Mar 7, 2007

Identifying "Types" of Religions and Teachings

Identifying the "type" of a religion or teaching isn't about describing specific practices, as an anthropologist would do, but involves identifying the general priorities of the teaching. Here are some guidelines that describe what teachings built around different elements of information metabolism would look like. Maybe you'll recognize some teachings you know well in these descriptions:

extraverted intuition: An emphasis on one's search for truth and insight in the outside world: experiencing different traditions and cultures, meeting people from different walks of life, and finding out information from different systems and disciplines that contributes to one's spiritual development. The search is never over, and one is never completely sure of the results. Intense searching is perceived as an expression of spirituality. To be able to devote themselves wholly to this search, followers are encouraged not to be tied down by property and commitments.

extraverted sensing: An emphasis on developing personal power and presence. Personal power is honed by overcoming difficult obstacles and submitting oneself to demanding ordeals and strenuous exercises. Followers are encouraged to rid themselves of fear and weakness, focus intently on the present, and learn to make a powerful impression on others. Followers believe the road to one's spiritual goal is littered with difficult obstacles, tempting detours, and even danger, and that only those with powerful intent can conquer.

extraverted logic: An emphasis on service, worthy activity, and productivity as expressions of spirituality. Followers believe they need to be busy doing good, productive things to merit divine approval. Wealth and professional success are seen as being likely consequences of one's spiritual growth. An emphasis on taking initiative and doing something about the causes one cares about rather than simply talking about them or waiting for God to take care of them. Followers focus on building a flawless, rational society.

extraverted ethics: An emphasis on devotion and ecstasy as expressions of spirituality and faith. Followers publicly express powerful emotional states through loud singing, praising God, speaking in tongues, weeping, ranting, or spontaneous dancing. Followers pursue an emotional union with God and other believers where they lose their sense of self for a time. In order to cultivate this emotional state, followers look for ways to turn off or limit the activity of the rational mind. An emphasis on including others in joyous experiences.

introverted intuition: An emphasis on liberating oneself from physical attachments, often through the cultivation of a trance-like state of sublime detachment. Followers pursue inner peace by limiting sensory input and worldly hustle and bustle and by hypnotic chanting and performing simple repetitive motions both at gatherings and during individual practice and meditation. Visions, hallucinations, and out-of-body sensations are welcomed as signs of spiritual progression.

introverted sensing: An emphasis on developing the body and achieving spiritual goals using physical means. Well-developed physical techniques such as breathing exercises, stretching, balancing, body movements, and following dietary principles. An embracement of enjoyment as a fundamental principle of spiritual growth. An emphasis on temperance and balance. Followers are encouraged to look inside themselves to discover their genuine desires and find ways of realizing them. Pleasure is not shunned, but welcomed and cultivated.

introverted logic: An emphasis on studying and mastering the belief system of the teaching, especially holy writ. An emphasis on following teachings in their purity as they were intended to be followed, with little allowance for situational interpretations. Followers studiously focus on learning written teachings and discuss correct interpretations with each other. Mental clarity and strict, logical thinking are honed. Followers tend to ignore others' personal sentiments and can show them their errors using logical arguments.

introverted ethics: An emphasis on moral perfection, warm interaction, and charitable treatment of others. Spirituality is perceived as a warm feeling you carry around with you and share with other people. Followers actively cultivate a sense of duty, indebtedness, gratitude, modesty, and humility, as well as respectful, tactful, and caring treatment of others. An emphasis on perfecting one's stable relationships - especially within the family, but also with one's coworkers and other members of the community.

16 comments:

bionicgoat said...

this makes modern Christianity as a whole pretty interresting to view. It's like a tree or bush growing out of the original info elements... growing as a trunk through the middle ages and centralization in Rome. Then finally blossoming in the last few hundred years into many branches each focused on different elements and paths...

