“We elbow soulless men in the streets at every turn,” wrote H. P. Blavatsky. This is an actual fact. The statement does not mean that those whom we thus elbow have no soul. The significance is that the spiritual part of these human beings is sleeping, not awake. They are animate humans with an animate working brain-mind, an animal mind, but otherwise “soulless” in the sense that the soul is inactive, sleeping; and this is also just what Pythagoras meant when he spoke of the “living dead.” They are everywhere, these people. We elbow them, just as H. P. Blavatsky says, at every turn. The eyes may be physically bright, and filled with the vital physical fire, but they lack soul; they lack tenderness, the fervid yet gentle warmth of the living flame of inspiration within. Sometimes impersonal love will awaken the soul in a man or in a woman; sometimes it will kill it if the love become selfish and gross. The streets are filled with such “soulless” people; but the phrase soulless people does not mean “lost souls.” The latter is again something else. The term soulless people therefore is a technical term. It means men and women who are still connected, but usually quite unconsciously, with the monad, the spiritual essence within them, but who are not self-consciously so connected. They live very largely in the brain-mind and in the fields of sensuous consciousness. They turn with pleasure to the frivolities of life. They have the ordinary feelings of honor, etc., because it is conventional and good breeding so to have them; but the deep inner fire of yearning, the living warmth that comes from being more or less at one with the god within, they know not. Hence, they are “soulless,” because the soul is not working with fiery energy in and through them.
A lost soul, on the other hand, means an entity who through various rebirths, it may be a dozen, or more or less, has been slowly following the “easy descent to Avernus,” and in whom the threads of communication with the spirit within have been snapped one after the other. Vice will do this, continuous vice. Hate snaps these spiritual threads more quickly than anything else perhaps. Selfishness, the parent of hate, is the root of all human evil; and therefore a lost soul is one who is not merely soulless in the ordinary theosophical usage of the word, but is one who has lost the last link, the last delicate thread of consciousness, connecting him with his inner god. He will continue “the easy descent,” passing from human birth to an inferior human birth, and then to one still more inferior, until finally the degenerate astral monad — all that remains of the human being that once was — may even enter the body of some beast to which it feels attracted (and this is one side of the teaching of transmigration, which has been so badly misunderstood in the Occident); some finally go even to plants perhaps, at the last, and will ultimately vanish. The astral monad will then have faded out. Such lost souls are exceedingly rare, fortunately; but they are not what we call soulless people.
If the student will remember the fact that when a human being is filled with the living spiritual and intellectual fiery energies flowing into his brain-mind from his inner god, he is then an insouled being, he will readily understand that when these fiery energies can no longer reach the brain-mind and manifest in a man’s life, there is thus produced what is called a soulless being. A good man, honorable, loyal, compassionate, aspiring, gentle, and true-hearted, and a student of wisdom, is an “insouled” man; a buddha is one who is fully, completely insouled; and there are all the intermediate grades between.