Some years ago, I heard Swami Veda Bharati, my preceptor, advise planning your next three lifetimes. “But,” I thought, “I’ve not even planned this lifetime! Anyway, how does one plan future lifetimes?”
The answer, according to the Yoga Tradition, is that our next lifetime is formed along the lines of the totality of our personality at the moment of our death, including our desires and emotional habits. So, if we want to change our future, we begin by changing our personality now.
But why would anyone want to do that?
Swami Veda wasn’t speaking to just anyone. He was speaking to practitioners of yoga meditation, whose goal was to deepen their meditation and come to know themselves on their subtlest levels. Reaching these exalted goals requires having a calm, serene and happy mind. Otherwise, if the mind is agitated, meditation doesn’t happen.
So, for one on the meditation path, it makes sense to set goals for transforming the personality.
Doing an honest self-assessment in which one neutrally observes her/his own personality, desires, and emotional habits, so as to observe which aspects of the personality result in mental/emotional disturbance, is the first step on the path of transforming the mind to make it a fit tool for self-awareness. This self-assessment can include asking oneself questions, such as the following: “Am I generally calm and happy, or easily agitated and disturbed?” “What circumstances, relationships, or feelings do I usually disturb myself over?”
Once you have completed this self-assessment, it is then possible to set goals for transforming the personality so that it no longer becomes disturbed when in the presence of stimuli that previously triggered disturbance. Such spiritual goals are meant to increase inner-peace, enable meditation, and support one’s spiritual path. Some examples of such goals might be “to maintain serenity for longer periods when in challenging situations; to remain open-hearted and loving where I formerly became guarded; or to feel a connection with one’s inner-guide more often.” There are an infinite number of possible spiritual goals. Each person may choose his/her goals according to his/her own particular obstacles to inner peace.
Once we have set our goals, then we can find and do the practices that will help us reach these goals. Consulting with a meditation teacher or mentor may help in discovering the best practices.
The next step is to do the practices, with sincerity and intentness, over a long period of time.
By the way, these spiritual goals are not undertaken for ego reasons, that is, to be “a great person.” Rather, they are undertaken, in humility, to come closer to the substratum of all being.
For a moment, turn your attention inward. Do you want to have a stronger connection with the Source? If so, what are your spiritual goals for this lifetime? If you don’t have any, this article may give you a few ideas to help you get started on creating some, and taking action toward accomplishing your goals.
Swami Veda says human personality changes very slowly. So, if you do set spiritual goals, be prepared to work on them for a long time. Maybe even for three or more lifetimes.