The Seat of the Soul: How to Harness Your Authentic Power

man wearing hoodie facing starlit nightsky

Eventually, you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is. – Gary Zukav, the seat of the soul

I love this book’s simple and straightforward approach to spirituality. It provides a conceptual framework for understanding both the nature of the ego, which Gary referred to as the personality, and the soul, and how they influence our lives.

There is so much wisdom this book offers, but the main theme revolves around the journey to wholeness and authentic empowerment. Let’s dive into the lessons to learn from the Seat of the Soul.

External Power and Authentic Power

When perception of the physical world is limited to the five-sensory modality, the basis of life in the physical arena becomes fear. Power to control the environment, and those within the environment appears to be essential.

The power to control the environment, and those within it, is power over what can be felt, smelled, tasted, heard or seen. This type of power is external power. One person’s gain of external power is perceived as another person’s loss.

Therefore, the source of external power is fear. Is that really a symbol of strength or that of weakness?

Gary says all that we fear to lose is a symbol of external power — such as money, fame, attractive body, and belongings.

Because power is seen as external, we feel that it’s something we can and need to control. So it drives us to compete against each other. In order for someone to win, another has to lose.

When the energy of the soul is recognized, acknowledged, and valued, it begins to infuse the life of the personality. When the personality comes fully to serve the energy of its soul, that is authentic empowerment. This is the goal of the evolutionary process in which we are involved and the reason for our being.

Authentic power, on the other hand, is something within us — the highest part of ourselves. This part of us is our soul.

To experience authentic power, first, we have to recognize that we have a soul. Or even truer, we are a soul. Next is to align our thoughts and actions with it.

We can tell by the way we feel if we are in alignment because feeling is the language of the soul. We are filled with enthusiasm, purpose, and meaning.

We feel empowered enough that rather than needing to make someone else a victim, we empower them too. We don’t compete but co-operate instead. It becomes power with instead of power over.

the seat of the soul

Balancing of Energy

In order to become whole, the soul must balance its energy. It must experience the effects that it has caused. The energy imbalances in the soul are the incomplete parts of the soul that form the personality. Personalities in interaction are souls that are seeking to heal. Whether an interaction between souls is healing or not depends whether the personality involved can see beyond itself and that of the other personality to the interaction of their souls.

In its journey to wholeness, the soul participates in Karma, the law of cause and effect. When it incarnated, the soul has a “karmic obligation” — to pay the “karmic debts” it has carried from all throughout its lifetimes. These are the energy imbalances of the soul; the lessons it has to learn in order to become whole.

These imbalances are what mold the personality the soul embodies in human form. It will then interact with other humans that also seek learning and healing. This is the purpose behind each and every interaction we need to be aware of. Otherwise, it might lead us to create more ‘negative karma’ that only adds up to more ‘karmic debts’.

This is why people experience the same thing over and over again because we re-act (act again like before) unconsciously to life. We don’t recognize the lesson the experience is trying to teach us. But if we’re aware that this is the reason for everything happening in our lives, then we can respond consciously for the benefit of healing our soul.

Everything is happening FOR us.

the seat of the soul


How we understand evil, therefore, is very significant. Evil needs to be understood for what it is: the dynamic of the absence of Light. It is not something that one should prepare to battle, to run from or to outlaw. Understanding evil as the absence of Light automatically requires that we reach for this thing called Light.

The remedy for an absence is a presence. Evil is an absence and, therefore, it cannot be healed with an absence. By hating evil, or one who is engaged in evil, you contribute to the absence of Light and not to its presence. Hatred of evil does not diminish evil, it increases it.

Understanding that evil is the absence of Light challenges the perception of power as external. Can an absence be defeated? An evil person can be arrested, but can evil be arrested? A compassionate heart is more effective against evil than an army. An army can engage another army, but it cannot engage evil. A compassionate heart can engage evil directly – it can bring Light where there was no Light.

Understanding evil as the absence of Light requires you to examine the choices you make each moment in terms of whether they move you toward Light or away from it. It permits you to see that the place to begin the task of eliminating evil is within yourself. This is the appropriate response to evil.

Darkness (evil) is the absence of Light. And the place to begin the task of eliminating it is within yourself. Awareness is what brings light to the darkness within us. We awaken our unconsciousness, which is why awakening is called enlightenment.

We can do that by consciously choosing who we are, through our thoughts and actions in each moment.

