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Soul Life
Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.)

  SOUL LIFE
  Understanding Soul & Spirit

  by John Van Auken

From Edgar Cayce’s deep attunement to the Universal Consciousness, he saw a clear distinction between spirit and soul; something most of us do not see. Cayce felt that it would be “best that these be classified, that these be not misunderstood in their relations one to another.” Let’s consider these two aspects of our being, which are so often overshadowed by our physical aspect.

According to Cayce, spirit is the life force, the élan vital that animates life. He said, “Spirit is the spark, or portion of the Divine that is in every entity.” But spirit is not just a force. It is a consciousness with individualness, though not nearly as individual as we are in our physical condition. Jesus tells the woman at the well that “God is a spirit, and seeks same to worship Him,” a call for us to get into our spirit if we would really connect with God.


According to Cayce, our spirit self is, has been, and always will be “before the throne of God.” It is perfect, unblemished, made in the image of Elohim, as recorded in Genesis 1. Cayce says that it is “a thing apart from anything earthy,” and does not descend into the realms of Earth unless we lift ourselves up to it and connect with it. Even then, it remains shielded from earthly influences.

That “spark” Cayce spoke of is the light and life of mind, or consciousness. Within the one, universal, collective mind of God are infinite points of consciousness, spirits like the Great Spirit. The consciousness of our spirit is the superconscious, a level of consciousness that is nearly indistinguishable from God’s consciousness. Psalm 82 expresses the situation in the spirit realm this way: “God stands in the congregation of God; He judges among the gods”; and later, “You are gods, sons of the Most High.” It’s important to realize that these “sons” are spirits, not bodies; male and female energies are combined. As Jesus explained, “In heaven there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage.”

The phrase the congregation of God reflects how intimately connected the godlings are to their Creator. This collective nature of the Creator is also expressed in the use of the plural word Elohim for the name of God. The Creator includes all of life; nothing exists outside of the Whole. Fascinatingly, the author of Genesis changes the name of God in the second chapter to Yahweh Elohim, which most English Bibles translate as “Lord God.” It is this aspect of God that creates our soul self, different from the spirit self that Elohim made in Genesis 1:26. Yahweh Elohim forms us from the dust of the ground and breathes the breath of life into us, and we become living souls (Genesis 2:7).

SOUL

Cayce sees soul as the developing portion of our whole nature. It is ever changing, growing, and learning, and uses free will to explore, create, test, discover, and more. Soul is the ultimate companion to the Creator; a true companion, because it has the free will to choose to be a companion ­ or not. The soul is also uniquely able to bridge the gulf between the spirit realms and the physical realms, between our divine, godly self and our earthly self. The mind of the soul is the subconscious. It may operate independently of the Collective Consciousness of the Creator. (At least, it is allowed to think it does. After all, there is no way to actually be outside of the Whole.) Or, it may act in harmony and conscious at-one-ment with the Collective Consciousness.

“Q: Mr. Cayce, what is the soul of a body? A: That which the Maker gave to every entity or individual in the beginning, and which is seeking the home again or place of the Maker. All souls were created in the beginning, and are finding their way back to whence they came. Q: Where does the soul go when fully developed? A: To its Maker.”

From Cayce’s perspective, “the study of subconscious, subliminal, psychic, soul forces, is and should be the great study for the human family. Through self man will understand his Maker when he understands his relationship to his Maker. He will only understand that through himself. What one thinks continually, they become; what one cherishes in their heart and mind they make a part of the pulsation of their heart, through their own blood cells, and build in their own physical, that which his spirit and soul must feed upon.”

I found Cayce’s comments on death and communicating with the dead to be helpful in understanding spirit and soul. For example, consider this reading: “When the soul passes from the physical body, the subconscious mind, which never forgets, is then as the sensuous mind of the soul body; the spirit or superconscious mind” becomes “the subconscious” of the soul. While incarnate, the sensuous mind is what we call the conscious mind. But after death or, for that matter, even during sleep (for Cayce says, “sleep is a shadow of death”), the active mind becomes the soul’s mind, the subconscious.

“Q: Is it possible for this body, Edgar Cayce, in this state to communicate with anyone who has passed into the spirit world? A: The spirit of all that have passed from the physical plane remain about the plane until their development carries them onward or are returned [reincarnated] for their development here. When they are in the plane of communication or remain within this sphere, any may be communicated with. There are thousands about us here at present.” That’s an unsettling thought, isn’t it? But the key point here is the phases of development that may lead us back into incarnate life or on beyond this sphere altogether and out of the reach of communication. I remember a reading he gave to Mort Blumenthal in which Mort was regularly communicating with his deceased father through his dreams. On one occasion, Cayce informed Mort that his father had actually moved beyond this world, but Mort could still use the dream image of his father as a symbol for good advice. In another reading for Mort, Cayce explained that the waxen figures Mort had seen in one of his deeper dreams were the remnant casings left behind by entities that had moved beyond this world and the realms around it.

EXPERIENCING SOUL

A few years ago I decided to follow Cayce’s example and try to get into a deep attunement to the Universal Consciousness to better understand the difference between my soul and me. Over a period of a month I came to “feel” (that’s the best word I can use to describe how the knowing or understanding came to me) what the difference was. It was paradoxically a significant difference, and yet these two aspects of myself were very, very close to one another. One morning as I was awaking from a dream, I experienced firsthand the difference between my outer self and my soul self. I’ve shared this many times, but it seems appropriate to repeat here.

