The Spirituality Quest 1: What is the Soul?
SOUL: You are not the body… or the mind
Think about it – we can’t see more than a few hundred metres without a telescope, neither can we see things too close – like viruses, or even our own eyelids (pretty naft, huh!) There is more to life than what we can see, and there are way too many important things beyond our sensory perception to miss! We don’t need to prove that. You can just go on YouTube and check out some optical illusions and you’ll see what I mean.
The Bhagavad Gita explains that we’re not the body, but spiritual beings within the body. The body is just a machine that we use as a tool to do things. In due course of time, over a period of many years and decades (and even lifetimes) we start identifying ourselves with the body and mind. This misidentification according to the Bhagvad Gita is the source of all our problems. It’s not the only problem though, but other problems build on this conception. If we change the way we understand life, slowly the other problems disappear too.
Our body changes over time, but we (the soul) remain the same. The Bhagavad Gita explains:
As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.
Like for example, you may see president Trump’s car and go – “Look, there’s the president!” (Or you may just wanna swear!)
Either way, it’s not the president himself. You’re just looking at a blinking car – a body made of plastic and tin. Mr. Trump is seated inside. But we identify with the car. You see the point? That’s what we do to people, animals, and every living entity we preceive.
It is said that this misidentification is the source of all our problems. We need a change of perspective!
Ok, all that makes sense (hopefully) But you might say…
What do I (or the soul) actually look like?
And I would say – this is getting more and more exciting!
There are various descriptions of the soul given across the entire Vedas. First of all, let’s see what the books have to say about the size of the soul
When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul – Svetasvatara Upanisad 5.9
So as you can see it’s pretty tiny. But here’s some interesting stuff – in this world we are used to seeing size as an emblem of strength, but it’s not the case with spiritual stuff. Even though the size is really small, it can manoeuvre the entire body – pretty much in the same way that a little battery can manoeuvre a big clock, but in spiritual terms. So don’t get put off by size! So really – size doesn’t matter!
But then your next question would be – what about the form? Are we just some speck?
Far from that. The soul always has a body – either mundane or spiritual. Our consciousness and activities make that choice. If you cultivate a mundane material consciousness, then you have a material body like we do now. And if you develop a spiritual consciousness, at the end of life the soul takes on a spiritual body.
Pretty cool, huh? Don’t stop here then. Check out the ones on Karma & Meditation too!