Ancient writings as well as contemporary literature are ripe with articulations about the nature and purpose of the soul.

We learn through the channeling of Jeshua of the soul’s earliest days and the formation of the ego personality. “After souls are born as individual units of consciousness, they leave the oceanic state of oneness which they remember as blissful and totally safe. They go on to explore reality in a whole new way. They slowly grow more aware of themselves and the way in which they are unique in comparison with their fellow travelers. They are very receptive and sensitive at this stage, like a young child who looks at the world with wide open eyes, expressing curiosity and innocence. . . . As their journey continues, the memory of home fades while the immerse themselves in different types of experiences. . . . A new stage sets in when the young soul starts to experience itself as the focal point of its world. It then truly starts to realize that there is such a thing as ‘me’ and ‘other’. . . This is the start of the ego stage.” (The Jeshua Channelings: 45-46)

The young soul “experiences great fear and feelings of desolation and doubt. This inner pain and disorientation will gradually form the breeding ground for the ego’s seizure of power. The soul has to deal with the fear and the pain, and the ego promises to provide a solution. The ego holds up the prospect of power and control to the soul consciousness. The soul, feeling powerless and lost, gives in and puts the ego in command. The ego is that part of the soul which is oriented towards the material, external world. In essence, the ego is the soul’s instrument for manifesting itself as a physical being within time and space. The ego provides consciousness with focus. . . . It is that part of you which bridges the gap between the non-physical spiritual part of you and the physical part. . . . The ego, on the other hand . . . enables you to function in physical reality. As such, the ego plays a very valuable role that has nothing to do with ‘good’ or ‘bad’. When it operates in a balanced situation, the ego is the neutral and indispensable tool for the soul who dwells on earth in a physical body. However when the ego starts to rule soul consciousness, instead of functioning as its tool, the soul gets out of balance.” (The Jeshua Channelings: 72-73)

The original function of the ego is to simply enable the soul to experience itself fully as a separate entity. “This is a natural and positive development within the evolution of the soul. The ego is not ‘bad’ in and of itself. It does however tend to be expansive or aggressive. When the newborn soul discovers its ability to influence its environment, it falls in love with the ego. Deep down, there still is a painful memory within the now maturing soul; it remembers home, it remembers paradise lost. The ego seems to hold an answer to this pain, this homesickness. It seems to enable the soul to actively get a grip on reality. It intoxicates the still young soul with the illusion of power. . . . the young soul consciousness becoming entranced by the possibilities of the ego, by the promise of power. However the very purpose of consciousness being born as individual souls is to explore, to experience everything there is: paradise as well as hell, innocence as well as ‘sin’.” (The Jeshua Channelings: 46-47)

In The Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav offers that we “have always been because what it is that you are, is God, or Divine Intelligence” … taking on individual forms, God reduces “its power to small particles of individual consciousness. It is a massive reduction of power, yet the power is as full in that droplet as it is in the whole. It is as immortal and as creative and as expressive but in its tinier form its energy is reduced appropriately to its form. As that little form grows in power, in selfhood, in its own consciousness of self, it becomes larger and more Godlike. Then it becomes God” . . . We are “both individual and one with all that is.” (1989: 186)

Through Zukav’s writings we come to understand that this process parallels several other processes. The first is the process of the personality in which the soul expands into the higher self and in doing so comes into the full power of soul incarnate. The second parallels the process of the personality and higher self reentering the fullness of your soul when one leaves the Earth. Our higher self is all that we can become. Zukav is careful to note however that “within the human species there exist degrees of soul consciousness. Not all humans are equally aware of their souls. . . . there is a common quality of consciousness, yet there is a difference between their ranges of consciousness.” (1989: 185)

In Soul Stories, Zukav writes “when you communicate with your soul, your higher self is calling to you. . . You feel the possibilities of what you can be, and that helps you become those possibilities. Some people actually become their higher selves. They live their full potential each moment. They are delighted with Life. They are in awe of Life. They think, speak, and act consciously. They care for Life. They are in communication with their souls continually. You cannot tell where they leave off and their souls begin. Sometimes this is called enlightenment. Sometimes it is called waking up in your life. It is also called authentic empowerment.” (2000: 45)

