The Soul – part 4

People spend so much of their life and their energy struggling, and part of the struggle is trying to figure out what the soul wants. I don’t think it’s so clear to most of us, and that’s why the practice of meditation and of prayer can help one to gain a deeper sense of what the soul’s intended purpose is; being quiet and still enough to hear that inner wisdom, that inner voice. 

Robert: Hello and welcome to Inner Sight. We’re going to continue our exploration of the soul, how to define the soul, speak about what it is and how we can recognize it. I think what’s most important is to touch upon how we can cultivate the soul presence within ourselves and learn to see it in others. This type of understanding can make the whole world a much better place. Alice Bailey says that the soul is the agent of karma. What does that mean? 

Sarah: Karma is a word that’s tossed around a lot today. I’m not sure that people who use it really understand the implications of it. Karma, I believe, is a Sanskrit word. In modern English. The equivalent is: the law of cause and effect. There’s a kind of a cliche saying, “what goes around comes around.” That’s the recognition that what you give out eventually comes back to you. Karma is the law of retribution and it’s important to remember that there is not only bad karma, but good karma. The good that we do comes back to us. The bad that we do, we reap the harvest of it. The soul, as the agent of karma, in its wisdom, knows the right measure of correction. I don’t really see the world or life as a place of punishment. I don’t personally believe that that’s how Divinity would function. 

Robert: You’re saying that karma is not punishment then? 

Sarah: No, I don’t view it that way. That’s just my own personal opinion; that it’s rather a correction of an imbalance. That’s how I see karma, as the creation of the perfect balance. The soul knows exactly what that equilibrium is, what it must strive for. So, the saying that the soul is the agent of karma suggests that the soul knows exactly what correction it must make in the development of any particular lifetime, and this might entail physical limitations, such as a handicap, it might entail a particular class or race into which one is born, or any number of circumstances that enable the soul to correct its development. 

Robert: Let’s see if I understand it. If we are not sympathetic towards the life of another person and what they’re going through, if we’re not compassionate towards them, would it be correct to say that we might have to go through a similar experience so that we develop an understanding? Would that be a good example of karma? 

Sarah: Well, to me that sounds like the best way; to walk in the shoes of another person is the best way to learn to understand them, yes. And that brings to mind one of my very favorite movies: Groundhog Day, which some of our listeners might have seen with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. If you saw that movie, it’s about a man who has a very selfish, cynical temperament and he finds himself in a little bed and breakfast hotel in rural Pennsylvania, waking up every morning to the same time on the clock, the same music, which is “I Got You Babe,” by Sonny and Cher, and never moving forward from Groundhog Day February 2nd. He can’t figure out why he’s caught in this frozen time, and gradually he begins to get it through his head that he will stay stuck in that moment until he sweetens his temperament, develops more compassion for people, and becomes a better human being. 

Robert: That’s a good example. 

Sarah: Yes, and you know that he’s beginning to get it when he learns to play Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, which is such heart touching music. When he learns to play that with real appreciation, you know his heart is tenderizing. 

Dale: Yes, he finally sees the light and the soul finally gets through to him. I think that’s essentially what the soul does; it’s an agent for God. It carries out the plan of God and it does this by acting as an agent in the world and that’s essentially what we are. For much of our lives we’re always battling or in conflict with this agency of the soul, because the personality has its own agenda. It wants to go off on its own way and do its own selfish little things and the soul tries to keep reining it in, striving for that middle path that the Buddha mentioned, walking the middle path of life, the noble eightfold path, the noble middle way. As you said, it tries to achieve a balance. 

Sarah: The golden mean, I think, is another term for it. 

Dale: Right, and so there is, at least in the early stages of one’s cycles of incarnation, always a great battle that emerges between this agency of the soul and the outer personality that exists in the world, the physical person. It has its own agenda and it strives to assert itself because it wants its own petty little ideas and desires to work out. 

Sarah: The friction of this conflict is also energizing to the soul. Somehow the struggle itself seems to help develop enough momentum to actually propel evolution forward. But I think people who are in deeper contact with their soul know that there’s an ease, an alignment and a sense of being attuned to life that makes things flow. Athletes and artists speak of “being in the zone.” I think that suggests that they are moving in perfect harmony with their soul’s intention. 

Dale: That’s a good example. I think the person achieves the state of balance and that’s why they can excel. Whether it’s a runner, an athlete competing, any performer on stage, a singer or an actor, they speak about that zone, of finding that point. It’s an alignment with the soul and everything is perfect and in synchronization with the intent of that inner agent. 

