The quality of soulfulness exists within everything that is, whether large and small. Within the Esoteric Tradition it has long been understood that soul is something innate within all grades of life. This is true whether speaking of the life of a human being, a blade of grass, or the life that ensouls the entire solar system. All are essentially soulful. Though it is fascinating to consider the soul found within greater and lesser forms of life, in this writing we shall confine our discussions to the human soul. The human soul holds a very unique position in the evolutionary scheme of things. This is because in the human kingdom the soul develops the quality of “individualness” for the first time in its long evolutionary sojourn through the various kingdoms in nature.
The quality of individuality is the most striking characteristic of the human soul. Compared to the animal soul, human consciousness has a much greater capacity to know itself, and to assert self will in opposition to the forces of instinct. The soul is structured in such a way that a sense of “I-ness” can emerge, thus making it possible for a person to be distinct from the consciousness of the herd, so to speak. However, this is not true of animal and plant life. To the animal, for instance, instinct is what largely governs its consciousness, and this according to the species of which it is a part.
Instinct represents an animal’s innate reactivity to the soul of its species. It is a collective soul that governs its actions, not an individual soul. It may well be asked, what then of the instinct found within human beings? True it is that people will, at times, experience an instinctual reaction to various events in life. Yet, this is not characteristic of a human being per se. Rather, it is the residue of animal consciousness still present within us. It must be here understood that there is an important distinction to be recognized between instinct and intuition, for they are often confused for each other. Instinct is of our animal history, while intuition is a feature of the human soul itself, and is therefore divine. For example, the tendency to conform to mass opinion is rooted in the herd instinct of our animal past, while a sensed intuition revealing the oneness of all things comes forth from the human soul. In this example, both instinct and intuition appear to relate to a sensed unity, but as can be seen, the basis of this perception is quite different. Aeons ago, humanity evolved through the animal kingdom. As such, the legacy of animal instinct is still with us. In many ways, spiritual evolution is based on our ability to rise above the ancient animal rhythms that we still carry with us. To do so requires that we discern instinctual urge from those genuine intuitions sent forth by the soul. Within each of us can be found two forces shaping our every perception and impulse to act. The beast and the divine, the past and future, find meeting ground within every human being, and a choice must eventually be made. This is the distinguishing mark of life in the human kingdom. We stand at the midway point between that which was, and that which is destined to be, and we are conscious of both. Verily, the human soul, in its uniqueness, has the capacity to lift us from our feral underpinnings into the radiance of divine Selfhood, as destiny preordains it to be. Such is the nature of human evolution.
The Divine Gift
To understand the human soul, we must discuss the causal body, its origin and composition. The causal body is the container or vehicle of the soul. Sometimes described by clairvoyants as the auric egg, it extends outward from the physical body, often several feet. In some of the ancient occult literature, it is referred to as the “treasury”. This is certainly a fitting term, in that the causal body is the repository of every positive attribute garnered through experience over the course of countless incarnations. The origin and formation of the human causal body is a fascinating story shrouded in ancient occult lore. For as already noted, unlike life within the animal and vegetable kingdoms, humans have individual causal forms. Legend has it that the beginning of this unique development occurred in the middle of the Lemurian epoch of human existence, approximately 18 million years ago; a time predating the Atlantian civilization. During that distant age, humankind individualized. That is to say that human beings began to spiritually manifest individual causal bodies (souls) for the first time. Most importantly, it was due to this event that humanity was able to lift itself from actions governed by mere animal instinct. With the advent of individual causal forms came the capacity to develop individualized minds. The spark of mind was born, and human life was no longer strictly guided by physical and emotional instinct. The seeds of reason, and the capacity to “know thyself” began to germinate. It would be several million years before self-knowledge and individual thought would blossom forth within the human kingdom. Nonetheless, the beginnings of such capacity took place in that far distance period in history. Such an event was only possible because of the advent of individual causal forms.
Yet, how did such a development occur? What force led humanity to move from operating within a collective soul to the creation of individualized causal bodies? We are told in the ancient esoteric teaching that this occurrence was due to the intervention of great angelic life. Often referred to as the Solar Angels, these great lives are said to have planted within humanity the spark of individualized mind. World religions have long promoted mythologies that relate to this phenomenon, though often with some distortion. Such an example is clearly evident within the Christian tradition regarding the fallen angel, Lucifer. Such an idea is reminiscent of this ancient event, though the interpretation is quite different. Lucifer has been condemned for tempting mankind with the fruit of knowledge. Yet, esoterically considered, the light created by the mind (fruit of knowledge) is what makes it possible for humanity to rise above its animal nature. Interestingly, even the name Lucifer means the “bearer of light”.