Dr. Brian Weiss echoes this sentiment throughout his writings, noting “God is one . . . It is all one vibration, one energy. The only difference is the rate of vibration.” (1996: 144) In Messages from the Masters, Weiss notes “we are always loved and always protected. We are spiritual beings in a vast spiritual sea, populated by innumerable other spiritual beings. Some in physical form, but most are not. Love is the water of this sea. Love is energy, the highest and most pure energy. At its highest vibrations love possesses both wisdom and awareness. It is the energy that unites all beings. Love is an absolute and it never ends. . . It is not far-fetched to imagine that there is only one pure energy, that which we call love. As its vibration is diminished, its state changes. We are the solid form.” (2000: 136-137)

Suzane Northrop writes that the “soul has no beginning, and no ending. It just has cumulative experience.” . . . It is “your invisible essence – the eternal part of you that longs to project love, wisdom, caring, compassion, peace and healing.” (2004: xiii)

Northrop goes on to suggest that we actually live a dual existence and elaborates on the more familiar territory of the ego personality. “There are two selves at play here. There is the self of the personality and all its earthly expressions, but we are much more than our personality, and there is the self that is the higher, endless, invisible, immeasurable self – your Soul Self. The personality acts as a mask . . . the personality of the human self is the actor upon the stage for the human drama. It is the personality’s program to create the experiences for our souls so we may have the opportunity to learn the lessons designated by our soul’s program. We choose the personalities that are going to best serve whatever is in accordance with each individual’s Soul Program. . . . And, all the individual personality learns in one lifetime will go into a Soul Bank. As we choose to reincarnate, we can draw upon that bank of learning to support the lifetime we are entering. The Earth’s program is difficult. That is why we learn so much. . . . Once we are born, the personality is born, and that’s it for that particular lifetime. And, as you will have free will as the personality, the soul’s choices have been set by the soul’s program for that lifetime.” (2004: 3)

Gregg Braden proffers “although science has yet to capture or digitally prove the soul’s existence, we know that it’s the mysterious force that animates the elements of our physical self. It’s what brings the body to life.” (2008: 112)

Michael Newton, Ph.D. who pioneered life between lives therapy describes the soul as having “a unique immortal character. When conjoined with a human brain,” and central nervous system, “this ego character is melded with the emotional temperament, or human ego, of that body to produce a single but temporary personality for one lifetime. This is what is meant by the duality of our mind. While soul memory may be hidden from the level of conscious awareness through amnesia, thought patterns of the soul influence the human brain to induce motivations for certain actions.” (2004: 211)

In other writings Newton opines that “the existence of souls after physical death represents the most meaningful explanation . . . as to why we are here.” (1994: 273) He continues on, noting that “we are divine but imperfect beings who exist in two worlds, material and spiritual. It is our destiny to shuttle back and forth between these universes through space and time while we learn to master ourselves and acquire knowledge. . . . Our essence is not fully knowable in most physical hosts, but Self is never lost because we always remain connected to both worlds.” (1994: 276)

Similar sentiments are echoed through the higher selves of the clients of Dr. Michael Newton:

(Dr.N.) as illustrated through the following dialogue with a client (S) regressed to the life between lives. Dr.N: “how do you see yourself relating to the oneness of creation”, S: “by sensations of movement. In the beginning there is an outward migration of our soul energy from the source. Afterward, our lives are spent moving inward . . . toward cohesion and the uniting . . . Dr.N: You make this process seem as though a living organism was expanding and contracting. S: There is an explosive release . . . then a returning… yes, the source pulsates. Dr.N: And you are moving toward the center of this energy source? S: There really is no center. The source is all around us as if we were . . . inside a beating heart. . . . It’s as if souls are all part of a massive electrical explosion which produces . . . a halo effect. In this . . . circular halo is a dark purple light which flares out . . . lightening to a whiteness at the edges. Our awareness begins at the edges of brilliant light and as we grow . . . we become more engulfed in the darker light. . . . Nothing is collapsing. . . the source is endless. As souls we will never die – we know that, somehow. As we coalesce, our increasing wisdom makes the source stronger. Dr.N: Is that the reason the source desires to perform this exercise? S: Yes, to give life to us so we can arrive at a state of perfection. Dr.N: Why does a source, who is ostensibly perfect already, need to create further intelligence which is less than perfect? S: To help the creator create. In this way, by self-transformation and rising to higher plateaus of fulfillment, we add to the building blocks of life. . . The transformation gives us purpose.” (1994: 197 – 199)

