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The history of the soul extends from God through its diverse experiences on Earth and back into God. Life has a continuous hierarchy, and the soul evolves the forms of expression as it progresses toward total perfection. Group-souls by extension experience the development of plant and animal life before establishing individuality in human incarnation. The soul continually gains experiences on all levels, increasing its universal wisdom. In many lives of human expression and in other worlds in between, the soul gradually becomes more and more conscious of the higher realms, passing through initiations which mark its progress towards conscious godhood.
The perceiver is only the perception,
pure even though seeing through mental images.
That is only for the sake of the soul of the perceived universe.
Patanjali, Union Threads II:18
Socrates: For, as has been already said,
every soul of man has in the way of nature beheld true being;
this was the condition of her passing into the form of man.
But all souls do not easily recall the things of the other world;
they may have seen them for a short time only,
or they may have been unfortunate in their earthly lot,
and, having had their hearts turned to unrighteousness
through some corrupting influence, they may have lost
the memory of the holy things which once they saw.
Few only retain an adequate remembrance of them;
and they, when they behold here any image of that other world,
are rapt in amazement;
but they are ignorant of what this rapture means,
because they do not clearly perceive.
For there is no light of justice or temperance
or any of the higher ideas
which are precious to souls in the earthly copies of them:
they are seen through a glass dimly;
and there are few who, going to the images,
behold in them the realities, and these only with difficulty.
There was a time when with the rest of the happy band
they saw beauty shining in brightness,—
we philosophers following in the train of Zeus,
others in company with other gods;
and then we beheld the beatific vision and were initiated
into a mystery which may be truly called most blessed,
celebrated by us in our state of innocence,
before we had any experience of evils to come,
when we were admitted to the sight of apparitions
innocent and simple and calm and happy,
which we beheld shining in pure light,
pure ourselves and not yet enshrined in that living tomb
which we carry about, now that we are imprisoned in the body,
like an oyster in his shell.
Plato, Phaedrus 249-250
Up to the present time
those who have discussed and investigated soul
seem to have confined themselves to the human soul.
Aristotle, On the Soul I:1
The Soul watches the ceaselessly changing universe
and follows all the fate of all its works:
this is its life, and it knows no respite from this care,
but is ever laboring to bring about perfection,
planning to lead all to an unending state of excellence—
like a farmer, first sowing and planting
and then constantly setting to rights
where rainstorms and long frosts and high gales
have played havoc.
Plotinus, Second Ennead III:16
One human soul receives this (Divine power)
differently from another.
And because in the intellectual order of the universe
there is an ascent and descent
by almost continuous steps from the lowest to the highest,
and from the highest to the lowest,
as we see in the physical order;
and between the angelic nature, which is intellectual,
and the human soul, there is no step at all,
but they are, as it were, on one continuous grade;
so between the human soul and the most perfect soul
belonging to the brutes there is again no interval;
and as we see many men so vile and of such low nature
that they seem hardly other than beasts,
therefore we must also assert and firmly believe that
there are men so noble and of so lofty a nature,
that they are scarcely other than angels,
otherwise humanity would not extend in both directions
(through this scale), which could not be.
Dante, The Banquet III:vii:4
Now, the perfect accordance of the will
with the moral law is holiness, a perfection of which
no rational being of the sensible world is capable
at any moment of his existence.
Since, nevertheless, it is required as practically necessary,
it can only be found in a progress in infinitum
towards that perfect accordance,
and on the principles of pure practical reason
it is necessary to assume
such a practical progress as the real object of our will.
Now, this endless progress is only possible on the supposition
of an endless duration of the existence
and personality of the same rational being
(which is called the immortality of the soul).
The summum bonum, then practically is only possible
on the supposition of the immortality of the soul.
Kant, Critique of Practical Reason Bk. II, Ch. II:iv
Because the soul is progressive, it never quite repeats itself,
but in every act attempts the production
of a new and fairer whole.
Coming into earth has been for the soul’s evolution.
Edgar Cayce On Prophecy, p. 171
Without the slightest doubt
there is something through which material and spiritual energy
hold together and are complementary.
In last analysis, somehow or other,
there must be a single energy operating in the world.
And the first idea that occurs to us is that
the “soul” must be as it were a focal point of transformation
at which, from all the points of nature,
the forces of bodies converge, to become interiorized
and sublimated in beauty and truth.
Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, p. 63
We may well regard these Monads
as the souls of groups of forms; and, as evolution proceeds,
these forms show more and more attributes,
the attributes being the powers of the monadic group-soul
manifested through the forms in which it is incarnated.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 186
Group-Souls, which exist
in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms,
thus represent intermediate stages leading up to
complete differentiation into separate human entities or units.
Hence, in the three kingdoms mentioned,
we do not find one soul
in a block of mineral, or a plant, or an animal.
Instead of this, we find one block of life—
if we may use such a term—
ensouling a vast quantity of mineral substance,
a large number of plants or trees, or a number of animals.
Powell, Causal Body, p. 47
Thus by their repeated plant-reincarnations
the monadic group-souls in the vegetable kingdom evolve,
until those that ensoul the highest members of the kingdom
are ready for the next step.
This step carries them into the animal kingdom,
and here they slowly evolve
in their physical and astral vehicles a very distinct personality.
The animal, being free to move about,
subjects itself to a greater variety of conditions
than can be experienced by the plant, rooted to a single spot,
and this variety, as ever, promotes differentiation.
The monadic group-soul, however, which animates
a number of wild animals of the same species or sub-species,
while it receives a great variety of impacts,
since they are for the most part repeated continually
and are shared by all the members of the group,
differentiates but slowly.
These impacts aid in the development
of the physical and astral bodies, and through them
the monadic group-soul gathers much experience.
When the form of a member of the group perishes,
the experience gathered through that form
is accumulated in the monadic group-soul,
and may be said to color it;
the slightly increased life of the monadic group-soul,
poured into all the forms which compose its group,
shares among all the experience of the perished form,
and in this way continually repeated experiences,
stored up in the monadic group-soul, appears as instincts,
“accumulated hereditary experiences” in the new forms.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 190-191
Each man is a soul, but not each animal or each plant.
Man, as a soul, can manifest through
only one body at a time in the physical world,
whereas one animal soul manifests simultaneously
through a number of animal bodies,
one plant soul through a number of separate plants.
A lion, for example, is not a permanently separate entity
in the same way as a man is.
When the man dies—
that is when he as a soul lays aside his physical body—
he remains himself exactly as he was before,
an entity separate from all other entities.
When the lion dies,
that which has been the separate soul of him
is poured back into the mass from which it came—a mass which
is at the same time providing the souls for many other lions.
To such a mass we give the name of “group-soul.”
To such a group-soul is attached
a considerable number of lion bodies—let us say a hundred.
Each of those bodies while it lives
has its hundredth part of the group-soul attached to it,
and for the time being this is apparently quite separate,
so that the lion is as much an individual during his physical life
as the man; but he is not a permanent individual.
When he dies the soul of him flows back into the group-soul
to which it belongs, and that identical lion-soul
cannot be separated again from the group....
The qualities developed by the experience of a single lion
will become the common property of all lions
who are in the future to be born from that group-soul,
though in a lesser degree than that in which
they existed in the individual lion who developed them.
That is the explanation of inherited instincts.
Leadbeater, A Textbook of Theosophy, p. 33-35
The monadic group-soul incarnates in a decreasing number of forms as it gradually approaches the point at which complete individualization will be reached.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 192
The method of individualization is the raising of the soul
of a particular animal to a level so much higher
than that attained by its group-soul
that it can no longer return to the latter.
This cannot be done with any animal,
but only with those whose brain is developed to a certain level,
and the method usually adopted
to acquire such mental development
is to bring the animal into close contact with man.
is possible only for domestic animals,
and only for certain kinds even of those....
Close association with man is necessary to produce this result.
The animal if kindly treated
develops devoted affection for his human friend,
and also unfolds his intellectual powers
in trying to understand that friend and to anticipate his wishes.
In addition to this, the emotions and the thoughts of the man
act constantly upon those of the animal,
and tend to raise him to a higher level
both emotionally and intellectually.
Leadbeater, A Textbook of Theosophy, p. 38, 39
The Soul or Ego we may consider as that
which individualizes the Universal Spirit,
which focuses the Universal Light into a single point;
which is, as it were, a receptacle into which is poured the Spirit;
so that that which in Itself is universal,
poured into this receptacle appears as separate:
always identical in its essence,
but separated in its manifestation.
