Soul Age: Older Is Not BetterBy SHEPHERD HOODWIN
It is not better to be an old soul than to be mature or young, just as it isn’t better to be forty-five years old than it is to be thirty-two or fourteen. A young person may be wise, and an old person foolish. A baby soul may be loving, and an old soul spiteful. People of every soul age are capable of manifesting their true personality—that is, of acting out of their positive poles, which are motivated by love. Younger souls are simply less experienced than older souls, not having completed as many monads. They are less fully tested, one could say.
Having compassion for others through knowledge of oneself is possible at any soul age.
An infant soul can be appropriate and responsible, but is not ready to handle larger responsibilities. He is generally not attracted to situations beyond his abilities. It is similar to a child, who can be appropriate and responsible, but for a smaller sphere than an adult can be. You would not expect a five-year-old to hold down a nine-to-five job, for example.
Advancement is not as important as experience. You do advance, because you are in motion, but you are here to experience life in every facet. Some facets of life are easier than others, but each step of development is necessary. If you were to skip over one, you would be left with a gap.
The more conscious you are in your growth process, the more quickly you grow. However, this does not necessarily translate into moving more quickly from second-level mature to third-level mature, for instance. It is not necessarily desirable for you to move from second to third mature as quickly as possible. Your soul age simply indicates your point of perspective. It is not inferior to be second-level mature rather than third-level mature; all points of perspective are valid. However, if you are ready to move from second mature to third, and you bring more awareness to the process, it may happen more quickly because you will be in a better position to avoid becoming stuck.
On the other hand, it may be appropriate for you to have an extensive experience of being at second-level mature. If that’s the case, you will do so more expansively if you are growing consciously, but you will not necessarily finish it more quickly. The object of the game is not to move through the soul ages as quickly as possible. It is to move through them in the way you choose to move through them. Choice is the “name of the game.” Some people are more attracted to the mature soul perspective and spend more time in it; others are more attracted to the young or old-soul perspectives. It is individual.
Soul age is similar in some respects to physical age. When you are sixty, no matter how intelligent, mature, appropriate, or healthy you are or are not, you go through certain experiences; the sixty-year-old body brings with it a certain perspective—you cannot escape that. Likewise with the eleven-year-old body: an eleven-year-old girl may mimic a seventeen-year-old, wearing makeup and dating, but she probably does not yet have the physical capacity to support a sexual relationship, for instance. Two eleven-year-olds can be quite different, yet both share the eleven-year-old experience. In the same way, two people of the same soul age share a common perspective, even though the specifics of their lives may be quite different.
Old souls tend to be tolerant and inclusive, and at least try to be open to other ways of looking at things. However, they may become upset by people whose points of view are rigid and exclusive. So if they are trying to respect different points of view, they may not respect people whose points of view do not respect other points of view.
So they can’t be tolerant of intolerance?
They can be, but because they’re still learning this tolerance, still learning to see the larger picture, this can be a touchy issue. They may become indignant when others are overtly intolerant—they project their issue. They are at a more advanced level in this lesson than younger souls, so they can be a little arrogant about the fact that they would never be so overtly intolerant. Nonetheless, they know that they are not really completely tolerant either, so it can be a struggle.
Overt intolerance would probably not evoke the same level of reaction from, say, mature souls, who are more likely to just shake their heads in dismay and want the “offenders” to get as far away from themselves as possible—they do not want others to project feelings into their space that are going to be difficult for them to process—but they will not necessarily think about it further.
Mature souls need to have their emotional boundaries respected. Baby souls are generally more concerned with behavioral boundaries than emotional ones, so they do not tend to become “bent out of shape” if others are, say, emotionally ugly in their space, although they might be appalled if the behavior seems inappropriate. Mature souls, however, would tend to take in that ugliness, and therefore need to keep others out of their space when they cannot process it. Although they may know their own boundaries, they do not automatically know what other people’s boundaries are, since they tend to be rather subjective, so others may need to tell them.
It is hard to understand a soul age older than your own. However, every soul age is arrogant about other soul ages in certain ways. As mentioned, old souls can be arrogant about those who are intolerant. Mature souls can be arrogant about those who are not taking life as seriously as they are, who do not care as deeply and fervently about their values or who do not take values seriously at all. Young souls can be arrogant about those who are not able to cut it in the world, those who seem to be misfits. Baby souls can be intolerant of those who are not “following the program,” who are not being a “good boy” or girl, falling into line. And infant souls can be arrogant toward those whom they think are making life too complicated or who are too disconnected from the practical aspects of survival.
