Three Basic Personality Types: Reason, Will, Emotion

Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 43 | January 02, 1959

Greetings in the name of the Lord. I bring you blessings, my dearest friends. Blessings for all of you.

My dear ones, we see with great joy that many of you are progressing very well on the road you have chosen, and that a few more have entered this path of liberation. Each soul who makes such a vital decision creates rejoicing in the spirit world, rejoicing you too must feel sooner or later in your own heart, be it only after the first few obstacles and resistances have been overcome. You can be sure that your final decision to walk on this path of self-development, as well as each victory on this path, creates a special blessing for you. Whether or not you can feel it at the moment, this blessing is a reality.

Many of my friends have prayed for help and strength on this path, but most of you do not recognize when your prayer is answered. The prayer is often answered in a form that seems unpleasant to you—a conflict, or a friction, or something that induces you to feel unjustly treated. You do not realize that the very event that causes you temporary pain is an answer to your own prayer—the prayer in which you ask for help to recognize yourself and your conflicts so that you can purify yourself.

How can you recognize your inner conflict unless it manifests outwardly?  Only then can you become aware of the hidden part in you that deviates from divine law. Because the deviation is negative, it must materialize as something you feel in a disharmonious way. You often overlook this simple logic, and persistently take the frictions in your life as though they had nothing to do with you. So I beg of you, my dear friends, consider the outer conflicts that come to you as answers to your prayer. Turn in the other direction. Instead of becoming defiant and hurt, turn inside, turn around, no matter how wrong you think others may be. Ask yourself, ask God:  “Isn’t there some grain of truth somewhere in this painful conflict?  By recognizing it I will continue to learn and develop.”   A wealth of further recognition must come to you that will cancel out all the disharmony, all the feeling of injustice or sadness, defiance or misery. Just turn your attention to your own inner reactions, my friends, when you feel unjustly treated or hurt, and you will see that your very own prayer was answered. When you see your inner error, all the friction between you and your brothers and sisters will disappear like snow in the sun. You will be able to unite with understanding and love.

We in the spirit world pray for this understanding and love to be given to you, our brothers and sisters in the body, who are courageous enough to do the one thing that matters:  turning inside to recognize and purify yourselves. There is no other reason for life on earth than to follow the road you have chosen. The more wholeheartedly you go about it, the more sincerely you prove your goodwill, the more you will realize that you have not lived your life in vain. It is never too late to begin.

Many of you are filled with the sincere desire to unite with God, but before you can do so, you must find the many little opportunities to unite with your fellow human beings, to practice humility and love leaving out your pride and ego and proving that what you mean is serious. For only here and now, right where you stand, can you find God.

And now, my dear friends, we will continue to explore the inner wrong conclusions that have created so much trouble in your lives.

There are three basic types of human personality. The first type governs his or her life and reactions mainly with reason. The second type does so mainly with emotion, and the third does so with the will. In other words, the three personality types are dominated by reason, by emotion, and by will. In your self-search it will be useful for you to find out which type you are. A personality is never completely one-sided; every person is a mixture of types, but one is always predominant. In some cases, the predominance is obvious; in others, the mixture is more complicated, and therefore the predominant type is more difficult to detect.

In the ideal personality, each of the three aspects has a rightful place. The harmonious person functions with each aspect in a perfect way. Since there is no completely purified human being, however, the three trends are often directed into wrong channels, aside from imbalance or predominance. For instance, where reason should prevail, emotions do, or vice versa.

When, in your inner work, you penetrate your soul, your images, your wrong conclusions, the layers of your errors and whatever you may encounter, this approach will give you added understanding about who you are, what you are, how you are in reality.

Let us begin with the reason-type, the personality governed predominantly by reason. Those who conduct their lives mainly by the reasoning process are apt to neglect the emotions. They are afraid of emotions. They thwart and cripple them, and in doing so they cripple one of the most important instruments in life, namely, the intuition. Those who are afraid of emotion cannot trust their intuition, because intuition is blurred by their fear of it, by their distrust of its supposed intangibility. The reason-type often secretly looks down on the emotion-type. He or she is proud to be so steeped in the reasoning process. And the will, which is not necessarily self-will, is, in this type, used mainly to follow deductions made with the reasoning process, seldom paying attention to the emotions or intuitions, which also should be heeded.

Such a person of reason is often an intellectual, perhaps a scientist. He or she is often an agnostic or even an atheist, who tends to be materialistic. However, it would be a gross generalization to state that all, or even most, reason-types are spiritually less developed or aware than, for instance, emotion-types. This is not so. There are many highly developed and spiritually awakened reason-types, just as there are awakened emotion-types. They differ only in the approach.

The reason-type finds it more difficult to experience the divine within. The emotion-type encounters other difficulties. Furthermore, the reason-type has great difficulty with intuitive judgment of others and of the self. The will, which is a necessity in life for all, is used onesidedly by both types. The reason-type uses will premeditatedly, often overcautiously, whereas the emotion-type is carried away by emotions and uses willpower unconsciously and erratically. The harmonious personality finds the healthy middle way and uses the will rationally or emotionally, depending on the situation. The will should be a servant both to reason and emotion.

It will be easy for you to see that the reason-type goes through life missing a great deal of experience, mostly out of fear and pride. This type fears that emotion might lead to an experience he or she will be unable to cope with. Emotional life necessarily carries uncertainty and risk, whereas the rational type tries to keep everything well ordered, “knowing” at all times where one stands, and avoiding the emotions, which leave one at sea.

The emotion-type is equally onesided. Predominantly emotional people often pride themselves that only they are capable of truly feeling. They secretly look down on people they derogatorily label “intellectuals.”  Yet, the extreme of this type is not one iota less removed from harmony and divine law than is the extreme reason-type. It is true that the emotion-type tends to have a good intuition and is sometimes less afraid of feeling and inner experience than is the reason-type. However, the emotion-type, contrary to the reason-type who holds life’s reins too tightly, often loses his or her grip on life’s reins altogether. The overemotional person completely loses sight of the fact that reason also is God-given. Such people are just as arrogant as the reason-type who looks down on the emotion-type. They are often so carried away by uncontrolled feelings that they not only lose control over themselves but become blind to that which is often most important for their lives and development. Due to their overemphasis on the emotional side, they neglect the equally important reasoning functions of thinking, discriminating, selecting, and weighing. They must learn to use the intellect to curb the wild emotions that, without necessarily being impure, flow without purpose or direction. Only then can they use the will properly.

Uncontrolled emotions bring havoc into the extreme emotion-person’s life, as well as into his or her surroundings. The temptation to give in to the emotions is at first manageable, but the longer one gives in to them, the more difficult it becomes to resist the temptation, until one is simply carried away by the torrent of uncontrolled emotions, which destroy everything in their wake. Such a person cannot help being selfish and destructive, although this kind of selfishness is different from the selfishness of the reason-personality type.

The emotion-type person needs first to realize that what he or she has been so proud of has ceased to be an asset because of its extreme manifestation. This type must cultivate the faculty of selecting, deliberately thinking and planning. This selecting process is the beginning of wisdom.

The emotion-type also uses will, of course, for no one can exist without doing so. But the emotion-type uses will chaotically and impulsively, without planning or deliberation. Submerged in unchanneled instincts rather than constructive intuition, such a person loses balance in life, just as the reason-type does in the opposite way.

Both are subconsciously afraid of their opposite extremes, and therefore they remain in their own extreme. They thus act from a wrong conclusion. Led by the wrong conclusion, they feel or unconsciously think that their own extreme is a better solution to life than the opposite type’s. The reason-type, afraid of losing control, cuts out not only a major part of life’s necessary experience, but beauty and happiness as well. The emotion-type fears that curbing and disciplining his or her nature will eliminate something valuable in life. Both are wrong—for only the harmonious middle path leads to the complete solution.

Although there are obvious representatives of both types, there are many more who are not quite so clear-cut:  a person may be overemotional or overintellectual in some aspects of their personality, yet be more balanced, or even tend to the opposite extreme, in other aspects. Or, the person’s true nature may be masked. For example, a basically emotional person chooses, because of fear and immature currents, a mask of intellectuality that is foreign to her or his true nature. Such a person may appear outwardly very calm and controlled, but inside is caught in a storm of emotions, unable to find peace until starting to work toward achieving a proper balance.

In the third category is the will-type who is altogether different. Will is supposed to be a servant, never a master. Ideally the will should serve equally the reasoning process and the emotional and intuitive faculties. The will-type makes a master of the servant. This brings the personality out of focus in a way that can become dangerous.

