What is the Soul?
In our meditation exercise today, we did some experiments, because the basis of the way we teach and study is for us to be able to confirm things in our own experience. It is not sufficient to merely believe in things. It is necessary to know. In terms of our spiritual life and our spiritual development, it is necessary to know with accuracy exactly where we are, who we are, and what obstacles we face.
A Practical Meditation Exercise
First, we prepared for meditation. We relaxed the body, brought our attention to the present, and ensured that we began to cultivate the relaxation and stillness that are necessary for us to be able to enter the state of meditation.
After becoming very relaxed, we worked with concentration. We concentrated on observing the sensations of the breath in our nostrils, in order to evaluate how long we are able to maintain attention on one thing, compared to how long are we distracted. How many people found it was difficult to concentrate? How many found it was difficult to relax?
Following that, we then added imagination, and imagined the process of acquiring our favorite meal. How many people found this easy? How many found it difficult? How many found it difficult to hold the image in your imagination continually? How many found that they became identified with the scene, and even salivated?
In the final phase of our experiment, ideally with our relaxation, concentration, and imagination very well established, we cultivated the emergence of the dream state, and imagined approaching some form of divinity with a question, any question that we really need an answer to. Who found this phase to be the most difficult? Who actually entered the dreaming state or left their physical body consciously? And then who, having left the physical body consciously, or entered the dream state consciously, then saw divinity consciously, objectively, asked a question, and got an answer?
Before studying this lecture, we recommend that you perform the experiments first. Take note of the stages of this exercise, and practice in silence for at least an hour. Do not evaluate your practice while performing the experiment; focus only on doing it. Afterwards, it is good to retrospect your experience, to recollect what you did.
The phases of this experiment are designed with a very particular purpose, which is to help you evaluate your skills and what you need to develop. Each phase of this exercise focuses on specific qualities and abilities that are absolutely necessary for meditation and for when you die. When you reach the moment of death, you need these skills. Moreover, you need to be able to use them even when you are in pain, afflicted with fear, illness, disease, and the approaching loss of everything you know and love, meaning that you need a mind that is serene, capable of experiencing great difficulties peacefully, without fear, without attachment, without hesitation, and has the ability, at the moment of death, to pass through that experience, consciously, with awareness, so that you can be an active participant of that process and guide yourself through it.
So, this is not a game. This is not theoretical. These are incredibly practical and critical skills that one must have. There is no alternative. If we pass through the process of death and dying without these skills, then we will die unconsciously, and we will pass through that experience without awareness of it, and we will be tossed and moved by forces that we do not perceive, and so we will not know what the result of that will be.
You can know the truth of these things for yourself tonight when you go to sleep, because the process of falling asleep at night is exactly the same as the process of dying. The only difference is that in the morning, you wake up and return to your physical body, because your soul, your consciousness, is still tied to the body, whereas at death, that connection is severed, but the experience is the same. When you go out of your body at night and you are sleeping, it is the same world that you enter when you die. So, if now, when you sleep at night, you enter that world unconsciously, without awareness, without cognizance, without the ability to consciously direct yourself out of the body and into that world, then you will also lack that ability when you die. That is how important this is. It is really important.
Having done this experiment, evaluate your meditation abilities and skills. If, in the final step of this experiment you were able to relax the body, still it, concentrate, imagine an event, open the door of dreaming, and enter it consciously, going out of the body, then you will be capable of doing that when you die. The process of dreaming is the same as the door of death.
That is why we train now in meditation and in dreaming: to enter that door with awareness. We work to develop that skill every day. That way, when the moment of death arrives, we are ready. We are prepared, and we can pass through that process with full awareness of it without fear.
You also learn from this type of experiment an intimate knowledge of what the soul is based on facts, not based on abstract, unclear beliefs, but based on facts that you can experience and prove consciously with awareness.
That is the basis of our talk today: What is the soul?
In English, this word "soul" is used in a very unclear and vague way. It is from a root in Old English “sawol,” to indicate “the emotional or spiritual part of a person,” that represents their true identity or nature and that assumably, continues after death. That is the assumption that people in the western world have about the soul, that it is who we truly are, and that the way we perceive our inner self now is our soul and that it continues in its current form after death. Yet, if you ask people to define the soul or give practical or experiential examples of their soul, no one can give you that, because this is all just theory and belief. It is difficult to find facts about the soul, and that is exactly our purpose here: to find the facts.
To understand the roots of that belief, we know that western culture is strongly rooted in Greek mythology. In Greek mythology the soul is symbolized by Psyche, a maiden, a virgin, an innocent woman. She symbolizes our true nature. That word "psyche" literally means “life force.” It can mean “breath.” It can mean “soul.”
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own psyche? or what shall a man give in exchange for his psyche?” —Matthew 16:26
In the mythology of Psyche, she is very intimately related with Eros, which means "love” or “life "force." Eros symbolizes the power of divinity that gives life to all things. In modern times, we call that power "Christ, Avalokiteshvara, Shekinah, Apollo, God." It is the life-giving principle in nature.
In most religions, the soul is considered to be a particularization of divinity. Look at this image of Tree of Life and imagine it represents levels of nature from the densest at the bottom, proceeding upwards towards the most abstract and highest, which is Eros, Christ, at the top, as the force of life in a universal form that descends and crystallized into an individual form as Psyche, soul, but as a seed planted in the Earth with the potential to grow and become something more than a seed. That something more is what we call a hero. The word "hero" is from the word "Eros." We talked about that in a previous lecture [ Heroes on the Path of Love].
Eros, Christ, is the primordial divinity that gives rise to all living things. It is a profound intelligence, a profound consciousness, that is not an individual. It is not a bearded old man sitting up in heaven looking down on us. It is rather, the root living entity in all things. It is a universal intelligence, far beyond any concept we can have of such intelligence. When it elaborates nature and plants seeds in nature to grow life, it is in us as the consciousness. Our consciousness, our ability to be perceptive, attentive, and to understand what we perceive, is our soul. It is the embryo or the seed from which we can grow something greater: a master, a buddha, an angel, a god, a hero. Use whatever terms you want. They all point towards the same thing. A common, average sentient creature like any one of us, took that seed, grew it, and became something more. Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Padmasambhava all represent examples of common human beings who became something more.
We each have that same potential. But in us the seed is undeveloped, and the proof is in what we can perceive. That is what we need to study. What is the range and depth of our perception? What are the qualities and capabilities of our consciousness?
In the Asian traditions, this same perspective is shared but with a slightly different organization.
Soul in Hinduism
The eldest is Hinduism.
In Hinduism, the highest form of divinity is impersonal, abstract, non-individual, universal, called Brahman or Paramatman (“superior self”). It is symbolized by the top trinity on the Tree of Life.
