The soul plane is above the mental plane and is considered the first of the higher
worlds.  It exists in the realm of pure Spirit, beyond duality, and it is the home of our
true self, Soul.  
Between the mental and soul planes lies a thin layer
of separation which is sometimes called the etheric
plane.  While traveling with a spiritual master from
the lower worlds into the higher worlds, I once
experienced this border region as a patch of dark
fog.  We entered into it and for a short time we were
completely immersed in its gloom; it felt cool, yet
not unpleasant.  On the other side we emerged into
a soul plane region of brilliant light and vibrating
During another experience I was rowed across a
river by a hooded figure.  It was totally dark, with
only the master sitting next to me shedding light to
see by.  (As seen in this picture, it reminded me of
the ancient Greek legend of the River Styx.)  When
we landed on the opposite shore, a tunnel appeared
which led us into a beautiful valley.  I've often
questioned the purpose of this separation zone
between the mental and soul planes.  Why the
darkness?  Shouldn't it be brighter than the mental
plane?  The best answer I could come up with is that
the darkness symbolizes the fact that in the human
consciousness we can't make the transition
between the mind and the Soul state alone.  It takes the guidance - the light - from the
Inner Master, our higher self, to get across.
A second reason could be that the mind cannot handle the full light and power of Soul
without suffering adverse effects.  This is why there has to be a buffer zone to shield
the mind from direct exposure to Soul. In the human microcosm this buffer zone is  
known as the etheric body, which appears as a thin, black sheath around the mental
body.  The etheric body is also widely called intuition, or the unconscious, because one
of its functions is to act as the conduit for divine inspiration from Soul to the mind.
Besides the dark fog and black river, I've
encountered a third symbol of the gateway between
the mental plane and the soul plane.  It is often
described as the "inner temple" or the "temple
within."  In contemplation I've seen it symbolically
a white mansion similar to this one.  It sits atop a
green hill, with a winding path leading up to its door.
Many persistent attempts during my spiritual
exercises were required to finally reach the top of
the hill and pass through the door.   (It happened
when I imagined a master of light and sound at each
switchback on the path, giving me love and
encouragement along the way.)  Inside the inner temple I found no rooms, just a dark
mist gently wafting down from the ceiling.  Looking up I could see a pinpoint of light in
the far distance at the top of the highest turret.  
I floated up through the mist for a long time until I
emerged from the top of the turret into a land of golden,
shimmering mountains and plains.  The contrast between
this brilliant realm and the dark, damp mist symbolizing
the etheric plane was overwhelming.  The light here
seemed brighter than the interior of the sun.  I felt more
alive than I had ever felt before.  Suffused in total bliss I
flew over the landscape, knowing with absolute certainty
that this was the soul plane.
Such a description of course begs the question:  if the soul plane is a state beyond
duality where supposedly nothing exists in relation to anything else and everything is a
paradox, how can it look like a landscape of mountains and plains?  Not surprisingly the
answer is itself a paradox - it does and it doesn't.  Soul can easily grasp a state of
potential where opposites are one.  The mind, however, deals only with separate
manifestations.  Therefore, when trying to describe a spiritual experience in the higher
worlds in mental terms, as we are doing now, Soul will translate the reality it
experiences into a simulacrum or symbol the mind can understand and form a memory
from.   Hence, the image of golden mountains and plains.  Needless to say, this image is
not the true reality of the soul plane, for mental concepts are woefully inadequate to
describe anything in the higher worlds.  (Still . . . we try. :-))
An alternative, non-visual way of describing the higher
planes would be through their corresponding sound.  
Each plane represents a set of vibratory rates that
produces a particular sound.  This sound is perceived
during spiritual experiences or travels on each of the
planes.  On the soul plane the sound generally heard
is the note of the flute, although the music of
bagpipes is also associated with this world.  (It goes
without saying that the sounds produced by our
earthly flute and bagpipe instruments are a poor
reflection or imitation of the real sounds generated by the movement of Divine Spirit
through the planes.)
The relationship between the soul plane and its
sound was demon- strated to me by the master in the
continuation of the experience mentioned at the top
of this page.  After we emerged from the dark fog into
a world of bright, golden clouds, I could hear the
sound of the flute all around me.  It was a single note,
pitched medium to low.  The "ground" we were
standing on vibrated with it.  I bent down and touched
the soul plane substance with my "hand" (again, a
mental symbol memory of a soul plane experience),
and realized the entire plane was made up of the
sound.  It wasn't merely that everything vibrated --
the very fabric of the plane consisted solely of the
Hearing the sound on the higher planes isn't
the same as hearing the sound on the lower
planes, much like seeing in the higher worlds is
different from seeing in the lower worlds.  While
perceptions in the lower worlds are processed
through senses and imprinted on our memory
by the mind, experiences in the higher worlds
are much more subtle.  They occur via direct
perception by Soul, without the medium of the
senses, and are then translated into symbols or
perceptions that the mind can grasp.  Lastly,
these subtle perceptions - if the mind accepts
them as real - are turned into memories so we
can remember them after our spiritual
experience is over.
As I was trying to perceive the sounds and sights of the higher
worlds in my spiritual exercises, I struggled with this
difference.  I simply could not hear the sound of the flute, the
pipes, or any of the other sounds of the higher worlds -
probably because I expected them to be the same as the
perceptions on the lower planes.  Only when I accepted the
subtle direct perceptions of Soul as reality, banishing all
doubts from my mind, did I finally begin to have some success
in my quest.  At that point the sound of the flute began to flow
through me, going on and on inside me like a steady stream of
glowing atoms.
Another aspect of the soul plane I admit to having
difficulty with is its ruler, Sat Nam.  Paul Twitchell
mentions him in his book
The Tiger's Fang, along
with Jot Niranjan, the ruler of the astral plane, and
Kal Niranjan, the ruler of the mental plane.  At first
blush, the concept of "rulers" or "gods" in the
inner planes seems anachronistic - a throwback to
an old pantheistic era with its arrays of squabbling,
trident wielding, lightning-bolt throwing gods.  But
then, I figure even in ancient times the "gods" were
viewed less as individuals than as personifications
of what the people believed were the governing
principles of the physical and spiritual worlds.