Everyone looks at things from his own point of view, and that is why the Michael teachings are offered—so that people will understand that there are good reasons for others seeing things differently.
It is ironic that in our society, most people want to be physically young, but those who learn of the Michael teachings often want to be old souls. Part of the reason for this is confusion over the term old soul. In common new age parlance, saying that someone is an old soul is a compliment; it implies depth and innate knowledge. However, in the Michael teachings, it simply refers to a particular stage in our developmental process.
Being an old soul is not all that different from being physically old. Whether speaking of our body or our essence, being old means that we have gone through particular stages of experience, which may or may not result in increased wisdom. Wisdom relates to having a conscious awareness of the meaning of one’s experience, and is available at any stage. Naturally, a larger perspective can come with greater experience, but that is not, of itself, wisdom.
Anyone manifesting his true personality—that is, anyone in his positive poles—is having a degree of essence contact within, no matter what his soul age is or how many previous cycles he has had. This is a function of orienting in love. Essence contact, with our own essence or with that of another person, brings growth and wisdom.
Soul age identifies how old we are on this planet, as opposed to how many other planetary cycles we have experienced. The impression of being an old soul, as it is meant in common new age parlance, can derive from many factors, but the number of previous cycles probably contributes more to that than soul age as Michael defines it. Having had many previous cycles does impart the look of having been “around the block a few times.”
Just as a person who is twelve years old in this lifetime can seem wise because he’s had many past lives, a person can be young on this planet but seem deep because of having many other planetary experiences “under his belt.” A young soul with fourteen previous cycles may in certain ways appear older than an old soul with five, although the young soul is primarily outwardly focused, whereas the old soul emphasizes the larger context and tends to be more casual about life on the physical plane. The young soul remembers, on some level, having been a mature and old soul fourteen times before. The circumstances each time were unique, but the fundamentals were the same.
If we think of the old soul cycle as being equivalent to being in college, an old soul with three previous cycles might be compared to a person attending a community college, whereas someone with ten might be compared to a person attending a state university, and someone with seventeen might be compared to a person attending a rigorous private college—each is at the same point in his process, but with different levels of complexity.
However, soul age, number of previous cycles, and also physical age are merely quantitative measures of potential levels of sophistication or complexity. The depth and quality of the specific lessons that an individual has gained are at least as important. Extensive spiritual study and practice, for example, or simply maintaining high levels of integrity, in this lifetime or in past lives, can contribute to the impression of being older. A young soul (as defined in the Michael teachings) who has lived many lifetimes with a relatively high consciousness tends to seem older than an old soul who has not. Imprinting by older souls can also give an impression of being older.
We must be careful in these and all other teachings not to classify people. We are each incredibly vast and complex, and the measures and descriptions provided by the Michael teachings are not intended to pigeonhole people. We are not limited by the elements described in these teachings; rather, they focus us, making us more specific. Anyone can choose to study and pursue the spiritual path, no matter what quantity of experience he has had in terms of soul age or previous cycles. However, those with more experience are more likely to gravitate toward it; those with less experience may feel that they have their hands full dealing with the basics of physical-plane life.
Although the Yarbro books stated that each soul age has its merits and that no soul age is better or worse than another, the descriptions of the soul ages may sound most complimentary to the old soul. As mentioned, they stated that the old soul motto is “You do what you want, and I will do what I want” whereas the young soul motto is “Do it my way.” Although there is certainly truth to this, it is important to catch the spirit of Michael’s words, rather than adhere to the letter of them, especially when they are obviously generalities. In another example of generalities in Messages from Michael, Michael said that young souls almost always seek higher education, usually graduate degrees. If the average person on earth is a young soul, that would imply that the average person seeks graduate degrees. Obviously, that is not the case—the average person on earth cannot afford higher education of any kind, although he might desire it. However, the spirit of what Michael said here is clear: young souls are motivated toward the greatest possible outer accomplishment, in whatever sphere. This manifests more obviously in people with higher male energy, which moves outward and is naturally more achievement-oriented than female energy. It is also more obvious with warriors and kings, who are motivated to seek challenge and mastery, respectively. (Incidentally, discerning distinctions between similar-sounding characteristics, such as male energy’s focus, and young souls’ motivation toward success, is very helpful in learning the Michael teachings well.) Still, anyone will tend to seek success more at the young soul age than at the others—a young soul priest in the clergy, for instance, might have the ambition to become the head of his church, whereas an old priest would not likely seek that position for its own sake; he would probably have to feel that holding it would bring much good to all concerned. Otherwise, he most likely wouldn’t bother.