That “supreme self” particularlizes or crystallizes as Atman, which means "self, soul," and is a living spirit or intelligence. It is symbolized on the second trinity on the Tree of Life.
Atman condenses itself into the individual soul, called jiva. The individual soul is what is born into physical bodies. The jiva experiences existence enclosed in what are called sheaths (koshas). Our physical body (rupa) is a sheath or outfit that the consciousness inhabits. When we sleep at night, it goes out and dreams, and in the world of dreaming, it has another veil, a sheath, related with the astral world.
The same structure is symbolized on The Tree of Life. The abstract, universal divinity of the trinity (Christ, Eros, Osiris) unfolds into Chesed (Atman, Horus) as an individual spirit or self, which crystallizes a seed of consciousness (soul, Essence) that is born into bodies in order to grow itself.
That is the essential structure:
God > Spirit > Soul > Body
Spirituality is the process of knowing all that consciously, and unifying all those parts into one conscious whole. Just as your consciousness longs to know its true nature, to know God, so too your spirit longs to unite with Christ (Eros, Brahma). The term “self-realization” is the fulfillment of that knowledge: to know one’s Self in every level, and to unite them as one being.
To do that, the jiva or individual soul needs to recognize the impermanence or illusory nature of the bodies that it utilizes, and recognize that it (consciousness) is not the bodies. The consciousness is merely an extension of Atman (Chesed), which is merely an extension of Paramatman, the ultimate or supreme self. So, within us like everything in nature, there are unfolding levels.
The problem is that very few Hindus really grasped the subtlety of that philosophy, and instead became attached to the notion that the soul is permanent and eternally existing, just like people in the west today. We think that our soul is who we are here and now, that the way I experience myself is my soul, and that that soul is eternal, and that no matter what I do, God will love me and accept me and forgive me and I will eventually go to Heaven. Everyone in every religion believes this. People believe “As long as I follow the rules that my traditional religion has given me, ultimately everything will be okay and I will go to Heaven and be with God.” But that contradicts nature, the scriptures, and the facts.
Soul in Buddhism
A little bit later, a human being came along who meditated a lot, and understood that there are some flaws in that perception, and he started teaching a doctrine called Anatman, which means "no self." That was the man that people now call “the Buddha.” He taught the doctrine of Anatman, which means "no self" or "empty self." He taught that what the Hindus believed was flawed, and the sense of identity of self does not fundamentally exist, and that there is no permanent, ever unchanging soul, but that everything about us is impermanent and subject to constant change and is thus unreliable. We cannot find in ourselves an "I" that is permanent and forever unchanging. What we find instead is a set of conditions, a set of causes, that have a very sophisticated interdependence through which we pass and migrate and have many types of experiences but are never the same.
So, the Buddha did not say that there is no such thing as "you" and "me." What he explained was that our notion of soul is fundamentally inaccurate. He explained that we have what he called Tathagatagarbha or Buddhadatu. These two terms are interchangeable. Tathagatagarbha means "an embryo of suchness" where Buddhadatu means "the inherent potential to become awakened."
The word Buddha means "awakened." To have the consciousness awakened, and seeing reality," is to be a buddha. That is not to be a Buddhist. A Buddhist is a believer, a follower. A Buddha is awake. Jesus is a Buddha. He may not use that word, but he is a very great, very awakened Buddha.
Buddhist philosophy explains a very similar concept to the Hindu, which is that from Adhi-buddha (primordial, unmanifested buddha) or Amitabha (“limitless light”) there emerges relative existence, something that we can perceive and call a truth, a reality.
Within that there a root consciousness, which is represented by a fundamental trinity (the kayas). That trinity subsequently manifests or particularizes itself into a form that can we can call our “inner Buddha” or yidam. It corresponds with Atman of Hinduism, and in the Bible, it is called Abraham.
From that comes a spark of consciousness, an embryo, which is Tathagatagarbha, Buddhadatu. It enters into the material world veiled in layers called skandhas, "aggregates." Each skandha is a collection of elements that are temporarily bound together by causes and conditions, but that fundamentally have no lasting reality.
The physical body is a skandha called rupa, “form.” As a skandha or aggregate, it is a collection of elements that are temporarily bound together, but it is inherently unstable and impermanent. Our physical body appears stable and lasting, but in fact it is mostly empty space, and lacks fundamental, inherent reality. That is, it appears briefly in the universe, but only because of temporary, highly unstable conditions.
We all agree that we have a physical body. We can perceive it and utilize it. We assume that it is real and lasting but it is not. It is entirely temporary. It is highly unstable and supremely vulnerable. A single microbe can kill it. This body is not reliable. Moreover, it is not our self.
Many people nowadays believe the body is our self. It is not. It is a vessel, like a suit of clothing. When we are born, we put it on. The soul wears it as a vesture until it becomes decayed, and then we throw it away and we get a new one. That is a skandha, an aggregate. It is temporary. It is illusory. It is not fundamentally real or reliable.
There are five skandhas related with all the processes that we experience in ourselves as "me." We do not have time to go into detail on all the koshas and skandhas today. What I am trying to show you is that these two philosophies are showing the same thing with a slightly different point of view. But the ultimate synthesis is that what we are experiencing as me, myself and I, is not the way it appears to be, because we do not look at it closely. We do not question it. We have a collection of beliefs and assumptions that we make about ourselves that are fundamentally flawed. We need to go deeper.
To understand who we really are, what the soul really is, what our true identity is, we first need to recognize what it is not.
What the Soul is Not
The Physical Body
I have already given you the first example: the physical body.
We are deeply hypnotized by physicality, by appearances. We work very hard to create a physical appearance in order to convey to others a “sense of self,” our “image,” our “identity,” and to convey to ourselves a sense of self. Our haircut, our clothing, our makeup, our jewelry, our perfume, the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we interact with others, the things that we gather around ourselves, are all for the purpose of making us and others believe in our “sense of self,” and it is all a lie. We are picking and choosing things according to our tastes and then adding them to ourselves to create an illusion of "me," an illusion that we show ourselves, an illusion that we show to other people. But that "me" does not exist.
Our “self” is not the body. Not only is the physical body highly unreliable, constantly changing, and impermanent, but it is mostly empty space. It is just a vessel that we use temporarily. It has nothing to do with our identity. It is something you adopt briefly and then throw away.
You may not realize this, but your body will be dead. It will return to the Earth. Everything about your body will be lost. So, everything you are investing into it will be lost. The surgeries, the treatments, the implants, the workouts, all to feed your the vanity and pride, will all be lost. Thus, they are mostly a waste of time. We do need to keep the body healthy, strong and fit. We need to take care of it because we need it to do our work, but we over-exaggerate its importance. We do this because we do not remember all the bodies we had before this one, because our consciousness does not remember, because it is asleep. It is weak.
