The Divine Soul
The soul is one of two energies that make up a human being. You are made up of two separate energies, one material, the other divine.
- Material energy (maya) = body, senses, mind, intellect
- Divine energy = soul or atma
The divine soul resides within the human body near the physical heart. It is life itself. Just as a small candle spreads its light throughout a dark room, so the soul's radiance enlivens the body, senses, mind and intellect and inspires them to function.
Although the soul is in the human body (as it is in all life forms), this divine energy can't be detected by material senses or understood by the material mind. We can only infer it's existence in two ways - first, we are alive, secondly, we desire happiness.
The soul is a part of God
There are hundreds of Sanskrit verses that explain that the divine soul is a part of God. Consequently it has an unbreakable relationship with Him. The Vedas say, "The soul is a child of God." It can be said that the souls reside in God, and also that God resides in the soul. He is the origin and the ultimate refuge of all the souls.
God is described in the Vedas as vibhu chit, absolute and unlimited Divinity. The soul is anu chit, an infinitesimal fraction of Divinity. God is also anshi, the origin of the soul's existence. The soul is ansh, a part of that whole.
The soul's size is described in the Shvetashvatar Upanishad. If you took one human hair and divided it lengthwise 100 times, and if you took one of those divisions and again divided it 100 times, the soul is more subtle than that. This means it is inconceivably small.
The soul resides within the body, but due to its divine nature, the soul is eternal and indestructible.
Physical changes that we see in the body such as birth, growth, deterioration, aging and death do not affect the soul. Its individual existence remains pure and unchanged. The science of reincarnation describes how the eternal and divine soul has entered countless births since eternity.
Every part has a natural love for what it originates from. Imagine you are holding a lump of earth in your hand. When you release it, it falls immediately to the ground. That small portion of earth has a natural attraction to what it belongs to - the earth itself.
Likewise, the soul being a part of God has a natural attraction to God. Any desire we have for happiness is actually an unknown desire to find God, because God is perfect happiness.
An ansh is also a natural servant of its anshi. A tree has branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit. These are the parts of the tree. Whatever nutrition and water the roots receive or whatever sunlight is received by the leaves serves the tree. The nature of every part is to serve the whole.
Similarly, the divine soul as a part of God is a natural servant of God. Our ultimate aim is not just to receive God's bliss but also to ultimately serve Him.
The Soul is not God
Although there is a qualitative similarity between the divine soul and God, the soul is not the same as God. If you, the soul, were the same as God, you would experience yourself as omnipresent, omniscient and blissful.
Instead, you are reading this in one place at a particular time. You are not simultaneously reading it omnipresently. When you keep losing your car keys and misplacing your ATM card, you know you are not all-knowing. You also know you live more in the hope of happiness, than in the continuous experience of happiness.
The Soul is apart from God
What is blocking our ability to recognize our spiritual self and to know God is the material power called maya.
If you throw a pebble in a pond, it creates a distortion. The ripples that form make it impossible for you to see your reflection clearly. Although you are a soul and you have an eternal, unbreakable relationship with God, you don't know or experience this. At this point, it's just a theory.
Maya creates this distortion. Due to maya, a divine soul is in ignorance. Sometimes ignorance is referred to as 'illusion'. But this is incorrect. Ignorance is an experienced fact.
We experience the effect of material ignorance in two ways:
- We have forgotten who we actually are (soul)
- We are strongly attracted to the material world
Material ignorance causes us to think, "I am the body", and, "The happiness I desire will come from the material world around me."
Yet, great Saints affirm the opposite of this. They declare, "You are the soul. You belong to God. He is yours, and you are His. You desire divine happiness."
The Soul desires God
This situation is incredibly easy to rectify with a little help. Due to maya's influence, we are simply facing away from the source of true happiness. Through your inner conscience, the soul is continuously inspiring you to keep searching. As described earlier - this is your quest!
True balance is recognizing your spiritual need, and while living in the world, fulfilling it. If you only ate vitamins and no minerals, what kind of state would your health be in? Similarly, without nourishing the soul by giving it divine association, you don't address the source of your need for happiness.
By simply reversing your orientation and turning to God in the right way, not only could your material ignorance be eliminated, but your pure and original self could be known, and your eternal relationship with God and His unlimited divine bliss could also be realized forever. This is accomplished through bhakti yoga meditation.