Essentially, soul is beingness, but not just a facade or pretension of beingness as is personality. Soul is the true I, true being, true heart, true intelligence. Soul is an inner realness, inner truthfulness, sincerity. It is the innermost truth of our self. So when you reach this place, or this self-realization, you are in soul, you are soul.
The three primary essences of soul are will, love and intelligence. Yet the soul has many spiritual qualities in its essence of love, such as serenity, sincerity, care, and a passion for truth. The soul is peacefully serene, and yet it passionately strives for truth. The soul is intelligent and guiding. The soul is loving and love-filled. It is connected to Divine Love and serves Divine Love. So you know you are in soul, or soul-conscious, when such qualities are real in your experience.
Soul is also our deeper intelligence, but this is not merely a kind of accumulated knowledge or data. Rather, the intelligence of our soul is a capacity for direct knowing or intuition of what is truly good for us and for others - it is an intuitional intelligence of the deepest truth and the good, and also a direct recognition of beauty (which is love manifesting in life).
The soul is also will. But this is not the same as personality willfulness. Instead, the soul-will is an aspiration to greater truths and virtues. If you feel such aspirations, then you are experiencing soul consciousness – you are soul experiencing. The soul-will is a will-to-truth, a will-to-love, and a will-to-serve. It is a will that cares about life and seeks to do what is lovingly best. It is a will-to-create beauty and harmony. And it is also a will-to-sacrifice for higher purposes.
May we discover the love in our soul, and may we be true to the will and the intelligence of our soul. We know this will and intelligence of our soul by coming into the serene, quiet centre of our heart. Go there and wait for this knowing. Then know what to be true to.
The three aspects of soul are named somewhat differently in various esoteric teachings, so the reader and student should not get upset when the same terms are not always exactly applied. There is a useful purpose for changing the words at times, so that students do not get overly fixated on certain words, rather than delve into the meaning, and also so the student can see important conceptual relations between the terms used. For there are many importantly related ideas in these teachings about the soul.
Here is one version of the soul's triad of being: will, being, and consciousness.
The term that might be new to people's understanding is the term, being. Essentially, being is what a soul is. Or it could be said that our essential being is our soul. More precisely, being is the substance of a soul. If we were speaking about just the physical body, we would say that this being is made of physical substance, but the soul is made of light substance, or this could be referred to as energy vibration. The essence of light is not physical, even though light emerges into the physical universe and makes physical effects.
So the being of soul is made of light - some degree of light. And in this light are various possible qualities (of the light) -- which make up the character of a soul. We do not usually think of will nor of consciousness as being character qualities, but these would be regarded as essential qualities of our being.
So, we find essences in our being, or qualities, which can be understood as character qualities. Yet do not mix this up with persona qualities, or personality qualities. The qualities expressed from our persona could be soul qualities, but they might not be. In other words, how we act in relation to certain groups of friends or family might not be representative of who we really are, of the deeper qualities of being inside us.
The fundamental essence of our soul-being is love. We might not actually find it, and we might not actually think it is the primary essence of our being, but it is. There is no proof to be given for this. One simply has to discover and experience this as true. Then one will know it as true. There are other being-qualities of the soul, as well, but love is the primary and most fundamental soul quality, and from love all the other spiritual qualities are derived. Thus, the soul could be understood as a triad of: will, love, and consciousness.
Next consider will. This can also be understood as power, or as creative power since this power acts in creation and is able to create change in creation. Will and power are importantly related. Of course love is also a power, and also consciousness, because both do things and make things happen. In fact, every quality of being has an effective power; in other words, it makes effects. Yet the will is special, because it has an actual intention to direct power, an actual intention to make things happen or to make effects in life. Thus, our will is the director of our powers. And in esoteric magic, the will can direct powers outside of oneself as well, such as natural and even supernatural powers. So the will has definite power in itself. It has the power to direct powers. In terms of the soul, it is said that the soul aspect of will is its power to bring spiritual quality into life, and to express and to manifest its spiritual qualities (and the universal divine qualities as well, of which its own being microcosmically reflects).