The physical body is the first thing to realize is not our soul. It corresponds with Malkuth, the lowest sphere of the ten sephiroth of The Tree of Life.
The physical body is not our identity. You have had many physical bodies before. And if you are fortunate, you will have more. If you awaken your consciousness to a certain degree, you will come to realize that these physical bodies really do not mean anything. You take them up and use them as needed, without attachment.
The Vital Body
Next is the vital body. This is the energetic aspect of the physical body; it is chi, prana, life energy. It is what allows the physical body to be alive. There are many people in the world who perceive that energy, or believe they perceive it, and they think it is our soul. They are very much identified with energy, very fascinated with energy, and mistakenly believe it is our identity, our soul. It is the life force of the physical body, but it is not the soul. It is not the consciousness. It is just energy. The vital body corresponds with Yesod on the Tree of Life. It is important, but it is not who we are.
The next place that we tend to mistake the soul is with our personality. This word "personality" comes from the word in Latin personae which means "mask," and that is all the personality is. It is a mask.
We create the personality in each lifetime in combination with the vital body and the physical body. They are intimately related with each other. When we are born and the consciousness is put into the physical body, it emerges into the physical world in an unformed state: the physical body, vital body, personality are unformed. As we grow, especially in the first seven years, each develops alongside the others.
During the first seven years of our physical life, the majority of the personality is formed. And what is that? It is our language, culture, education, taste in food and lifestyle, and the foundation for everything else cultural: our tastes in fashion, food, music, politics, etc. These are all the things we learn when we grow up. It is what people nowadays think of as "me." We all think that my true identity has my current name, my taste in music, food, culture, and that is my true identity, my soul. That is wrong, and it is easy to see that it is wrong. If the consciousness is eternal, and migrates from body to body, then in your previous body you would not have the same tastes as now, because in that previous body, there would have been different politics, music, food, culture. If those tastes belonged to your “eternal soul,” it would always have the same taste, would it not? So, if you were born in the Roman, Greek, or Egyptian era, then your soul today would have the exact same language, taste, culture, politics, religion, and everything else that you learned at the time you were Egyptian. But you do not have those tastes and interests now, because when you were in that Egyptian time, and you died, you left your personality behind. You left your name, culture, language, taste in food and clothing, and all of that. Your former personalities are all dead. When you are newly born into this new life, in this new body, you have no personality yet. That has to be made, and it is made from your circumstances: family, environment, country, religion, morals, wealth or poverty, education, etc. So, your personality is not your soul. Your personality is simply a mask that you use to interact with the exterior world.
When you want to see who you really are, you have to set aside those vain, temporary tastes, pleasures, and interests of terrestrial life, because those are all temporary and impermanent, and when you die, you will abandon them. Your true identity, your true nature, is deeper than politics, religion, clothing, music, and all the other things we attach ourselves to. That is why when we activate the consciousness, whether for self-observation or meditation or any other activity, we have to make the personality passive. If the personality is active, it interferes. It obscures the perception of the consciousness.
Notice that with each step, we are going deeper.
Egos, I’s, Defects
Finally, behind all of that, we have what we call “egos, I’s.” These are psychological qualities that we keep from lifetime to lifetime. They are ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. They are psychological tendencies, habits, attachments, desires. They can even be accompanied by skills. You have all heard stories of “prodigies” who at three or four years old effortlessly play Mozart on the piano. Those skills were developed in a previous life. Those are from psychological qualities that the soul has retained. ALl of us have those “inherited” behaviors, but ours are usually not so impressive. They ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and we have uncountable numbers of them. Parents see this clearly when their young children, who start out so innocent and sweet, begin to show new, unsettling behaviors with no visible source. As we grow up, our former tendencies begin to emerge: tendencies towards anger, pride, envy, jealousy, etc.
These tendencies are deeper than personality. The traits, habits, desires, and tendencies that we developed in our previous lives have bound the consciousness in a repetitive pattern. As you grow up and experience patterns in your life, certain types of circumstances that repeat, those are related to these egos, or I’s. They are patterns from a previous lifetime that you can call karma. They are like knots in nature, where something is trapped and repeating in order to satisfy itself.
Those traits, habits, desires, and tendencies are not our soul, self; rather, our soul is trapped within them. The consciousness is trapped in them. They are not who we truly are. The problem is that because we have been repeating those behaviors from lifetime to lifetime, we are so accustomed to them that they feels like our identity.
Many people are born into the same religion from lifetime to lifetime. So, they feel deeply connected to that religion by mere repetition. They fully believe that their religious perspective is their soul, their identity., but it is not. It is simply that they have become accustomed to it through repetition, from life to life.
Certain people are born as a farmer from lifetime to lifetime, so they believe in their heart of hearts that their soul is a farmer’s soul. They are simply habituated to a repeated pattern that is so familiar that it feels like their real self, but it is simply a pattern. Nothing more.
This is why throughout our life we are drawn towards certain jobs, habits, people, groups, places… simply because we are repeating what we did in our former lifetime.
This is called recurrence. Almost everything in our lives is a mere repetition, although this occurs on a spiral that is usually descending into more and more painful repetitions.
To really learn the truth of these four parts of ourselves requires a lot of self-observation, objectivity, and reflection. We have many mistaken assumptions that we make about ourselves. To see the truth of these things requires honest, expansive awareness.
The main point when you observe yourself is to see the distinction between these elements and the consciousness. Then the question naturally arises, "If the consciousness is my soul, what are its qualities? What are its abilities? When do I use it?"
Most of the time, our consciousness is inactive, passive. Instead, our activities are ruled by all these other elements:
The body controls much of our life, with its constant needs for sleep, comfort, food, drink, pleasure, distraction, sex, addictions, etc. The body only wants to repeat is daily habits, over and over. It repeats the same actions, over and over. For all of this, the consciousness is not used, thus it is passive, asleep. Most people live this way, as mere animals driven by the instincts of the body.
The vital body mechanically reflects the contents of our psychology as daydreams and fantasies. A huge part of our day is invested into being hypnotized by those images. This is a state of sleep, since we are dreaming.
The personality is very invested in being appreciated, accepted, included, thus it is always active, pushing us to adopt behaviors that will attract those sensations. For this, the consciousness is not needed, thus it remains passive, asleep. When the personality is active and the consciousness is asleep, we are a marionette being controlled by influences of culture, politics, money, sex, etc.
The personality is always seeking to please others, to impress others, in order to get attention.
Our defects are the most submerged, since they control all of these other aspects. For instance, in a previous life at a certain age we had an angry, violent fight with a certain person. Now, in our new life, that violent anger will manipulate the body and personality to find recreate that fight again. We, who are asleep and unaware of ourselves, suddenly find ourselves in a fight but do not know how or why.
