[From Chapter 25, “Soul Ages,” Journey of Your Soul: A Channel Explores the Michael Teachings]
It is not better to be an old soul than to be mature or young, just as it isn’t better to be forty-five years old than it is to be thirty-two or fourteen. A young person may be wise, and an old person foolish. A baby soul may be loving, and an old soul spiteful. People of every soul age are capable of manifesting their true personality — that is, of acting out of their positive poles, which are motivated by love. Younger souls are simply less experienced than older souls, not having completed as many monads. They are less fully tested, one could say.
Having compassion for others through knowledge of oneself is possible at any soul age.
An infant soul can be appropriate and responsible but is not ready to handle larger responsibilities. He is generally not attracted to situations beyond his abilities. It is similar to a child, who can be appropriate and responsible, but for a smaller sphere than an adult can be. You would not expect a six-year-old to hold down a nine-to-five job, for example.
Advancement is not as important as experience. You do advance, because you are in motion, but you are here to experience life in every facet. Some facets of life are easier than others, but each step of development is necessary. If you were to skip over one, you would be left with a gap.
The more conscious you are in your growth process, the more quickly you grow. However, this does not necessarily translate into moving more quickly from, say, second-level mature to third-level mature. It is not necessarily desirable for you to move from second to third mature as quickly as possible. Your soul age simply indicates your point of perspective. It is not inferior to be second mature rather than third mature; all points of perspective are valid. However, if you are ready to move from second mature to third, and you bring more awareness to the process, it may happen more quickly because you will be in a better position to avoid becoming stuck.
On the other hand, it may be appropriate for you to have an extensive experience of being at second mature. If that’s the case, you will do so more expansively if you are growing consciously, but you will not necessarily finish it more quickly. The object of the game is not to move through the soul ages as quickly as possible. It is to move through them in the way you choose to move through them. Choice is the name of the game. Some people are more attracted to the mature-soul perspective and spend more time in it; others are more attracted to the young- or old-soul perspectives. It is individual.
Soul age is similar in some respects to physical age. When you are sixty, no matter how intelligent, mature, appropriate, or healthy you are or are not, you go through certain experiences; the sixty-year-old body brings with it a certain perspective — you cannot escape that. Likewise with the eleven-year-old body: an eleven-year-old girl may mimic a seventeen-year-old, wearing makeup and dating, but she probably does not yet have the physical capacity to support a sexual relationship, for instance. Two eleven-year-olds can be quite different, yet share the eleven-year-old experience. In the same way, two people of the same soul age share a common perspective, even though the specifics of their lives may be quite different.
Old souls tend to be tolerant and inclusive, and at least try to be open to other ways of looking at things. People whose points of view are rigid and exclusive may upset them. Overt intolerance would probably not evoke the same level of reaction from mature souls, who are more likely to just shake their heads in dismay and want the offenders to get as far away from them as possible. They do not want others to project feelings into their space that are going to be difficult for them to process, but they may not necessarily think about it further.
Mature souls need to have their emotional boundaries respected. Baby souls are generally more concerned with behavioral boundaries than emotional ones. They do not tend to become bent out of shape if others are emotionally ugly in their space, although they might be appalled if the behavior seems inappropriate. Mature souls, however, would tend to take in that ugliness and therefore need to keep others out of their space when they cannot process it. Although they may know their own boundaries, they do not automatically know what other people’s boundaries are, since they tend to be rather subjective, so others may need to tell them.
It is hard to understand a soul age older than your own. However, every soul age can be arrogant about other soul ages in certain ways. Old souls can be arrogant about those who are intolerant. Mature souls can be arrogant about those who are not taking life as seriously as they are, who do not care as deeply and fervently about their values or who do not take values seriously at all. Young souls can be arrogant about those who are not able to cut it in the world, or seem to be misfits. Baby souls can be intolerant of those who are not following the program. And infant souls can be arrogant toward those whom they think are making life too complicated or who are too disconnected from the practical aspects of survival.
