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. The topics discussed include:

How to Become the True Self

Mankind’s Nature Is to Use Creative Free Will

Knowing and Doing God’s Will

The Dharma and Karma of Duty

God as Father, Mother, Son, and Holy Spirit

The Spiritual Hierarchy

Overcoming Opposition to Becoming One’s True Self

Love God with All Your Heart

The Need for Self-Control

We Are Part of God

The Character of Our Soul Is an Expression of God’s Goodness

God Uses Us to Expand Goodwill to Other Parts of Life

Individuality and Oneness

Modern Conceptions of God

The Soul’s Lessons in Life

A Modern View of Reality

Cosmology and the Soul of Man

Knowing God More Every Day

Ways to Better Understand One’s Inner Quality

God’s Diversification and God’s Integration

Trust in God

What Is God’s Plan for Humanity?

The Role of the Spiritual Hierarchy in the Evolution of Mankind

What Is the Proper Use of Free Will?

If You Lose Your Sense of Moral Direction

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.

A Modern View of Reality

Reality is not what it seems to be. Our sense of practical reality mostly includes the immediate circumstances of our lives that we interact with on a daily basis. At the same time, however, there are nearly infinite realities that are going on and influencing us in ways we do not understand or even know they exist.

As we try to comprehend our role in life , it can be useful to deliberately seek to expand our sense of reality since that exercise results in opening our minds to ever widening aspects of our potential as human beings. Following new uses of technology, being aware of the latest scientific discoveries, studying other cultures and points of view, deeply meditating, and pursuing new experiences — all have the effect of expanding our consciousness in ways that are similar to adding channels to our TVs or stations on our radios.

There is almost no limit to this expansion of consciousness. It is important to keep in mind, however, that what enters one’s consciousness can be heavily influenced by one’s interests and free will. For instance, a person seeking an expansion of their spiritual understanding ought to pursue new knowledge and experience related to that type of expansion of consciousness. A person seeking a greater understanding of their particular profession ought to pursue experiences directly related to that profession.

This is common sense; however, it affirms the wisdom of the Buddha who said in the Dhammapada, “We are what we think, having become what we thought.” In other words, to expand our sense of reality in a direction of our choosing, we ought to be selective in what experiences we pursue. Our lives, our reality, is very much in our own hands and therefore we are largely responsible and accountable for what we are becoming.

Cosmology and the Soul of Man

With the development of more sensitive telescopes and other instruments designed to explore the universe, there is an explosive interest in cosmology, usually defined as the scientific study of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe.

One of the most well-known, science-based cosmological theories is the Big Bang, which postulates that the universe and all contained therein had its origins in a sudden expansion of energy and matter some 13.8 billion years ago. Over vast amounts of time, the initial heat and pressure of the explosion cooled, allowing a crystallization to occur that produced the complex atoms and molecules that formed the galaxies, stars, planets, and lifeforms we observe today.

The Big Bang theory is constantly being modified as more unusual and unexplained phenomena are observed at quantum and extremely large scale levels such as cosmic webs. Some of these newer theories are based on multiple universes, sometimes parallel with one another, sometimes created repeatedly, or theories based on the universe being built on fluid-like or other unknown particles or energies that have yet to be fully identified and understood.

Most of these evolving cosmological theories are based on scientific discoveries. Very few of the newer theories address the existence of the soul, its origins, and its role in the universe. There is, of course, a long tradition of religious cosmologies, which generally address the origin, history, and future of earth and its evolutions from the perspective of a particular spiritual teaching such as found in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam.

There exists a need for the faithful in all religions to expand their stories of God and man to include the new scientific discoveries of the physical universe. If this effort results in something of a conceptual blending of the cosmologies of science and religion, then what will be the implications for the human soul in this new paradigm? A few preliminary observations might be made.

