buddha, his reality was what it was, and there was no desire for it to be a different way. If something irritating or troublesome arose (he was known to have a bad back, for instance), he didn't "pick up" that feeling and objectify it, which would then lead to feelings of irritation and aversion to them. He simply let it be what it was with no reaction either way.
 

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If you think some MBTI types aren't substantially more likely than others to have Buddhist perspectives, I'd strongly disagree with you, and so would Carl Jung — who said that the Buddha's introverted attitude was what "started [him] on his life's quest."
Thanks for your reply - but, I never stated that certain MBTI types aren't more/less likely to be Buddhist.
I fully agree with that assessment, and particularly the idea that Buddhism as a self-reflective mindfulness practice that focuses on obtaining happiness from within is more in alignment with an I type than an E, et al.
I came up as a strong E, 50/50 S/N, good T and P in my first assessment years ago, but probably am more I and N now, especially with my devout Buddhist practice.
And other Buddhists I encounter in my spiritual life definitely exhibit I, N, and J qualities.

My statement was that the historical Buddha himself, as well as any other arahant (fully Enlightened person), would cease to identify with specific personality traits because they would have utterly destroyed any sense of personality view to begin with, and all the personal preference and inclinations that go with it. Practicing Buddhists who have not yet attained Enlightenment would of course still have some remnants of personality view, depending on how far along the path they are, and would still be somewhat measurable with type indicator assessments.
"Anatta" or "not-self" is probably the single most important concept to fully comprehend in order to become Enlightened.
 

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Thanks for your reply - but, I never stated that certain MBTI types aren't more/less likely to be Buddhist.
...

My statement was that the historical Buddha himself, as well as any other arahant (fully Enlightened person), would cease to identify with specific personality traits because they would have utterly destroyed any sense of personality view to begin with, and all the personal preference and inclinations that go with it. Practicing Buddhists who have not yet attained Enlightenment would of course still have some remnants of personality view, depending on how far along the path they are, and would still be somewhat measurable with type indicator assessments.
"Anatta" or "not-self" is probably the single most important concept to fully comprehend in order to become Enlightened.
If you read my linked post to the end, you'd see that Jung typed the Buddha himself as a Jungian "introvert" (which really translates best to a modern MBTI IN), and I agreed.

You're free to believe that his introverted path ultimately led him to some kind of transcendent state where he left his — as we today understand, hardwired and substantially genetic — introverted type behind, and I'm free to smile and nod politely.
 

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He's an INTP. I could see the case for ISTP, although I think he's an intuitive.


  1. He developed specific principles (Ti).
  2. He didn't stay in one place. He traveled all the time. He had no home after he left his palace. (overwhelmingly perceiver).
  3. He tried using the methodology in place at the time (eg: rigorous fasting - for a month or more) and then decided it was illogical to endanger one's health for spirituality. Then he developed his own system (Ti). In my personal experience, people who enjoy fasting completely for extended periods (a week or more) typically demonstrate Si in their function stack. But since I can't prove that you don't have to take my word for it.
  4. Reason he's not a Si dom like someone suggested: he flaked on his family to go explore his spiritual side. He flaked on his PREGNANT wife. This is not remotely typical ISFJ behavior.
  5. Reason he's not a Ni dom: he didn't lead with some grand mysterious vision. He said stuff like, "there's no god. When I die, don't try to turn me into one." <-- obviously people did. But he tried to demystify spirituality for people. That's not very Ni in my opinion.
  6. The entire concept he developed revolves around "let me show you how to think. Look at my framework." That's classic Ti dom stuff.
 
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