THE PLACE OF GREAT SOULS
We sat in silence for a while after Sarah had departed with her angel, thinking that our next visit would soon begin, but presently the Ruby Angel pressed upon our minds that he would give us further teaching before this took place. It had no particular bearing, he explained wordlessly, on the visits; and yet he knew we had reached a plane of consciousness where we could understand.
“When a man reaches a state of understanding,” he ended, now speaking aloud in his firm voice, “then we angels regard it as a command. In the early stages of man’s life in Heaven it seems to him that the angels are the masters, however gentle they may be. In reality, this is not so. We angels live to obey the commands of men although these commands are almost always given unconsciously. As soon as man is ready for knowledge, his inmost soul cries aloud to the angels for this to be given to the conscious mind. Hearing this soundless, though piercing cry we hasten to fulfil the command. Thus, man’s needs governs all our intercourse with men in this realm.”
“Have we, then, cried soundlessly to you? ” I asked.
“Yes.” The Ruby Angel sat down, drew up his knees, put his arms on them and his face within his arms. Then he folded his wings as a shield around him and was very still.
Janet and I sat down beside him, leaned our backs against mossy tree trunks and waited. As we looked idly at the beautiful scene before us it seemed to blur and fade as though we were travelling in a slow vehicle at twilight. Presently, another scene came into view, a vista of water and mountains, of trees and of a narrow path leading over the mountains and out of sight upon the distant horizon.
“That pathway leads to the Place of Great Souls,” said the angel.
Now I say that he said this, although I cannot be sure. If he did, then his voice came to us thinly, muffled by his arms and folded wings. I think, however, that in reality he did not speak, but made his words known to us by means of the inner contact which was growing familiar to us now.
“Do you mean that these are very advanced men?” Janet asked. “Some of the Great Ones of whom you have spoken before?”
“I did not use the term ‘Great Ones,’ but ‘ Great Souls,'” said the angel. “There is a vast difference.” He paused, then added slowly:
The Place of Great Souls is that plane of consciousness wherein each dwells while his bodily life is lived on earth. When I say ‘great’ I do not, necessarily, mean ‘ advanced,’ but merely the greater part of the soul.”
We were so surprised at this that Janet and I exchanged a startled glance, then, speaking for both, I asked:
“But does not the whole soul dwell in the body of man? And how can a soul be divided, the greater part remaining in one place while the lesser part is in another?”
“Of course no soul can be divided.” Our angel’s words came firmly. “I said, if you will remember, that the Place of Great Souls is a plane of consciousness, not a place.”
“Then is that mountain-path connected with earth?” Janet asked in puzzled tone.
“Not physically. But that plane of consciousness wherein dwells the greater part of each man’s soul is closely connected with the soul on earth. As you say, soul being composed of spirit-matter, cannot be divided. There is a constant link between the lesser part of man’s soul, dwelling in his body on earth and the greater part dwelling in Heaven. Along this link flows the power and the wisdom-”
He broke off, leaving us to meditate awhile. We were amazed at his words. It seemed to us, then, that a part of man ever dwelt in Heaven and that only a lesser portion of his soul remained in man’s body during his earthly life. It was a stupendous thought.
“Yet what a comforting thought,” our angel pressed upon our minds. “You see, now, that man is not nearly so small, so helpless a being, and so cut off from Heaven as you once imagined.” (As he spoke, I realised that this knowledge had been growing within us for a long time, coming to us in little touches and glimpses, yet not strongly enough to be recognised fully.)
“Man,” said the Ruby Angel solemnly, “is a soul possessing, as it were, hands. He himself, while dwelling in the plane of consciousness of Heaven’s realm, puts forth a lesser part of himself into an earthbody, as though he put forth a finger and gently touched here and there, investigating, seeking, exploring.”
“If the greater part of himself lives in Heaven, how is it, then, that he does not know this while on earth?” Janet asked.
