Stage 5: The Old Soul

Those undergoing the fifth and final stage of reincarnation are known as old souls. In this stage of soul evolvement there is a search for balance and completion, and an urge to pass on the torch before the end of reincarnation.

Journey’s End

Having completed the fourth stage of reincarnation*, the soul has come a long way.

  • In the first stage, as an “Infant Soul” it learned about physical existence, life and death, and the need for nurturing.
  • In the second stage, as a “Baby/Child Soul” it learned about society, culture and community, the need for structure, belonging, and playing a role.
  • In the third stage, as a “Young Soul” it learned about free will and self-determination, taking charge of its own destiny, rising to the challenge.
  • In the fourth stage, as a “Mature Soul” it learned about co-existence and interrelatedness, taking responsibility for its relationships, honouring difference and otherness.

At last, the soul is ready for the final leg of the journey: the return to unity and the end of reincarnation.

* For an overview of the stages of soul evolution, see Reincarnation: the 35 Steps

In Search of Unity

The Old Soul already has a well-developed sense of independence (from its Young Soul phase) and inter-dependence (from the Mature Soul phase). Now the soul also feels drawn to reconnect with the greater order of things, the underlying cosmic unity.

This does not mean overthrowing the lessons of the previous stages in favour of some nice, fluffy notion of oneness. Rather, it means coming to terms with all of life’s dualities (self and other, love and hate, joy and pain, etc.) as integral to the whole. In fact, the main lesson for Old Souls is to do with finding unity within diversity.

The Realised Self

This return to unity does not involve any loss of individuality, as some imagine. The end of reincarnation — “ascension” or “enlightenment” or what have you — does not mean fading out of existence, dissolving into nothingness.

Rather, the soul completes its adventure as a unique individual, like a distinctive star in the night sky, a completely realised Self.

So to begin this stage, the soul will tend to focus on true self-expression and self-actualization. In other words, seeking experiences and activitiies which provide ultimate personal fulfilment within life on the physical plane.

This could be found in, say, art, science, acting, wine-growing, gardening, flying old aeroplanes, or simply being a grandparent. The soul is not interested in success or fame so much as doing something it loves well, living up to its true potential, and finding inner satisfaction.

Then, towards the end of the stage, there is more of an emphasis on teaching rather than simply learning: passing on the lessons learnt, showing others the way.

Gangaji (American spiritual teacher)

For some, especially Old Priest souls, the teaching focus is explicitly spiritual. Many of the world’s great spiritual teachers were/are Old Souls: Buddha, Jesus, Ramana Maharshi, and so on.

But that’s not to say that every self-proclaimed guru is an Old Soul. Far from it. There are spiritual teachers at all stages of reincarnation. But the advanced Old Soul has certain characteristics as a spiritual teacher that stand out from the rest: far-reaching wisdom, great compassion, inner peace, and little or no attachment to material things.


Old Soul Perceptions

In this final cycle on the Earth plane, the soul develops a more holistic perception of self, life and everything as part of a bigger picture. So while a Mature Soul (stage IV) comes to perceive others as its brothers and sisters, an Old Soul (stage V) comes to perceive both self and others as integral parts of a greater whole, all unique yet all essential.

In other words, the individual comes to perceive every thing, every being, every moment, as part of one great tapestry.

The issue now is how to relate to this united reality through one’s own being — how to be at peace with all of the conflicts, how to experience the harmony within all of the diversity.

This involves recognising the validity of each being’s chosen path in life within the broader scheme of things. We are all part of the One, and yet we are many, each pursuing a different path. And no path is wrong. Hence the Old Soul motto: “You do your thing and I’ll do mine.”

Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman (6th-level Old King)

Old Soul Lifestyles

Old Souls become more relaxed, laid back and detached in life. Human existence is familiar and manageable, and there are not so many problems or issues to deal with. The main issues, in fact, are existential rather than material or psychological.

Doing their own thing, Old Souls end up pursuing nothing but their own path whilst allowing others to pursue theirs, just perfecting their own abilities, being themselves in life to the best that they can. Many do so through artistic, humanitarian or philosophical endeavours, though for many others their greatest form of self-fulfillment can be something as mundane as gardening. Work, rest and play all become the same thing.

A potential difficulty for Old Souls is lapsing into apathy or complacency, no longer caring about life and the world. Unlike Young Souls, they are not driven to complete major projects before they die. As the physical plane begins to lose its allure, an older soul can show signs of being world-weary, even from birth.