Humanity is asleep.
Throughout each day, we are generally unaware of the body. We are unaware of the energy in the body. We are unaware of the personality, and this may be the first time we have ever heard of it. We are unaware of the subconscious impulses that move us in thought, emotion, and action.
It is the consciousness - the soul - that can observe all of them, and control all of them. That is the distinction. But our consciousness is asleep, unaware, inactive. It is not aware of any of this because we have never been trained to awaken.
Consciousness is the Soul
The root power of consciousness is perception: to see, not vaguely, not accidentally, but by will. This is not just physical sight, but is instead that within us that can perceive through any sense. Trace any sense back to it origin and you will find the consciousness. How do you sense a thought? With the consciousness. However, most of the time when thoughts emerge, you are unaware of the difference between the thought and the awareness of the thought. That distinction is very important, and must be made conscious, continual, active, not only with regard to thoughts, but in every field of perception.
The root power of consciousness is perception: to choose to look and observe. The root power of consciousness is not thought, emotion, energy, or physicality, but to use attention and direct it at something to see it and to understand it. That is the basis of consciousness.
So, firstly, if we are really truly studying religion, spirituality, or meditation, that is the very first thing that we have to develop: how to use consciousness here and now. We must know how to recognize our consciousness, and use consciousness all the time. It is vital to be continually present, willfully, attentively observing everything that is observable, in order to understand what we see. To really do that, you have to suspend being identified with thought. You have to suspend being identified with emotion, you have to separate consciousness from emotion. You have to observe the body with a sense of separation from the body, to see it as a vessel, a sheath, a veil, a vehicle. You have to separate from the energy of the body, to not be identified with it. You have to separate from the personality, and make the personality passive. And finally, you have to recognize all the impulses in the mind for what they are: habitual, mechanical impulses that are rooted in desires.
That is the first level of training in real spirituality. That is how you start to awaken. You start to use the consciousness.
From that, the first thing you learn is that you are asleep, because it is hard to be awake. The consciousness is weak, and it does not have energy. You may be able to pay attention for a few seconds, maybe a few minutes, and then you get distracted again and go on auto-pilot without conscious attention. You may have already discovered that in our meditation practice today. Maybe you were able to pay attention for a breath, or two, or three, or four, but then you get distracted, and the mind just takes you away, and you wander around for who knows how long until you realize, "wait I am supposed to be paying attention," and then you start to pay attention again. That effort, conducted during the day through self-observation, reveals the same problem. You may be able to be attentive and aware for brief moments, but then be distracted and unaware for most of the time.
What that demonstrates in facts is how weak the consciousness is. It demonstrates in facts your level of soul. Each of us is just an embryo. We are all like little seeds: weak, without energy, without training, but with the potential to grow if given nourishment, energy, and training.
It also reveals that even though we as people who are interested in religion talk about many worlds, we talk about heaven, we talk about hell, the fact is that our soul, our consciousness is unaware of all of that. We are barely aware of the physical world. Many people claim to be spiritual, religious, but the proof is in what we can see and understand. Can you see the soul and understand it? Not just believe in it, but can you perceive it? Can you see God and understand what you see?
The reality is that the consciousness is an extension of divinity, and its inherent nature is to grow and develop so that it can see divinity. This is the basis of every religion in the world. Our own inherent nature is connected with divinity very profoundly, but it is undeveloped in us.
To truly awaken consciousness and develop it, first we must become aware of the physical world. Before you can be awakened in heaven, you have to awaken here and now in the physical world.
As that awakening extends and expands, we eventually become aware in the vital world, which is in the fourth dimension.
Someone who expands the consciousness more awakens in the fifth dimension, and no longer dreams. Instead of dreaming in that world like we do, they are awake and aware.
Someone who has awakened beyond that, in the sixth dimension, is able to enter into the heavens, where there is no ego. That is not imaginary. It is more real than standing here in your physical body. Someone who has awakened consciousness is able to enter other realms, dimensions, at will. They go out of their physical body, enter those worlds, are active consciously, just the way we are here and now, and perform the tasks they need to perform in other dimensions. We all know that is possible because every religion tells stories of that. That potential is within us too, we just need to develop it.
Someone who truly is developing the consciousness is acquiring those abilities, not only to be conscious in other worlds, but to remember their past lives, to perceive other dimensions, to be able to go out of the body at will, to meditate on things and get answers, get information, profound insight. Those are skills that our consciousness has, but only when it is developed.
That is why we did that exercise before this lecture: so you can see your own abilities, and know what you need to develop.
First, we need to awaken consciousness.
To do that, we need to learn about the qualities of soul that we can use now.
The modern notion of soul is a degeneration. In the original Bible, written in Hebrew and Greek, there is not one word for soul. It has many words for soul, and each one is different.
Soul in Christianity and Judaism
Jesus was a master of Kabbalah and Hebrew. In Kabbalah, there are five souls, not one. Real Christianity is built upon the foundation of Hebrew and Kabbalah. Jesus was a master of Hebrew and Kabbalah, so what he taught was actually Kabbalah based in Hebrew. But when the teachings that he gave were translated into English, the translators did not know Hebrew and Kabbalah, and they translated based on their beliefs.
When you read The Bible and you find words like "breath, spirit, wind, blood," all of those words are words for "soul" in Hebrew or Greek.
The main words that we need to know about at our level, are these three.
- Neshamah נשמה
- Ruach רוח
- Nephesh נפש
Those three words are explained in the esoteric Judaism, which is called Kabbalah.
Interestingly, Plato taught the exact same three aspects of the soul, but of course he used Greek words and taught them according to the psychology of his students:
- λογιστικός, logistikós
- θυμοειδές, thumoeidés
- ἐπιθυμητικόν, epithumētikón
These three aspects of soul are within all of us, but we are unaware of them because we have not been educated. We have not been trained. However, these are all in the Bible, they are all in Greek philosophy, they are in the Egyptian mysticism, they are in Judaism. All religions have these represented in different ways, because they are not just beliefs or theories. These three terms describe facts in ourselves.
"The soul is a trinity. It comprises three elements, viz.: (a) Neshāmāh, the rational element which is the highest phase of existence; (b) Ruacḥ, the moral element, the seat of good and evil, the ethical qualities; (c) Nephesh, the gross side of spirit, the vital element which is en rapport with the body, and the mainspring of all the movements, instincts, and cravings of the physical life... The three divisions of the soul are emanations from the Sefirot. The Neshāmāh, which, as has been said, is the soul in its most elevated and sublimest sense, emanates from [Chokmah] the Sefirah of Wisdom. The Ruacḥ, which denotes the soul in its ethical aspect, emanates from [Tiphereth] the Sefirah of Beauty. The Nephesh, which is the animal side of the soul, is an emanation from [Yesod] the Sefirah of Foundation, that element of divinity which comes, most of all, into contact with the material forces of earth." —Jewish Mysticism by J. Abelson 
Nephesh means "blood, life force, vitality, appetite, soul" or "that which breathes."
