The Soul - Understanding the layers of the Embodied Soul & The Soul is always Consciousness in disguise – Nothing else
Q: There are a lot of very different teachings about the soul. One teacher says that the soul has to be developed. Others say it travels through each life incarnation, and it has to be purified from the damage and traumas from lifetimes. Still others teach that the soul is that beautiful, enlightened aspect of our individually unique Self, which we must embody in order to be enlightened. What do we need to recognize and understand of soul — if anything — in order to claim our true identity?
As we have agreed between ourselves, this process of Self-realization is not an overnight affair, and it is not like I just walked into my ultimate reality and I am just That. Wonderful! Sounds great, but it is inconsistent with our experience; it is inconsistent with the scriptural revelations. Yes, there are four primary modes of teaching. The ultimate — we are just That; tap you on your shoulder, “You are That!” No more questions, nothing to be added. Any other? What is there to do? Nothing. It is means with no means. In Kashmir Shaivism it is known as anupaya; it is literally no means-means; there is no means required, because Shiva’s nature is already recognized. The nature of ultimate reality is already there; you have seen enough here, nothing needs to be done; no practice needs to be done — just that last moment, just like tap you on the shoulder, “You are That; Darling, you are just That.” Shines like a thousand suns! As wonderful as it sounds, it is not that often that we come across this. So we have to be steadfast, and apply ourselves and implicate other means.
My response here would be that the individuality, which is the soul itself — actually, let us just first speak about the soul — the soul itself has dimensions. Within the domain of Consciousness as the soul, as this embodied jiva, as this this embodied soul, it also has layers. There is this basic, primal layer which is totally identified with incarnation, totally identified with the body-mind organism — with the body-mind system, right? That is just one layer, and we could call that the most primitive layer of the soul, which is literally composed of that which is simply ephemeral — and not even real when we start digging under it. That is really what teachers should be calling an ego — that – that temporal misconception, that temporal identification, simply that selfishness usurping life; usurping much greater life.
Then comes a greater layer, a more subtle layer, and that layer has nothing to do with identifying with the organism itself. It is more subtle, because the identification there comes primarily and is supported by subtler functioning of the life force itself, and that is our most innermost sense of the Self — on whatever level — who we think of ourselves to be. Even those of us who have that engrossed Consciousness already know that we are not just this physiology, on whatever level — experiential, mental, even on the level of feeling — we know we are not just this body. We have these glimpses, momentary experiences — some are more prolonged, — that have informed us we are more than just this body.
So there is this other realm, the realm of the soul where it is literally composed of that subtler material. That realm of the soul is where all of the longings of the soul — and we could still argue and agree that these are where the sediment of collected impressions are being stored — the longing of the soul. That soul cannot abandon this at will, unless that soul is ripe. In other words, the soul is Consciousness — always Consciousness in disguise — nothing else. “Atman is Brahman” is that line — Consciousness expressing Itself as that individuality, is precisely that very, very mysterious play of lila. It is that play of Consciousness where — not to diminish the intensity of the answer — where Consciousness is playing “hide and seek” with Itself. I personally don’t like that hide and seek analogy very much, but I am introducing it here just to weave it gently.
So this hide and seek is really that sacrifice — the original sacrifice of Unity that took place — that sacrifice within Oneness for the multiplicity to exist, just like the Upanishadic line, “I am One let Me be many”; literally, that “I am One, let Me be many.” As soon as that recognition, “I am One,” that Oneness, that still pure state of Awareness, and then with that inherent throb of Consciousness within, the first recognition, “Let Me be many” — as soon as that “Let Me be many” arose, it burst into a myriad of forms and phenomena, and that in itself is literally where Consciousness fragments Itself, and evolution is set in motion.
The evolution itself is set in motion, and that is what could be viewed and scrutinized from various views of philosophies and doctrines, which address this very process of unfoldment — unfoldment and expansion — where Consciousness fragmented Itself for the sake of multiplicity now. It would have to unfold, until It reaches that moment in time within Its own evolution, when the process of involution can begin — not before. In other words, until it reaches a form here — even in the domain of this phenomenal existence — a form where that process of reconciliation can begin. In other words, another sacrifice would have to be made — the sacrifice which will mirror the original sacrifice which led to this multiplicity. However, in this case it is the sacrifice of the multiplicity, for Oneness to be regained. It is that breath out, and breathing in — it is that Om Namah Shivaya.
Remember that expression, Om Namah Shivaya? That mantra literally encompasses in itself the most ancient of all mantras — Om Namah Shivaya— literally pure Awareness expresses Itself in form. Om Namah Shivaya— namah here means, “in the name of” — in the name of all this form was created. However, as soon as you say, “Om Namah Shivaya” is that Om Namah unfolding and coming back as Shiva. In other words, form arises for the sake of that Formless to behold Itself fully — and immediately It is withdrawn back into Its own breath — because that is the way of Awareness.
That — that, however you prefer to see it as grand macro-cosmos or as micro-cosmos, as infinitesimally small process — is where the soul literally finds itself. Our soul is inseparable from the very unfoldment and withdrawal. So unless the soul is ripe — ripe as it were, where it embodied that fully or in as much fullness as it can — so that it can be inhaled back if you will, or withdrawn. So the very claiming of your true identity here — in my understanding, and in my view and experience — you cannot jump out of your skin. In other words, you cannot bypass any stage of this process; no matter how wildly we may implement any methodology or technology — but of course there are empowering factors in that process, and I will let you figure out on your own what these empowering factors are. Of course, this empowering factor is the working of Grace Itself.
~ Igor Kufayev, Online Darshan transcribed Q&A Costa Rica, August 23, 2014
Anupaya is one of four upayas – methods or means to self-realization in Kashmir Shaivism. They are: anavopaya (“inferior means” such as practicing pranayama, meditation, mantra chanting, and yoga), shaktopaya (“medium means” where there must be continuity in the cycle of awareness centered between any two thoughts or any two movements such as between waking and dreaming, between one breath and next breath, etc.), shambhavopaya (“superior means” where the thought-free state is maintained by the Grace of the master), and lastly anupaya (“no means” - direct, immediate realization).
“Atman is Brahman” "is a classic phrase that sums up Vedanta's primary view about ultimate reality and our human relationship to it. It tells us that the atman, the individual soul is the Brahman, the Universal or Cosmic Soul - that in our deepest Selves, we are divine.
Lila is that divine play, the play or sport of Brahman.
Upanishads are a collection of Vedic texts said to be revealed truths concerning the nature of ultimate reality (Brahman) and describing the character and form of human salvation (moksha). TheTaittiriya Upanishad describes creation, how the Lord willed, “Let Me be many!”