Sarah:  And yet people spend so much of their life and their energy struggling, and part of the struggle is trying to figure out what the soul wants. I don’t think it’s so clear to most of us, and that’s why the practice of meditation and of prayer can help one to gain a deeper sense of what the soul’s intended purpose is; being quiet and still enough to hear that inner wisdom, that inner voice. 

Dale: Probably the first step is to acknowledge that the soul is there, that one has this soul factor within one, that divine spark that is within each one of us. You work from there and you realize that’s me, that’s my essential self, and then you begin to work with it rather than oppose it. 

Sarah:  Coming back to something we’ve said before, that I feel is very important about this concept of the soul as an agent of Karma, is to remember that the supposedly bad things that happen to us in life don’t necessarily mean we’ve done something wrong, that we’ve failed. I really think people are committed to this idea that life should be always happy, tranquil, and lovely. And yes, that’s nice. We all enjoy life when it’s on that even keel, but sometimes the great tests and hardships of life are what bring the soul quality through, and if the soul is the agent of karma, it knows just how much we can endure and how much we need to endure in order to deepen the presence of the soul in our consciousness. I think this is kind of sensed in the saying that God never gives us a burden too great to bear. There is this traditional wisdom that whatever happens to us in life is on some level appropriate and perhaps even necessary. 

Robert: Necessary to learn and to evolve spiritually. 

Sarah: Right. 

Robert: People who are on a spiritual path often speak about “my soul” or “your soul.” In fact, I do that myself. But according to Alice Bailey, there is no such thing; there is only the soul. What does she mean? 

Sarah: We’ve said before that to the soul, there are no borders. There are no barriers. There are no walls around the soul because it’s not a physical body. The soul is consciousness, and therefore on the level of consciousness, we can’t think of possessing a particular zone of consciousness all to ourselves; that doesn’t make sense. The soul shares an awareness with all souls. We can imagine this when we have that kind of attunement with another human being that you almost feel as if your minds are synchronized. Extending that further, we can imagine that humanity constitutes a soul on its own. The one humanity is the soul of all human beings. The Alice Bailey writings speak of nations expressing a soul; that’s an interesting thought. Her book The Destiny of the Nations, which is a short book, is a fascinating discussion of the soul as it manifests through different nations and cultures. 

Dale: It’s a little confusing I suppose to listeners, if they’re just encountering this idea for the first time, or maybe not having given it a lot of thought, but there is this universal soul quality that pervades the world, through all of the kingdoms in nature, from the human stage down to the animal and plant stage, and we’d like to talk about that again sometime. But at the human stage, there is this individualization that takes place, and that’s what gives us the ability to think of the “I” self and that’s what distinguishes us from the animal Kingdom. The animals aren’t able to think that way.  The idea of my soul and your soul is because we are so identified with a physical being, a physical form that is a separate entity walking about in this world, so naturally we tend to think that whatever is a part of this physical being is mine. So, the soul, being a part of ourselves, we say: “this is my soul,” and “I am a soul and you are a soul.” 

Sarah: And yet even scientists are finding with their research into DNA that all humans are 99.9% alike; something like that. 

Dale: At the physical level, yes. 

Sarah: That should tell us something, because “as above so below.” 

Dale: And at the soul level, we’re going to find that that’s even 100% alike in quality and in terms of energy. So yes, we’re gradually working our way back to the realization of Reality, with a capital R. 

Sarah: To me this concept that there is not my soul and your soul, absolutely cuts into the idea of selfishness. If you believe that there is the one soul, how can one be selfish? How can one not share this realization? To me, this would be the breakthrough that would dispel so many of the world’s problems. 

Robert: So, an understanding of the concept of soul really brings about love of our brother because we see a bit of ourselves in other people and we delight when we see our brother or sister advancing, or when something good happens to them, we don’t feel jealous because part of us is within them as well. How can we cultivate a sense of the soul? 

Sarah: Well, there’re so many ways that we can do that. One way that comes to mind immediately, because it’s so important to the work we do, is the practice of meditation. A lot of people think of meditation as something you do for relaxation, for the relief of tension and so on, and that is one reason for meditation under certain systems. But our approach to meditation is to awaken an increasing sense of the soul, not only within oneself but a sense of identification with the soul of humanity, and through that identification, to be able to contribute to the upliftment of human consciousness through the practice of meditation. There are many other possible ways to develop the sense of the soul. 