Nephesh is the base level of soul. It is the living force in every living thing. It is the inherent life of in us. That is why the word nephesh can mean simply "blood,” or “life force, vitality." It is that which makes us alive. But, nephesh is not physical matter or energy. Nephesh is the consciousness that makes a living thing alive.
On The Tree of Life, nephesh is related with the sephirah Yesod, which means "foundation." It is related with the vital body.
In our physical body, nephesh is related with the blood, and with the liver.
In us, Nephesh is animal, base, instinctive. It is simple. It is the urgency, the impulse, to be alive. It is a raw, root appetite for living. It is an unformed, brute matter. It is raw, like a seed.
Nephesh is the connection between the physical and non-physical.
On The Tree of Life, the lowest sphere Malkuth is physical. Everything above is non-physical. Yesod is the intermediary or glue between the physical and non-physical. It is Yesod, “the foundation,” of life.
So, the glue that joins together the spiritual with the physical is Yesod, Nephesh, that aspect of soul in us. Nephesh flows in your blood. Nephesh flows in your sexual energy. Nephesh moves in your liver, in your stomach, in your lungs, in your brain. Nephesh is in your energetic nervous system. Nephesh is the impulse to live.
But in us, nephesh is animal, instinctive. All it knows is sensation, physicality. That is why it is also translated as "appetite." In its raw, undeveloped state, as it is in all of us, it is instinctive, mechanical, and only serves mechanical nature.
We share nephesh with all the animals on the planet. That is why we are so similar. It is an instinctive, impulsive force. It is raw consciousness, undeveloped, aware, but dimly, faintly. Nephesh only has the slightest notion of being alive, and is simply an impulse to eat, to consume, to procreate. This consciousness or soul does not see God.
Observe humanity. What are the behaviors of this human race? Competition, appetite, violence. What is the center of gravity around which everything in our society rotates? Sex. That is instinct, animal. It has no awareness of and no cognizance of divinity. It may have some beliefs, but the root impulses in our behavior as a society, as a planet, are competition for territory, competition for reproduction, competition for resources. We are always trying to edge each other out to get the most attractive mate, to get more power, more money, more attention. That is animal. There is no awareness of God in any of that. No awareness of spirit. No awareness of development. No awareness of virtue. Nephesh is appetite.
“All the labour of Adam is for his mouth, and yet the nephesh [appetite] is not filled.” —Ecclesiastes 6:7
You can earn as much money as there is on the planet, and nephesh will not be satisfied. You can have all the power and become the emperor of the world, but nephesh will not be satisfied. That is the nature of Nephesh in its animal form: it is unbridled desire.
Nephesh is the thread that runs through all the stories of how suffering emerged. It is why Eve was tempted to eat the forbidden fruit. It is why Cain slays Abel. It is why Samson fell to Delilah.
The appetite of nephesh wants, and wanting, desiring, we fail, we fall into temptation, we act improperly, we create consequences, we create suffering.
Fortunately, that is not all we are.
The second aspect, רוח Ruach, also means "breath" in Hebrew. It can also "wind" and "spirit."
In Kabbalah, this is called the "thinking, emotional soul," because Ruach provides our ethical perception. It is related with the sephiroth Tiphereth and Chesed. Tiphereth means "beauty," and is related with our human soul. Chesed means “mercy,” and is related with our Innermost Being, our Spirit, Atman, or Inner Buddha.
Nephesh is animal soul, related with Yesod. The potential to become a human being is in Ruach (Tiphereth) conquering and training Nephesh (Yesod). Remember Herakles, who has to go into the infernal worlds to capture and train Cerberus, the three-headed dog, to become his servant, his guide. That dog is Nephesh, the animal nature, which is unbridled power: it is our sexual power. It is the power in the blood and in sex. Herakles (which means "the aura of the Divine Mother") trains that animal nature, elevates it, and converts it from something that creates suffering into a power that redeems the soul. Ruach is that power related with Tiphereth and Chesed. We need to convert our wild animal nature into a loyal and powerful protector and guide. Ruach is how we do it.
If you put The Tree of Life over your body, you see that both Tiphereth and Chesed are related with your heart. Your heart has two aspects, two sides, two movements. They pump the blood. What is the blood? Nephesh: energy, power, in your blood, lungs, and sex. The breath, the lungs, the blood, is what feeds your brain and what gives you the ability to be alive.
Ruach also has levels of development. In us, it is unformed, barely present, but we have all experienced it. BIn us it is very quiet., very subtle: it is our conscience. It does not yell. But when you face an opportunity to act, you have a sense in your heart of whether it is right or wrong to perform that action. That is Ruach: your conscience, your ethical perception. Ruach is that impulse in your heart that tells you right from wrong.
In most cases when you are facing a choice between right and wrong, who wins? Nephesh. Desire. We use our mind to justify our desire and come up with a way to get what we want, right? We do not do the right thing just because it is the right thing. If we can get away with it and we can feed our desire, we will do it, because in us Nephesh rules. Ruach is there trying to guide us, to help us. It is the connection through our heart with our innermost spirit (Chesed) who pushes the heart through the impulses, intuition, conscience, that sense of right from wrong.
People who become accustomed to committing crimes, who become accustomed to lying, to stealing, to deceiving people, they have wiped the Ruach out of themselves. They have no conscience. They have no soul. Serial criminals. Liars. Deceivers. They do not have a conscience. They have broken the connection to divinity in themselves.
Yet, someone who has a strong sense of ethics, of doing the right thing even if nobody can see them, that person has Ruach very present in them. They have a direct connection to divinity in them. And, the more they listen to it and act on it, the stronger it becomes, and the more easily heard.
There is a huge difference in the presence of Ruach within people. Ruach is not a thing. Ruach is a connection. Ruach is a type of perception and understanding related with the soul, the consciousness, which is in Tiphereth and Chesed.
"Who knoweth the רוח of the sons of man that is going up on high, and the רוח of the beast that is going down below to the earth?" - Ecclesiastes 3:21
A prophet, a saint, a Buddha, has ruach that is very high, very pure, and guides them to very high action, whereas the ruach of a beast like us is very low and only wants to wallow in the mud.
The third aspect of soul is called נשמה Neshamah. It also means "breath." It also means "wind." It also means "spirit." So, you can see why the translators who did not know the real meanings of these words were confused when they translated the scriptures from Hebrew.