Everyone looks at things from his own point of view, and that is why the Michael teachings are offered — so that people can better understand that there are good reasons for others seeing things differently.
Being an old soul is not all that different from being physically old. Whether speaking of our body or our essence, being old means that one has gone through particular stages of experience, which may or may not result in increased wisdom. Wisdom is having a conscious awareness of the meaning of one’s experience, and it is available at any stage. A larger perspective can come with greater experience, but that is not, of itself, wisdom. Experiences provide potential wisdom, but the wisdom must be harvested. Souls no doubt eventually harvest at least some wisdom from their experiences, but how much and what kind are optional.
Extensive spiritual study and practice, or simply maintaining high levels of integrity and consciousness, in this lifetime or in past lives, can contribute to wisdom. Anyone can choose to study and pursue the spiritual path, no matter what quantity of experience he has had in terms of physical or soul age, or previous cycles. However, those with more experience are more likely to gravitate toward it; those with less experience may feel that they have their hands full dealing with the basics of physical-plane life.
It is ironic that in our society most people want to be physically young, but those who learn of the Michael teachings often want to be old souls. Part of the reason for this is confusion over the term old soul. In common New Age parlance, saying that someone is an old soul is a compliment — it implies depth and innate knowledge. However, in the Michael teachings, it simply refers to a particular stage in our developmental process.
Soul age identifies how old we are on this planet, as opposed to how many other planetary cycles we have experienced. The impression of being an old soul, as it is normally meant, can derive from many factors, but the number of previous cycles contributes as much to that as soul age. Having had many previous cycles imparts the look of having been around the block a few times.
Just as a person who is twelve years old in this lifetime can seem wise because he’s had many past lives, a person can be young on this planet but seem deep because of having many other planetary experiences under his belt. A young soul with fourteen previous cycles may in certain ways appear older than an old soul with five, although the young soul is primarily outwardly focused, whereas the old soul emphasizes the larger context and tends to be more casual about life on the physical plane. The young soul, on some level, remembers having been a mature and old soul fourteen times before. The circumstances each time were unique, but the fundamentals were the same.
If we think of the old-soul cycle as being equivalent to being in college, an old soul with three previous cycles might be compared to a person attending a community college, whereas someone with ten might be compared to a person attending a state university, and someone with seventeen might be compared to a person attending a rigorous Ivy League school — each is at the same point in his process, but with different levels of complexity.
Soul age, number of previous cycles, and also physical age are merely quantitative measures of potential levels of sophistication. They don’t speak to the depth and quality of the specific lessons that an individual has gained, or how much of them she is currently tapping into.
We are each incredibly vast and complex, and the measures and descriptions provided by the Michael teachings are not intended to pigeonhole or limit us; they are simply some of our many traits.
Although More Messages from Michael stated that each soul age has its merits and that no soul age is better or worse than another, the descriptions of the soul ages sound most complimentary to old souls. Yarbro states that the old-soul motto is “You do what you want, and I will do what I want,” whereas the young-soul motto is “Do it my way.” Although there is certainly truth to this, it is important to catch the spirit of Michael’s words.
In Messages from Michael, Michael said that young souls almost always seek higher education, usually graduate degrees. If the average person on Earth (thirty-two percent of us) is a young soul, that would imply that the average person seeks graduate degrees. Obviously, that is not the case — the average person cannot afford higher education of any kind, although he might desire it. This statement was probably true for the local area where the channeling occurred, the San Francisco Bay Area.
However, the spirit of what Michael said here is clear: young souls are motivated toward the greatest possible outer accomplishment, in whatever sphere. This manifests more obviously in people with higher male energy, which moves outward and is naturally more achievement-oriented than female energy. It is also more obvious with warriors and kings, who are motivated to seek challenge and mastery, respectively. Still, anyone will tend to seek success more at the young-soul age than at others. A young-soul priest in the clergy, for instance, might have the ambition to become the head of his church, whereas an old priest would probably not seek that position for its own sake. He would likely have to feel that holding it would bring a great deal of benefit to all concerned. Otherwise, he might not bother.