Dale: Also, through service. One of the outstanding qualities of the soul is love, and service is also the keynote of the soul. That’s essentially its position as an agent; it comes in as a serving agent of God and so that service aspect comes through very strongly. Once one begins to establish this link with the soul more closely, one quite naturally gravitates towards a life of service of some kind, whether it’s just serving in your community or in the local soup kitchen or serving in any capacity by helping your fellow human beings and their need, wherever their need is. 

Sarah: And of course, serving, to those of us who study the books of Alice Bailey has a much broader implication than the traditional service professions. One can serve if one works in an office, by establishing better relationships with one’s coworkers. Being a little more accommodating with someone who might be kind of difficult for you to work with, being a little more patient, a little more understanding, giving a little bit more to that person. That can begin to awaken a sense of service through the most ordinary relationships. Getting oneself and one’s own interests out of the way can do so much to establish better relationships and create harmony. Those are effects of the soul. 

Dale: Yes, and we’ve mentioned the little ego, the soul self at the personality level; it’s getting that little ego out of the way and allowing this larger self to come through with the quality of love, and the quality of service, the quality of sharing and cooperation. All of these are soul qualities, and if we let them come through in our lives, they will literally transform the way we see the world and the way the world sees us, because it just shines through. 

Sarah: There’s a technique in meditation to develop a sense of the soul, and it’s called the technique of the Master in the Heart. This is the technique of visualizing or creating a thought form of perfection within oneself, which is the indwelling soul; imagining what that perfected being, which is one’s true self, is. What is that being like? What are the virtues? What are the qualities that one associates with such perfection? Meditating on these qualities and developing a sense of this inner divinity even within one’s own imperfect self can awaken the soul nature and bring it more to the surface of life. 

Robert: In our materialistic world, I think that would have to entail a reorientation of the definition of what success is. What comes to mind when you mention all these wonderful attributes of the soul is the definition of success: to develop into being the type of person that God or the soul would want me to be, as opposed to that former materialistic definition of success. 

Sarah: There are other techniques too, with children particularly; creating a habit of recognizing greatness in people can be very inspiring. I still remember when I was a little girl in school having a series of booklets in my classroom that were about the lives of great individuals. People like Sacagawea, the Indian woman who guided Lewis and Clark. There was another one about a pioneer named Whitman. Having children study great lives, great beings, can be ennobling to the individual child, and bring out his own sense of destiny, his own contribution, that potential within him that he can give to humanity. Other ways to cultivate a sense of the soul are just trying to imagine yourself in the position of another; when you’re on the subway, just looking around you at the various people who you don’t know, whose lives might be totally unknown to you. Just imagining yourself in their position and inhabiting their reality for an instant can be a kind of expanding experience to the sense of the soul. Cultivating a sense of the group instead of always thinking of ourselves as we Americans do, as fiercely independent, freedom loving individuals, try practicing more of a sense of being part of a group. If you don’t think you have a group, create one by looking at your neighbors and your co-workers as your group. I could go on and on. 

Robert: Certainly, developing an awareness of soul helps you to empathize with other people. I would think that you could really feel another person’s pain if you’ve developed a feeling or an understanding of soul. 

Sarah: Yes, and the polar opposite of that also brings out the quality of the soul; cultivating the sense of joy and gratitude for life. Pain brings an experience of the soul sometimes, but so does being joyful and grateful for life. Not because you want something specific, but just because you’re alive and the world’s a beautiful place. And that’s not ignoring the harsh reality of the world, but at the same time, realizing that there’s a lot of beauty in the world and looking for it. 

Dale: Yes, I was listening to you and I was just thinking that this is an interesting concept. The soul traditionally has been kind of related to a religious thing, and it’s not really, it’s very human. The study of the soul is not necessarily a religious question at all. It’s a human and a spiritual matter. I think that lifts it up out of the kind of mindset that we sometimes have locked ourselves into. We can talk about the soul no matter what our religious persuasion is; it’s the same quality of God that lies within each of us. 

Sarah: When you start to think of the world’s religions as different paths to the soul, to God, then you realize that there’s so much more common ground than we might realize. 

Robert: 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 is the energy that draws us together in right relationship. There is a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It’s a call for light and love and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words. 

Sarah: Closes the program by reciting 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)




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