Like the other two types, such persons may unconsciously look down on both of the others. The will-type thinks or feels something to the effect of, “The reason-type is just an intellectual who talks well and has wonderful theories, but it is all in the abstract. Nothing is accomplished by that. Nothing is achieved. I am the achiever.”  The emotion-type, who accomplishes even less, is even more despicable to the will-type. The judgment is right in both cases, as the other two types are right in their judgments about the other extremes. But all the types are wrong in believing that their own extreme is better than those extremes they look down upon.

The person of will, for whom the servant is the master, is out for achievement and tangible results. This focus tends to make such a person impatient and apt to forfeit the very result he or she seeks. It cripples the reasoning process, which, joined with the emotional nature, leads to wisdom. Without such wisdom, people either cannot accomplish what they set out to accomplish or, if they succeed, cannot benefit from the accomplishment in the right way and thus will lose it again. The will-type tends to lose sight not only of caution but also of many aspects and considerations of life that are essential in order to gain truth for the self, for others, as well as for any given situation.

The person of will also neglects the emotional side, fearing emotion as much as the reason-type does, but with a different purpose in mind, which is often unconscious. Emotions are acceptable to the will-type only so long as she or he remains master of them; otherwise, emotions might hinder this person’s aim. The will-type, like the reason-type, also misses an integral part of the life experience, of giving one’s self up to a feeling without knowing the outcome and the possible advantage of doing so.

These are three broad types, my friends; as I said, you do not always find a personality with characteristics so predominant that the type is easily recognizable. You all know many human beings, and since it is always easier to know the other than the self, you may form certain conclusions about your fellow creatures from the angle I have described. In most people two of the three faculties are predominant, whereas the third is crippled. In a great many others, all three faculties function, but each functions in a wrong channel, at least in some respects, while the proper functioning is insufficient and does not apply to the whole personality.

You may remember the lecture I gave about the active and the passive forces, in which I said that both currents are necessary for the healthy human soul. It would be just as wrong to be an entirely active person as to be an entirely passive one. Actually, such a person does not exist, although there may be a predominance of one trait in many a person. But what frequently happens is that the active current flows through the channel destined for the passive current, and vice versa. It is similar with reason, emotion, and will. Even when there is no outright predominance, emotion perhaps is used where reason should function, and vice versa; the will does not function where it should, yet often it functions where it should not.

This discussion, my dear ones, should help you, as you get deeper and deeper into your own souls, to find out where and how all these aspects or currents function—where one interferes with the other, instead of helping it along and thereby creating one harmonious whole.

Is there a question on this subject, my friends?

QUESTION:  Does not this division correspond to the so-called Kretzschmar types:  the cerebrotonics, the somatotonics, and the viscerotonics?  In other words, the personality types are combined with the physical habitus of human beings?

ANSWER:  Yes, of course. It applies to everything. No soul current is entirely independent of its physical manifestation. The physical body is an outpicturing of the soul currents, and this outpicturing can occur in many ways.

QUESTION:  Is it possible to react predominantly with emotion to some people and with willpower toward others?  I mean, can the same individual react in one way toward one person and in another way toward others?

ANSWER:  Certainly. But there must be a reason for that. People on this path who observe this phenomenon in themselves should ask why they react toward a particular person differently than they usually react. All these things are very important for self-observation.

QUESTION:  If one were to achieve purification completely, the three aspects would be pretty much equal, I presume?

ANSWER:  Exactly.

QUESTION:  Does everyone have the same potential for the development of each of these qualities?

ANSWER:  No. There are basic types. Each divine spirit was created perfect in one way, yet each was a distinct being, a personality in his own right with different talents and characteristics. But there was no disharmony in the distribution of currents. The highest angel of the active forces is not disharmonious in his activity, as an unpurified human being would be with an overactive current. He is just perfect in his own way, a specialist in his activity, which excludes the possibility of a disharmonious overemphasis. It is the same with the highest representatives of the three aspects I discussed tonight. The perfection of the reason-personality would be the Angel of Wisdom. The perfection of the emotion-personality would be the Angel of Love. The perfection of the will-personality would be the Angel of Courage.

QUESTION:  Wouldn’t it be ideal to have all three in balance?

