Your Spiritual Temperament-- A Survey
A Survey for Finding Your Dominant and Subdominant Spiritual Temperament(s)
© Copyright 2000/2007 by Timothy Conway, PhD
Discovering one's spiritual temperament(s) can better promote self-understanding and mutual understanding, as well as empathy and sensitivity with others, and real freedom for oneself.
Without saying too much too soon about the different spiritual temperaments that can characterize individuals (after all, we don't want to bias the results), let's dive right in and proceed with the following survey. This will help you find out for yourself--and for any of your loved ones and acquaintances who take this poll--which spiritual temperament(s) most characterize your personality as it is currently constituted.
At the end of the survey is a link to an essay providing further information on these spiritual temperaments and why it is important to understand them.
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For the following survey, please indicate, to the left of each of the statements below whether you:
--Strongly Agree (write “1”)
--Agree (write “2”)
--Aren’t Sure or Doesn’t Apply (“write “3”)
--Disagree (write “4”)
--Strongly Disagree (write “5”)
You can simply print out this survey for yourself (or for your family, friends, students and/or fellow members of a particular religious-spiritual group), and then just fill in the blanks to the left of each numbered statement with your different responses-- "1," "2," "3," "4" or "5."
Please notice that, because of people's differing spiritual temperaments, and because different items in the following survey are designed to resonate with different temperaments, some of the following survey-items may seem much more interesting than others! It will take the average person about 15-20 minutes to complete and analyze the following survey responses and thus discover their spiritual temperament.
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Spiritual Temperament Survey
_____ 1) It is not enough to be a religiously “faithful” person, one must have a good understanding of the theological basis of one’s faith.
_____ 2) Pondering the precise nature of Truth is an activity to which I am often drawn.
_____ 3) A sound philosophy is crucial, lest one fall into fuzzy, inconsistent, or deranged thinking.
_____ 4) People say that one should “come from one’s heart” but it is just as important (if not more so) that one operate with a clear mind, that is, an “illumined head.”
_____ 5) A competent spiritual teacher should be able to enunciate or articulate his or her principles in an orderly, sensible, logical system.
_____ 6) I would rather debate theological/philosophical issues with someone than accept the misleading idea that “we are all one” and let our theological or philosophical differences go unexamined.
_____ 7) There are right and wrong ways of believing and practicing religion.
_____ 8) In my opinion, not all scriptures are equally valid. Clearly, one scripture is true, the others are not.
_____ 9) When it comes to matters of faith, only the Divinely-revealed Truth is important, certainly not one’s own subjective views or intuitions about spirituality.
_____ 10) For the sake of their final destiny, it is important to tell other people about the true way to God, even if they would rather not listen.
_____ 11) There is spiritual danger in associating too often with those who don’t believe in (or refuse to believe in) the one true way of religion.
_____ 12) God has created (or allowed) a condition of everlasting perdition, darkness, or hell to punish unbelievers.
_____ 13) It is unlikely that members of the untrue religions will be saved in the final judgment or ultimate destiny.
_____ 14) Innovations in the practice and beliefs of a religion are something one should carefully guard against.
_____ 15) I need to move and feel energy flowing in and around me; I would not be content to be a part of a spiritual group that had its members spending lots of time sitting in prayer, meditation, or listening to a speaker.
_____ 16) Fairly often I feel the need to transcend my normal sense of self through ecstatic states of consciousness, which I prefer to bring on through things like sacred dancing, free movement, highly spirited chanting, and/or shamanic drumming.
_____ 17) Generally speaking, I prefer music with a strong beat that makes me want to move rather than more serene, “refined” music.
_____ 18) I would rather attend one of the new Christian rock-n-roll “Rave” Masses than a traditional solemn church service.
_____19) I basically consider myself more of an uninhibited, unrestrained Dionysian personality than a restrained, disciplined Apollonian personality.
_____ 20) Intense stimulation of various kinds does not bother me; rather, I feel that it helps liberate my consciousness.
_____ 21) It feels very supportive to be part of a religious or spiritual community with other like-minded individuals.
_____ 22) I don’t mind losing my sense of identity in the larger sense of identity that comes from being a member of a spiritual group.
_____ 23) I would rather be a member of a religious or spiritual community with a somewhat regimented schedule (which brings a certain streamlined ease and lack of stress) than be on my own in a less structured, more undefined situation.
_____ 24) My religious or spiritual community feels much more like my “family” than my own biological relatives.
_____ 25) In the past I have spent a fair amount of time participating in a communal or monastic situation.
_____ 26) All things considered, I would prefer to help a dozen people serve food in a soup kitchen than to sit in meditation or read an inspiring work on a spiritual topic.
