The Four Fundamental Types, Their Combinations, and Relations to the Four Levels and the Chakras
By Roberto Assagioli, Dec. 1930, The Beacon
This is an extract from a five-part article that first appeared in the Journal The Beacon; the editor’s (KS) input in the text is bracketed […]. The above lecture is the third of a series of six addresses that were delivered by Dr. Roberto Assagioli at the International Centre for Spiritual Research at Ascona, Switzerland, in August 1930 and later published in Mrs Baileys Journal. Assagioli developed later Jung’s four types into The Seven Types.
It is gratifying to observe how the independent researches and studies of modern scientists increasingly approach and confirm the teachings of true [esotericism]. This tendency is evident in the field of Psychology, and is well exemplified by the four fundamental types we are about to study.
One of the chief teachings of [esotericism]concerning man is that he is a very complex being, functioning on several of the great planes of manifestation, and having on each a centre [chakra] or permanent atom and a vehicle of consciousness and expression. It is further taught that, according to which centre and vehicle is more active and awake, men are differently polarised, and are described, as being physically, astrally, or mentally polarised.
It is interesting to note how one of the better and more advanced psychologists, Dr. C. G. Jung of Zurich, has reached the same conclusion by studying the different psychological types.
He has first classified human beings in two different categories. According to the direction of the vital interest, he has distinguished the two great classes of Extraverts and Introverts. We shall deal with these in our next article.
It is obvious that his “sensation-type” corresponds to the esoteric expression “physically polarised;” the “feeling type” is the “astrally polarised”; the “thinking type” is the “mentally polarised,” while the “intuitive type” in his higher aspect corresponds to a higher mental and buddhic polarisation.
Let us briefly describe each of these types.
1. Sensational Type. This is rather simple and its pure specimens are easy to recognize. For individuals of this type the chief experiences, interests and activities are directed towards the material world and the physical body. For them, what is seen and touched is real. The inner worlds of thought and feeling, not to speak of spirit, are something vague and unsubstantial, in which they become confused and ill at ease. In this category we find many (but not all) manual workers, housewives, businessmen, engineers, military men and surgeons. The lowest class is constituted by the sensual person and the glutton.
While most of those belonging to this type are rather primitive, are young souls which still have to go through the lessons of the physical life, yet some of them may be considerably evolved; but then they may scarcely be considered as belonging strictly and exclusively to this type. They are individuals in which a well developed soul is connected with a personality whose aptitudes and powers are active mostly on the physical plane. Such individuals may perform very useful service, bringing about needed changes and beneficent improvements in the external world and making the material forms more perfect vehicles for the manifestation of the spirit; thus positively cooperating with the purpose of the Logos. This is particularly true, now that the Seventh Ray is coming into power, the Ray which is specially connected with the physical plane, with forms and objectivity. (Of this Ray and of the characteristics of the individuals belonging to it we will speak more fully in our article on the Ray Types).
This “sensation type” corresponds in great part to that which has been called the objective type by some writers, particularly by Dr. Beatrice Hinkle, in her very interesting book, The Re-creating of the Individual. (see p. 189 and following.)
2. The Feeling Type. These function chiefly in their astral or emotional body. Let us remember that the astral plane is dominated by the laws of attraction and repulsion, by the experience of personal joy and sorrow. Individuals of this type have their chief centre of consciousness in the realm of the emotions and feelings, which constitute their most vivid and important reality. For them, the world is primarily a world of personal relationships, of likes and dislikes, of attachments and aversions. They are typically subjective in their appreciations, in their judgments and in their motives. To this type belong the great majority of women, owing to the feminine psychological constitution and to woman’s human functions. Among men, we find artists generally belong to this type, as they are characterised by an emotional and affective exuberance, by a delicacy and wealth of feelings which stir into activity their creative imagination and their expressive faculties.
