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The soul by means of attention, will, and understanding
uses the various functions or faculties of the psyche.
Yet these functions are not the perfection of the soul,
but limited and imperfect instruments designed for a limited and changing world.
The soul lets the higher intellect direct the lower mind and the senses in operating the body.
The reason functions as a guide for the passions or emotions
which mediate between it and the appetites and desires of the body.
Though sense perception is most tangible, from the soul’s perspective it is least wise;
slightly better is belief; next best is thinking or reason;
but the highest knowledge comes from the intuitive intellect.
Each major level of life has an additional psychic function:
plants have nutrition; animals have this and sensation; while humans include thinking.
The soul functions through all these faculties developing those abilities.
The distinctive characteristic of self is attention.
Tattvarthadhigma Sutra II:8
Know the soul as lord of a chariot,
the body as the chariot.
Know the intuition as the chariot driver,
and the mind as the reins.
The senses, they say, are the horses;
the objects of sense the paths.
This associated with the body, the senses and the mind,
the wise call “the enjoyer.”
Those who do not have understanding,
whose minds are always undisciplined,
their senses are out of control,
like the wild horses of a chariot driver.
Those, however, who have understanding,
whose minds are always disciplined,
their senses are under control,
like the good horses of a chariot driver.
Those, however, who have no understanding,
who are unmindful and always impure,
do not reach the goal but go on to reincarnation.
Those, however, who have understanding,
who are mindful and always pure,
reach the goal from which they are not born again.
Those who have the understanding of a chariot driver,
controlling the reins of the mind,
they reach the end of the journey,
the supreme home of Vishnu.
Beyond the senses are the objects of sense.
Beyond the objects of sense is the mind.
Beyond the mind is the intuition.
Beyond the intuition is the great soul.
Katha Upanishad 3.3-10
In as much as it is extremely subtle in its character,
and as such imperceptible, its cognition is brought about
by means of the organs of hearing, etc.,—
as inferred from the perception of sound, etc.;—
aided by the fact of such instruments as the ax
and the like being always operated by a doer or agent.
In the cognitions of sound, etc.,
also we infer a “cogniser.”
This character cannot belong to the body,
or to the sense-organs, or to the mind;
because all these are unintelligent or unconscious.
Consciousness cannot belong to the body,
as it is a material product, like the jar;
and also as no consciousness is found in dead bodies.
Nor can consciousness belong to the sense-organs;
because these are mere instruments,
and also because we have remembrances of objects
even after the sense organ has been destroyed,
and even when the object is not in contact with the organ.
Nor can it belong to the mind;
because if the mind be regarded
as functioning independently of the other organs,
then we would have perception and remembrance
simultaneously presenting themselves
(and if the mind be regarded as
functioning through the other organs,
then it would be the same as atma);
and also because the mind itself is a mere instrument.
And thus the only thing
to which consciousness could belong is the self,
which thus is cognized by this consciousness.
As from the motion of the chariot
we infer the existence of an intelligent guiding agent
in the shape of the charioteer,
so also we infer
an intelligent guiding agent for the body,
from the activity and cessation from activity
appearing in the body,
which have the capacity of acquiring the desirable
and avoiding the undesirable object.
The Padarthadharmasamgraha V:44
The soul of man, he says, is divided into three parts,
intelligence, reason, and passion.
Intelligence and passion are possessed
by other animals as well, but reason by man alone.
The seat of the soul extends from the heart to the brain;
the part of it which is in the heart is passion,
while the parts located in the brain
are reason and intelligence.
The senses are distillations from these.
Reason is immortal, all else mortal.
Diogenes Laertius, “Pythagoras” VIII:30
Timaeus: Now of the divine, he himself was the creator,
but the creation of the mortal
he committed to his offspring.
And they, imitating him, received from him
the immortal principle of the soul; and around this
they proceeded to fashion a mortal body,
and made it to be the vehicle of the soul,
and constructed with the body a soul of another nature
which was mortal,
subject to terrible and irresistible affections—
first of all, pleasure, the greatest incitement to evil;
then, pain, which deters from good;
also rashness and fear, two foolish counselors,
anger hard to be appeased, and hope easily led astray—
these they mingled with irrational sense
and with all-daring love according to necessary laws,
and so framed man.
Plato, Timaeus 69
Timaeus: And we should consider that
God gave the sovereign part of the human soul
to be the divinity of each one, being that part which,
as we say, dwells at the top of the body,
and inasmuch as we are a plant
not of an earthly but of a heavenly growth,
raises us from earth to our kindred who are in heaven.
And in this we say truly;
for the divine power suspended the head and root of us
from that place where the generation of the soul
first began, and thus made the whole body upright.
Plato, Timaeus 90
And would you not say that he is temperate
who has these same elements in friendly harmony,
in whom the one ruling principle of reason,
and the two subject ones of spirit (passion)
and desire (appetite) are equally agreed
that reason ought to rule, and do not rebel?
Plato, Republic IV:442
Let there be four faculties in the soul—
reasoning answering to the highest,
understanding to the second,
faith (or conviction) to the third,
and perception of shadows to the last—
and let there be a scale of them,
and let us suppose that the several faculties
have clearness in the same degree
that their objects have truth.
Plato, Republic VI:511
The soul then directs all things in heaven,
and earth, and sea by her movements,
and these are described by the terms—
will, consideration, attention, deliberation,
opinion true and false, joy and sorrow, confidence, fear,
hatred, love, and other primary motions akin to these;
which again receive the secondary motions
of corporeal substances,
and guide all things to growth and decay,
to composition and decomposition,
and to the qualities which accompany them,
such as heat and cold, heaviness and lightness,
hardness and softness, blackness and whiteness,
bitterness and sweetness, and all those other qualities
which the soul uses, herself a goddess,
when truly receiving the divine mind
she disciplines all things rightly to their happiness;
but when she is the companion of folly,
she does the very contrary of all this.
Plato, Laws X:896-897
Here the very constitution of the soul
has shown us the way; in it one part naturally rules,
and the other is subject, and the virtue of the ruler
we maintain to be different from that of the subject;—
the one being the virtue of the rational,
and the other of the irrational part.
Aristotle, Politics I:13
At present we must confine ourselves to saying that
soul is the source of these phenomena
and is characterized by them, viz. by the powers of
self-nutrition, sensation, thinking, and motivity.
Aristotle, On the Soul II:2
There are two distinctive peculiarities
by reference to which we characterize the soul—
(1) local movement and
(2) thinking, discriminating, and perceiving.
Aristotle, On the Soul III:3
We have no evidence as yet about mind
or the power to think;
it seems to be a widely different kind of soul,
differing as what is eternal from what is perishable;
it alone is capable of existence
in isolation from all other psychic powers
Aristotle, On the Soul II:2
The ground of this difference is that
what actual sensation apprehends is individuals,
while what knowledge apprehends is universals,
and these are in a sense within the soul.
That is why a man can exercise his knowledge
when he wishes,
but his sensation does not depend upon himself—
a sensible object must be there.
Aristotle, On the Soul II:5
They count eight parts of the soul:
the five senses, the generative power in us,
our power of speech, and that of reasoning.
Diogenes Laertius, “Zeno” VII: 157
Since feeling and voluntary motion
are peculiar to animals, while
growth and nutrition are common to plants as well,
we may look on the former as effects of the soul
and the latter as effects of the nature.
Galen, On the Natural Faculties I:1
The rational faculty ... is the only faculty
that we have received which examines itself, what it is,
and what power it has, and what is the value of this gift,
and examines all other faculties:
for what else is there which tells that
golden things are beautiful,
for they do not say so themselves?
