So now, at this point in our study of the soul, we have to make a distinction between two meanings of soul development, and hopefully we can avoid semantic confusions.
In the discussions just presented above, and in some other chapters, the word development is often used in relation to the soul, as in "soul development," or "developing the soul." This seems to be an appropriate, understandable use of the term for that context of discussion. In other words, the use of such terms or phrases makes sense in that kind of discussion -- discussing about how our inner soul can develop in us, from an inner latent seed of potential to an actualized and realized living reality. That is, our soul will hopefully 'develop' from latency to actual livingness in our whole self. To speak in this way makes perfect sense and is understandable.
But there is another sense or meaning of the term, soul development, which we also need to use, but for a different context of discussion. This other meaning of soul development pertains to the soul in its own process of development, which will continue on through many lifetimes. This is a whole subject in itself. Though it is very related to the subject of soul realization and actualization in the personal life, which has been previously discussed and which is a prerequisite knowing before this next subject can be understood.
Thus, in these teachings about soul, the term 'soul development' or 'soul developing' is sometimes used in the context of the soul 'developing in our personality life'.
But it is also used in the context of the soul 'developing in its own right' (and so having a slightly different meaning). In this context, we might also us the term, 'soul-building', which would have an equivalent meaning.
In the first context, respectfully, the term soul-personality development would be more to the point. But in the context of that discussion, this more complex term would be cumbersome and also would lack a normal english vernacular meaningfulness. Therefore, we only use this terminology in certain specific discussions.
For example, it can be said that soul-personality development is the development of an alignment and fusion between soul and personality. This soul-personality development is crucial in our own lifetime; for without it, there cannot be any personal realization of the soul, no mental realization, no personal experience of the soul or of being a soul. Also, there could not be any conscious expression of the soul qualities, unless the soul and personality vehicles are in alignment and in agreement.
Three developing parts of the soul: consciousness, will, and love.
These are the three aspects of soul; also known as the three kinds of petals of the soul flower. Consciousness is the awakening of the soul; the soul awakening from sleep; the soul potential becoming actually conscious. For at first the soul is just a latent potential, a sleeping seed, a spiritual possibility. Yet within the soul itself is the potential for being conscious. Once this happens, we can then say that the soul is awake or conscious.
But this soul consciousness is relative in its degree. In other words, the power of consciousness is developing, which means that at first there is some degree of consciousness but not very much. So the degree of consciousness, in the soul, will be a gradual development -- requiring time and energy. Esoterically, it is understood that a soul will develop over many lifetimes, known as soul progression or soul evolution. And one essential aspect of this development is consciousness -- which is the soul realizing and knowing its own spiritual potentials -- that is, to the degree of its developed consciousness.
The second aspect of soul in the process of development is will. This can also be understood as an inner drive or also as an inner power to achieve. This will of the soul to achieve is not just an ordinary will to achieve. Many people have a will to achieve, which comes from the ordinary human ego, but the soul will to achieve is to do with spiritual achievement, spiritual actualization, expression of spiritual potentials and qualities. It is the spiritual will inside us, our creative spiritual will. It is our inner drive or urge to express our spiritual potentials. Though when this spiritual will is combined with consciousness, it is experienced as a conscious, intentional will to spiritually express and to manifest the highest, the best, the most beautiful.
Next, the third aspect of soul is love. And this should not imply that love is of third importance, because all of the aspects are equally significant. This aspect of soul really includes all of the finest spiritual virtues of our soul; but we summarize all of these into the word, love. So we are using the word love in a very general and inclusive way. Or we could also understand that all of the finest virtues of self derive from the greatest quality of all, love. The love qualities include compassion, caring, appreciation, cooperation, generosity, a sense of belonging, and many other qualities -- all within the potential or the essence of the soul. But if love and all of these qualities only remain as potential, or remain in latency, then the great Purpose of life has not yet been achieved.
One purpose of the soul is realization and the other is expression. Realization requires the development of consciousness. Expression requires the development of will. Love and all of the spiritual qualities within us need to be realized and expressed. For unless our love is realized and expressed, it remains in soul latency, or remains simply as soul potential.
Importantly, the love that is latent inside us will first need to be realized. Realization has to come before expression. One has to realize love, know love, before it can be expressed. And the same can be said for any other spiritual quality. First realization, then expression; but both are significantly essential in the great Purpose of life.
Yet, the actual expression of soul is a step more difficult than realization. It requires will as well as consciousness. But also, the expression of soul will require cooperation and agreement in the personality-self. For remember that the vehicle for soul expression is our own personal self -- which we are calling the three-fold personality (or 'person') of thinking mind, feeling emotions, and physical body/activity. This is also sometimes called the lower self; while the soul is the higher self.
