Each soul is an individual portion (or reflection) of the Universal Being, God. In esoteric Christianity, each soul is in essence a 'son of God', or Divine child. Each soul has Spiritual-God essences, such as spiritual knowing, love and will, and other God qualities within its own soul essence and potential. A soul's purpose is to realize more and more of its spiritual essence, which also means to realize more of God, and also to express these Divine qualities in one's personal life and in the world.
Ideally, the soul will become conscious and expressive in the personality, but this requires some willingness on the personality. Ideally, the personality shall become aware of the soul within, or become sensitive to it, yet it is possible for the personality to neglect or even repress the soul. Ideally, the personality becomes soul-conscious and soul-infused, and then soul-expressive. This depends on the quality and commitment of spiritual practice, in order for the personality to gradually increase its degree of spiritual soulness.
Soul is independent of the personality and world conditions, yet the soul is limited by these conditions in its ability to express. In other words, the soul in-itself is independent of physical problems and limitations, and thus it is unaffected by physical and social conditions. Yet these conditions of body and world are limiting to the soul's unfoldment and expression through that particular person (the personality).
But limitations arise in relation to expansion in the three bodies and in relation to expansion in the world of souls. In other words, the soul is limited in how much of itself can be expressed and reflected in the bodies. Partly, this limitation is reflective of the soul's limited ability or power-to-express, for every soul is growing or developing creative power. Each soul-being is limited in how far it can expand through and pervade the three bodies of a personal life. The conditions of those bodies limit this descending expansion. Rarely can the soul, in its fullness, expand completely through the bodies without being limited to some extent. For example, the mental body may be under-educated or lacking discipline or too confused. The emotional body may be overly turbulent or too automatic in its reactive habits. The physical body may be too out of balance or overly stressed.
Each soul has its own independent power to be expressive and to manifest its qualities in life. This is called the soul's power, or it can be called creative power. Some souls have more of this power than others; that is, some souls are more advanced or more developed in their aspect of will and creative power. But physical and world circumstances always present real challenges and limitations to any soul.
For example, a soul with an advanced degree of leadership or wisdom would, nonetheless, find an infant's body quite limiting, so that soul's capacity for expression will not appear until the physical body becomes more developed. A mental body needs an adequate degree of ordinary development, mostly accomplished by teachers and books, before the soul can express higher levels of insight through the mental body.
Another possible limitation is disease or neurosis in the bodies. This will often need healing from sources and methods outside of the soul-healer, before the soul itself can actually help heal the limiting conditions. For example, one can rightly say that the soul is a healer, but the soul may have no opportunity to effect a healing if the mental body is over-neurotic, since this person has virtually lost all touch with the soul, or in other words, the neurotic condition does not allow for any soul-connection and thus, no soul healing is possible.
The connection needed for the soul to expand through the three bodies may be weak or blocked. When there is a more open and strengthened connection between the soul and the three vehicles, the conditions of those vehicles improve. Then, health, peace, love, clarity and insight increase. The soul is like a healing energy to the three bodies, but it can be blocked or scattered away. Yet the soul can help heal this blockage and scattering, healing those problems to some degree. But a certain amount of time and effort is needed from the personal ego to heal those conditions which block that very effort of the soul.
Limitations will always be found in the three bodies, but the soul works to heal those conditions of the three bodies. Adequate preparation is needed as ground-work for soul-infusion, and much of this ground-work is often done before any conscious connection with the soul is established. Thus, good education and development of mastery in the three bodies are needed as preparation for soul-expression. This preparation of the three-fold personality can be accomplished in conjunction with soul-expression, but much can be accomplished by positive social influences and by right effort made by the personality ego.
The personal ego is often regarded in less than favorable light, but here we will discuss the ego as resulting from a spark from the soul, and how the true function of ego is positive and necessary. The ego is sort of like the child of our true soul; however, this child can easily get corrupted or conditioned by social influences of its physical parents and/or social media, culture, etc. The child can also get lost or disconnected from its innermost soul-truth.
