Conceptualizations are mental models of reality. Conceptualizations are not absolute truth; rather, they are like stepping stones on a path to a destination not yet visited. The following are conceptualizations of certain aspects of human life as it stands at the nexus of matter and spirit.
How to Become the True Self
The true self is the complete person expressing in action, thought, feeling, and memory the best character of oneself. The true self is a conceptualization of an individual’s reality as a living being. It is a conceptualization because one’s understanding of his or her true self evolves over time, especially as one matures while in a particular embodiment and through subsequent embodiments as the soul evolves in its spiritual environment. For an individual in embodiment, being one’s true self is being the best person one can be given the circumstances of one’s life and one’s level of self-understanding.
As the soul matures while in embodiment, the person’s consciousness gradually expands to include the multidimensional nature of material and spiritual existence. In its existence in matter, that is, as a person in embodiment, the soul is learning how to use free will properly in time and space, including physically, mentally, emotionally, and at all levels of accessible consciousness. The levels of consciousness accessible to an individual varies, depending upon many factors, such as the maturity of the soul, life’s experiences, education and training, the health of the physical, emotional, mental, and etheric bodies at a given time, and other material and spiritual factors.
To become one’s true self requires an act of free will on the part of the soul in embodiment. Generally, when an individual desires to become the true self and to more fully express the goodness within one’s heart, a certain pathway in consciousness opens so that the individual senses intuitively how to take the next step. There are many steps in becoming one’s true self, and even after a person has achieved that goal while in embodiment, there are further steps in spiritual dimensions that can be taken before the fullness of God’s plan for the soul is known and expressed.
For an individual seeking to become the true self, both patience and courage are required. Patience is needed because it takes time for an individual to change his or her habits into a consistently positive direction. Courage is required because the individual in embodiment must not only explore new ways of looking at things but also to be resilient in the overcoming of impediments that stand in the way of the person achieving his or her goal.
Mankind’s Nature Is to Use Creative Free Will
All things appear to have a certain nature, or characteristic, that distinguishes them one from another. For human beings, one of our distinguishing characteristics is creative free will. Nearly everyone possess free will, and nearly everyone can create something. Whether it be playthings created by a child or outer space probes created by scientists — much of our entire life is spent in creative activity freely chosen.
Freely chosen creative activity can occur in almost any dimension of human existence, material or spiritual, and from almost any level of human consciousness. Because people are multidimensional and function from multiple levels of consciousness, there can be connections between creative activity: a yogi can use his physical body to achieve a high level of spiritual awareness, a mother can use her evolutionary instincts to know what her child needs. People are complicated and very talented, traits reflected all around in every culture and civilization.
From the perspective of the soul, one of its main purposes for being embodied on earth is to learn how properly to use creative free will to express the character of goodness given to the soul by God. When this is achieved through the integration of the spiritual and material sides of man — that is, the alignment of the consciousness of the person in embodiment with the consciousness of his or her soul — then the true self comes into being: the person in embodiment becomes the instrument of the soul.
In this ideal condition, the creative free will of the true self is used in the dimensions of time and space to express the God-given character of the soul. This is how mankind contributes goodness to the world; it is how God’s will is expanded into the material universe occupied by mankind; it is how God’s plan for the earth is fulfilled through the creative free will of human beings; it is how the soul accomplishes one of its purposes for existing.
Knowing and Doing God’s Will
It is natural for mankind to know and do God’s will. Each person has a soul; that soul was created by God for a purpose; that purpose is embedded in the character of the soul. When an individual in embodiment seeks to express the character of his or her soul in free will decisions, the individual is fulfilling the purpose of the soul on earth and thereby following God’s will.
The processes of spiritual maturity of the person and the evolution of the soul are continuous, so that, over time, the person refines his or her understanding of the soul’s character and the soul learns to make better decisions with the opportunity, energy, and talents made available to it by the Creator. Because these processes of maturation and evolution are natural, individuals have only to seek to become their true self to know and do the will of God on earth.
For those in embodiment, there are two main challenges to following the natural processes of maturation and evolution in becoming the true self. First, there is the challenge of knowing the character of one’s soul; second, there is the challenge of becoming sufficiently determined to express that character. Both of these challenges have as their root cause an excessive attachment to the lesser human ego and its limited perception of reality.