Epictetus, Discourses I:1
These are the properties of the rational soul:
it sees itself, analyzes itself,
and makes itself such as it chooses;
the fruit which it bears itself enjoys—
for the fruits of plants and that in animals
which corresponds to fruits others enjoy—
it obtains its own end,
wherever the limit of life may be fixed.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations XI:1
The perfection of the world consists in light,
heat, movement, and the harmony of movements.
These are analogous to the faculties of the soul:
light, to the sensitive; heat, to the vital and natural;
movement, to the animal; harmony, to the rational.
And indeed the adornment of the world consists in light;
its life and growth, in heat;
and, so to speak, its action, in movement;
and its contemplation—
wherein Aristotle places blessedness—in harmonies.
Johannes Kepler, Epitome of Copernican Astronomy IV:I:1
I had described after this the rational soul
and shown that it could not be in any way
derived from the power of matter,
like the other things of which I had spoken,
but that it must be expressly created.
I showed, too, that it is not sufficient that
it should be lodged in the human body
like a pilot in his ship
unless perhaps for the moving of its members,
but that it is necessary that it should also be
joined and united more closely to the body
in order to have sensations and appetites
similar to our own, and thus to form a true man.
Descartes, Discourse on Method Part V
The functions of the soul.
Having thus considered all the functions
which pertain to the body alone,
it is easy to understand that there remains nothing in us
that we must attribute to our soul
except our thoughts, which are of two kinds:
those which are the actions of the soul,
and those which are its passions.
I name all our volitions its actions,
because we experience them
as coming directly from our soul
and seeming to depend on it alone;
on the other hand, we can generally give the name
of passions to all the different forms of perception
or awareness that are in us,
because often it is not our soul
which makes them what they are,
and because it always receives them
from the things they represent.
Descartes, The Passions of the Soul 17
Our idea of soul, as an immaterial spirit,
is of a substance that thinks,
and has a power of exciting motion in body,
by willing, or thought.
Locke, Concerning Human Understanding, II:xxiii:22
These powers of the mind, viz. of perceiving,
and of preferring, are usually called by another name.
And the ordinary way of speaking is,
that the understanding and will
are two faculties of the mind;
a word proper enough, if it be used,
as all words should be,
so as not to breed any confusion in men’s thoughts,
by being supposed (as I suspect it has been)
to stand for some real beings in the soul
that performed those actions
of understanding and volition.
For when we say the will is
the commanding and superior faculty of the soul;
that it is or is not free;
that it determines the inferior faculties;
that it follows the dictates of the understanding, etc.,—
though these and the like expressions,
by those that carefully attend to their own ideas,
and conduct their thoughts more
by the evidence of things than the sound of words,
may be understood in a clear and distinct sense—
yet I suspect, I say,
that this way of speaking of faculties
has misled many into a confused notion
of so many distinct agents in us,
which had their several provinces and authorities,
and did command, obey, and perform several actions,
as so many distinct beings;
which has been no small occasion of wrangling,
obscurity, and uncertainty, in questions relating to them.
Locke, Concerning Human Understanding, II:xxi:6
A spirit is one simple, undivided, active being—
as it perceives ideas it is called the understanding,
and as it produces or otherwise operates about them
it is called the will.
Hence there can be no idea formed of a soul or spirit;
for all ideas whatever, being passive and inert,
they cannot represent unto us,
by way of image or likeness, that which acts.
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge 27
There is not any one mark that denotes a man,
or effect produced by him,
which does not more strongly evince the being
of that Spirit who is the Author of Nature.
For, it is evident that in affecting other persons
the will of man has no other object
than barely the motion of the limbs of his body;
but that such a motion should be attended by,
or excite any idea in the mind of another,
depends wholly on the will of the Creator.
He alone it is who,
“upholding all things by the word of His power,”
maintains that intercourse between spirits
whereby they are able to perceive
the existence of each other.
And yet this pure and clear light
which enlightens every one is itself invisible.
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge 147
Though GOD is everywhere present,
yet He is only present to thee
in the deepest and most central part of the soul.
The natural senses cannot possess God
or unite thee to Him;
nay, thy inward faculties of understanding,
will and memory can only reach after God,
but cannot be the place of his habitation in thee.
But there is a root or depth of thee
from whence all these faculties come forth,
as lines from a center,
or as branches from the body of the tree.
This depth is called the center,
the fund or bottom of the soul.
This depth is the unity, the eternity—
I had almost said the infinity—of thy soul;
for it is so infinite that nothing can satisfy it
or give it rest but the infinity of God.
William Law in The Perennial Philosophy, p. 2
I desire not to disgrace the soul.
The fact that I am here certainly shows me that
the soul had need of an organ here.
Shall I not assume the post?
Emerson, “Spiritual Laws”
All goes to show that the soul in man is not an organ,
but animates and exercises all the organs;
is not a function, like the power of memory,
of calculation, of comparison,
but uses these as hands and feet;
is not a faculty, but a light;
is not the intellect or the will,
but the master of the intellect and the will;
is the background of our being, in which they lie,—
an immensity not possessed
and that cannot be possessed.
From within or behind, a light shines through us
upon things and makes us aware that we are nothing,
but the light is all.
A man is the facade of a temple
wherein all wisdom and all good abide.
What we commonly call man,
the eating, drinking, planting, counting man,
does not, as we know him, represent himself,
but misrepresents himself.
Him we do not respect, but the soul, whose organ he is,
would he let it appear through his action,
would make our knees bend.
When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius;
when it breathes through his will, it is virtue;
when it flows through his affection, it is love.
And the blindness of the intellect begins
when it would be something of itself.
The weakness of the will begins
when the individual would be something of himself.
All reform aims in some one particular
to let the soul have its way through us;
in other words, to engage us to obey.
Emerson, “The Over-Soul”
Psychology is the science of mental life,
both of its phenomena and of their conditions.
The phenomena are such things as we call feelings,
desires, cognitions, reasonings, decisions, and the like;
and, superficially considered,
their variety and complexity is such
as to leave a chaotic impression on the observer.
The most natural and consequently the earliest way
of unifying the material was,
first, to classify it as well as might be, and,
secondly, to affiliate the diverse mental modes
thus found, upon a simple entity, the personal soul,
of which they are taken to be
so many facultative manifestations.
Now, for instance,
the soul manifests its faculty of memory,
now of reasoning, now of volition,
or again its imagination or its appetite.
This is the orthodox “spiritualistic” theory
of scholasticism and of common-sense.
James, Principles of Psychology, p. l
Ultimately all the souls have to develop all their powers,
but the order in which these powers are developed
depends on the circumstances
amid which the soul is placed....
The perfected soul possesses all,
but the soul in the making
must develop them successively,
and thus arises another cause
of the immense variety found among human beings.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 200-201
Being himself the very soul in its entirety,
he is something more than the mere consensus
of the faculties which we observed and enumerated
as functions of living bodies
in certain conditions of the organism.
He is not restrained from knowing, by their dissolution.
“We have reason to believe,” says Doctor Reid,
“that when we put off these bodies
and all the organs belonging to them,
our perceptive powers shall rather be improved
than destroyed or impaired.
We have reason to believe that
the Supreme Being perceives everything
in a much more perfect manner than we do,
without bodily organs.
We have reason to believe that
there are other created beings
endowed with powers of perception
more perfect and more extensive than ours,
without any such organs as we find necessary.”
Wilder, “The Soul,” p. 462-463
Each one of us is potentially Mind at Large.
But in so far as we are animals,
our business is at all costs to survive.
To make biological survival possible.
Mind at Large has to be funneled through
the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system.
What comes out at the other end
is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness
which will help us to stay alive
on the surface of this particular planet.