First remember that the three vehicles of thinking mind, emotions, and physical body are all necessary for the spiritual soul to manifest and express. Thus, what is often called the lower triad in esoteric teachings is certainly not something be rid of. It is simply meant to be spiritualized evermore fully.
Next understand that the soul has its own will, which is to manifest and express its inherent spiritual potentials, and this might result in a beautifully unique creative expression of Spirit on Earth. This power of will coming from the soul becomes reflective in the three vehicles of personality, (to some extent), and the soul forms a nucleus or centre in the developing three-fold personality, which is the personality ego.
This ego has inherent qualities and powers of its soul, but these are all in a process of development. So at the beginning developmental stages of ego, its soul qualities (or soul reflection) can be quite limited, unrefined, and unperfected. But this ego can develop into a true soul reflection, with soul will and consciousness.
So from the spiritual soul, the ego is given the powers of will and consciousness, which then become the main features of ego. Thus, a centre of consciousness and will develops. These develop together, though one might develop faster than the other. And slowly alongside this is a growing development of love. Real love takes more time to develop, but there is first a development of emotional sensitivity and sympathy with others. So now there is a centre right in the personal three vehicles which can potentially reflect the soul, and it is given these powers of the soul. This is the personal ego, or called the personality ego.
This personality ego is meant to be the main leader, director, and manager of the three vehicles. It is also meant to be the self-observer and the evaluator of personality. Finally, it is meant to be the unifier of all the different aspects of personality, including all of the multiple desires and wishes of the personality.
The ego is actually a child of the soul, but it can go on its own as separated from the soul. Later though, the ego can rediscover its soul, then allow the soul to infuse in it.
Soul is our true inner being, which is transmigrating through lifetimes, along a learning journey and a journey towards God-realization. Yet our soul needs a three-fold personality vehicle (of mind, emotion, and physical body), for which to learn though and express through. The personal ego is a centre of self-awareness and self-will, which develops in the three-fold personality and is necessary in order for a human being to consciously direct and organize their personal life. This ego acquired its capacities from its inner soul, though the ego seldom realizes this.
The ego moves through various stages of development. The ego inherits fundamental powers of the soul, which are will, self-awareness, and intelligence. So each ego-self has inherent spiritual powers of the soul. But these powers need to be developed and also hopefully guided by the soul. Unfortunately though, this development of the ego abilities and powers will very often be influenced by all sorts of worldly factors that may not actually be favorable to one's spiritual development. All kinds of possible ego peculiarities may develop, and the ego may get fixated on its own self-centeredness and self-importance. All through this, each person's soul potentials remain, even if the personality is spinning away on its socially conditioned path or in its self-centeredness.
So then, the ego has some powers acquired from soul, but it can then develop and also use these powers on its own, without soul guidance and direction. By analogy, a child is given an inheritance from its parent, which the child can then use in whatever way he wants. The parent gives him this inheritance but also this freedom, even if the child's choices might often be unwise. The parent's hope is that the child will learn from mistakes and eventually learn how to better to use this inheritance.
As such, the ego can use its powers in whatever way it sees fit or whatever way it desires, even if this be out of sync with how the soul would use those same powers. Therefore, it is possible for an ego to be negative or harmful, if it is as yet un-infused and un-guided by the soul.
Thus, the ego is not necessarily reflective of the soul's expressive purposes. The ego begins from a seed given by the soul, but this seed will often grow primarily by social and physical influences. It may still do some good preliminary work for the soul's purposes, such as better unifying the mind and emotions, but it might nonetheless direct the personal bodies toward unspiritual ends.
Various beliefs and ideals have power in the mental body. So the ego, fueled by basic emotional desires for self-achievement and social admiration, sets course for at least one of these mental ideals. It is very usual for an ego to accept as most worthy the ideals of economic gain and superiority over other possible ideals. Some egos seek to gain a control over groups and sometimes whole nations.