I know young souls who have learned to respect other people’s points of view, and older souls who have not.
Young souls need to apply themselves to their environment, not necessarily to make others “do it my way” but just to have the experience of having maximum impact. They actually are not necessarily all that attached to a particular way; if you can show them a more effective or workable way, they will generally quickly adapt to that, as long as they can internalize that way and then apply it to the environment themselves. That can manifest as the type of person who has to think that your idea was his.
Young souls do not yet have the ability to see a lot of perspectives at once. They can be tolerant, certainly, but the very nature of the young-soul cycle does not lend itself to an overarching view of reality. There is much emphasis on individuality and success.
Although “do it my way” is not the highest possible point of view, it does not necessarily indicate negative-pole function. There are young-soul philanthropists, for example, who are genuinely motivated by a desire to use their success for the benefit of others. In fact, they may measure their success by how much good they are able to do for others, which is an enlightened approach. They may think that others should do what they are doing, or at least that more people ought to do it, and there would be much truth in that opinion.
Each soul age has a higher or larger native perspective than the one preceding it. The old-soul perspective is to leave other people alone, to let them do what they need to do. Although you might be able to teach a young soul this in principle, it may not be easy for him to see why he should, particularly when it gets close to home — for example, with other family members. Of course, it depends on his role, too — a young king or warrior almost has to imprint others with his way of doing things, whereas a young artisan in submission may still want you to do things his way, but not as intensely.
Since we are in the world for many lifetimes, we certainly don’t want to come and go without ever having learned how to make full use of the institutions here. The young-soul cycle is the time when obtaining those skills is emphasized. People of other soul ages may also seek a high position, but their main reason is likely to be different. A mature soul who wants to be the Surgeon General might see it primarily as an opportunity to find more meaning in his life, or even to do something great in the world. The mature-soul cycle concerns exploring our depth, seeking the profound. A young soul might also care about his life having meaning or about achieving greatness, but that is not likely to be his primary reason for seeking a high position. Young souls emphasize spreading their wings.
Young souls test their self-sufficiency and independence to see how much they can do on their own before beginning the mature-soul process of developing interdependence. I know a young soul with wealthy parents who is a single mother. She works as a bartender and accepts little money from them except for her daughter’s education — she strongly values making it on her own. I, on the other hand, as an old soul, would be perfectly content to live on the dole of wealthy parents! — that is, if there were no major strings attached. I have felt ready to retire since childhood. I have little need to accomplish in the world, except as that gives me opportunities for expression (which sages require) and, specifically, to complete my life tasks.
Like most of us, I do have to work for a living, which has the advantage of helping keep me productive and careful about how I use my time. Without direction, old souls can easily succumb to laziness, since achieving success or even greatness is not a strong motivation. Old souls tend to take the attitude, “Well, it won’t matter a hundred years from now.” (I know an old scholar in his eighties fond of saying that.) Messages from Michael referred to old kings who are “vagabonds and hoboes” and to old artisans’ “unfinished masterpieces.” Mature souls, on the other hand, tend to take the physical plane more seriously than the other soul ages — everything tends to matter a lot to them.
Old souls often do have high standards of excellence, but they need strong reasons to follow through: either the requirements of survival or, preferably, a sense of mission. It is ironic that issues about survival, prevalent during the infant-soul cycle, can reemerge as the old soul prepares to cycle off, rather like the second childhood that elderly people can have. There are many old-soul New Agers who barely make it financially. Unlike young souls, old souls are little able to suffer hardship in order to make it to the top. If they don’t like what they’re doing, they have a difficult time forcing themselves to do it. They can seem undisciplined, but they can be quite disciplined relative to tasks they care about.