Huxley, The Doors of Perception, p. 23
What is the soul but a telepathic machine!
It is an organized totality of representations
in feeling substance employed for the purpose
of reacting appropriately
upon the stimuli of external things.
Man is a part of the cosmos,
he consists of a certain group of facts,
belonging to and being in intimate connection
with the whole universe.
Man’s mind is the cosmos
represented in this special group of facts.
A correct representation of the cosmos
includes a proper adaptation.
Accordingly the human soul is a microcosm
and its function is the endeavoring
to conform to the macrocosm.
Carus, The Soul of Man, p. 44
Brahm: Hear my voice. It is within every man,
ceaselessly whispering for the soul to arouse itself.
Every desire written in man’s heart
is carried into the heart of hearts—my heart.
But few are there who ask in reverence,
and still fewer who hear my voice.
What man mistakes for thinking is
but an electric awareness of things
sensed and recorded within the brain cells
for repetitive usage through memories.
What man thinks of as a living body is
but an electrically motivated machine,
which stimulates life through motion extended to it
from its center (Soul), which alone lives and wills
the body into movement from my commands....
Man is forever seeking my Light,
and when he finds it, he becomes transformed.
And as he finds it, he gradually finds the Soul
of my Divine Self, which is the Light.
As man becomes more and more transformed
by the God-light of the awakening Soul within him,
he leaves the jungle of the earth world
further below in darkness.
Twitchell, The Tiger’s Fang, p. 29-30
an organizing or directive agency.
If the functions of consciousness and thought
are the products of the highly organized structure
of material particles, who or what organizes them?
The answer is either intelligence or chance.
If intelligence, then the soul-hypothesis
becomes an empirical as well as a logical necessity,
because, empirically and logically, we can associate intelligence
only with a thinking, willing, self-directing conscious self,
in other words, soul.
Reyes, Scientific Evidence of the Existence of the Soul, p. 229
There are not really two selves,
two independent and separate entities.
The Self is one;
it manifests in different degrees
of awareness and self-realization.
The reflection appears to be self-existent
but has, in reality, no autonomous substantiality.
It is, in other words, not a new and different light
but a projection of its luminous source.
Assagioli, Psychosynthesis, p. 20
The soul uses the mind as an instrument to experience the worlds of creation.
The soul is a permanent and changeless real being,
but the mind is always changing and often errs.
The soul is active while the ideas and thoughts of the mind are only passive reflections.
To be aware of the soul one must discern the difference
between this active being and the mental apparatus.
Many people get wrapped up in the webs of the mind and forget the soul, their very essence.
Philosophers and psychologists using the mind have frequently failed to recognize the soul’s reality;
it is not comprehended by reasoning, though it may be intuited.
The soul uses the mind to think, and the mind in turn functions through the brain.
The mind deals in information and knowledge,
while the soul gathers wisdom, recognizes truth and beauty, and expresses love.
You could not see the seer of seeing.
You could not hear the hearer of hearing.
You could not think the thinker of thinking.
You could not understand
the understander of understanding.
He is your soul, which is in all things.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 3.4.2
He who, dwelling in the mind,
yet is other than the mind,
whom the mind does not know, whose body the mind is,
who controls the mind from within—
He is your Soul, the Inner Controller, the Immortal.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 3.7.20
The perceiver is only the perception,
pure even though seeing through mental images.
That is only for the sake of
the soul of the perceived universe.
Though destroyed for the enlightened,
it is not destroyed for the community of others.
The forces of both one’s own owner
attaining one’s own form cause identity.
The cause of this is ignorance.
In the absence of that,
in the absence of identity removed,
that is freedom of the perceiver.
Discriminating undisturbed intelligence
Patanjali, Union Threads II:20-25
Eternally known are the modifications of consciousness
to that master Spirit that is unchangeable.
They are not self-luminous, because they are perceived;
and at the same time both cannot be perceived.
Consciousness perceived by another,
intuited by another intuition is an infinite regress
and a confusion of memory.
Awareness is unchanging omniscience,
but those reflections identify with their own intuition.
The perceiver colored by the perceived
is conscious of everything.
That although equipped with innumerable tendencies,
is for the purpose of the supreme
because of its combined structure.
For the discriminating perceiver
the soul is completely detached from emotion and mind.
For then with serene discrimination
consciousness moves toward freedom.
Patanjali, Union Threads IV:18-25
The Lord Buddha replied:
“The notion that your being is your mind,
is simply one of the false conceptions
that arises from reflecting about
the relations of yourself and outside objects,
and which obscures your true and essential Mind.
It is because,
since from beginningless time down to the present life,
you have been constantly misunderstanding
your true and essential Mind.
It is like treating a petty thief as your own son.
By so doing you have lost consciousness
of your original and permanent Mind
and because of it have been forced to undergo
the sufferings of successive deaths and rebirths.”
The Surangama Sutra
The soul’s agents, by which it acts,
are derived from the core of the soul.
In that core is the central silence, the pure peace,
and abode of the heavenly birth,
the place for this event: this utterance of God’s word.
By nature the core of the soul is sensitive
to nothing but the divine Being, unmediated.
Here God enters the soul with all he has and not in part.
He enters the soul through its core,
and nothing may touch that core except God himself.
No creature enters it,
for creatures must stay outside in the soul’s agents,
from whence the soul receives ideas,
behind which it has withdrawn as if to take shelter.
When the agents of the soul contact creatures,
they take and make ideas and likenesses of them
and bear them back again into the self.
It is by means of these ideas
that the soul knows about external creatures....
Within itself the soul is free,
innocent of all instrumentalities and ideas,
and that is why God can unite with it,
he, too, being pure and without idea or likeness.
Meister Eckhart, p. 97
Since the mind can sensibly put on, at several times,
several degrees of thinking, and be sometimes,
even in a waking man, so remiss,
as to have thoughts dim and obscure to that degree
that they are very little removed from none at all;
and at last, in the dark retirements of sound sleep,
loses the sight perfectly of all ideas whatsoever:
since, I say, this is evidently so
in matter of fact and constant experience,
I ask whether it be not probable,
that thinking is the action
and not the essence of the soul?
Since the operations of agents
will easily admit of intention and remission:
but the essences of things
are not conceived capable of any such variation.
Locke, Concerning Human Understanding II:xix:4
But, besides all that endless variety
of ideas or objects of knowledge,
there is likewise something
which knows or perceives them,
and exercises divers operations,
as willing, imagining, remembering, about them.
This perceiving, active being is
what I call mind, spirit, soul, or myself.
By which words I do not denote any one of my ideas,
but a thing entirely distinct from them,
wherein, they exist, or, which is the same thing,
whereby they are perceived—
for the existence of an idea consists in being perceived.
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge 2
The great reason that is assigned for
our being thought ignorant of the nature of spirits
is our not having an idea of it.
But, surely it ought not to be looked on
as a defect in a human understanding
that it does not perceive the idea of spirit,
if it is manifestly impossible
there should be any such idea.
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge 135
But it will be objected that, if there is no idea
signified by the terms soul, spirit, and substance,
they are wholly insignificant,
or have no meaning in them.
I answer, those words do mean or signify a real thing,
which is neither an idea nor like an idea,
but that which perceives ideas,
and wills, and reasons about them.
What I am myself, that which I denote by the term I,
is the same with what is meant by
soul or spiritual substance.
If it be said that this is only quarreling at a word,
and that, since the immediate significations
of other names are by common consent called ideas,
no reason can be assigned why that which is signified
by the name spirit or soul
may not partake in the same appellation.
I answer, all the unthinking objects of the mind agree
in that they are entirely passive,
and their existence consists only in being perceived;
whereas a soul or spirit is an active being,
whose existence consists, not in being perceived,
but in perceiving ideas and thinking.
