Because of the necessity of students understanding clearly the terms commonly used by metaphysical and esoteric teachers and writers, and especially by ourselves, we will explain the meaning of such terms as we use them from time to time.
The soul, probably more than any other aspect of Divinity in what we know as man, is the least understood. Most students as well as teachers have only a hazy idea of what they consider is the soul, and if required to give an exact definition or explanation of it would be wholly at a loss-at least to make themselves clear.
In order for us to explain and for students come into a definite understanding, so that hereafter they will always have a clear-cut idea of just what is meant by the soul, it is essential to know something of its birth and development to realize, however, that it will be necessary for us to treat of the soul in terms of consciousness and not of form, for the soul can only be fully understood by considering it as a phase or expression of the One Consciousness. We have a real starting point and a record of its birth in the second chapter of Genesis, where it is written that Jehovah God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils and man became a "living soul."
If you will remember, in the first chapter is given a symbolic story of how consciousness evolved up through the mineral, vegetable, animal, and finally into the human kingdom, when man made his first appearance in the world, formed in the image and likeness of God-or of the Elohim, the Gods who were the actual creators of man's form ("Let us make man in our image after our likeness")- as the next stage for the use and expression of the fruits of this higher degree of consciousness.
Man's body, although thus humanly formed, was still of etheric substance and possessed all the characteristics of its former animal nature. But God blessed these newly formed beings called man and said unto them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle and every living thing that moveth upon the earth." That is, they were to learn to have dominion over every feeling and impulse in the sea of their emotional nature, over every thought of their minds (birds of the heavens), over their animal appetites (cattle), and over every earthly condition surrounding them (things moving upon the earth).
Then God-the Elohim-rested, and during many long eons of time man continued to develop and unfold, to fit and accustom his animal consciousness into these new human forms, multiplying in vast numbers and gradually over-spreading the face of the earth. As time passed these forms began to grow more and more concrete and thereby to show forth outwardly on the plane of matter as they actually were on the etheric plane-this etheric state being the final stage of Spirit involving in matter before unfolding into visible, material expression-thus preparing them as the physical habitat of man.
In other words, the first chapter of Genesis gives a symbolic outpicturing of the involution of Spirit into matter, while the second chapter begins the history of the evolution of Spirit, now expressing itself as the conscious ness of matter, back again into the pure consciousness of Spirit.
It was at this stage-commencing in the fifth verse of the second chapter-that Jehovah God, Himself, took charge, and calling upon His Sons of Mind (the Sons of God) to assist Him, He sent Them to earth to superintend under His guidance the spiritual development of these human beings made in the form of His image and likeness (the Elohim were of course also in His likeness) but not yet endowed with those Divine attributes of consciousness-Reason and Choice-which would enable man to evolve into the spiritual likeness of his Father in Heaven.
Expressing this in another way, in the first chapter of Genesis we have the portrayal of the creation of mortals, or the generation of the sons of man; and in the second chapter the creation of the first: immortals, or the beginning of the re-generation of the Sons of God. In the pre-Adamic race-the race of mortals-consciousness had by this time unfolded sufficiently in enough individuals to warrant Jehovah God creating the beginning of a new and higher race-that of Adam and Eve; and by sending His Sons of God down into the bodies of such individuals and giving them these bodies to live in and to possess for the purpose of evolving them into His likeness spiritually, They thus endowed these mortals with "living souls," changing them thereby from mortals to immortals.
From this you will gather that all of those having human forms were not then (and are not now) endowed with fully conscious or awakened souls, for a soul is only fully developed when self-consciousness has unfolded in the mind to the point where it can be quickened by the Holy Spirit, or where it is ready to be taught from within. Then only can a Son of God, or the Higher Self, enter the soul and live in it, thereby making it into a "living" or awakened soul-the Son of God thus being "reborn" and taking upon Himself the regeneration or rather the redemption of the soul consciousness in which He has involved Himself.