If you find yourself in a violent situation that evokes anger, will you choose to react like an angry person? Or will you choose to respond like a compassionate person who understands that the situation and the other people involved in it have nothing to do with you? What would an enlightened being do?

the seat of the soul

The Vertical Path

The vertical path is the path of awareness. It is the path of consciousness and conscious choice. The person who chooses to advance his or her spiritual growth, to cultivate awareness of his or her higher self, is on vertical path.

The horizontal path is the path that satisfies your personality. Each new experience is not really new. It is more of the same thing.

The level of consciousness of the soul is higher than that of the personality. The vertical path is the path we take to reach this higher consciousness. This is what we call ascension.

Our goal as an entire human species, along with the soul of Mother Earth (yes, it is a conscious planet), is to ascend from 3rd-dimensional consciousness (current state of human collective consciousness) to 5th-dimensional consciousness and higher (spiritual growth).

In the 3rd dimension, judgment and duality exist, which means there are opposite polarities: right and wrong, good and bad, and so on. As we ascend to higher dimensions, judgment disappears and duality approaches unity (“Unity Consciousness”). This is the “Oneness” we are referring to. In oneness, we reach the realization that “there is only Love“.

On the horizontal path, our awareness remains in the 3rd dimension. Our job ranking may be promoted and our salary increased, or our business may have scaled up and our profits doubled. So while this might enhance our personality (external power), our soul’s spiritual growth is stagnant and thus, no authentic empowerment.

the seat of the soul gary zukav


A splintered personality struggles with itself. The values, perceptions, and behaviors of a splintered personality are not integrated. A splintered personality is not conscious of all the parts of itself.

“The kingdom divided against itself cannot stand,” remember?

A splintered personality struggles with intention. If we are not fully aware, consciously we may set an intention to leave an unhealthy relationship, but unconsciously we also intend to cling on due to fear of feeling hurt. There is a power struggle.

Gary compares a whole personality to a laser. If a personality is integrated, the light that flows through it is focused into a single, clear beam. It becomes a phase-coherent beam of light, in which every wave reinforces every other.

To be authentically empowered, we need to integrate the personality and the soul. This means we align our values, perceptions, and behaviors with the highest version of ourselves.

the seat of the soul gary zukav


If you choose to focus your attention on the strengths of others, on the virtues of others, on that part of others that strives for the highest, you run through your system the higher-frequency currents of appreciation, acceptance and love. You become an effective instrument of constructive change. If your intention is to align your personality with your soul, and if you focus your attention upon those perceptions that bring to you in each situation the highest-frequency currents of energy, you move toward authentic empowerment.

See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see,” as Wayne Dyer put it.

I know it’s difficult to search for the light in others, especially in the midst of conflicts and misunderstandings. But we can start the healing process by allowing the higher-frequency currents of appreciation, acceptance, and love.

the seat of the soul

How about we practice it now?

Let’s start with our family members. Can you list at least 3 things you appreciate about your mother, or father, or siblings?




Conscious Choice

The choice not to choose is the choice to remain unconscious and, therefore, to wield power irresponsibly. Awareness of the splintered personality and of its need for integration brings with it the need for conscious choice. Each decision requires that you choose which parts of yourself you want to cultivate, and which parts you want to release.

By not choosing, we already made a choice, unconsciously.

Have you heard about the Cherokee parable of two wolves? It’s about the fight between the two wolves.

One is evil: anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

The other is good: joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The same fight happens in us. And do you know which wolf will win? The one we feed.

So let’s keep feeding the good wolf in us. Let’s keep nourishing our souls.

the seat of the soul

The journey to wholeness requires that you look honestly, openly and with courage into yourself, into the dynamics that lie behind what you feel, what you perceive, what you value, and how you act. It is a journey through your defenses and beyond so that you can experience consciously the nature of your personality, face what it has produce in your life, and choose to change that.

This is a reminder of The Devil’s Sooty Brother (see lessons from Heal Thy Self).

We have to consciously “keep looking at the bandaged place”. What are the parts in us we hide from ourselves? What are the parts we don’t want others to see?

Yes, removing the bandage may be painful and it may be awful to look at our wounds. But the journey to wholeness is through our woundedness. That is where we heal.

The Heart

You do not stop losing power by refusing to recognize your fear, by anesthetizing yourself to what you feel. The road to authentic power is always through what you feel, through your heart. The way of the heart is one of compassion and emotional perception. Therefore, it is never appropriate to suppress an emotion, or to disregard what you feel.