The purpose of this separation is, as we have seen,
that an individual may develop and grow;
that there may be an individualized life
potent on every plane of the Universe;
that it may know on the physical and other planes
as it knows on the spiritual planes,
and have no break in consciousness;
that it may make for itself the vehicles that it needs
for acquiring consciousness beyond its own plane,
and then may gradually purify them one by one
until they no longer act as blinds or as hindrances,
but as pure and translucent media
through which all knowledge on every plane may come.
Powell, The Causal Body, p. 74
Souls without a past behind them,
springing suddenly into existence, out of nothing,
with marked mental and moral peculiarities,
are a conception as monstrous
as would be the corresponding conception of babies
suddenly appearing from nowhere, unrelated to anybody,
but showing marked racial and family types.
Neither the man nor his physical vehicle is uncaused,
or caused by the direct creative power of the Logos;
here, as in so many other cases, the invisible things
are clearly seen by their analogy with the visible,
the visible being, in very truth, nothing more than the images,
the reflections, of things unseen.
Without a continuity in the physical plasm, there would be
no means for the evolution of physical peculiarities;
without the continuity of the intelligence, there would be
no means for the evolution of mental and moral qualities.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 200
The Ancient Wisdom teaches, indeed,
that the soul progresses through many worlds,
but it also teaches that he is born
in each of these worlds over and over again,
until he has completed the evolution possible in that world.
The worlds themselves, according to its teaching,
form an evolutionary chain, and each plays its own part
as a field for certain stages of evolution.
Our own world offers a field suitable for the evolution
of the mineral, vegetable, animal and human kingdoms,
and therefore collective or individual reincarnation
goes on upon it in all these kingdoms.
Truly, further evolution lies before us in other worlds,
but in the divine order they are not open to us
until we have learned and mastered
the lessons our own world has to teach.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 231
But the soul has to get rid of old chains
as well as to cease from the forging of new,
and these old chains must either be allowed
to wear out gradually or must be broken deliberately.
For this breaking knowledge is necessary,
a knowledge which can look back into the past,
and see the causes there set going,
causes which are working out their effects in the present.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 270
But many souls have during their earth-life,
by deep thinking and noble living, sown much seed,
the harvest of which belongs to this fifth devachanic region,
the lowest of the three heavens of the formless world.
Great is now their reward for having so risen
above the bondage of the flesh and of passion,
and they begin to experience the real life of man,
the lofty existence of the soul itself,
unfettered by vestures belonging to the lower worlds.
They learn truths by direct vision,
and see the fundamental causes
of which all concrete objects are the results;
they study the underlying unities, whose presence is masked
in the lower worlds by the variety of irrelevant details.
Thus they gain a deep knowledge of law,
and learn to recognize its changeless workings
below results apparently the most incongruous,
thus building into the body that endures
firm unshakable convictions, that will reveal themselves
in earth-life as deep intuitive certainties of the soul,
above and beyond all reasoning.
Here also the man studies his own past,
and carefully disentangles the causes he has set going;
he marks their interaction, the resultants accruing from them,
and sees something of their working out
in lives yet in the future.
Besant, Ancient Wisdom, p. 154-155
In the sixth heaven are more advanced souls,
who during earth-life had felt but little attraction
for its passing shows,
and who had devoted all their energies
to the higher intellectual and moral life.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 155
Yet higher, lovelier, gleams the seventh heaven,
where Masters and Initiates have their intellectual home.
No soul can dwell there ere yet it has passed
while on earth through the narrow gate-way of Initiation,
the strait gate that “leads to life” unending.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom p. 156-157
When man reaches such a growth on one level
that he has encompassed all possibilities
and fulfilled his duties on that level,
he strives for more extended realms of action,
and these can be found only on succeeding levels.
It requires the building of an organism
which can function on that level.
Such a Soul can be built
only out of the essences on the new level,
not out of matter on the preceding level.
Thus, the laws of the new level must be learned and applied,
and man raised into a more perfect and comprehensive being.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 258
As this process slowly progresses
the cosmic energy potential in the individual builds up
until it becomes of sufficient quantum
to fuse with the Cosmic Soul when, as in a flash,
the uniting takes place and, from then on,
the flow between the individual Soul
and the Cosmic Soul is in full balance.
Thus is set up the eternal circular harmony by which
the wisdom, light, perfection, beauty, and love of God
flow through the individual Soul,
recreating all with which it comes in contact and returns back
to God laden with its fruits of constructive experience.
From man’s varied experiences is distilled ultimate inferences,
meanings, and deductions in relation to the cosmic pattern,
and these ultimate meanings
assume proper relationship to the Soul.
The Soul is the depository of all that is cosmically significant
as it is transmuted from instinct, emotion, thought or action.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 260-261
Soul gives creative synthesis to mind and body levels.
This creative synthesis and growth of meaning are gradual,
a process of interaction and exchange
between the individual Soul and Cosmic Soul, which requires
something more than belief, formal worship, or ordinary living,
to bring the process to culmination in a conscious Soul.
As a person spends a large part of a lifetime
in learning to use and control the mind,
so also must a system of Soul development be set up
which supplements that of mind training
and produces a whole being.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 263
The location of the center of the Soul
is one of the secrets of the enlightened—the Initiated.
To find and realize this is one of the objects of psychogenesis.
Building the individual soul is really completing a cosmic structure
within the protogenic pattern of the Cosmic Soul.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 262-263
Jivatma and Surat are other names for soul.
It has descended into the body from the highest planes
of Sat Nam and Radha Swami.
But it has become entangled here
by the three gunas (attributes), five tattwas,
ten Indriyas (sense organs) the mind, etc.,
and has developed such strong ties with the body
and the things related to it that it finds it
most difficult to free itself from those bondages.
Freedom from these bondages is called liberation.
The sense organs, the tattwas, the mind, etc.,
are the inner bonds, while worldly things,
the family and other relationships constitute the external bonds.
The jivatma (soul) is so inextricably caught by these bonds
that it now has no recollection of its real home.
It finds itself so far away from that home
that it is very difficult to return to it
without the grace of a perfect Sat Guru.
The Sar Bachan, p. 19-20
To achieve complete development
of consciousness in the human form,
the evolutionary process had to take seven major leaps,
viz. from stone to metal, from metal to vegetable,
from vegetable to worm, from worm to fish, from fish to bird,
from bird to animal and finally from animal to the human being,
each possessing different characteristics.
Meher Baba, God Speaks, p. 27
Above incarnate life in birth
and beyond discarnate life after death,
the soul is one indivisible, eternal existence.
The gestation of individualization of the soul
begins with the evolution of its consciousness.
Consciousness begins to evolve in incarnate life,
and its evolution becomes complete only in incarnate life.
Simultaneously with the evolution of consciousness
through the evolution of forms (bodies),
sanskaras begin to accumulate.
The evolution of form and of consciousness
(and with it individualization of the human ego-mind)
is complete when
the soul attains the human form for the first time.
But because of the accumulated sanskaras,
the fully evolved consciousness of the soul
remains entrapped in illusion
and therefore is not directed
towards the soul’s self-realization (God-realization).
Meher Baba, Listen, Humanity, p. 97
There is no creature which is not destined for the supreme goal,
as there is no river which is not winding its way towards the sea.
But only in the human form is consciousness
so developed that it is capable of expressing
the perfection of its own true self, which is the Self of all.
However, even in the human form the soul is prevented
from realizing its birthright of joy and fulfillment
because of the burden of sanskaras which it has accumulated
as a by-product of its arduous development of consciousness.
Like the dust that accumulates
on the shoes of a traveler on foot,
these sanskaras are gathered by the pilgrim
as he treads the evolutionary path.
In the human form, which is the crowning product of evolution,
the divine life is enmeshed in the sanskaric deposits of the mind.
The expression of the divine life is therefore curtailed
and distorted by the distractions of the sanskaras,
which weld consciousness instead
to the fascinations of the false-phenomenal.
One by one the many-colored attachments
to the false must be relinquished.
Bit by bit the sanskaric tinder feeding the deceptive flames
of the separative ego must be replaced
by the imperative evidence of the unquenchable flame of truth.
Only in this manner can man ascend
to the height of divine attainment:
the endless beginning of life eternal.
The life in eternity knows no bondage, decay or sorrow.
It is the everlasting and ever renewing
self-affirmation of conscious, illimitable divinity.
Meher Baba, Listen, Humanity, p. xiii
For self-realization, all sanskaras must be completely wiped out
to enable the soul, as the individualized ego, to be transmuted
into the individualized soul in the conscious state of God.
Further, the sanskaras that began to accumulate
in an incarnate life, have to be wiped out in an incarnate life.