Neshamah is the part of the soul that can discriminate the real from the unreal. Neshamah is objective, spiritual.
Neshamah is aware of divinity. Neshamah perceives divinity directly. Neshamah is related with the sephiroth Geburah and Chokmah.
Neshamah is something that most of us have probably never experienced, and if we have, it has been brief and inexplicable, because Neshemah is the part of our consciousness that sees God. How many of us have had that experience? Not just dreaming or fantasizing about it, but actively, consciously, perceiving divinity. That is what Neshamah brings.
Neshamah sees reality.
Neshamah is related to Geburah, at the boundary between the upper trinity and the rest of The Tree of Life. The lower seven sephiroth represent our spirit, soul, and body. The three above are God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Bramha, Vishnu, Shiva. Dharmakaya, Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya. Those three forces are divinity. To perceive that requires development.
God is always here in us, right now. But can you see it? Do you know how to see it? It is here. Right now. But do your eyes perceive it? Not just your physical eyes, your consciousness. Can you see that light? It is not just a belief, it is a light, an intelligence that is inside of everything. Neshamah is what gives you the ability to see it.
"The נשמת (neshamah) of אדם (Adam, man) is a lamp of יהוה (Jehovah), searching all the inward parts of the belly." —Proverbs 20:27
The light of divinity shines, but we do not see it. Neshamah is the lamp that projects that light.
In this passage explains that neshamah is how God shines light in “all the inward parts of the belly,” which indicates the nephesh, our appetite. Yet, it also indicates the subconsciousness.
To see that light, we have to awaken consciousness, and the way to awaken it is by listening to the guidance we get from the conscience.
Divinity (light) > Neshamah (spiritual sight) > Ruach (ethical perception) > Nephesh
By training nephesh to listen to ruach and do what is right, ruach can provide the guidance it gets from neshamah, who gets that guidance (light) from divinity. By constantly listening to your conscience, all of these parts get connected together. Eventually, that light becomes very clear and visible to your soul.
The lamp of God in us is neshamah. If you want to light that lamp and see divinity, it is up to you to do it. God does not do that for you. God gave us nephesh, ruach and neshamah because we need them to grow. Then we are given the energy, and we use that energy to according to how we see fit. We have free will.
“Let every psyche [nephesh] be guided by the higher exousia [power of choice; strength, conscience: neshamah and ruach]." - Romans 13:1
We have free will to make decisions and choose our own way. If you choose to feed your desires, then you will get exactly what you have always gotten from them: a moment of pleasure, and then a lot of pain, because that is the nature of desire. That is the basis of all ethical training. The cause of suffering is desire. If you act on desire, you bring suffering.
How to Develop the Soul
So, if you cannot see it, then your Neshamah is inactive. You can activate it however, if you have training and energy. Where does the training begin? With Nephesh and Ruach.
Training begins with ethics: ruach (intuition, conscience) must train nephesh (animal soul). That is why every religion in the world begins with training in ethics. Every religion says, “Do not do all these things. Instead, do these things. Stop harmful actions. Adopt beneficial actions.” They begin with ethics because of cause and effect: actions produce consequences. Our actions affect our consciousness. When you act on desires, you charge the nephesh with its addiction to sensations (Lust, Pride, Anger). And when the Nephesh is charged with that addiction to sensations, that is all it sees. Ruach is there saying "No, do not do that," It is giving an ethical impulse, intuitive conscience. "Do not do that." But the Nephesh says "I want to. I do not care," and we follow nephesh. That is why we suffer. That is why we are spiritually blind. That is why we do not see God.
To learn to see divinity, stop harmful action. Adopt beneficial action. Conserve energy and give it to the consciousness so that ruach can dominate nephesh, and when that becomes stronger, it has an access to neshamah. The energy that Nephesh would have wasted through its harmful habits is instead converted into something beautiful and spiritual. The result is that ruach is strengthened, and connects nepesh to neshamah. The soul becomes strong, radiant. Then, when you close your eyes to meditate, when you lay down at night to go to sleep, instead of your soul going out of the body and pursuing its desires as a brute, raw Nephesh, that Nephesh is restrained. It is guided by the ruach (conscience). Then, the Neshamah can perceive divinity, and that perception is shared amongst the three aspects of the soul. So, instead of going out at night and having dreams of your desires and beating up your boss or having sex with so and so, instead your soul can rise and see divinity, and learn.
"When a person falls asleep, his neshamah leaves him and, ascending on high, gives account of his deeds and acts and words... Every deed, act or word a person speaks or does, the neshamah has to give an account of it." —Zohar
Neshamah (Geburah, the spiritual soul) is aware of divinity, and is aware of everything below. In us, you have neshamah, but you are unaware of it, but it is aware of you. It is aware of everything that is a part of itself. Every action that we perform, physically or in dreams, is reflected in neshamah. On the Tree of Life, what Neshamah is next to? Chesed (Buddha. Abraham). And it is right below the trinity. So, everything that we do, without any exception, is reflected in Neshamah to divinity. Every thought, every feeling, every action, is permanent, recorded, cannot be undone, and it is reflected in the memories of nature, in you. That means that you do not exist in a little bubble, where in your mind or in your thoughts or in your feelings or in your imagination you can do whatever you want. That is an illusion. Just because you cannot see past this little bubble around your head does not mean that it is invisible to everyone else. It is not. It is not invisible to your inner divinity.
"The נשמת (neshamah) of אדם (Adam, man) is a lamp of יהוה (Jehovah), searching all the inward parts of the belly." —Proverbs 20:27
Everything that happens in the Tree of Life is an extension of divinity, is part of it. So, when you think, when you feel, when you act, your neshamah is reflecting that back to divinity.
It is logical if you think about it. How do we pray? Most people put their hands together, close their eyes and they think, "Oh God, please give me this, please give me that." So, if God can see that thought, do you really think that you have a little switch that you can turn off to control what God can see and cannot see in you? Most people seem to think that. "Right now, I am going to turn on the switch so that God can hear me. Ok: God please give me this and that. I will turn off the switch. Now God cannot see or hear what I am thinking. Now I can think mean, evil things about my neighbor and think sexual things about such and such a person, or think about all my envy that I have for so and so and I want all the things that they have.” There is no switch. Everything that happens in your mind and body is recorded by neshamah and is conveyed to divinity continually without any exception. God knows you very well.
When we want to develop ourselves spiritually, this is how: by using these parts of the soul. That is a work of becoming very aware of oneself. It is not to believe, it is to observe, to be aware and to change.