3. The Mental Type. The general nature of this type is clearly indicated by its name, and needs no detailed description. But we must note that it comprises two sub-types, quite distinct in quality and different in value:
a. The lower mental type, whose mental activity is chiefly concrete, analytical, critical and diffused. In them, as we shall see, the mind has lunar and mercurial characteristics. We find that men and women of this type are often engaged in the so-called mercurial occupations, as clerks, executives, accountants, also as scientists engaged in purely analytical researches and descriptive studies.
b. Those whose mental activity is of an abstract, general and synthetic type: those who perceive the relationships of cause and effect, the great laws underlying phenomena; the general principles, ideals and archetypes. To these belong theoretical scientists, philosophers, mathematicians.
4. The Intuitive Type. This might be called in a deeper sense the unitive type, because its intuitive perception is due, really to a fundamental tendency to unification; to become one with other things and other beings. It bears some resemblance to the second type, the emotional, but it differs definitely from it, because it is not subjective and personal, but impersonal and universal. In this type subject and object melt in a wider unity; the individual centre expands indefinitely, its circumference including, and mingling with all. In this comparatively small and high human group, we find the true mystics and saints and some of the higher and more spiritual artists.
It is well to realize how profoundly different from, and foreign to, each other are the individuals belonging to these various types; how radically different is their perception of, and vital relationship to the universe; how literally they live in different worlds which have almost no contact with each other.
A simple instance can give us a vivid realization of this fact. Let us imagine four individuals, each belonging to a different type, observing a landscape. The practical man will immediately be interested in the area of the fields, in their productiveness and in the money value of the land.
The artist will give instead his whole attention to lines and colors, to light and shade, he will observe the different tones of the greens, the contrast between the dark patches of the groups of trees and the light surfaces of the meadows. The artistic value of the scenery will be his only interest and pleasure and while the former’s observation can result in a purchase, the outcome of the latter might be a picture.
The third man observing the same scenery will think of the general natural factors connected with it; of the climate of the geological nature of the soil and of the scientific problems connected with these facts.
The fourth will perceive in the scenery spread before him a particle of God’s radiant glory; he will see God manifest in nature and may be caught in a rapture of joy and thankfulness.
If each of these men subsequently wrote down his impressions, probably there would be very few words in common, and anyone reading them would hardly believe that they referred to the same object!
This realization of the fact that human beings dwelling externally side by side, live in reality in different worlds, has a great spiritual and educational value. It reveals the true cause of many fundamental mis-understandings, bitter criticisms and antagonisms which complicate our lives and create an incalculable amount of unnecessary suffering.
To the simple practical man a complex feminine soul remains a baffling mystery, and this type of woman in her turn does not appreciate the simple virtues and the humble but necessary usefulness of the man.
The artist is often considered as little more than a useless dreamer, both by the practical man and the scientist, and he repays their criticism by regarding them as prosaic and tiresome people, interested only in sordid material things, or in useless theories.
These three different types agree only in considering the mystic a crank and visionary.
Only a serious study of individual psychology, commencing as early as possible, when the character is not yet completely differentiated and crystallized with rigid limitations, can bring about a knowledge and appreciation of the types differing from our own, a recognition of their social and spiritual functions and of the benefits we are unconsciously receiving from them. Thus the basis and conditions for a sympathetic understanding and consciously realized brotherhood are created.
This task is facilitated by the fact that fortunately not all men and women belong wholly to one of these sharply differentiated and contrasting types, but that many of them also have some characteristics of other types.
According to the varied blending of the different elements, we can distinguish clearly several mixed type’s. Some of these are well-defined. The word put first indicates which of the two characteristics is prevalent.
1. The sensation-mental and the mental-sensation types, in which both the sensation and the intellectual elements are well developed and vital. These types include many physicians, natural scientists and technical inventors.
2. The emotional-intuitive and the intuitive-emotional types. We find in these many of the good religious people, several mystics of the traditional type and the artists with ideals and spiritual trends. It is a pre-eminently feminine type.
3. The sensation-emotional and the emotional-sensation types. We find in these men of action with strong passions; for instance, political men with strong ambitions and the criminals whose deeds of violence were determined by strong emotions and passionate impulses. (I did not put them side by side on purpose, it has just happened naturally!)