In the end, joy is found in simply being as opposed to doing.

Amma – the hugging humanitarian (Old Server)

Other Old Soul Characteristics

How can you spot an old soul?

Old Souls have a level of self-assurance that is unusual for souls in other stages. This isn’t the same as the brash confidence or “can-do” attitude of Young Souls. Rather, Old Souls are generally relaxed and philosophical about life, at ease with themselves and others, and have fewer worldly concerns.

That’s not to say that Old Souls have no issues; many clearly do. (We all have issues of some sort right up until our very last life.) But unlike Mature Souls, Old Souls do not let their issues stress them out.

Old Souls tend to emanate a calm, steady quality that has substance, depth or gravitas. In contrast, Young Souls tend to appear frantic and superficial while Mature Souls seem perpetually stressed and assailed by life. You can often hear it in the voice —

  • Young Souls tend to talk loud and fast (“I’m right and you know it!”)
  • Mature Souls have a sort of soft tone laced with uncertainty (“I’m really not sure I can cope with this …”)
  • Old Souls tend to have a slow, deep voice – relaxed, assured and unhurried (“If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I know nothing…”).

This inner calm and depth is also evident in the old soul’s eyes. Whereas Young Souls cannot make eye contact for long, and Mature Souls will do so occasionally, when they’re not too stressed or distracted, Old Souls tend to make direct eye contact with an unflinching gaze. (Note: This is not the same as the cold stare of a psychopath!) They are unafraid to look another in the eyes and see into their heart.

Old Souls are like citizens of the world, not so much identified with their country or culture of origin. They tend to be drawn to the quiet life away from the noise of the city. Old Kings in particular will tend to spend their last lives as homeless, wandering teachers.

Some Notable Old Souls

Old souls who become famous tend to do so by virtue of their mastery, insight and wisdom rather than ambition.

Many of the finest minds in history have been old souls: Marcus Aurelius (121-180), Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Carl Jung (1875-1961).

In the arts we have the composer J. S. Bach (1685-1750), the painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903, now apparently reincarnated as artist Peter Teekamp).

Also the writer Walt Whitman (1819-1892), now apparently reincarnated as the writer/activist Alice Walker.

Walt Whitman - Alice Walker
Walt Whitman & Alice Walker
In the acting profession, there are numerous Old Souls who excel at playing characters who are, essentially, younger souls — mainly because there aren’t that many scripts featuring older soul characters! Consider, for example, Michael Dorn playing Lt Worf in Star Trek TNG. Morgan Freeman is well known for the gravitas he brings to every role.

     Michael Dorn

Clint Eastwood’s acting reveals a mix of Warrior soul combativeness with old soul detachment, but it is as a director that he has achieved mastery.

Finally, many of the world’s great spiritual teachers have been late-stage old souls passing on their wisdom: Gurdjieff (1866-1949), Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986), Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950), Anandamayi Ma (1896-1962), Neem Karoli Baba (d. 1973), the Dalai Lama, Ammachi (Mātā Amritanandamayī Devi), and Thich Nhat Hanh.

The End of Reincarnation

There are seven levels to every stage of soul evolution, including this one. After completing the 7th level of the Mature Soul stage, the soul begins its next life as a 1st-level Old Soul. The soul then undergoes the whole cycle of development, one life at a time, until finally it reaches 7th level. This is the final step, step 35, in the 35 steps of reincarnation.

Now, I occasionally meet people who are convinced that they must now be in their final incarnation simply because they are so “spiritual” and have no liking for the material world. This is not how it works.

The goal of evolution is not to escape from the wretched physical plane, despite what many teach. The end of reincarnation is not some sort of reward for good behaviour. Human existence is not a prison, or a wheel of torment, from which only the most worthy gain liberation.

We incarnate because we want to and we choose to. We keep doing it precisely because we want to come to terms with it. We know that in each life we will probably spend several decades not remembering who we are, not remembering our eternal Home, buying into the illusion of separation, experiencing fear. This is the very stuff which inspires us to become more conscious.

Completion occurs when it matters not whether you are incarnate or discarnate: you see through the illusion and you always feel at Home.

If you have issues with being physical, then you still have a way to go.

So the last lifetime is one in which you are very content to be in physical form, using it as an opportunity to teach and enlighten others.

Ramana Maharshi An example of someone in their last life is Ramana Maharshi, a 7th-level Old Scholar and a model of pure enlightenment. Towards the end of his life, some of his students begged him not to die, not to leave them. His answer was: “But where could I possibly go?” He knew that both he and everybody else are already Home, and always will be, having never really left it.