ANSWER:  The ideal form is in balance, but that does not mean that they are distributed in equal measure. Balance and harmony do not always mean an equal measure of each current. Balance depends on the way the currents are distributed; on how the distribution works in cause and effect; on the way one current strengthens another instead of weakening it, as happens in the disharmonious, unpurified being.

If you reread the story of Creation I told you some time ago, you will see that God created each spirit perfect in its unique way. The idea was that these spirits would perfect themselves with the creative power that was given to them. In other words, they would perfect themselves in all ways, instead of remaining perfect in one special way, and thus would become godlike. Instead, many spirits used their power in the wrong way—causing the Fall. Had the Fall not happened, all spirits would have become truly divine in every conceivable respect, instead of being specialists in one particular aspect. This process of perfect creation will continue, after all the fallen spirits again reach their original perfection in one particular way, until the Plan of Salvation is successfully accomplished. Until then all pure spirits—those who did not participate in the Fall, as well as those who have already reached their original state—pool their resources to help in the Plan of Salvation, postponing their own further creation to some extent, although in an indirect way they work toward that end by helping in the great plan.

QUESTION:  Aside from this triad—willing, thinking, and feeling—are there any other types?

ANSWER:  Yes. Some I discussed already, others I will discuss in the future.

QUESTION:  I don’t understand why the angel of courage is the perfection of will. I can’t understand this at all.

ANSWER:  If you have courage, you need a great amount of will, in a positive sense. Isn’t that clear?  Can you explain why you do not feel that courage and will go together?

QUESTIONER:  Well, I know a lot of people who have no willpower but who are very courageous.

ANSWER:  That has nothing to do with it. A person can be very emotional but the emotions may be all covered up so that this person appears to be quite cold. A person who has no willpower and yet has courage may summon this courage partly from the recesses of the soul where all perfect attributes slumber—partly in response to outside events, to prove to himself and others that he or she has willpower.

QUESTION:  Is there also a certain courage that comes from fear?

ANSWER:  Definitely. A positive attribute can originate in either a positive or a negative motive or current. That is the complication of the human soul. In addition to its pure background, any quality may be motivated by negative tendencies. The same applies to faults. But the natural and positive extension of will is courage. Both will and courage are active. In will there must be a strong active current. That will is often used negatively and self-destructively is something else again. And also, the fact that inborn courage, which is based on willpower, cannot function because of other deviations in the personality does not negate the principle. We are not discussing the many possibilities of mixed-up soul currents, where the will may be broken and then appears only in certain aspects of life. Will needs active pressure, either positive or negative. It needs activity. In the purified state, the will would manifest as courage. It may even manifest as courage in the unpurified state, although then the courage is used for wrong purposes. Courage cannot exist without activity; courage appears in a spirit of surging ahead, in a spirit of doing, rather than in a spirit of being, as would apply for instance to love.

QUESTION:  In finding and purifying oneself, can a predominantly intellectual individual release more of the other two currents also?

ANSWER:  They must, because that is the purification process. Often the person whose willpower is crippled, yet who displays courage in some instances, may be similar to a person who seems to be more the intellectual type but who is not really that at all. One who by nature is more emotional may fear emotion and thus assume a mask that does not correspond to his or her true nature. In the purification process, all these types must begin by finding and being true to their natures; only then can they resolve the disharmony in their souls. In other cases, the apparent reason-personality is really just that. The true reason-type will learn balance, so that reason will function properly in the self-search and purification which ultimately will eliminate the phantoms of fear that have blocked harmonious functioning. This person will remain a reason-type, but in a harmonious and perfect way, without interfering with the personality’s other faculties. The same applies to the other two true types. They will remain just what they truly are, but without crippling their other faculties and thereby shortchanging their lives.

And now, my dear ones, we will turn to your planned questions.

QUESTION:  It says in the Greber book that the only means for spiritual growth is through mediumship or spirit communication in some other form. In other teachings it says that one can contact the divine part within oneself that contains all wisdom.  Which is right and how would either one work?

ANSWER:  Of course, the final aim is to find that which is divine in yourself. There is no doubt about it. But until you can get that far, you need help. Often, communication with the spirit world of God is the best means to get the help. Complicated and perilous as the establishment of such communication is, once it is established, it is best suited to help you remove all that obstructs your own divine spark. However, this is not the only way. Human teachers also can help you remove your inner obstructions. There have always been great teachers who have done just that.

In your time, there is a further means, the medicine of the soul that you call depth analysis. The fact that it is not always handled well no more disproves its value for freeing the soul—and that is its ultimate purpose, whether your doctors know it or not—than badly applied or arrested development in mediumship disproves the value of that. Communication with the spirit world ultimately has only one purpose, no matter in what stage of development the medium is. Learning about the facts of Creation, about God, and what happens in the universe and the various spheres is secondary, my friends. The sole purpose of telling you about such things is to help you understand the reason for life and the necessity of development, and to give you the incentive to overcome your resistance to taking the steps to reach your own divine spark. You should consider all teachings and all religions from that point of view.

The knowledge of universal facts is a help and an incentive and not the final aim. The final aim is self-finding and self-purification, for only through that can you make contact with your own divine spark. Otherwise it is blurred and unreliable and can easily be confused with unconscious desires that have nothing to do with the divine in the human being. Yet contact with the divine world is not the way for all human beings. Other ways may be better suited for some people. It depends on the personality and its stage of development, but the only reason for life on earth is purification and self-finding. There are many ways that can help you in that. If you have the grace and the privilege to communicate with God’s world, this method should be best suited to help you, because it would naturally be a little faster and more direct in showing you how to proceed on your path to find yourself. But it is not the only way.

QUESTION:  What is the role of the Virgin Mary from the spiritual point of view?

ANSWER:  The spirit of the woman you call the Virgin Mary is a very highly developed spirit, a spirit who has never belonged to the Fall. Jesus Christ could not have been born out of an impure spirit. And the purity of this spirit led to the misunderstanding of the meaning of the “immaculate conception,” which refers to her unfallen nature. I often say that each error in the various religions has some background that makes the error understandable. Through spirit communication humanity was told that Jesus’ mother was a pure spirit—which could not have been otherwise. From this communication arose the misunderstanding that purity means sexual purity and that the mother of Jesus gave birth as a virgin in the physical sense. That is the whole misunderstanding.

Many people on earth misdirect their sexual forces and therefore think that sexuality as such is impure. This is not so. The mother of Jesus was and is a pure spirit, but the conception took place like any other conception. God’s laws are perfect, regardless of whether humanity perverts some aspects of them or not. So there would be no need for God to override His laws. You see, my friends, as usual, the truth lies in the middle. Some, out of the mistaken idea that everything sexual is impure, say that the mother of Jesus Christ had to be a virgin and that denying this is sacrilege. Others go to the opposite extreme and deny not only the purity of the spirit of Jesus Christ’s mother but also that Christ was the inborn Son of God, merely because they cannot accept certain erroneous assertions. They cannot find the truth between these extremes.

QUESTION:  If you break a divine law in good faith or if you break it knowingly, are the consequences the same in both cases?

ANSWER:  No, of course not. When you break it in good faith, the evaluation is very different from when you know what you are doing. But, my dear friends, I would like to say this:  Since all knowledge is contained within you, something of that truth gets through and that is why so many of you resist going on this path. Something in you says, “The more I know, the more responsible I am for changing myself. If I guard myself against knowing, I may stay as I am, which is more comfortable.”  This accounts for much resistance. The motive for resistance, lack of self-honesty, unconscious or half-conscious as it may be, will be taken into account. For many the real reason would be quite obvious if they would but examine their resistances. They use all kinds of pretexts, which they rationalize, when in reality they simply do not want to change.

My dearest friends, receive the blessings of love and strength that permeate your heart, your soul, and your whole being at this moment. Know that you are in God, and God is in you. You need but lift your hands to Him who waits for you to take that first step out of spiritual childhood, toward becoming a strong and independent child of God, growing in spirit, strength, and love.

Love one another, my dear ones. Understand one another. Remove the walls of your fear of one another, for they stand without reason. You who fear the other, remember that the other is just as afraid of you. Remember this, when you want to settle differences, and God will be with you. So, proceed on this path. Consider that each step forward may, at times, bring you temporarily into a crisis, a difficulty, that is but the product of your own errors. View it that way and you will be victorious.

And so, my dear ones, be blessed, all of you. In the name of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, be in peace, be in the Lord.