Most of the world’s great religions and spiritual teachings can help the soul in embodiment to meet these challenges and thereby free the individual to use higher levels of consciousness as tools to make more rapid progress towards becoming the true self.
The Dharma and Karma of Duty
Becoming one’s true self is the process of becoming whole, that is, integrating into one’s consciousness the material and spiritual aspects of a complete human being. A complete human being includes not just the human self in a physical body but also the soul which is the spirit of self within the human body. To be an integrated person requires conscious coordination between the physical body and the spiritual self. The spiritual self — the soul — is the guiding consciousness operating through the physical form on earth. This is how the soul learns to properly use free will in the planes of matter, time, and space. Learning this lesson is one of the main purposes of the soul being embodied.
Using free will on earth is a creative process. For the soul, using free will on earth means expressing its God-given character through the actions, thoughts, and feelings of its human embodiment. This is what people do when they recognize their true self as being a son or daughter of God: they seek to express the goodness of God within their soul through how they live their lives on earth.
How they actually do this is strongly influenced by the individual’s dharma and karma in a particular lifetime. Dharma is the expression of the soul’s character in a specific situation. Karma influences the circumstances within which one’s dharma is carried out, circumstances usually resulting from good or bad decisions previously made by the soul in this or earlier embodiments.
Duty from the perspective of the true self is multidimensional. First, there is the duty of the soul to expand throughout cosmos the goodness of the character given to the soul by God. Second, there is the duty of the soul to learn how to use free will in matter through its embodied self to express the soul’s special character. Third, there is the duty of the embodied soul to perform some task during the span of its lifetime; often this is called one’s mission in life and it can be a great or small task. Fourth, there is the duty of the embodied soul to accomplish a specific activity within a very limited condition of time and space; this is often felt as an inspired moment or some intuitive inclination to act in this way or that.
One of the interesting things about the inspired-moment kinds of duty is that sometimes its guidance contradicts what the embodied self has defined as its moral standards or proper behavior. This occurs because the level of soul consciousness or higher levels of spiritual consciousness have a broader perspective on what needs to be done to advance God’s will than does the consciousness of an individual living in the planes of matter. Although it can be difficult to do so, it usually is better over the longer-term in these instances to follow the higher guidance than to follow one’s own moral standards, feelings, or rationalities. It is sometimes easier to do this if one has an understandable conceptualization of God and the heavenly hosts and thereby can feel free to draw upon their assistance as needed.
A word of caution is in order, however. Make sure, if you seem to be inspired to set aside your moral standards, that the spiritual inspiration is indeed genuine. The human mind and emotions can generate powerful justification for almost anything, and our moral imperatives sometimes are our greatest protection from unintended misdeeds. We ought not to ignore our moral codes easily, although at times it may be the right thing to do.
God as Father, Mother, Son, and Holy Spirit
There are many conceptualizations of God, because God — if you accept His reality — is the First Cause of all that exists, has existed, or ever will exist. One conceptualization that has been found useful over the centuries for individuals seeking to become their true self is to envision God in terms of Father, Mother, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In this conceptualization, God as Father is the First Cause of creation, the law giver of principles and standards that hold the universe together in a singularity comprised of infinite parts. God the Father is impersonal and functions at the highest spiritual level of existence. Mankind can turn to and interact with God the Father when he needs the strong guidance of law, the understanding of basic principles, and the strength to do great things in fulfillment of his or her duty as a son or daughter of God.
God as Mother functions and exists in the material dimensions of the universe, giving birth to and nourishing all things in life, nature, and the physical universe. God as Mother is highly personal and accessible to all living things. God as Mother is the practical teacher of how to live and the interpreter of the Father’s universal laws and principles. Mankind can turn to God as Mother when he needs comfort, compassion, practical wisdom, and the gentle yet firm hand of encouragement in learning the proper use of free will.
God as Son is the personification of spirit in matter, such as found in the souls of man embodied on earth and in other lifeforms. God the Son is the progeny of God the Father and God the Mother, and their heir as co-creator. God the Son uses free will and God’s qualities of goodness to populate the worlds and to materialize God’s plan and will in all domains accessible to the Son. Mankind as a species and as an individual are manifestations of God as Son. As sons and daughters of God, all human beings can freely communicate with our spiritual parents and seek their guidance and assistance at any time.
