The Theosophical Forum – April 1942

MY PERSONALITY — J. B. Priestley

What is called my personality, is, I know, a temporary affair. I am glad of it. I should hate an immortality of J. B. Priestley. I have only known him for 44 years, but I have had enough of him already. It is not for this bunch of habits and bag of tricks that I demand immortality.

But there is in me, as there is in everybody, something that a few years of this life cannot possibly satisfy, and this something is easily the most important part of me. Sometimes it takes the form of a vast and oddly impersonal curiosity. At others it is a deep feeling of admiration, well-wishing, love. At others it is a terrible hunger for more beauty.

And if I thought there was nothing in this universe that could respond to these needs, that all this was silly illusion, I would consider it a crime to have helped bring children into the world, would see in every birth the beginning of another hopeless tragedy.

I believe then that in dreams or in those waking reveries where we drift away from the Present, we are probably having a foretaste of our immortal life.

It seems muddled and confused to us because we have trained ourselves to concentrate on a very different kind of life, our ordinary existence in the physical world.

On the other hand I do not believe that our separate individuality, so marked in the physical world, where we are so many solid bodies, continues in this world-after-death, and I suspect that we gradually lose our individuality.

This will be no tragedy for even here and now we are never happy unless we are trying to transcend the bounds of personality. The times when we are most keenly aware of our own ego are those when we are most miserable.

Lastly, I suspect that the world we first experience after death will have been largely made by ourselves, just as the world we see in dreams is largely of our own making.

The greater the width of our sympathies, the more splendid our imagination, the deeper our love for our fellows, the richer our immortality.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition