The cycle of reincarnation and the progression of the soul are really interesting topics and I think one of the questions people find most fascinating about reincarnation. What is the purpose of reincarnation? How long do we keep reincarnating? Do souls have ages? What is the process the soul takes to grow and advance? When and at what point do we finish the reincarnation cycle? What is a human soul, exactly?
There are so many different answers to these questions out there. I can’t claim to have all the answers myself, because like everyone else, I am trying to make sense out of my own soul’s history, goals, experiences, and purpose. I can’t tell you what everyone’s ultimate soul path is supposed to look like. But I can tell you what it’s not.
When talking about reincarnation and the progression of the soul, a lot of popular teachings I’ve found base their ideas off of a certain assumption that I find troubling and that goes against my own personal spiritual experiences. As such, I feel the need to speak up about this matter and offer my perspective, which directly conflicts with this well-trodden assumption that continuously gets glossed over and accepted as fact. I see this central idea repeated over and over across the spiritualist community, from Michael Newton’s past life and life-between-lives regression texts to the Michael Teachings (Messages From Michael) and other popular and beloved sources. But what is it and where does it come from?
The notion of the “human soul”
This is the concept of the spiritually advanced human soul. Basically, it regards the question of whether or not animals (plants, minerals, etc.) have souls that can reincarnate, whether humans can reincarnate as other lifeforms (or they us), what path the soul can take for the purpose of progression and evolution, and what forms are ideal (or not ideal) for this purpose. These sources suggest that human beings are somehow set apart on a spiritual level from other living beings, and that other living beings are on a different track or are spiritually regressed from humans. Thus, we end up with the concept of the “human soul,” which is said to be more advanced.
I’ve heard two primary variations on this concept:
The first form is that only humans have souls, only humans reincarnate, and all other life forms on Earth have something so spiritually different from us that “human souls” cannot experience their forms and they cannot experience ours. I’m going to leave that alone for now, except to say that tellingly, this has not been my experience.
The second form is that there is a hierarchy of soul development, starting with minerals, progressing to bacteria and one celled organisms, moving on to plants, then animals, before finally perfecting into the form of the human. Once human, the sayings go, you either cannot or would not choose to incarnate as any other form on Earth, because the human is the highest form for spiritual growth potential. Anything else would be “regressing.” This is what I want to talk about.
I find this very concerning, troubling, and most of all, entirely pervasive. That is to say that I see this limiting and presumptuous belief inserted as an aside to so many of these spiritual teachings. And to be fair, many readers really don’t know for themselves either way (as many of us have not remembered our past lives or our soul’s wider history). The result is that most people don’t even think to question it when they read it! Humans are the most spiritually advanced? Well they must be, because I’m human! Before I can really talk about my experiences with reincarnation and the forms we can take, I have to start with my definition of who we are right now.
What is a human being?
Humans are living organisms on Earth. They are members of the animal kingdom. They are mammals, they are primates. They are anywhere from 70-99% (according to varying sources) genetically identical to mice.
We are animals. We are animals. We are animals.
And all animals, I believe, are spiritual beings having a physical experience.
Right now, I am a human being. If you are reading this, you are probably a human being too (if not an off-planet ET connecting to our internet system). As such, our spiritual discussions and ideas are naturally going to focus on our human experiences: what is relevant to human thoughts, emotions, trials, and situations. All our experiences are being focused through the human lens. We are incarnate, and we are human.
Humans are complex creatures. And we are capable of spreading our thoughts far and wide through our language, our communication tools, our social drive. These things are not to be overlooked. We are souls, fragments of consciousness, and we are connecting to our divinity through our human vehicles.
But. There are many vehicles we could choose to experience from. It is said that in the higher realms, we tend not to take on form and if we do it is usually for a particular purpose for a short period of time. While we are in the physical (and other densities/dimensions we come to for these particular experiences), we choose a form. We can choose any form at any time, I believe. We can be dolphins, we can be ants, we can be humans. All of these forms still contain our essence when we incarnate. And all of these forms have different but meaningful abilities and restrictions that affect the kind of experience we can have while in that form.
Humans are known for their social capacity, their communication, their ability to use tools to accomplish a wide range of tasks. Being a highly social animal perhaps gives us emotional opportunities we might not have as a more solitary species. But there are many, many complex social creatures out there, and there are many relationships and connections we can develop in any manner of form.
Is there a such thing as a “human soul”?
This refers to the belief that spiritually, there is something that sets apart the human soul from the souls of other beings. To separate the man from the beasts if you will. I think a lot of people take comfort in putting as far a distance between humans and other animals as possible. That’s why there was and still is such a huge outcry against the idea of evolution, and why ancient religions emphasize the divine connection humans have with God that beasts can never have. What would the implications be if we accepted that we are on the same level as all other living things? How scary would that be? How many things in our culture and social, psychological, and physiological behavior would we have to modify? Could we still eat meat the way we do? Farm? Harvest? Destroy entire ecosystems for the sake of human convenience? Would it require the scariest thought of all, relinquishing one of our dearest held beliefs?
The idea that humanity has dominion over all things, that all things exist to serve humankind?
What if they didn’t?
What if humans truly shared responsibility for the world they are a part of with every other being that occupies it?
I can understand why this idea would seem unattractive. And so I can see why all these spiritual books, writings, “channeled messages,” and so on continue to steamroll this idea that human beings are set apart, that humans do not share souls or experiences with other beings, that humans are spiritually superior, that only the most advanced souls incarnate on this earth get to be human.
Do you not see how selfish, how shortsighted, how egocentric and anthropocentric this idea is? Do you not see how this idea continues to promote behavior that demonstrates that only human needs are important, only humans feelings matter, only humans can be spiritual? Do you not see how this cuts us off from the divinity of all things?
What ever happened to the idea of “we are all one” that so many spiritualists love? If that is so, where does the rest of the planet fit in? What would happen if we truly accepted that we really are all one?
Why are spiritual teachers so afraid of this? Why do they continue to shy away from the reality that souls have experienced all manner of things and will continue to do so? Why do they continue to put this idea out into the world that the human experience is the only real one, thereby shutting our minds off to the possibility that we may have many experiences that are not human in nature? Why do we need to keep reiterating this myth of the human soul in the first place?
Why do we feel the need to elevate something by downgrading something else? Does it really invalidate the human race so much to value and appreciate other beings on the same level? Is it really necessary to put ourselves on a pedestal so we can feel like our presence in the universe is validated? Does anyone realize this is what we’re doing?
Yes, animals have souls! Yes, humans can have past and future lifetimes as other lifeforms! Yes, other lifeforms can incarnate as humans! Yes, we can incarnate as any form at any time in our spiritual journey; there is no lifeform hierarchy for spiritual growth. We are not limited to only one lifeform! There is no such thing as a “human soul”!
Humanity is not the end to the universe!