Usually you think in terms of a hypothetical whole self or consciousness, emerging at birth and disappearing at death. There are, however, learned arguments in which professors debate such questions. Some astrologers use the time of conception in their calculations, while others prefer the date of birth. Various religions have decided that the “soul” enters the fetus at its conception, while others argue that the consciousness cannot be considered a human soul until some time later, just prior to birth.
The same kind of questions occur at the other end of the scale: When does death actually come? In most of these debates, this hypothetical self or consciousness is taken as the measure.
In the first place, again, the self or soul in this case is not a thing of measurement – nor is it necessarily some thing that suddenly arrives and then disappears.
The physical self as you know it is a focus of consciousness that forms a personality in response to that focus. It is very difficult to make analogies here, but I am foolhardy enough to try it. It seems to you that any naturally aborted fetus has no physical life at all, that such life has been denied to it for some reason. Instead, the fetus experiences another level: physical life at a different scale, that in your terms would apply to the distant past.
In, I repeat, conventional ideas of evolution, this would be a period in which your kind of consciousness experimented with a water environment, with fins instead of lungs. In certain terms this gives the consciousness a look at particular portions of the species’ “past”. It also provides that consciousness with firsthand knowledge psychically and directly. Again – most difficult to explain! Particularly without offending your ideas of selfhood – yet each of you “alive” died in just such a manner.
While in conventional terms you think of long centuries’ duration, in which finned creatures rose from the seas, some “becoming” reptiles and finally mammals, many did not make the journey but “fell” along the way. So in those terms, and following that analogy, the psyche makes the same kind of adjustments and life-changes. You have each existed many times, then, as fetuses “who did not make it”. Not necessarily because you did not want to be born, but because those experiences were in themselves legitimate, and in your present state are written in the “memory” of your physical being.
Now this does not mean that your personality as you know it was often trapped within a womb, destined to die there, or that a hypothetical whole self would not be born. It means that the archaeology of your psyche as it is physically focused carries those experiences. The self is not like a clay figure coming from a potter’s oven, so that you can say: “Ah, here is a self, and nothing can be added to it”. You have always existed as a probable self, though you were not focused in the knowledge of your own experience. (You may have been focused quite well in other realities, but I am speaking of your earthly existence as you understand it.)
At any point now you can literally become more yourself. In that regard, you are born by degrees. In certain terms you have discarded portions of yourself, so you died by degrees – but the two, the living and the dying, occur at once.
To a certain extent what you are was latent in the fetus, but there is no one point when “the full awareness of the soul enters into the flesh”. The process is gradual. In physical terms it begins before your own parents are born.
The chart of events at the time of your “birth” is like one small snapshot of someone’s backyard in the afternoon. Here in this analogy, the entire earthly personality could be compared to the world. Now as long as you make your deductions according to that one picture, there will be correlations that apply – but only to that small specific area.
In your terms, the person at birth is affected by multidimensional conditions, and the collective position of the planets is but one very minute indication of the other realities involved. Even in conventional terms a true horoscope would have to involve the time of death in your temporal reality as well [as that of birth]. Your focus of attention forms boundaries that predispose you to believe in a point at which your consciousness emerges, as you understand it, and a point when it is no longer effective, or dies. Your beliefs in such concepts limit your perception, for by altering the focus of your attention you can to some extent become aware of perception before and after the recognized points of birth and death.
You grant soulhood only to your own species, as if souls had sizes that fit your own natures only. You preserve these ideas by thinking of animals as beneath you. Then, however, you must wonder when the soul enters the flesh, or when the alien fetus becomes one of your own, and therefore blessed by the gods and granted a right to life.
But all things have consciousness, and in those terms possess a soul-nature. There are no gradations as to soul. Soul is the life within everything that is. Of course the fetus “has a soul” – but in the same way, if you think in those terms, then each cell within the fetus must be granted a soul. The course of a cell is not predetermined. Cells are usually very cooperative, particularly as they form the structures of the body. But the body is a context that they have chosen to experience. In fulfilling themselves the cells aid your own existence, but in a framework they have chosen. They can reject certain elements within their existences, however, change their courses or even form new alliances. They have great freedom within what you think of as the framework of your reality. If their paths cannot be charted, and can indeed constantly surprise you, then why do you think that your course can be mapped out ahead of time by reading the positions of the stars at your birth?
The cells are not inferior as far as you are concerned, even though they form part of the structure of your physical being. They are not even less conscious. They are conscious in a different fashion. There is no need to “romanticize” them, or to think of them as little people, but each of them possesses a highly focused consciousness, and a consciousness of self. You like to think – again – that only your own species possesses an awareness of its own selfhood. There are different kinds of selfhood, and an infinite variety of ways to experience self-awareness.
As an example, it appears to you that animals do not reflect upon their own reality. Certainly it seems that a cell has no “objective” knowledge of its own being: as if it is without knowing what it is, or without appreciation of its own issues. You are quite wrong in such deductions. Nor are there necessarily gradations in which one kind of consciousness progresses in rigid terms from a lower to a higher state. Any cell has practical use of precognitive abilities, for example, that quite escape you, yet many of you assign such abilities to “higher” souls. Each kind of life has its own qualities that cannot be compared with those of others, and that often cannot be communicated.
All of this may seem to have little to do with the nature of reincarnation, as you think of it, or with counterparts as I have explained them. Yet it is vital that you throw aside old concepts of the self and of the soul before you can begin to understand the freedom of your own selfhood.
This evening Ruburt read some material about dolphins and whales. It contained strong hints that those creatures are geniuses, possessing the ability of abstract thought to a high degree. Such is indeed the case.
Now dolphins deal with an entirely different dimension of reality. There is as yet no method of communication that can allow you to perceive their concepts of selfhood, or their [collective] vision of existence. They are sensitive, self-aware individuals. They are altruistic. They understand the nature of relativity, and they have different ways of passing on information to their young. They are not higher or lower than your own species. They simply represent a different kind of selfhood.
Now there is some relationship, at least in terms of our discussion, between the reality of the dolphins and the reality of the fetus. In your terms the fetus lives in primeval conditions, reminiscent of periods in the species’ past. It relates in its own way to its environment. Now for some consciousness this is sufficient. In your terms, again, for each of you, it was sufficient.
The soul is not a unit that is definable. It is instead an undefinable quality. It cannot be broken down or built up, destroyed or expanded, yet it can change affiliation and organization, and its characteristics, while ever remaining itself.
The soul within the fetus cannot be destroyed by any kind of abortion, for instance. Its progress cannot be charted, for it will always escape such calculations. Its history is in the future, which always creates the past.