(kind of pointing out the obvious here but for some reason I was compelled to comment :) )

niffweed17 said...

if you ask me, i think this sort of differentiation of religion by each function is highly misleading and inappropriate in terms of what religion actually is. true, certain religious or spiritual sects may have codes of conduct which clearly emphasize one or more information elements. nonetheless, this is fundamentally different from the true nature of spirituality. following a code of conduct is not the key to achieving a spiritual revelation or experience.

to suggest that spirituality means something different to every information element, i suppose, is possible, but then this would be less of a spiritual experience per se than simply a moral, ethical, or civil code to follow which will improve one's lifestyle by tangible methods and possibly by focusing on one's super-id functions. however, true spirituality is a result of understanding, experience, and state of mind. (call this an Ni spiritual argument from a plausibly Ni type if you will, but i can't see any of these other things actually producing any true spiritual or religious effect)

as an example, buddhism focused on a (largely Ni oriented, in my opinion) path of meditation and other techniques to, essentially, eliminate the mind of impurities and promote true understanding of that which surrounds the world. these techniques included meditation, the eightfold path, and whatever else buddhists did/do to achieve this end. however, the actual end is one of understanding, knowledge, and, i would argue, correct frame of mind. meditation and such are not strictly necessary to achieve this end, provided that the perception of existence is ultimately correct (although many would disagree on the correct technicality that the concepts are sufficiently complex so that they cannot be realistically achieved without meditation, etc.)


true religious or spiritual perception is, not necessarily the same as the buddhist nirvana, but follows the same lines of achieving a particular state of mind, perception, or understanding. it's incredibly difficult to describe the mental sensation in language, but it is the source of all mental instinct. i don't personally think there is any one revelation in this sense, or even any at all; in this manner, religion is all around us as the state of mind of an individual changes.


or maybe just an Ni-related glob of gibberish, i can't tell.

Rick said...

niffweed17, thanks for your post. I agree with you in part.

If you view spirituality or religion as "achieving a higher state," as you suggest, then yes, this is something that transcends the information aspects. However, what route do individual teachings promote to achieve this goal? I think it's not hard to see that different teachings focus on the 8 elements I have described in different proportions.

The teachings that are most limited to one of the elements seem to be new ones formed recently by a charismatic individual of the same type.

Large religions like Catholicism that eventually involve all of society in many countries seem to be at the opposite pole of differentiation; here, the religion seems to lose its specific information vector as it is applied to art, music, learning, governing, public holidays, etc. etc.

>> this would be less of a spiritual experience per se than simply a moral, ethical, or civil code to follow which will improve one's lifestyle by tangible methods and possibly by focusing on one's super-id functions. however, true spirituality is a result of understanding, experience, and state of mind. (call this an Ni spiritual argument from a plausibly Ni type if you will, but i can't see any of these other things actually producing any true spiritual or religious effect)...

I think you're betraying your own information bias here :) I know introverted sensing types who believe (or "know," actually) that the basis for any kind of spiritual growth is what and how you eat, how you sleep, what your room looks like, how you exercise, your sexual activity -- basically, the degree of balance and control in your physical state.

I know religions where this aspect is given superficial "lip service," but in actuality it is barely considered as a criterion for spiritual development.

Back to the big religions like Buddhism, Catholicism, and even Yoga. Each of these religions has branches - whether formal or informal - where different approaches predominate. Yoga is a great example, because there is a sensing yoga (the physical exercises we all know about), an ethical yoga (devotion and prayer), intuitive yoga (the Ni stuff), and possibly others.

>> ...true, certain religious or spiritual sects may have codes of conduct which clearly emphasize one or more information elements. nonetheless, this is fundamentally different from the true nature of spirituality. following a code of conduct is not the key to achieving a spiritual revelation or experience.

Okay, you are suggesting that there are different "levels" of religion and spirituality - one where codes of conduct and instructions and information aspects apply, and one where they do not. I agree with you. However, note that the "higher level" does not exist in the form of clearly dilineated teachings or groups!

All teachings that have a name and a leader inevitably end up focusing on some information aspects above others.

Rick said...

Another comment:
>> true spirituality is a result of understanding, experience, and state of mind.

I think almost all religious/spiritual people would agree with this. However, there are differences of opinion as to where you are going to get your "understanding." Introverted sensers usually expect to get their greatest insights from the everyday life process I described above. Teachings with a focus on extraverted ethics believe true understanding comes during emotional coalescence. Extraverted intuition teachings believe understand comes through seeing many different situations and recognizing the similarities and differences. Extraverted sensing teachings believe true understanding only comes from meeting and overcoming a challenging obstacle. And so on.

niffweed17 said...

"Okay, you are suggesting that there are different "levels" of religion and spirituality - one where codes of conduct and instructions and information aspects apply, and one where they do not. I agree with you. However, note that the "higher level" does not exist in the form of clearly dilineated teachings or groups!"