4. The emotional-mental and the mental-emotional types. The first of these in its inferior aspects is one of the most dangerous. It is a Kama-manasic type in which kama, that is personal desire and passion, has enslaved the mind and uses it for its low purposes. Intelligent criminals who perpetrate frauds and deception belong to this class.
5. The mental-intuitive and intuitive-mental types. These are highly evolved types, which have as yet few representatives. Spiritual philosophers and speculative mystics such as Plotinus and Meister Eckhardt belong to them.
All these human types can be roughly represented by diagrams which can help us to remember and to “place” them. In the diagrams which appear on the opposite page the numbers at the left indicate the four fundamental functions as enumerated by Dr. Jung, which corresponds to the four lower planes as follows:
4. indicates the function of the intuition on the mental plane,
3. indicates the thinking function on the mental plane,
2. indicates the feeling function on the astral or emotional plane,
1. indicates the sensation function or the physical consciousness and action on the physical plane.
Having acquired some knowledge of the human types, it is well to apply it to ourselves and to the people with whom we are well acquainted, and try to classify them. It is an interesting and useful exercise for our psychological faculties. When we attempt it we will find that it will be easy for us to place some individuals, but with regard to others we shall be doubtful and perplexed. Or, having assigned them to a type, we will have to correct our judgment.
There are several causes which may produce this difficulty and it is well to examine them, as this will further our knowledge of the subject. In the first place there are persons who really baffle all attempts at classification, and they fall into two groups: a primitive group composed of people who are so little developed, and so apathetic, that they are scarcely alive or awake in any of the four spheres, they are purely tamasic. These fully deserve to be called (using Dr. Keskar’s good analogy) somnambulists. The other group is composed of well-developed individuals who are many-sided and versatile, and who have a well rounded development in the three spheres of the personality. These people are pre-eminently sattvic and astrologically characterised by the prevalence of the common signs and of harmonious aspects between their planets.
In the second place, the physical age has a certain general bearing on the prevalence of the different spheres of interest and activity. Broadly speaking, and not considering the crisis of adolescence which has pecularities of its own, we may say that in childhood consciousness is chiefly occupied by sensations, in youth the emotional and passional nature is prevalent; while in the adult the mental element is more developed and in the old age of the well-developed individual, religious and spiritual interests become paramount.
In the third place, a special phase or experience may for a certain time hide the fundamental type of the person and give us the impression that he or she belongs to a different one. For instance, a man of the mental type may happen to fall in love (even the most dried up scientist is not love-proof !) and this fact could give, for the time being, the impression that he belongs to the emotional type, and thus determine an error in our classification. Lastly, there is another cause of error which is the most interesting, because it is due to a fundamental principle of our psychological life, which is a manifestation of a still wider cosmic law. It is the existence of “compensations” and “hyper-compensations.”
Medical science has discovered in the physical body the wonderful power of self-regulation and of compensatory reaction which ever attempts to maintain or restore balance and harmony in the bodily conditions and functions. It is demonstrated in the ingenious ways by which, through the extension and contraction of the blood vessels, through perspiration, etc., an even temperature of the body is maintained, in spite of the great variation of heat and cold in the external world. It is demonstrated also in the complicated interplay of the ductless glands, the well regulated antagonisms of which result in a dynamic equilibrium that makes physical life possible.
The same principle is active in our psychological life and it tends to correct excesses and deviations, awakening, through a process which might be compared to electrical induction, the elements which are opposite or complementary to the ruling ones.
But for many reasons this power of self-regulation and compensation does not always work to perfection, either in our physical or in our psychological life. Sometimes it is insufficient; in other cases it operates with excess producing exaggerated reactions, or what might be called hyper-compensations.
For instance, we are often apt to be particularly interested in, and to over-value or over-emphasize just the qualities in which we are lacking personally. Two famous examples are those of Nietzsche and Tolstoy. Nietzsche had originally a sensitive, passionate and rather weak nature, and in his frantic efforts to overcome his limitations he over-emphasised the value of power, of a hard and stern will, coming even to praise cruelty. Tolstoy’s case is curiously opposite. He was by nature a very vital, violent and impulsive man with strong instincts, a love of beauty and appreciation of physical comforts. He tried to take himself in hand and in his noble struggle against his exuberant nature, which we can study in his diary (a human and psychological document of great value), he has arrived at the glorification of non-resistance and of the simple life, at a wholesale condemnation of modem civilization, and at an excessive depreciation of art,
Apart from these, illustrious examples, we have the numerous, half amusing, half pathetic cases, of weak, fearful, unsuccessful men, who have a great cult for Napoleon.
