Volume V - Spiritual Liberty
Part III: THE PHENOMENON OF THE SOUL
THE SOUL'S EXPERIENCE
The condition of the ordinary soul when it first leaves the body is confusion; for before death it has realized that it is dying, yet it is really only after death that it lives. It is like a person who is alive thinking that he is dead. As long as this condition remains the soul goes no further; it is this state which is called purgatory. When the soul has realized itself, when it has realized that it is still living, then the clouds of confusion are dispersed and the soul finds itself, together with the atmosphere which belongs to it.
All souls return to God, some with open eyes, some blindly. Every moment of this life is an opportunity, whose value is so great that all the pains, all the troubles, all the sorrow of existence would be too small a price for even one moment of life. It is as if God threw darts. Some reach the point at which they were aimed, others fall short, others might go much further than man is now.
The being of God is a perfect Being. The riches that the souls bring from the earth, by knowledge or by anything else, are no addition to God; for God it only means that something which was in the hand has come to the elbow. What difference does it make? It is all the same. Yet it is better that the thing of the hand should be in the hand rather than at the elbow. All that is known on earth and in heaven belongs to God; it already exists and is already in Him, the perfect Being.
No soul is attracted to what we call Satan or the devil. Our soul does not like us to do what is wrong for us. Our soul does not like us to be unkind. Every soul has in it the highest attributes, and has a tendency towards the light and a tendency towards awakening. If it has not there are reasons for it. Either the soul has gathered around it vibrations that are undesirable; or it has not come through the proper channel of manifestation and therefore it is weak; or it clings to its undesirable habits and ideas and will not let them go. The condition of the soul can turn any place into heaven. Not only the earth but even hell could be turned into heaven, if only the soul attained the perfection which is its only goal.
On its return the soul passes through the same planes and states that it comes through on its way to manifestation, with all the experiences it has acquired in its life on earth. When it arrives it is blank; when it leaves it goes away with the experience that it has gathered. Souls keep their individuality after death, for individuality is not made by the physical body; individuality is covered by the physical body. When the cover disappears, individuality still remains.
All that the soul has borrowed through manifestation, it returns to its origin. It is natural that the physical body should be the earth's due. And when it is paid back to the earth it is just like giving the child back into its mother's arms. It is a most natural process. The soul does not wither and get worn out, but what it has gathered around it on earth, what it has imagined itself to be, all that it has taken from the lower plane, withers and becomes worn out; not its real self but its false self.
The one who does not come to God-realization in this life will come to it on the way towards the goal. It will be perhaps easier there, but it is better to do all one can on earth. Nothing that we really value can we put off until tomorrow. What one puts off one does not value enough.
Souls which have passed away are nearer to us in one way than those on earth, but in another way they are further. They are nearer in the way that if they want to get in contact with us, or we with them, it is more easily done than with the souls on the earth. But when we look at the difference between the plane on which they live and our plane, they are further than those on earth, because there are more means of communication here.
Souls which have passed away are engaged in doing the same thing they were doing before. Their world is more beautiful than nature on earth, for the mind is nature also; mind is an improvement upon nature and it is part of nature at the same time. For instance the idea of paradise is an improvement upon nature, and while on earth paradise is an imagination, in the hereafter the same paradise will become a reality. To create happiness for oneself and others, therein lies the whole of religion and the whole of philosophy. After passing away some remain under the impression of death for a long time, but one cannot compare the time of this world with the time of the other worlds. The time of the next world is much longer than the time of this world. The deeper the impressions are, the longer one has to remain in purgatory. The sages, the prophets, have shown their spiritual development at the time of their death. That is the time when the truth comes out; then there can be no falsehood, and a man has no chance of acting. When his soul is passing from the earth, where his heart was is shown – on the earth or in heaven. Besides, the person who has earned peace throughout his life then shows his wealth; he passes away peacefully and with willingness to meet what awaits him in the life beyond.
The soul upon its journey back to consciousness passes through the world of jinns until finally it reaches the infinite goal where the soul is no more individual. It still has a slight feeling of 'I.' It does not distinguish between 'mine' and 'thine,' but when a man has thought of himself all his life as 'I' he will still keep a slight sense of 'I.'
The soul is hindered in its progress by being called back to earth by mediums and sorrowful friends. Suppose a person is going somewhere and all the time people call out, 'Please stop, we want you,' he will never be able to get to his destination; the purpose for which he is going is hindered. To call a soul back would be acting against nature itself. It is better to help the soul go forward, and that one does by sending one's loving thought.
The meeting of a soul going towards manifestation and a soul returning from there may be unconscious. Also, a soul going towards the earth cannot ask for advice or help from a returning soul, because his mind has not yet become like that of a human being and he is passive. What he receives he gets without asking, in the same way that an infant does not ask for something; it only wants to have it. Just as human beings are generally not conscious of angels or jinns, so the angels are not all conscious of jinns, nor are all jinns conscious of angels, although some are. A soul can attract a jinn to help it to accomplish something on earth, and a jinn may attract a soul for the same purpose. A jinn is not really interested in accomplishing anything on earth, but when it sees what is going on there it may become interested. A person who does not go out of town has no interest outside the town, but when he goes to the country, his interest is awakened.