Think of the soul essence as a foci of pure spiritual potential. And think of it as a flower seed. Then, this soul essence begins to develop into a soul flower with 12 petals, of which there are three kinds: consciousness, will, and love petals. These also correspond to the three primary colors. Then, as the soul develops, in all of these three ways, this development (as the flower) carries on into other lifetimes.
But in each lifetime, this soul has to be re-discovered by the personality-self. And remember that the personality-self, including the personal ego, has to first develop in its own right, and then also has to develop its own coherent unity, before it is able to be a mental, emotional and physical vehicle for soul realization and expression. The re-discovery of one's soul, then, becomes crucial, and it may not happen in a lifetime nor even in many lifetimes, because this is dependent on personality circumstances or the circumstances of that person.
So if the life circumstances are unfavorable for soul discovery, or soul realization, then it probably won't happen. But also, the personality has to first become receptive and inquisitive in relation to the soul, and secondly, it has to come into a favorable cooperation with the soul. Then thirdly, it has to come into alignment and agreement with the soul. All of this necessary to achieve a true self-realization, or personal realization, of the soul, as well as true expression. And this is the soul-personality development, or also known as soul-personality fusion.
Then, when there is soul-personality fusion and alignment, the soul can work through the personality self -- through the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of oneself. This becomes our opportunity for conscious realization of our soul, or what can be called soul-consciousness, and also this is our soul's opportunity to be expressive through our thoughts, feelings and actions.
Then additionally, in the more esoteric side of things, this soul-personality fusion also becomes the soul's opportunity to develop further -- that is, to develop its soul-petals... of consciousness, will, and love. In other words, the soul itself is able to develop further - by the realization and actualization of its inner essence of spiritual potential. In effect, our soul is discovering evermore of its spiritual essence -- which is the essence of God -- and this is the evolutionary process of the soul.
Yet a key understanding in this is that the soul's further development, progression, and evolution depend on the energies and experiences attained in actual lifetimes. In other words, it is the actual energies, experiences and challenges found in physical life that are necessary for the further development of our soul; that is, if the soul is even discovered.
An individual soul, the true core of each person, is somewhat like a Seed that provides each person with their basic potentials (or 'essences') for spiritual will, love, intuition, creative-artistic abilities, and aesthetic-moral sensibilities. These soul potentials (essences) unfold and are actualized in each personal life, more or less, depending on circumstances and to some degree on accident or luck. It is possible that soul abilities and urges are present in a person, yet not be actualized. Reincarnation provides further opportunities. Each soul is also here in life to learn about self and relationships, through the experiences and challenges of a personal life. So, the soul provides basic divine potentials to a personal life, and it also receives learning from this personal life as well as new developments in essences.
Each soul has a certain degree (or 'amount') of soul power, love, intuition-wisdom (spiritual intelligence), and artistic-creative inspiration. This is the degree of its expansion. These fundamental soul qualities, including many spiritual qualities of love, are what the soul brings to its personal-life and what it seeks to express through the person and into the world. Yet this endeavor of the soul to actualize its qualities in the person (in the personality vehicles) can vary in possibility from being very successful to being not successful at all. This is most simply called 'the degree of soul actualization' in the personality. Then, as well, the soul itself expands and develops by way of its actualization and experiences in personal life. So, the soul's own possible development (its soul-development) depends on how well it can actualize and exercise its qualities through the person and in relation to the world.
Thus, the soul gains (possibly) from its incarnational experiences, through the personality triad of mind, emotion and manifest-activity. The soul itself matures and expands more, if it is able to actualize its soul qualities through the personal life. If the soul does not become realized in the person and cannot exercise its spiritual qualities through this personal-life expression, then it gains nothing and does not expand any further.
One of the soul's primary essences is wisdom. This wisdom can be expanded and enriched by the experiences of each lifetime. So each lifetime, each incarnation, is an opportunity for the soul to gain in wisdom, to expand and enrich its wisdom. The same is true, by analogy, of all the soul qualities. The soul makes use of personal experiences to expand its wisdom. The soul is continually expanding its 'wisdom-body', via each new incarnation, by distilling wisdom essences from what is learned from personal life experiences. Wisdom learning can even be extracted from negative or failure kinds of experience. Thus, each soul is continually developing and expanding its innate qualities. Wisdom is accumulating, love is expanding, and the soul's capacity for mastery in life keeps improving.
