The ego consciousness in man keeps the soul attached to matter by presenting a series of mortal desires, and by emphasizing the "individuality" or peculiarities of each man, reminding him of the limited physical relations of country, race, nation, family, possessions, individual characteristics, and so forth. The soul, a reflection of Spirit, should manifest its omnipresent, all-knowing character. Samadhi reminds the soul of its omnipresence. Struggling for the state of samadhi through meditation is thus the way to overcome the ego consciousness. (bg)
The Spirit is ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new omnipresent Joy; the soul is the individualized reflection of ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Joy, confined within the body of each and every being.
The universal everything is made of the singular consciousness of God. When a spark of that consciousness is individualized by God, it becomes a soul, capable of ultimately expressing the God-image in which it is made. In essence, the soul is perfect and complete, an exact reflection of God's ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss. But when incarnate, it takes on the dualistic nature of creation, outwardly expressing primarily either a masculine or feminine, positive or negative, half of its essence. (sc)
Man lives in one body and with one name only once. He never reincarnates again with the same form and identity. A person may wear a garment for some time and then discard it, never to use it again. Similarly, the soul wears a different body in each of many lifetimes until, through reincarnation and spiritual evolution, it ascends back to Spirit. Thus you live only once as any particular person, but the soul, the eternal you, lives through numerous reincarnations, carrying with it the cumulative personality and karmic tendencies of its past existences.
The soul is only a witness; it does not engage itself in the operations of the human intelligence, mind, and senses. It is an observer of the workings of Cosmic Nature in the body. All states of consciousness and all activities of man are considered to be indirectly witnessed by God and be directly instigated by Prakriti and by man's individual karma. (bg)
'This Self [Soul] is never born nor does it ever perish; nor having come into existence will it again cease to be. It is birthless, eternal, changeless, ever-same (unaffected by the usual processes associated with time). It is not slain when the body is killed.' (The Gita II:20)
The following analogy gives an illustration of the nature and immortality of the soul. No analogies are perfect in expressing absolute verities, but they do help the mind to image abstract concepts.
The moon is reflected in a cup containing water; the cup is broken and the water runs out; where does the reflection of the moon go? The reflection of the moon may be said to have returned to its inseverable identity in the moon itself. If another cup of water is placed under the moon, another reflection of the moon would be reincarnated!
The soul is similarly reflected in the bodily cup filled with the water of the mind; within it we see the moon-soul, circumscribed by the bodily limitations, as the reflection of the omnipresent moon of Spirit.
With the destruction of the body-cup, the moon reflection may for time disappear in the Spirit; but, by use of the power of the free choice bestowed on it as the image of the Spirit, it created desires and karma while on earth that cause it to choose to be reflected again as the moon-soul within another bodily cup. Thus, though the bodies of man be mortal and changeable, immortal is the soul within them.
The reflected moon, circumscribed by a little cup, becomes, at the destruction of the cup, the one moon whose rays spread over the sky. Similarly, the soul, when fully liberated from imprisoning desires, becomes omnipresent like the Spirit.
Each soul must find his way back alone. No one but you is responsible for your mistakes and habits. Once you have found your Self in your soul, you are free. But so long as you are not free, so long is there danger; you will have to come back and work out all the desires that remain unfinished. Your body is mortal but the soul outlasts the body.
"A soul, being invisible by nature, can be distinguished only by the presence of its body or bodies. The mere presence of a body signifies that its existence is made possible by unfulfilled desires. ... God encased the human soul successively in three bodies - the idea, or causal body; the subtle astral body, seat of man’s mental & emotional natures; & the gross physical body."
[My incarnation is voluntary. I have finished my schooling but I don't want to go back to God until others have been freed.]
All souls are equal. The only difference between you and me is that I made the effort. I showed God that I love Him, and He came to me. Love it the magnet from which God cannot escape.
The soul always remains unpolluted, like age-long buried gold. All one has to do is wash off the dirt and spiritual rays will shine forth through one's joy.
Soul is individualized Spirit, which is unmanifested, ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss. The soul, as Spirit's reflection, has the same qualities as Spirit, but the soul identifies itself with the three bodily sheaths that cover it:
— the ideation body or consciousness,
— the astral body or life force,
— and the physical body of flesh — and their normal and abnormal conditions.
They say that all the thoughts of all one’s incarnations are reflected in the eyes. The eyes reveal the whole story of the soul, not only of this life but of past lives.
The soul descends from Cosmic Consciousness to the plane of light and down to the region of flesh. The pure soul, the atman, is called the jiva when it is identified with its mortal coverings—body mind, senses and other principles of Nature. Even so, the true essence of the soul remains untainted Spirit—the Divinity in every being. It is only owing to the outer identification with the physical paraphernalia that the inner light and divine consciousness become screened behind delusion. Meditation clears the cosmic mist as the descended consciousness of the soul starts ascending to its lost higher planes of existence.
(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines