Buddhist Perspectives of Personality

January 22nd, 2011 by Jashodhara Purkayastha

At the time of Buddha’s birth, spiritual culture of India was at low ebb. Buddha was born in 560 B.C. at Kabilavastu. He left his palace in search of three woes of men—weariness, disease and death. Whenever people used to ask him about these three woes, he used to insist that one should experience the truth for oneself as it was the belief of sages.
Buddhism maintains that every person possesses the Buddha nature. Buddha means – one who has achieved a state of perfect enlightenment and full humanness. The four Truths which Buddha taught are: 1) there is suffering, 2) there is cause of suffering, 3) suffering can be overcome, 4) way to overcome the suffering. These suffering can be erased by knowing the path of happiness. These can be attained by the noble way of freedom, Nirvana, wherein there is no more birth, no suffering, no old age and no death. This Nirvana should be emphasised, may be achieved in this present life. Be earnest in efforts and shall be free from great evils.
The Nirvana of Buddha is not a state of wiping out but the attainment of the unchangeable reality, which can be positively described as the eternal peace. But what this peace really is, no words can define; all definition can be only symbol and can be only a vague suggestion. Buddha employs terms for its description such as misery and death, freedom from sensuality, from the ego, from delusion (a mistaken or unfounded opinion or idea), and from ignorance. This state of freedom is attainable by the noble kind of wisdom. The wisdom is not the wisdom of intellect, but a state of ‘Sunyata’ in which no subject-object relation exists, and in which one transcends both intellect and mind representing the truth.
This Nirvana can be accomplished by following the Eight-fold Path—i.e. The Noble Eightfold Path describes the way to the end of suffering…..

Eightfold Path

i) Right view–Right view is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It means to see things through, to grasp non-lasting and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas, and to understand the law of karma and karmic conditioning. Right view is not necessarily an intellectual capacity, just as wisdom is not just a matter of intelligence.
ii) Right intention—It is the kind of energy that controls our actions and included in cognition of wisdom. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire, 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion, and 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion.
iii) Right Speech-–It is included in ethical conduct to moral discipline. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. Buddha explains not to speak deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully. Speech should not hurt others. Speak friendly, warm and gently.
iv) Right Action—The second ethical principle, right action, involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Right action means not to harm, no cheating, no fraud, to abstain from sexual misconduct. Right action means to act kindly and compassionately, to be honest, to respect the belongings of others, and to keep sexual relationships harmless to others.
v) Right Livelihood—Right livelihood means that one should earn one’s living in a righteous way and that wealth should be gained legally and peacefully. Buddha explains to avoid alcohol and intoxicants products and not to slaughter the innocent animals.
vi) Right Effort—-Mental energy is the force behind right effort; it can occur in either wholesome or unwholesome states. If there is no right effort, it can produces desire, envy, aggression, and violence Right efforts makes the person self-disciplined, honest, benevolent, and kind.
vii) Right Mindfulness-— It is controlled by cognition . It is the mental ability to control the repulsive nature . The cognitive process begins with an impression induced by perception, or by a thought.
viii) Right concentration—The last path of Buddhist philosophy is the development of a mental force that occurs in natural consciousness. Right concentration comes through meditation according to Buddhist philosophy.
The first two paths are for wisdom. The 3rd and 4th paths are for ethical conduct and the last three paths are for mental development.
Personality development in Buddhism is the improvement of internal and external characteristics. The improvement of internal characteristics is emphasised in Buddhism as it leads to the enlightenment of the ultimate goal of Buddhism. Nirvana is the state of mind in which all cravings and desires have been extinguished. Nirvana can only be achieved through self-discipline, meditation, and realisation of impermanence of selflessness.

In Buddhism, a human being is made up of five components: i) skanda-rupa i.e. material form, ii) samjna means cognition, iii) Vedana means sensation, iv) Samkhras means disposition or a habitual inclination; a tendency, v) Vijanana means consciousness. From Ignorance springs the samkhras, from the samkharas springs consciousness, from consciousness springs name and Form, from name and form springs six senses, from six senses springs contact, from contact comes out sensation, from sensation springs out thirst or desire and from desire attachment, from attachment, the existence, from existence springs birth and from birth old age and then death—. These all elements constitute personality of a person.
Personality in Buddhism means characteristics that are specific to an individual. These are displayed by individual’s good or bad behaviours through body, mind and speech. Personality is divided into two ways i.e. implicit personality and explicit personality. Implicit personality means inherent in the nature of a person. Explicit personality is through Body and Speech. Development of Implicit personality is by improving through Eight-fold path the explicit personality.

Dharma Wheel

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Posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Spiritual | 2 Comments »

2 Responses


    Well contained thoughts and very educative. We certainly cannot change the problems but our attitude can make a lot of difference.
    We do learn a lot but how much we implement and use in daily life is very important.

    Good action and thoughts are very important.

  2. Karen Kohn Says:

    To whom it may concern,

    Who do I contact to obtain permission for the following:

    49 words to be reproduced: …improvement of internal characteristics is emphasised in Buddhism as it leads to the enlightenment of the ultimate goal of Buddhism. Nirvana is the state of mind in which all cravings and desires have been extinguished. Nirvana can only be achieved through self-discipline, meditation, and realisation of impermanence of selflessness.

    From: Purkayastha, J (2011) Buddhist Perspectives of Personality – be-human.org/2011/01/22/buddhist-perspectives-of-personality/

    Thank you

    Karen Kohn
    Rights and Permissions Group: Pearson Africa

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