God as Holy Spirit is the all-pervasive, binding force that links the creation together through love, wisdom, power, life, consciousness, energy, and evolution. The Holy Spirit is the great communicator and deliverer of inspiration and other blessings from the highest levels of spirituality to the simplest lifeforms scattered throughout cosmos. Mankind are part of the chain of life’s existence and therefore can benefit from and use the Holy Spirit to achieve the goals of God. Freely accessible, the Holy Spirit can inspire and guide the actions of even the most humble of men.
God as Father, Mother, Son, and Holy Spirit means that God is all-inclusive and everywhere to be found. There is no such thing as separation between God and man, except within misconceptions of the human mind.
The Spiritual Hierarchy
The conceptualization of a spiritual hierarchy is based on many considerations. First, there are the thousands of recorded incidents in human history of visitations from heavenly beings, including ones highly spiritual such as angels and saints. Second, there is the observable evidence of spiritual evolution within mankind himself; many individuals throughout history have been transformed in character from highly materialistic to great holiness. Third, there are many religious and spiritual teachings from all known cultures which attest to the existence of a spiritual hierarchy in heaven who serve as God’s helpers in assisting mankind. Fourth, there is the logic of a spiritual and material side of mankind, with a soul and a physical body that interact with each other and which exist separately in their own domains but also act interdependently. Fifth, there are instances in every known culture where people in embodiment have been visited by the departed souls of those with whom they were close, or by some spiritual teacher or friend with whom they have formed a special bond. And sixth, there is the reasonable assumption that God, the Creator of all things and everywhere present, all-knowing, and all-powerful, would populate the Creation with different lifeforms on different systems of worlds and within different dimensions of existence — all of which are evolving and serving some purpose referred to as God’s plan.
Many other considerations pointing to the existence of a spiritual hierarchy could be listed. However, the most important of these from a human perspective is that people throughout history have been visited and aided by spiritual beings who appeared to be representatives of God. These visitations have usually occurred in the context of the culture of the person receiving the visitation. Cultural relatively in itself does not diminish the validity of these visitations; it only strengthens the concept that God is universal, multicultural, and able to interact with anyone at anytime in a form and fashion most familiar and hence acceptable to the person being visited.
The frequency and universality of these visits and the numerous blessings that reportedly flow from these spiritual beings would seem to override the logic of arguments that these visits are figments of imagination and therefore ought to be dismissed in their entity.
From the point of view of someone seeking to become the true self, the search for and the acceptance of assistance from the spiritual hierarchy ought to be part of a daily ritual like prayer and meditation. Those who have received such blessings in the past often remark that it seems best to ask for something specific from an identified spiritual being, such as Jesus, the Buddha, Mother Mary, and Kwan Yin. Most religions and spiritual teachings have identified spiritual beings who can provide assistance to individuals who earnestly request such assistance. The assistance is not automatic, however; sometimes it requires a change in the behavior of the requesting person and sometimes it does not come at all for karmic or other reasons known only to God and His spiritual hierarchy. Nonetheless, it does not hurt the person or the soul to reach out to heaven in times of need; such outreach only strengthens the ties between God and man.
Overcoming Opposition to Becoming One’s True Self
The conceptualization here is that there are internal and external factors which can stand in the way of a person becoming his or her true self. One key to remember is that, to become one’s true self, a person in embodiment needs to express through free will the character of his or her soul through a process of gradual improvement. Becoming one’s true self does not occur overnight. The improvement of a person’s character takes time, and the factors in opposition to the expression of that character need to be addressed incrementally as they are identified by the outer consciousness.
The most important internal factors opposing one’s expression of the true self can be categorized as thoughts, imaginations, memories, emotions, and physical activities that are not in harmony with the character of one’s soul. If you identify any of these factors that stand in opposition to the character of your soul, then you need to make a determined effort to remove that opposing factor to the best of your ability. Often this takes repeated effort, so don’t be discouraged. Remember that human beings have free will and that, therefore, their thoughts, imaginings, memories, emotions, and physical activities are their responsibility. There are numerous spiritual and secular tools available to people to help in the task of gaining greater self-discipline and self-control to properly fulfill that responsibility.