In order to be wiped out in toto,
sanskaras must be annulled or canceled
through the process of exact-equalization
or perfect qualitative and quantitative balancing
of all opposite sanskaras, whether good or bad.
Meher Baba, Listen, Humanity, p. 97
The immortalized soul is the basis
and support of man’s inner life,
and man in turn is the medium through which
this soul can obtain experience for its future unfoldment.
Jones, The Flowering Tree, p. 74
First: In the eastern system, it is assumed that
within every human form dwells
an entity, a being, called the self or soul.
Second: This self utilizes the form of the human being
as its instrument or means of expression,
and through the sum total of the mental and emotional states
will eventually manifest itself, utilizing the physical body
as its functioning mechanism on the physical plane.
Finally, the control of these means of expression
is brought about under the Law of Rebirth.
Through the evolutionary process
(carried forward through many lives in a physical body)
the self gradually builds a fit instrument
through which to manifest, and learns to master it.
Thus the self or soul becomes truly creative and self-conscious
in the highest sense and active in its environment,
manifesting its true nature perfectly.
Eventually it gains complete liberation from form,
from the thralldom of the desire nature,
and the domination of the intellect.
This final emancipation,
and consequent transfer of the center of consciousness
from the human to the spiritual kingdom,
is hastened and nurtured by a specialized education,
called the meditation process,
which is superimposed upon a mind widely and wisely cultured.
Bailey, From Intellect to Intuition, p. 40-41
The soul type imposes itself upon the human type,
as the human has done upon the animal,
and just as the human type is the product of mass training
and instinct and has been tremendously unfolded
by our modern educational systems,
so the soul type is the product of a new method
of mental training, imposed on the individual by his soul,
and called forth by the urgency of the quest
and by the act of his will.
This soul is always latent in the human form,
but is drawn into demonstrated activity
through the practice of meditation.
Bailey, From Intellect to Intuition, p. 39-40
Our spiritual being, the Self,
which is the essential and most real part of us,
is concealed, confirmed and “enveloped”
first by the physical body with its sense impressions;
then by the multiplicity of the emotions and the different drives
(fears, desires, attractions and repulsions);
and finally by the restless activity of the mind.
The liberation of the consciousness from the entanglements
is an indispensable prelude
to the revelation of the spiritual Center.
The agency for achieving it—
and this applies in nature as much as in the realm of the mind—
is the wonderful and mysterious action of the intrinsic vitality
or “livingness,” both biological and psychological,
that works with irresistible pressure from within.
This is why the principle of growth, development, of evolution
has been receiving much attention in psychology and education
and will be increasingly applied in the future.
Assagioli, Psychosynthesis, p. 214
Of course, if most human souls or monads
progress from life to life more than they regress,
then, assuming that new monads
are not always coming into the world,
society must make progress
though there is no law of social progress,
i.e., there is no tendency for an earlier social order
to generate a higher social order out of itself.
Society improves only because most of the souls
that it includes continually make some progress.
Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 105
The soul, which is more directly the spark of God, was evolved
and was given the opportunity to experience all levels
and layers and planes and realms of experience and being.
Soul can inhabit any form it wishes.
Its job, its reason for being,
is to experience all it can on every level it can—
thereby growing in awareness of its own divine nature.
And the soul that has experienced all is God, is one with God.
But this experience of God is tremendously large and complex,
so the soul spends tremendous time
in its patterns of evolvement through the realms of experience
back into the awareness and knowledge of its divine nature.
John-Roger, Journey of a Soul, p. 1-2
As a human, a soul starts by incarnating once
onto the physical realm, into a physical form.
If that form could walk through its life here in perfect balance,
creating only peace and love and harmony,
it might complete and free itself from this realm and earn
the opportunity to continue its evolvement on higher realms.
But when the soul incarnates into physical form,
it is usually inexperienced in the ways of this world.
The consciousness sees all the glamour, the illusions,
the attractions of the world—the pleasures—
and gets sidetracked. It’s all a part of learning.
So as it goes through its life plan, it is apt to create imbalance.
Then when the time comes for the body to die,
there are often karmic situations
that have never been cleared, never been balanced.
Thus, the soul, at a later time,
embodies again onto the physical realm
so that it can clear its debts, right the wrongs,
and bring balance and harmony.
But if the consciousness again gets caught up
in the illusions and the glamour,
it may end up creating more karmic situations
so that the soul must again embody to clear them and so on.
At some point in time, the consciousness
will come into an understanding of this process,
will learn to be a responsible creator,
and will learn to place its value and its concern
on those things that are positive and spiritual in nature
rather than on the materiality of this world.
In this way the consciousness begins its evolution
back towards God, fulfills its past karma,
stays free of accruing more karma,
and liberates itself from this world.
It is everyone’s heritage to know the divine nature,
to experience the joy and freedom and perfection of the soul.
John-Roger, Journey of a Soul, p. 7-8
To reach soul consciousness
and be established in the soul realm,
to break the wheel of incarnation,
you must fulfill all karma on all the lower realms—
astral, causal, mental, and etheric, as well as physical.
John-Roger, Journey of a Soul, p. 39
All experience no matter how it is interpreted
by the mind and emotions
is a gain for the soul.
Can we ever lose experience?
We are the growing totality of our experience.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 10
The sincere seeker of spiritual awareness will find enlightenment. The individual must search inside for self-knowledge. Each person must make effort to find the truth and live virtuously in order to be true to oneself. God extends grace to those who aspire to find God. The best education awakens the spiritual qualities within people.
Enlightenment resulting from sincerity is ascribed to nature.
Sincerity resulting from enlightenment is ascribed to education.
Given sincerity, there will be enlightenment,
and given enlightenment, there will be sincerity.
Only those who are absolutely sincere
can fully develop their nature.
The Center of Harmony (Chung-yung) 21-22
Thus absolute sincerity is ceaseless.
Being ceaseless, it is eternal.
Being eternal, it is manifest.
Being manifest, it is infinite.
Being infinite, it is extensive and deep.
Being extensive and deep, it is transcendental and brilliant.
Because it is extensive and deep, it contains all things.
Because it is transcendental and brilliant,
it illuminates all things.
Because it is infinite and eternal, it perfects all things.
In being extensive and deep, it is like earth.
In being transcendental and brilliant, it is like heaven.
In being infinite and eternal, it is unlimited.
Such being its nature,
it manifests itself without being seen,
produces changes without motion,
and accomplishes its ends without acting.
The Way of heaven and earth
may be described in one sentence:
They are without doubleness
and produce things in a way that is unfathomable.
The Way of heaven and earth is extensive, deep,
transcendental, brilliant, infinite, and eternal.
The Center of Harmony (Chung-yung) 25-26
Mencius said, “Humanity is man’s mind,
and righteousness is man’s path.
Pity the man who abandons the path and does not follow it,
and who has lost his heart
and does not know how to recover it.”
When I pronounce men to be good,
I am not speaking of their benevolence and righteousness.
Goodness is simply possession of the qualities of the Way.
When I pronounce them to be good,
I am not speaking of what are called
benevolence and righteousness
but simply of their allowing the nature
with which they are endowed to have its free course.
When I pronounce men to be quick of hearing,
I do not mean that they listen to anything
but that they listen to themselves;
when I pronounce them to be clear of vision,
I do not mean that they look to anything else
but that they look to themselves.
The seer sees not death, nor sickness, nor any distress.
The seer sees only the All, obtains the All entirely.
Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2
The Self (Atman), which is free from evil,
ageless, deathless, sorrowless, hungerless, thirstless,
whose desire is the Real, whose conception is the Real—
He should be searched out,
Him one should desire to understand.
He obtains all worlds and all desires
who has found out and who understands that Self.
Chandogya Upanishad 8.7.1
(If you ask) whether among all these virtuous actions,
(performed) here below, (there be) one
which has been declared more efficacious (than the rest)
for securing supreme happiness to man,
(the answer is that) the knowledge of the Self
is stated to be the most excellent among all of them;
for that is the first of all sciences,
because immortality is gained through that.
The Laws of Manu XII:84-85
The reason why this unifying spirit
is so quickly lost among the conditions
is because you so quickly forget
the brightness and purity of your own essential nature,
and amid the activities of the day,
you cease to realize its existence.
The Surangama Sutra
The wise man’s path leads upward to life,
that he may avoid Sheol beneath.
... says the LORD: “I will put my law within them,
and I will write it upon their hearts;
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor
and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD;
for I will forgive their iniquity,
and I will remember their sin no more.”
Man’s character is his daimon (spirit).
Heraclitus, Fragment 119
And if there were a knowledge
which was able to make men immortal, without giving them
the knowledge of the way to use the immortality,
neither would there be any use in that.