Old souls tend to take the longest time of any soul age to find themselves and come into their own. Part of the reason is that the older the soul, the more levels one has to review before manifesting one’s true soul age. The scientific principle “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” explains why, in the development of a human fetus, it temporarily has “gills”: it is reviewing the stages of its prior evolution, and apparently gills were once part of our physical ancestors’ equipment. In the same way, during a single lifetime a seventh-level old soul must review each level of the infant, baby, young, mature, and old stages before manifesting seventh-level old. That’s why a young soul can come into his own earlier than an old soul can. Most old souls do not manifest their true soul age before their mid-thirties, if they do at all. (Roughly two-thirds of all people never fully manifest their true soul age, whatever it is.)
Although old souls especially have difficulties making a living when they can’t find appropriate work, any soul age can have problems related to survival, particularly in a difficult economy. Young souls can lose their jobs too, and have trouble keeping food on the table. Mature souls can be so absorbed in their inner process that they have little energy left over for making a living. In the U.S., those of all soul ages and roles who are trying to support themselves in the arts often have a difficult time unless they’ve made it to the top of their field, since there is so little support for the arts and so much competition.
Furthermore, even many young souls would be glad not to have to work for a living, particularly if they don’t like their work. They might seek success in other ways. A young server I know would prefer to stay home and raise her children full-time, although she is successful in her career. She might define success in terms of how well she is able to provide for her children. She might also feel that she has already demonstrated her ability to be successful in her career, so that she no longer has the need to continue to pursue that. Another factor is that servers are the role most innately oriented toward raising children.
This brings us back to the fact that the Michael teachings are about energies rather than specific behaviors. Each soul age has a particular energetic quality and perspective. That can be discerned even if, for example, a young soul does not appear to be highly oriented in this lifetime toward outward success, as it is usually defined. Since the young-soul cycle is the warrior soul age, it imparts a coolness to a person not present in the other soul ages. If you compare young and old servers, for example, you will probably be able to see the difference.
A few people have asked me, with a little awe, what it is like to be seventh-level old. A couple of people have even been suspicious that I awarded myself that designation. (I did check it with another channel.) Being seventh-level old is not an award or worthy of awe. We live in a society that tends to see things in terms of becoming the top dog, and being seventh-level old might be interpreted as being the top dog in terms of soul age. Since the U.S. is a sixth-level young country, there are many people seeking top positions. Therefore, it is not surprising that our society is based on a hierarchical view that fosters competition. We need to put that aside if we are to understand the Michael teachings, or any true spiritual teaching. Old is just old. Not every seventh-level old soul is intelligent, wise, or even a nice person, let alone enlightened — it depends on the individual.
Like every soul age and level, seventh-level old has its own peculiar traits. Understandably, those who are seventh-level old (or late sixth-level) are often meticulous about not owing anything to anyone, even in seemingly trivial ways. They don’t want to leave loose ends in their lives because of their thrust toward completing not just the old-soul cycle but the entire physical-plane cycle of incarnation. Seventh-level old souls may have a particularly strong drive to complete a mission of some sort, but they can be late bloomers.
Seventh-level old souls can carry to its zenith the general old-soul impression of marching to a different drummer and seeming less a part of the world. They often have a hard time fitting into schedules or other people’s expectations. They can take quite seriously what really matters, however they define that, but they are often casual about the form of things.
Although each soul age brings a larger perspective, no stage necessarily sees things inaccurately. In climbing a mountain, we first see aspects of the valley in great detail, but we don’t see the whole thing. When we get higher, we see the panorama, but the details aren’t as vivid. Our memory of the details can help us when we reach the higher levels. We need each step — they are all “right.” The pleasure is as much in the experience of climbing as in reaching the top. With the soul, every top is the bottom of a new level anyway, so there is no end to the journey.
Within an individual lifetime, the goal is hardly to get old and die, but to experience something valuable along the way. Loving parents enjoy watching every step of their children’s progress. Likewise, we can see each stage of our own development as being beautiful. Some spiritual people want to finish their development and regain union with the Tao as quickly as possible. If that had been our spark’s attitude in the beginning, we never would have chosen to be cast from the Tao.