In addition to internal factors, there are external factors opposing the expression of one’s true self and the character of one’s soul. External factors can be material (such as other people) or spiritual (such as malevolent entities and psychic energy). Material external factors can usually be handled personally by someone working to improve their own character. Spiritual external factors can often be handled by the individual himself through determination to stand his ground; sometimes these factors may require specialized training. In almost all religions and spiritual teachings, there are priests and others who have been trained to help people fend off negative forces from non-physical realms. Training in the use of spiritual tools is freely available. One important key in the overcoming of external factors opposing one’s true self is the power of one’s will. Every person has the right to protect and defend his or her true self. Like Gautama, touch the ground to affirm your right to be your true self. God, the spiritual hierarchy, and all of nature will stand beside you as you assert your authority and destiny to be a son or daughter of God.
Love God with All Your Heart
The greatest secret in becoming one’s true self is to love God with all your heart. There is something magic about the love that flows between the Almighty and His children. No matter how we have sinned or how many failures we have encountered in life, the love of God and His children is a constant we can count on.
The love we have for God is like an anchor that ties us forever to our Father and Mother in heaven. To strengthen that anchor, we can ask the assistance of the heavenly hierarchy to help us love God more. This can become a daily ritual, or even a constant prayer we give several times a day. The sincerity in our hearts compels a response from heaven, because the love of God — and the love for God — is the binding force that ties God together with the children of His creation.
Since God created our spiritual souls and gave it a special characteristic of His goodness, God wants mankind — individually and collectively — to discover that character within themselves and to express it creatively in their activities in whatever dimensions of existence they inhabit. In other words, God wants us to become our true self. Our reaching out to Him with our love is evidence of our free will decision to seek to do His will in our life. It is that commitment to a singular purpose of goodwill that accelerates our material and spiritual maturity so that becoming one’s true self is attainable no matter our circumstances.
The Need for Self-Control
To become one’s true self requires self-control. Self-control is necessary because every person has conditions in his or her life which stand in the way of that person becoming their true self. Whether it be psychological, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or environmental — no one is born on this planet under perfect conditions and in possession of perfect attributes: body, mind, and soul. To be human on earth necessitates the ability to overcome the obstacles standing in the way of one’s higher expectations in life. The more one is able to overcome these obstacles, the better the person’s chances of becoming the true self he or she desires to be.
But what is the common character of these obstacles? Some obstacles, like a lack of education, can be remedied by hard and consistent study. Other obstacles, like a severe handicap, may not be possible to fully repair. Other obstacles, like a terminal disease, may be incurable and will lead to a shortened lifespan.
It should be remembered that the purpose of overcoming obstacles, from the perspective of one’s soul, is not to become perfect in the material world: a perfect body, mind, emotions, and living environment. Rather, the purpose of overcoming obstacles is to train the soul in embodiment to make proper decisions under all conditions and circumstances, internal and external. This level of self-mastery enables the soul to use free will to expand God’s goodness in all planes of existence.
We Are Part of God
Every atom of our physical body, every level of our consciousness, every component of our being is comprised of the elements of God’s creation. The same seeds of life and chemical elements that evolved over billions of years on this planet to become ourselves and all other forms of life, seem to be spread across the universe.
In a very real sense, then, we are a part of God because there is nothing that we have that is solely the product of our own creation. The energy and chemicals we use, our consciousness, our mental activity, our emotions and designs are part of a creative process initiated by God. We merely use the resources at our disposal to continue the evolution of life.
What this means is that we are extensions of God who have certain parameters within which we can live and use free will to create things within our domains of existence. We are part of God: individually, as a species, and as a manifestation of life in the cosmos.
Our sense of self-awareness, therefore, ought not to be confined to the uniqueness we feel as individual souls. Our self-awareness ought to include the connectivity we have with all other things. When we thus see ourselves as part of God, we can more easily accept the idea that we ought not only to do God’s will but also to become God’s will. In other words, the alignment of our consciousness with that of the Creator is both possible and natural for us.
