THE SOUL AGES
Michael affirms what we've suspected; life is indeed a learning game. He then describes the structure and rules of this game, making note of patterns which are much too large to be perceived easily while in a human body, living in their midst.
To begin the game, sparks of light and consciousness (that's us) who are attracted to experience on the earth plane cast themselves out from the Tao or God--the birthplace of all souls--and merge into a family of consciousness that includes about 1000 individual fragments or essences. This is the group Michael calls an entity. Seven entities are loosely bound together in a larger group called a cadre.
Each spark of consciousness first checks out a prospective planet in what Michael calls devic form. A deva is an intelligent energy being, without a body, who tends, and blends in with, nature. If, after gaining experience of the planet in a devic state, the entire cadre is in agreement to begin physical life, each fragment must slow its energy down to become solid and start the process of incarnating on the Physical Plane.
All the individual essences will have dozens upon dozens of lifetimes and gather up incredible amounts of experience which will be shared, to the core, with the entire entity. When all members have completed the whole growth and experience cycle on earth, each entity again merges back into one very intimate consciousness. Each fragment will then share in the experience, feelings and knowledge of all the others.
Thus, the individual essences in the entity gradually start incarnating, over many hundreds of years, onto the earth as individual human beings. The first essences to jump into earth lifetimes tend to be the most brash and brave of individuals in their following lives too; and the last ones, some of the most thoughtful.
Before taking a body each lifetime, every essence determines for itself, perhaps carefully, perhaps not, which culture, which parents, what the body type and sex will be and what the personality will be like. Individuals generally choose to put themselves in the vicinity of their entity mates in order to have these familiar and comfortable other parts of themselves available for relationships.
Each physical plane existence changes and deepens the essence's point of view. The structure is to go through the developmental levels Michael calls Infant, Baby, Young, Mature, and Old Soul levels. Each will take a minimum of seven lifetimes, more likely around twenty. After that there are six other planes of existence to grow through, and then it's back to the oneness of the Tao. This is an extraordinarily long "game" we are talking about, at least from our earthly perspective.
Soul age refers to how a person has grown from experience on the planet, not just to how many lifetimes he or she has lived.
No person, essence or entity is "ahead" or "behind" any other, but is simply occupying another place in the continuous circle leading to and from the Tao.
Ways of being are supposed to be different in different developmental stages; at some point we experience it all, moving continually along to different levels of understanding and responsibility. Michael always emphasizes that while each stage is unique and manifestly distinct from the others, no one place is better or worse than any other; they all belong in this game we have chosen to play.