hose undergoing the fifth and final stage of reincarnation are known as old souls. In this stage of soul evolvement there is a search for balance and completion, and an urge to pass on the torch before the end of reincarnation.
The Journey’s End
Having completed the fourth stage of reincarnation, the soul has come a long way.
- In the first stage, as an infant soul, it learned about physical existence, life and death, and the need for nurturing.
- In the second stage, as a baby soul, it learned about society, culture and community, the need for structure, belonging, and playing a role.
- In the third stage, as a young soul, it learned about free will and self-determination, taking charge of its own destiny, rising to the challenge.
- In the fourth stage, as a mature soul, it learned about co-existence and interrelatedness, taking responsibility for its relationships, honouring difference and otherness.
At last, the soul is ready for the final leg of the journey: the return to unity and the end of reincarnation.
This return to unity does not involve any loss of individuality, as some imagine. The end of reincarnation — “ascension” or “enlightenment” or what have you — does not mean fading out of existence, dissolving into nothingness. Rather, the soul completes its adventure as a unique individual, like a distinctive star in the night sky, a completely realised Self.
So to begin this stage, the soul will tend to focus on true self-expression and self-actualization, seeking experiences which provide personal fulfilment within life on the physical plane. This could be found in, say, acting, painting, wine-growing, gardening, flying old aeroplanes, or simply being a grandparent. The soul is not interested in success or fame so much as doing something it loves well, and finding inner satisfaction.
Then, towards the end of the stage, there is more of an emphasis on teaching rather than simply learning: passing on the lessons learnt, showing others the way.
For some, especially Old Priest souls, the teaching focus is explicitly spiritual. Many of the world’s great spiritual teachers are old souls.
That’s not to say that every self-proclaimed guru is an old soul. Far from it. There are spiritual teachers at all stages of reincarnation. But the advanced old soul has certain characteristics as a spiritual teacher that stand out from the rest: far-reaching wisdom, great compassion, and little or no attachment to material things.
The main lesson for old souls is to do with unity in diversity. The old soul already has a well-developed sense of personal identity (from the young soul phase) and interdependence (from the mature soul phase). Now the soul also feels drawn to reconnect with the greater order of things, the underlying cosmic unity.
This does not mean overthrowing the lessons of the previous stages in favour of some nice, fluffy notion of oneness. Rather, it means coming to terms with all of life’s dualities (self and other, love and hate, joy and pain, etc.) as integral to the whole.
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