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge 139
A human spirit or person is not perceived by sense,
as not being an idea; when therefore we see
the color, size, figure, and motions of a man,
we perceive only certain sensations
or ideas excited in our own minds;
and these being exhibited to our view
in sundry distinct collections,
serve to mark out unto us the existence of
finite and created spirits like ourselves.
Hence it is plain we do not see a man—
if by man is meant that which
lives, moves, perceives, and thinks as we do—
but only such a certain collection of ideas
as directs us to think there is
a distinct principle of thought and motion,
like to ourselves, accompanying and represented by it.
And after the same manner we see God;
all the difference is that, whereas some one finite
and narrow assemblage of ideas
denotes a particular human mind,
whithersoever we direct our view,
we do at all times and in all places
perceive manifest tokens of the Divinity:
everything we see, hear, feel,
or anywise perceive by sense,
being a sign or effect of the power of God;
as is our perception of those very motions
which are produced by men.
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge 148
I own I have properly no idea,
either of God or any other spirit;
for these being active, cannot be represented
by things perfectly inert, as our ideas are.
I do nevertheless know that I,
who am a spirit or thinking substance,
exist as certainly as I know my ideas exist.
Farther, I know what I mean by the terms I and myself;
and I know this immediately or intuitively,
though I do not perceive it
as I perceive a triangle, a color, or a sound.
The Mind, Spirit, or Soul is
that indivisible unextended thing
which thinks, acts, and perceives.
I say indivisible, because unextended; and unextended,
because extended, figured, moveable things are ideas;
and that which perceives ideas, which thinks and wills,
is plainly itself no idea, nor like an idea.
Ideas are things inactive, and perceived.
And Spirits a sort of beings
altogether different from them.
I do not therefore say my soul is an idea, or like an idea.
However, taking the word idea in a large sense,
my soul may be said to furnish me with an idea,
that is, an image or likeness of God—
though indeed extremely inadequate.
For, all the notion I have of God
is obtained by reflecting on my own soul,
heightening its powers, and removing its imperfections.
I have, therefore, though not an inactive idea,
yet in myself some sort of
an active thinking image of the Deity.
And, though I perceive Him not by sense,
yet I have a notion of Him,
or know Him by reflection and reasoning.
My own mind and my own ideas
I have an immediate knowledge of;
and, by the help of these, do mediately apprehend
the possibility of the existence of other spirits and ideas.
Farther, from my own being,
and from the dependency I find in myself and my ideas,
I do, by an act of reason,
necessarily infer the existence of a God,
and of all created things in the mind of God.
Berkeley, Third Dialogue Between Hylas and Philonous
The soul is superior to its knowledge,
wiser than any of its works.
Emerson “The Over-Soul”
Now concerning mental faculties,
they are in truth of the inherent properties of the soul,
even as the radiation of light
is the essential property of the sun.
The rays of the sun are renewed,
but the sun itself is ever the same and unchanged.
Consider how the human intellect
develops and weakens,
and may at times come to naught,
whereas the soul changes not.
For the mind to manifest itself,
the human body must be whole;
and a sound mind cannot be but in a sound body,
whereas the soul depends not upon the body.
It is through the power of the soul
that the mind comprehends,
imagines and exerts its influence,
while the soul is a power that is free.
The mind comprehends the abstract
by the aid of the concrete,
but the soul has limitless manifestations of its own.
The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless.
It is by the aid of such senses
as those of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch,
that the mind comprehends,
whereas, the soul is free from all agencies.
The soul as you observe,
whether it be in sleeping or waking,
is in motion and ever active.
Possibly it may, while in a dream,
unravel an intricate problem,
incapable of solution in the waking state.
Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 337
I confess, therefore, that to posit a soul
influenced in some mysterious way by the brain-states
and responding to them
by conscious affections of its own,
seems to me the line of least resistance,
so far as we yet have attained.
If it does not strictly explain anything,
it is at any rate less positively objectionable
than either mind-stuff or a material-monad creed.
The bare phenomenon, however,
the immediately known thing which on the mental side
is in apposition with the entire brain-process
is the state of consciousness and not the soul itself.
Many of the staunchest believers in the soul
admit that we know it
only as an inference from experiencing its states.
James, Principles of Psychology, p. 119
The commonest spiritualistic opinion is that the soul
or subject of the mental life is a metaphysical entity,
inaccessible to direct knowledge,
and that the various mental states and operations
of which we reflectively become aware
are objects of an inner sense
which does not lay hold of the real agent in itself,
any more than sight or hearing
gives us direct knowledge of matter in itself.
From this point of view introspection is, of course,
incompetent to lay hold of anything
more than the soul’s phenomena.
James, Principles of Psychology, p. 122
But the Thought is a perishing
and not an immortal or incorruptible thing.
Its successors may continuously succeed to it,
resemble it, and appropriate it, but they are not it,
whereas the Soul-Substance
is supposed to be a fixed unchanging thing.
By the Soul is always meant
something behind the present Thought,
another kind of substance,
existing on a non-phenomenal plane.
James, Principles of Psychology, p. 222
The Heart, the fount of life, was scorned,
the head glorified, the Soul forgotten.
Brunton, Quest of the Overself, p. 234
There is in the self of man,
at the very center of his being,
something deeper than the intellect,
which is akin to the Supreme.
Radhakrishnan, “God and Self” An Idealist View of Life, p. 626
Consciousness or the Soul
knows the senses and the mind,
but they are not subtle enough to know the Soul,
their “Lord and Ruler.”
It knows itself. Nothing else can know it.
Hence the mandate, “Know the soul through the soul.”
The soul is a witness (sakshi) unto itself.
The mind (including the reason) and the senses,
being constructed of cosmic stuff or “flesh,”
cannot know the soul!
It is difficult to establish these truths by reasoning,
for the basis of reasoning
is comparison of one thing with another
and drawing inferences therefrom,
and there is nothing in the world without us
which may be compared with the soul within.
The only proof possible in these circumstances
is an appeal to the spiritual experience
or actual knowledge of the Spirit
of the class of people called Jnanis.
Their experience declares
(l) that the body is the tabernacle of the Soul
and its instruments;
(2) that the mind (or the subtle organs of thought)
and the senses are the instruments of the Soul,
whereby the Soul is brought into relation
with the objective world;
(3) that the mind is not subtle enough to know the Soul;
(4) that the Soul may be freed
from its primeval taint of evil or worldliness;
(5) that when freed from evil or worldliness
the soul knows itself as naturally as
the bound soul knows the mind and the world without;
and (6) that peace (or infinite love,
so irrespective of objects of love)
and knowledge (or power of knowing,
irrespective of objects of knowledge)
are the fundamental features of the freed soul.
Ramanathan, Culture of the Soul, p. 108-1O9
We have now seen that mind is only an instrument
which encumbers the soul, obscures its light,
and impedes its progress,
but it is absolutely necessary
while we are operating on these material planes.
In the second place, as we have said so many times,
the mind is only a machine.
Mind alone cannot think, cannot will, cannot love.
Johnson, Path of the Masters, p. 325
If now we can fully recognize the astonishing fact
that mind is only an automatic thing,
insentient and non-intelligent,
subject to the laws of physics and chemistry,
we are prepared for the next great truth
in the psychology of the Masters.
It is the illuminating fact that
all intelligence, light and power come from the soul.
This statement is without qualification.
It is literally and universally true.
All light, all intelligences harmony, rhythm, beauty,
wisdom, love, morality and power come from the soul.
They are all derived from the spirit
and are all imparted to the mind by the spirit,
just as the electric current
gives power to the bulb to make it incandescent.
