Channeling on Soul AgeBy SHEPHERD HOODWIN
Michael on the Overleaves, Part Five
Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
September 12, 2010, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Elisa Brock and Maggie Heinze
Soul age, in the Michael teachings, pinpoints the lessons a soul is focusing on in its developmental process throughout its lifetimes. It is similar and parallel to physical age during an individual lifetime, or you could compare it to one's "grade" in physical plane "school." Analogies are imperfect, but there are orderly, predictable stages: infant (newborns in day care), baby (toddlers in pre-school), young (youngsters in elementary school), mature (teens in high school), and old (young adults in college).
Soul age is an essence trait that functions as an overleaf (personality trait) on the physical plane. Like the other overleaves, it can change from lifetime to lifetime, although unlike them, it progresses in a linear fashion. It is the point of evolution of the outer layer of essence (one's eternal nature) as it currently interfaces with the physical plane.
All overleaves highlight one aspect or interest of essence, and mostly filter out the others. Soul age focuses the personality on the latest level of soul development, just as, for example, a goal of growth focuses the personality on seeking new experiences as opposed to, say, practicing leadership, although both are ultimately of interest to essence.
Between lifetimes, the energy of older souls may appear more refined to other nonphysical souls, but functionally, it is not a very significant issue in their interactions, and age is only one factor in a soul's energy. What manifests as soul age on the physical plane is evident on the astral, but more abstractly, with less specific ramifications than in physical plane interactions. It is like the difference between interacting with schoolmates in the classroom versus in extracurricular activities, where age differences are less significant. Another analogy is the way that adults of various ages socialize together; age per se doesn't necessarily draw them together unless they are seeking a mate.
Soul age is not the same as spiritual advancement, although the two may go hand in hand. Of course, it depends on how you think of spiritual advancement. Probably a good way to define it is the ability one has to stay consciously connected to the whole while dealing with the transience of the physical plane, especially when negative things happen. The more you are able to allow love, truth, and beauty to continue to flow through you when that is not easy to do, the more spiritually advanced you might be said to be.
Everyone is a mixed bag in this regard. Probably no person is able to stay completely centered in every circumstance, and what pulls you off course may be different from what pulls someone else off course. However, the more practice one has in staying centered, the easier it is. Some souls have practiced this diligently over many lifetimes. Others have not paid that much attention to what might be called spiritual practice even if they are older souls. The main correlation between soul age and spiritual advancement is that over time, souls tend to get better at staying centered under increasingly adverse circumstances *if* they have chosen to practice that.
Spiritual practice, as it is normally understood, is not a requirement in the curriculum of being human, although many are drawn to it at some point, because spiritual skills can make your path easier.
Spiritual advancement suggests the development of traits such as kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, insight, integrity, and the desire to do the just and fair thing, even when it is personally "inconvenient." These are all potentially part of what we have called "true personality," qualities that allow essence to shine through personality. False personality consists of traits that block the manifestation of essence; they include egotism, selfishness, judgmentalness, and greed. True personality can manifest in the youngest soul, and there is no guarantee that it will manifest in the oldest, because people are always making choices.
Movement through the ages adds layers of sophistication to the soul, but it does not necessarily increase kindness, for example. If the soul has been practicing kindness, it will be better at continuing to be kind under adverse circumstances as an older soul. Having more experience, older souls are less likely to be surprised; there are fewer entirely new situations than for younger souls, who are thrown off balance and revert to automatic behaviors more easily because they are less experienced. However, there are radiant, kind, warm-hearted infant souls, and vindictive, hateful old souls (and, of course, vice versa).
To some degree, the same things are true of individuals as they age through one lifetime, no matter what soul age they are. Even a seventh-level old soul during its last lifetime must still manifest first-level infant at birth, because that personality has just been born and the body is helpless. It typically takes twenty-five to thirty-five years to have enough experience and for the body to mature enough to accommodate the old soul's potential sophistication, and it may never happen.
There is a range of behavior among infants--they are not the same--but commonalities predominate. Infants are exquisitely beautiful; when they smile, it is pure joy. However, the moment that a need is not met, they are likely to wail. Some infants have a sunnier temperament, overall, than others, but they're not able to make sophisticated choices about how they present themselves, and their ability to communicate is limited.