This, I think, betrays the most important difference in the way that we really view the subject. Yes, there are teachers of religion with "clearly deliniated" methods of teaching. As far as religion in terms of codes of conduct goes, whatever, but I don't really consider these to be valid forms of spirituality if they do not culminate in some sort of transcendence or "higher level," as you called it.

And that, I think, is the whole point of my argument: religion at its core ("higher level") is not related to information aspects.

Yi Liu said...

I agree with niffweed -- maybe I am simply betraying my own Ni tendencies ...

Rick said...

>> And that, I think, is the whole point of my argument: religion at its core ("higher level") is not related to information aspects.

I agree with this. But I think that any form of organized religious interaction where people get together to talk about and "practice" the religion together inevitably takes on the characteristics of certain information aspects. This is because invisible laws of group dynamics and information selection inevitably kick into gear.

The "religion at its core" that you're talking about is an abstract concept that doesn't exist in any organized form. That's my opinion.

Anonymous said...

religion at its core
cool stuff, i throughly enjoyed this.
i understand niffweed [and yu liu] basic sentiment.
the writing does seem to emphasize religion as a outgrowth of the primary information metabolism.

New age people are expecially into it... developing there world view and hence religion from there primary information element.

when Niffweed said Ni, and Rick said Si sentiment__
yes it does seem asif Rick is right, cause Niffweed expresses value sets,...
but Niffweed remains right on the Ni element,
it is something that has to be understood, ..a typical Ni does not reach places like others do 'normally'
but they reach it by planning, by expressing there idea of how they think it would feel like

(if this seems like the splinter cell stuff Rick was talking about.. i apologize .. but i love politics for it's own sake).

2nd> both opposing parties are right__
in expressing that Religion has a higher core
and in Rick expressing that it does'ent.. because he has an Evolutionist core to seeing the matter as still vital__
so both parties appreciate the gravity..
and none are ignorant!

it is more -to agree more with Niffweed- cause on some levels it is experience and planning...
it drives away from information elements by the planning a projection of where you would want to be in the future
(may i suggest this is a Logic and Intuitive restriction, for ultimately they will be by there dual, by the Ethicist and Sensor, ..for these religion may be more primary, more experience based, and not transcendent into a purely planning basis
{but can i seperate that from the info element?})

otherwise, to avoid the need to make concrete arguements for all of you,
consider my observation by that mystics post,
perhaps our expression of religion is merely Primary Information Element marrying into a dual value set (somehow, i cough at myself).. maybe that is the higher value core of religion, for those who reach it.

i admit personally, as a ILI, i was never trained to practise religion as specific for my Primary element, i also lived the 'trappings' of religion,
but i do find myself limiting sensory input, for i feel more intune with the synthesis and thought period that goes into that...
but i realized Western religion, by forcing us through by-ways does force me to embrace certain values of my dual in information 'showing'
..just like the mystic dude
{i guess the first poster said that, if only he knew what pain it costs us to agree}
..
normally in socionics metabolism,
one embraces from your Primary value, secondary value functions to anable u to function as an individual,
i just guess the journey thing forces us into a second set where we embrace dual values in religious expression
--and i guess this is what Niffweed and Yu Liu where ascending to say, and i guess Rick would agree now too, for now it is almost again... pure socionics, albiet just perhaps needing better grounding
-fred

Anonymous said...

why socionics can never be a splinter cell devise:
cause, many religions and world-view expressions are in-direct to the cause...global and unspecific, these things happen [the splinter thing]

but socionics is more direct, it sets the individual in one place and helps them attain power with there own mechanisms rather than by the outgrowth of copying a leader, which if you do, u will be a follower if the Info element of the leader differs from yours and staggers your info element,
and in-which you would be a co-leader or splinter leader if your info element matches the leader {in categories}, and you learn 'power' from the leader, and think that you should also get the 'women' so to speak...cause on that level it is a survival thing __and at that stage u more intune with yourself...cause it does take stimulation
-fred __appendage1

Anonymous said...

yes dam__t, i am excited to see if there is any response ...
if people agree with minor points or can atleast see somethings in.
there is in the least a fine point which breaks the barrier between reasonableness and unr__
...cause reading this, it sounds very reasonable, and so i wonder if there was a point to make in the first place?
-fred..(but i know, i am just to dumb not to know___haha)

Logos said...