Next consider the soul triad of: will, love, and intelligence. Here we have replaced consciousness with intelligence. Yes, the soul is a consciousness, but it is also an intelligence. Yet these two ideas are importantly related. Consciousness is the larger reality of universe and soul. Consciousness is the essence necessary to any experience of life. Without consciousness, there is no experience; and without experience, there is no real meaning to life.
Soul brings consciousness into life, because consciousness actually comes from the spiritual essence, not from physical matter. Soul incarnates consciousness, so to speak. Soul radiates consciousness into the physical body, so that even an infant experiences life consciously, to some extent. Realize that the physical body can, at times, function in the world without much consciousness at all, when it runs on mechanical-automatic mode. It runs, but the possible intensity of experience is at a minimum. And of course, the body can live without much consciousness, as in sleep.
There should be no surprise to learn that some souls have a greater consciousness capacity than other souls. But this also relates to intelligence. Intelligence is a capacity/capability to learn. Some souls have a greater intelligence capacity, but we each have a greater intelligence capacity than we usually use. So if there is a problem of intelligence lack, it is probably a lack in making the most of what intelligence we already have. Our soul provides (like a seed) our mind's intelligence capacity or capability, but each person has to develop this intelligence from latency to actualization. It needs to be developed into actual use. Otherwise it just remains latent in us, like an unwatered, unnurtured seed. This analogy can aptly be said for all aspects of the soul, whether it be consciousness, love, or will. We have to develop these, or actualize them, into living actual use. Even consciousness, which we normally presume is just present, can be developed further from its potential latent state, and thus increased and expanded.
Our soul is a our capacity for learning, for insight, for creative expression, and for experiencing spiritual qualities of love, joy, peace, compassion, etc. One aspect of our soul is intelligence. But this is not an intelligence that is full of thought or always thinking. Rather, this intelligence is a capacity for learning and for insight. It is sort of like an ability to understand.
The soul is a capacity to learn, to understand what is true, 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. The intelligence of our soul uses the thinking-mind to develop understanding and thoughts representing truth. 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 world.
Another way of understanding the triad of soul is: power, love, and light. We have already spoken about the soul as consciousness and as intelligence. Related to these is spiritual light, or also called the light of consciousness, or the light of awakening. So, the light of soul is related closely to consciousness and intelligence. Light expands consciousness and increases intelligence. This spiritual light is what enlightens people about what is True and Good. It enlightens people about the Purpose of life and ways to fulfill that Purpose. Ways to fulfill the Divine Purpose and reach the Divine Goal are known as Divine Plans. But these are plans in the making and plans intended; rather than plans pre-set into the future, as if God sets out The Plan which then is necessarily fulfilled.
The soul is often understood as light and love. This can be related to mind and heart, the two great halves of a human being. Light awakens the mind and gives it intelligence. Love embraces the heart and opens it up. If more people were experiencing this light and love, the whole world would very soon transform, transformed by wisdom and love. We can radiate out and send out light and love to others and to all of humanity. We can receive light and love from the Spiritual Cosmos. But also we can receive light and love from our own inner soul, which is a microcosmic seed of the Universal Divine Self, God.
No matter what aspect it is, we need to nurture it. We need to work with it. Otherwise, all these aspects of soul will remain in latent state in relation to our conscious waking lives. We need to nurture, develop, and bring forth our inner capabilities and qualities, which come from the soul, the seed potentials of the soul. This is especially true of love. Love is the core essence of our soul being. In a sense, it exists between will and consciousness, the other aspects of soul.
Love has a number of significant essential aspects or qualities in it. First is a feeling of belonging, relatedness, and connection with others and with life. This might also be a feeling of unity-with. This feeling, or feelings, will start off with a very limited inclusiveness. By analogy, an infant or young one will feel this belonging, relatedness and connection first with its mother but not much with anyone else. Gradually this related-feeling expands to include another and then another and then the family and then maybe the extended family or relatives. This feeling then expands gradually to include, perhaps, the tribe or the larger community. This feeling of love-relatedness can potentially keep on expanding, even becoming inclusive of all humanity and the whole planet.
But the usual norm is that it stops expanding at some boundary and becomes sort of separative. Yet this does not need to be, since the real soul in everyone loves to love and would love to include all in this love, to belong to all, related to all, and connected with all. Again to keep in mind is that love is a potential in us, a soul potential, so this needs to be nurtured and brought forth from its latent state of merely being a capacity in us.