Plato, Euthydemus 289
Socrates: I consider how I shall present my soul
whole and undefiled before the judge in that day.
Renouncing the honors at which the world aims,
I desire only to know the truth, and to live as well as I can,
and, when I die, to die as well as I can.
And, to the utmost of my power,
I exhort all other men to do the same.
Plato, Gorgias 526
Wherefore my counsel is that
we hold fast ever to the heavenly way
and follow after justice and virtue always,
considering that the soul is immortal
and able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil.
Thus shall we live dear to one another and to the gods,
both while remaining here and when,
like conquerors in the games who go round to gather gifts,
we receive our reward.
And it shall be well with us both in this life
and in the pilgrimage of a thousand years
which we have been describing.
Plato, Republic X:621
But now I wish to explain to you judges
the reason why it appears to me
a man who has in reality spent his life in philosophy
will naturally be confident when about to die
and has good hopes of obtaining great good there,
when one has died.
Plato, Phaedo 8
For it is not in so far as he is man that he will live so,
but in so far as something divine is present in him;
and by so much as this is superior to our composite nature
is its activity superior to that
which is the exercise of the other kind of virtue.
If reason is divine, then, in comparison with man,
the life according to it is divine in comparison with human life.
But we must not follow those who advise us, being men,
to think of human things, and, being mortal, of mortal things,
but must, so far as we can, make ourselves immortal,
and strain every nerve to live
in accordance with the best thing in us;
for even if it be small in bulk,
much more does it in power and worth surpass everything.
This would seem, too, to be each man himself,
since it is the authoritative and better part of him.
It would be strange, then, if he were to choose
not the life of his self but that of something else.
Aristotle, Nicomachaean Ethics X:7
Therefore be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
But seek first the sovereignty and his justice,
and all these things will be provided for you.
The land of a certain wealthy person yielded well.
And he reasoned within himself saying, “What should I do?
for I have nowhere I may store my fruit.”
And he said, “I will do this:
I will tear down my barns and build larger ones,
and there I will store all my grain and goods,
and I will say to my soul,
‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years;
rest, eat, drink, be merry.’”
But God said to him,
“Fool, this night they demand back your soul from you;
and the things you prepared, whose will they be?”
Thus is the one treasuring for himself,
and not being wealthy in God.
For what will it benefit a person,
if one should gain the whole world,
but should damage one’s soul
Or what will a person give in exchange for one’s soul?
Jesus said, “Look upon the living one as long as you live,
lest you die and seek to see him without being able to see.”
Gospel According to Thomas 59
Jesus said, ”The man old in days will not hesitate to ask
a little child of seven days about the place of life,
and he will live.
For many who are first shall become last,
and they will become a single one.”
Gospel According to Thomas 4
Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you,
‘Look, the sovereignty is in heaven,’
then the birds of heaven will precede you.
If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’
then the fish will precede you.
But the sovereignty is within you and outside you.
When you know yourselves, then you will be known
and you will know that you are the sons of the living Father.
But if you do not know yourselves,
then you are in poverty, and you are poverty.”
Gospel According to Thomas 3
Jesus said, “Whoever knows the All
but fails oneself fails everywhere.”
Gospel According to Thomas 67
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us
an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
because we look not to the things that are seen
but to the things that are unseen;
for the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Finally, it concludes by saying that
from what has been said before, that is,
that the virtues are the fruit of Nobility,
and that God imparts this Nobility to the well-prepared soul,
to some, that is, to those who possess intelligence,
who are but few, it is evident that
human nobility is no other than “that seed of happiness
that God does plant in the well-fitted soul,”
that is, whose body is in every respect perfectly prepared for it.
Dante, The Banquet, IV:xx:5
And if it happens, that, by the purity of the receiving soul,
the intellectual virtue be absolutely separate
and free from any corporeal shadow,
then the Divine goodness multiplies in her
as in a thing worthy to receive it;
and further it multiplies in the soul
(endowed) with this intelligence,
according to her capacity of reception;
and this (heavenly influence) is that seed of felicity
of which we are now speaking.
And this agrees with the saying of Tullius in his Old Age,
where, speaking in the person of Cato, he says,
“Therefore a celestial soul descends upon us,
leaving its most high abode for a place
that is opposed to the Divine nature and to eternity.”
And in such a soul is its own virtue,
and the intellectual and the divine.
Dante, The Banquet, IV:xxi:4-5
The principal and chief care of every one
ought to be of his own soul first,
and, in the next place, of the public peace.
Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration
Souls are not saved in bundles.
The Spirit says to the man, “How is it with you?
you personally? is it well? is it ill?”
They think society wiser than their soul,
and know not that one soul, and their soul,
is wiser than the whole world.
Emerson, “Divinity College Address”
Ineffable is the union of man and God in every act of the soul.
The simplest person who in his integrity worships God,
yet for ever and ever the influx of this better and universal self
is new and unsearchable.
It inspires awe and astonishment.
How dear, how soothing to man, arises the idea of God,
peopling the lonely place,
effacing the scars of our mistakes and disappointments!
When we have broken our god of tradition
and ceased from our god of rhetoric,
then may God fire the heart with his presence.
It is the doubling of the heart itself, nay,
the infinite enlargement of the heart with a power of growth
to a new infinity on every side.
It inspires in man an infallible trust.
He has not the conviction, but the sight,
that the best is the true,
and may in that thought easily dismiss
all particular uncertainties and fears,
and adjourn to the sure revelation of time
the solution of his private riddles.
He is sure that his welfare is dear to the heart of being.
Emerson, “The Over-Soul”
Therefore the divine Providence
which keeps the universe open in every direction to the soul,
conceals all the furniture and all the persons
that do not concern a particular soul,
from the senses of that individual.
Emerson, “Nominalist and Realist”
It is of great comfort to have in your soul
a sure trust in Immortality;
of great value here and now to anticipate Time
and live today the eternal Life.
That we may all do.
The Joys of Heaven will begin
as soon as we attain the Character of Heaven and do its duties.
That may begin today.
It is Everlasting Life to know God—
to have His Spirit dwelling in you—yourself at one with him.
Try that, and prove its worth.
Justice, Usefulness, Wisdom, Religion, Love,
are the best things we hope for in Heaven.
Try them on—they will fit you here not less becomingly.
They are the best things of Earth.
Think no outlay of Goodness and Piety too great.
You will find your reward begin here.
As much Goodness and Piety, so much Heaven.
Men will not pay you—God will;
pay you now; pay you hereafter and forever.
Theodore Parker, “A Sermon of Immortal Life”
It is the destiny and life-work of all things
to unfold their essence, hence their divine being,
and, therefore, the Divine Unity itself—
to reveal God in their external and transient being.
It is the special destiny and life-work of man,
as an intelligent and rational being,
to become fully, vividly, and clearly conscious of his essence,
of the divine effluence in him, and, therefore, of God;
to become fully, vividly, and clearly conscious
of his destiny and life-work;
and to accomplish this, to render it (his essence) active,
to reveal it in his own life with self-determination and freedom.
Education consists in leading man,
as a thinking, intelligent being, growing into self-consciousness,
to a pure and unsullied, conscious and free representation
of the inner law of Divine Unity,
and in teaching him ways and means thereto.
Froebel, The Education of Man, p. 2
By education, then, the divine essence of man
should be unfolded, brought out, lifted into consciousness,
and man himself raised into free, conscious obedience
to the divine principle that lives in him,
and to a free representation of this principle in his life.
Froebel, The Education of Man, p. 4-5
Those innocent souls were like soft wax
on which any imprint could be stamped—
of evil, alas, as well as of good.
I understood the words of Jesus:
“If anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones,
he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Many, many souls would become most holy
if they had been properly guided from the very start.
Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 72
The secret of all nature lies in the soul of a little child.
He holds there the true meaning of that life
which exists throughout humanity.
Montessori, The Montessori Method, p. 376
We have been mistaken in thinking,
that the natural education of children should be purely physical;
the soul, too has its nature,
which it has intended to perfect in the spiritual life,—
the dominating power of human existence throughout all time.
Montessori, The Montessori Method, p. 374
It will not be denied, that a child,
before it begins to write its alphabet
and to gain worldly knowledge, should know what the soul is,
what truth is, what love is, what powers are latent in the soul.
It should be an essential of real education
that a child should learn, that in the struggle of life,
it can easily conquer hate by love, untruth by truth,
violence by self-suffering.
Gandhi, Young India 3-11-'27
All the doctrines and practices
which are calculated to lead to the knowledge of the soul,
and through that knowledge to the knowledge of God,
are locked up in the mystic formula
atmanam atmana pasya (know the soul through the soul).