Gary says every time we fear, we lose power. But we don’t stop losing power by not recognizing it.

As implied in A Course in Miracles, the first step to healing is to recognize fear.

We take that step through the heart. Did you know that courage has the root Latin word cor, which means heart?

What’s required for authentic empowerment is emotional awareness. Our emotions are the way for our soul to express itself. It shows the parts of our splintered personality that need to heal and the energy that needs to be balanced so we can become whole.

the seat of the soul

Characteristics of Authentically Empowered Human Being


It is the inclusiveness of one who responds to the beauty of each soul, who sees in each personality the soul incarnate upon the Earth. It is the harmlessness of one who treasures and honors and reveres life in all its forms.

Humble spirits are free to love and to be who they are. They have no artificial standards to live up to. They are not drawn to the symbols of external power. They do not compete for external power.

Humility comes from the recognition of the soul in each and every human. It sees equality among everyone, and so, has no need for superiority.

Authentically empowered human beings have nothing to prove and nothing to defend. They are contented and happy just by being themselves.


Forgiveness means that you do not hold others responsible for your experiences. The perception that someone else is responsible for what you experience underlies the idea that forgiveness is something that one person does for another.

Authentic empowerment means conscious living and being responsible for the life you choose to experience. There is no need to blame anyone, including yourself.


Clarity is the perception of wisdom. It is being able to perceive and understand the illusion, and to let it play. It is being able to see the role of responsible choice and choosing accordingly in each moment.

Clarity is non-judgmental awareness. You don’t judge a person for doing right or wrong. You don’t judge a situation as good or bad. You become only an observer of what is. You let the experiences come as they are.


Love is the energy of the soul. Love is what heals the personality. There is nothing that cannot be healed by love. There is nothing but love.

The loving personality seeks not to control, but to nurture; not to dominate, but to empower.

The underlying cause for all perceived sickness is the lack of love. An authentically empowered person cultivates self-love. In being so, he or she becomes a channel of love for everyone, an instrument of healing, and an agent for change in the world.

the seat of the soul


Before it incarnates, each soul agrees to perform certain tasks upon the Earth. Whatever the task that your soul has agreed to, whatever its contract with the Universe, all of the experiences of your life serve to awaken within you the memory of that contract, and to prepare you to fulfill it.

Authentic empowerment and the fulfillment of the soul’s task upon the Earth, therefore, are not separate dynamics. Authentic empowerment is necessary to accomplish fully the mission of the soul, yet as you move into authentic empowerment, you move toward the fulfillment of your soul’s agreement with the Universe, and as you move toward that fulfillment – as you move consciously toward the energy of your soul – you empower yourself. You and the work of your soul upon the Earth expand together. As one grows and develops, so does the other.

So how do we know we found it?

When the deepest part of you becomes engaged in what you are doing, when your activities and actions become gratifying and purposeful, when what you do serves both yourself and others, when you do not tire within but seek the sweet satisfaction of your life and your work, you are doing what you are meant to be doing.

If there’s a contract that we agreed on upon incarnating on Earth means there’s work to be done in the world. This is our purpose in life. Authentic empowerment goes hand in hand with fulfilling this purpose.

I have an awesome suggestion: do what you love!

Doing what you love is your 2-in-1 combo. You become the living expression of your soul, plus you move toward your purpose in life.

What is it that brings you joy, excitement, and fulfillment? Keep doing it.

the seat of the soul

Don’t try to figure out what your purpose is. It will come to you in the most unexpected manner. Life will keep giving you clues along the way. Trust the unfoldment. Everything is serving your purpose, even when it seems it does not.

Your current job may be honing the necessary skills you’ll use in doing your life’s work. The challenging experiences you’re facing are shaping your character, the person capable of handling the responsibilities that come with your lifelong mission.

With great power comes great responsibility, spidey!

You were born not just to crawl. You were born to be amazing!

That’s what it’s like to be at The Seat of the Soul — an authentically empowered human being.

The Seat of the Soul: 25th Anniversary Edition with a Study Guide


GARY ZUKAV is an American spiritual teacher and the author of four consecutive New York Times Best Sellers. Beginning in 1998, he appeared more than 30 times on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss transformation in human consciousness concepts presented in the book The Seat of the Soul.

Other Books by Gary Zukav

Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics
Spiritual Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power
The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness
Soul to Soul: Communications from the Heart


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