The Character of Our Soul Is an Expression of God’s Goodness
In this conceptualization, God expands His Goodness throughout the Creation through the activities of living creatures, such as human beings, who possess a portion of God’s spirit. Within this paradigm is the concept that God’s will is not some fixed outcome, but rather the infinite expressions of goodness through the activities of lifeforms everywhere. The role of mankind is an important part of this paradigm, in that human beings have a wide range of free will and a consciousness able to identify and creatively express the character of their soul, which is an attribute of God’s goodness.
In other words, God lives in and through His Creation, such as in man, and is in fact the spirit within the human form giving it life and consciousness. God evolves as His Creation, such as mankind, evolves. What is critical in this paradigm is the understanding that the form used by the spirit of God, such as a human body, is of less significance than the spirit within the form. Thus, our body is of less importance than the expression of God’s goodness through our consciousness.
Our consciousness is part of God’s consciousness as found within our soul. The goodness being expressed by our free will decisions in our consciousness is a reflection of the part of God’s goodness given our soul as its unique character. That unique character is in fact what comprises the identity of our true self. It is who we are in reality.
Hence, the true self of man is an instrument for the expansion of God’s goodness. The goodness and goodwill that a person can express through free will is almost limitless. And the expression of that goodness — in large and small ways — is our moral duty. It is through this expression of individual goodness — amplified without limit through countless free-willed beings throughout the universe — that God’s plan for His Creation is fulfilled.
God Uses Us to Expand Goodwill to Other Parts of Life
When we consider who and what we are, we can discover many aspects of our self. We can identify with our human body, our mind, our emotions, our memories, our spirituality, our soul, our being part of the human species or part of nature and its evolution, or ourselves as an extension of God.
If we think for a moment about what it means to be an extension of God, with the other parts of our self-identity as our instruments or vehicles in various dimensions of spirit and matter, then we are part of God’s consciousness with roots extending back to the moment of Creation itself.
From the perspective of each of us being an extension of God, we can conceive of ourselves as instruments or vehicles of an aspect of God’s character of goodness and goodwill. God has not given all of His goodness to every single person. He has given a certain quality and quantity of goodness to each of us individually through the character of our soul, something I have called the inner quality.
As our souls evolve in various dimensions, we learn to express our portion of God’s goodness through our free will activities in action, word, and feelings. In doing so, we are sharing our portion of God’s goodness with other parts of life. In this way, God is using us as instruments for the expansion of His goodness throughout the universe. And for us as individual souls, we are learning not only to give our goodness to others but also to learn other qualities of God from those whom we contact.
The opportunities we have to share our portion of God’s goodness and to learn from the goodness of God conveyed to us from other parts of life are endless during this great manvantara of existence. This universal sharing of goodness not only fulfills God’s plan for His Creation but also helps us to mature and grow as souls. Thus, the potential of our souls is seemingly endless as well. And all of this is quite a beautiful design on the part of our Father.
Individuality and Oneness
One useful concept to have of one’s true self is to consider our identity in terms of individuality and oneness. We are individuals because we have free will, a body, and a soul, which together define us as a separate being from other parts of life. Our reality is also characterized by oneness because, at the most fundamental of levels, we share everything: the atoms of our bodies, the forces of nature which control our environment, the spiritual essence of our souls, our very existence due to the Creator of all things.
We can use our consciousness to move freely between these two parts of our true self, and our minds can easily first contemplate our uniqueness in the universe, and then reflect upon what it is that links us all together.
This exercise in sensing and understanding our individuality and oneness is very effective in integrating our material and spiritual sides and in helping us to reconcile many of the other dualities we encounter in our sojourn in life.
Modern Conceptions of God
If God exists, then God must encompass the totality of the universe. God must also be the Creator of the universe, whether it be through the Big Bang or some other cosmological explanation such as an expanding balloon or bubble with no single point of initiation. We do not as yet understand the universe, particularly at its very largest scale and very smallest scale, where the laws of physics as we define them do not seem to apply.
Because we do not understand the universe, we also do not understand God — even though mankind has prayed to God and gods for as long as history has been recorded. What this implies is that no single interpretation or description of God is accurate. In order to better understand God’s reality, therefore, we ought to consider not only ancient spiritual texts but also the latest scientific discoveries. If we approach our definitions of God in this way, then conceptions of God become less of a fixture and more of an evolving concept that continuously expands.