This is incredibly interesting, and while I find it as such, I would not mind hearing a potential extension of this post. This blog topic mainly deals with how the functions are made manifest within individuals who are practitioners of a religion, but what about within the religion itself? All functions exist within individuals, and while the preference of functions would vary between religions, the manifestations of all the functions should still be present in all religions. I would like to hear some of your thoughts on the subject.

Rick said...

Logos:

Sorry for taking so long to reply. All functions are addressed in some way by all religions and teachings (otherwise it isn't really a teaching, is it?). A full-blown teaching has to have an "attitude" towards each function (extraverted intuition, introverted logic, etc.) and give that function a certain place within the teaching. What this post is describing is what teachings look like when each of the functions is "at the top." When one function is emphasized more than all others (which is almost inevitable), all other activities within the teaching take place within the context of the leading function.

Many emphases are mutually exclusive, for example extraverted intuition and sensing. You can't have a teaching where life is equally viewed as an intellectual and experiential quest and a concentration of the will at the same time. The first emphasis implies not knowing where your quest will take you and not over-concentrating the will (which means focusing on achieving a known aim) in order to be open to random, unexpected experience that may take you in an unknown direction. The second emphasis implies having a goal already in view and knowing what you must overcome to achieve it. Concentration of the will and internal resolve involves limiting distracting signals and alternatives and focusing energy on the main goal.

Mark said...

I'm onboard that different personality types gravitate towards certain religions (or denominations thereof), that certain religions seem to naturally fit some personlity types more than others, and that personalities will carve out their own unique, personality-shaped spirituality from within their religion, if their religion is big and broad enough.

What I think is the "ultimate" is a teacher within a religion who understands how to enable the personality types of all the believers/practitioners to connect with God and find their place, the "home" of their spirituality in their community. That way, both the religion and the individuals within it benefit as much as possible.

iAnnAu said...

Going back to niffweed's comments, I just wanted to add the point that we're talking about religion here, which for many, many people does not necessarily much have to do with spirituality.
This may be *my* bias showing, but I live in the Bible Belt of the USA, and you can't go half a mile without finding a church! The attitudes around here are tolerant of diff. faiths *as long as* you do follow one - for example, the first time I met my future husband's stepmother, her first question to me was "Do you go to church?" (hint: I don't.)
Growing up in this area, my impression of religion is that church has far more to do with providing both a social glue for the community and a moral code for those unwilling to form their own. What does this have to do with spirituality? 'Cause my impression of spirituality is that it is very personal, and thus different for each person - not necessarily private, but only authentically shared in very specific and intimate settings.
Going to church every Sunday (or synagogue every Saturday, or praying toward Mecca 5 times a day, etc) is part of the religion as taught to its own masses. Each person has to internally create his or her own state in order for these formalisms to have anything to do with their spirituality, and as far as I can tell, many of them don't even bother to do that much. They go to church because everyone else does.

Cyclops said...

iannau, very interesting, what you say.

I've been starting to think that religion is therefore almost genetic to us .. Because human kind are social group animals - we always have lived as a society (Hey..humans are like pack animals, they're not solitary animals :) )

OK .. Allow me to quantify, as on that sort of note, what religion really does is to re-inforce the glue of groups in society. It ties in and supports human kinds need to be basically hardwired into some sort of social based gel - and some could say that thats essentially religion (ie the community, how we live our lives etc.. Its essentially a social based group of people all living and therefore working the same way)

From a Darwinian sense, religion makes a group more competitive, because it creates strong community bonds which become even stronger at times of trouble, which makes society fitter and its then more likely to survive, as its basically functioning as the one 'entity'.

It looks like such traits as sense of fair play, compassion are integral parts of us regardless of culture (if its not why does history show so many previously unconnected cultures displaying these traits) , so on that, the need for a social based religion could be just as easily hardwired for the human psyche as things like compassion, fear, bonding ?

What do you think, guys and gals ? :)

Rick said...

>> From a Darwinian sense, religion makes a group more competitive, because it creates strong community bonds which become even stronger at times of trouble, which makes society fitter and its then more likely to survive, as its basically functioning as the one 'entity'.

I agree. Basically any ideas or sentiments that attach more significance to a person's particular social group make that group better able to survive competition with rival groups.

Societies (nations) in an expansive or very robustly competitive stage of development seem universally to have a strong ideology to back them up. Others in a less expansive mode (e.g. Europe) have "weak" or highly individualistic values and the role of organized group religion is weak.

Just a hypothesis.