Though, just like with anybody in life, the success and degree of knowledge gained by personal experience will depend the degree of awakeness and the attitude for learning; since, as we might know, one person will gain a lot of wisdom from a particular experience, while another person might not, or just like one person might learn quickly from a mistake and so move on from it, while another person might keep repeating the same mistakes again and again, not learning from experience. So, to gain wisdom from an experience depends on the person's awakeness and their attitude for learning (their openness and willingness to learn). Each soul already has this right attitude, but the personality has to have this learning attitude as well, since the soul gaining wisdom from life experience requires a well functioning personal mind [and one might also say a cooperative personality].
The soul develops by light, love and creative struggle. Each human soul is latent with spiritual qualities, so we look to our soul as our inner spiritual potential. In many systems of thought, the soul is primarily regarded as a reservoir of spiritual qualities and latent divine perfection, or similar by analogy to a microcosmic light reflecting the Infinite Macrocosmic Light. Yet in a different way of understanding, each soul is the overall subjective state of an individual self-being, or the state of an individual human psyche. This state of the soul/self could range from infantile to great maturity. It could be very young in its actualization of its latent potentials, or it could be more mature in its actualization of spiritual potential. It could also range from stages of fragmentation to greater unity and synthesis. So in this sense, each soul is in a process of development, and we can then speak of younger souls and older souls. The younger souls have the same great spiritual potentials, latent within, as the older souls, but younger souls have yet to realize and actualize most of these spiritual potentials, and as well they have not yet unified the emerging potentials into a useful synthesis.
Now for the soul, this earthly world is like a cooking pot, because it is a place of transformation. This is where the soul develops. It develops in this cooking pot of struggles, challenges, conflicts and difficulties. Of course our world does not need to be in continuous conflict, and a soul does not need to be in continuous struggle, but at least we might see a relative value in struggles, challenges, conflicts and difficulties. For often, development and growth require some degrees of struggle, which builds character strength and other qualities.
Often as well, the latent-potential spiritual qualities within us do not emerge unless there is a need or an invocation of them. Challenges help invoke those hidden qualities from within us. Challenges bring forth those qualities that would not usually emerge in normal situations. So needs and challenges are what help bring out those spiritual qualities latent within us; just as when we find someone in need, it brings forth our compassion, our caring, and our talents to help. In a like manner, when confronted with a challenge or a puzzle, a child's inner potentials will come forth and develop in order to meet that challenge. This is why the soul needs to live and experience in this world; because this world is a learning ground and a place of challenges that bring forth our latent spiritual qualities, such as love, compassion, perseverance, patience, intelligence, and the will-to-good.
The more difficult aspects of life are not needed all of the time, but they do have value for the sake of soul development. Realizing this helps us accept, rather than spitefully resist or curse, the more challenging situations in which we sometimes find ourselves. Struggle and challenge are useful in building character. Yet it is true that sometimes the challenges and difficulties that some people are forced to face are more destructive or character than being positive; in other words, some overly intense difficulties can tear people up and are thus best to be avoided. So we should be careful of sweeping generalizations, regarding the positive value of challenges and difficulties, because sometimes people get completely destroyed by difficulties forced upon them. Thus, it is not true that all difficulties have positive value; rather the point here is that many difficult or challenging situations can be positive to our soul development, or to our character development, if we can learn from the challenge or learn better how to meet it.
So, once there is some degree of soul discovery and soul-realization, we need to develop our soul-personality fusion -- which is aimed at bringing our soul into a complete realization and expression through our three-fold personality vehicles. This could be understood as building the soul in us -- building the soul into our personality. This will require certain qualities of attitude, such as allowing and agreement. Yet we don't have to create the soul's wisdom, beauty and love; for these are already in the soul. We simply have to recognize, receive, allow and accept the beautiful qualities of our inner soul.
At first, I as personal ego will be making a relationship with my inner soul, and my attitude will be more receptive. But later, when this fusion has become truly successful, then I as soul will be making a relationship with my personality, and the attitude will then be more active. The experience and the relationship flips the other way, as it were.
So in the process of soul-personality fusion, these different experiences of relationship often flip back and forth. And this may be cause to confusion in certain discussions, if one person is speaking about the work to do from their personality perspective, while another person is speaking about the work to do from their soul perspective. The first person might be talking about the need for receptivity and allowing, in relation to what is divine within; while the other person might be talking about the need for active creative structuring, in relation to the personality vehicles. So meaning sometimes depends on what part of the process one is in at the time.
