A general description of the soul is that it has three aspects - consciousness, beingness, and creative power. All souls have these same three essences. Though these three primary essences also include subsidiary essences. Consciousness includes intelligence, being includes love, and power includes will. Thus, in some of the teachings the primary triad of the soul's essences are consciousness, being, and power; yet other teachings speak of intelligence, love, and will. The later is included in the former, so these are not really different triads. In fact, it could also make sense to combine all of these into a more thorough description of every soul as having: a) a power of will (or power through will); b) an intelligent consciousness (or consciousness with intelligence); and c) a being of love (or as essentially being love). Reflect on this more in order to understand it, and discover this in yourself as the essences of who you are.
So, the larger point here is that souls are essentially the same, since we all have the same basic essences. The difference between souls is just in the degree of these essences; that is, in how developed each of these essences are in each particular soul. The basic essences of each soul are the same, but the degrees of development are not. In a simple analogy, think of soups made of three basic ingredients, but the only difference between many different soups is in their different combination of these three basic essences; and remember that all colors can be made from different degrees of just three basic colors.
This then is the basic explanation of soul differences; yet the full story of differences is a bit more complex than this. For included in the general 'essence of intelligence' are different kinds of intelligences, each like a different kind of talent. And included in the general 'essence of power' are different kinds of abilities, each soul having different degrees of these potential abilities. Also included in the general 'essence of being' are different spiritual qualities of being. And by the way, every spiritual quality of being is an extension of love (the main essence of being). Thus, there are differences in the combined totality of soul qualities, which means that souls have uniquely different combinations of soul qualities, whereby certain qualities are more developed and emphasized than others. This has to do with the being aspect of a soul.
As well, there are differences in soul-interest, or what could be called soul-motivation. This is a difference that is based on all three of the other essences, in combination. A soul's unique interest is based on the kind of intelligence and abilities it has developed and also based on its combination of being qualities. More about these differences of qualities and interest will be discussed later.
Consciousness is a knowing, a gnosis. It is pure knowing. But more precisely, consciousness is the expansive and pervasive light which makes possible immediate knowing or direct intuition. It is not exactly the form of knowing, or the knowledge, or the thoughts, the feelings or the experiences. But rather, it is that which pervades and makes possible this knowing or this experience. It is the knower, the experiencer. It is the real essential you, the one in which this experience and knowing has purpose.
The light of consciousness pervades all experience, and without any consciousness this life, as we know it, would be not, since life as we know it depends on experience and thus consciousness. Having no consciousness, or having absolute un-consciousness, would mean no experience. Total unconsciousness, like being forever asleep, even without dreams, is equivalent to no-self. One can imagine everything in the mind being emptied or newly fresh, and one can imagine living life in a different body, but one can never imagine 'being oneself' without any consciousness. If you are a yogi or deep meditator, you might experience being just-consciousness without a body or even without thoughts, but you could not 'experience beingness' without any consciousness. Experience is impossible without consciousness, and what would be the point of an un-experienced enlightenment? So a complete end of consciousness is the complete end of you. Thus, any meaningful purpose of this universe is unintelligible without consciousness.
Without consciousness there is no experience, of oneself or of the world. So, consciousness is truly the fundamental essence of who we are and it is the necessary prerequisite for any experience, any thinking, any feeling and any sensation. If your material body were to remain alive while you were completely unconscious and undreaming, then what would life be? Who are you if there is no consciousness? Without consciousness, what use is this material body? Just this material body is surely not 'you', since if 'your consciousness' were always to be asleep or dead, even if your material body were to remain alive, 'you' would care not about this body. You would cease to be.
Thus, consciousness is your essence, and consciousness is the necessary essence of all knowing and all knowledge, just as light is the necessary essence of all seeing. Without light there cannot be seeing. Without consciousness there cannot be experience. Sure, things can still occur, events can still happen, but what meaning or purpose would exist if there were no consciousness of these things and events?
So, consciousness stands out clearly as a main essence of oneself. One could imagine waking up one morning with a different body, different patterns of emotions, and maybe even different beliefs, and yet here is this same consciousness, this same I, the experiencer, ever ready to take on a new day, discover new things, find some interest or work to do, or simply enjoy this given life.