The reason young souls may give evidence of the motto “Do it my way” more often than those of other soul ages is that their lessons are about impacting the outer world. Some do that more appropriately than others. I know young souls who have learned to respect other people’s points of view, and older souls who have not.
Young souls do not yet have the ability to see a lot of perspectives at once. They can be tolerant, certainly, but the very nature of the young soul cycle does not lend itself to an overarching view of reality. There is much emphasis on individuality and success, so it is easy to see why the young soul would often want you to do things his way. Although this is not the highest possible point of view, it does not necessarily indicate negative pole function. There are young soul philanthropists, for example, who are genuinely motivated by a desire to use their success for the benefit of others. In fact, they may measure their success by how much they are able to do for others, which is a very enlightened approach. They may think that others should do what they are doing, or at least that more people ought to do it, and there would be much truth in that opinion.
Each soul age has a higher or larger native perspective than the one preceding it. The old soul perspective is to leave other people alone, to let them do what they need to do in life. Although you might be able to teach a young soul this in principle, it is not so easy for him to see why he should do this and to apply this principle, particularly when it gets close to home—for example, with other family members. Of course, it depends on his role, too—a young king or warrior will almost have to imprint others with his way of doing things, whereas an artisan in submission may still want you to do things his way, but not as intensely.
Young souls need to apply themselves to their environment, not so much to make others “do it my way,” but just to have the experience of having maximum impact. They actually are not necessarily all that attached to a particular way; if you can show them a more effective or workable way, they will generally quickly adapt to that, as long as they can internalize that way and then apply it to the environment themselves. That can manifest as the type of person who always has to think that your idea was actually his.
The young soul need to impact the outer world is not the same as warrior persuasion (positive pole) and coercion (negative pole), which come from who they are rather than from their soul age perspective. Warriors carry an organic, instinctive drive to structure the world, to act in it with power. The young soul perspective is focused on the outer world, but it can manifest through the expression, inspiration, or assimilation axes as well as through the action axis. That young priest in the previous example would be motivated to rise to a high position within his church as part of the development of his ability to deal with the world’s structures. A young priest who is a doctor might have a goal of becoming the Surgeon General, the head of the AMA, or the chief administrator of a local hospital. That doesn’t mean that he will be chosen for the desired position, but he has a built-in motivation for seeking it. Since we are in the world for many lifetimes, we certainly don’t want to come and go without ever having learned how to make full use of the institutions here. The young soul cycle is the time when obtaining those skills is emphasized. People of other soul ages may also seek a high position, but their main reason is likely to be different. A mature soul who wants to be the Surgeon General might see it primarily as an opportunity to find more meaning in his life, or even to do something great in the world. (Mature souls are responsible for the majority of artistic masterpieces, for instance, because the mature soul cycle concerns exploring our depth, seeking the profound.) The young priest might also care about his life having meaning or about achieving greatness, but that is not likely to be his dominant reason for seeking a high position. Young souls emphasize spreading their wings, so to speak.
Young souls test their self-sufficiency and independence to see how much they can do on their own before beginning the mature-soul process of developing interdependence. I know a young soul with wealthy parents who is a single mother. She works as a bartender and accepts little money from them except for her daughter’s education—she strongly values making it on her own. I, on the other hand, as an old soul, would probably be perfectly content to live on the dole of wealthy parents!—that is, if there were no major strings attached. I have felt ready to “retire” since childhood. I have little need to accomplish in the world, except as that gives me opportunities for expression (which sages require) and, specifically, to complete my life tasks. Like most of us, I do have to work for a living, which has the advantage of helping keep me productive and careful about how I use my time. Without direction, old souls can easily succumb to laziness, since achieving success or even greatness is not a strong motivation. Old souls tend to take the attitude, “Well, it won’t matter a hundred years from now” (I know an old scholar in his eighties fond of saying that) whereas mature souls tend to take the physical plane more seriously than the other soul ages—everything tends to matter a lot to them. Messages from Michael referred to old kings who are “vagabonds and hoboes” and to old artisans‘ “unfinished masterpieces.” Old souls often do have high standards of excellence, but must have strong reasons to follow through: either the requirements of survival, or preferably, a sense of mission. It is ironic that issues about survival, prevalent during the infant soul cycle, can reemerge as the old soul prepares to cycle off. There are many old soul “New Agers” who barely make it financially. Unlike young souls, old souls are little able to suffer hardship in order to “make it to the top.” If they don’t like what they’re doing, they have a hard time making themselves do it. They can seem undisciplined, but they can be quite disciplined relative to tasks they care about. Old souls tend to take the longest time of any soul age to come into their own, to “find themselves.” Part of the reason is that the older the soul, the more levels he has to review before manifesting his true soul age. Most old souls do not manifest their true soul age before their mid-thirties, if they do at all. (Roughly two-thirds of all people never fully manifest their true soul age, whatever it is.)