_____ 27) I feel that most religious groups do not devote enough time in helpful charitable action toward the needy.
_____ 28) In all candidness, I spend far more of my prayer periods thinking of the well-being of others, not focused on my own aims or wishes.
_____ 29) I would find it perfectly acceptable if religious gatherings devoted a greater portion of their meetings in some kind of service project rather than in ceremonies, sermons, or prayers.
_____ 30) I would gladly, through a God-directed process of “redemptive suffering” or vicarious atonement, take onto myself some amount of others’ pain to spare them from having to go through it, even if this meant that I had to experience some bodily pain or worldly setback.
_____ 31) To go deeply into spirituality, I need to have lots of quality time by myself, physically apart from the company of others.
_____ 32) I would rather listen to “the still small voice within” than listen to another human being speaking about spirituality or God.
_____ 33) If I had to make the choice between one or the other, I would rather spend two days in a remote, comfortable meditation site than two days in a communal religious sing-along gathering.
_____ 34) If I joined a spiritual community, I would need to have substantial amounts of time by myself to commune with Spirit in solitude.
_____ 35) I sometimes find that certain people are rather boring, but I am almost never bored by my self.
_____ 36) It is fascinating to play and experiment with the mind to find out what other states of consciousness are possible beyond the “normal” waking state of consciousness.
_____ 37) I would rather spend long periods in deep, silent “prayerfulness” than reciting litanies of prayers.
_____ 38) Sometimes, to get a deeper sense of reality, I just sit meditatively and try to see how long I can focus on a particular thing—an external or internal image, a thought, a mantra, a Name of God, a bodily sensation (like breathing sensations), or ongoing sound (like a ceremonial gong or repetitive music pattern or an ambient background noise).
_____ 39) It is important to minimize the kinds of circumstances, conversation, music, food, reading and entertainment that leave one feeling distracted or scattered, and, instead, associate with those things and people that help one to stay very centered.
_____ 40) I have spent a fair amount of time trying or practicing one or more of the following activities: out-of-the-body travel; remote viewing; past-life regression; deep hypnosis; “brain machine” programs that alter brain-waves.
_____ 41) I feel I have temporarily lost something good when my period of concentrative meditation is interrupted by anything or anyone.
_____ 42) If there were an utterly safe hallucinogenic substance that allowed anyone the chance to experience for an hour a profoundly different, non-ordinary state of consciousness, I would be in favor of its legalization and distribution (so long as it was not abused in a way that would endanger others, for instance, while driving a motor vehicle).
_____ 43) It is crucial that key developmental stages such as birth, puberty, marriage and death be marked and honored with special rituals—rites of passage, either informal or, preferably, formal.
_____ 44) When engaging in religious ceremonies, I am certain that God’s creation is somehow significantly affected and changed, even if this change is not immediately noticeable from the human perspective.
_____ 45) I would not be very interested in attending a religious/spiritual meeting if it only involved, say, meditative sitting, scriptural reading, or singing, and did not include some kind of distinct ritual.
_____ 46) I feel more complete and fulfilled inwardly when I perform certain outward symbolic actions.
_____ 47) Some physical objects have an unusually influential spiritual “force” and need to be treated with special care.
_____ 48) It is important to become more attuned to the Divine Cosmic Order by engaging in special rituals that reconcile us to the realm of Spirit.
_____ 49) Whereas some people want a very scaled-down, “minimalist” form of religious expression, I like to experience a good amount of pageantry or aesthetic, artistic expression in religious gatherings.
_____ 50) It is important to make oneself a passive instrument so that the Holy Spirit or guiding spirits can possess one’s own personality to express something on the earth plane for the greater spiritual good of all.
_____ 51) I would not mind being occasionally, temporarily “taken over” by a Higher Power of Good in order that a profound revelation might be given to humanity.
_____ 52) I sometimes feel possessed by another intelligence that speaks or acts through me.
_____ 53) In the past, I have spent some time learning to trance-channel.
_____ 54) It would serve us well to find out, through mediumistic communication, what our departed ancestors and guardian angels want for us, rather than just proceed on our own thinking and impulses.
_____ 55) I tend to be suspicious of all dogmas and grand schemas.
_____ 56) It’s better to just let the mind or attention float untethered in a state of inner freedom than get attached to some fixed mental position or belief.
_____ 57) I would rather live on alms and risk hunger and thirst than depend on physical security that comes from compromise with corrupt systems.
_____ 58) One does well to challenge many forms of authority and “speak truth to power,” even if it means rocking the boat, creating a scene, or having one’s reputation tarnished in the eyes of certain folks.