Although we are limitless and immortal, we create and are pained by the illusion of both our separateness and our mortality. This illusion shrouds our memory of our nature, eternality and ultimate destiny. How this transpires has been the subject of humanity’s fascination likely since the dawn of civilization. Robert Schwartz adds that in the spiritual state “we are ever aware of our oneness with all creation. We know that we are part of the Divine and that we are divine. Though we can never lose our divinity, we can while in body forget our awareness of it.” (2007: 204)

Robert Schwartz notes that “in the realm of peace, tranquility, and serenity from which we came and to which we will return, we experience no opposites. There, peace is forever unshattered, tranquility always undisturbed, serenity constant. Lacking opposites, we could not truly know or appreciate these blessings. And so we decide to take form in the world of opposites, a place where these things are scare but can be created by us as we live our life plans.” (2007: 269)

In my thesis, I established that consciousness is energy. Its nonlocal nature enables manifestation in both the physical and nonphysical realms. Our progression through eternity is associated with fluctuations in the vibration of our energy, which manifest in changes in the levels of consciousness. It is this very quality of consciousness as nonlocal that enables access to both past life and life in between life memories that I will discuss in detail in later chapters.

On the matter of energy, Zukav writes “you are a system of Light, as are all beings. The frequency of your Light depends upon your consciousness. When you shift the level of your consciousness, you shift the frequency of your Light.” (1989: 94) He further expounds that it is not metaphorical to think “of the Universe in terms of light, frequencies and energies of different frequencies . . . It is a natural and powerful way to think of the Universe because physical light is a reflection of nonphysical Light . . . The Light of our soul is instantaneous . . . In nonphysical reality, the decisions that you make in terms of how you choose to use your energy have effects that are instantaneous. They are one with who and what you are. Energies that emanate from your soul have instantaneousness to them. Energies that emanate from your personality follow the path of physical light. . . . Unconditional love is of the soul, instantaneous, Universal, not bound.” (1989: 96) For a more comprehensive and exhaustive articulation of his research and views on this topic, I direct the reader to Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters.

Each soul is in fact an individual unit of evolution. The soul of the human species is known to some as the collective unconscious – a concept that formed the basis of the life’s work of the psychologist Carl G. Jung. He believed that all souls are connected through the collective unconscious and that all archetypes live within it. Within the collective unconscious is stored the energy of all who participated in an archetype across the ages – the stories, myths, legends and prototypes.

So what is the soul’s purpose?

In answering this question, we find considerable consistency regarding the rationale for the soul’s decision to incarnate in the Earth school as a means of spiritual growth – a manifestation of the evolutionary impulse. In Messages from the Masters, Brian Weiss delineates “We are divine beings, enrolled for a while in this planetary school, and we have devised our curriculum in order to enhance the learning process. We are from the light, yet we are of the light, and we are so much wiser than we could ever imagine. All we need to do is to remember.” (2000: 51) Our goal is “to reawaken.” (2000: 113) Weiss notes that in the earth-school remembering that we are more than physical bodies is difficult due to the incessant distractions from the illusions and delusions of life on earth.

