Not sure how coherent this will come out. Its a first attempt to put down something I've been contemplating for a while.
In personality literature there are several models people use to contextualize and model people's varied personalities. From things less scientifically validated like horoscopes or enneagram to more researched like Myers-Briggs or the Big 5 that psychology uses.
The Big 5 measures personality along 5 spectrums, Introversion/Extroversion, Agreeable/Disagreeable, Conscientiousness/Carelessness, Neuroticism/Emotional Stability, and Openness/Closedness to experience. Some of the labels are kind of derogatory and more favorable terms are sometimes used, like care free instead of careless or challenging opposed to disagreeable. Also each of them contain lots of further categories that people may be high on some and low on others, like conscientiousness contains both industriousness and orderliness, one can be high on one and low on the other.
As a long time introvert growing up introversion was commonly seen as a negative and the kindly extroverts would feel bad for me and want to "get me out of my shell". Today there is a greater sense that introverts have important strengths that extroverts lack and that its good to try to appreciate human diversity and the strength it can bring to relationships and institutions.
To me all of these measures seem to offer a similar dichotomy that offer strengths and weaknesses. In addition to introversion I also score pretty strongly towards the emotional stability side of that spectrum. Because of that I feel I'm generally able to meet life's ups and downs with a positive, constructive attitude. But I also tend to overlook or sweep aside certain negative things that should be addressed, and the more neurotic people notice those things.
That brings me to my point. I was listening to Dan Harris' podcast and he had on one guest Gabor Mate, a pretty well known psychologist and author. His style was informed and seemed correct, but from my point of view at least, very neurotic. For example he talked in a sort of regretful way about the trauma and rejection he experienced as a child and how it led to him feeling like he needed to earn an impressive degree to win approval, how that was a trauma he needed to heal. Or when Dan shared his perspective on some of his own experiences but framed it in a more positive, growth light, Gabor challenged him to look at it as trauma. My point being, it does seem true that the feeling of not being enough would be good to heal, but framing his life as a negative instead of appreciating how his experiences taught and shaped him to where he is today, seems like a painful and backwards way of contextualizing your life. Getting a degree that has led to his current day success is a positive in his life. At any rate, his next guest was Gretchen Rubin and was almost the exact opposite in terms of temperament. She was upbeat and positive, very forward looking and constructive. Much more in line with my own temperament.
So I'm just thinking right now, that some people will find Gabor much more helpful and some will find Gretchen suits them better. They both present their way as the good way for people to follow though, rather than a path for certain types of people. If I'm being honest though it felt as though Gabor was doing more of it, maybe it was just a function of Dan's temperament being closer to Gretchen.
In addition to that there is ample research on separated twins and adopted siblings that seems to show that much of our personality is genetic and that it is relatively consistent over a life. So the question that occurs to me is how much of the path is changing who we are and how much is a self selection bias where those most suited to a particular spiritual path are the ones that continue with it? Is there a way that a neurotic introvert achieves enlightenment that is different from an extroverted stable person? Are tulkus generally more suited to Buddhism or do those identified as tulkus who are more suited reach the heights of the path and are noticed, while those poorly suited simply drop away? How much does the path shape us and how much does the collective dispositions of the sangha create the path?
Asking the question feels too subversive to me, I worry it diminishes the potential of Buddhism. But I've also been to enough different sanghas and heard enough teachers to see that there are often very different approaches and emphases to ask do we follow a path that changes us or do we choose a path that suits our temperament?