Ramanathan, Culture of the Soul, p. 106
Many a student on earth,
all unknowing of these subtler workings,
is preparing for himself a place in this fourth heaven,
as he bends with a real devotion
over the pages of some teacher of genius,
over the teachings of some advanced soul.
He is forming a link between himself
and the teacher he loves and reverences,
and in the heaven-world that soul-tie will assert itself,
and draw together into communion the soul it links.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 152-153
There is a way whereby man can ascertain
that he is really a soul,
and therefore is able to control his instrument of expression,
the threefold lower nature,
the sum-total of psychical and mental states.
Through this method it is possible to bring about a union
of the wisdom of the East and the knowledge of the West,
so that the best aspects of each system
can be available to mankind as a whole.
Bailey, The Soul and Its Mechanism, p. 131
The soul is the key to the Universe.
Schuré, The Great Initiates, p. 5
Soul awakening eventually comes to all men
when they become saturated with mortal life
and cannot face going on alone
under the heavy weight of their own negativities.
It is at such a time that man’s immortal soul
will struggle to exert itself in his life,
and offer him the wisdom
which it has accumulated unto itself at great cost in past lives.
Oftentimes man will heed these inner promptings
of his eternal soul, and gradually these new urges
will sweep into man’s conscious mind with such a strong impetus
that they will drive him forward towards soul rebirth.
Jones, The Flowering Tree, p. 75
The greatest defect today is the absence (in people)
of inquiring into the nature of the soul.
That is the cause of mass unrest and the lack of true peace.
Teachings of Sri Satya Sai Baba, p. 91
Desire leads one out of oneself into the world, and the not-having of what one desires causes pain and suffering. Other related emotions such as anger, jealousy, resentment, envy, greed, lust, fear, etc. cause troubles for oneself and other people. Freedom from desire liberates one from these limitations.
The person who is not attached to action or its results is not bound by them. By maintaining the neutrality and inner peace of the soul, one is able to love without attachment or possessiveness.
People say: “A person is made of desires only.”
As is his desire, such is his resolve;
as his resolve, such the action he performs;
what action (karma) he performs, that he procures for himself.
On this point there is this verse:
Where one’s mind is attached—the inner self
Goes thereto with action, being attached to it alone
Obtaining the end of his action.
Whatever he does in this world,
He comes again from that world
To this world of action.
—So the man who desires.
Now the man who does not desire.—
He who is without desire, who is freed from desire,
whose desire is satisfied, whose desire is the Soul—
his breaths do not depart.
Being very Brahma, he goes to Brahma.
On this point there is this verse:
When are liberated all
The desires that lodge in one’s heart,
Then a mortal becomes immortal!
Therein he reaches Brahma!
As the slough of a snake lies on an ant-hill, dead, cast off,
even so lies this body.
But this incorporeal, immortal Life (prana) is Brahma indeed,
is light indeed.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5-7
This truly, is that form of his which is beyond desires,
free from evil, without fear.
As a man, when in the embrace of a beloved wife,
knows nothing within or without,
so this person, when in the embrace of the intelligent Soul,
knows nothing within or without.
Truly, that is his (true) form in which his desire is satisfied,
in which the Soul is his desire,
in which he is without desire and without sorrow.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 4.3.21
Now this, monks, is the noble truth of pain:
birth is painful; old age is painful;
sickness is painful; death is painful;
sorrow, lamentation, dejection, and despair are painful.
Contact with unpleasant things is painful;
not getting what one wishes is painful.
In short the five groups of grasping are painful.
Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the cause of pain:
the craving, which leads to rebirth,
combined with pleasure and lust,
finding pleasure here and there,
namely the craving for passion,
the craving for existence, and the craving for non-existence.
Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of pain:
the cessation without a remainder of craving,
the abandonment, forsaking, release, and non-attachment.
Now this, monks, is the noble truth
of the way that leads to the cessation of pain:
this is the noble eightfold way, namely,
correct understanding, correct intention, correct speech,
correct action, correct livelihood, correct attention,
correct concentration, and correct meditation.
“The Buddha’s First Sermon”
On ignorance depends karma; on karma depends consciousness;
on consciousness depend name and form;
on name and form depend the six organs of sense;
on the six organs of sense depends contact;
on contact depends sensation; on sensation depends desire;
on desire depends attachment;
on attachment depends existence; on existence depends birth;
on birth depend old age and death,
sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, and despair.
Thus does this entire aggregation of misery arise.
But on the complete fading out and cessation of ignorance
on the cessation of karma ceases consciousness;
on the cessation of consciousness cease name and form;
on the cessation of name and form
cease the six organs of sense;
on the cessation of the six organs of sense ceases contact;
on the cessation of contact ceases sensation;
on the cessation of sensation ceases desire;
on the cessation of desire ceases attachment;
on the cessation of attachment ceases existence;
on the cessation of existence ceases birth;
on the cessation of birth cease old age and death,
sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, and despair.
Thus does this entire aggregation of misery cease.
Buddha, Samyutta-nikaya XXII:90
Cut off the stream energetically, holy one;
leave desires behind.
Knowing the destruction of all that is created,
you know the uncreated, holy one.
Dhammapada 26:1 (383)
The one I call holy has no longings,
in knowledge is free from doubt,
and has reached the depth of the eternal.
Dhammapada 26:29 (411)
The blessed Lord said, “This is desire, this is anger,
born of the emotional quality.
Voracious and greatly injurious, know this to be the enemy here.
As fire is obscured by smoke, and a mirror by dust,
as the embryo is enveloped by the amnion,
so this is covered by it.
Knowledge is covered by this eternal enemy of knowers,
in the form of desire, Kaunteya, which is an insatiable fire.
The senses, mind, and intuition are said to be its seat.
With these it confuses knowledge, covering the embodied.
Therefore you, at first restraining the senses, Bharata bull,
kill this harmful thing that destroys intelligent knowledge.
The senses, they say, are high.
Higher than the senses is the mind,
but higher than the mind is the intuition,
but higher than the intuition is this.
Thus intuiting what is higher than the intuition,
sustaining the soul with the soul,
kill the adversary, great-armed one,
the desire-form difficult to approach.”
The blessed Lord said,
“When one gives up all desires emerging in the mind, Partha,
satisfied in the soul by the soul,
then one is said to be steady in wisdom.
Whoever in pain is free of mental anxiety,
in pleasure is free of desire,
departing from passion, fear, and anger,
steady in thought, is called a sage.
Whoever is without attachment in all things,
accepting this or that, pleasant or unpleasant,
neither liking nor disliking, the wisdom of this one is established.
And when this one withdraws, like a tortoise all its limbs,
the senses from the objects of sense,
the wisdom of this one is established.
It is hard to fight with anger;
for what it wants it buys at the price of soul.
Heraclitus, Fragment 85
For the lovers of learning know
that until philosophy actually receives their soul
it is fastened and glued in the body,
being compelled to look at realities
as though through this prison but not through her own self,
and wallowing in complete ignorance,
and she looks down at the terribleness of the imprisonment
that it is through desire, which bound itself
is the main accomplice of the binding,—
so as I say, the lovers of learning know
that in this way philosophy receives their soul
and tries to gently encourage and release her,
indicating that filled with deceit is viewing through the body,
and deceitful the ears and the other senses,
and persuading her to withdraw from them,
except so far as it is necessary to use them,
and advising her to collect and gather into herself,
and trusting nothing else but herself by herself,
except her very own intelligence of reality itself;
and whatever else is viewed in other ways is something else,
not to be believed as true, it being so sensory and visible,
but she sees the intelligible and intangible.
So not thinking it is necessary to oppose her release
the soul of the true philosopher thus keeps away
from pleasures and desires and griefs and fears,
so far as possible,
reasoning that whenever one has excessive pleasure
or fear or grief or desire, he suffers such evil from them.
Plato, Phaedo 33
Because each pleasure and pain like a nail nails and fastens itself
to the body and makes it corporeal,
believing these things to be true which the body also says are.
For from agreeing with the body
and delighting in the same things
she is compelled to adopt the same habits
and the same upbringing and never arrives purely into Hades,
but always goes out infected by the body,
so that quickly again she falls into another body
and like scattered seed is sown,
and from this has no share in the divine and pure
and communion in the one form.
Plato, Phaedo 33
However on account of these things
it is useful for a man to take courage concerning his soul,
who in life renounced the other pleasures of the body
and its ornaments, as being alien,
believing even more it is another thing to be perfected,
and has been serious about learning things
and has adorned the soul not with something alien
but with her own order,
discretion and justice and courage and freedom and truth,
thus one waits for the journey into Hades,
as passing when destiny should call.