Johnson, Path of the Masters, p. 339
All the coverings worn by the soul serve to burden it
and to weaken its powers of expression.
Mind may be called the cerebrum of the soul.
If that instrument has become
perverted, misshapen, distorted, diseased,
then the soul cannot work normally through it,
any more than the mind can work
through a diseased brain.
The finer forces of mind and spirit
simply must have fit instruments of expression,
or they cannot function on the material planes.
Johnson, Path of the Masters, p. 340
They must distinguish always between:
1. The Thinker, the true Self, or the Soul.
2. The mind, or the apparatus which the Thinker
seeks to use.
3. The process of thought, or the work of the Thinker
as he impresses upon the mind
(when in a state of equilibrium) that which he thinks.
4. The brain, which is in its turn impressed by the mind,
acting as the agent for the Thinker,
in order to convey impressions and information.
Bailey, From Intellect to Intuition, p. 105
SOUL—A unit of awareness.
Has the ability to manipulate substance;
to form it at will.
Already free of conditionings and compulsions.
Operates through a body as a convenience.
Operates through the mental apparatus
but is not the mind.
“Since the mind is the object perceived
it cannot be the soul.”
Soul perceives the mental activity.
We do not heal the soul.
When the subconscious is cleared,
soul power flows through into expression.
Roy Eugene Davis, This Is Reality, p. 209
Soul alone does the actual knowing,
or gathering, of divine knowledge.
Mind of itself cannot do this, for it has no such faculty;
it is only a transmitter of what it receives.
It is a simple type of spirit force which is being used
as an instrument to make contact with the world.
Twitchell, Eckankar, p. 81
The psychical part of the soul
and the immortal part of the soul
are closely associated with each other,
for the soul’s nature is a complete nature
with many component mystical parts;
but they have definite work allotted to them individually.
The work of the psyche is to accumulate knowledge
from its longevous association
and familiarity with human existence.
In contrast, the task of the immortal soul
is to acquire great understanding, unusual discernment,
philosophical knowledge—all of which give it wisdom.
Wisdom, being heavenly, is what the soul seeks,
while knowledge, which the psyche collects,
is only mortal.
Jones, The Flowering Tree, p. 52-53
Mind gives unity to the biological wave organizations
below it and to sense experience,
while Soul gives unity and direction to the mind
and the levels below it,
and is the seat of synthesis and continuity of meaning.
Mind is built by the exercise of mind capacity—
discrimination, judgment, reasoning, execution,
concentration, penetration, and logic.
Soul is built by the use of soul nature—
goodness, beauty, wisdom
and their derivatives, love, faith, and truth;
capacity for synthesis, morality,
calmness, and constructive activity.
Thinking is involved in both processes, but in the latter,
the soul qualities must also be laid hold of.
The use of these characteristics builds mind
or Soul just as does exercise build muscle.
There are, in addition to these elements,
certain processes above present consciousness
within soul structure which help the building of Soul,
just as there are processes which build mind
when the ego is not conscious of the process.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 260
A greater lacuna appears to exist between
the idea or consciousness of sound, for example,
and the realization of the inherent nature
of the event in the Soul,
than between the physical vibration
and the mental idea.
While the mind gives a mental “picture”
of the color, tone, taste, or other sensation,
the Soul interprets the event, if we were but aware of it,
in relation to its inner nature and cosmic meaning.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 268
The soul is an essence of the Supreme Lord
and belongs to Sat Lok.
In its descent to the physical world,
it has completely forgotten its true origin
and is wholly dominated by mind and senses.
Jagat Singh Ji, The Science of the Soul, p. 72
One might ask the question as to the need for
union between the soul and the Oversoul,
when the two are essentially the same
and are already embedded one in the other.
Theoretically speaking, this is correct,
but how many of us are consciously aware of this
and work practically in the light
and life of this knowledge and awareness?
On the other hand,
the soul is always following the lead of the mind,
the mind that of the senses,
and the senses that of the sense-objects,
with the result that the soul,
by constant association with the mind
and senses for ages upon ages, has completely lost
its own individual (undivided) identity
and has for all practical purposes
become identified with the mind.
It is this veil of ignorance
which has come in between the soul and the Oversoul
that has to be removed
to enable the soul to come into its own,
to realize its inherent nature
and then to seek its real home and gain life eternal.
Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life, p. 5
The light of the soul,
as it reflects in the intellectual center,
brings into motion what is commonly known as intellect,
consisting of inner spiritual perception
and outer cognition.
The soul, along with this reflected intellectual ability,
becomes both cognitive and perceptive....
The second covering or sheath
that the intellectualized or the cognitive soul
wraps around itself
by further intensive contact with Prakriti ...
begins to reflect the mind-stuff as well;
and with this added faculty
the soul becomes inclined toward the mind
and gradually gets mind-ridden.
Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life, p. 13
Some think that the Light is a tool.
Actually the mental, emotional, and physical bodies
are tools for the Light of the soul.
The soul uses the intellect to reason.
Emotions use the mind for reasons, too.
What is the difference between
the intellect and the mind,
rationality and rationalization?
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 10
Can the finite mind comprehend what is infinite?
Can a limited consciousness
understand what is without limit?
Visible things are finite and limited.
The infinite and eternal reality is invisible.
Only the soul whose essence is divine
can experience what is akin to itself.
It is the knower who is infinite, not the knowledge.
It is the creator who is unconditioned, not the creation.
The reality of the Light is not experienced as an object,
but rather as the subject of everything.
It is not what you perceive; it is the real you.
Who expresses and experiences
the body, emotions, and the mind?
No one can objectify or classify
the pure subject, the soul.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 30
When we consistently consider ourselves and others
as being really Souls,
which are trying to manifest themselves
through more or less imperfect,
blind and rebellious personalities,
and that this is the most important
and immediate purpose of our being here,
as far as we are concerned,
and if, further, we see that souls
are not separate and isolated entities,
but that they are essentially one with the over-soul,
ever trying to realize this oneness
through group-consciousness and group activity,
then our attitude and our behavior will radically change.
We shall sense behind every individual
the imprisoned soul,
and our recognition and love
will flow naturally towards it;
we shall realize how futile and fundamentally wrong are
criticism, disparagement, jealousy and antagonism
and how the only right and rational thing to do
is to cooperate with that soul,
through pouring out our love
and through understanding its problems
and its struggles.
Assagioli, “Loving Understanding” p. 4
The soul takes full responsibility for the consequences of its actions as a creative agent.
Thus it maintains its perfection in the ultimate balancing of all the events
in time and space and in the subtle worlds of creation.
“As you sow, so shall you reap.”
At the time of death the levels of consciousness render an account to the soul
in a judgment which determines what the necessary retributions will be.
The soul actually judges its own expressions of consciousness
in order to bring them into perfect balance.
The process is spontaneous and continuous
as each action has its own natural consequences.
Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for God made man in his own image.
As you have done, it shall be done to you,
your deeds shall return on your own head.
According as one acts,
according as one conducts himself, so does he become.
The doer of good becomes good.
The doer of evil becomes evil.
One becomes virtuous by virtuous action,
bad by bad action.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5
The causes of bondage are wrong belief,
non-renunciation, carelessness, passions,
and union of the soul with the mind, body, and speech.
The soul, owing to its being with passion,
assimilates matter which is fit to form karmas.
This is bondage....
The main divisions of the nature of karma
are knowledge-obscuring, perception obscuring,
feeling-karma, deluding, age-determining,
body-making, family-determining, and obstructive.
