from the writings of Alice A. Bailey and the Master D.K.
Summary: The Etheric Body, the Symbol of the Soul - Emergence and Progress of the Soul - The Angel of the Presence
The Etheric Body, the Symbol of the Soul
The great symbol of the soul in man is his vital or etheric body and for the following reasons:
1. It is the physical correspondence to the inner light body we call the soul body, the spiritual body. It is called the "golden bowl" in the Bible and is distinguished by:
a. Its light quality.
b. Its rate of vibration, which synchronizes always with the development of the soul.
c. Its coherent force, linking and connecting every part of the body structure.
2. It is the microcosmic "web of life" for it underlies every part of the physical structure and has three purposes:
a. To carry throughout the body the life principle, the energy which produces activity. This it does through the medium of the blood, and the focal point for this distribution is the heart. It is the conveyor of physical vitality.
b. To enable the soul, or human yet spiritual man to be en rapport with his environment. This is carried forward through the medium of the entire nervous system and the focal point of that activity is the brain. This is the seat of conscious receptivity.
c. To produce eventually, through life and consciousness, a radiant activity, or manifestation of glory which will make of each human being a center of activity for the distribution of light and attractive energy to others in the human kingdom, and through the human kingdom, to the subhuman kingdoms. This is a part of the plan of the planetary Logos for the vitalizing and renewing of the vibration of those forms which we designate subhuman.
3. This microcosmic symbol of the soul not only underlies the entire physical structure and thus is a symbol of the anima mundi, or the world soul, but is indivisible, coherent and a unified entity, thereby symbolizing the unity and homogeneity of God. There are no separated organisms in it, but it is simply a body of freely flowing force […]
4. This coherent unified body of light and energy is the symbol of the soul in that it has within it seven focal points […]
5. The symbolism is also carried forward when one remembers that the etheric body links the purely physical, or dense body with the purely subtle, the astral or emotional body. In this is seen the reflection of the soul in man which links the three worlds (corresponding to the solid, liquid and gaseous aspects of the strictly physical body of man) to the higher planes in the solar system, linking thus the mental to the buddhic and the mind to the intuitional states of consciousness.
Emergence and Progress of the Soul
The life at the heart of the solar system is producing an evolutionary unfoldment of the energies of that universe which it is not possible for finite man as yet to vision. Similarly the center of energy which we call the spiritual aspect in man is (through the utilization of matter or substance) producing an evolutionary development of that which we call the soul, and which is the highest of the form manifestations - the human kingdom. Man is the highest product of existence in the three worlds. By man, I mean the spiritual man, a son of God in incarnation. The forms of all the kingdoms of nature - human, animal, vegetable and mineral - contribute to that manifestation. The energy of the third aspect of divinity tends to the revelation of the soul or the second aspect which in turn reveals the highest aspect.
It must ever be remembered that The Secret Doctrine of H. P. Blavatsky expresses this with accuracy in the words "Life we look upon as the one form of existence, manifesting in what is called Matter; or what, incorrectly separating them, we name spirit, soul and matter in man. Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence, and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesized by life, which pervades them all."
Through the use of matter the soul unfolds and finds its climax in the soul of man.
Through … creation, existences come into manifestation, participate in the experience of their particular cycle, whether it is ephemeral, like the life of a butterfly or relatively permanent like the ensouling life of the planetary deity, and vanish. The two aspects concerned, spirit and matter, are brought thus into a close rapport, and necessarily exert an effect upon each other. Matter, so-called, is energized or "lifted up" in the occult sense of the term by its contact with spirit so-called. Spirit, in its turn, is enabled to enhance its vibration through the medium of its experience in matter. The bringing together of these two divine aspects results in the emergence of a third, which we call the soul, and through the medium of the soul, spirit develops a sentiency and a conscious awareness and capacity to respond which remains its permanent possession when the divorce between the two comes around eventually and cyclically.