Weiss goes on to quote agreement with Albert Einstein who once said “a human being is part of the whole we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison, by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living beings and all of nature.” (2000: 139) Weiss counsels that “when we die and our souls progress to higher dimensions, we take our behaviors, our deeds, our thoughts and our knowledge with us. How we treated others in relationships is infinitely more important than what we accumulated materially. . . . This thought should help you to rethink your values if necessary.” (2000: 64)

Weiss later elaborates two main goals during our life time – inner peace and redemption which he defines as freedom. “Redemption implies the overcoming of karma, through our actions and through grace . . . . When we are redeemed, we have reclaimed our soul’s destiny.” It is “the process of enlightenment and liberation from the cycle of physical life and death. Redemption is a gradual process, inexorably leading us to our spiritual home. Redemption comes from love, not from suffering. When our hearts overflow with love and our love flows to others, we are in the process of redemption. We are fulfilling and canceling our karmic debts. We are being drawn back to the bosom of God, who is ultimate love. Achieving inner peach alone is not enough. . . . To be living in a physical world requires physical actions: to reach out to others in order to relieve their suffering and help them along their path; to be empathic and compassionate; to help heal the planet, its inhabitants, and its structures; to teach as well as to learn. If you are engaged in this process, you will gain inner peace even if you haven’t a spare moment to spend in a cave.” (2000: 137)

In Invisible Acts of Power, Carolyn Myss offers that the goal of your “journey is to allow intuition and spirit to become your dominant sources of power.” (2004: 250) In Sacred Contracts, she expounds that our mission is to achieve our divine potential, which “is the fullest expression of your spirit; it is discovering the depths of your capacity to create and to express love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, and wisdom. . . . It becomes more perceptible as you decide to look beyond the physical plane of life, past what the Hindus and Buddhists call maya, or illusions.” (2002: 18)

Gary Zukav chides “the Universe is your tutor. Your classroom is your life.” (2001: 48) And from Schwartz we hear that “Earth is a stage on which the personality enacts or deviates from the script” written by the soul before birth. (2007: 24) While Deepak Chopra notes that “the cosmic system of birth and rebirth has an evolutionary impulse behind it: step-by-step, each soul rises higher in the soul’s progress to God.” (2006: 173)

In Journey of Souls, Michael Newton shares wisdom gleaned from the many clients who he regressed to life between lives and tells us that “the evolution of souls involves a transition from imperfection to perfection based upon overcoming many difficult body assignments during their task oriented lives” (1994: 48). He describes a “sort of self-actualization of the soul identity” as “the purpose of life on our world.” (1994: 179)

Newton elaborates “a major aspect of our mission on Earth as souls is to mentally survive being cut off from our real home.” … we “operate with a universal system which directs the physical transformation of Self for a reason.” (1994: 274) In later writings, he quips “…we travel the maze of Earth’s pathways. The difficulty in uncovering fragments of our eternal home is due in no small part to life’s distractions.” (2000: 398)

In response to the troublesome questions about how a loving God permits the suffering consequent to imperfection, Newton editorializes that we exist with sets of “imperfections to bring into harmony”; provocatively asking whether we “are the offspring of a parent oversoul who is made wiser by our struggle” who could “have a more divine grandparent who is the absolute God? The concept that our immediate God is still evolving as we are takes nothing away from an ultimate source of perfection who spawned our God”. He adds “a supreme, perfect God would not lose omnipotence or total control over all creation by allowing for the maturation of less-than-perfect superior offspring. These lesser gods could be allowed to create their own imperfect worlds as a final means of edification so that they might join with the ultimate God.” (1994: 275)

In his later work, Life Between Lives, Newton notes that “souls incarnate with human beings for countless lifetimes to advance through levels of development by addressing karmic tasks from former lifetimes. Each personality in every life contributes to the evolution of the soul. Souls grow in knowledge and wisdom through this learning process while pondering their thoughts and deeds in past lives under the direction of their spiritual teachers between lives. . . . During temporary physical incarnations on Earth, souls are provided an opportunity to advance through trial and error to accumulate wisdom. Humans are not bound to a predetermined existence. Various possibilities and probabilities arising from karmic influences and prior soul contracts are subject to the free will of the soul.” . . . And finally, “the ultimate goal of all souls appears to be the desire to seek and find perfection, and finally conjoin with the Source who created them.” (2004: 211 – 213)

