Rosicrucian Writings Online
What Is a Free Soul?By Harvey Miles, F.R.C., Grand Treasurer
[From The Rosicrucian Digest August 1939]
As material beings we are restricted at all times by certain definite exterior as well as interior elements. These are always dependent upon heredity, the place of our birth, the environment in which we are reared, and the community--whether we are reared in a modern city or in some dense jungle. If we are born and reared in a modern city we certainly cannot be free souls for we are dependent upon certain economic conditions, laws that have been established either by law-makers or by the community itself, and customs that have been established by our early progenitors and have been handed down to the present time. We are restricted by rules, morals, and ethics that have been established by educators, both civic and religious. We are restricted by new inventions, both of the mind and of matter. We are always acted upon by the ideas of others, and if we want to progress, develop, and advance in the community or in the city in which we live, we are bound to conform to the customs that have been established in the city.
Since this is true, it would be quite impossible for any individual to become what you might call a free soul. If we were born and reared in a jungle we would have to conform, also, to certain ethics and morals that have been established for the jungle people. We would be restricted by certain boundaries, we would not be permitted to roam far into the jungle, and we would be held back by certain taboos that have been established for centuries. We would be restricted because of certain diseases to which the jungle people are subject because of the unhealthy and sometimes unsanitary conditions in which they live. We would be affected by tribal warfare. We would live, to a certain extent, in fear of being raided by other tribes as well as in fear of the jungle beasts that yearly consume thousands of little children and adults who occasionally roam into the dense parts of the forests and jungles, unarmed and unprotected.
These jungle people are a part of the same Universal Soul Essence as the individuals who live in modern cities, but physical heredity makes the individuals of the jungle different from the people in the modern cities, and there are certain customs, traditions, and habits of the jungle people that make them different from those in modern communities. Neither the jungle people nor the modern, civilized people can be free souls as long as there are restrictions in the community and country in which they live, nor can they be free souls as long as they have a desire to progress in life and become something higher than an animal. This desire alone will limit their freedom.
In truth there is nothing in the universe that is absolutely free. The earth moving through space is not free, it is acted upon by the forces of the sun as well as the vibrations of other planets and stars. It is directed through the solar system by a power within itself and a power that is outside of the earth sphere. It moves through space, not because it has an intelligence or desire to move, but because of definite laws of nature that have been established by the Divine and Cosmic Mind. The only thing that is absolutely free is the Soul Force and Soul Essence itself. It is free to move, vibrate, and create forms or designs through which it can express itself; also to create beings that will and can respond to the Soul Essence and develop an intelligence and creative ability akin to the Divine Mind.
When young people become of age they feel a great sense of freedom because, according to the law and custom of the community, their parents have no further jurisdiction over them. They can leave their homes, and choose or select husbands or wives for themselves. They can go out into the world and obtain positions and take care of themselves; they are no longer obligated to live with their parents or to help take care of them even if the need be; they feel an absolute sense of freedom for the moment. However, they soon begin to realize that they no longer have this real sense of freedom, as they become restricted and confined by certain other agents. These agents may be employers who are dictating to the minds of the individuals. There may be certain customs in the community with which the young people were not familiar prior to their leaving home. They begin to learn that they are responsible to others in the community and in the country, and wherever they go they are obligated to give something of themselves if they expect courtesies, considerations, gifts, and gratitude from others. They begin to realize after a short while that they are not quite as free as individual souls as they were when living with their parents and the parents were paying their grocery bills, rent, clothes, doctor bills, and schooling or higher education. They learn that their restrictions at home were very minute, compared to the restrictions with which they meet while experiencing a life of freedom from their parents' will and desires.
This same thought can be carried far into the animal world. In the jungle the monkeys feel a much greater sense of freedom when they are grouped together, but when one young monkey starts to roam away from the family group and gets out into the jungle he soon learns that some other animal that is seeking food will pounce upon him and consume him in a very short period of time. Had he remained with the family group they would have declared warfare upon the other animal and perhaps saved the young one's life.
This also pertains to the realm of fowl. Small birds have a sense of freedom when they are in a flock, but as individuals they have a great struggle. Let me relate an experience I had one morning: About 6:00 o'clock I heard considerable commotion and the chirping of birds around our front porch. I paid very little attention to it at the time, although it kept me awake. After about fifteen or twenty minutes of it I got up and dressed, but I did not hear any more crying or chirping of these birds. As I went out to the back porch and looked out on the back lawn I saw, to my surprise, a hawk with one of these birds in his claws, trampling him and picking at his head. Immediately I knew what the commotion of the birds meant; it meant that the hawk had an intense desire for food and wanted to sustain the life force in his own body. In order to do that he had to consume some other material substance that had life force within itself, and his choice of food was these living birds. Now, birds are restricted at all times by these exterior influences. If they want to sustain their own lives they must live in flocks or coveys where they will be more protected than when living separately as the larger birds do, such as the eagles, hawks, vultures, etc. However, they also group together to a certain extent.
I believe that this, in a small way, covers the subject of the freedom of soul. The idea of a free soul comes to us rather as a theosophical thought, but I think it can be readily understood that the only time we can ever experience absolute freedom of soul is when we evolve to such a spiritual height that we will be able to experience an intelligent existence in a plane of consciousness that is superior to all material expressions. As individual soul segments we must develop so that we are not acted upon by any exterior forces or powers, and if there is such a development as this, we will experience freedom of soul, but if there is not such a development, it is definite that we will always have to evolve in a mental, psychic, and spiritual way in order to cope with all of the forces and agents that do, according to nature, act upon us whether we invite them or not.
In conclusion we can say there is no such thing as an absolutely free soul, but we can develop a certain degree of freedom through cooperation with each other in the community, and cooperation with political, social, and spiritual leaders of the country in which we reside.
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