Start to catch how nephesh is mistaken. You know it is mistaken when you are listening to your conscience. Ruach, conscience, is the intermediary that receives the impulses from neshamah in us. Neshamah is the lamp that conveys the light of divinity, which reflects in Ruach, which is our ethical perception. So, in everything that we do, everything that we deal with, all the problems that we face, we need a little bit of restraint and awareness and to listen to the impulses in the heart. The subtle voice of Ruach that is saying, "do not do that. Do this," That guidance is how you know right from wrong, and by listening to that you start to change your behavior, and not act on the desires of Nephesh but instead, act on the impulses of Ruach, conscience. Do what is right. Salvation is found in actions, not in beliefs. Beliefs do not create consequences. Action does. If you want a fundamental change in your life, act accordingly. Perform the actions that create the consequences that you want. If you want a spiritual life, a happier life, a more fulfilling life, stop acting on desires. Desires are an illusion, a trap that creates suffering.
"All the while, my neshamah is in me and the ruach of אלוה Elah is in my face, my lips shall not speak wickedness or my tongue utter deceit." - Job 27
Here the Bible is giving very clear guidance of how to walk the path out of suffering. It is to have neshamah present and the ruach right here with me.
The Bible says, "The ruach of Elah." In English אלוה Elah is translated as “God,” but the Hebrew word אלוה Elah is feminine. It does not mean God as masculine (that would be written as אל). Elah אלוה means “goddess.”
The goddess is our Divine Mother. Yes, the Bible talks about the Divine Mother. They did not translate it that way, so everybody thinks that God is masculine. A single masculine god creating everything makes no sense. The reality is that what we call God is actually a formless, genderless intelligence that expresses itself in a variety of forms in order to create, and to manage creation. The Divine Mother, אלוה Elah, is the feminine aspect of divinity, the active exponent of the passive or hidden masculine principle. Thus, the formless divinity expresses as masculine and feminine in order to create. Thus, אלוה Elah is equivalent to what in Hinduism is called Shakti, which means “energy, life force, prana.”
There is a very profound relationship between רוח ruach and אלוה Elah, the Divine Mother, and you can see that very clearly if you study the Greek mysteries. Who guides the heroes in every story? The goddess, always. Who gives birth to Jesus? Who raises Moses? A woman. The goddess. The whole path to liberation is made possible by her. Without her, we would be lost.
The Divine Mother Athena provides Theseus with the armaments needed to conquer the Minotaur, the animal nature.
This passage points out that when we have neshamah and ruach guiding nephesh, "My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit," That is, we will not use the energy, the word, to create harm, to lie. This is an esoteric statement. It does not simply mean how you speak words physically. Your every action is a word, an expression. So, this is a symbolic way of saying, "we will do no wrong on any level."
"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the kardias the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good storage of the kardias bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil storage bringeth forth evil things." - Matthew 12
"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the kardias; and they defile the man. For out of the kardias proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies..." - Matthew 15
The Greek word καρδίαι [kardias] can mean "mind, heart, stomach, center or inner part." Doesn't this sound like nephesh to you? Clearly, Jesus is explaining that the nephesh can bring forth goodness or harm, but it is up to us which.
The relationship between neshamah, ruach, and nephesh is represented as a triangle, and is described in the Zohar:
"The nephesh and ruach are the two angles at the base of a triangle and with that of the apex form a whole or perfect figure. When the neshamah prevails and rules within a person, one becomes holy and divine, because one then begins to reflect the image or likeness of the Holy One. The nephesh is the lower part of the individuality and its personal manifestation is the outward material body. Without the one, the other could not exist. As the body is to the nephesh so is this nephesh to the ruach. The ruach is superior to the nephesh and is referred to in the words, 'Until the ruach (translated spirit) be poured upon us from on high'. The lower self, consisting of nephesh and ruach, is susceptible of the influence of the neshama acting upon it. Thus there is a logical and intimate connection and relation between these three parts of every individuality, forming a scale of ascension from the nephesh to the neshama, whose nature and existence, its present connection with the soul and its own future state and destiny, is a most profound mystery. Though beyond human comprehension, through and by meditation thereon, we can rightly infer that all the grades of existence between the lowest and highest, between a human being and the zoophyte on the one hand and between a human being and archangel on the other, though infinite in number, are but terms in the infinite series of organic and inorganic life, the integration and summation of which is the Divine, the life of all lives, the fount of all being."
The Bible says,
“Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our nephesh is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my nephesh have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my ruach within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” - Isaiah 26
This passage shows how a person who is genuinely walking on the path of developing the consciousness, their soul, has their Nephesh focused, trained towards the remembrance of God.
Remember, perception of divinity is a function of neshamah, which reflects it to ruach as conscience, and ruach provides this to nephesh. To have the nephesh “remember thy name and the remembrance of thee,” is to have a nephesh that is very well trained. It is not a slave of desire, but willingly serves the consciousness, with its focus on divinity.
"My nephesh delights in me during the night..."
That is very clear. During the night, nephesh goes out of the body. That is what we dream with. What do we dream about? Do we dream and experience heaven? Talk with the angels? Talk with the gods? The buddhas? The masters? Or when we dream, do we go to work? Do we go to school? Are we caught up in sexual acts or violence or weird obscurities all night long? Our dream life shows us a very clear indication of the development of our soul, where we are, what we need to do. When you are training your nephesh properly, your dreams will change. Rather than repeating your mundane life in dreams, you will begin to experience the superior worlds, the heavens.
“When a person retires to rest at night, the nephesh leaves the body and ascends on high. If it be said so do all souls, it is not so, for not all ascend and behold the face of the king. When the nephesh leaves the body, its connection with the body remains intact, by means of what is termed the silver cord or magnetic tie. In its ascent it passes through hosts of elementals, until it arrives and reaches the region of light and purity. If found undefiled and untarnished by any immoral or unjust act and deed transacted during the previous day, it mounts still higher. If, on the contrary, it bears the least mark or stain of evil, these elementary spirits gather around it, deterring its ascent with pleasing delusions of future happiness or with visions of delight that are never realized and fulfilled. In this state of false and deceitful dreaming, it remains during the night until it returns and, re-entering its body, becomes awake. Blessed are the righteous to whom the Holy One reveals his secret things by vision or dream so that they are forewarned and preserved from coming and incumbent judgments and calamities. But woe unto those wrong and evil doers who corrupt themselves both in body and soul.
“Note that when the pure and undefiled retire to rest, their souls ascending through all the intervening different hosts and degrees of elementary spirits, direct their course towards the region of pure spirits, impelled and guided thither by their own interior impulses and, ere the day dawns, they enter into loving intercourse and converse with kindred souls, and, in company with them, behold the glory of the celestial King and visit his splendid temples. The one who has attained to this stage and state of spiritual development in the higher and diviner life, will find an everlasting portion in the world to come, and also that his soul becomes an ark to his real self which, when unified and blended in one, the perfected being proceeds on its eternal ascent towards the Holy One, for from the divine has it, the spirit comes forth, and unto the divine will it return at length. This is then what the psalmist meant, 'My soul longeth after thee in the night,' that is, desires to ascend to its source and will suffer nothing to divert it from its course.