There are the three great divisions which mark the soul's progress towards its goal. Through the process of Individualization, the soul arrives at a true self-consciousness and awareness in the three worlds of its experience. The actor in the drama of life masters his part. Through the process of Initiation, the soul becomes aware of the essential nature of divinity. Participation in full consciousness with the group and the absorption of the personal and individual into the Whole, characterize this stage on the path of evolution. Finally comes that mysterious process wherein the soul becomes so absorbed into that supreme Reality and Synthesis through Identification that even the consciousness of the group fades out (except when deliberately recovered in the work of service). Naught is then known save Deity, - no separation of any part, no lesser syntheses, and no divisions or differentiations. During these processes it might be stated that three streams of energy play upon the consciousness of the awakening man:
a. The energy of matter itself, as it affects the consciousness of the inner spiritual man, who is using the form as a medium of expression.
b. The energy of the soul itself, or of the solar angel, as that energy pours forth upon the vehicles and produces reciprocal energy in the solar form.
c. The energy of life itself, a meaningless phrase, and one that only initiates of the third initiation can grasp, for even the discoveries of modern science give no real idea as to the true nature of life.
Such is the program for humanity, as it concerns the unfoldment of the human consciousness. The whole emphasis of the entire evolutionary process is, in the last analysis, placed upon the development of conscious, intelligent awareness in the life animating the various forms. The exact state of awareness is contingent upon the age of the soul. Yet the soul has no age from the standpoint of time, as humanity understand it. It is timeless and eternal. Before the soul there passes the kaleidoscope of the senses, and the recurring drama of outer phenomenal existence; but throughout all these occurrences in time and space, the soul ever preserves the attitude of the Onlooker and of the perceiving Observer. It beholds and interprets. In the early stages, when the "Lemurian consciousness" characterizes the phenomenal man, that fragmentary aspect of the soul which indwells and informs the human form, and which gives to the man any real human consciousness which may be present, is inert, inchoate and unorganized; it is devoid of mind as we understand it, and is distinguished only by a complete identification with the physical form and its activities. This is the period of slow tamasic reactions to suffering, joy, pain, to the urge and satisfaction of desire, and to a heavy subconscious urge to betterment. Life after life passes, and slowly the capacity for conscious identification increases, with a growing desire for a larger range of satisfactions; the indwelling and animating soul becomes ever more deeply hidden, the prisoner of the form nature. The entire forces of the life are concentrated in the physical body, and the desires then expressed are physical desires; at the same time there is a growing tendency towards more subtle desires, such as the astral body evokes. Gradually, the identification of the soul with the form shifts from the physical to the astral form. There is nothing present at this time which could be called a personality. There is simply a living, active physical body, with its wants and desires, its needs and its appetites, accompanied by a very slow yet steadily increasing shift of the consciousness out of the physical into the astral vehicle.
When this shift, in course of time, his been successfully achieved, then the consciousness is no longer entirely identified with the physical vehicle, but it becomes centered in the astral-emotional body. Then the focus of the soul's attention, working through the slowly evolving man, is in the world of desire, and the soul becomes identified with another response apparatus, the desire or astral body. His consciousness then becomes the "Atlantean consciousness." His desires are no longer so vague and inchoate; they have hitherto been concerned with the basic urges or appetites, - first, his urge to self-preservation; then to self-perpetuation through the urge to reproduce; and next, to economic satisfaction. At this stage we have the state of awareness of the infant and the raw savage. Gradually, however, we find a steadily growing inner realization of desire itself, and less emphasis upon the physical satisfactions. The consciousness slowly begins to respond to the impact of the mind and to the power to discriminate and choose between various desires; the capacity to employ time somewhat intelligently begins to make its presence felt. The more subtle pleasures begin to make their appeal; man's desires become less crude and physical; the emerging desire for beauty begins to appear, and a dim sense of aesthetic values. His consciousness is becoming more astral-mental, or kama-manasic, and the whole trend of his daily attitudes, or his modes of living, and of his character begins to broaden, to unfold, and to improve. Though he is still ridden by unreasoning desire most of the time, yet the field of his satisfactions and of his sense-urges are less definitely animal and more definitely emotional. Moods and feelings come to be recognized, and a dim desire for peace and the urge to find that nebulous thing called "happiness" begin to play their part. This corresponds to the period of adolescence and to the state of consciousness called Atlantean. It is the condition of the masses at this present time. The bulk of human beings are still Atlantean, still purely emotional in their reactions and in their approach to life. They are still governed predominantly by selfish desires and by the calls of the instinctual life. Our earth humanity is still in the Atlantean stage, whereas the intelligentsia of the world, and the disciples and aspirants, are passing rapidly out of this stage, for they reached individualization on the moon chain, and were the Atlanteans of past history.
