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Balance and the four functions

Apr 24, 1998 07:52 AM
by K Paul Johnson

Following up on Mark's latest, I think that Jung's doctrine of
the four functions provides a useful model for talking about
balance in the personality. According to the MBTI I'm an
intuitive thinking type; this seems a prevalent
configuration among Theosophists. It certainly makes for
attraction to HPB's writing, where judgments are usually
presented in thinking rather than feeling form (overtly that is)
and where perceptions are more inward than outward in nature.

All that could be debated, but continuing from there I will point
out that Jung says around age 40 the emphasis should start to
shift to the opposite, undeveloped functions. In the case of
intuitive thinkers, those are feeling and sensation. And I did
find that an otherworldiness leading to asceticism in my 20s and
30s started to yield to a much more earthy approach as I neared
and passed 40. Thus I kayak rather than read on weekends, try to
fully experience emotions rather than deny them, and so on.

>From this POV, those who continue throughout their lives to
follow an otherworldly, head-in-the-clouds direction are failing
to meet one of life's most important demands: seek balance. The
great danger of this is that the undeveloped side is also
*unconscious*, but not necessarily weak. Thus very intense
feelings and sensations can actually dominate the behavior of the
intuitive thinker, and yet be totally denied. This seems to be
the case with those who have reacted most viscerally to
"heretical" books, as seen on some theosophical and other
listservs. (Most amusingly, someone who said that *I* was 90% responsible for
*his and others'* negative emotions concerning my own books. I doubt that
would also be said about all the positive appreciation it
received, and wonder if he and his ideological allies would
subscribe to the general proposition that they are only 10%
responsible for their emotional reactions.) In the long
run, it was growth-producing to be attacked in such a manner, as it pointed
directly to the developmental task at hand: after spending your life thinking
and intuiting, now focus on feelings and sensations. The Cayce
readings, by focusing so much on physical health and emotional
awareness, were a fine balance to the otherworldly Theosophical
writings during this period of readjustment.


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