Through true personality, love is unimpeded. However, it is not fair to say that it is false personality when an infant is unhappy, because personality is not even formed enough to make that distinction. An infant's ability to love is great when his situation is comfortable; it is just not yet mastered, so a dirty diaper is enough to start him screaming. That, of course, is completely appropriate at this stage.
However, some adults are not much past that, either. The smallest thing can cause them to lose their inner peace. Since, in adults, personality has developed, there can be distortions in its expression. We have described some of these as the negative poles of each of the overleaves, and the chief obstacles (or chief features):
False personality can be present even with the oldest souls, and younger souls may deliberately choose to stay in their positive poles and out of their chief obstacle. However, if you compare older souls in their positive poles with younger souls in their positive poles, there is more complexity in the older souls. That is neither good nor bad; again, they have simply had more experience, as with older people, whether or not they are currently taking advantage of it. Another way of saying this is that they have had more opportunities to make mistakes and have made a broader range of them, and have learned from at least some of those.
It is more common for older souls to seek spiritually, especially outside the mainstream of their culture. However, anyone may choose to seek, whether within their culture's accepted religion or outside it. Some may find it convenient to stick with, say, Christianity, if they are in a Christian culture, but may explore its more esoteric traditions.
Young souls have a lot of energy for exploring the outer world, just as young people may get antsy to leave their small town and see the big city. Therefore, many young souls are busy, but certainly some do choose to invest in their spiritual path. It becomes more common once the soul is firmly enmeshed in the mature cycle, usually around third-level.
There is a natural motivation to seek at this point because one is beginning to plumb the depths of self and confront knotty issues that spiritual insights can help one understand and deal with. The focus of the mature cycle is on other individuals and their connection to self: "How can I be myself and still honor you?" Having completed that, old souls are not so much concerned with one-on-one relationships, but with the self's relationship to the whole, three-dimensionally. At that point, the spiritual path becomes even more useful.
However, the majority of souls never become spiritual seekers the way most people think of it--for example, going to India or on a pilgrimage, chanting, meditating, and so forth. Most of these practices are part of somebody else's religion. We might define a spiritual path as a conscious exploration of the transcendent, eternal aspects of self. A religious path, if sincerely undertaken, may overlap with a spiritual path, but it is generally more concerned with dogma and ritual. What may make a person's path spiritual as opposed to merely religious is that she deliberately chooses it as an adult in order to further her conscious spiritual awareness. Whether or not she was born into it, she is not staying with it just for that reason. Some people leave the religion of their childhood but return to it, and it becomes their spiritual path because they have gained enough distance from it to approach it with fresh eyes, and they are now choosing it for spiritual reasons.
Religions are much more than just potential spiritual paths; they are human institutions, especially social institutions. They may be used as a spiritual path, but not necessarily. The vast majority find comfort in their religion because of the sense of community that it provides, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it is not a spiritual path unless it supports the emergence of essence (the true self) in one's life. This is accompanied by willingness to confront and cast off false personality, and a desire for tools to stay centered in love, truth, and beauty no matter what.
Many seekers do that in a more freelance manner, outside mainstream religion, either in smaller organizations or by integrating a number of different paths; that is often the most useful approach, so that one does not become overly attached to limiting dogma. One benefits from comparing and contrasting.
Someone who is manifesting true personality radiates, to whatever degree possible, love, truth, and beauty. Another way of saying that is that in true personality, one steps outside time and space and reveals one's infinite nature, even if only for a moment. This is possible at any soul age. It is easier to become distracted by the outer world when one is a younger soul, but it is not a given that that will happen.
Everyone has had the experience of feeling disconnected from oneself during a busy, distracting day. It is especially common for young souls to exert a lot of effort to make it in the world, which can lead to forgetting the eternal. However, many young souls do not forget, or at least not to the degree you might think. Some reconnect with the eternal through religion, nature, or hobbies. The stereotype of the young soul is a driven materialist, but many young souls don't fit it. They may feel motivated to invest a relatively large portion of their time and energy into external achievement, but that doesn't mean that spiritual factors are unimportant to them.
At the height of the young cycle, souls are at their most individuated. The most negative manifestation of that is extreme isolation. However, a negative expression of any trait feels negative, so if someone doesn't feel good, she may take that as a signal to do something about it. Therefore, even the most success-oriented, busy young soul may pay attention to the sense that she is not living in balance, and try to spend some time doing things that will make her feel better. It is only those who ignore the signs, the feedback of their feelings, who become extremely out of balance.