Granted, Earth’s physical plane is not a picnic at the moment. We might occasionally wonder what could have possibly possessed us to come here. However, there have been easier, more pleasant times, and there probably will be again. In any case, we will ultimately see everything we pass through as having been valuable.
Some people have been told by other channels or psychics that they are on their last lifetime here, and become confused if they are told by Michael that they are not seventh-level old. A theory has arisen among some Michael students that the soul-age pattern will be transcended in the forecasted planetary shift. Perhaps movement through the levels will speed up, since there will presumably be less resistance to growth. However, I doubt that they could be dispensed with altogether — soul ages are merely natural developmental stages. “Instant enlightenment” would not be all that valuable anyway. Growth that is not fully experienced and integrated is flimsy. It is like a plant that grows too fast, without developing adequate roots — it can be easily blown over.
Some channels have gotten information that the Earth’s population will be vastly decreased in the coming times, making far fewer bodies available for incarnation. This could explain the “last lifetime” idea. Perhaps many of us are tying up enough karmic and other loose ends that we can take an extended vacation. The world we would return to later to continue our cycle would be very different, eventually probably less stressful.
We choose whether or not to cycle off. Permission does not have to be granted by somebody else. However, if we try to do it before we are ready, it will become obvious that we weren’t ready, and we will feel the need for a return engagement. If we have not completed seventh-level old, we will not feel ready. It is a little like sex: we may pause in the middle of it, but it usually doesn’t feel complete until after orgasm. Being complete with the physical plane can also be compared to an individual lifetime: sometimes people die young, but a life isn’t normally viewed as complete unless a person lives to old age.
JZ Knight channels Ramtha, who claims to have lived only one lifetime. He says he then reached enlightenment and therefore no longer needed to incarnate. People usually define enlightenment as a state of all-knowing perfection, which I do not believe is possible. I do not see either Michael or Ramtha as being in that state. To me, enlightenment means being awake to our essence and able to live genuinely in the present moment, in accordance with love and truth, with a free flow of energy. Theoretically, a first-level infant soul could be enlightened, according to that definition, but he would still have an enormous amount to learn, as in fact we all do, no matter where we are on the loop. Living just one lifetime would be like taking one college course rather than completing a degree.
Some people assume that they are old souls because of their strong interest in spiritual teachings. However, that is not necessarily the case, and many old souls (eleven percent of humanity) are not consciously interested in spiritual teachings. Such interest can be stimulated by imprinting, past-life experiences, overleaves (the attitude of spiritualist, for instance, can contribute), or role (priest especially). Spirituality may simply be an object of study, just as some people are interested in studying animals or the design of bridges.
Being interested in the New Age or in spiritual teachings is not the same as being on the spiritual path, which implies a deep commitment to spiritual values and a willingness to undergo rigorous self-examination. Of course, often they coexist, but there are many people on the spiritual path who are not conversant in spiritual teachings. Likewise, there are people associated with the New Age who are not on the spiritual path, at least not to a great extent. In any case, no one can judge for certain whether someone else is on the path. Love is what the spiritual path is ultimately about. Love itself has little to do with soul age, although presumably our experience of love matures as we go along.
Being an old soul does not guarantee being on the spiritual path or even being a pleasant person. There are tendencies in those directions — we might say that an old soul has room in his life for spiritual things because of the lessons already completed. However, as Michael is so fond of reminding us, all is by choice. An old soul may not choose to become involved with spirituality in a given lifetime. He may have other interests that are higher priorities for him. On the other hand, many mature and younger souls are interested in spiritual teachings. Still, the predominant lessons and perspectives of their soul age are evident in their lives.
This planet offers an extraordinary variety of experiences and studies. There’s something for everybody, and every experience has value. A conscious spiritual study can be enriching and helpful, but whatever a person is attracted to is probably her right path.