In the more advanced people of the world today, we have the functioning of the mind-body; this is to be found in a large scale in our Western civilization. The energy of the ray of the mental body begins to pour in, and slowly to assert itself. As this happens, the desire nature is brought under control, and consequently the physical nature can become more definitely the instrument of mental impulses. The brain consciousness begins to organize and the focus of energies begins to shift gradually out of the lower centers into the higher. Mankind is developing the "Aryan consciousness" and is reaching maturity. In the more advanced people of the world, we have also the integration of the personality and the emergence into definite control of the personality ray, with its synthetic, coherent grip of the three bodies and their fusing into one working unit. Later, the personality becomes the instrument of the indwelling soul.
The Angel of the Presence
It is said that "thoughts are things" and produce tangible results. It is also said that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" and that, therefore, these tangible thought manifestations definitely produce effects in him. In these ancient platitudes lie, for you, much instruction, much light and understanding and the clue to your immediate problem. What is the situation, my brother? You, a soul in incarnation, are consciously aware of the fact - subjectively and oftentimes dimly sensed - of your real Self, of the solar Angel, who is the Angel of the Presence. Your problem is to deepen this realization, and to know yourself to be the Angel, standing between you, the physical plane man, and the Presence. It might elucidate matters if we considered for a moment what reality is represented by that word Presence.
The mystic is ever aware of duality; of the lower man and the indwelling soul; of the tired disciple and the Angel; of the little self and the real Self; of human life expression and of spiritual life expression. Many other qualities stand for the same expression of reality. But, behind them all looms - immanent, stupendous, and glorious - that of which these dualities are but the aspects: the Presence, immanent yet transcendent, of Deity. In the nature of this One, all dualities are absorbed and all distinctions and differences lose their meaning.
When you are told to develop the consciousness of the Presence, it indicates, first of all, that you are at this time somewhat aware of the Angel and can now begin to respond, dimly and faintly, to that great Whole which lies behind the subjective world of being, as that world lies behind the physical, tangible world of every day life.
A symbol of this can be seen in the knowledge that the entire planet lies outside of the room in which you are pondering my words and is only separated from you by the window and the extent of your conscious awareness. The outer universe of the planet, the solar system and the starry heavens, lies revealed to you through that sheet of glass which reveals, if clean and unveiled, but which acts as a barrier to vision, if soiled or hidden by a blind. This and your ability to project yourself into the immensity of the universe, governs the extent of your knowledge at any given time. Think this out, my brother, and look through the window of the mind to that Light which reveals the Angel which, in its turn, veils and hides the vast unknown, yet alive and vibrant, Deity.
Every human being is, in reality, like a miniature whirlpool in that great ocean of Being in which he lives and moves - ceaselessly in motion until such time as the soul "breathes upon the waters" (or forces) and the Angel of the Presence descends into the whirlpool. Then all becomes still. The waters stirred by the rhythm of life, and later stirred violently by the descent of the Angel, respond to the Angel's healing power and are changed "into a quiet pool into which the little ones can enter and find the healing which they need." So says the Old Commentary.