These hyper-compensations often show up in the external behavior. Thus we have the well-known fact of shy persons who, as a reaction, conduct themselves haughtily and use strong expressions. Less known perhaps, is the opposite type of persons who appear timid and irresolute and who are instead, violent individuals who, fearing the outbursts of their temper, check and hide it under that subdued appearance. A similar case is that of over-emotional types who repress forcibly their emotions, and assume a cold, unfeeling attitude.
Once we have recognized to which psychological type we belong, we are confronted by the problem, which is both practical and spiritual, as to how to deal with it, how to utilise it or change it, according to our higher purposes.
The inner tasks concerning each type may be synthetically indicated in the following terms:
1. Expression. The first thing we have to do is to inwardly accept the type to which we belong. This is something quite different from the passive unconscious acceptance of one’s personal make-up, without any self-knowledge and any effort for self improvement, which we can observe in the mass of blind, drifting human entities. It is a conscious, willing acknowledgement of the inherent possibilities of our type, of its lessons, opportunities and dangers, of the kind of service which it can yield. It is a whole-hearted and enlightened acceptance, based on the recognition that what comes to us, belongs to us; that what we are and have, here and now, is the necessary outcome of what we have been and done, and that only through its wise utilisation we can outgrow its limitations. We cannot attain this end by ignoring our type, despising it, or attempting to evade it, as some do, consciously or unconsciously, trying to imitate other psychological types, or to forcibly correct deficiences by exaggerated overcompensation. Therefore, we consider as our primary task, that of expressing and actuating our own type in the fullest, purest and highest manner.
In order to learn to do this it is good to carefully analyse which are the higher and purer manifestations in each of the four fields of experience and activity of which we have spoken.
a. The Physical Realm, which seems to be, and in a certain sense really is, the most material, can be the field of most useful service, of many beneficent and truly spiritual activities. To these belong all physical actions prompted by an unselfish, altruistic purpose: as the help given to suffering physical bodies by compassionate surgeons, doctors and nurses, the building and organisation of philanthropic institutions ministering to material needs; useful technical inventions; also those artistic creations which express themselves through more concrete and material means, as architecture and sculpture. In a more special and [esoteric]field we have the magical domination over matter achieved by advanced representatives of the Seventh Ray and the use of healing magnetism.
There is therefore much scope for individuals belonging to the sensation type and they need not regret that they are thus constituted nor envy others who are apparently more refined and “spiritual.”
b. The Emotional Realm. Expression in the emotional realm includes in its higher aspects, the quality of self-sacrificing devotion prompted by love. The area, so to speak, and the kind of devotion, may differ from the small circle of the family to that of larger social and national groups. It includes also the devotion to a great personality, an ideal or a principle, which is characteristic of Sixth Ray individuals, and which is primarily an emotional reaction and expression.
Another fruitful activity of this type is the direct artistic expression of emotions and feelings through poetry and music.
c. The Mental Realm. Expression here includes all mental creative work in the fields of science and philosophy. It satisfies the inner urge for knowledge, both concrete and abstract. One of its higher aspects is discrimination, which uses the very critical and separative quality of the mind in order to distinguish the real from the unreal. This is really a spiritual activity expressed on the mental plane.
d. The Intuitive Realm. We have here the use of the intuitive faculty, which is an insight into the true inner quality of an entity, resulting in wisdom and is different, notwithstanding some outward similarities, from the psychic impressions of the astral plane. We find here also the expression of impersonal love of a synthetic and universal character; the realisation of the unity of life, and of brotherhood with all living beings. These qualities have been expressed more often and more fully in the East than in the West; but we have had a beautiful manifestation of them in the Franciscan attitude as depicted in the “Song of the Creatures.”
