The Soul – part 1

The soul is often defined as the Knower; it knows its purpose. It knows its part in God’s plan, and all human beings are striving in some way to awaken to this inner knowing and to find their place within the plan.

Robert: Hello, and welcome to Inner Sight. Our show today is part one of a series on the topic of the soul. In a world that is getting increasingly smaller and in which people of very different cultures and customs are coming into increasing contact with each other, the realization of the One Soul is more important than ever, if we are to have right human relations. Today, we’re going to talk about the soul; try to define it, recognize it, cultivate its presence within ourselves and learn to see it in others. The following is a thought from the books of Alice Bailey, “The soul is the force of evolution itself and this was in the mind of Saint Paul when he spoke of, “the Christ in you, the hope of glory.” What is the soul and how can we define it? 

Sarah: It’s not easy to define and our listeners will have to be patient with us as we come at it from a number of different approaches. One definition that I like is that the soul is the relation between, or the middle principle between, pure spirit—which believers call God—and matter or the outer world of material forms. Another definition is that the soul was described in the Bible, in Genesis, as the garden. If you remember the story of Adam and Eve, they were cast out of the garden, meaning that they were cast out by the soul into the material realm and left bereft of divinity for their sins. Another definition is that the soul touches both the inner realm of spirit from which it receives inspiration, and the outer external world from which it receives impression, and that’s interesting to ponder on. 

Dale: Yes, I like to think of the soul in very much the same way, as that spark of divinity that lies within each human being. There is this divine part of us that we may not always realize, and that is essentially what the soul is. It is the divine essence, and that’s what’s really meant in that quote that we opened with. The soul is the force of evolution itself and it is that divine spark, that divine quality, which links us with God, that actually is the force that is moving human consciousness and human creativity forward in a very evolutionary way. This divine nature is what moves all life on earth forward. 

Robert: That’s what moves us forward and is that for personal evolution as well? For example, a person going from one point in consciousness to perhaps a better state of mind and a better point of consciousness—would that be the soul also? 

Dale: Yes, essentially it is. It’s the moving force, the motivating force. We don’t realize that’s what it is, but it is that divine spark that is moving us, really. 

Sarah: It’s the persistence and the driving urge to hang in there, you might say. That’s the presence of the soul. There are times in all of our lives when we might want to give up and cash it all in. But there is something in us that causes us to get up and plod on, to pick ourselves up and move forward. That’s the presence of the soul. I think that’s what you mean by the evolutionary aspect of it. There’s also that beautiful definition from Robert Browning, the poet. He referred to it as the imprisoned splendor. I love that expression, the imprisoned splendor that’s present within each of us. It’s imprisoned within the personality, within the outer persona—what many of us think is the whole and complete self: the physical being with its personality, its looks, appearance, habits, and attributes. That’s just the outer shell in which the soul abides and for a long time is imprisoned. 

Dale: Yes. And another way of looking at it perhaps is in relation to the divine Trinity. We have the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. The soul is the middle principle here, this is the Son aspect. The Father is the Spirit and the soul is the mediating principle between spirit and matter, as you mentioned earlier. It is this divine mediator that lies within us. It has a location on its own higher plane of mind, but there is a projection of that soul in consciousness, into every human being and it’s anchored in every human being. 

Sarah: And that factor of consciousness is significant in understanding what the soul is as the middle principle, the relation between pure spirit—which is the spark of divinity—and form. Soul produces an awareness of being both spirit, divine in origin, and a form living in the outer world. So, the evolutionary force of the soul develops and causes the expansion of consciousness within a human being. One begins by having no awareness at all of one’s surroundings or of other people. One begins in apparent darkness and gradually awakens to the world around one and to one’s relationship to the world, to one’s family and to one’s fellow human beings. That unfolding consciousness is the path of the soul. 

Dale: And it is the soul that represents that high state of perfection that we all try to strive for. Whatever we’re doing in life, we’re trying to move forward and trying to improve our station in life. Whether it’s our physical body, or our emotional nature, or trying to move forward in our careers, there is that inner urge that keeps moving us towards some kind of perfection. 

Sarah: It’s often manifesting as a kind of dissatisfaction, isn’t it? That sense that things aren’t quite right and that one’s self isn’t quite right, that we’re not quite living up to this standard of perfection that you mentioned. It’s like a very quiet tape that’s playing in the back of our consciousness that knows better and expects more of us. It’s this voice that is very silent for a long time but that gradually becomes louder, that provides this standard of perfection that we continually strive toward, but usually fail to meet. 

Dale: This is essentially what we are; every human being is this soul. We tend to identify too much with our physical and emotional nature, perhaps. But really what we are in our very deepest essence is this soul. We are in this world to do a specific job, a duty, our dharma, or whatever you want to call it, and everybody plays a part in this. This is essentially what we are and that’s why the soul acts as mediator between man and God and is doing the work for God; it’s like the agent for God in this work of perfection. 

Sarah: That’s also why the soul is often defined as the Knower; it knows its purpose. It knows its part in God’s plan, and all human beings are striving in some way to awaken to this inner knowing and to find their place within the plan. The soul in its perfect state knows why it’s living here on earth and what it is here to accomplish, and we have to try to unlock that knowing. I think another definition of the soul that’s important to consider is the fact that a lot of people think of it as the aspect of ourselves that’s eternal. I would say not really eternal, but immortal, and there is a difference. The word eternal suggests—at least to me—that this part of us is unchanging and will endure forever and ever as it is presently. I don’t think that’s a correct definition of the soul. This is where a lot of the confusion comes in with the Buddhist view, which many people say does not include the recognition of the soul. In the sense that we aren’t eternal as souls, but are continuing to change and grow and evolve, I would say they are right. When we die, we do not enter into a state of being that endures forever in whatever the state of consciousness is when one dies; that’s not true. We continue to grow and expand, but the soul is enduring and persistent. Its immortal and it lives beyond the death of the body. 

Robert: How can we recognise the soul? 

Sarah: Well, I don’t know what Dale might say, but to me, one early glimmer of the soul that many of us awaken to as children is the conscience. The conscience is that voice within us that says, ‘oh, I shouldn’t have done that,’ and that’s probably the first sign of the soul. Another expression of the soul is a sense of responsibility, because often responsibility goes against what one would prefer. 

Dale: That’s the first indication of the soul taking command or influencing the personal life: the sense of responsibility, which is responsibility for oneself and responsibility for family and it works out from there. Also, I think, what is most paramount about the qualities of the soul, and what comes through is the quality of love. The degree to which one can express love in the outer world—selfless love, or the unconditional kind of love.  This is a pure soul quality and when you see that in people you know right away that there is something special there and that it’s really coming from within. 

Sarah: You’re not just speaking about personal love, the love that we have for our family and friends and our spouse, but the impersonal love too. You see this sometimes between complete strangers, where it radiates from people simply because of this presence of the soul, which sees a connection with others. I think a sign of the soul is the ability to look at another person, perhaps one who is suffering or in some dire straits, and say, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ To be able to look at one’s fellow passengers on the subway and imagine the humanity and the struggle that each of them is going through and to know that we’re not all that different from each other. 

Dale: Right, and particularly if it’s a spontaneous response. If that response of yours is spontaneous, then it comes without any qualifications, without any impediments in the way of that energy, and it just pours out automatically; that’s true soul love. 

Sarah: I think another sign of the soul and an indication of its presence is the commitment to truth at any cost, even cost to the personal self. By this I mean that kind of inner dialogue that goes on within our minds that I mentioned a while ago. Every time you find yourself trying to rationalize something that happened, something that you said or did. and you carry on this rationalization within your mind in an attempt to justify it; I think that’s the voice of the soul trying to be heard over the din of the personality trying to make a good case for itself. The commitment to truth will bring the awareness into the consciousness of wrongdoing, if one is really going to live a life that’s based on honesty and self-assessment. 

Robert: I was very intrigued about this question and I enjoyed that summary! Do you have any more comments on how we can recognize the soul? 

Sarah: Well, yes, there are many more ways to recognize it because the soul is the quality aspect of the human being. We know the soul. We recognize it by its qualities. For example, impersonal love is a quality of the soul. Service is an attribute of the soul; the desire to serve is a sign that the soul is present and on duty so to speak. The person who has an inclusive, open, tolerant consciousness towards other human beings who are different from himself, is one who is thinking as the soul. One who is joyful no matter what’s going on in the outer life; if there is that inner quality of joy, that’s a sign of the soul. The desire to share; to share money, to share time, to share whatever one has with others, that’s an indication of the soul. 

Dale: We have to remember that the soul is what gives us consciousness in the first place. We wouldn’t be conscious in this world without this factor of the soul. It’s the capacity we have that enables us to become aware: aware of our world around us, aware of other people, aware of ourselves, aware of our divine source. I think, it’s very important to bear that in mind. 

Sarah: Interestingly, sometimes people come into deeper contact with their soul when they are going through a very bad patch. For some reason, the friction that’s created between the personality, which always likes to be content and happy, and the soul, the imprisoned splendour that Browning spoke of which dwells within us—the friction between these two somehow creates an opening for the soul. People often feel that if something goes wrong in their life, if they enter into a crisis of some sort, that they’ve made a mistake or that things have gone bad and gone off track. In fact, that very crisis might be a moment of real productivity from the viewpoint of the soul, because throwing one off of one’s standard view of life, destabilizing and shaking up one’s perception of life and of oneself, can be an inlet for the soul to impress its larger, wider vision on the consciousness. 

Dale: Yes, it goes right back to the quote that we mentioned at the beginning, about the soul being the force of evolution. The soul is always acting on the personality nature to move it forward, wanting it to get off the dime and do something constructive. That’s why sometimes we sense this striving for perfection and we look at our lives and say, ‘my God, I’m not measuring up here,’ and we may go through a state of depression. It’s because that little voice within is telling us to move on. Maybe there is an opportunity here to really look at ourselves carefully, take real stock of ourselves, and think about what more we can do. Maybe the light begins to pour in when we let it. 

Sarah: You can also take whatever circumstance you’re in, even a bad one, even a crisis, even a problem in your marriage, in your work life, or a problem with your children and say, ‘what can this experience teach me?’ ‘What can I learn from this?’ ‘I’m in this situation, how can I mine it for the little pebble of gold that must lie within it?’ That can open you up to the soul because there’s no circumstance in life that can’t lead to an opening for the soul, which is wisdom, light, reason, strength, endurance. Those are the qualities of the soul, and sometimes a crisis can be an opening for that wisdom, light and strength to pour in. 

Robert: Let me see if I understand this: so, you’re saying that the depression and some of the suffering that we go through in life could very well be a wake-up call from the soul; the soul speaking to us in a particular way to change the status quo. Is that correct?  

Sarah: Yes, the personality is committed to inertia. The outer form loves the inert status quo, and the soul needs destabilization sometimes, in one’s consciousness, in one’s perception, so that one can look at life in a new way and through a new lens, so to speak. Crisis presents the opportunity. 

Robert: I think the soul can be very valuable for us to understand and acknowledge and to communicate with, but how can we deepen our contact with the soul? 

Sarah: Well, there are any number of methods; one is through service. In serving others, we learn to love more and by service, I don’t just mean cooperating with the Red Cross or such, but whatever circumstance you’re in, turning it into a field of service. That means whether one’s in the business world or a schoolteacher, homemaker, mother, or an office worker. Whatever you’re in, you can turn that environment into your place of service, which is the opportunity to build better relationships with others, to foster cooperation with others. That is an opportunity for deepening the contact with the soul. Another is through meditation or prayer. 

Dale: Yes, I was just going to mention meditation because that’s very paramount in our work at the Lucis Trust and in the Arcane School. Meditation is one of the pillars of the school, along with service and study. 

Sarah: I mentioned earlier that the soul is that inner voice that’s often not heard. There’s a term for this in the Ageless Wisdom. It’s called the Voice of the Silence. I’ve said so often, the outer, active, busy life overwhelms the soul by the din of the very activity and busyness of the outer life. But the Voice of the Silence can be heard if you create a place of stillness within your life on a regular basis. That’s what the value of meditation is. No matter how busy your life is, if you set aside some time each day to be quiet and to look within, and to start trying to hear that inner knower—which is present within all of us—that guide is available and willing to give its direction and its wisdom, if we are quiet enough to hear it. Meditation creates the condition to hear that voice. 

Dale: Yes, and meditation also provides that opening for the goodwill of the soul to come right through and that is the real moving force in one’s life and all relationships. 

Robert: Speaking of goodwill, in closing, we invite you to ponder on this thought: Goodwill is the touchstone that will transform the world. Goodwill is love in action. It’s the energy that draws us together in right relationship. There’s a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It’s a call for light, love, and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words. 

Sarah: Closes with the adapted version of the Great Invocation

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




Quote of the Month

“Students of the writings of Alice Bailey know that the year 2025 is anticipated to be of vital spiritual significance….” Read more….

Latest Posts

Social Media



Inner Sight

Spiritual Festivals

The Light of the Renaissance