First of all, God would be seen as truly being the God of the universe, not merely the God of man. God’s creation would be everything, and human beings would be both part of this creation and a unique species of life found only on the planet Earth. God’s method of creating the universe would not be a sudden command for existence but rather a gradual unfolding of all aspects and dimensions of the universe according to processes and stages inherent in the evolution of the creation’s components themselves.

Second, the role of an individual human soul would need to be in harmony with the rest of life. A tiny part of the creation, the soul’s most important role would be to realize and express its unique character in the dimensions inhabited by the soul. From the perspective of the human species, the things people hold in common would be more important than the things that distinguish them one from another. In this sense, the saying that all men are brothers would be more valid than the belief that life is usually us versus them.

Third, with hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe, the likelihood of humans eventually encountering intelligent life from beyond Earth would appear to be fairly high. The size, shape, capabilities, and intentions of extraterrestrial beings would be unknown, as would be their conceptions of God and morality. For all of us — humans and aliens — to coexist would be enormously challenging. The possibilities of interaction are endless; however, not all scenarios are pleasant to contemplate. Some thought needs to be given on how this initial contact is to be handled.

Fourth, if alien conceptions of God and morality are different from those of human beings, then their perceptions of spirituality, the heavenly hosts, and the image of God might also be different. As humans, we might have to reconsider our notions of spiritual dimensions to accommodate a greatly expanded view of our relationships with the spiritual world and its inhabitants, especially those beloved saints, angels, and masters with whom we feel a special attachment.

Fifth, human beings ought to cherish our unique opportunities here on Earth and do our utmost to contribute to the well-being of life on this planet. We have many gifts from God’s through the processes of creative evolution, including life, intelligence, and an opportunity to live in a hospitable environment.

Hopefully, an integration between the cosmologies of science and religion will result in greater harmony and more cooperation among men and greater appreciation for the diversity of life throughout cosmos. This ought to result in the improved character of mankind, which would be beneficial to us all.

The greater complexity of the universe and our resulting expanded perception of what God might actually be might have the result of depersonalizing God in our minds so much that we forget the power of the Holy Spirit to move us at any moment in some direction and the tremendous love that we feel when blessed by the saints or visited by the angels. Somehow, even though God’s vastness completely humbles us, we are always worthy individuals in His sight and beneficiaries of His attention and that of the heaven hosts. Instead of looking at God as being less relevant to our lives, we ought to seek to draw Him closer.

Knowing God More Every Day

As individual sons and daughters of God, we have the great gifts of free will and the ability to expand our knowledge of God’s creation on a daily basis. The opportunity to use these gifts ought not to be missed, because our time on earth is very limited in the context of the time and space which is our celestial environment.

As we move through life, our consciousness continuously is being exposed to new things, each of which offers a new perspective on ourselves, our planetary home, the universe, and our relationships with the Creator. While we all have our daily duties, the observations we make along the way are highly subjective and largely determined by ourselves. We can choose to view life as boring or exciting, as being void of meaning or filled with insights into life’s mysteries.

If God truly exists as the Initiator of all things in the universe, then He can be found everywhere we choose to look. From the smallest atom to the largest galaxy, there are discoveries to be made and lessons to be learned. It is these discoveries and the lessons learned that are applicable to our life that enable us to transcend ourselves as individuals and as a species. There is no end to this process, because reality in all of its dimensions and expressions is endless in itself.

Ways to Better Understand One’s Inner Quality

Throughout history, there has been ample evidence to demonstrate that mankind has an inclination and talent to learn from other parts of life in order to improve humanity’s understanding and increase man’s chances of survival and prosperity. This characteristic of mankind can be used in a practical, spiritual way to better understand one’s own inner quality, or character of the soul. This is a very complex subject, which I will try to briefly summarize in a few paragraphs.

The inner quality can be defined as the character of one’s soul, one’s true individuality, and the seed of potential goodness placed within our soul at the moment of its creation. Because God is the Creator of all things and the Initiator of all evolutionary forces in the universe, there is a certain integration of all components of cosmos. For example, the atoms of our body are thought by modern scientists to have their origin in the creation and destruction of stars and galaxies.