Tattvarthadhigama Sutra VIII:1-2, 4
When he’s dead, the doer of this deed
at Hades’ bar shall stand arraigned not idly:
even there, so we believe,
another Zeus holds court among the souls
whose earthly race is run,
and passes final sentence on their crimes.
Look to yourselves, and to this lord return such answer,
that ye fail not in your cause.
Aeschylus, The Suppliant Maidens
“But, men,” he said, “it is right to understand that,
if the soul is immortal,
then it is necessary to take care of her
not only for this time which we call life, but for all time,
and the danger now also seems to be terrible
if one does not take care of her.
For if death were a release from everything,
it would be a god-send for the evil
who in dying would be released from the body
and at the same time from their evils with the soul;
but now since it appears to be immortal,
no one can escape from evils
nor be saved in any other way
except by becoming as good and wise as possible.
For the soul goes into Hades having nothing else
except her education and nurture,
which it is said greatly helps or harms the dead
in the very beginning of the journey there….
Therefore the orderly and sensible soul follows
and does not ignore the present;
but the one having desires of the body,
as I said previously, excited about that for a long time
and around the visible place,
after much resistance and much suffering,
departs led by force
and with pain by the appointed angel.
And arriving where the others are,
the impure and any having done such a thing
as taking part in unjust murders or other such actions,
which happen to be brother acts of these
and of sister souls,
it is avoided and shunned by all who also
are not willing to become its companion nor guide,
but she wanders by herself in complete confusion,
until it should be a certain time,
when going out by necessity
she is carried into her proper home;
but those who passed through life
purely and moderately,
and getting divine companions and guides,
each lives in her proper place.”
Plato, Phaedo 57
He said that when his soul left the body,
he went on a journey with a great company,
and that they came to a mysterious place
at which there were two openings in the earth;
they were near together, and over against them
were two other openings in the heaven above.
In the intermediate space there were judges seated,
who commanded the just,
after they had given judgment on them
and had bound their sentences in front of them,
to ascend by the heavenly way on the right hand;
and in like manner the unjust were bidden by them
to descend the lower way on the left hand;
these also bore the symbols of their deeds,
but fastened on their backs.
Plato, Republic X:614
But the formation of qualities
he left to the wills of individuals.
For every one of us is made pretty much what he is
by the bent of his desires and the nature of his soul.
Plato, Laws X:904
Then all things which have a soul change,
and possess in themselves a principle of change,
and in changing move according to law
and to the order of destiny;
natures which have undergone a lesser change
move less on the earth’s surface,
but those which have suffered more change
and have become more criminal sink into the abyss,
that is to say, into Hades
and other places in the world below,
of which the very names terrify men,
and which they picture to themselves as in a dream,
both while alive and when released from the body.
And whenever the soul receives more of good or evil
from her own energy and the strong influence of others
—when she has communion with divine virtue
and becomes divine,
she is carried into another and better place,
which is perfect in holiness;
but when she has communion with evil,
then she also changes the place of her life.
This is the justice of the Gods who inhabit Olympus.
O youth or young man,
who fancy that you are neglected by the Gods,
know that if you become worse,
you shall go to the worse souls,
or if better to the better,
and in every succession of life and death
you will do and suffer
what like may fitly suffer at the hands of like.
This is the justice of heaven,
which neither you nor any other unfortunate
will ever glory in escaping,
and which the ordaining powers have specially ordained;
take good heed thereof,
for it will be sure to take heed of you.
Plato, Laws X:904
Now we must believe the legislator
when he tells us that the soul
is in all respects superior to the body,
and that even in life what makes each one of us
to be what we are is only the soul;
and that the body follows us about
in the likeness of each of us,
and therefore, when we are dead,
the bodies of the dead are quite rightly
said to be our shades or images;
for the true and immortal being of each one of us
which is called the soul goes on her way to other Gods,
before them to give an account—
which is an inspiring hope to the good,
but very terrible to the bad,
as the laws of our fathers tell us.
Plato, Laws XII:959
And we should in very truth
always believe those ancient and sacred teachings,
which declare that the soul is immortal,
that it has judges, and suffers the greatest penalties
when it has been separated from the body.
Therefore also we should consider it a lesser evil
to suffer great wrongs and outrages than to do them.
Plato, Seventh Letter 335
So each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Then just as honesty itself
becomes a reward for the honest
worthlessness itself is a punishment for the dishonest.
While surely whoever is afflicted by bad
does not doubt oneself to be suffering a penalty.
If then they themselves may be willing
to judge themselves,
could they seem to themselves not free of punishment,
which not only afflicts them with the worst of all evils,
worthlessness, but also actually infects them violently?
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy IV, 3
But see what eternal law sanctifies.
You might have shaped the soul with better things:
there is no need for a reward from a conferring judge,
you have added yourself to the more excellent;
you might have perverted study to worse things:
you should not look for an avenger outside,
you have thrust yourself into the inferior.
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy IV, 4
All the great ends of morality and religion
are well enough secured,
without philosophical proofs of the soul’s immateriality;
since it is evident, that he who made us
at the beginning to subsist here,
sensible intelligent beings,
and for several years continued us in such a state,
can and will restore us to the like state of sensibility
in another world, and make us capable there
to receive the retribution he has designed to men,
according to their doings in this life.
Locke, Concerning Human Understanding IV:iii:6
The intuition of the moral sentiment
is an insight of the perfection of the laws of the soul.
These laws execute themselves.
They are out of time, out of space,
and not subject to circumstances.
Thus in the soul of man there is a justice
whose retributions are instant and entire.
He who does a good deed is instantly ennobled.
He who does a mean deed
is by the action itself contracted.
He who puts off impurity, thereby puts on purity.
If a man is at heart just, then in so far is he God;
the safety of God, the immortality of God,
the majesty of God do enter into that man with justice.
If a man dissemble, deceive, he deceives himself,
and goes out of acquaintance with his own being.
Emerson, “Divinity College Address”
I look for the new Teacher
that shall follow so far those shining laws
that he shall see them come full circle;
shall see their rounding complete grace;
shall see the world to be the mirror of the soul;
shall see the identity of the law of gravitation
with purity of heart;
and shall show that the Ought, that Duty,
is one thing with Science, with Beauty, and with Joy.
Emerson, “Divinity College Address”
Any apparent insurrection in the human body or mind
against Emperor Soul,
manifesting as disease or irrationality,
is due to no disloyalty among the humble subjects,
but stems from past or present misuse
by man of his individuality or free will—
given to him simultaneous with a soul,
and revocable never.
Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 251
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.
The Universe He called into being for these purposes;
so that individual souls who might be one with Him
would have the influences for bringing this to pass—
or so that this might come
into the experience of every soul.
For has it not been given that the Lord, your God
has not willed that any soul should perish?
But He has prepared with every temptation
a means and a way of escape?
Hence the period of the entrance (birth)
is not ruled by the position (of sun and planets)
but may be judged by the position,
as to influences upon an entity’s experience;
(influences) because of the entity’s
application of self’s abilities,
relative to its position in the universal scheme of things.
Edgar Cayce’s Story of Jesus, p. 57
The cause is real.
The effect is but a simulation of the reality—
the shadow of the real.
Soul, or self, of man is cause.
His self-creating body is effect.
Twitchell, The Tiger's Fang, p. 36
“I first was out of my body, above the building,
and I could see my body lying there.
Then I became aware of the light—just light—
being all around me.
Then it seemed there was a display all around me,
and everything in my life just went by for review,
you might say.
I was really very, very ashamed of a lot of the things
that I experienced because it seemed that
I had a different knowledge,
that the light was showing me
what was wrong, what I did wrong.
And it was very real.
It seemed like this flashback, or memory,
or whatever was directed primarily
at ascertaining the extent of my life.