The legend regarding the coming of the Solar Angels, if true, is very important to one’s spiritual development today. The reason is that the substance of one’s causal body is of the Solar Angel. Stated differently, the container for the soul (causal body) of every human being is composed of substance donated to him/her from the body of a great solar angelic entity, and has been for millions of years. As conveyed in legend, this angelic being has sacrificed an aspect of itself, so that it may assist a human being in the development of his/her loving mind. Strange and obscure as it may seem, to experience the soul within oneself is to experience the living nature of an overshadowing angelic being. Verily, within the Christian notion of a guardian angel is found simplistic reference to this ancient esoteric fact.
In the Eastern mystical tradition, the causal body is depicted as a nine-petalled lotus, each petal relating to a certain spiritual quality that must eventually be developed within one’s life. These petals are symbolically found in tiers, or layers within the causal body. Each tier represents a category of attributes that the soul must eventually unfold in the life. Over the course of countless incarnations, these tiers of petals are developed and slowly opened by the soul. As such, the soul evolves, and by so doing, becomes increasingly able to express itself in the outer world. Below is a summary of the tiers of petals found within the lotus, and their function:
Outer Tier: Knowledge Petals
When this tier of petals is fully open, the knowledge and intelligence of the soul has become operative in one’s outer life. In addition, it indicates that the soul has gained relative mastery over the physical plane appetites, particularly as they relate to animal magnetism and sexual urge. An intelligent understanding and application of love begins to take precedence over unbridled animal passion.
Middle Tier: Love Petals
The opening of the love petals indicates that the soul is able to rightly express love. The “need to be loved” gives way to the capacity to affirm unconditional love. This tier, when fully open, denotes that the soul has learned how to rightly work with emotion, while no longer being controlled by emotion.
Central Tier: Sacrifice Petals
When this tier of petals begins to open, spiritual sacrifice becomes operative in one’s life. There emerges a profound need to relinquish all that is personal on behalf of the Eternal. When fully open, utter sacrifice toward the Will of God becomes the governing principle in one’s life. In addition, the soul has developed relative mastery over the mind. No longer is the mind able to think thoughts contrary to the soul’s intention.
Generically speaking, the unfolding of these three tiers occur in the order here given. In this can be seen the great drama of spiritual evolution over countless lives. Through each incarnation the soul develops greater capacity to express itself in this manner. In truth, the measure of where one stands upon the Path is determined by the degree of causal body unfoldment. Spiritual evolution is based upon the degree that one is able to express the soul through his/her personality (lower-self). As can be easily recognized in our experience, the personality is not always cooperative with the impulses coming from the soul. There are times when our physical appetites take precedence over the soul’s desire to act on behalf of the higher good. At other times, our emotional passions can carry us away from what the soul intends for us to do. And certainly it is not hard to recognize those moments when unwholesome thoughts distract us from our spiritual focus. Such experiences simply indicate that the soul has not yet fully opened certain petals within the causal body. Yet, it would be an error to adopt the attitude that, because the soul has not fully unfolded itself, there is nothing one can do about it. Actually the truth is found in the opposite view. It is through deliberate self-reflection, and in the disciplining of the personality nature, that the soul is given the opportunity to express itself with greater success. It is that which is most noble within us that gives evidence of this influence. If truly soul-inspired, our thoughts and deeds will always be colored by intelligence, selfless love, and/or sacrificial will.
There is much value in understanding the characteristics of the soul, its origin and nature. Other considerations are also of great importance to anyone seeking more soulfulness in their lives. Such things as an examination of the Ray of the soul, an assessment of the soul’s purpose hidden within the rising sign of the natal chart, and consideration of various karmic factors all contribute to the understanding of soul, and the nature of its unfoldment in our lives. Within many spiritual circles, there is much discussion of the soul. Yet, it is important that we truly understand what the soul is. To understand its nature is to be more mindful of how to detect it within our objective and subjective experiences. In many ways, there is no more important a topic to be considered by spiritually minded people. For to live a spiritual life is to express the soul as fully as possible. It is often a surprise for people to learn that the soul itself is seeking to evolve, and this through assistance given to it by a great angelic life. Yet such is the case. And though the soul is given this divine help, it is not enough for it to consummate its evolution. It must also depend upon the human personality to work on itself, so as to become a purer conduit for the soul’s downward radiation.
© 1999 William Meader
Biographical Information: William Meader is an author, teacher and counselor. Much of his work is focused on the subjects of Spiritual Creativity, the Evolution of Consciousness and the Art of Meditation. At present he is teaching in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He resides in Oregon, and can be contacted through his website at www.emergent.wpengine.com.