In their quest to better understand mankind and its role in the universe, thinkers in virtually all civilizations have discovered and conceptualized various models to describe common patterns found across all life. Examples of these models include yin and yang, the threefold flame, and the seven rays — all from ancient and modern esoteric traditions. The yin and yang reflect the active and passive forces in the universe. The threefold flame describes the fundamental attributes of God’s love, wisdom, and power. The seven rays categorize the major differences found within people.

Because of the integrative principle found in the cosmos, it is possible — and interesting — to examine one’s inner quality or character of the soul from the above models.

For example, I believe my inner quality is honor and integrity. I can view honor and integrity from the separate perspectives of yin and yang. Both honor and integrity can be expressed and experienced as being either passive or active. Similarly, both honor and integrity can be examined from the points of view of love, wisdom, and power. Likewise, honor and integrity can be expressed and experienced from the perspective of each of the seven rays — power, wisdom, love, purity, truth, peace, and freedom.

The different perspectives on one’s inner quality can be further expanded through various combinations of yin and yang, the threefold flame, and the seven rays. For instance, my inner quality of honor and integrity can be seen as reflected in the active mode of wisdom as it is expressed through the ray of purity.

Human beings are by nature extremely complex, so our inner qualities — as the character of our soul — are of great complexity in themselves. Taking the above technique as a model of inquiry into our own nature, it is possible to also examine the inner quality from the perspective of the dominant character of some spiritual master with whom we have an affiliation. Thus, I can view honor and integrity as it might be expressed by Jesus or the Buddha, by Mother Mary or Kuan Yin.

It should be noted that, because each of these models is a concept, there are multiple descriptions of these models found in different literature and traditions. The key point is to find conceptions you can identify with and then apply those various qualitative perspectives when examining your own inner quality. This exercise will greatly enhance appreciation for the expansiveness of the inner quality and can help you define what exactly it is that you wish to accomplish with your special character.

God’s Diversification and God’s Integration

One of the best ways to conceptualize God is through cycles. This is illustrated in the ancient Hindu teaching that God is reflected in the cycles of life: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. A similar cycle can be found in the concept of God being reflected in the forces of diversification and integration.

In this context, diversification means processes such as evolution and crystallization, whereby different species and types of matter form over time as changes in the overall environment occur. Integration is an opposite process, whereby the many combine into one, such as unifying theories or collapsing solar systems into black holes. These processes appear to apply to everything and they seem to be operating in the universe at all times. Nothing is static.

Within the realm of spiritual understanding, we mature slowly but surely towards the realization that God and His universe are immensely complex, with many mansions and kingdoms, hierarchies and levels of mastery that coexist around us at all times. Gradually, however, we also learn that all paths lead to God and that all truths are contained in the mind of the Creator. In this way, the processes of diversification and integration occur within our own spiritual understanding. Each discovery expands our spiritual knowledge and each new experience is absorbed into a larger sense of reality leading us to the One.

What this means to us individually is that, because of the completeness of God, we can reach out to God and the heavenly hierarchy for assistance or guidance at any stage of our soul’s development, whether in embodiment or out of embodiment. We need never feel alone or to be without hope.

Trust in God

No matter our station in life or level of spiritual development, a constant pillar in our consciousness ought to be trust in God. Even the mighty Archangel Michael trusts completely in the love, wisdom, and power of the Creator of the universe.

All sons and daughters and children of God on earth have a high degree of free will and a creative ability to use their natural and learned skills to improve their conditions in life. And while many of us may feel destitute and hopeless, or superbly accomplished and in need of no one else (and thus either abandoned by heaven or seeing ourselves as god), we all are but particles of sand on the beaches of the universe. There are beings far below us on the ladder of life, and there are those far above us as well. Big or small, weak or strong, we all share a commonality as a creation of God.