Thus, the ego can move on a path that is not soul guided. Not every expression of a person is of the good, nor is every expression of the person always an expression of their soul. Teachings that simply say that the soul is always guiding the way, or always creating the personal path, are incorrect teachings which neglect the very possible problems of the ego and possible neurotic social conditionings. It is certainly possible for the ego and personal life to reflect the soul-purpose, but very often this does not happen. Usually, without some external spiritual guidance and influences, the ego will simply follow the more powerful influences of the lower social spheres and cultural media.
Although great benefit can be gained from good and healthy influences, especially in the early years of personal development, the three-fold person gradually develops an ego to regulate and somewhat control these social and physical influences, and this ego becomes responsible for integrating the three bodies and leading the personal life along a more individual and unique path, rather than remain as 'part of the herd' or remain simply passive to outside influences. Thus, by way of the ego the person develops a self-influence on its own development and achievements, and the person is more able to discriminate what outside influences shall be allowed and what ones should be rejected, discriminating what is good or bad for oneself.
Ego development is important, but to a great extent it becomes conditioned by social influences. Also, the ego gains the power to potentially oppose the soul; that is, the strong ego has the potential to create patterns that oppose soul purpose. This opposition does not have to be, for the ego could work in harmony with soul purposes but there is no guarantee of this. What could be very useful to the soul is if the ego can gradually bring into integration the often scattered energies of the three bodies, for this integrating work is a prerequisite for greater soul-connection and soul-expression.
The ego development and function within the personality is actually very reflective of the soul. The ego is actually a creation of the soul, and so are the three bodies, but the soul only brings forth the essential seed, or essential structure of the ego and the bodies, while their development in this world cannot be fully controlled or guided by the soul. Again, we must acknowledge the fundamental fact of other influences, from outside the person and from the person's own power disconnected from soul-consciousness. The soul does what is possible to fix its consciousness and purposes through the ego and the bodies, but these bodies very often develop and maintain a life-of-their-own, so to speak.
The soul, pure in itself, must make use of and heal the bodies of its expression. All that the soul must do, as it were, is fulfill its purposes which are universally predestined, and this purposeful expression is unavoidably limited by the soul's own power and by the bodies given for its expression. The soul must work with the bodies at-hand which are first conditioned by social and planetary influences. Although the bodies have the essential seed from the soul-life, the soul cannot usually compete equally with the greater influences of the world. The less mature the bodies, the less is the soul influence, and it is usually only later on in the more mature person that the soul can possible express itself to any substantial extent.
The soul has its own divine purposes, though limited by its present state of consciousness and creative power, and the bodies and spheres of its expression are limited and conditioned by influences and karmas, some of which are personally created and many of which are collectively created. All is interconnected, the soul being inter-related with other souls within the One Spirit, and each body being interconnected with others in its respective sphere.
Thus, there is spiritual work to be done in freeing the three bodies from unspiritual influences and errant patterns, and in developing attunement between these bodies and the soul purposes, which is all complimentary with the soul increasing and expanding its own consciousness, being-substance and manifesting power. The soul gradually gains influence and effectiveness in the three bodies and in the three spheres of planetary life, which coincides with the One Great Spirit gradually unfolding and expressing Itself in this world of experience.
We seek a process of personal spiritualization, which is a process of the soul infusing and transforming the personality and its ego. The ego is the leader of our personality. Our ego is a combination of personal concern and interest, personal will, and personal self-consciousness. It is the central force that is looking after the survival and successes of each person. For every personal ego, the number one concern is oneself. But the soul's concern and interest is much broader and group-related.
In the beginning of human growth the personal ego develops, which can be partly guided by the soul, but often is mostly guided by social and accidental forces. The ego often develops to become quite large, at least in one's own awareness; while the soul is often hidden, obscured, or even repressed by the ego. So at first the ego is large and the soul is small. The soul may even seem to be like a child, an inner child, though not to be confused with mere repressed personal desires. The soul is more like our deeper inner being, our real sincerity and truth. So the soul might be small and the ego big.