One may ask if a jinn who is sent to the earth looks like a human being. The jinn who is on the jinn plane is quite distinct as a jinn; but when a soul which is very much impressed by the jinn plane has come on earth, it will show something of the jinn even in form and features.
Souls return through the jinn world and the angel world by the same way by which they have come. But the ones who have realized God on earth do not stop there; they go to God while on the earth. There is no condition of having to go to God through the outer death; the condition which the Sufis call Fana is no crucifixion, for God is nearer to them than anything else. To the jinn world is one step; to the angel world is two steps; but to God there is no journey: He is there.
The joy of life is the joy of the journey. If one could close one's eyes and be put immediately on top of the Himalayas, one would not enjoy it as much as the one who climbs and goes from one peak to another, and sees the different scenery and meets the different people on the way. The whole joy is in the journey.
There are many souls who after having passed away try to communicate with the people on earth, but generally these do not receive their communications clearly. However, unconsciously they do receive them, and very often they do errands for those who have passed away, thinking they are doing it because they themselves wish to. In order that a person should be convinced of the reality of the spirit world, why should the spirits strive? Why should not man develop his faith? And if man is so obstinate as to avoid developing himself here, he will avoid development even in the spirit world. For in man is the possibility of faith; the jinn world is not necessary as an intermediary.
Children and infants who die also come to spiritual maturity, often on the jinn plane and sometimes on the plane of angels. It depends on the qualities of the soul and upon the object it is meant to accomplish.
Souls that are not in tune will enter the angelic heavens all the same; even in heaven there is no peace. The inharmonious people follow the harmonious ones even there. One soul is more harmonious than another, but in the music of the heavens they all fit in, just as in our music we would not want everything to be alike. And the souls who are still out of rhythm will continue to have the choice of becoming harmonious; for there is a choice at every step in the heavens too. Life is progressive, and that is why there is always hope of improvement.
If a link of sympathy exists, then the light of those who are our well-wishers, either in the sphere of the jinns or in the angelic heavens, will certainly be thrown upon those on earth. Their love, tenderness, and goodness shine upon those on earth just like the love, tenderness, and goodness of parents toward their children. In short, illuminated souls in whatever sphere they are will be showing their light.
The soul is continually on the way towards improvement, therefore even in the angelic world the soul is not quite perfect. The perfection is in the goal, not in the soul.
In a way there is a difference in the degree and experience of happiness of the soul going towards manifestation, and of a soul returning; but the difference is like that of notes in music. This applies particularly to the souls returning to the goal, who have acquired something from the earth or from the sphere of the jinns which has influenced the tone and rhythm of their being; and therefore they so to speak tell the legend of their past in the music they make in the heaven of the angels.
There is a relationship between the bodies of souls on the different planes, because they borrow their body from the clay of the plane where they are, and from that comes the connection caused by the clay or matter of that plane.
The soul, while being a current, has two kinds of atoms, physical atoms and mental atoms. If one garb is thrown away the other garb is not free from individuality. It goes on living; it lives longer than the physical body. Life is limited for the very reason that substance is limited. Mind and feeling have their own life, they do not belong to the brain but to the original condition; that is why the mind lives longer than the body. The hereafter means living in the inner garb. One still continues one's life in the hereafter because the soul is consciousness itself.
The higher body of the soul is formed from the lower body of the same soul; there is no break. It is a continuation. Something is taken, although not everything can be taken.
In the jinn world there will be silence. Silence is necessary just as sleep is necessary for repose; but at the same time there will be action, and its speed will be incomparably greater than the speed of action on the earth. Spirits on the jinn plane meet with all kinds of experiences, just as on earth; they can even have accidents or get killed. But in the jinn sphere it will be easier for us to see our goal, for the possibilities there are greater as there is less limitation.
It happens that jinns are sent to earth with a mission, like angels. The jinns are capable of knowing their imagination to be imagination, their mind being clearer than that of man.
Jinns are able to communicate with spirits returning from the earth; but it is with them as with the inhabitants of a certain country who may have heard of other countries, but are generally much happier in their own, with their own way of living; and when some go out and bring back knowledge from the other countries, it may not be agreeable to the ones who remained at home.
The path of the jinn is the path of beauty, as the path of every soul is one of beauty; and every soul, good or bad, is seeking after beauty. When it steps wrongly on the path we call it evil, and when it steps rightly on the path of beauty we call it victory.
The scenery of the jinn world is peculiar to itself. It is a negative state of what one sees positively in this world, but there is more beauty there than one can find on earth. In a way it interpenetrates, but at the same time it has its own peculiarity which cannot be compared with the beauty of this earth. The reason is that manifestation on this plane has limitations owing to its rigidity. The higher the world, the fewer are the limitations to be met with.
Is there no illness or impression of illness on the jinn plane? There is; as there is illness on the plane of the earth so there are certain discomforts on the other planes. But the healing power of the soul is such that even on earth it can heal the body it finds itself in, and the illness it takes from the earth it heals in the hereafter. The struggle is easier there, but some of the discomfort will remain on that plane, for life is a continual struggle.
Very often it happens that a soul which had meant to go on towards the physical plane remains in the jinn plane out of love for a soul already there. It is love that takes one forward, and it is love that holds one back. The difference is that it is a higher love that takes one forward, and it is a lower love that holds one back. Once a soul has individualized itself on a certain plane, it becomes an inhabitant of that plane; it does not go forward.