(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 09 February 2012, Leicester, England, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.19)
We cannot trace how long we have been in the material world. Life after life, we are changing bodies – the gross body – but the subtle body; which is made up of the mind, intelligence and false ego; is travelling with us. Therefore, the impressions of so many lifetimes are stored in our consciousness. By the arrangement of the Supreme Lord, we have forgotten these previous lives but memories of so many previous lives are stored within the sub-consciousness and are influencing us.
Therefore a cute little child is not totally innocent because there is a whole history that may not be manifest yet but it will come out later and then you think, “How is it possible that my little darling is doing such a thing?” but your little darling has already done these things in unlimited previous lives.
So in this way we are very much influenced by the three modes of material nature which spread out over many lifetimes.
Srila Prabhupada mentioned that we should associate with the mode of goodness. He does not say that we should be in the mode of goodness, he says that we should associate in the mode of goodness, which I think is an interesting point.
To be in the mode of goodness is so not easy. Just by determination and endeavour we cannot really change our heart but by associating with the mode of goodness then one gradually develops the qualities of goodness. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, the transcendental process of devotional service is described. It is said, “By devotional service, automatically the influence of ignorance and passion disappears. Then eventually one becomes fixed in goodness and even in pure goodness!”
Unalloyed goodness is known as viśuddha-sattva, transcendental goodness. Meanwhile we are in the process of purification and the influences of the lower nature are still within and some bad habits may still be there because we were already afflicted with sinful behaviour from previous lives that the tendency is there but by associating with the mode of goodness then gradually one develops good qualities and rises above.