→ See: Abide As The Self [DVD]

Cycling Off: The Higher Stages

On completion of the seventh level of the Old Soul stage (or “cycling off”), there is no longer any need or desire to reincarnate. The soul will unify its consciousness with soul mates who have also completed, and it may serve as an elder spirit guide to others still undergoing reincarnation. But there is no longer value to be had in incarnating as a human being.

There are some rare exceptions, however.

A number of old Priest souls such as the philosopher Socrates, the Prophet Mohammed and Mahatma Gandhi are said to have incarnated to become vehicles for a higher level of consciousness capable of inspiring a cultural revolution. The higher consciousness manifested through these individuals only in later life. From that point on, they are referred to in the Michael teachings as “transcendental souls”.

Rarer still, Jesus Christ and the Buddha are said to be examples of old King souls who returned to become the physical embodiment of divine love, pure consciousness and ultimate truth, the Tao itself in human form. In other words, avatars. Again, the transformation did not occur until some point in adulthood. But from then on, these individuals are said to be manifestations of the “infinite soul”.

Recommended reading

The Michael Handbook

A Channeled System For Self Understanding
(Warwick Press, 1990)
Amazon link

Journey of Souls

Case Studies of Life Between Lives
(Llewellyn, 1994)
Amazon link

Old Souls

The Sages and Mystics of Our World
(KINDLE only: Amazon, 2013)
Amazon link

The Five Stages of Reincarnation

Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5
Infant Soul Baby Soul Young Soul Mature Soul Old Soul

374 thoughts on “Stage 5: The Old Soul

    • Emotions for example… We have many… Being a Christian Paul comes to mind… In the bible Saul becomes Paul in one lifetime… I think that is possible for all beings… The only limits we have are the ones we agree to have… All men agree it would not be good to give birth given the plumbing they have… So they can’t

    • Think of the 4 minute mile first run in 1954 I believe. … Now most trained runners can do it

    • Michael Jackson has been channeled as 5th level Mature Soul, same as David Bowie, and myself as it happens. Old Souls generally don’t have the same drive to make a big splash and commitment to hard work.

      For a good example of an Old soul pop/rock star, take a look at Rodriguez, the subject of the documentary Searching for Sugarman ( )

  1. I think your evolvement can become a little higher during a single incarnation. I set up my lesson plan to block myself completely and have had to rely on many Mediums to communicate with the 5th Dimensdion (spirit world). My father bit off more than he could chew and was not a good role model and after remodeling will redo this lesson plan – My mother was (is) quite evolved and voluntered to come in and assist our families Guides in our achieving our lesson plans.

    I’m not sure how we evolve because 30yrs ago I had a yellow spirit aura and last week when visiting my favorite, somewhat renowned Medium, Lord Stefano channeled him and indicated my aura is now a light purple. The last five years (in retirement) has been studing spirituality (some religion) and supposing the Source / Creator sparked THIS universe most recently and of course created or directed the creation of all matter in it. It is so easy to understand and accept that everthing and everybody is part of the Christ Consciousness – “I AM that I AM” – and have individuality – but yet we are part of the Source universe plasma of Unconditional Love.

    The hardest part is letting go of the emotions of this “rock & roll” dimension and full acceptance of unconditional love for all and everything. As a past Military Man and Electrical Engineer, I meditate a bunch, seek ALL my Guides patience and advice but still find myself become opinionated. And I still have 2 to 3 years left of this incarnation. But complete Love is winning out!

  2. If a younger soul incurs a karmic debt against an older mature or old soul, the older soul will likely have forgiven that debt at the moment it was incurred. Is that debt simply erased or will the Universe exact payment in another way?

    • As far as I understand it, karma isn’t simply erased if the “victim” forgives the “perpetrator”. Forgiveness will help raise consciousness in that moment and prevent the karmic exchange from escalating, but it does not alter the fact that one has experienced something intense and unexpected due to the choice of another. It is these imposed experiences which, once created, are always returned to their creator through some future interaction. So when it comes to restoring balance (“repaying the debt”), the necessary outcome is for the karma creator to experience the same quality and intensity of feeling at the hands of the same individual.

      Now, if a young soul punches you in the nose, it may seem unlikely that as a mature or old soul you would ever have reason or desire to return the punch in a later life. However, for one thing, the physical action (punch) does not have to be exactly the same. Rather, it is the transfer of experience (nose pain, shock, loss of dignity, whatever) that must be of the same quality and intensity. You could, for example, be a doctor who has to break that person’s nose in order to repair it.