Next, once there is sufficient fusion, and once we are consciously the soul and working as a soul, then we embark on the path of conscious soul development, which is the soul building soul, or soul developing itself. Though a better term for this, from the soul perspective, is soul unfoldment, because the soul is unfolding its own inner spiritual potentials. It isn't really developing itself, as if creating itself; rather, it is continuously discovering its spiritual potential - the Divine within it and then seeking to express this in life and in the world. Nonetheless, we call this process a soul development, because the soul is being developed, strengthened, and expanded.
Remember first that the soul is made of the energies of consciousness, love and will. So one energy of the soul is light, which is consciousness. The soul is made of light and thus requires greater light in order to develop, strengthen, and expand. This light comes from consciousness. Therefore, the first step to take is to bring consciousness to the soul, which is like light nourishing the flower of soul. Thus, the personal mind, our mind, needs to give consciousness to the inner soul. This means to give to our soul a conscious recognition and attention. Just as any child needs and often demands attention and recognition, so too our soul child within needs attention and recognition. This is how we can give consciousness/light to our soul, to help our soul fuse into us and to help further develop our soul.
Ultimately, the best development for the soul and also the best way for soul-fusion, is to be soul-conscious. This is different from being merely ego-conscious. Ego-consciousness is somewhat ordinary for the average person. It is to be conscious of one's self power of choice, or of what it is to be a decision-maker. There is nothing at all negative about this ego-consciousness, just as there is nothing wrong with having a power of choice or of being a decision-maker. The ego is the part of our total self that chooses. Its two aspects are consciousness and will. Ego is conscious of the world around it, to some degree, and it has some degree of power to choose how to act in this world and how to obtain some kind of success. All of this is quite ordinary; though some egos certainly function better than others. Yet one limitation of the ego is that it is self-centered and self-serving, unless it is infused with some of the soul - which is world-centered, life-serving, and has the power of real love.
Now at first, the spiritual work will be for the personal ego to decidedly give consciousness to the inner soul. This will begin as recognition and acknowledgment and also appreciation, and then it can become a fully attentive consciousness of the soul. Then, as the ego is giving consciousness to the soul, by basically being aware of the soul, the soul is becoming nourished by this consciousness, just as a tree or plant is nourished by the energy of light. So, as the soul is nourished by this light, or nourished by the ego giving consciousness to it; the soul's power of consciousness begins to grow as well. Then eventually, the soul gains enough consciousness that there is now soul-consciousness in oneself. Or in other words, our soul is now conscious and awake in us. This is the fusion.
The soul is also made of the various energy-qualities of love, so this is also what the soul needs in order to develop and expand. Fundamentally, we can help to build the soul in us, and also develop the soul itself, by the energies of love. The soul is made of love, and thus our own love is from this very soul that is in us. Every moment we are in the energy of love, or in the caring and givingness of love, we are then strengthening our soul of love. The key here is that love builds upon love. Love reinforces and strengthens love. So any love and devotion and caring we give towards our inner soul is a great nourishment for our soul, like a water of love nourishing our flower of soul.
Thus, our soul is nourished by the light of consciousness and the water of love. In fact we are all nourished by light and love. At first, the ego must give to the soul this light and this love. For at first, the soul is like a fragile and shy child, and the ego has to be a nourisher of this soul-child. But then gradually the soul is strengthened by the love and light we give it, until eventually at some point the spiritual power of our soul awakens so much that infuses into the personal vehicles of mind, emotion and physical activity. The main energy which often holds this back is the self-centeredness and other compulsions of the ego.
So the very process going on here is a transformational dynamic between soul and self-ego. The ego actually gains its love and consciousness from the spiritual soul; and then, as ego gives this love and consciousness back to soul, the soul develops further by this nourishment. This is the interrelational dynamic between ego and soul; until eventually, hopefully, they will be fused into one. Once there is real fusion and unity between ego and soul, then the experience is of one-self, I-being, soul-self being conscious and loving in the world. And as this I-soul-self becomes even more conscious in life and more loving, it develops and expands further as a continuing soul being.
The third important way for the soul to develop is by intentional struggle towards betterment or perfection. Within the soul is this will towards being better, or towards a finer perfection (though there probably is no absolute or final perfection). This can also be experienced as a will to bring forth beauty, harmony, love, justice, or truth.
The soul is made of love, light, and will. The soul's will is its power to create or to manifest the qualities of love, beauty and truth. This power, this will and this motivation are within our soul.