This is certainly what I believe:  Jot Niranjan, Kal
Niranjan, and Sat Nam are the personifications of
the vibratory characteristics ruling the
physical/astral, causal/mental, and soul planes.  
They don't really exist as individual bodies or
persons, but they can appear to a spiritual traveler
as individuals if there is a reason, such as
imparting knowledge.  Apparently, we can perceive
and accept spiritual wisdom more easily if it seems
to come from a divine entity rather than an abstract
set of principles or an energy field.
Sat Nam is said to be the first true manifestation of God, the creator, the source of all life.
Yet how can we talk about a manifestation of God on a spiritual plane where there isn't
supposed to be any manifestation?  It's a paradox along the same lines as Soul itself,
which is a unique individual but at the same time one with the essence of God.  Maybe
what it means is that Sat Nam is the first true individual expression of God, which
becomes possible only on the plane that corresponds to spiritual individuality, the soul
plane.  Each individual Soul is of course also an expression of God, but presumably not
with the same degree of purity as Sat Nam.  Be it as it may, I was most curious to meet
this spiritual ruler and glean some divine wisdom from him.
Angkor Wat
As I chanted Sat Nam's name in my spiritual
exercises, I once saw a large golden palace
which reminded me somewhat of this picture
of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, except that the
walls and towers had purple highlights.  I
entered through the main doors that opened
before me and found myself in a vast hall
with pews like a cathedral.  There was no one
in the hall but for one very large, nebulous
being at the front of the hall which I couldn't
clearly make out.  That's as far as I got during
this particular experience.  
During another attempt I was traveling through silvery
mist on the soul plane until I saw a gleaming white castle
atop a hill.  When I tried to enter I was somehow barred
from doing so.  After a moment I noticed there was a line
of people in front of the door, all waiting to get in and see
Sat Nam.  Then my viewpoint pulled back and I realized
the line of people stretched all the way down the
switchback road to the plain below and beyond.  I
couldn't see myself getting in line behind all the other
souls and suggested to my spiritual master that we could
just fly over them and bypass the queue.  He shook his
head and said, no, I would have to be patient.  
Well, many attempts later I'm still waiting, still patient.  Not that I believe there really is a
line of souls ahead of me, shuffling wearily on the road to meet Sat Nam.  That was just a
symbolic way of letting me know that if such an audience were to occur, it would happen
in its own time.

I've asked myself, does self-realization require a meeting with the ruler of the soul
plane?  Is there some secret knowledge or power imparted only by him, without which
one's self-realization would be incomplete?  Right now, I think probably not.  At least not
in the sense of meeting a personified deity.  An understanding of the principles of the
soul plane and the higher self can likely be imparted by Spirit and the master without
such an audience, leading the spiritual student to experience the state of

To me, self-realization means living life from the perspective of the higher self, Soul, at
all times.  It is knowing that one's existence is a gift from God and being grateful for it,
whatever one's circumstances in life.  It means being an instrument, or vehicle, for
Divine Spirit without setting any conditions on it or asking for anything in return.  It
includes being detached, yet compassionate, as well as maintaining the balance
between power and love.  And it involves seeing all life as a creation of God, and all
living beings as children of God, always, always.
Learn more about the spiritual worlds in "Warriors of
the Sound Current."
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