We encourage those who study the Michael teachings to think about soul age flexibly rather than in stereotypes. All the ages are beautiful in their own way. Those who misunderstand soul age always want to be old, because it sounds better, whereas relative to physical age, most people want to be young. Enjoying and making the most of "what is" is a more sensible approach. Just as there are good things to be said for both being young and middle-aged, for example, there are different sets of pluses and minuses as you move through the cycles.
Life for infant and baby souls is usually pretty exciting: everything is new, just as it is for a child.
The early stages of the infant cycle are like the Garden of Eden. Generally, there is no karma yet. It's like a newborn infant with loving parents who doesn't have much to do except enjoy being cared for. In a typical earlier infant-soul village, there is no shame about bodily functions; there may be hardship, but life is not yet complicated.
The Garden of Eden story is an allegory about what happens in the middle of the infant cycle. As infants mature, they become more mobile and they start to get into trouble; they want to have experiences. They cannot stay in that blissful-but-uneventful state. They start to get to work learning the lessons of the physical plane, and, not knowing much, and also not being that particular about what the experiences are, they start to create karma. Often, this is instigated by older souls, just as older children can be possessive, grabbing things: "This is mine!" making infants cry. Thus, drama begins.
Later in the infant cycle, communities become more organized. There is a desire to form karma, but not so much locally. There is an attempt to keep the immediate world safe by regulating behavior, ensuring that karmic bonds are formed only outside the local area. A middle-infant village (parallel to the crawling stage) would not be organized enough to go into battle with another village, but a late-infant (walking stage) village might be, and society become still more organized as the baby cycle begins, which is comparable to when little ones go to pre-school, where they learn social skills and play games. The simple structure of a hunter-gatherer society in the infant cycle gives way to a more settled, complex agricultural society, but it is still on a small scale.
Mid-level baby communities can be quite successful socially in the sense of putting everybody to work and taking care of everyone. As they move toward late baby, some of it starts to fall apart, moving toward the instability of the young cycle, which is more "every man for himself." Late baby souls may strike out on their own, forming new communities; some seek power for themselves. This can be a time of building cities where there can be more achievement. Today, there are many places in China and India, for example, moving full steam ahead into young-soul success orientation.
Mid-level young is when communities can be least stable, because people are interested in discovering new ways of doing things; it can be experimental. It can also be a time of conquering new lands and uniting them under a larger banner, forcing on them the innovations of that period, which gives the conquered younger souls a taste of new things, stimulating their own growth.
The United States is a good example of late (sixth-level) young, where, in an outer sense, its glory days are behind it; there is more reaping than sowing. However, there is an opportunity to gather the lessons of the whole young cycle, learn from the excesses, and pull it all together in a more harmonious way. (The sixth level correlates with the role of priest; six has a positive pole of "harmony." Sixth levels often involve karmic repayment.)
As societies move into the mature cycle, there is a tendency to coast for a while on the work that was done earlier in terms of the outer forms of the society. There can be outward stagnation, while, on an inner level, people take stock. There is a desire to have more meaning. At the height of the young cycle, their accomplishment felt meaningful and worthwhile at the time. However, the pleasure of that, by early mature, has worn off, and they are seeking a new kind of satisfaction. There is a desire to feel more connected to others and, by extension, to the whole, which may slow down external motivation. However, that can bring a different kind of innovation in terms of how people order society and get along with each other; there is decreasing tolerance for one society marching in and vanquishing another. Mature souls seek to remedy young-soul isolation through intense, one-on-one relationships. They build community, which, for them, is a series of individual relationships of different kinds.
At early mature, there is not yet much sense of everyone being in it together, but there are inklings that others need to be taken into account more. By mid-mature, some outer innovation may return, but it is usually not the bright ideas that the few impose on many, but developed more through consensus. There is a respect for good ideas whose time has come, and a greater appreciation for everything that can bring more inner satisfaction, such as the arts.
Late-mature societies and individuals become quite focused on quality of life. It is felt that this is a chance to do things right. What has not been addressed in the past--for example, oppressed minorities--comes up as needing to be addressed, and long-standing feuds may be finally resolved.
Old souls are less concerned with building a specific community of one-on-one connections, and more with feeling generally connected to everyone and everything. There is a finer web of interactions, both physical and nonphysical, which can be seen in their auras.
