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Hi there, I was skimming across the internet one day and found an article which claimed that Gandhi was an INFP and not an INFJ. Naturally I don't want a heated debate about this issue but one of the quotes it mentions of his (paraphrased) is that the only tyrant he is compelled to obey is his own feelings.

This struck me as a reference to Fi, although through my limited understanding of Fe I'm willing to say the quote could argue for that as well. However what I find curious is whether you believe Fi to be a sort of tyrant in a way, an phenomenon which demands to rule over us and control our actions. It demands us to be true to ourselves and I think the mere thought of living without it scares us in a way. I'm not saying its a bad thing, perhaps it would be more of a benevolent dictator (if such a thing exists of course, which I'm inclined to believe is purely a perspective thing.)

What would you think? I'm not saying the others are any better, Fe to me sounds like it could potentially sell you down the river by keeping you slightly out of touch with what you want and that Ti and Te are willing to work with you to understand logic or to achieve goals but little else than that - though this is likely ignorant ranting on my part. Could anyone with more expertise on Fi advise?
 

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Ectoplasm, I like your question! In fact, this is a topic that has been churning in my mind for the past couple of weeks. I wrote a fairly lengthy piece on the topic recently, and so I would recommend that you read the recent thread I made called "Understanding the INFP Dreamworld," as it examines the role of Fi in our lives, likening our inner mind to a galaxy, where Fi is at the center, and the other cognitive functions and thought patterns revolve around the Fi values.

Yes, the Fi can become a dictator or a tyrant, but it need not be so. It all depends on how our minds have been trained, and the way we have learned to make choices. Compare Fi to the role of President. If a future president has from a young age gone through the proper education, learned to work in concert and harmony with others, and has history of making judicious decisions, then as president he or she will be leader who is ultimately in charge, but will have advisors with different viewpoints to help make the best decisions. Likewise, if an INFP has been given good education and influence in the early ages, he or she will learn to make good decisions with Fi, and Fi will become accustomed to the balanced use of other cognitive functions (the advisors). And as the INFP gets into the later teens and early twenties he or she will have the presence of mind to know when to use other cognitive functions to complement the actions of Fi.

Without the proper training and influences, at its worst Fi's active priorities will be based on base instincts like pleasure, self-indulgence, fantasy, and infatuation. Even though in such a case these are the active priorities, the INFP's inner values may be different and noble, but a way has not yet been discovered to live them and activate them through balanced thought processing and decision making. It is this disparity between selfish priorities the INFP wishes he or she did not have and the truer noble values that he or she wishes could be made viable and active that can lead to emptiness and frustration that in a cyclic way urges the INFP to rectify the pain with more pleasure.

Te is needed to help bring the INFP's truer values to light and bring them to life. Ne is always available to the INFP to discover ways to serve Fi's priorities, and Si is often at work feeding Fi the subjective view of external reality, but without Te, this will only become a self-focused mindgame where everything becomes about the subjective world and immediate interests of the INFP. However, when Te engages, the INFP is able to make logical assessments of the consequences of different actions or viewpoints, and by doing so, it keeps Fi's worst tendencies in check. With Te we can look at our self-centeredness or self-indulgence without a dizzying Fi mirror room, and say to ourselves, "These actions, and thinking this way is actually making me unhappy. If I focus more on (blank) I will become happier and experience more harmony with others." In this way, Te helps to dispense with Fi's unwanted fixations, and revives or aids in the process of manifesting the desired values.

I could continue further, but I think with the combination of the thread I suggested to you, and this, I have answered with what is necessary, but let me know if there is anything further that you are curious about, or something I missed!
 

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I thought of something I missed...the Spiritual Implications.

When looking at Fi and the other cognitive functions in this way, it reveals one reason why many INFPs have a particularly active spiritual life, for better or for worse. Because Fi is dominant, and it handles the values and priorities, the INFP's life ultimately becomes about the goal to harmonize the life with the soul's true values. Because no one can immediately perfectly match this ideal, these perfect values and ideals are seen as something separate, holy, spiritual, that something is calling them toward. Some may see this as their conscience (a broad term), the Holy Spirit (God's activity in the mind), or another beckoning force of the spiritual realm, either something that is a part of them, or separate from them. Whatever the spiritual view that is subscribed to, these values become the ideal to harmonize with, and may change or evolve as the INFP grows in spiritually listening.

For me, I believe in the Holy Spirit as my Creator's active force in my mind that is calling me to match perfect ideals, which are reflections of His character. But because Fi is my natural, instictive god that calls me to self-indulgence, my life work is to learn to spiritually draw strength from Him, so that he can create a balance of my cognitive functions, achieving harmony.

To use an analogy I see this spiritual process as like the tuning of an instrument, like a guitar, each string representing different aspects of one's character or life, and the desired frequencies as the ideal values of the INFP. As one begins to adjust the tuning of an instrument there are many different sounds of dissonance and disharmony during this process, and as one begins this process in the spiritual life one may recognize so many dissonances of the heart that become very discouraging, and may lead to giving up the process, and leaving the spiritual instrument behind, but persistence is needed. Then as the frequencies get closer together during tuning, sounds of approaching harmony are detected, and joy and expectation result, much like the spiritual experience. However, because we as INFPs are such sensitive beings, sensitive to harmony and disharmony, the closer we get to feeling in tune, the more keenly aware we become to the separation and disharmony that still remains. So then, with the tuning of the guitar, one may increase their auditory perception and feel dissatisfied with the tuning and become very focussed for a prolonged period on bringing every sound into absolute harmony. And oh the joy that is found when the strings are strummed and the cascading strands of harmonious sound fill the ears!

But another parallel remains. If one becomes overly focussed on the enjoyment of playing the guitar and fails to keep his ears vigilant to the fidelity of the sound and the maintenance of the tuning, one will soon discover as the enthrallment subsides that the tuning has become disharmonious. Analogously, this indicates the need to retain good spiritual vigilance so as not to become too focussed on other parts of living life and ending up taking steps back in spiritual growth.

To wrap up the analogy, how do we understand how these particular harmonizing frequencies became defined in the first place? Or, how do we know what compels us to define certain values as being sound ideals and truths? Looking from a personal view now, I see the set of harmonizing frequencies that we tune our instrument to as being like the invisible facets of God's nature or character, that, though invisible, are able to be experienced and tuned to through a developing spiritual ear. Any deviation from this perfect order reveals disorder, disharmony. But interestingly, there are a number of different tunings out there that have different frequency combinations and ratios that musically communicate different experiences. Likewise, different personalities of people may be drawn to different aspects and characteristics of God based on what resonates with them the most.
 
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