I was dreaming a fascinating dream. As I came closer to waking consciousness, I realized how full my bladder was and decided to go empty it, then come back to bed and process the dream. Of course, when I returned to bed, the dream was gone. I had absolutely no recollection of its content. As I lay there, wondering how this could be possible, the dream content returned! At that very moment I knew I had slipped back into my soul-self, my subconscious, and there was the dream. So subtle was the veil between my inner and outer self that I did not notice when I moved from one to the other. Yet, so opaque was the veil that I could not see back through it to my dreaming soul-mind. That was a great breakthrough for me. From that day on I worked at developing my ability to distinguish when I was shifting from conscious self to subconscious self, from earthly person to soul. But I also wanted to know firsthand the difference between my soul self and my spirit.

EXPERIENCING SPIRIT

A Cayce reading explaining the biblical book of the Revelation helped me understand the nature of our spirit. In his explanation Cayce noted that twice in the revelation the disciple John saw an angel appear, whom he bowed down to worship. But the angel would have none of this, saying, “Do not do that. I am one of your brothers in this work. Worship God.” Cayce explained that that godly-looking being, that angel, was in fact the spirit-self of Peter, who had promised John that he would endeavor to contact him after his demise. If we could see one another in our true spirit-self, we would appear so godly that we would bow down and worship. Yet, our spirit-self would retain enough of its individualness to speak to and guide us, as Peter did to John. Amazing, isn’t it? Of course, it is just this kind of talk that gets the evangelical Christians upset with us. We are saying that some aspect of us is in the image and likeness of God and is a godling within the one Most High God. The subtle but key point here is that we are not saying that we are God. Rather, we are a portion of God, our Creator. Cayce put it this way for Mort: “Know that not only God is God, but self is a part of that Oneness.”

In my effort to personally experience my spirit self, I used the methods and maps that Cayce gave for going from physical consciousness through dimensions of consciousness to spiritual consciousness. I published an article on this in Venture Inward several years ago, subsequently wrote a book about it (Spiritual Breakthrough), and later wrote an illustrated manual (Passage in Consciousness). By practicing these methods I did experience what I perceived to be superconsciousness, a level of consciousness in proximity to or in oneness with God’s Universal Consciousness. During these sessions, which can be compared to deep meditation, I at times retained a sense of individualness while in the collective, universal condition. But at other times, I lost all sense of individualness ­ and only after attempting to regain a sense of myself did I realize that I had lost individual consciousness, which caused me some concern about this practice. However, Cayce reassuringly explained to the practitioners he guided that they would indeed lose consciousness at times but that if they kept practicing, they would ultimately maintain semi-consciousness or even full consciousness during the transitions into the higher states of consciousness.

For me, it was as if my consciousness turned off a gravitational force that somehow maintained selfness, allowing my mind to slip into an infinite vacuum ­ much like the difference between a contained planetary atmosphere and infinite, airless outer space. I assume this is what the Eastern seekers mean by entering “the Void.”

Miraculously, I was somehow able to turn the gravitational force of self-consciousness back on and recompose myself in a relatively sane and Earth-relevant condition. But, as so many near-death-experience people report, once having touched the dimensions beyond this world, you are never quite the same.

Some sessions contained imagery ­ beautiful, ethereal imagery. But some sessions were simply a matter of feeling a shift from individual, finite perception to universal, infinite awareness. Some sessions were quite energizing, invigorating, and inspiring; while other sessions were as still, quiet, and lifeless as death. Coming out of one of these death-like sessions required long transition times before normal consciousness and physical activity could be regained. It could take me from twenty minutes to two days to get back to my normal self again, depending, I suppose, on many factors, including how much I really wanted or needed to get back to my normal self.

The effects of these practice sessions were profound. Though I still had my daily personal issues to deal with ­ my weaknesses and strengths, and certainly my karma ­ I always felt that I had seen the other side of the mountain. Therefore, nothing could keep me from knowing that all was going to work out well in the end, despite how hard or disappointing the journey might be now. Paradise did exist. I knew it firsthand.

Stuart Dean, the manager of A.R.E.’s Study Group department, had a similar experience. He explained that he simply wanted to attune to the Source, had about ten different ways to describe that, but decided to just ask God to do it for him. And He did. Dean described what happened.

“I immediately found myself in a beautiful place, right next to the Light and Presence of God, where we are all living traces of His movement, yet still Him in essence. We are ourselves, yet also Him. I could feel it! All unique, but still Him. We all were open both to God and to connecting with each other, and there was nothing else except this! This was prior to inner and outer worlds, prior to space and time, prior to existence itself! This is the place where there are no limits, where peace is not yet disturbed, where surrender is natural, and where our life is wholly our relatedness to each other and to God. Then it came to me that these are our spirits, as opposed to our souls, which grow and develop. As spirits, we are eternally young, perfect, innocent, and happy. We are completely light and completely love. I felt like the first generation of the Sons of God, and that we still are, at our core, these spirits ‘around the Throne.’ Creative energies before creation; with feelings of perfect willingness to cooperate with every other spirit, knowing that we are all units of One Love.

“I have always felt fairly close to my soul, but I never thought I would actually connect with my spirit. Now that I have, I can hardly get over how childlike and unafraid my spirit is, and how perfectly open it is to other people, recognizing them as Pure Selves, like itself. This is like having a little piece of God with me all the time.”

I think this is the distinctive difference between the spirit and the soul. The soul is on a journey with many twists and turns in the road of life. But the spirit is high above the road, overarching it from beginning to end, and knows the peace that passes understanding, the contentment that is never shaken, the Paradise that is ours to enjoy forever. The great thing about this is that we may experience the Paradise while still on the road! The flesh is heavy and weak, but the spirit is willing and waiting. With a few simple techniques, a longing heart, and trust in God’s promise to meet us if we seek Him/Her, we can take a break from the often lonesome road and enter into “the congregation of God.”

-END


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