"The word nephesh (soul) designates the lower self in the time of sleep, whilst the term 'ruach' is applied to it in its state of wakefulness and activity on the earth plane. The nephesh and ruach proceed from one and the same origin, being only productions of one principle, the spirit. So, then, each person is a microcosm, a copy or paradigm of the universe, a reflection of the divine nature, the Supreme Wisdom.” —Zohar
The one who develops neshamah, ruach, and nephesh have their vitality and appetite trained by ethical perception, and thus they acquire perception of divinity. Then, there is a long process of development in order to reach two higher aspects of soul, which are called Chaiah and Yehidah. Chaiah means "power of divinity." Yehidah means "unity, oneness." A perfect human being has fully trained neshamah, ruach, and nephesh, has acquired Chaiah (the power of divinity), and then acquires Yehidah: they become one with divinity. That is the process in synthesis. That is a long work and is not easy or granted by God on a whim.
This passage in the Bible explains how a perfect human being is made:
“And יהוה אלהים [Jehovah Elohim] formed Adam of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the נשמת חיים [neshamoth chayim, translated as ‘breath of life’]; and Adam became a נפש חיה [nephesh chaiah, ‘living soul’].” —Genesis 2:7
Neshamoth-Chaiyim, which is Neshamah plural, combined with plural Chaiah. So, the primordial Adam received Neshamoth chayim is the union of neshamah and chaiah, which are perception of divinity and power of divinity. Having that union, "Adam became a Nephesh-Chaiah."
That is, nephesh is then joined with chaiah, the power of divinity. The nephesh can never receive that power until it deserves it. For nephesh to have the power of divinity, it must be as pure as divinity.
"Become ye perfect as your father in heaven is perfect."
That process is very long. We have explained it in the last few lectures, but in synthesis, it is to begin by training our consciousness and conserving energy. Once that process is underway, we start a process of gradually ascending through stages of internal development. As we explained in the previous lecture, the first mountain is to create the solar bodies. Now, we call those in their synthesis, "the soul," because those vessels provide an initial degree of permanence for the consciousness. In our current condition, our consciousness resides in bodies that nature gave us for free, and nature will take them back. The sheaths or aggregates we use do not belong to us, but to nature.
To establish something lasting, we make the solar bodies, which are formed by the Second Birth described by Jesus and hidden in every religion and mythology. The solar bodies are symbolized by the armor and weapons that the Divine Mother gives to the heroes. Jesus called the solar bodies the wedding garment, and in the old testament they are symbolized as the Chariot of Ezekiel, while in Egyptian mysteries they are called the Sahu, the Ka, the Ba, the other bodies of the soul, and in Kabbalah they is called the Merkabah. They are vessels that the soul utilizes, in the same way that our soul now uses our physical body.
Because we do not have those bodies developed, we only have nephesh, ruach, and neshamah in their undeveloped form, we are tossed through the cycle of nature according to our actions. We are cycled repeatedly from body to body and cycle to cycle, driven by the forces of nature, over which we have no control. The way to escape that wheel is to develop the soul. Firstly, through that training, secondly, through creating the solar bodies. When we create the solar bodies, they give us the first step off of that wheel.
Someone who has developed the solar bodies can utilize those bodies after death to sustain themselves consciously in the internal worlds, and continue to work there or incarnate into a new body according to their karma. So, it provides them a degree of steadiness internally. If you imagine a very chaotic ocean that is churning, that is how the world is not just physically, but in the internal levels. That is why our dreams are chaotic and confusing. That is also what we will experience after death. If we have the solar bodies, we have armor, protection, that provide steadiness and clarity in those worlds.
The development of the soul is what starts the process of stepping out of the repetitive cycles of suffering. If we develop further and further, we achieve a greater and greater degree of autonomy or separation from the wheel. The full development of the soul is the only thing that allows us to completely become free of the mechanical processes of nature. And that is a long work, which we described in previous lectures.
The point here is to understand that the word "soul" has levels of application.
That is why Jesus said,
"In your patience possess ye your ψυχὰς [souls]." —Luke 21:19
Note the word souls is plural. Jesus did not say "acquire your soul," singular. He said plural “souls,” because he knew what we are explaining to you today. The word here in Greek is "psyches," plural. We do not have our souls yet. We have to acquire them, we have to develop them. He explained how to do it, right after that sentence he said:
"Observe yourselves lest at any time your καρδίαι [kardias] become overcharged with intoxication of debauchery and drunkenness and distractions of this life, and so that day when all things end come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch consciously therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand [awakened] before the son of man.” —Luke 21:34-36
Jesus the master of Kabbalah explained in this first portion, "Observe yourselves lest at any time your [cardias] become overcharged." The Greek word καρδίαι [kardias] can mean "mind, heart, stomach, center or inner part." Clearly, this indicates nephesh.
He is telling us to not let nephesh become overcharged with sensual pleasures, distractions, lust, the intoxications of debauchery and drunkenness and distractions of this life. He is saying to keep your consciousness clear of that. Do not become distracted by the world and by the desires of your nephesh, because the desires of your nephesh will cause ruach and neshamah to be disconnected.
This passage occurs after he described how all things in the world come to an end. Everything. So, he is indicating the same thing the Buddha taught: all things are impermanent. Do not be attached. Do not worry about the world. Focus on the things that do last, which is the consciousness. Develop your soul so that when death comes, you are ready.
“Blessed are the pure in kardia: for they shall see God.” —Jesus, Matthew 5:8
“Let every psyche [nephesh] be guided by the higher exousia [power of choice; strength, conscience: neshamah and ruach]. For there is no exousia [power of choice; strength: conscience] but that which is given by God: the exousias [power of choice; strength] that be are arranged by God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the exousia [neshamah and ruach], resisteth the arrangement of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For archons [leaders] are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power of choice? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For they [neshamah and ruach] are the servants of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for they beareth not the sword in vain: for they are the servants of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil [by cause and effect: karma]. Wherefore [ye] must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's servants, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love [Eros, Christ] worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness [our defects], and let us put on the armour of light [the solar bodies]. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for sarx [the animal nature of man: nephesh], to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].” —Romans 13
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The instructors who teach the lectures and courses are volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Each has years of experience teaching and working with the practices and exercises that awaken the consciousness. Since the goal of dharma, yoga, or gnosis is to follow our inner Being, and to focus on divinity not terrestrial personalities, the lecturers remain anonymous, and do not broadcast their names, faces, or personal information. They do not have spiritual titles or names, do not accept followers, and live their lives anonymously like any other person in society.