      Also, remember that during each life we begin at square one (at birth), barely conscious, not bringing our full soul age into focus until aged 35 or so. As a five year old, an Old Soul will act like a Baby Soul. By age ten, more like a Young Soul. By age twenty, like a Mature Soul. So there is ample opportunity in the context of childhood for any karmic experience to be returned to its original creator, even if it would seem utterly out of character in later life.

      And also, when the karma is due to be returned the two participants will have agreed to it in their pre-birth life plans, so in the heat of the moment they will both intuitively go along with it, as though in a trance, and the events will unfold with a sort of weird inevitability.

  3. August 10th i woke up dead, and ever since each dream, spiritual text, this article exact, my random baptism date by the 3rd person I ask, I read understanding the Bible in a week, I’ve always been a loner, oul soul. I hurt from others judgment, I never needed anything and never had a thing, I’ve loved the ones who are judged, and I eat with the addicts, gays, everyone most judge. After many proposed, sex is sex unless you love, i cried when at 19 when learning my 1st was expect, and said he is a boy which my biological grandpa will hold and parish to see the bloodline go on. He did. When learning of my 2nd I said damn. I always wanted a girl,but he will be my Halloween baby. He waited 2 weeks after due till Halloween and as we left to be induced her water broke. I said 8 years ago before I got married this year she would leave, so I’d rather travel without my angel. She has, and when I asked our Lord if I can take the weight of her sins I realized the angel I always dreamed of and gave everything to is a sociopath or psychopath and felt thankful and received although a month before I wrote whilesleeping you can come home or stay and hurt tremendously but use your gift to help others. Someone wanted me to meet in an abandoned ally 2 days later, and the dreams keep coming awake and asleep. The word of the world is love, and I AM spread it through every reincarnation with a different parable everyone could understand. Im a confused fella right now, because my dreams and discoveries this year come in death to a 33yo Pisces who’s been a selfless forgiving drug user since 11 born in Missouri now believing the Bible is a manipulation but learned to believe in christ and all other peaceful selfless messages of spreading love in less than a year and understands more than some ever do. Why did it hurt to watch hate fueling the desire at 11 to journey and wear my use for all to see become a spiritual awakening about 3 months before the Pisces of my 33 to stall me so i have to suffer in humility while the purest evil mimicks emotions others believe. November i dreamed my wife died in 2 i get our boy i name meaning attached. If anyone knows anything about this crazy stuff please message. I already understand I’m going to be ridiculed because love gets punished as opposites of the evil before it prevails. Thank you

  4. I also wanna say i ended at 23 in the Navy although I can’t kill even an animal, and my dream was to get full disability so I can volunteer as an addition specialist which I surprised doctor’s by knowing it has nothing to with drugs, and after 5 years of waiting i got it and as a client first I felt happier by giving my knowledge than I have in most my life. I hope our father feels our faith that his will be on earth as back at home. Now i haven’t been able to read everything since less than a year, but feb 26 i looked at my zodiac sign for the first time and it marks Pisces as birth of the Christ due to return in 2050 about. I just be maybe God show me something to say acknowledge me and ask.

    • Actually, a young soul – which just goes goes to show that young souls can certainly be wise, compassionate and ‘enlightened’ in their own way. Specifically, JFK is said to have been a 6th level Young King with a goal of Acceptance, an Intellectually centered Idealist in the mode of Passion with a chief feature of Martyrdom.

  5. Why do people consider Dostoevsky to be a mature soul? The man had way too much wisdom to impart regarding the human condition to be merely mature I think. I don’t think mature souls necessarily have a monopoly on leading tortured lives, and the stereotype regarding laid back above-it-all old souls probably really only applies to late level old souls. I think the vast majority of “creative geniuses” are old souls frankly, because producing great art often requires a level of wisdom that mature souls often simply don’t possess. The mature soul artists I would say are often the narcissistic “look at me, I’m a great artist” ones like T.S. Eliot, Miles Davis and so on.

    • A 4th-level Mature soul as channelled by Sarah Chambers:

      “The mid-cycle mature soul seeks to integrate right relationship with self, family, and friends, while assimilating the experiences of the first three levels of this soul age. This soul, above all else, endeavors to incorporate all relevant accumulated knowledge into his/her lifestyle. This fragment is generally deeply intuitive and contemplative, and requires alone time to process data more often than other fragments. Public outpourings from the psyche are common at this level.