What follows are a few recent scientific discoveries and insights that suggest that God is considerably more complex than many of us may have thought in the past.
In the area of consciousness, scientists have found that even single-celled microbes demonstrate a degree of intelligence, communications, and sensing that enable them to solve problems such as navigating through mazes and adjusting their behavior to better enable them to survive in their environment. By applying theories of quantum mechanics such as the Subject-Object Model (SOM) of consciousness, scientists are showing that proto-consciousness evolves to higher levels of consciousness as the complexity of organisms occur over time.
Also in the area of consciousness, there is a growing body of evidence showing that consciousness is not confined to the physical body. Examples being documented are out-of-body experiences and instances of communication between mothers-to-be and their as yet unconceived future children. Stories of communications between spiritual beings and humans are as old as mankind, and recent polls have shown that about half the current American population have had religious or mystical experiences. The near universality of these types of experiences have led many scientists to postulate that humans are hard-wired to believe in God and spirituality. There are multiple psychological theories of dualism to explain why reality is not simply physical in nature. These established theories include those that view consciousness as a non-physical property of the universe, like electromagnetism, that is everywhere present in some fashion.
The complexity, diversification, and resilience of life on earth constantly amazes scientists, who are discovering all kinds of lifeforms in extreme environments which previously were thought to be uninhabitable. These discoveries of life on earth have led to an intense effort by astronomers to find life on other planets. Part of this search has been to locate planets which contain the right components for life. That search has uncovered millions of such planets, some 300 million of which possibly exist in the Milky Way — one of more than 100 billion galaxies in the known universe. The presence of complex molecules necessary for life has even been found on meteorites which fell on earth.
The age and size of the known universe is also indicative of the need to maintain a certain flexibility in our conceptualizations of God. The age of the universe is thought to be about 13.8 billion years, with the Earth being about 4.5 billion years old and modern humans having been around for about 300,000 years. The oldest lifeforms on earth (microbes) lived about 3.7 billion years ago. Amazingly, the processes of evolution have preserved much of the DNA found in life on earth. About 60 percent of genes are conserved between fruit flies and humans, while chimpanzees share about 98.5 percent of their DNA with people.
Scientists use quantum theories to explain what happens at the sub-atomic level of existence. However, for these theories to work, many more dimensions are required than the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time with which we are all familiar. For example, Brane cosmology postulates that there are 26 dimensions of the universe, while the Superstring Theory describes 10 dimensions of reality. It is interesting to note that neuroscientists and research mathematicians have shown that the human brain can function in up to 11 dimensions. For their part, some spiritualists and religious thinkers speculate on there being at least 13 spiritual dimensions.
Many more such theories could be listed here. The main point is that the universe, and man himself, are very complicated. New discoveries of what comprises reality are emerging at a rapid pace during our lifetimes. Because of the scale of these discoveries, our conceptions of God need to be adjusted in order to place into proper perspective our understanding of the material and spiritual universe in which we live. Making these adjustments to our conceptions of God will also help us to identify more closely with the Creator and come to know more fully our relationship with God and our role in life.
The Soul’s Lessons in Life
There seems to be at least two key lessons that the soul needs to learn from living in the material world.
The first is how properly to use free will in the creation and expansion of goodwill. God’s character is good; the character of man’s soul is good; the individual needs to learn how to express his natural goodness in the planes of matter. On earth, the individual has free will and creative ability. The soul in earthly embodiment can do harm, or the soul can do good things. The lesson to be learned by the soul here on earth is to always strive to do things that reflect the goodness of God and the character of the soul itself.
The second lesson for the soul to learn while being embodied on earth is that it is more important to have the proper motivation and intention than it is to successfully complete some action. Nothing in the material world is perfect or permanent. What the soul must do is to make permanent in consciousness a total commitment to God’s will in all things.
The combination of these two lessons — the necessity to always use free will to create goodness and the complete orientation of the soul towards advancing the will of God — are requirements for the soul to graduate from the planes of matter and to enter higher domains of God’s creation. For the individual and society here on earth, these two lessons can be reflected in the complementary goals of excellence and goodwill.