Plato, Phaedo 63
But if, I think, it departs polluted and impure from the body,
because it always associated with the body
and cared for this and loved it
and was fascinated by it and its desires and pleasures,
so that nothing else seemed to be true except bodily things,
which one can touch and see
and drink and eat and use for sexual love,
but what is dark and invisible to the sight
and intelligible and chosen by philosophy,
and being accustomed to hate this and tremble and avoid it,
do you think that a soul in this condition
will depart it of itself unmixed?...
These are not the souls of the good, but of the inferior,
which are compelled to wander about such places
to pay justice for former evil ways of being;
and they wander even as far as this
until being followed closely by the bodily form
by desire they are bound into the body.
And they are bound, as is probable, into such a character
as they happened to have been interested in during life.
Plato, Phaedo 30-31
And when departing it is not right for anyone
who is not loving wisdom and wholly pure
to reach the family of the gods,
but for the one who loves learning.
But on account of this, dear Simmias and Cebes,
those loving wisdom correctly
keep away from all bodily desires
and are patient and do not give themselves over to them.
Plato, Phaedo 32
Timaeus: When a man is always occupied
with the cravings of desire and ambition,
and is eagerly striving to satisfy them,
all his thoughts must be mortal,
and, as far as it is possible altogether to become such,
he must be mortal every whit,
because he has cherished his mortal part.
But he who has been earnest in the love of knowledge
and of true wisdom, and has exercised his intellect
more than any other part of him,
must have thoughts immortal and divine, if he attain truth,
and in so far as human nature
is capable of sharing in immortality,
he must altogether be immortal;
and since he is ever cherishing the divine power,
and has the divinity within him in perfect order,
he will be perfectly happy.
Plato, Timaeus 90
Socrates: Note also, that he (Pluto)
will have nothing to do with men while they are in the body,
but only when the soul is liberated
from the desires and evils of the body.
Now there is a great deal of philosophy and reflection in that;
for in their liberated state
he can bind them with the desire of virtue,
but while they are flustered and maddened by the body,
not even father Kronos himself would suffice
to keep them with him in his own far-famed chains.
Plato, Cratylus 403-404
The blessed and immortal nature knows no trouble itself
nor causes trouble to any other,
so that it is never constrained by anger or favor.
For all such things exist only in the weak...
The just man is most free from trouble,
the unjust most full of trouble.
Epicurus, Principal Doctrines I, XVII
Wipe out imagination: check desire: extinguish appetite:
keep the ruling faculty in its own power.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations IX:7
What can it be that has brought the souls to forget the father,
God, and, though members of the Divine
and entirely of that world, to ignore at once themselves and It?
The evil that has overtaken them has its source in self-will,
in the entry into the sphere of process,
and in the primal differentiation
with the desire for self ownership.
They conceived a pleasure in this freedom
and largely indulged their own motion;
thus they were hurried down the wrong path,
and in the end, drifting further and further,
they came to lose even the thought of their origin in the Divine.
Plotinus, Fifth Ennead I:1
And so the Soul;
let it be but cleared of the desires
that come by its too intimate converse with the body,
emancipated from all the passions,
purged of all that embodiment has thrust upon it,
withdrawn, a solitary, to itself again—in that moment
the ugliness that came only from the alien is stripped away.
Plotinus, First Ennead VI:5
The mind is not like a side door which can be enlarged by force.
We must eliminate the obstructions of selfish desires,
and then it will be pure and clear and able to know all.
Zhu Xi, The Mind 44
The soul raised over passion
beholds identity and eternal causation,
perceives the self-existence of Truth and Right,
and calms itself with knowing that all things go well.
It is hardly necessary to even mention
the presence in Brahmanism of the teaching of reincarnation,
since its whole philosophy of life turns on
this pilgrimage of the Soul through many births and deaths,
and not a book could be taken up
in which this truth is not taken for granted.
By desires man is bound to this wheel of change,
and therefore by knowledge, devotion,
and the destruction of desires, man must set himself free.
When the Soul knows God, it is liberated.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p 14
Desire is, then, the binding element in karma,
and when the soul no longer desires
any object in earth or in heaven,
his tie to the wheel of reincarnation
that turns in the three worlds is broken.
Action itself has no power to hold the soul,
for with the completion of the action it slips into the past.
But the ever renewed desire for fruit
constantly spurs the soul into fresh activities,
and thus new chains are continually being forged.
Nor should we feel any regret
when we see men constantly driven to action
by the whip of desire,
for desire overcomes sloth, laziness, inertia,
and prompts men to the activity that yields them experience.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 268-269
That Soul (Atman) is not this, it is not that (neti, neti).
It is unseizable, for it cannot be seized.
It is indestructible, for it cannot be destroyed.
It is unattached, for it does not attach itself.
It is unbound. It does not tremble. It is not injured.
Him (who knows this) these two do not overcome—
neither the thought “Hence I did wrong,”
nor the thought “Hence I did right.”
Verily, he overcomes them both.
What he has done and what he has not done do not affect him.
This very (doctrine) has been declared in the verse:
This eternal greatness of a Brahman
Is not increased by deeds (karman), nor diminished.
One should be familiar with it.
By knowing it, one is not stained by evil action.
Therefore, having this knowledge, having become calm,
subdued, quiet, patiently enduring, and collected,
one sees the Soul just in the soul.
One sees everything as the Soul.
Evil does not overcome him; he overcomes all evil.
Evil does not burn him; he burns all evil.
Free from evil, free from impurity, free from doubt,
he becomes a Brahman.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 4 4.22-23
Material sensations, Kaunteya,
causing cold, heat, pleasure, pain,
coming and going are impermanent;
you must endure them, Bharata.
The person whom these do not trouble, powerful person,
pain and pleasure being equal to the sage,
he is ready for immortality.
Lust and aversion eliminated,
but engaging objects with the senses,
the self-governing by self-control attains tranquility.
In tranquility is born cessation of all one’s pains.
Having clear thoughts, quickly the intuition becomes steady.
The person who is self-pleased and self-satisfied
and self-content, this one’s task is not found.
Whoever has no purpose in what is done or not done,
has no need of purpose in anyone.
Therefore without being attached
always perform the action to be done.
Practicing action without being attached,
a person attains the supreme.
United, abandoning the fruit of action,
one attains complete peace.
Disunited by desirous action, attached to the fruit, one is bound.
Renouncing all actions with the mind,
the embodied sits happily, master in the city of nine gates,
neither acting nor causing action.
The soul unattached to external contacts
finds happiness in the soul.
This soul united to God by yoga enjoys imperishable happiness.
Getting free of the desire
for experiences heard and material objects
is by the mastery of detachment.
That is highest
when the power of the Spirit overcomes the qualities.
Patanjali, Union Threads I:15-16
“Then altogether it seems to you,” he said,
“such a person is not concerned with the business of the body,
but as far as possible would withdraw from the body
and turn toward the soul?”
“Yes, to me.”
“So then first in such things it is clear
the philosopher especially releases the soul
from the communion of the body, differing from other people?”
Plato, Phaedo 9
Nor indeed will the wise man ever feel grief;
seeing that grief is irrational contraction of the soul,
as Apollodorus says in his Ethics.
They are also, it is declared, godlike;
for they have a something divine within them;
whereas the bad man is godless.
And yet of this word—there are two senses,
one in which it is the opposite of the term “godly,”
the other denoting the man who ignores the divine altogether.
Diogenes Laertius, “Zeno” VII:118-119
Disengagement means simply that
the soul withdraws to its own place.
It will hold itself above all passions and affection.
Necessary pleasures and all the activity of the senses
it will employ only for medicament and assuagement
lest its work be impeded.
Plotinus, First Ennead II:5
The retreat and sundering, then,
must be not from this body only,
but from every alien accruement.
Such accruement takes place at birth;
or rather birth is the coming-into-being
of that other phase of the soul.
For the meaning of birth has been indicated elsewhere;
it is brought about by a descent of the soul,
something being given off by the Soul
other than that actually coming down in the declension.
Then the Soul has let this image fall?
And this declension is it not certainly sin?
If the declension is no more than the illuminating
of an object beneath, it constitutes no sin:
the shadow is to be attributed not to the luminary
but to the object illuminated;
if the object were not there, the light could cause no shadow.
And the Soul is said to go down, to decline,
only in that the object it illuminates lives by its life.
And it lets the image fall only if there be nothing near
to take it up; and it lets it fall, not as a thing cut off,
but as a thing that ceases to be:
the image has no further being
when the whole Soul is looking toward the Supreme.