“The hand of a man has no consciousness of its own,” our teacher said. “If it is hurt, it sends a message along the nerve wires to the brain of a man. It has not, however, a consciousness of itself. It does not think, ‘I am a hand’ nor seek to act independently of the man. Although I have used the hands for a simile, the comparison is not as close as that. The lesser part of the soul in man, certainly, has no consciousness of the greater part, but it has consciousness of itself. It acts independently of its greater part, its ‘elder brother.’ The whole purpose of religion is to bring the lesser part into closer relation with the greater part. Much of Christ’s teaching to men of earth referred, not only to their need to follow Him as their Elder Brother, but their need to seek and follow that narrow path within themselves which leads to the greater soul, their own ‘elder brother.’ “Narrow path,” repeated Janet. “That is familiar.”
“‘Enter ye in at the strait gate and the narrow way.'” quoted the angel. “‘Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you …. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.'” Again he paused and then:
“What did all this mean, except that there is a narrow path within man where, following, he may come into contact with his greater self? That when he has found this self, he is ‘born again’? That contact with this greater self confers on him such great powers that they are looked upon as unearthly, miraculous? Consider the gifts of the disciples of Christ, when they spoke with tongues.”
He paused again and I murmured: “It seems almost too wonderful to believe; almost as though it were irreverent to think this.”
“Sons,” said the angel, “Sons of God and co-heirs with Christ, did not the master Himself speak of this truth? When the disciples marvelled at His wondrous works, did He not say: ‘And greater works than these shall ye do.’ Greater works even than the works of Christ Himself! Why? Because He was to go from them, to His Father. Hitherto they had thought of all their power coming through Him, but he taught them to look within themselves where they would find the path to the Kingdom of Heaven. If He did not leave them, they would not seek within themselves. Know this; all initiation into great powers, all possession of great gifts is merely that the initiate or gifted one has found the pathway to the Place of Great Souls. He may not be conscious of it, he may have but brief glimpses of it – but truly he steps for a moment on that path and receives a little of the power from his own greater self, his ‘elder brother.'”
“It seems a stupendous thought still,” I confessed.
“Sometimes,” the Ruby Angel continued, as though I had not spoken, “the greater soul is referred to as ‘the angel in Heaven.’ This does not mean one of us, the guides and teachers and ministers of Heaven’s realm. It means the greater soul of man. In children this hidden pathway in the soul is more open than in man, because as men grow they block the pathway with many obstacles of unbelief. For this cause it was said of children; ‘Their angels in Heaven constantly behold the face of the Father.’ How could it be otherwise? If the angel of a child constantly beheld the Father’s face, would not the angel of a man do likewise? But this ‘angel’ was the greater soul.”
“It is wonderful,” Janet breathed, seeking to make this truth her own.
“The parable of the Prodigal Son had a higher meaning, you see,” our angel-teacher explained. “The son who went forth from the Father was the lesser part of the soul which left the greater part in Heaven and went down the narrow pathway into an earthly body in the process which men call birth. There he forgot that he was a great being, son of God and co-heir with Christ. He forgot that this was his lesser soul and that his greater soul dwelt in Heaven, heir of Heavenly gifts and Heavenly powers. After much pain and anguish he remembered. He went back through the narrow way and found again his greater soul. (This was symbolised by the raiment his father put upon him. And then he once more came face to face with his father; he embraced him and he was received once more into the Kingdom).
“Oh, sons ” Suddenly the Ruby Angel sprang up, throwing up his arms in a wide gesture. “Never forget the Place of the Great Souls! Help men on earth to remember, show them the way to their secret pathway, the way so narrow that they must drop all their burdens of complete absorption in worldly possessions and greed. In this way they ‘sell all they have,’ in effect, and ‘give to the poor’ (those who are not ready, yet, to seek the pathway). And so they step upon the path, they renew their link with their greater souls, they come into their power! For this, for this, man lives on earth, that his lesser soul may send out probing fingers, may know, and grow by knowing; may return as a son who has earned his sonship. We angels are not asked to make this great journey down the narrow way, into forgetfulness on earth. Therefore, we honour men the more. For men are the warriors who go forth to battle and return victorious. We angels are the ones who remain in the heavenly home and wait and pray. Oh sons! Forget not the narrow way! Forget not your great destiny!
The Ruby Angel ceased. He sat down again, bowed his head on his arms and folded his wings. There followed a great calm.