The Eternal Nature of the Soul
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
No weapon can pierce the soul; no fire can burn it; no water can moisten it; nor can any wind wither it.
The soul is uncleavable [indivisible]; it cannot be burnt or wetted or dried. The soul is immutable, all-permeating, ever calm, and immovable— eternally the same.
The soul is said to be imponderable, unmanifested, and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing it to be such, thou shouldst not lament!
—The Bhagavad Gita II:23-25
Immutable ever, of the finest vibration of Spirit-Bliss, this soul cannot be touched or harmed by anything of grosser vibratory quality—neither by cruel thrusts of weapons nor hungry all-consuming flames; nor can liquids drench or drown it, nor defile its lips, which quaff only immortal drink; nor can the stoutest wind render it dry unto dust, nor withholding, take away its breath of life.
The Spirit differentiates Its manifestations in creation into two sets of distinctly different attributes:
the invisible soul and its powers of life,
mind, and wisdom; and
the visible forms of vibratory body and matter.
By the use of fine vibrations, the Spirit created the soul, intellect, mind, life; and, by grosser vibrations, body, kinetic energy, and atomic matter. The "weapons" of earth or solids, of fire or energy, of water or liquids, of air or wind—all these constitute gross vibrations.
The soul, the individualized reflection of Spirit, is made of a "vibrationless" or reactionless vibration of joy
—the immortal, omniscient, omnipresent,
ever new Bliss of Spirit
—it cannot be disturbed by the gross vibrations
of solids, liquids, air, or energy.
Ice collides with ice, water dashes against water, energy is matched against energy; but stones cannot impinge upon the finer vibratory elements of air or fire. Similarly, gross vibrations of matter or "atomic stones" cannot in any way impose their crudity on soul consciousness.
Gross and fine vibratory manifestations are both naught but one dreaming consciousness of Spirit, expressing through Its individualized dreaming consciousness, the soul. Even as God creates on a cosmic scale, the consciousness of man in the dream state can create individualized personalities, or "souls," will, thought, and feeling, and also the appearances of bodies, solids, liquids, gases, and energy. The man's dream might depict a battle with terrible weapons, or show the devastation of floods, fires, or storms, but none of these affect the inner ego-consciousness of the dreamer. He is not hurt or destroyed by any dream object or weapon, water, fire, or energy. Neither is the soul affected by its cosmic-dream-created objects of solids, liquids, wind, and fire.
Just as the dreamer is untouched by his dream,
so the soul— one with Spirit
—is unaffected by the objects evolved and vibrated out of the divine dream-consciousness of the Dreamer-Spirit.
The awakened soul becomes conscious of its oneness with Spirit. When the physical consciousness of man changes by meditation from delusive dreams to the divine wakefulness of soul consciousness, he beholds all solids, liquids, energies as a play of forces—as dream images floating in the mind of the Cosmic Dreamer. Then he knows that in reality the dream sword cannot slay the dream body nor is anything able to harm or destroy him!
In the previous stanza, the Gita proclaims that no outside objects, whether weapons, fire, water, or wind, can affect the soul. It now further explains that the soul itself possesses those mysterious qualities of self-conscious existence that are not vulnerable to any phenomena.
Every man is a soul and has a body.
Through delusion, he constantly finds his soul identified with the body; thus he ascribes to himself all the bodily limitations. It is the body that can be cut, burned, wetted, dried, hurt, made restless; moved from one place to another, yet able to occupy only one place at a time because it is circumscribed by a small space; and it is short-lasting. So the individual identified with the body thinks that it is he who is thus afflicted and then subjected to the final indignity of death!
The man of Self-realization, on the other hand, knows himself to be the soul—omnipresent, eternal, ever undisturbed in the largest and the tiniest caves of vibrations.
The paradox of delusion is possible because man, as mortal, is a mixture of the changeless soul and the changeable body. If he wants to avoid permanently all forms of misery, he must learn soul identification. By body identification, man has to suffer incarnations of soul-oblivion, undergoing numerous rebirths and their attendant miseries.
No matter how much one has been meditating, if he still becomes overwhelmed with bodily suffering or is afraid of disease or death, he has advanced little and has realized little.
The aspirant must meditate deeper and deeper until
he can attain ecstatic communion with God and thus forget the limitations of the body. During meditation he must not only think, but realize, that he is formless, omnipresent, omniscient, far above all bodily changes!
God sent man to earth to be entertained by the bodily dreams, not to obscure his consciousness of immortality by being identified with the body. It is therefore foolish for one to grieve about the bodily changes of which the soul, the Self, is the changeless witness.
The advanced student should meditate deeply until his thoughts become dissolved into intuition. In the lake of intuition, free from the waves of thought, the yogi can see the unruffled reflection of the moon of the soul. Forgetting his dreams of the body, he knows that the soul exists behind the screen of thoughts and is therefore unknown to them. When the yogi perceives the soul as made in the image of Spirit, he knows himself to be unchangeable, unmanifested, ever calm, like the Spirit. All devotees should meditate and interiorize their consciousness until they realize the true nature of the soul.