It was like there was a judgment being made and then,
all of a sudden, the light became dimmer,
and there was a conversation,
not in words, but in thoughts.
When I would see something,
when I would experience a past event,
it was like I was seeing it through eyes
with (I guess you would say) omnipotent knowledge,
guiding me, and helping me to see.”
That’s the part that has stuck with me,
because it showed me not only what I had done
but even how what I had done had affected other people.
Moody, Reflections On Life After Life, p. 34-35
The unmanifest and impersonal God
is free from all attributes,
while His individualized rays,
as manifested in countless forms and colors
by constant contact with Maya, Prakriti
and Pradhan (physical, subtle and causal)
feel themselves, through ignorance of their true nature,
as limited and separate from each other
and are thereby drawn into the ambit
of the inexorable Karmic Law
or the Law of Cause and Effect,
which entails a consequence for every deed,
every word and every thought.
What is unfulfilled in one life is fulfilled in another,
and thus the giant wheel of life and death
once set in motion goes on perpetually
by the force of its own inexhaustible momentum.
Herein lies the difference
between the individualized soul on the one hand,
and the Great Soul of the Universe (called God)
on the other, the one being bound and limited,
the other being without bounds or limits.
Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life p. 12
As God in manifestation
we are responsible for what we create.
The soul attracts to itself the positive essences
truth, love, joy, peace, and fulfillment.
Negative expressions that disturb creation
are re-cycled by the law of karma,
cause and effect, action and reaction,
until our consciousness is balanced
through acceptance and understanding.
Disturbing action creates karma;
disturbing reaction perpetuates karma.
Change disturbing action to love,
and disturbing reaction
to acceptance and understanding,
and experience love, joy, peace, and fulfillment.
These divine attributes do not disturb
the harmony of God's creation.
The law of infinity is that
all actions return to their source.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 7
When the body dies, the soul passes over to the other worlds.
If the soul has not completed its physical experiences and become liberated,
it will eventually return to be born again in another human form.
The soul will select the circumstances of heredity and environment
which will be most suitable to its next stage of progression
and karmic fulfillment of those outstanding causes
which will bring their inevitable effects.
The soul may re-embody as many times as necessary
to gain the experiences which will fulfill its destiny.
Those who go hence without here having found
the Soul (Atman) and those real desires—
for them in all the worlds there is no freedom.
But those who go hence having found here
the Soul and those real desires—
for them in all worlds there is freedom.
Chandogya Upanishad 8.1.6
But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me.
For great is thy steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
When he had thus said
the shrouds of death enfolded him,
whereon his soul went out of him
and flew down to the house of Hades,
lamenting its sad fate
that it should enjoy youth and strength no longer.
Homer, Iliad XXII:361-363
Just as in Homer, the gods themselves
assume manifold shapes and visit the cities of men,
observing the good and evil deeds of men,
so also do the souls of the dead in Hesiod.
For the beings who here,
after their separation from the body,
have become Daimones, are Souls—that is to say,
beings who after their death have entered in any case
upon a higher existence than was theirs
while they were united to the body.
Rohde, Psyche, p. 71-72
In these words purely Orphic belief is expressed:
the Soul has now at last escaped entirely
from the “Circle of Births,” and it enters as it tells us
“with speedy feet into the wished-for precinct,”
and buries itself in the bosom
of the Queen of the Underworld.
It is the latter, probably, who at the end
greets the liberated soul with the words:
“Fortunate and to be called blessed are you;
now shall you be, instead of a mortal—a god.”
Rohde, Psyche, p. 418
In any case the fact cannot be doubted that
in Thrace people thought they had found again
the special doctrine of Pythagoras
as to the transmigration of souls.
Rohde, Psyche, p. 263
And there was among them a man (Pythagoras)
of rare knowledge, most skilled
in all manner of wise works,
a man who had won the utmost wealth of wisdom;
for whensoever he strained with all his mind,
he easily saw everything of all the things that are,
in ten, yea, twenty lifetimes of men.
Empedocles Fragment 129
There is an oracle of Necessity,
ancient decree of the gods,
eternal and sealed with broad oaths:
whenever one of these demi-gods,
whose lot is long-lasting life,
has sinfully defiled his dear limbs with bloodshed,
or following strife has sworn a false oath,
thrice ten thousand seasons
does he wander far from the blessed,
being born throughout that time
in the forms of all manner of mortal things
and changing one baleful path of life for another.
Empedocles, Fragment 115
O blind soul,
arm yourself with the torch of the Mysteries
and in terrestrial night you will discover
your luminous reflection, your heavenly soul.
Follow this divine guide, letting him be your Genius.
For he holds the key to your past and future lives.
Egyptian Book of the Dead “Call to the Initiates”
For the soul goes into Hades having nothing else
except her education and nurture,
which it is said greatly helps or harms the dead
in the very beginning of the journey there.
And so it is said, that then each angel
of each of the dead, as assigned in life,
attempts to lead them into a place, where
those gathered must be judged to pass into Hades
with that guide who has been appointed
to conduct them from here to there;
and there occurring that which must happen
and remaining for the necessary time
another guide brings them here again
after many long periods of time.
Plato, Phaedo 57
And let us consider it in this way, whether
the souls of people who died are in Hades or not.
Thus there is an ancient argument, which we remember,
that those arriving there are from here,
and again they come back and are born from the dead;
and if this is so,
the living being born again from the dying,
certainly our souls would be there;
for they would not be born again if they did not exist.
Plato, Phaedo 15
Then for us to agree also in this
that the living are born out of the dead
no less than the dead out of the living;
and this being the case it seems to me to be proof
that it is necessary for the souls to be somewhere,
from where they are born again.
Plato, Phaedo 16
But it is in reality that the living both come back to life
and are born out of the dead
and that the souls of the dead exist.
Plato, Phaedo 17
Let each one of us leave every other kind of knowledge
and seek and follow one thing only,
if peradventure he may be able to learn
and may find someone who will make him able to learn
and discern between good and evil,
and so to choose always and everywhere the better life
as he has opportunity.
He should consider the bearing of all these things
which have been mentioned severally
and collectively upon virtue;
he should know what the effect of beauty is
when combined with poverty or wealth
in a particular soul,
and what are the good and evil consequences
of noble and humble birth, of private and public station,
of strength and weakness, of cleverness and dullness,
and of all the natural and acquired gifts of the soul,
and the operation of them when conjoined;
he will then look at the nature of the soul,
and from the consideration of all these qualities
he will be able to determine
which is the better and which is the worse;
and so he will choose, giving the name of evil
to the life which will make his soul more unjust,
and good to the life which will make his soul more just;
all else he will disregard.
For we have seen and know that this is the best choice
both in life and after death.
A man must take with him into the world below
an adamantine faith in truth and right,
that there too he may be undazzled by the desire of
wealth or the other allurements of evil,
lest, coming upon tyrannies and similar villainies,
he do irremediable wrongs to others
and suffer yet worse himself;
but let him know how to choose the mean
and avoid the extremes on either side,
as far as possible, not only in this life
but in all that which is to come.
For this is the way of happiness.
Plato, Republic X:618-619
Socrates: Such is the life of the gods; but of other souls,
that which follows God best and is most like him
lifts the head of the charioteer into the outer world,
and is carried round in the revolution,
troubled indeed by the steeds,
and with difficulty beholding true being;
while another only rises and falls, and sees,
and again fails to see
by reason of the unruliness of the steeds.
The rest of the souls are also
longing after the upper world, and they all follow,
but not being strong enough
they are carried round below the surface, plunging,
treading on one another, each striving to be first;
and there is confusion and perspiration
and the extremity of effort; and many of them are lamed
or have their wings broken
through the ill-driving of the charioteers;
and all of them after a fruitless toil,
not having attained to the mysteries of true being,
go away, and feed upon opinion.