2. Control. The second vital task which confronts us is that of controlling and correcting the excesses of the psychological type to which we belong. We all have the tendency to follow the line of least resistance, i.e. to go on expressing and developing the faculties which are already active in us. This is a pleasant condition which can be also fruitful and apparently good. Yet, if it is indulged in too much, it produces a growing disharmony and lop-sided development. It forfeits the central purpose of evolution, the aim of which is to produce full and perfect individuals with all their faculties developed on every plane.
But we can say even more. If one side of our being acquires an excessive development it arrives at a point in which its own quality and productivity suffers. For instance, if in a mental type the development, and the activity of the lower mind go so far that they monopolise the vitality, leaving the emotional nature barren and the physical depleted, the result is, that the mental activity itself gets impaired. And the same is true of all the other psychological types.
It is therefore imperative that the prevalent faculties should be wisely controlled and kept within limits. This is not an easy task and it is often a most disagreeable one, against which our personal nature sometimes rebels violently.
But life itself, with its karmic limitations and its stern duties often obliges us to a more or less temporary and complete restraint of our psychological type. When this happens we should not ‘fret and fume’ or kick against circumstances, as we are too often apt to do. The right attitude is that of a wise acceptance based on the knowledge of the law and on the realization of its justice, and of its beneficent purpose.
We are apt to forget that karma is not administered by a cold relentless principle outside of ourselves, but that it is the law of harmony, of balance and compensation, operating in ourselves as well as in the whole universe; that it works ever for our ultimate good. If we are checked in the expression of a faculty, it means perhaps that we have overexercised it in a past life or lives. It means that that faculty is over-developed in comparison with the others and that it is well for us that we are obliged to re-establish harmony in ourselves. This realisation leads us to a more cheerful acceptance of the situation and even to thankfulness to the law.
This knowledge should also lead us to control voluntarily our psychological type before being obliged to do so by circumstances, anticipating thus the working of the law or administering the law ourselves, to ourselves, which is in fact true liberty. (Also we will probably do it in a milder and more considerate way!)
3. Harmonisation. The third task, which often goes hand in hand with the previous one, is that of developing the faculties as yet undeveloped in us and which are not part of our present psychological type. This too, is often disagreeable to the personality and provokes its rebellion. Here too, karma often operates in a severe and apparently relentless manner. We see individuals of an artistic type obliged to perform practical work. We see sensitive types confined in gross environments, and so on. Here also, there is a vital lesson to be learned and the more willingly and thoroughly it is learned, the sooner will come liberation from the distasteful condition. No condition can last a minute longer than is required by the law of equilibrium. When it has fulfilled its purpose there is nothing more to hold it.
There are many ways in which we can actively accomplish these tasks of controlling the excesses and developing the elements which are lacking. It is primarily a question of will in its various aspects of decision, onepointedness, persistence and mastery.
Our efforts to accomplish this can be greatly aided by a wise association with others, by the fruitful and vital interchange with individuals of a different type. This is often brought about by life itself and more precisely by the law of polarity, which creates an attraction between opposites and which can, after all, be considered as an aspect of the law of equilibrium and of harmony. It is demonstrated chiefly in the attraction between the sexes, which has its more obvious manifestation in the physical, but which operates also on other planes. For this reason companionship and interchange of the right kind between persons of different sex is beneficial and fruitful. But apart from this we should all make a point of seeking in our leisure hours the companionship of people belonging to psychological types different from our own. For instance, a person of the intellectual type should cultivate the friendship of artists and interest himself in their activities. A practical man should associate in his free time with intellectual and artistic people, and so on. This is an easy and pleasant way of giving nourishment to our undeveloped faculties, and of correcting the one-sidedness and limitations of our own type.
The knowledge, appreciation and wise use of contrasts is a fundamental principle, not only in painting and in music, but also in the great fine art of living.
Each of us can and should make, out of the living material of his personality, no matter whether it is clay, marble or gold, a thing of beauty, worthy to be offered for use to his Indwelling God.