_____ 59) Family ties aren’t nearly as important as one’s connection with all humanity and all living beings.
_____ 60) I would prefer to encounter as many of my fellow beings as possible by sitting in the marketplace or wandering about the streets and parks instead of spending most of my time operating comfortably in some insulated home, office, spiritual group or monastery.
_____ 61) It is not enough to engage in charitable service to the needy; one must work to radically change social-economic-political-religious systems that promote terrible disparities in wealth and opportunity.
_____ 62) If I had to choose one or the other, I would rather be in a close friendship with a person who was a member of an ostracized minority than with an extremely famous, popular celebrity.
_____ 63) In the spiritual life, the Personal Deity with a form and name holds great appeal for me; I am not very interested in the formless Divine.
_____ 64) Remembering, praising and/or thanking the Divine Spirit is an activity which often engages me.
_____ 65) The Divine Spirit, for me, is very much my “nearest and dearest,” more like the Beloved Father, Mother, Lover, or Friend than some remote, non-personal principle.
_____ 66) Feeling the tender love for and from the Divine One is much more appealing than thinking abstractly about God.
_____ 67) Deep, heartfelt devotion to God (or the primordial Buddha or Tao) is the most important element in my life.
_____ 68) I often experience vivid emotional pangs during my spiritual life.
_____ 69) My relationship to the Divine feels more like child to Parent or servant to Master than “co-creator” with God. God is the supreme Power, and we are dependent on that great Power.
_____ 70) Spirituality is ultimately about discovering the One changeless Reality underlying the many changing forms.
_____ 71) I strongly intuit that behind the appearance of many selves or souls shines the one Spirit (Awareness, God, Tao, Buddha-nature) as their real Self.
_____ 72) In the spiritual life, the Formless, Transpersonal Spirit or Awareness holds great appeal for me; this Awareness is more important than any specific contents or objects of awareness.
_____ 73) I intuit that Divine Awareness or Absolute Reality is always already here, not a state or condition to be somehow attained in the future.
_____ 74) There is only the Eternal Here and Now; the space-time idea of “there” and “then” is only an illusion.
_____ 75) Being is the true, authentic context for doing. When one is authentically established in Spirit, appropriate actions spontaneously flow forth without much need for deliberation or analysis.
_____ 76) The different forms and names of God found in the different religions are all ultimately referring, clearly or obscurely, to the Single Divine Spirit or Absolute Reality.
_____ 77) My mind does not recoil from paradoxes, despite their apparent illogic, such as the statements: “God is both beyond all and within all” and “One's True Nature as Awareness is No-thing and Every-thing, i.e., Formless and Form-full.”
Discovering Your Spiritual Temperament(s)
Here’s how you can determine which temperament most strongly characterize your style of spirituality (and for more on each temperament, read the essay linked at the end of this page). For the "DIVIDE by..." step, if you don't have a calculator, you can round off to the nearest whole number:
For the Intellectual temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 1 through 6, DIVIDE by 6, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Dogmatic Believer temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 7 through 14, DIVIDE by 8, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Sensual Ecstatic temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 15 through 20, DIVIDE by 6, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Monastic-Communalist temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 21 through 25, DIVIDE by 5, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Compassionate Server temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 26 through 30, DIVIDE by 5, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Hermit temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 31 through 35, DIVIDE by 5, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Yogi / Psychic-experimenter temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 36 through 42, DIVIDE by 7, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Ritualist-Ceremonialist temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 43 through 49, DIVIDE by 7, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Prophet / Trance-Channel temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 50 through 54, DIVIDE by 5, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Cynic / Freedom-Seeker temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 55 through 62, DIVIDE by 8, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Devotee temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 63 through 69, DIVIDE by 7, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
For the Intuitive Mystic-Sage temperament, add up the numbers you have written next to Statements 70 through 77, DIVIDE by 8, and indicate that resulting number here: ______
--Now, look at the resulting numbers given above, and the lowest number corresponds to your strongest or most dominant spiritual temperament. The next lowest number corresponds to your next strongest or subdominant temperament. The next lowest number corresponds to another subdominant temperament. And so on. Those temperaments accompanied by the highest totaled numbers are ones not currently characteristic of your spiritual style.
It can be useful to list your dominant spiritual temperament, followed by the next strongest temperaments in the order of strength, from one (strongest) through twelve (least dominant):
1. ______________________ (strongest temperament)
12. ______________________ (least dominant temperament)
To read much more about each of these twelve spiritual temperaments, and to find out why they are so important, you can click on this link right