Of course, any soul age can have problems related to survival. Obviously, even young souls can lose their jobs, for instance, and have trouble keeping food on the table. Mature souls can be so absorbed in their inner process that they have little energy left over for making a living. In the U.S., those of all soul ages and roles who are trying to support themselves in the arts often have a difficult time making a living unless they’ve made it to the top of their field, since there is so little support for the arts and so much competition. Furthermore, even many young souls would be glad not to have to work for a living, particularly if they didn’t like their work (and were still able to “keep up with the Joneses”), although they might seek success in other ways. A young server I know would prefer to stay home and raise her children full-time, although she is quite successful in her career. She might define success in terms of how well she is able to take care of her children, or she might feel that she has already demonstrated her ability to be successful in her career, so that she no longer feels the need to continue to pursue that. This brings us back to the fact that the Michael teachings are about energies rather than specific behaviors. Each soul age has a particular energetic quality and perspective that can be discerned, even if, for example, a young soul does not appear to be highly oriented toward outward success, as it is usually defined, during this lifetime.
A few people have asked me, with a little awe, what it is like to be seventh-level old. A couple of people have even been suspicious that I “awarded” myself that designation. Being seventh-level old is not an award or worthy of awe, despite beliefs to the contrary. We live in a society that tends to see things in terms of becoming the “top dog,” and being seventh-level old might be interpreted as being the top dog, in terms of soul age. Since the U.S. is a sixth-level young country (in a sixth-level young world), there are so many people seeking the top positions that it is not surprising that our society is based on a hierarchical view that fosters competition. However, this paradigm is changing, and, in any case, we need to put aside this hierarchical view of life if we are to understand the Michael teachings, or any true spiritual teaching. Again, old is just old.
Like every soul age and level, seventh-level old has its own peculiar traits. Understandably, those who are seventh-level old (or late sixth-level old) are often meticulous about not owing anything to anyone, even in seemingly trivial ways, or otherwise leaving any loose ends in their lives, because of their thrust toward completing not just the old soul cycle, but the entire physical-plane cycle of incarnation. Seventh-level old souls may also have a particularly strong drive to complete a mission of some sort, but they can be especially late bloomers as well, since there are so many prior soul age levels to “review” before manifesting their true soul age. One repays karmas with others during sixth levels, whereas seventh-level lessons are more self-karmic (internal), so seventh-level old souls can have a quality of seeming less a part of the world. Seventh-level old souls can carry the general old soul impression of “marching to a different drummer” to its ultimate. They often have a hard time fitting into schedules or other people’s expectations—they can take “what really matters,” however they define that, quite seriously, but they are often casual about the form of things. Not every seventh-level old soul is intelligent, wise, or even a “nice” person, let alone “enlightened”—it depends on the individual. But, again, certain kinds of lessons are emphasized at seventh-level old, as with all the soul ages and levels.
Although each soul age brings a larger perspective, no stage necessarily sees things inaccurately. In climbing a mountain, we first see aspects of the valley in great detail, but we don’t see the whole thing. When we get higher, we see the panorama, but the details aren’t as vivid. Our memory of the details can help us when we reach the higher levels. We need each step—they are all “right.” The pleasure is as much in the experience of climbing as in reaching the top. With the soul, every “top” is the bottom of a new level anyway, so there is no end to the journey.
Within an individual lifetime, the goal is hardly to get old and die, but to experience something valuable along the way. Loving parents enjoy watching every step of their children’s progress. Likewise, we can see each stage of our own development as being beautiful. Some spiritual people want to finish their development and regain union with the Tao as quickly as possible. If that had been our spark‘s attitude in the beginning, we never would have chosen to be cast from the Tao.