Consciousness exists, both universally and individually. Universally, consciousness pervades everyone and the whole universe. Thus, this is a main essence of Universal Being, God. Yet consciousness also exists as individualized substance and has possible locations. So, consciousness is all around and without rigid boundaries. However, consciousness is also distinct and localized. This might seem paradoxical to ordinary logic, but intuitionally we can understand how this is.
Universally, consciousness is a pervading essence of the universe and of everything. In this sense, consciousness is everywhere. So we capitalize this as Consciousness, and this also means the Divine Consciousness. Yet consciousness can also be individual. It can be localized and have a center, as it were. It is still the universal essence Consciousness, but in this individual mode there is a plurality of consciousness's, and each individual consciousness exists as an individual light-body. So there are these two modes, one being a universal energy-substance and the other being individual energy-bodies. Thus, we can speak of consciousness either as a 'pervading substance' or as a 'body substance'.
For now, let us just consider consciousness itself. As far as soul-consciousness goes, the only difference between you and other friends and teachers is a difference in spiritual degree. There is only one essential energy of consciousness. There is only one 'kind' of consciousness. That is, consciousness is consciousness. You may be conscious and I may be conscious, but the only difference between your consciousness and mine is in its degree and in its expansion.
In any person there is consciousness, more or less, relative to the other degrees or to the other expansions of others. So first, we need to give up the illusion that our consciousnesses are different, like personalities and objects. Personalities are different. Manifestations, behaviors, emotional complexes and belief-systems can be quite different, like faces and thumb-prints. But there is no such difference in consciousnesses; only a difference in degree, in frequency, and in expansion. We are not speaking about differences in the contents of consciousness. There are lots of different possible contents, like many possible thoughts, feelings and sensations. But consciousness in-itself has no such different possibilities, just different possible degrees of intensity, expansion, and level of frequency.
So from the angle of the soul, there is no difference between soul consciousness', other than this difference of intensity, expansion, and level of frequency. It is a difference of higher and lower, greater and lesser, larger and smaller. It is not like some souls are Pisces and others are Capricorns, which are, again, ways to describe personalities and general behaviors. Soul consciousness' are essentially the same, while personalities are usually different, though a lot of personalities are actually pretty much the same as other personalities, even though each person prides themselves on being so very unique.
Think of consciousness as a capacity for insight and intelligence, for learning knowledge and for creative thinking. The greater is the power or degree of consciousness, the greater is one's ability to gain insight, to use intelligence to gain knowledge, and to use creative thinking. Thus, a greater degree of consciousness, being like a power or ability to use in some way, will increase the intelligence ability and so result in more use of intelligence in anything. A very high degree of intelligence might produce a fine scientist, or maybe a ranking chess-player, or maybe this or that kind of behavior or personal destiny. A well coordinated body may become a professional footballer or maybe a dancer. Who knows?
In other words, the soul, being a certain degree of expansive consciousness and creative power, is like a capacity of intelligence or coordination, in that the capacity makes certain results possible but does not necessarily define those results.
Imagine a given intelligence landing in a certain set of circumstances and influences. Then imagine the same intelligence landing in different circumstances and influences, Each will come into different fates; that is different outcomes will result. This is like the soul. Your soul may be almost the same as mine, in its learning and creative capacity, but our soul's fate and how it expresses through personality and what will happen in that life will be different because of our different circumstances and influences. This is circumstances and influences are so very significant. A soul landing up in one set circumstances will not have the same fate as if that same soul were to have landed into a different set of circumstances.
This description will obviously be distasteful to many spiritual thinkers who have regularly taken on the belief that each soul is distinctly unique, like different personalities, and each has a distinctly unique purpose and destiny which is assumed to definitely occur no matter what the circumstances are. This belief is simply false.
Souls are essentially the same, except in their degree of consciousness, cohesiveness and power. All souls are essentially the same Being, with all the same spiritual qualities and capacities, in potential. This can be a liberating fact, rather than distressing. The greater the soul, the more universal is its self-realization. The greatest soul-consciousness is the self-realization that I am the same essence as all others. From here, true com-passion, com-unication and com-unity begins.
Thus, souls are not so different, because essentially they are all like capacities which will make various destinies possible, but will not determine the exact outcome. Moreover, having the capacity does not guarantee that it will ever be developed in life, or used, or expressed. In fact, the actual life-outcome is as much caused by social circumstances and unexpected events, as it is caused by the relative power of the soul.
