How can we realize that we are souls?
From: Thir Thapa
Hare Krishna Prabhuji, I have read and heard your and Other devotees +Srila Prabhupada on how to see difference between gross + subtle body and soul..iam analyzing these facts from past many months specially when i was studying Bhagvadgita as it is 2.11-30 …so to some extent (Theoratically)intellectually i can understand these things by the grace of all devotees and Lord Krishna but how to REALIZE it ,i feel that unless that knowledge of soul is revealed by lord from within my heart iam incomplete in realizing that iam eternal jivatma and thus servant of Lord and his devotees .as Prabhupada says that spiritual knoweledge is revealed not understood …plz guide,’is it so, and whats the price one has to pay for that one realization which can help me and then i can help other suffering souls in material creation.
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Transcriber: Sharan Shetty
Question: How can we realize that we are souls?
Answer: The process of bhakti does not concentrate on constantly remembering that, “We are not the body but spiritual souls.” It focuses more on acting at the level of the soul i.e. acting as a servant of Krishna.
As devotees, we do not have to bother too much as to whether we are understanding we are not the body but spirit soul. Rather, we have to focus more on whether we are serving Krishna and his devotees or not. What we will do after realising that we are not the body but spirit soul? It is not just a passive realisation, it is an active insight that will inspire us to serve Krishna. Therefore, if we go too much into the analytical mode, then such an approach will make us more passive and we will not be able to render effective service to Krishna or the devotees.
On the other hand, if we start serving Krishna, that service will keep us active and engaged. That service will purify us, it will take us to goodness and from goodness to transcendence and then automatically the revelation will come from within. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita 10.10, dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te – I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.
Therefore, at the stage where we theoretically understand that we are not the body but spirit soul, if we avoid the activities that increase our misidentification with the body and act on the devotional platform, then that will give us the soul-realisation gradually.
When we get attached to the illusion that the body is a source of pleasure then we have to philosophically contemplate that, “I am not the body so how can the body make me happy?” Or, “How can providing body any sensation makes me happy?” These two questions can help us understand that (i) we are different from the body (ii) body is material, but we are spiritual (iii) there is no actual connection between body and soul except that soul is temporarily residing in the body (iv) since our natures are entirely different the body cannot give us any pleasure.
As souls, we are not meant to serve the body but use the body to serve Krishna. Meditating on the fact that the body cannot give me pleasure and by giving pleasure to the body my purpose is not served – will help us distance ourselves and detach ourselves from bodily pleasures and help us focus on serving Krishna. By our service to Krishna we will experience higher happiness and this happiness is also one level of realisation that we get.
If we go too much into the mode of analysing that I am not the body but spirit soul then that may lead to paralysis due to analysis. Certainly, we should have the theoretical knowledge that we are not the body but spirit soul and the way to realise it is not just by deeper contemplation. Deeper contemplation is just a part and if one has the desire and capacity to do it, one can surely practise it (memorising verses from scriptures, reciting them, thinking about them from different directions etc). At the same time, if one does not have the capacity to contemplate deeply or even if one has the capacity, it is important that we render practical devotional service and act on the level of the soul. When we act at the level of the soul then gradually such acts will bring us to the level of the soul. We will naturally realise that this body is just an external shell and we are souls – servants of Krishna.
Our real life is in relating with Krishna. As long as we have this body, we will use it in his service. We will realise that our real life is not dependent on the body and it will become more joyful when we will be free from this misery giving body and are back with Krishna, serving him eternally and joyfully. Rendering service to Krishna and acting at the spiritual platform is the way we will get the blessings of Krishna and pleasing devotees will help us get their mercy. By that mercy and blessing, Krishna will reward us with the realisation that we are not the body.
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