Plotinus, First Ennead I:12
A double discipline must be applied
if human beings in this pass are to be reclaimed,
and brought back to their origins,
lifted once more towards the Supreme and One and First.
There is the method, which we amply exhibit elsewhere,
declaring the dishonor of the objects
which the Soul holds here in honor;
the second teaches or recalls to the soul its race and worth;
this latter is the leading truth, and, clearly brought out,
is the evidence of the other.
Plotinus, Fifth Ennead I:1
As the soul must return to earth
until he has discharged all his liabilities,
thus exhausting all his individual karma,
and as in each life thoughts and desires generate fresh karma,
the question may arise in the mind:
“How can this constantly renewing bond be put an end to?
How can the soul attain his liberation?”
Thus we come to the “ending of karma,”
and have to investigate how this may be.
The binding element in karma
is the first thing to be clearly grasped.
The outward-going energy of the soul
attaches itself to some object, and the soul is drawn back
by this tie to the place where that attachment
may be realized by union with the object of desire;
so long as the soul attaches himself to any object,
he must be drawn to the place
where that object can be enjoyed.
Good karma binds the soul as much as does bad,
for any desire, whether for objects here or in Devachan,
must draw the soul to the place of its gratification.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 267-268
When a man begins to long for liberation,
he is taught to practice “renunciation of the fruits of action;”
that is, he gradually eradicates in himself
the wish to possess any object;
he at first voluntarily and deliberately denies himself the object,
and thus habituates himself to do contentedly without it;
after a time he no longer misses it,
and he finds the desire for it is disappearing from his mind.
At this stage he is very careful
not to neglect any work which is duty because
he has become indifferent to the results it brings to him,
and he trains himself
in discharging every duty with earnest attention,
while remaining entirely indifferent to the fruits it brings forth.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 269-270
The human faculties which we have to use and develop
in order to achieve understanding are:
first, the mind which, in its higher aspect,
is directed towards the Soul
and becoming able to perceive its light,
and everything and everybody in that light.
This may be prepared for and helped
by the proper use of the imagination.
Then we can bring into play the higher faculties of intuition
and of conscious spiritual identification.
The latter is very different from
the passive emotional and blind identification
which often takes place between personalities.
The difference consists chiefly in the fact that
spiritual identification is free from absorption and attachment,
it is outpouring and not grasping or limiting.
The effects of such loving understanding
are immensely beneficial, understanding is directly creative;
like a vivid and warm sunbeam, it fosters growth and expansion
in those human lives to which it is directed
and which it penetrates with its subtle and powerful influence.
It evokes the Higher Self, the Soul.
The individual who feels himself understood in such a way
opens and blossoms out,
and even transforms himself almost magically.
Assagioli, “Loving Understanding,” p 5
Man’s realization of his soul is by no means merely intellectual.
It is genuinely a new birth,
except that it is seldom achieved suddenly,
but only as a result of long and patient discipline.
Its essence is liberation from attachments
to the demands and longings that now hold man captive
and to the shrinking self
that erects a protective wall of separation
between itself and all other forms of life.
It is these that pose the formidable obstruction
that stands in the way of relating the Infinite and Eternal Being
that you truly are.
Twitchell, The Tiger’s Fang, p. 46
Paul Twitchell: “Soul is the central reality of the individual.
Soul, being a happy entity, will not be controlled
by anything other than the Holy Spirit.
Thus we must devote ourselves
to the practical work of our daily lives
and try to realize the guidance of spirit in every affair.
This depends on our maintaining a non-attached attitude.
The moment we start creating
special points, ideas, and distinctions,
we exile ourselves from the state of God-consciousness
and miss the infinite freedom of reality.”
Steiger, In My Soul I Am Free, p. 135
Call nothing your own except your soul.
Everything else is loaned to you to use.
The body is the physical vehicle for the soul,
and its holy temple.
Thinking that you are your body
is like thinking you are a car when you are driving one;
consciousness placed there
ends up in the junkyard or the graveyard.
Consciousness placed in the Spirit lives forever
and goes with you when you leave your vehicle.
Pure thoughts, love, and joy keep the vehicle in good condition,
and purify the temple for the indwelling Spirit.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 17-18
Self-control and self-mastery lead to spiritual realization as the higher self rules over the lower self. One must continually overcome the desires and instincts of the body. Everyone is tested by one’s own weak spots. Judging and condemning others is foolish, for each person must learn to correct oneself. Learning how to direct the will for good brings the consciousness into harmony with the divine will. Attainment of self-mastery prepares one for greater abilities and powers, for one must be self-disciplined in order to use these wisely.
Truly, Kapya, he who knows that thread
and the so-called Inner Controller knows Brahma,
he knows the worlds, he knows the gods,
he knows the Vedas, he knows created things,
he knows the Soul, he knows everything.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad, 3.7.1
Self is the master of self; who else could be the master?
With self well-controlled a person finds a master
such as few can find.
The Dhammapada XII:4 (160)
Lift up your self by yourself; examine your self by yourself.
Thus self-protected and attentive
you will live joyfully, mendicant.
For self is the master of self; self is the refuge of self.
therefore tame yourself, like a merchant tames a noble horse.
The Dhammapada XXV:20-21 (379-380)
One should uplift the self by the soul;
one should not lower the soul.
The self is the friend of the soul;
the self is the enemy of the soul.
The self is a friend of the soul
whose self is mastered by the soul,
but the self of the non-soul might become hostile like an enemy.
The highest self of the self-mastered, the peaceful, is steadfast
in cold, heat, pleasure, or pain, as well as in honor or dishonor.
The yogi should unite constantly with the soul,
situated in solitude, one self-controlled consciousness
without wanting, without possessing.
Those who follow the greater qualities in their nature
become great men
and those who follow the smaller qualities in their nature
become small men.
When our senses of sight and hearing are used without thought
and are thereby obscured by material things,
the material things act on the material senses
and lead them astray. That is all.
The function of the mind is to think.
If we think, we will get them (the principles of things).
If we do not think, we will not get them.
This is what Heaven has given to us.
If we first build up the nobler part of our nature,
then the inferior part cannot overcome it.
It is simply this that makes a man great.
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seem to be dead,
and their departure was considered distressing
and their passing from us crushing,
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of humans they were punished,
their hope of immortality is fulfilled;
and being educated a little they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of itself;
like gold in a crucible it tested them
and like a whole-fruit offering accepted them.
Also in the time of their visitation
they will revive and run like sparks through straw;
they will judge nations and rule the common people,
and the Lord will reign over them into eternity.
Those trusting on this will understand truth,
and the faithful will wait for this in love;
because grace and mercy are in its holy ones
and watchfulness in its chosen ones.
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9
Why should a living man complain,
a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!
Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
Why, yes, Protarchus; for surely we cannot imagine
That of the four classes, the finite, the infinite,
the composition of the two, and the cause,
the fourth, which enters into all things,
giving to our bodies souls, and the art of self-management,
and of healing disease, and operating in other ways to heal
and organize, having too all the attributes of wisdom;—
we cannot, I say, imagine that
whereas the self-same elements exist,
both in the entire heaven and in great provinces of the heaven,
only fairer and purer,
this last should not also in that higher sphere
have designed the noblest and fairest things?
Plato, Philebus 30
But in reality justice was such as we were describing,
being concerned however, not with the outward man,
but with the inward,
which is the true self and concernment of man:
for the just man does not permit the several elements
within him to interfere with one another,
or any of them to do the work of others,—
he sets in order his own inner life,
and is his own master and his own law,
and at peace with himself;
and when he has bound together the three principles within him,
which may be compared to the higher, lower,
and middle notes of the scale, and the intermediate intervals—
when he has bound all these together, and is no longer many,
but has become one entirely temperate
and perfectly adjusted nature, then he proceeds to act,
if he has to act, whether in a matter of property,
or in the treatment of the body,
or in some affair of politics or private business;
always thinking and calling that which preserves
and cooperates with this harmonious condition,
just and good action,
and the knowledge which presides over it, wisdom,
and that which at any time impairs this condition,
he will call unjust action,
and the opinion which presides over it ignorance.
Plato, Republic IV:443-444
“To this nobler purpose the man of understanding
will devote the energies of his life.
And in the first place, he will honor studies
which impress these qualities on his soul,
and will disregard others?”
“Clearly,” he said.
“In the next place, he will regulate his bodily habit and training,
and so far will he be
from yielding to brutal and irrational pleasures,
that he will regard even health as quite a secondary matter;
his first object will be not that he may be fair or strong or well,
unless he is likely thereby to gain temperance,
but he will always desire to attemper the body
as to preserve the harmony of the soul?”
“Certainly he will, if he has true music in him.”
