We’ve all heard the phrase “You can’t take it with you.” That usually refers to the material things of life. But, as the world’s religions agree, the soul does have an eternal journey ahead of it when it leaves this earth. It seems fair, then, to ask: is there anything, perhaps from the spiritual realm, that the soul does take with it?
Here are three possibilities to consider. First, it may take with it its long-dormant or partially recovered memory of where it came from before it even came into this world. This is why it is so important to get into a regular practice, as early as we can, of remembering who we are and where we came from. After all, it is through remembrance that we are brought to a spiritual life, and to the recognition that the soul is our eternal identity, the only part of us we take with us through this life and into the next.
Second, it would seem that the soul would take with it the essence of everything it has experienced during its journey through this world that has contributed toward its spiritual progress, and that it has learned from in the process of maintaining a balance between the physical and spiritual aspects of life, including, especially, the significance of all the challenges, struggles, and transformations it has experienced here. This is what Marion Woodman calls soul-making, “constantly confronting the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body.” Every moment we are aware of this or any other pair of opposites is an opportunity for spiritual growth that the soul would want to keep with it throughout its eternal journey. As John Keats put it, “How, but by the medium of a world like this” are “Souls to be made”? In other words, to know what the soul will take with it to the next world we need to know what the crises have been in our lives that have led to our triumphs, to making us who we are because of those struggles.
And third, it makes perfect sense that the soul also takes with it those qualities, attributes, and virtues it has acquired from the vast reservoir of humanity’s common spiritual heritage that have made it uniquely who it is as an eternal being, or as a “spark of God.” It is the acquisition of these spiritual virtues that most contributes to the development of the individual and society, and will also most benefit the soul on its return journey after its time here.
As we rewind the tape of our lives, reviewing everything we’ve done, and once and for all revisit the remnants of our life, what is it that remains when we finally do decide to let go of everything we no longer need to hold on to? What is it that we’ve contributed to a lifetime of relationships that will forever matter the most, both to us and to the other people in our lives? When all we have left are the timeless memories of a life, we have gotten to the essence of we are, and what the soul would most want to keep with it on its eternal journey.
Could it have always been the intention of the soul to bring back with it on its return journey those eternal images and soul qualities needed to ensure our further progress in the eternal world? Reviewing our life helps us form, or re-form, our deep character when we need it most, as a conscious preparation for the soul’s ultimate destination. Telling the stories of our lives helps us to discern the patterns that provide the meaning to our lives. The soul wants to remember, and take with it, the events, patterns, and virtues that have most served as the catalysts to its own development here on this earth, as well as it’s own deeply embedded memories of where it originally came from before it’s time here.