Then, something happens to either greatly shock or greatly interest the ego; whereby the ego begins to take some interest in its more deeper, inner soul of the self. And each moment that the ego gives the soul some attention and recognition, the soul is able to grow a little more in its power. The ego begins to have some interest in the soul, so it allows the soul to emerge, little by little. The ego then begins to fancy the soul, like a strange beauty, though the ego may still be somewhat frightened of this soul, much like someone might be frightened of being taken over by love. All this time, the soul is gaining power, but the ego is somewhat resisting. So there is a play between soul and ego, as the ego sometimes vacillates between infatuation with soul and resistance to the soul.
In a gradual process, the soul begins to grow larger, while the ego becomes smaller; as the ego loses some of its force each time it submits to the soul and allows the soul to be alive. Gradually, then, the soul infuses the ego and swallows it up. Eventually, the ego is assimilated by the soul and the personality functions become serving instruments for the soul. Finally, the two parts of self become one. There is still an inner and outer aspect of self, but they are now one in complete harmony, and self conflict has ceased to be. Note that the ego needs to take some interest in the soul, allow the soul to come forth, and also surrender some to the soul; in order for the soul to grow and eventually consume the ego. Luckily, the soul's inner sense of beauty and truth is attractive to the ego, and the soul brings forth love, even through the ego.
In the first stages of development, desires are unchecked and without any self-control. In the second stage an ego develops to function as regulator and leader of the personality desires. Yet in some cases, this ego becomes simply a rationalizing dupe for the desires, or else a kind a megalithic power of desire in itself. Though the purposeful function of the ego is to intelligently regulate and lead the whole three-fold personality of mind, emotion-desire, and action. Yet even this functionally working ego is not necessarily soul-directed or soul-inspired.
The ego begins gaining strength in a stage of selfish interest and trials of manipulating the world around them. We see this in early childhood. Later, the ego moves into a stage of self-fixation and narcissism, as if seeing oneself in a mirror, and often an imagined self importance, which is found in the teens, and of course the self-interest has not gone away either.
Then, the natural stage of ego is to realize responsibility or at least the need to work hard for one's chosen goals. And this realization of responsibility and needed work tends to bring the earlier ego out of its self-fixation, because the ego consciousness is now expanding to include more of the world around and interests associated with this larger world of possibility.
Next, the ego might realize an importance in submitting to a higher purposes and influences of the spiritual soul. But this later stage is a rarity, unless the person gains some influence from teachers or spiritual books or something outside of the normal social influence.
So in spiritual psychology we speak of an extra stage of human development, whereby the inner spiritual soul becomes the leader and director of self. But in order for the soul to become as leader, it must infuse into and inspire the ego, then finally transform the ego. And to a good extent, the ego must allow this; it must open to, receive, and allow the soul to come in and live through the heart, the mind, and even the body. This is allowing the inner soul to really incarnate into this three-fold personal self. So because the ego is the first directing leader, it must allow the soul to enter in to become the new leader. In esoteric teachings, the ego is the guard at the threshold. Think about this; it has a few dimensions of meaning. A guard can be protective, but a guard can also hold back.
Thus, there is a stage in our possible human development whereby our inner spiritual soul gradually infuses into the already developed ego centre of self, to become the new leader of self; thereby bringing soul leadership into personal activity and bringing soul qualities into mind and heart. The ego then becomes as soul; the ego transforms into being a soul inspired, soul directed centre of I consciousness. Or we could understand this as the soul working through the ego to become the leader-director of self. The soul is, in this stage, emerging from within, emerging from latency, to become the leader of oneself , so to bring spiritual purpose and qualities into consciously intended expression. Yet all in all, the ego (which is who we are right now as a conscious centre of decision) has to allow the inner soul to inspire and direct one's decisions.
But realize that before a personality is actually guided by or infused by their spiritual soul, the personal ego is the strongest and most powerful director in the personal life. So there is much that can be accomplished by the ego-power in the work of preparing for soul unfoldment and expression. In fact, the personal ego will need to be cooperative and facilitating for the soul, in order for the soul to stabilize in the three vehicles of mind, emotion and physical. The ego acts as the doorkeeper, as it were, having the power to either block or welcome the soul into personal expression. Remember that at first in the personal life, the personality ego will be stronger than the inner soul, so the soul cannot get very far without some degree of cooperation and acceptance by the personality directing ego.