The reason why the souls exhibit this
exceeding eagerness to behold the plain of truth
is that pasturage is found there,
which is suited to the highest part of the soul;
and the wing on which the soul soars
is nourished with this.
And there is a law of Destiny,
that the soul which attains any vision of truth
in company with a god is preserved from harm
until the next period,
and if attaining always is always unharmed.
But when she is unable to follow,
and fails to behold the truth,
and through some ill-hap sinks beneath
the double load of forgetfulness and vice,
and her wings fall from her,
and she drops to the ground,
then the law ordains that
this soul shall at her first birth pass,
not into any other animal, but only into man;
and the soul which has seen most of truth
shall come to the birth as a philosopher, or artist,
or some musical and loving nature;
that which has seen truth in the second degree
shall be some righteous king or warrior chief;
the soul which is of the third class
shall be a politician, or economist, or trader;
the fourth shall be a lover of gymnastic toils, or a physician;
the fifth shall lead the life of a prophet or hierophant;
to the sixth the character of a poet
or some other imitative artist will be assigned;
to the seventh the life of an artisan or husbandman;
to the eighth that of a sophist or demagogue;
to the ninth that of a tyrant;—
all these are states of probation,
in which he who does righteously improves,
and he who does unrighteously, deteriorates his lot.
Ten thousand years must elapse
before the soul of each one can return
to the place from whence she came,
for she cannot grow her wings in less;
only the soul of a philosopher, guileless and true,
or the soul of a lover, who is not devoid of philosophy,
may acquire wings in the third
of the recurring periods of a thousand years;
he is distinguished from the ordinary good man
who gains wings in three thousand years—
and they who choose this life three times in succession
have wings given them, and go away
at the end of three thousand years.
But the others receive judgment
when they have completed their first life,
and after the judgment they go,
some of them to the houses of correction
which are under the earth, and are punished;
others to some place in heaven
whither they are lightly borne by justice,
and there they live in a manner worthy of the life
which they led here when in the form of men.
And at the end of the first thousand years
the good souls and also the evil souls
both come to draw lots and choose their second life,
and they may take any which they please….
But the soul which has never seen the truth
will not pass into the human form.
For a man must have intelligence of universals,
and be able to proceed
from the many particulars of sense
to one conception of reason;—
this is the recollection of those things
which our soul once saw while following God—
when regardless of that which we now call being
she raised her head up towards the true being.
And therefore the mind
of the philosopher alone has wings;
and this is just, for he is always,
according to the measure of his abilities,
clinging in recollection to those things
in which God abides,
and in beholding which He is what He is.
And he who employs aright these memories
is ever being initiated into perfect mysteries
and alone becomes truly perfect.
But, as he forgets earthly interests
and is rapt in the divine, the vulgar deem him mad,
and rebuke him; they do not see that he is inspired.
Plato, Phaedrus 248-249
Now, as the soul combining first with one body
and then with another undergoes all sorts of changes,
either of herself,
or through the influence of another soul,
all that remains to the player of the game
is that he should shift the pieces;
sending the better nature to the better place,
and the worse to the worse,
and so assigning to them their proper portion.
Plato, Laws X:903
For when they rise again from the dead,
they neither marry nor are they given in marriage,
but they are like angels in heaven.
Concerning the dead that they are raised,
have you not read in the book of Moses
at the part about the bush how God said to him saying,
“I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac
and the God of Jacob”?
He is not God of the dead but of the living.
He is not God of the dead but of the living;
for to him everyone lives.
If, on the contrary, after death life and soul continue,
then death will be no evil but a good;
Soul, disembodied, is freer to ply its own Act.
If it be taken into the All-Soul—
what evil can reach it There?
And as the Gods are—possessed of Good
and untouched by evil—so, certainly is
the Soul that has preserved its essential character.
And if it should lose its purity,
the evil it experiences is not in its death but in its life.
Suppose it to be under punishment in the lower world,
even there the evil thing is its life and not its death;
the misfortune is still life, a life of a definite character.
Life is a partnership of a Soul and body;
death is the dissolution;
in either life or death, then,
the Soul will feel itself at home.
Plotinus, First Ennead VII:3
Pythagoras borrowed the metempsychosis
from the Egyptians;
but it has since been received by several nations,
and particularly by our Druids:
Souls never die, but, having left one seat,
are received into new houses. (Ovid Met. xv, 158)
The religion of our ancient Gauls maintained that souls,
being eternal, never ceased to remove and shift
their places from one body to another;
mixing moreover with this fancy
some consideration of divine justice;
for according to the deportments of the soul,
while it had been in Alexander,
they said that God assigned it another body to inhabit,
more or less painful, and proper for its condition.
Montaigne, “Of Cruelty”
For if the identity of soul alone makes the same man;
and there be nothing in the nature of matter
why the same individual spirit
may not be united to different bodies,
it will be possible that those men, living in distant ages,
and of different tempers, may have been the same man.
Locke, Concerning Human Understanding, II:xxvii:6
Consciousness alone unites
remote existences into one person.
Locke, Concerning Human Understanding, II:xxvii:23
A human being, in passing from cradle to grave,
doffs its old clothes and puts on new ones many times;
so the soul of man withdraws from one body
and enters another.
Aber, Souls, p. 13
At its inception, totemism was
a primitive belief in the soul.
The spirits of one’s ancestors were then sacred
and taboo not only because they were to be feared,
but because immortality belief gave them
the power to perpetuate mankind,
and hence the individual.
According to primitive Australian belief,
the animal, plant, or stone totem
entered and impregnated woman,
and underwent rebirth
in the process of animating the embryo.
The physical father had nothing to do with this process,
for only the spirit of the dead could give the child a soul,
and the living person needed his soul for himself.
Rank, Psychology and the Soul, p. 17
For death is only a change
that gives the soul a partial liberation,
releasing him from the heaviest of his chains.
It is but a birth into a wider life, a return
after brief exile on earth to the soul’s true home,
a passing from a prison
into the freedom of the upper air.
Death is the greatest of earth’s illusions;
there is no death, but only changes in life-conditions.
Life is continuous, unbroken, unbreakable;
“unborn, eternal, ancient, constant,”
it perishes not
with the perishing of the bodies that clothe it.
We might as well think that the sky is falling
when a pot is broken, as imagine that the soul perishes
when the body falls to pieces.
The physical, astral, and mental planes are
“the three worlds” through which
lies the pilgrimage of the soul,
again and again repeated.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 158
A soul, when its stay in the formless world of Devachan is over,
begins a new life-period by putting forth the energies
which function in the form-world of the mental plane,
these energies being the resultant
of the preceding life-periods.
These passing outwards, gather round themselves,
from the matter of the four lower mental levels,
such materials as are suitable for their expression,
and thus the new mental body
for the coming birth is formed.
The vibration of these mental energies
arouses the energies which belong to the desire-nature,
and these begin to vibrate;
as they awake and throb,
they attract to themselves suitable materials
for their expression from the matter of the astral world,
and these form the new astral body
for the approaching incarnation.
Thus the Thinker becomes clothed
with his mental and astral vestures,
exactly expressing the faculties evolved
during the past stages of his life.
Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, p. 158-159
Souls always get another opportunity
to balance their creations and perfect themselves.
People call it “reincarnation.”
Mistakes are repeated until the lesson is learned.
The law of reversibility tests us
to see if we have really learned.
This earth is a school
where we can make mistakes and correct them.
When we pass all our tests,
then we graduate to a higher level.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 13
Progression and Evolution
Desirelessness and Non-attachment