I’ve spent half a year as a Karma yogi at Ananda Village’s yoga retreat—Expanding Light. Being here a while, I’ve seen many souls arrive and leave. It’s been fascinating and educational to see all these different personalities in action.
These qualities or tendencies are not part the physical being, since they’re carried along from lifetime to lifetime. Nor are these qualities of the soul, since technically the soul is perfect, a pure part of God’s consciousness. Rather, these tendencies are part of the energetic or astral body of each person. They manifest in our relationship to the world.
As in anything in the world of maya—the physical existence—each of these personalities have a negative and a positive side, to watch out for.
I’ve seen “free spirit” type souls. Their freeness and lightness is inspiring. Yet in their freeness sometimes one can see a kind of stagnation, a lack of direction. You might see them after many years, yet they might still be dabbling along from one thing to another, from one place to another, without giving an impression of much gained wisdom, or clarity.
I’ve seen “American spirit” type souls, with their admirable “I’ll do it if it kills me” attitude. The discipline they present is truly amazing. They’re the ones who may never miss an early morning meditation. Yet in their discipline, you can see struggle, rather than softness. Absence of devotion, falling in love with each moment, which the “free” ones display with ease and often, greatly hinders their soul advancement towards Self-realization.
I’ve seen those who have a tendency to shrink, in their aura but even physically in a subtle way, in front of others. They have the art of humility, yet in their presence with others they project smallness, one that also comes from ego consciousness. This way they severely get in the way of their own soul blossoming. In God’s consciousness one projects the power of God, without losing the sense of humility; He knows it’s not him, but God’s power flowing through.
I’ve seen those who have a tendency to be arrogant and self-important. They think and speak of lofty ideals, yet in the most basic things they fail, like consideration for others, tidiness, and so on. One cannot cheat in the game of life. If the first and second grade aren’t done for a person, there’s not much use sneaking in a high school classroom.
I’ve been with ones who are kind and very social, yet they’re perfectly willing to have conversations for the sake of having conversations, simply for throwing around facts and stories to fill time. If you follow them along, they tend to jump around from one topic to another, without a sense of purpose. This often reflects what goes on in their own minds, and even how they go through life itself: no sense of purpose, simply letting the waves of karma take them in any direction. While they’re always seemingly busy and engaged, they have no high-level view of a direction that they’re taking. These people can have a very calm demeanor. Yet the fiery will power and focus, so essential on the path to the Infinite, is missing.
So long as we are in the body, we are living in the world of relativity. One’s best next step may be to take left, while another may need to go right. That’s because of how vastly varied we are in our place on our individual paths, with our varied tendencies like above. But in its relativity, the world is also directional. At any given point, one’s action may take him closer or farther towards his truth, towards the absolute, towards perfection in Self-realization.
In such a world, the ancient wisdom of moderation—seeking the middle-ground—is always supreme.
I have recognized all these tendencies in others, simply because they are also in me, some more and others less so. What’s important for all of us is to always introspect on our tendencies and make relative adjustments, so that we make a steady movement toward the absolute, towards liberation in the Infinite.