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When souls depart from the earth, family and loved ones may understandably ask themselves why now, why this way? Especially at this time when great change on spiritual levels is taking place on the earth, reflections on the passing of souls can become even more poignant.
Souls choose the time of their death within a broad range of options. Though a range of possibilities may exist, the completion of a lifetime's inner work is always the criterion for passing on. This is known to the soul, even when that completion takes place at a very early age - even when it occurs to a very young child or an infant.
While it happens that occasionally human intervention can alter the life-plan for the timing of the departure of souls, bringing it about more quickly through acts of violence, neglect, or cruelty, for the most part, souls that depart out of causes having to do with physical functioning have made choices about such timing. And even where an external agent appears to be the primary cause of death, very often, this, too, has been written into the life-plan of the soul for purposes of learning.
The spiritual goals of a lifetime are varied, as varied as the souls who are embodied on the earth. And yet there are certain consistent patterns that have to do with such things as experiencing love more deeply, understanding relationships, unfolding one's creative possibilities, pursuing a path of service of benefit to others and to the earth, healing an inner relationship with one's body and with oneself - these are just a few of the things that can form focal points for a life-plan, and they are not mutually exclusive but can co-exist with one another. Although they vary in content, each of these goals may be considered to be spiritual, for each fosters the soul's learning about reality and about its own inner nature.
When the signal comes to a soul that an amount of experience has been completed that satisfies the purposes of a particular incarnation, the soul lets go of its hold on the physical body, sometimes over a long period of time, and sometimes rather quickly, retracting the life-force that replenishes the body and allowing the natural process of dying to begin. This can manifest in a variety of ways, all of which are of the soul's choosing.
In relation to pursuing a conscious spiritual path during a lifetime, it is necessary for certain souls to be awake and aware concerning their spiritual work, its origins and purpose, and for others to manifest an energy and purpose that is not fully known to the conscious self. In both cases, souls may be intensely committed to a spiritual goal, and when their work is done, they are ready to move on. In some cases, this point of completion is known to the conscious self, but very often it is not. However, it is always known to those who can perceive things from the soul level.
The attachments that love creates often surround the departure of a loved one with pain and sadness, and with a longing for the departed one's return. This is a natural outcome of the operation of the human heart in its expression of love. Where the human heart can be joined with the inner Divine essence, however, then sadness can be accompanied by joy at the knowledge that the loved one's journey continues on into a new cycle. Both sadness and joy can coexist at the time of a loved one's passing, when it is known that the soul has accomplished its purpose on one level and is ready to move on to another.
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