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Soul Growth - A Measure of Success

Max Hendiel noted that people are prone to consider a successful life by the bank account. For spiritual aspirants, the true measure of success is soul growth. What do we mean by soul growth and how can it be measured? How do we know whether we are obtaining soul growth? This article seeks to explore these questions.

One way of considering this is the realisation that every human being, by the natural process of evolution, is growing. Whether we follow the spiritual or materialistic path, we grow consciously or unconsciously due to the process of repeated rebirths, which improves our character. Even when we regress and make mistakes, we eventually learn from our mistakes. Nothing is wasted. For spiritual aspirants, we have a definite goal in mind when we think of our progress in terms of soul growth. What we are actually seeking is accelerated soul growth by intentionally living the higher life.

Firstly, what is the soul and how does it grow? The term soul can be quite confusing as it’s used in a variety of contexts. In addition to the visible body of man which we see with our physical eyes, there are other and finer vehicles that are unseen by the great majority of mankind. We have an inner vehicle known in Rosicrucian terminology as the vital body. This vital body relates us to the etheric realm and it’s responsible for giving us vitality/energy to action and movement, without which the dense body would be inert and dead. Every spiritual development starts with the vital body; whose key note is repetition.

In human beings, the vital body is composed of the four ethers which are known as the chemical ether, the life ether, the light ether and the reflecting ether. The chemical ether is related to earth, the life ether to water, the light ether to fire and the reflecting ether to air. The chemical and life ethers in particular are responsible for the biological functions of the body such as respiration, propagation, assimilation, elimination etc. The light ether is responsible for sense perception whilst the reflecting ether is responsible for the mental processes and memory. Materialistic scientists do not believe in the existence of the ethers, which is the medium of transmission of electricity. For spiritual aspirants, we are interested in the spiritual realities behind the forces of nature.

In Rosicrucian terminology, the soul body is used to refer to the aspect of the vital body which comprises the two highest ethers, the reflecting ether and the light ether. In animals, the reflecting ether is often not present or as maybe the case with the higher mammales, it maybe found in small quanties, but in the case of a human being it's always present. The development of the soul body is necessary in order to participate in soul-flights as an invisible helper in the inner worlds.

“. . . [The soul body] is more closely linked with the desire body and the mind and also more amenable to the Spirit’s touch than are the two lower ethers. It is the vehicle of intellect, and responsible for all that makes man, man. Our observations, our aspirations, our character, etc., are due to the work of the Spirit in these two higher ethers, which become more or less luminous according to the nature of our character and habits. Also, as the dense body assimilates particles of food and thus gains in flesh, so the two higher ethers assimilate our good deeds during life and thus grow in volume as well,” Max Heindel, Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception.

Therefore, we can increase our soul body by good deeds, loving self- forgetting service and prayer. Because the key note of the vital body is repetition, it is difficult to change its trajectory once the higher life is embedded as a way of life and for the same reason why it’s also difficult to change bad habits. Those who have the true spirituality do not feel in one moment as if they’re miserable sinners and the next moment like the holiest of saints. That is an illusion caused by

the changeable desire body which is often drawn by emotionalism, perhaps during spiritualistic revival meetings.

Rudolf Steiner mentions that in the future, it will not be possible for an individual to possess intellectual ability alongside an evil nature. This is supported by the teachings of Max Henidel who explains in the Cosmo- Conception that the extract of the vital body is the Intellectual Soul, which is the pabulum of the Life Spirit, the true Christ Principle in man. The soul body must not be confused with the Intellectual soul, which is not destined for full development until the Jupiter period.

The development of the soul body is particularly important for us now because it’s the vehicle which will be used to meet with Christ in the air during the second coming. This is the Golden Wedding Garment, the Philosopher’s Stone, the Living Stone, or the Diamond Soul, a truly priceless gem. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven and it goes without saying that only those who have developed the soul body to a sufficient degree can step out of the dense physical body in full waking consciousness in order to function in the etheric realm during the next dispensation.

Increasing the soul body is achieving soul growth, a true measure of success. We do this during each rebirth by acts of service, loving kindness and good thoughts. Acts of service doesn’t just mean works done in charity, but anytime we perform our duties at work or home with love, we increase the luminosity of the soul body. Prayer is particularly effective in accelerating soul growth and has a wonderful effect on the vital body. Rosicrucian exercises consisting of retrospection, concentration, meditation, observation, discrimination, contemplation and adoration also accelerate soul growth.

Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God, whether eating, sleeping, socialising, or working. If we leave the earth with a better character than we had at the beginning of this birth, then we’ve made progress, which is a far better treasure than the bank account. This is not an argument for poverty. Poverty in itself, which is sometimes caused by laziness is not a virtue. Many people have to give an account for failing to take up opportunities to improve material conditions. In all this, discernment must be applied to achieve balanced spiritual growth.


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