Laws of progression work throughout the spirit world – from the lowest hell to the Celestial Heaven. In a sense, they even exist on earth in the desire and need for growth and self-improvement. If we don’t grow, we stagnate or backslide. Growth can occur on several fronts – moral, intellectual and soul development. The kind of growth and development that a person has pursued in their physical life will determine their soul condition, which in turn determines their initial position and abode in the spirit world.
Laws of Progression in Spirit Kingdom
After death, when spirits first enter the spirit world, most start on the earth plane, in which there are several spheres. Here conditions are not too different from those on earth with the same concepts of right and wrong, beliefs, ideas and desires. Friends and relatives can help and instruct the newly arrived spirit on how to proceed higher.
The mere fact of being in the spirit world doesn’t guarantee a spirit’s progression morally, mentally or spiritually. Some spirits come with the incorrect belief that the earth is the only place of probation. As long as that belief lasts, the spirit is apt to think that their status is fixed forever, and will not progress until they accept the truth. The fact is that probation is not confined to the earth life but continues indefinitely. Each preceding condition of a spirit is a probationary condition to what follows. Because of the above false belief and other factors, many spirits haven’t improved their condition despite being in the spirit world for years.
Another aspect of the laws of progression is that one’s physical life and soul development determine the spirit’s position in the spirit world – hence it is important that we make the most of the earth’s probationary period. Once the spirit’s position is fixed, it cannot be changed purely by exercising the individual’s will. This is because firstly, laws of compensation have to be satisfied, and secondly, all progression depends upon outside help which has to be desired and requested. This is where the work of spirits in higher spheres and those in the Celestial Kingdom comes in. Their mission is to assist mortals on earth and spirits in lower realms to progress to states of greater joy and happiness. Of course, when the help comes, the individual has to cooperate, but without the help, little or no progress can be made.
Once a spirit sees the light and a way to reach a higher state and starts to progress – and for some whose souls are all but dead because of sin, this may take many years – their rate of development increases rapidly. With the accelerating progression will come desire for further progression, and that desire will draw more and more help from the outside, which will be limited only by the desire of the spirit. The individual’s will then becomes a great force in their progressing with the help of others. This progression is analogous to a snowball rolling down a hill. As the mind or soul of a spirit ascends, it not only becomes more rapid in its flight, but it meets outside help which accelerates its progress.
So the key to progression is to make the start. If a correct start be made on earth, progress in the spirit’s soul development will continue once they have crossed over. If a false start is made based on wrong teachings, a retracing of the way may have to occur with a new start made, in order to get on the right path. This applies to the progress of the mind as well as to the progress of the soul. Frequently, in the case of having acquired erroneous beliefs, the elimination of errors is more difficult and takes longer than learning the truth the first time around.
Depending on the spirit’s soul condition as well as priorities, they will proceed along the lines of intellectual, moral, or spiritual development. The last of these involves actively seeking the Divine Love and new birth and is the only way to the Celestial Spheres (God’s Kingdom).
Based on their inclinations and natures, spirits can progress to different higher spheres. Those with desires for moral and mental development are assigned a place in the Second, Fourth, or Sixth Spheres. They pass through the intervening spheres, but do not stay long or gain much. At the Sixth Sphere, one’s mental and moral qualities are developed to their greatest extent, but the soul is not developed as they do not seek the Divine Love and at-onement with God. It is a sphere of great happiness for those who have developed mental and moral excellence. They can progress higher by realizing the need for and praying for the Divine Love. However, many are satisfied in their state of happiness and do not seek it. Some do awake to the necessity of seeking their soul development as a result of childhood recollections of teaching that God loves them. Indeed, as Jesus taught, becoming as little children is a way to God’s Kingdom (Matthew 18:3-4).
Those who make their highest priorities the seeking of the Divine Love and the development of their soul are assigned to the Third, Fifth, or Seventh Sphere. Many of them are more advanced in their mental and moral development than the inhabitants in the Sixth Sphere, for with the soul development through the Divine Love automatically comes mental and moral development. This is because the mind is only an attribute or quality of the soul. Indeed, by seeking God’s Kingdom first, all else is added (Matthew 6:33).
The mind of and by itself cannot always discern absolute truth, but only relative truth. Therefore even highly developed spirits in the even-numbered spheres may have and pass on misconceptions. However, a spirit whose soul is being developed through the Divine Love will gradually be learning the ultimate and unchangeable truth about the realities of God. The eyes of the soul bring an interior perception which doesn’t need reasoning from cause and effect to discern the truths of God.
At the Seventh Sphere (highest below the Celestial Spheres), the intellectual and moral qualities are developed to the highest degree and the Divine Love is also present in the soul, but a little short of reaching at-onement with the Father. Here the mind becomes so subordinated to the operations of the soul perceptions that it can no longer exist as mere mind, independent of soul development.
In all the spheres below the Celestial Spheres, the spirits are growing in their natural love, but still retain their worldly affections which tend to retard their soul progress. In the first Celestial Sphere, all the natural loves and affections are absorbed by the Divine Love, and interest in the affairs of the earth ceases. Faith and prayer for the Divine Love are the only prerequisites for progressing to the higher spheres and eventually to the Celestial Spheres. Each higher sphere brings a greater happiness, even though at every lower sphere, the happiness is such that it is unimaginable that it could increase.
Laws of Progression in the Divine Celestial Kingdom
In the Celestial Spheres live those who have been redeemed by the Divine Love and mercy of God the Father and possess the gift of immortality. Their soul qualities are so developed, that they are a part of the Father’s divine nature. They can continue to grow in the Divine Love and perfection till they get into the presence of the Father and are able to see Him with their ever-increasing and clearer soul perceptions.
The laws of progression continue to operate here in the sense that even though the inhabitants of these spheres live in a state of perfect happiness and lack nothing, they desire the progression that will take them to yet higher spheres – which are unnumbered and unlimited. This desire is not on account of any discontent, but rather because the divine angels are told that the homes awaiting them with further progression are yet much more beautiful than those that they have. As a result of the law of progression, the individuals are never permitted to cease their longing for higher life and greater abundance of the Divine Love.
All along, God respects the free will and desires of His creatures and will not force anyone to seek the Divine Love. Rather, He waits till they learn from their own experience and become dissatisfied with their level of happiness at the moral and mental level. With such dissatisfaction comes the desire for a Source of happiness beyond themselves. God makes his redeemed happy by setting before them an ever higher mark for which they may seek with the assurance, that it can be attained. This is how the Law of Progression works.
Angelic Revelations of Divine Truth, Chapter 12