Included in this is also a needed cooperation with desire, because desire can either encourage or hinder the soul from coming forth. Desiring for knowing one's inner soul, one's inner real being, and desire for letting the soul qualities express, are helpful desires in relation to the soul. Whereas there could be other kinds of desire that are not so helpful or even hindering. So, desire could be for the future good of soul-expression or it could be detrimental to our spiritual unfoldment. In correlation, the ego could be helpful or hindering, depending on what it is doing or to what ends it is seeking.
Teachings say that at some point of initiation, the ego sacrifices itself and allows the spiritual soul to direct one's life, but only after the ego has been developed and has accomplished its preparatory functional work of bringing all the many scattered energies and personal desires into one concentrated desire and directed focus... which is, hopefully, complementary to soul's purpose.
The true function of our ego is to take charge of our personality, to unify all parts of our personality and get our whole self on a focused track. This will be experienced as "I will.. ," or 'I am unifying'." For the ego is not something other than I. The ego is only spoken of in a way that might seem removed from oneself, in order for descriptive purposes. But actually, the ego is none other that I. (or how you experience your own I). So ego needs to take charge, as the leader I or the manager I.
But gradually this leadership should more and more be accomplished by one's soul. The soul can gradually take over this function, which could be understood as the soul gradually working through the ego, as the soul infuses into the ego. Our ego can be gradually infused with our soul's will.
If this infusement of soul into the ego continues, then gradually it will be the soul who is taking charge and unifying the personal self of mind, emotions, and activity. Then one can say, "I the soul.." am taking charge, leading, unifying, and directing my thought and activity. Then the one leading is not the lower ego, or a spiritually immature ego; but instead, the one who leads is now the soul, the I of our soul.
So realize who you are. Ask, "who is this I?" Not as a philosophical question; not as an intellectual question. But rather, as a question of how 'I' am being experienced right now. Or who am I right now? Am I the soul or the personality ego? What is the nature of my will? Is it towards the good and service to the greater life? Or is my will simply focused on my own personal desires and concerns? In other words, what is the quality of my being? Am I personality-centered and wanting others to serve me; or am I love-centered and wanting to give to others?
One way to reach soul consciousness is through meditation, or by the practice of consciously 'just being' – without desires or thoughts obscuring the soul from shining through experience. Also, we need to seek true self understanding. Another important avenue to the soul is through one's heart. Practice entering the heart, because this is where the divine soul resides, and this is where we know our truest deepest being.
Another helpful practice, for reaching the soul, is the sacrifice of our ego and personality identification. Yet this challenging, because the personality-ego tends to firmly believe in its own reality, its own importance, and its own dramas. So our self-ego is usually not willing to make any sacrifice of itself. Yet to reach our true self (soul), the ego has to sacrifice itself. The soul might occasionally break through the personality clouds and reveal itself, but this will not last long unless the ego at some point backs off and allows the soul to enter through. If only the ego personality concerns were not so controlling and preoccupying, our divine soul would then emerge. For when the ego surrenders, then our soul, our true being, gradually reveals itself.
The Divine is discovered and made conscious by meditation. Yet this most fully occurs when there is sacrifice and surrender from the personality ego – it needs to sacrifice its control and its corresponding energies of self-centeredness. The ego needs to sacrifice itself to the true self, the soul within. Then, the soul gradually arises from its dormancy in us, to take its rightful seat as our true conscious I. In this way the divine soul infuses the ego and eventually transforms the personality with its divine light.
The key is to make a self-sacrifice. We usually think of self-sacrifice in relation to others or to society, or in relation to sacrificing for a larger purpose. But there is also a sacrifice of the ego-self to the soul. And since very often, one is the ego, this is then a self-ego sacrifice.