Suzane Northrop writes in Everything Happens for a Reason that most often, the reason “has to do with whatever lesson or lessons our souls need to learn so that we can move on to the next stage in our spiritual development. . . . The mission of our soul is to elevate to a higher spiritual level. Thus, we have been given the divine gift of fee will when it comes to the path we take here on Earth toward changing our ways and expanding the understanding of our spiritual selves. . . . It is too easy to hand the responsibility of learning the Soul Lessons of unconditional love, compassion, understanding, patience and forgiveness over to another person.” (2004: ix – xi)

In a discussion that is important for understanding the eternal evolution of the soul Zukav introduces the concept of karma. He writes, the journey “of the human soul through its incarnations into the physical arena is a process of cycles of creation. . . . The karma of the soul determines the characteristic of the personality. It determines the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual circumstances into which the personality is born. It determines the ways that the personality is prone to understand its experiences. It determines the intentions with which the personality will shape its reality. These intentions create the reality that provides the soul, at each moment, with the experiences that are necessary for the balancing of its energy, and the personality with the clearest choice between learning through wisdom or learning through doubt and fear. Through these intentions the personality shapes the Light that is flowing through it into the reality that is optimal for its growth, for the evolution of its soul.” (1989: 121 – 122)

Michael Newton elucidates “people have the idea that free will and destiny are opposing forces. . . . destiny represents the sum of our deeds over thousands of years in a multitude of incarnations. In all these lives we had freedom of choice. Our current life represents all past experience both pleasant and unpleasant, and so we are the product of all our former choices. Add to this fact that we may have deliberately placed ourselves in situations that test how we will react to events in our current life, which are not perceived by the conscious mind. This too involves personal choices. We occupy a particular body for many reasons.” (2000: 370) Newton expounds “to bring the soul Self into harmony with our physical environment, we are given freedom of choice to exercise free will in the search for the reasons why we are here. On the road of life we must take responsibility for all our decisions…” (2000: 399) “Karma may at times seem punitive, but there is justice and balance which we may not recognize in our sorrow” . . . “We knew many of the challenges in advance of our life and chose them for good reasons” . . . “More important than the events that test us in life is our reaction to these events and how we handle the consequences.” (2000: 371 – 372)

Weiss offers a significantly similar perspective, “not accidentally or coincidentally are we born into our families. We choose our circumstances and establish a plan for our lives before we are even conceived. . . Destiny is another name for the unfolding dramas we have already chosen. . . . Although every human being as a life plan, we also have free will” . . . our lives “will be affected by the choices we make while in physical state, but the destiny points will still occur. We will meet the people we had planned to meet, and we will face the opportunities and obstacles that we had planned long before our births. How we handle these meetings, however, our reactions and subsequent decisions are the expressions of our free will. Destiny and free will co-exist and interact all the time. They are complementary not contradictory.” (2000: 44 – 45)

In Sacred Contracts, Caroline Myss underscores the importance of discovering one’s life purpose and its implications for transpersonal counseling. “For our own good, each of us needs to learn what our mission is because the details of how we live our lives accumulate to create health or illness. As I discovered after conducting more than eight thousand medical intuitive readings . . . our biography becomes our biology . . . In other words, the little troubles and major traumas that we go through take up residence and live in our bodies and affect or block our energy. . . . The further we stray from our true mission in life, the more frustrated we will become, and the more out of sync our energy will be. By coming to your mission, you can live your life in a way that makes best use of your energy . . . making the best expression of your personal power. I call this living in accord with your Sacred Contract.” (2002: 3)

Myss goes on to caution “our life’s mission, or Contract, cannot be defined or measured simply by our external life, however. Your purpose is not only career or hobby or romantic relationship. A Contact is your overall relationship to your personal power and your spiritual power. It is how you work with your energy and whom you give it to. It is also how much you are willing to surrender to divine guidance.” (2002: 4 – 5) She advises that “your Sacred Contract, along with all the subcontracts that constitute it, is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end, a plan to help you develop your divine potential.” (2002: 45)