Granted, the physical plane is not a picnic at this time. We might occasionally wonder what could have possibly motivated us to come here. However, there have been easier, more pleasant times, and there probably will be again. In any case, we will ultimately see everything we pass through as having been valuable.
Some New Age students have been told by other channels or psychics that they are on their last lifetime here, and are confused if they are told by Michael that they are not seventh-level old. A theory has arisen among some Michael students that the soul age pattern will be transcended in the coming “shift.” Perhaps movement through the levels will speed up, since there will presumably be less resistance to growth. However, I doubt that they could be dispensed with altogether—soul ages are merely natural developmental stages—and “instant enlightenment” would not be all that valuable anyway. Growth that is not fully experienced and integrated is flimsy. It is like a plant that grows too fast, without developing adequate roots—it can be easily blown over.
Some channels have gotten information that the earth’s population will be vastly decreased in the coming times, making far fewer bodies available for incarnation. This could explain the “last lifetime” idea. Perhaps many of us are tying up enough karmic and other loose ends so that we can take extended “vacations.” The world we would return to later to continue our cycle would be very different, probably much more pleasant.
We choose whether or not to cycle off. Permission does not have to be granted by somebody else. However, if we try to do it before we are ready, it will become obvious that we weren’t ready, and we will feel the need for a “return engagement.” If we have not completed seventh-level old, we will not feel ready. It is a little like sex: we may pause in the middle of it, but it usually doesn’t feel complete until after orgasm. Being complete with the physical plane can also be compared to an individual lifetime: sometimes people die young, but a life isn’t normally viewed as complete unless a person lives to old age.
I asked Michael about Ramtha, a soul on the astral plane who claimed, through channel J.Z. Knight, to have lived only one lifetime, thirty-five thousand years ago in Atlantis. He says he then reached “enlightenment” and therefore no longer needed to incarnate.
Ramtha is a warrior who was on his last lifetime, and cycled off. From Ramtha’s point of view as a personality, it was his only lifetime—the personality only lives once. From his essence’s point of view, it was not.
Most people see enlightenment as a state of all-knowing perfection, which I do not believe is possible. I do not see either Michael or Ramtha as being in that state. To me, enlightenment means being awake to our essence and able to live genuinely in the present moment, in accordance with love and truth. Theoretically, a first-level infant soul could be enlightened, according to that definition, but he would still have an enormous amount to learn, as, in fact, we all do, no matter where we are on the “loop.”
Some people assume that they are old souls because of their strong interest in spiritual teachings. However, that is not necessarily the case, and many old souls are not consciously interested in spiritual teachings. Such interest can also be stimulated by imprinting, past-life experiences, overleaves (the attitude of spiritualist, for instance, can contribute), or role (priest, especially), or may simply be an object of study, just as some people are interested in studying animals or the design of bridges.
In addition, being interested in the New Age or in spiritual teachings is not the same as being on the spiritual path, which implies a deep commitment to spiritual values and a willingness to undergo rigorous self-examination. Of course, often they coexist, but there are many people on the spiritual path who are not conversant in spiritual teachings. Likewise, there are people associated with the New Age who are not on the spiritual path, although it is a matter of degree, and no one can judge for certain whether someone else is on the path. Love is what the spiritual path is ultimately about. Love, of itself, has little to do with soul age, although presumably, our experience of love matures as we go along.
Being an old soul does not guarantee being on the spiritual path either—or, as mentioned, even being a pleasant person. There are tendencies in those directions—we might say that an old soul has room in his life for spiritual things because of the lessons already completed. But, as Michael is so fond of reminding us, all is by choice. An old soul may not choose to become involved with spirituality in a given lifetime. He may have other interests that are higher priorities for him. On the other hand, I know many mature and even young souls who are interested in spiritual teachings and who are on the spiritual path. Nonetheless, the predominant lessons and perspectives of their soul age are evident in their lives.
Curious about your own soul age? Take the test: How Old is Your Soul?
About Shepherd Hoodwin
Shepherd has been channeling since 1986. He also does intuitive readings, mediumship, past-life regression, healing, counseling, and channeling coaching, where he teaches others to channel. He has conducted workshops on the Michael teachings throughout the United States. His other books include Enlightenment for Nitwits, Loving from Your Soul: Creating Powerful Relationships, Meditations for Self-Discovery, Opening to Healing, Growing Through Joy, Being in the World, and more to come.
Visit his website at ShepherdHoodwin.com
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