Being different, as we ordinarily understand this, is more of a personality description than soul description. Our souls do not necessarily have unique purposes nor unique plans. Souls have general universal purposes, the same essential ones as other souls; such as: to learn, to love, to build beauty and harmony in the world, to be closer with God, and we could add more to this list. These general purposes are the same for all souls. It is not like one soul is here to just learn but not love, while another is here to just love but not learn. There are general, universal purposes which all souls share.
The only reasonable answer to what the soul is and what carries on, in essence, is a certain capacity for learning, for insight, for creative expression, and for experiencing spiritual qualities of love, joy, peace, compassion, etc. It is not like the soul is full of thought. It is not always thinking. Rather, its intelligence uses the thinking-mind to develop understanding and thoughts representing truth. The soul is a capacity to learn, to 'think truth' and to acquire real knowledge. It is not a collection of thoughts but a capacity to discriminately acquire or formulate true beliefs, ideas and ideals. This it will do again and again, through different personal lives, and its capacity or power to do this will gradually evolve, increase, expand.
Again, it is like intelligence. The intelligent mind is not constantly reviewing its knowledge, but rather, appropriate knowledge and ideas come to mind according to the need or circumstance. High intelligence is not some huge collection of ideas and knowledge. It is an advanced ability to acquire and make use of knowledge. Thus, natural intelligence is not something acquired by conditioning or education. Intelligence is a soul-power. Knowledge is like a possession of things, but intelligence is like an ability. Someone can give you knowledge but no one can give you intelligence. Either you have it or not.
Each person has some degree of intelligence, which is an aspect of the soul. Genetics and the health of the body is condition of intelligence but not the sole determining factor. Intelligence is primarily given by the soul, though this is limited by generic and physical conditions. And intelligence does not determine exactly what will be done with it, but will only determine what possibilities can be done. A small intelligent capacity has many limitations, but a greater intelligence has the capacity to learn or accomplish many possible things. The greater this ability, the greater is the freedom.
The soul is, essentially, the bringer of spiritual insight and qualities into manifested expression. Each soul is a certain capacity for doing this. We could also say that the soul is a 'capacity for learning' and a 'capacity for spiritual expression.' Each soul has a certain degree of intelligent and creative power. And each is evolving or increasing this capacity or power. The intelligent capacity ranges from the ability to learn worldly knowledge to the ability to comprehend spiritual or universal principles. There are different levels of intelligence, such as practical know-how, such as scientific understanding of natural laws, and finally such as insight into interrelated patterns and universal unity.
All these levels of intelligent capacity are dependent on the soul's capacity. The expressive capacity ranges from the ability to coordinate and make good use from the physical body, to the ability to feel and share through the emotional body, to the ability to reflect and 'think through' the mental body. So, the soul can be thought of as a capacity or power, a power to know and a power to express or work through the bodies and the world. It is like an expanding ability.
All of this can be related to our first definition of the soul as consciousness, for a greater consciousness will be as a greater capacity for learning and expressing spiritual truth. The greater the consciousness, the greater is the capacity of intelligence and the capacity for learning. The greater the spiritual consciousness, the greater is the capacity for expressing spiritual truths and qualities. This consciousness, or this soul-capacity, does not dictate what exactly will be learned or what exactly will be the order of spiritual expression, for this learning and expression will be at least somewhat dependent on unforeseen circumstances of the world in which learning and expression occurs.
So, you see, the soul is a capacity or power for using and expressing through the three bodies. How this actually occurs is dependent on the particular development of these bodies, a development which is very influenced by factors other than the soul, and dependent on the particular world circumstances into which the soul incarnates. Also, no soul is 'perfect', for we should reserve this term for the absolute Being, whereas each soul is a limited body-of-expansion within the Infinite Consciousness. No soul has omnipotent power to spiritually express. No soul has an infinite capacity for immediate wisdom.
In truth, every soul is limited to some degree, in its
consciousness, in its intelligent capacity and in its expressive
power. Though each soul has all spiritual qualities within it, each
is limited in the actual insight of these and in the actual power to
express these qualities. Thus, all souls are evolving, expanding, or
at least this is part of our purpose and possibility. The more
perfect the soul, the more ability it has to comprehend and
experience its inherent spiritual truths and qualities, through the
three bodies. The greater or more perfect souls know more of their
spiritual self, know more of who they truly are and are more able to
express these truths and qualities to others and in the collective