Myss describes Sacred Contracts as having stages, the last two underscoring their role in achieving your divine potential. Accordingly, throughout one’s life, each of us will encounter extraordinary opportunities and challenges that require ongoing adjustments and transitions, requiring unaccustomed skill, courage, wisdom and faith. “Such moments are indications that our Sacred Contract is in play, but how we respond to these moments is up to us. We grow primarily through our challenges.” (2002: 86) The last stage is surrender – we are given ongoing tests that ask “which world will you choose to follow, that of the Divine or that of the Earth.” (2002: 87)

Myss cautions “weigh all your decisions against this one criterion: each choice either serves your highest good or detracts from it. Using this simple guide can take a lot of the mystery out of your everyday decisions. We aren’t meant to solve all the mysteries in our life. . . Rather, we are meant to explore the mysteries and discover ourselves one piece of our spirit at a time. Gradually we become more whole, more conscious, and more aware that life is a spiritual journey and everything else is make believe. . . recognizing that everything in your life is organized around your Contracts – awakens trust, and that is the first step toward making our final choice. Do we trust enough to allow the Divine to make our choices or us?” (2002: 361 -362) I wholeheartedly concur with Myss and emphasize that living in accord with your sacred contract is essential for emotional and spiritual health and provides focus for transpersonal counseling.

Close examination of the authors cited tracks an expansion of the evolutionary impulse to include the collective as well as the individual.

Gary Zukav notes that “as souls choose to participate consciously in more inclusive levels of interaction, they take on not only their own transformation, but also those of the larger collectives in which they participate. Think of your consciousness in terms of physical light. That light shines, brighter light shines over a wider range, and a dimmer light shines on a smaller range. The extent to which your light shines is the width and depth and breadth of your karmic influence.” . . . “Every micro-consciousness, or individual soul, affects the macro-consciousness depending upon its quality of Light, upon the frequency of consciousness” (1989: 169 – 170)

Jeshua counsels “the true purpose of your journey is not to have Light conquer Dark, but to go beyond these opposites and to create a new type of consciousness which can maintain unity in the presence of both light and dark.” (The Jeshua Channelings: 20-21) “Consciousness is light. Therefore it does not need to fight darkness; its mere presence dissolves it. By turning your consciousness inward, miracles will indeed befall you.” (The Jeshua Channelings: 71)

He tell us that “when you started out on your journey, you faced Evil (fear, ignorance) with only a vague memory of the Good (Home) in your mind. You started to battle fear and ignorance, while longing for Home. However you will not return Home in the sense of returning to a state in your past. For creation has changed because of your journey. The end of your journey will be that you have become larger than good and evil, light and dark. You will have created a third energy, the Christ energy, which embraces and transcends both. You will have expanded God’s creation. You will be the New Creation of God. God will have gone beyond Him/Herself when the Christ consciousness is fully born on earth.” (The Jeshua Channelings: 22)

Jeshua advises that “your earthly cycle of lives draws to a close when your consciousness is able to hold all the experiences of duality in its hand, while remaining centered and fully present. As long as you identify with one aspect of duality rather than another (with light as opposed to dark, with rich as opposed to poor etc.), your consciousness is on a swing. Karma is nothing but the natural harmonizer for the swings in which your consciousness engages. You release your ties to the karmic cycle when your consciousness finds its anchor point in the motionless center of the seesaw. This center is the exit point for the karmic cycle. The predominant feeling tones in this center are stillness, compassion and quiet joy. Greek philosophers had premonitions of this state which they called ataraxia: imperturbability. Judgment and fear are the energies that most take you off-center. As you release these energies more and more, you become more quiet and open inside. You truly enter another world, another plane of consciousness. . . . Releasing the grip of duality takes time. Unraveling all the layers of darkness (un-consciousness) is a gradual process.” (The Jeshua Channelings: 26-27)

“The first step to enlightenment is surrendering to ‘what is.’ Enlightenment means that you allow all aspects of your being into the light of your consciousness. Enlightenment does not mean you are fully conscious of everything within you, but that you are willing to face every aspect consciously.” (The Jeshua Channelings: 72)

This article is excerpted from Shifting from Personality to Soul Consciousness: Implications for Transpersonal Counseling, (pp 8-24, Joanne Selinske’s dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D. specializing in Transpersonal Counseling in the Department of Graduate Studies of the University of Sedona.