Another significant aspect of love is sensitivity. Sensitivity is the foundation of our emotional being. This too comes from our inner soul. Emotional sensitivity, or let us say heart sensitivity, is very much like an ability, or capability. In fact it is. Yet people do not see it as such, so they take sensitivity for granted and do not consider the need to nurture this, in oneself and also in others, and to develop it, just as one would develop their inherent capacity to read or to write. So in homes and in schools we see a need to develop and improve a child's ability to read and write, yet we do not think about the need to nurture and develop a child's emotional/love sensitivity, in order to bring this human potential, this human capacity, into actual 'ableness' ; just as we would treat any other potential human ability, such as dance or singing or even skateboarding.
Sensitivity is being emotionally sensitive to the feelings and needs of others. In saying it is emotional does not have to mean emotional drama, nor emotional gushiness, nor emotional reaction. Emotion does not have to be a reaction; it could be a 'response' which is pro-active rather than re-active. Then, in this sensitivity and with this sensitivity, a person can act and respond with love, giving another person a feeling of love's belonging and acceptance and a receptive kind of understanding.
The third essential aspect of love is caring, which also needs to be nurtured and developed from its soul latency into personal expression. Caring is a significant capacity in everyone, but it needs to be nurtured into maturity by the local social environment. This could also be said of all soul potentials in us. If the social environment is not itself caring, or not love sensitive, then the developing soul (or child) in that environment will not be experiencing these qualities which will hinder the bringing forth of their own potentials for sensitivity, caring, and love. So in order for caring to develop from its latency, from capacity to actuality, the person needs to first experience this from its environment. Then hopefully those around the person will also help nurture the caring capacity in that person. This is like teaching a child to care; but instead of saying teaching, we might say 'reminding' or help the child 'recognize' in their own inner being the feeling of care. Because this quality-capacity of care is already within everyone; it just needs to be given a bit of positive support and nurturance from those around, which is of course their expression of love and care.
Later on, as an adult, we might not need to rely on others so much and the social environment might not so crucially effect us; in other words, as an adult one becomes more independent - which is a developed ability to maintain one's own self-integrity while not being so emotionally dependent on others. This might turn into a closed-off sensitivity, but not necessarily, because it is very possible to develop emotional non-dependency (not being dependently needy for other people's attention, approval, and acceptance), while at the same time be emotionally caring and also love-sensitive in relation to others. That is, I can be increasingly sensitive and caring, in relation to the feelings and needs of others, but not emotionally dependent on everyone around me necessarily expressing love and care to me, or giving me attention, approval, and acceptance.
Of course we all naturally like and enjoy approval, acceptance and love from others. Let us be sincere and truthful about this. It is natural and emotionally healthy to enjoy positive feelings and caring attention from others. But we can, nonetheless, not be emotionally dependent on this, so that when it is not present we do not emotionally crumble, nor go into a mood of despair or anger; instead, we just carry on with an acceptance of whatever and maintain our own independent smile. This is all part of developing emotional maturity, which includes a developed self-integrity of independence but also an increasing sensitivity and care in relation with others and all of life.
These are the fundamental three aspects of love. Consider them with great importance. If we might consider a fourth aspect of love, it would be compassion. This is a very important idea in most religions, but difficult to understand. The word comes from two parts, com and passion. Passion means desire for, or wish for. Com has a similar meaning with communal, which relates it to the meaning of shared or with. So using a kind of word play for understanding, compassion would mean a wish for communal-ness, or communing with another. But passion can also mean an impulse to action, so compassion has in it a wish for the communal good of everyone, or the good that 'we' share, and thus with compassion a person cares about the well-being of another and also has an impulse to act in favor of that person's good.
Therefore, compassion has the sense of
caring, mixed with a sympathetic sensitivity, and also mixed with a
feeling of communal belonging. Compassion is saying, 'I feel
your feelings and needs, and I wish to actively help you.'
Compassion also gives one an impulse to act towards others, as one
would hope others would act toward oneself; because one has a feeling
of relating to the other, as if that person were part of oneself. In
fact, this is a spiritual practice -- to see others as parts of one's
own larger [communal] Beingness, then to act accordingly to them.