      The poets W. B. Yeats, Jelaluddin Balkhi (Rumi), Leonard Cohen, T. S. Eliot, Percy Shelley, and Yevgenny Yevtushenko are/were all mid-cycle mature souls, as are/were the writers Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, Jean Genet, Virginia Wolfe, Anais Nin, Victor Hugo, Anne Rice, Mary Renault, and Barbara Kingsolver, as were the philosophers Plato, Michel Foucoult, Bertrand Russell, and Immanuel Kant.”

      My understanding is that mature souls are driven by a desire to get everything ‘right’ from every possible perspective, until exhaustion gets the better of them. The stereotypical tortured artist is a mature soul, trying to reconcile the pursuit of inner truth and beauty with multiple other, often conflicting, demands, both internal and external. Painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, for example.

      Old souls are driven increasingly by nothing but their own passions and interests and pay little heed to other demands. They are more detached and lack the need to get anything ‘right’. They can also come across as lazy, as they don’t care so much about finishing what they’ve started. (Again, see the documentary Searching For Sugarman for a good example.)

    • But Barry: To what extent is being a “tortured artist” merely the result of a highly sensitive individual trying to survive in an extremely insensitive world. Suggesting that being an old soul is someone who’s successfully learned to “shut their brain off” feels anti-intellectual to me. I’m sure if the Dalai Lama lived in Chicago or Dallas he’d pretty soon become a “tortured artist” as well. I’m not so sure I can get on board with the idea that spiritual teachings of say a Buddhist nature are the sign of a soul that’s necessarily more evolved than say the intellectual contributions of Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Kafka and so forth. That’s just me though.

  6. Wow… I don’t know i’m smiling and feeling so content right now. I’m just thinking about how wonderful everything really is… LIKE ITS SO .. Beautiful.. How everything you think makes 0 sense comes together and entangles with eachother and all of a sudden you just see how it is. I love this so much, it’s easy to get lost in pain and be like “I’ve had enough of this shit.” But when I look at the things that’s been hurting me they don’t hurt anymore they are more like an appreciation for the experience of that pain and how it’s opened an understanding of it. It’s so weird also cause i’m like “What am I? I’m so confused:” And then I start to feel inside and I get this “I know exactly what I am and how I came to be” feeling. It’s just that I try to translate it into words and that doesn’t work that well haha. I also love people so much regardless if they are a baby soul or old soul I feel like they are so special and amazing and I can learn from them just as much regardless of stage and level. Friends say to me “Seriously you can compliment anything!” It’s not like I look at the good side I try to look at all sides of it and then I just get so amazed by how … it works and how it is and how invidual and different it is than me but at the same time it’s just like me, it’s hard to explain!
    Mm, thank you very much for writing these articles, they help and heal more than you think.
    Hehe ^///^

    It feels good to write from the heart even though it can be confusing sometimes.

  7. Even after a soul is completed with all stages of reincarnation. Is it free to have the choice to return to earth and reincarnate more?

  8. But what about even if the soul has completed stages 6, and 7 in the spiritual planes. Will is always be free to have the choice to return to earth? Thank you for responding! 🙂

    • Yes. Except that it won’t be like one little soul thinking to itself “shall I do that again?” as by then it will, in effect, experience and know itself to be merged with the Tao itself, or the “mind of God”, without any sense of separation from others or from the rest of reality. It will be more like a surge of divine inspiration.

  9. Thank you so much! But It seems really comforting to know that we still have the choice to come back to earth. But when we do, after we have completed the 6,th and 7th cycles, can we still choose to live a normal life, or will it be only for religious beliefs?
    I also want to know how old my soul is. I think I’m an old soul. But I don’t think I am as well, because I feel like earth is home.

  10. What would you say are the soul ages of Hitchcock, Scorsese, and Kubrick? Personally, I think Hitch may have been early old. The other two mature most likely, although Scorsese might even be a young soul.

    • According to my notes, Scorsese is a Young Sage in Dominance.
      Hitchcock was a Server with goal of Dominance, I would guess Mature.
      Kubrick … not sure TBH … 🙁

  11. Sorry, but this question has really been bothering me. When we a completely done with all 7 stages of the reincarnation cycle, are we forever free to choose to reincarnate and have the choice to return to live lives on earth?
    Also, can we switch between the physical, (earth) , and spiritual (heaven) realms?
    Please reply ASAP! Thank you so much! 🙂 🙂

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