At the beginning of this chapter we are told that when first it enters earth life as a human being,
“the primitive human soul is immersed in the flowing stream of life, learning much and gathering a harvest of many treasures.”
The first part has two meanings. It refers to the fact that in its physical
life as a human being, the soul is merely a part of “the flowing stream of life”. Man may be the most evolved form of life on earth, but he
is a part of it, and as long as he remains incarcerated in the flesh the spiritual part is immersed in this stream of life.
Secondly, of course it refers to the spiritual life–force of God that flows throughout His physical Creation, thus in
fact keeping all living things alive.
The second part of the verse is very important. Looking back from our vantage point of many previous
incarnations, and many great spiritual lessons, we are inclined to belittle the
lessons that are being learned by more primitive souls, yet, in many respects the things that are learned or not learned in
the first few lives as a human can dramatically affect the spiritual course we follow in our future incarnations. If they
are learned well, they are indeed a “harvest of many treasures”.
These lessons, however, are not the sort of lessons that apply to more evolved souls. “Primitive
souls are rough, sinful . . ..” In many cases they can only be taught by “rough” methods – hence the
way that the Law of Moses emphasised Divine Justice and harsh retribution.
If a primitive soul steals, it may well be that the only way to stop him is to cut off his hand, and
therefore belief systems that are provided mainly for such souls will have strict laws and prescribe harsh punishments such
as this. By contrast a belief system that is designed to help more advanced
souls, will be more inclined to reflect the Law of Love
“Primitive souls are . . . . .concerned mainly with the physical” and they must be led
to value spiritual things before they can travel beyond this stage. This
is of course a reference to the love of material pleasures, but usually in the more primitive souls, the chief loves are the
most basic and selfish physical desires, and in consequence they exhibit chiefly the sins of lust, gluttony and addiction
to alcohol and other drugs.
With primitive souls one of the best ways to help them make progress is to encourage them to turn
away from such physical pre-occupations through pressure of social expectations. Even pride, which is a sin in more advanced souls may help the primitive by leading him to “hide” his emotions
or “his inclinations to anything wrong”.
In primitive souls, this will often lead such faults to wither and die, because they can grow only
by being openly demonstrated just as weeds need sunlight in order to grow. This “hiding”, is however, only a first step, however, it can lead
on to the next – namely self-control. If the primitive soul cannot control his emotions, he must at least avoid allowing
them to burst forth so that they can grow.
The use of the word “emotions” in this context is significant, for although emotions can
be both positive and negative, unless they are controlled and directed in a positive way they will frequently produce “inclinations
to anything wrong” and it is these which it must be taught to control.
Usually such a primitive soul wanders from life to life rather aimlessly, and all that its guide can do is to help it to take one little step after another, so that “it gradually
ascends till it reaches the highest state, where stripped of its sins it ceases from vain striving and wickedness”
This is not a reference to achieving perfection, but it does refer to the ending of the first stage
of its earthly journey, which may well be the longest. At this point
the soul is no longer involved in “vain striving” after the things of the world, and it has turned its back on
“wickedness” in other words it has recognised the importance of its conscience.
Thereafter, unless it deliberately turns away from God again it will not deliberately commit sins.
It may still do wrong, but for the most part it will not do so deliberately and will recognise such faults as mistakes. At the same time the karma of its past wrongdoing will come upon it but if it persists, it will at last find itself able to enter upon the Path and so “finds the truth through Baptism”.
This refers, not so much to a literal Baptism, but to a spiritual initiation and a downpouring of
the Divine Life Force, of which Baptism is but an outward symbol. It
may still take the soul many more lives to reach its goal, but as long as it remains in the Divine Life Force” (doesn’t turn away) it will eventually do so.
This is described as the “time of harvest” a term that some apply to the end of each earthly
incarnation and others to the end of the Age, or the end of the World, and it is true that many souls do end their earthly
journeys at such times, but others do so at different times, and the time of Harvest is an individual event,
applicable to each soul at different times.
It refers to the time when God, as the Divine Reaper, gathers us from the physical world for the last
time when we no longer have a need to return to the physical world through Reincarnation and are ready to pass forward to
the Celestial Planes.
“Heed Heaven’s testimony of the time of harvest; ‘To reach the time of harvest a
man must become wise and good”.
In other words, he cannot leave the earth behind for good until he has acquired both goodness and wisdom.
He must have settled his “bad” karma and be left with at least some “good” karma left over. Equally
he needs to have learned all the lessons that earth life is meant to teach him. Once he has done so, however, “he can
leave the earth” permanently knowing that he has achieved the purpose of his earthly sojourn.
The “joyful and triumphant shout” that he us said to be able to offer at this time is an
indication that he knows he has triumphed over the things of the world. This however, is no easy task. To achieve it “he
must store up good karma by helping those less advanced than himself, and turning them from their crooked
way.” This is the key. It is not sufficient merely to pay off bad karma by penance and suffering. He must also accumulate
good karma and basically there is only one way that he can do this – by helping others. In particular he must help “those
less advanced than himself” for all our progress upwards is the result of service to those behind.
The phrase “turning them from their crooked
way” is reminiscent of the words of St James but the use of the word “crooked” is interesting. The path of Perfection
though winding moves steadily towards the Goal, but the downward Path is said to be crooked, because in taking it one has
turned one’s back on the goal.
If he does help others, the time of harvest will
be “full of joy for both the one who helps others and for those he has helped”. Although the actual wording seems
to reflect the “Time of Harvest” at the end of the Age, when both the good teacher and his loyal followers may
achieve the goal, it is also applicable at other times, for the good teacher will certainly rejoice at the success of his
pupils, whilst that success will itself ensure his own triumph. Equally the loyal pupil will surely be
glad when the Teacher achieves his Reward.
From the distant and barely-glimpsed ending Verse 11 turns back to the beginning of the journey. The
vision must be shown to Primitive souls for although we cannot expect them to understand more than the most basic outline
even this will provide them with the incentive to start making the effort. Without it, they will make no progress and may
even be led to turn away from the Light and follow the “crooked path”.
However, “the light is veiled from Primitive souls who wander far from the Divine life-force”.
In one sense it is mercifully veiled from them, for they could not bear its full radiance, but it is also true that it is
the very feebleness of their spiritual sight that provides the veil. This clearly describes the sort of effect that one finds
on the Spirit Plane, but it is also true even on earth, though the effects may be less dramatic.
Even so, as a result of this “veiling” they “wander far from the Divine Life-force”
– in other words, by virtue of their Free Will, they choose to remove themselves from the effects of Divine Grace. For
the most part, however, this is not a conscious turning-away from God, but rather a “wandering away” through lack
of spiritual knowledge. However, “to make ready for the time of
harvest they must be immersed in it.”
Thus it is important for the teacher to find some way of bringing to their understanding sufficient
knowledge of God for them to desire more, and once they genuinely desire it, they will receive both the knowledge they seek
and the spiritual grace to utilize it. This is what is meant by being immersed in the Divine Life-force and it is essential if the primitive soul is to begin to assay the Path.
We have already spoken about “storing up good karma”, and this is clearly the end goal,
but before primitive souls can even begin this task, “they must trample their primitive sinful nature under their feet”
a phrase that means “to conquered or eliminate”.
In other words, they must overcome those attributes of their nature that are characteristic of primitive
young souls, which were described to us in verse 2 - “primitive souls are rough, sinful and concerned mainly with the
These are the things that need to be “trampled unde
their feet” before primitive souls are free to begin the great task of helping others. Thus they set their faces towards
the Goal, and ultimately, like their teachers they will achieve it.