We are both individuals and parts of a greater Whole. Each of us has a potential role to play in God’s great plans, yet none of us are assured of fully achieving that contribution. The best we can do is to take the gifts and talents we have and to share these with other parts of life. In making this effort, having a deep and unshakable trust in God will strength our endeavors and give us greater understanding of what our next step ought to be.

What Is God’s Plan for Humanity?

One of the fundamental questions addressed by virtually all religions and spiritual teachings is what is God’s plan for humanity? In part, this question might be answered by asking what is God’s plan for ourselves individually? And in this inquiry, a good place to start is to ask what is my nature as a human being? I think some of the most important of these characteristics are:

  • I have a strong sense of individuality, which appears to be related to the unique character of my soul. What makes me an individual includes the special talents inherent in my soul that can be successfully expressed in life.
  • I have free will and the creative ability to act with that free will in response to all kinds of opportunities and challenges. It is virtually impossible for me not to make free will decisions in life.
  • I have an internal moral compass that seems to be based in part on the character of my soul. In my perception, a certain quality of goodness comprises this character, whose origin I believe to be spiritual but which also appears to be related to the evolutionary traits of empathy and altruism shared across many species.

Thus, as a human being, I have free will, an inner quality of a certain attribute of goodness, and ample opportunity in life to pretty much create my own living space. To me, these conditions imply that God intends for me to use my free will and creativity to express the goodness found within the higher levels of my consciousness. How I express that goodness is up to me.

In this conceptualization of the relationship between God and man, God wants humanity to be a co-creator of positive things within the spheres of human existence. In other words, to fulfill our purpose as human beings on earth, we need to be active partners with our Creator to improve conditions in life to the best of our ability. This is a life-long endeavor; however, it is also a creative effort that can lead to greater happiness individually and collectively as a society.

The Role of the Spiritual Hierarchy in the Evolution of Mankind

There is sometimes a bit of confusion over the respective roles of God and the spiritual hierarchy in the evolution of humanity. One way to clarify this distinction is to envision a great pyramid with God at the pinnacle, Who is the Creator all things and forces in the universe, supported by a vast hierarchy of spiritual beings with different responsibilities in managing God’s creation.

Certain members of the spiritual hierarchy, sometimes called the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Light, serve as God’s emissaries to human beings whose souls have not yet ascended permanently into higher spiritual planes. These mentors and shepherds, world teachers and saints, caretakers and administrators, help evolving souls on earth to learn their lessons in the material world. In this role, these spiritual beings have often played key roles in inspiring mankind to make leaps in science, technology, religion, philosophy, governance, and other areas of human existence. On occasion, these beings intercede on mankind’s behalf, usually in response to individual prayer.

The Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Light represents God to humanity in ways that are accessible and understood by men and women in various stages of human development. Thus, while we ought to pray to God and ask for His assistance, we ought also to look upon the Brotherhood and Sisterhood as true spiritual friends and trusted advisors. A beautiful relationship can be built with one or more of these representatives of the Most High, and it is truly good for mankind to do so.

What Is the Proper Use of Free Will?

Morally speaking, the proper use of free will is to make decisions based on one’s best character, or highest virtue. Ultimately, one’s best character or highest virtue is the character of one’s soul, an attribute of goodwill given the soul as the seed of its individuality by the Creator of us all.

The process of identifying the character of one’s soul can be lengthy and at times painful due to the immaturity of the soul embodied on earth and the karma that is made when free will decisions are wrong or based on improper motivations. However, this process is for the purpose of the embodied soul learning how to make correct decisions in the dimensions of time and space in a worldly environment.

This learning process can accelerate as one is able to identify their best human character and then deliberately try to express in daily life what they self-identify as their highest virtue. The term “inner quality of man” that is used frequently on these webpages refers to the character of the soul as it is understood by an individual in his or her various stages of development. Thus, the inner quality encompasses one’s best character, one’s highest virtue, and the character of the soul as its full meaning unfolds in the consciousness of the individual.

