What is your greatest asset in life? Is it your property, wealth, belongings, skills, physical beauty or connections?
We strive hard, facing many difficulties to acquire, grow and protect our assets throughout our lives. The sad truth is that we will not be able to enjoy our assets forever and have to leave them behind when we die.
Do we live after leaving our bodies? If so, is there anything that we can take with us? According to spirituality, the answer is ‘yes’ to both questions.
We do live after the death of the physical body. We only have to look to nature to see that rebirth and renewal are everywhere. The outer expressions of life may change and end, but life doesn’t die and continues to express in new forms.
The fact that we are a part of nature and not separate from it, suggests that while the physical body and its changing activities and expressions eventually end, there must be some aspect of us that continues to live on to serve a higher purpose.
Understanding what carries over from life to life and how to use it to achieve that higher purpose is winning the great game of life and gaining the highest happiness. To do that we have to first understand what our assets are.
The 3 aspects of the human personality—body, mind and soul
Our assets are our body and mind. I like to think of the body as a computer and the mind as the programs that run it. The computer is the hardware and the programs are the software. The soul can be compared to the electricity that powers both.
While the hardware eventually wears out, breaks down and needs to be replaced, the software can be repeatedly upgraded. The electricity stays the same and is ever-present.
Keeping this analogy in mind, consider the spiritual teachings of the Bhagavad Gita* which tell us that the soul passes through childhood, youth, adulthood and old age in a particular body. And, when the body dies, the soul passes into another body, experiencing the same stages of life again. This continues over and over in one body after another.
The mind, (the software) carries over from life to life, changing and upgrading itself according to the experiences it goes through. The soul is eternal and remains unaffected and unchanged by the changing bodies and conditions of the mind.
Your ultimate purpose of life
The unchanging, limitless, eternal, blissful soul is who you really are. But, while you are expressing through a body and mind, you forget this truth. You identify with your name, physical, emotional and intellectual characteristics and take on a human personality.
This false notion of being an individual is called the ego. The ego here does not mean an inflated sense of self but the false notion of being a particular individual being.
So long as the notion of individuality (ego) remains, you will continue to take on new bodies until you fulfil the ultimate purpose of realising your true identity as the soul while you are in a body.
Using your greatest asset to achieve the ultimate purpose of life
The body doesn’t evolve; it merely changes. The soul doesn’t change or evolve.
The only aspect that can change and evolve is the mind. This is your greatest asset that you take with you from life to life. It is the mind that can and will eventually lead you to the rediscovery of your true spiritual nature.
Vedanta, the spiritual science of life explains the mind in greater detail. . .
The mind is made up of thoughts. Feeling thoughts are termed as the “mind” and thinking thoughts are called the “Intellect”. Along with the mind and intellect, there is a vast storehouse of past memories and unconscious tendencies that prompt us to think, feel and act in our own unique way. Collectively, all these aspects are the software.
Our purpose, in the language of computers, is to constantly upgrade our software; and in the language of spirituality, it is to grow spiritually.
To achieve this, we strive to get out of reactionary habits and choose nobler responses to life and thereby raise the quality of our feelings and thoughts. When we consistently do this, we add these new responses to our storehouse of memories and impressions that will prompt us to act in those newer, better ways.
All of life’s difficulties are opportunities to learn and grow from. The greater the challenges, the greater the life lessons we are learning.
When we shift from asking, “Why is this happening to me?” to “What am I learning from this?” we grow.
Any conscious, higher response upgrades our software. This new programming is our greatest asset that we take with us to our next life.
With the newer software, we will be better equipped to handle life’s challenges with equanimity. As we gain more and more control over how we use our software, we will gain greater inner peace.
Finally, we will achieve the ultimate fulfilment and highest happiness in life when we realise our true spiritual nature in deep meditation. This can only happen if we use our greatest asset skillfully and with faith.
Committing to growing
Growing spiritually is an evolution. It is an inner maturing that takes commitment, determination, fortitude and patience. To slide downwards is very easy—we simply do what we were doing before and give in quickly to temptations and lower responses without careful thought.
But when we evolve, we permanently upgrade our greatest asset and take it with us from life to life.
*Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, verse 13.
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