Plato, Republic I:591
Wherefore a good man and true, bearing in mind who he is
and whence he came and from whom he sprang,
cares only how he may fill his post
with due discipline and obedience to God.
Epictetus, The Golden Sayings CXXXI
To each man God has granted this inward freedom.
These are the principles that in a house create love,
in a city concord, among nations peace,
teaching a man gratitude towards God and cheerful confidence,
wherever he may be, in dealing with outward things
that he knows are neither his nor worth striving after.
Epictetus, The Golden Sayings CXLVIII
For when this faculty of the will is set right,
a man who is not good becomes good;
but when it fails, a man becomes bad.
It is through this that we are unfortunate, that we are fortunate,
that we blame one another, are pleased with one another.
In a word, it is this which if we neglect it makes unhappiness,
and if we carefully look after it makes happiness.
Epictetus, Discourses II:23
No man is free who is not master of himself.
Epictetus, Fragment XV
Freedom is the name of virtue.
Slavery, of vice.
None is a slave whose acts are free.
Epictetus, Fragment X
Actions do not disturb people, but opinions about actions;
for example, death is nothing terrible,
or else it would have appeared so to Socrates also,
but the opinion about death, that it is terrible,
that is what is terrible.
So when we are hindered or disturbed or grieved,
let us never accuse another, but ourselves,
that is, our own opinions.
To charge others is the work of the uneducated,
in whose power the self is doing badly;
beginning to be educated is to charge oneself;
having been educated neither another nor oneself.
Epictetus, Manual 5
Do not judge, lest you be judged;
for by what condemnation you judge, you will be judged,
and by what measure you measure, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye,
but the plank in your eye you do not consider?
It is for discipline that you have to endure.
God is treating you as sons;
for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated,
then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us
and we respected them.
Shall we not much more be subject
to the Father of spirits and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure,
but he disciplines us for our good,
that we may share his holiness.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant;
later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.
They do it to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable.
1 Corinthians 9:25
Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten;
so be zealous and repent.
Look, I stand at the door and knock;
if any one hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
You can pass your life in an equable flow of happiness,
if you can go by the right way,
and think and act in the right way.
These two things are common
both to the soul of God and to the soul of man,
and to the soul of every rational being,
not to be hindered by another;
and to hold good to consist in the disposition to justice
and the practice of it,
and in this to let your desire find its termination.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations V:34
The soul of man does violence to itself,
first of all, when it becomes an abscess
and, as it were, a tumor on the universe, so far as it can.
For to be vexed at anything which happens
is a separation of ourselves from nature, in some part of which
the natures of all other things are contained.
In the next place, the soul does violence to itself
when it turns away from any man,
or even moves towards him with the intention of injuring,
such as are the souls of those who are angry.
In the third place, the Soul does violence to itself
when it is overpowered by pleasure or by pain.
Fourthly, when it plays a part,
and does or says anything insincerely and untruly.
Fifthly, when it allows any act of its own
and any movement to be without an aim,
and does anything thoughtlessly
and without considering what it is,
it being right that even the smallest things
be done with reference to an end;
and the end of rational animals is to follow the reason
and the law of the most ancient city and polity.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations II:16
There remains that which is peculiar to the good man,
to be pleased and content with what happens,
and with the thread which is spun for him;
and not to defile the divinity which is planted in his breast,
nor disturb it by a crowd of images,
but to preserve it tranquil, following it obediently as a god,
neither saying anything contrary to the truth,
nor doing anything contrary to justice.
And if all men refuse to believe
that he lives a simple, modest, and contented life,
he is neither angry with any of them,
nor does he deviate from the way which leads to the end of life,
to which a man ought to come pure, tranquil, ready to depart,
and without any compulsion perfectly reconciled to his lot.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations III:16
There will be no battling in the Soul:
the mere intervention of Reason is enough:
the lower nature will stand in such awe of Reason
that for any slightest movement it has made it will grieve,
and censure its own weakness,
in not having kept low and still in the presence of its lord.
In all this there is no sin—there is only matter of discipline—
but our concern is not merely to be sinless but to be God.
As long as there is any such involuntary action,
the nature is twofold, God and Demi-God,
or rather God in association with a nature of a lower power:
when all the involuntary is suppressed, there is God unmingled,
a Divine Being of those that follow upon The First.
For, at this height,
the man is the very being that came from the Supreme.
Plotinus, First Ennead II:5-6
Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul,
none is more gladdening or fruitful
of divine promise and confidence than this—
that man is the master of thought, the molder of character,
and the maker and shaper
of condition, environment, and destiny.
As a being of power, intelligence, and love,
and the lord of his own thoughts,
man holds the key to every situation, and has within himself
the means of transforming himself into what he wills....
Such is the conscious master,
and man can only master himself
by discovering within himself the laws of thought,
a discovery which is totally a matter of
application, self-analysis, and experience.
Only by searching and mining are gold and diamonds obtained,
and, similarly, man can find every truth connected with his being
if he will dig deep into the mine of his soul.
Allen, As A Man Thinketh, p. 17, 19
A man likes to believe that he is the master of his soul.
But as long as he is unable to control his moods and emotions,
or to be conscious of the myriad secret ways
in which unconscious factors insinuate themselves
into his arrangements and decisions,
he is certainly not his own master.
Jung, Man and his Symbols, p. 83
The glands and neuroses as well as the centers are conditioned
by the control or lack of control exerted by the soul.
Bailey, Soul and Its Mechanism, p. 130
Right control of the life force and hence direct action
by the soul upon the etheric body.
This control of energy and therefore of the centers
and of the physical body is only possible
after a man has achieved purity and poise.
He is not permitted knowledge of the laws governing energy
until such time as he has learned,
through discipline, the control of the animal nature,
and has reached a point
where he is no longer swayed by moods and selfishness.
Bailey, The Soul and Its Mechanism, p. 135
When the life of the soul, acting under the Law of Rebirth,
has brought the personality to such a condition
that it is an integrated and coordinated unit,
then there is set up between the two
a more intensive interaction.
This interaction is brought about
through the processes of self-discipline,
an active will towards spiritual being, unselfish service
(for that is the mode in which
the group-conscious soul manifests itself) and meditation.
The consummation of the work
is the conscious realization of union—
called, in Christian terminology, the at-one-ment.
Bailey, From Intellect to Intuition, p. 52
When we speak of becoming aware of the soul
through the Soul Center, we refer to an inner consciousness
far different from the awareness of a physical organ of the body;
and in this first awareness is realized
only the quantitative character of Soul, so to speak,
and not its qualitative or Cosmic character.
The full qualitative character is directly realized
only by transduction after illumination.
Until this event occurs, however,
we may become aware of the Soul in transactions
where we apply meaningful moral choice in action
calculated to advance the organism to higher levels.
It is between the urge of the Soul for action
dictated by meaning from its level,
and the pull of the senses for action on the animal levels,
that produces the conflict under which
the ego sometimes groans in pain and suffering.
This conflict can be solved only by the ego in finally
raising its general level of action to such a point
as to neutralize the downward pull of matter.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 264
First, be fixed in the consciousness
that you are the immortal soul, which is indestructible,
which is holy, which is pure and divine.
That will give you unshakable courage and strength.
Then, you must develop mutual love and respect.
Tolerate all kinds of persons and various opinions,
all attitudes and peculiarities.
The school, the home and the society
are all training grounds for tolerance.
Teachings of Sri Satya Sai Baba, p. 92-93
As the soul begins to awaken and stir,
and as the consciousness begins to feel that awakening
and brings its expression
more into the consciousness of the soul,
the basic self may fight very hard to block that action,
to hang onto the familiar, physical “ways of the world.”
The conscious self must be strong and directive
to override the old habits and desires of the basic self.
Ultimately, of course, the soul is the most enduring factor
and will triumph over all the other levels.
John-Roger, Consciousness of Soul, p. 10
Overcome the body and achieve contentment.
Overcome the emotions and achieve happiness.
Overcome the mind and achieve wisdom.
Let the soul overcome and realize immortality.
Surrendering to the soul is eternal victory.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p 26-27
To establish yourself in soul consciousness,
you have to overcome the created worlds
of flesh, feelings, and thoughts.
When you triumph over the negative power
and stand in the pure reality of the soul realm,
the angels will worship your awakened divine nature.
Until you attain that realization, they will minister to your soul.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 52
Origin of the Soul in God
The Soul is divine
Proofs of Immortality
Soul and Body
Levels of Consciousness
Functions of the Psyche
Soul and Mind
Cause and Effect
Progression and Evolution
Desirelessness and Non-attachment