Every step of will and intentional struggle towards these aims is also a step further in soul-development. Here is an explanation. Within each soul are the infinite divine potentials of God. The three primary potentials are intelligence, love, and the will-to-betterment. These are the powers and motivations of the soul, but only to the extent they are actualized. In the beginning the soul is essentially just these potentials. But the path of the soul is to realize and actualize these potentials. So as a soul, this is our path and purpose. Then, whatever is realized and actualized is carried on through physical lifetimes, as well as possibly unfolding further in any lifetime; and so this is the path of the soul. Thus, the realization and actualization of divine potentials is the path and purpose of the soul, or what is also called the soul's unfoldment, or its development.
So then the next question is how this happens. How does the soul's potential unfold into actualization, which then develops and progresses the soul? First of all understand that it happens by practice and occurrence.
For example, intelligence is unfolded from its potential by the use of intelligence, by the actual practice and occurrence of intelligence. For as intelligence is practiced and used, it develops. This is how anything is developed: by practice and use. So why would the soul be practicing and using its potential intelligence? For use in practical life, or for the purpose of serving something needed. This is why the soul can only unfold and develop in its physical lifetimes. It needs a physical and social world, in order to unfold its potentials, because this is where the opportunities are, the opportunities for practice and use. This is where the circumstances arise that demand or need a greater unfoldment of our potential intelligence, and so these circumstances-of-need bring out from us what would otherwise remain as mere potential inside us.
Thus, the circumstances-of need give us a necessary opportunity to use and practice our soul potential of intelligence, and so actualize the potential within. The same can be said of love. Our soul has an infinite potential of love, which is the divine love of/from God. But we need opportunities and circumstances-of-need, in order for our inner potential of love to come forth into actualization and expression. We need real circumstances and opportunities to practice love. And by practice and expression of love, our love is further unfolded and developed. So may we cherish all opportunities for love, and make use of them; just as we might appreciate all opportunities for using/applying our inherent intelligence and so developing it further.
Circumstances-of-need also give us opportunities to actualize our soul power of will. The essential power of will is to do things and get things done. The soul power of will is more specifically aimed at bettering, improving, and perfecting our life and also the world/life around us. The will of the soul is also called the will-to-good, which is an inner motivation inherently within us. This is also the inner will or intention to bring forth greater love, harmony and intelligence into the world.
So again, circumstances-of-need provide important opportunities for our spiritual will to come forth and be actualized from its inherent potential, because circumstance with need inspire our spiritual will to help, heal and improve. In other words, our spiritual will, or soul-will, requires a true need for its inspiration and enactment. So when we see a true need -- a need to help, heal or improve -- then our inner spiritual will tends to get inspired by this, because that is what the spiritual will aims to do, and also to bring forth love, harmony, beauty, and wisdom, ... the hallmarks of spiritual evolution.
So understand that every instance inside our self of will-to-good, of will-to-serve, of will-to-love, or will-to-beauty, or any will to help, heal or improve, is itself a development of our soul's power of will. Every step forward in a will-to-good, will-to-serve, will-to-improve, or will-to-love is a step forward in soul development in the aspect/function of spiritual will. Every moment of will or also intention, in a life-serving or life-improvement direction, is a step forward in soul development. This is because the aspect of will in our soul is further developed by circumstances and moments of its actualization.
Yet we must also understand that will and intention are not quite enough. We also need to struggle, effort, and work. So for this development of the soul inside us, or the soul as we are, we also need intentional struggle, also called intentional work or intentional efforts. We need to work, to do real work and make real efforts towards the Spiritual aims known by our heart and intellect. To know the spiritual aims and to love the aims are not enough. We also need to make efforts and work towards these aims. So every effort, struggle and work that we do with intention (conscious intention towards the spiritual aim) is an exercising of the soul's will -- which develops the soul's 'muscle-power' of will and actualizes the soul's spiritual potential. And any of this requires circumstances and opportunities which could only be found in this earth life.
As well, in any instance of intentional effort or struggle, there is an energy transformation. This is because in such instances there is a resistance or possible an inertia that has been overcome... that is, transformed inside us. For we are not really speaking about outward struggle here; but more so inward struggle. Outward struggle is an ordinary thing; it is one direction or desire against another. But there is an inner transformation of energy when we engage in an inner intentional struggle or inner effort, because we are then engaging and transforming some kind of resistance or old pattern in our self.
The laws of energy are that any intention or enactment will bring forth actual energy from potential energy. All actual energies ultimately come from the greater source of potential energy.
Consider these ideas
* Realizing the need for transformation.
* Realizing that need is very powerful.
* Building the soul with the energy struggle of transformation.
* Building our soul is, esoterically, building our solar body, our body of soul-ar light.
Also read - Three
aspects of soul
and - Seeds of our soul