What of my personality will be lost?

When I was younger than 10, I was with my mother and two siblings. My mother gave me some sweet and when my siblings came, she didn’t have enough for the three of us so she took the sweet and gave it to my two other siblings instead and said “You will get a sweet at another time instead”. When she said it, I thought to myself: “That never happens”. I understood at that moment that my siblings were the preference before me.

Experiences I have in life changes me, hopefully for the better. Experiences, thoughts, life philosophy shapes my personality.

So when I die, what part of my personality will be with me when I become reborn?

Brajanath dasa: Vidura Prabhu is actually asking his question: Is there any similarity between our material conditioned personality and our spiritual personality?

Srila Narayana Maharaja: No. We now have a different soul, mind, body and senses. In this world there are twenty-eight categories, including the eleven senses, the sense objects and other elements, and they are all different with respect to one another. On the other hand, in the spiritual world all these aspects of a person are one. The jiva in the spiritual world has senses, mind, body, and soul, and they are all one spiritual substance.

Walking with a saint 2008, page 287.

How can I reconcile this with my own experience?

I try to spend a portion of every day on doing japa and reading. These spiritual activities and beliefs are hard-grained in me and if a day goes by without some spiritual activity I feel like I have wasted that day. That my life has become worthless because I missed out on just that day.

I have no problem that my masters degree in IT will be lost when I die, but all the life experiences I’ve had that makes up parts of my personality – I don’t want to loose those skills. The skills and perceptions I’ve gained, aren’t they equal to spiritual realizations that will stay with me? I always thought that the personality changes made me closer to my spiritual personality. 

How can I reconcile this? It doesn’t make sense to me.

Once one is advanced in devotional service, his spiritual assets are never lost under any circumstances. Whatever spiritual advancement he has achieved continues. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. Even if a bhakti-yogī falls, he takes birth in a rich family or family of brāhmaṇas, in which he again starts devotional activities from the point where he left off. Although Vṛtrāsura was known as an asura, or demon, he did not lose his consciousness of Kṛṣṇa or devotional service.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Purport 6.17.38

So what stays? What leaves? I thought that spiritual advancements in this material life affected ones personality, making the personality gradually more spiritual.

I get that there is a difference in ones material personality and ones spiritual personality. I just thought the material personality very slowly changed into a spiritual one. So when one receives ones siddha deha (spiritual identity), the process of shedding the material personality to a spiritual personality is finished.

There seem to be a contradiction here where on one hand one states that spiritual advancement is never lost, but on the other hand it is stated that ones spiritual personality is different from ones personality here in this material world.

So what is it?

7 thoughts on “What of my personality will be lost?

    • That was a relevant (and wonderful) lecture in this regard and I learned something new (I love it when that happens!). I didn’t know about the sadakha deha.

      It’s still a bit confusing, because Tripurari Swami states that we have two bodies, the material and the spiritual one. He further states that during diksa we receive our spiritual body that is gradually becoming spriritualized (I’m referring based upon my understanding).

      Sooo… I still don’t understand what is kept and what is lost, but this lecture deepened my understanding. Did I just state that I love it when that happens?

      I have also come to understand that everything (well, our material everything anyway) is lost when we enter krishna-lila. I was reading Krsnalingita Vigraha , a biography of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja where one servant experienced when Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja received his spiritual body. Afterwards when Gour Govinda Maharaja came back to external consciousness he had to learn again what his material body was (this is a foot, this is your arm). Our spiritual body and life is a completely different life, just as when we are reborn.

      So when it’s said that spiritual advancement is never lost, may be it means that sukriti is never lost? But Tripurari Swami only mentioned sukriti once or twice in this lecture, he was more into the importance of greed/desire (which is sukriti I guess).

      In the end what I wonder is what can be classified as spiritual. For example, I have learned to be better at dealing with other peoples shortcomings. Is that quality something that will stay during reincarnation?

      My understanding has still deeper depths to go in this topic.

      I love it when that happens 😀

  1. I enjoyed your elaborate response. 🙂

    In sadhana-bhakti, the main limbs of saranagati are acceptance of what’s favorable for bhakti (anukulyasya-sankalpah), and rejection of what’s unfavorable (pratikulya-vivarjanam). The quality of tolerance is an example of something that’s favorable for bhakti. If you persist on developing that quality as a part of anukulya-sankalpah, it will at some point become steady in you. Steadiness in qualities that are favorable for bhakti is called tad-anukula-vastu-visayini. That will not go away. But if such qualities are developed for reasons within the gunas, they are not as sure to stay with you.

  2. I have spent some time thinking about your comment, and we have a winner! You gave me the last piece of the puzzle.

    The test of what will stay and what we keep is: is it favorable for bhakti or not?

    The trouble is the last sentence of yours where things get muddy: “But if such qualities are developed for reasons within the gunas, they are not as sure to stay with you.”

    I met with an acquaintance of mine that I hadn’t seen for a long time. I met him through sunday feasts and when speaking to him I said that spiritually I haven’t really had any progress, but as a human being I have made great progress these last couple of years. Which then begs the question: What stays of that?

    Progress as a human being (which includes tolerance, perserverance etc) is something I really want to keep, but it is as you mentioned developed within the gunas. So then what?

    I then thought that these qualities can also be found in krishna: http://vedabase.net/nod/21/en1
    I’m not exactly gonna strive for “beautiful bodily features”, but one of the qualities I have increased is to be more fluent as it is described in the vedabase. So my reasoning is that if these qualities is within Krishna, then whatever I develop will stay with me. I hope so anyway, or much of my life will be very wasteful.

  3. If you already have good qualities that were developed for material reasons, I don’t think you would have to throw them away to learn them again spiritually, but rather maintain them for a spiritual reason. Keep the house, change the foundation.

    Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur said:

    “The true critic … advises us to preserve what we have already obtained, and to adjust our race from that point where we have arrived in the heat of our progress.”

  4. Again I’m late in replying – wonderful quote, and thank you for an enlightening exchange. It has really been useful for me and answered my question so I can go even deeper into myself.

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