Early-old societies may, like early-mature societies, stagnate for a while, resting after the tumult of late mature, integrating the changes. There is typically a greater philosophy formed, with an ability to be less attached to one's own culture and be more multicultural. Mid-old cultures become more fluid still. At late old, they become almost dissolved back to the simplicity of the infant age but with much more interconnectedness. Late-old relationships tend to be more plentiful but less formalized and defined. They may seem casual, but are important to them and are often remembered.
We have given a simplified outline here, because, in the real world, there are many pockets of soul ages coexisting.
Q. What is the difference between manifested and true soul age?
A. Your true soul age is the highest age you have experienced in any lifetime and therefore, your potential now. It probably will not change during your lifetime. If it does, it would probably only change by one level. (Each soul age has seven levels.)
Manifested soul age is what your outer life is concerned with at the moment. As we mentioned, when you were born, you could do nothing but manifest at first-level infant. Then, you retrace the steps back up to your true soul age, if you choose to. Your current step is your manifested age. An analogy is that many people do not manifest the full maturity available to them by reason of their physical age, but that is their potential.
At any given time, about two-thirds of people are not fully manifesting their true soul age. They may manifest it in some aspects of life but not as a whole. There is nothing wrong with that, because there's nothing wrong with any soul age. However, you may feel more integrated if you manifest your true soul age, especially if you are ready to move up a level.
Q. How does soul age rank in importance compared to the rest of the Michael teachings?
A. It is of equal importance to the other overleaves, and of less importance than role, essence twin, and primary and secondary casting.
All the categories in the teachings are useful, because they provide ways to understand the forces at work in human lives. The concept of soul age is certainly useful for students if one does not create a hierarchy of lesser and greater. With its vocabulary, you can more easily accept the differences among people rather than judging them. For example, a young soul may manifest more outward vitality and derive more pleasure from accomplishing things that are of less interest to you if you are mature or old. However, if you use the vocabulary to be dismissive, as if being young was, itself, a negative thing, then you are misusing the information.
Enlightenment, however you define it, does not necessarily accompany an increase in soul age. It springs from a desire in anyone to embody more light, to vanquish ignorance. An old-soul culture may not necessarily be more pleasant to live in than a young-soul culture. It all depends on the choices made by those who make up the culture.
Q. Is there any noticeable difference between seventh-level young and first-level mature?
A. We would notice it, but you probably wouldn't very much. It's like the difference between a thirteen-year-old girl and one who is thirteen and a half. At first-level mature, there is more interest in orienting life around relationships. Of course, everyone has relationships. Young souls have relationships and can be very devoted partners. However, in the young cycle, life tends to focus more on the lessons of the outer world. At first mature, echoes of that continue, but one transitions to the possibility of life being more internally oriented.
Q. How does art differ between older and younger souls?
A. Old souls tend to make very good artists, even the roles not associated as much with artistic expression. For example, old king and warriors who have accomplished a lot in more typical king and warrior realms may now turn to one of the arts as a new challenge, and can bring a powerful sensibility to it.
The nature of art is not truly different from one soul age to another. The older ages might add layers of subtlety or complexity, but not necessarily, although the whole perception of what art is becomes expanded for old souls, since everything is seen as being interrelated.
Usually, the biggest issue for old-soul artists is simply whether they finish their art. Certainly, they often do, but old souls may not feel so invested in the outcome, and may just enjoy the process, so finishing, although that may be quite fulfilling, may seem less pressing. Therefore, there tends to be less finished work in the old cycle.
The journey through the physical plane starts without structure. One is gradually built and comes to its height in the young cycle. Then, it gradually dissolves and the journey returns to the place it began, enriched. It is like the ocean starting placid in the infant cycle, forming a wave that crests in the young cycle, and then dissolves again at the shore in the old cycle.
Humanity as a whole has been in the young cycle for quite some time. It is gradually approaching mature-soul consciousness. However, for the foreseeable future, the focus of the world will be continue to be more on the late-young desire to get it right in outer form. Certainly, there is a growing sensitivity to those who are different, who are not part of the clan, and that is helped by the increasing number of mature souls. Still, the overall focus is late young, which might be stated as "We've accomplished a lot, but now we have to figure out how not to destroy everything." That should keep everyone busy for a while!
Curious about your own soul age? Take the test: How Old is Your Soul?
Read Shepherd's Channeling On Soul Age, Part Two
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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