The proper use of free will, then, is acting, thinking, and feeling in ways reflective of one’s understanding of the morally correct thing to do under the circumstances. This understanding, and therefore behavior, will change over time as one’s understanding grows and matures. Perfection as a goal may be an ideal towards which one can strive; however, perfection in the eyes of God and the spiritual hierarchy of heaven is something difficult to achieve in earthy spheres.

What is achievable and acceptable to the heavenly hosts is a consistent effort on the part of mankind to self-improve. It is that intention which is expected of human beings rather than morally perfect results in all decisions. And it is the free will intention of the individual to improve that is the primary agent of positive change in his or her life. Thus, the old adage of “try to do better and you shall” remains as valid today as it has in the past.

If You Lose Your Sense of Moral Direction

It is possible, even for an individual who has goodwill in his heart, to lose his sense of moral direction. This can occur, for example, when the person has repeated lifetimes of service in the military or in diplomacy, where expediency and practicality are necessary to fulfill one’s duty. When the lives of others are at stake, when the country is threatened by ruthless enemies — individuals of goodwill can often chose to use evil means for the greater good of survival and protection of vital interests. If this choice is made often enough, it can become an automatic response to challenges. Over time, reflections on the moral implications of one’s choice are set aside.

The moral laws of cause and effect are very complex in human affairs, but also very precise. This means that, in the above situation, the good intentions of the actor are taken into account, along with the evil action and its intended and unintended consequences. The net effect is often a mixed consciousness, in which the individual may be aware of his innate goodness but also be somewhat blinded as to what may or may not be appropriate in morally challenging circumstances. At a certain point, this moral dichotomy can begin to weigh heavily on the person, and he or she begin to see that the good they would do over the long-term is being undermined by the bad they are actually doing.

A crisis of sorts can arise in the person, often taking the form of inadvertently causing harm to loved ones or having one’s promising career undermined. Sometimes feeling deeply pained by this sequence of negative events in one’s life, the person enters into a period of introspection, which can last for several years. Eventually, the individual sees that the root cause of his discomfort is a disconnection between his soul and its goodness, and his outer self whose consciousness is rooted in selfishness and expediency. It becomes clear that a choice has to be made: either the person determines to find and express his soul’s character, or he determines to knowingly contradict the motivations and inclinations of his higher self.

If the person chooses to seek to become more of his true self, then a process begins within the consciousness whereby behaviors are changed for the better and the individual begins to realize and express his soul’s character in daily activities. Part of this process is a discovery that his mind, at its higher levels, is able to perceive a much broader range of options under even the most difficult of circumstances. Whereas previously these circumstances may have solicited an automatic response of expediency, the individual now sees practical and effective ways to deal with almost any situation in ways more aligned with his higher self.

Once this connection between the outer consciousness and the soul is established, then moral direction is once again found by the individual and he or she can begin to focus on becoming their true self in the world of form.

Karma, Dharma, Mission, Duty

The terms karma, dharma, mission, and duty are frequently used in discussions of human morality. These terms are related; however, they have somewhat different meanings, which might be clarified in the following simple explanation.

Karma is the moral cause and effect law within which all humanity functions as individuals go about their daily lives in the dimensions of time and space. Everyone, except perhaps a few unascended masters on earth, have both positive and bad karma based on the moral quality of their actions, thoughts, feelings, and imaginings over the course of their many lifetimes.

Dharma is a mixture of the will of God, the character of one’s soul, and the individual’s free will decisions as to how they wish to use their life’s time and energy here on earth. Dharma is something we usually carry with us, embodiment after embodiment, and it reflects our role in God’s great scheme of things.

Mission is most frequently used in the context of an assignment given to the soul in one or more of its embodiments. A mission, therefore, is something the person ought to do for the benefit of humanity as a whole: a contribution heaven believes can be achieved by the individual over time.

Duty usually refers to what is required of an individual in his or her station or condition in a given lifetime. It could be a responsibility due to being a parent, or an obligation to serve one’s country during times of war, or a specific activity related to one’s job.