Evolution of Soul

by Jai Maha Dev



Now we will discuss the evolution of the soul.  The soul referred to here is the embodied soul (JIVATMAN), which means the conscious entity that has manifested its inherent energy (in the form of PRANA) and is united by means of Avidya with the non-conscious primordial matter (PRAKRITI).


The subtlest state of the embodied soul is the spirit-self (PURUSH).  This is ATMAN (absolute Consciousness) manifested in the form of living energy (Life Force, PRANA).


Purush is said to be united with Prakriti, and this union of Purush and Prakriti causes the descent of the soul into the ‘body’ of mind and matter.  The initial manifestation of this ‘body’ is known as the causal body of the soul, and is the Universal Mind (pure Creative Intelligence); this is the highest principle of Divine Wisdom and is called MAHATATVA.  This causal body is common to all souls. Next, comes the subtle body of the soul which is comprised of the principle of self-consciousness (ego), the subtle states of matter known as the five TANMATRAS (spaciousness, luminosity, gaseousness, liquidity, and solidity), the intellect (individual intelligence), the gross mind (including the memory system) and senses.  Finally, there comes the gross physical body comprised of the sense organs, connective tissues and other organs, the central nervous system, and other gross body parts.


It is said that Purush is united with Prakriti: what does this mean?  The Vedic wisdom tells us that both the Soul (ATMAN) and Prakriti are beginingless, and that Prakriti is pervaded by the Soul. Since it is pervaded by the Soul there can be neither joining nor disjoining of Prakriti from Atman, and vice versa. Since Purush is simply ATMAN in the state of emanating its inherent Energy (PRANA), clearly Prakriti can be said to be pervaded by Purush, and so it is (every particle of matter in the Universe is energized).  This idea that Purush is united with Prakriti constitutes the commencement of Avidya (Ignorance).


The uniting of Purush with Prakriti is the beginning of the Cosmic Dance; it is the beginning of the Drama of Creation (LILA), which is simply the play or sport of Energy and Matter.  This interaction of Energy and Matter (which are really inseparateable), creates the illusion of duality, the illusion of polarity.  Energy and Matter are NOT really opposed to one another, just as two teams on a playing field are not really opposed to one another; it is just a sport, it is just a drama.


The first birth of the soul (jivatman) in a physical body is likely that of a one-celled organism on this planet or some other planet in the Cosmos, either in this current Creation or in one that preceded this Creation (i.e., some time before the so-called Big Bang). Though it is true that some bodies do in fact evolve according to the way described by Darwin, we are not concerned here with the evolution of the body.  We are explaining the evolution of the soul, which means the transmigration of the living soul (jivatman) from one body to another body. 


According to Hindu Shastras, the soul passes through 8,400,000 births in different species before it attains a human body.  This may be an actual number, but most likely it is a generalization used for the sake of conveying to us that we must have been born in many, many different bodies before we attained this precious human birth.


We have all been born and lived in innumerable forms, and in each life we accumulated more and more impressions from all our experiences (actions).  This is all part of the Drama.  We have lived as sea creatures, birds, animals of the forest, and domesticated animals too.  Finally, we were born as a human being.


In our first birth as a human being (we have already been born many, many times as human beings), we were faced with all the subtle impressions (SAMSKARAS) from our innumerable previous births. Associated with each impression is a corresponding tendency (VASANA).   The tendencies cause us to think. Some thoughts are conducive to our well-being, and others are detrimental to it.  Fortunately, we have the wisdom to distinguish between the two and make our own choice. Now, this is where the drama (or you can call it a Game, or Sport) really gets interesting and challenging for us. To go higher and higher, and attain greater and greater heights of Consciousness, we have to be very careful and conscientious.  If we are not careful, we may go backwards and may even have to be born again in a non-human body, and await our time to be born once again as a human being. 


It is only as a human being that we are in command of our destiny, because only as human beings are we capable of the power of discernment.  Other species do not have this special faculty of higher intelligence.  Thus, animals do not perform good and bad deeds, only human beings do.  Even if an animal, such as a dog, is observed to save someone from harm, it should be understood as an automatic response based on the dog’s impressions acquired in an earlier human life, and NOT as a conscious altruistic choice made by the dog. Similarly, animals that exhibit inordinately ferocious behavior do so not as a result of any ‘decision’ made in its current life, because decision-making is not within its present capacity.  All of its actions are based solely on its conditioning, which is completely out of its control.  For example, no dog or horse will ever decide to train itself to run at the race track; if they are good runners it is because of their inherent conditioning or the result of outside conditioning imposed by others.


As human beings, we too are subject to both inherent and external conditioning.  For example, we bring with us all our past impressions and tendencies which certainly influence our thinking.  We are also conditioned by our external environment, particularly when we are very young.  This too is part of the drama, and we should see it as such.  For example, we know that little babies are going to behave differently than teenagers, and teenagers are going to behave differently than adults, and senior adults differently than middle-aged adults. This is all external conditioning in the form of the ever-changing ‘external’ body.


Despite all of our external conditioning, we begin to make our own choices from a very young age, and as human beings we are responsible for all of those choices.  This means we are free to do whatever we want, but we are not free from the consequences of what we do.  The responsibility for paying for our karma (actions) will always reside with ourselves and not with others.


As human beings, we are bound to make mistakes, because no human being is perfect. But a wise human being will learn from all their mistakes (and even from the mistakes of others) and will avoid making mistakes in the future. This is how a human being evolves in Consciousness and becomes a very high soul. [Not by ‘trial and error’ or recklessness, but through observation, introspection, and learning.] 


A high soul is a human being who sees the selfishness and pain of this world, but does not get caught up in it. Because they are not caught up in it, they can help remove the pain of others by showing them a way out of their turmoil.


We can end our turmoil and suffering by deliberately controlling our mind and directing it to do good actions.  Good actions are simply those things which are conducive to our well-being: such as having good habits, practicing self-control, keeping our ego in check, and so forth.   


When we become really serious about our spiritual growth (raising our consciousness) we will embrace the Yogic lifestyle.  A Yogi, a true practitioner of Yoga, will ascend to the highest state of Consciousness and attain the state of Liberation (Moksha, Nirvana, and the Highest Heaven).  The Yogi realizes the permanent union of the Self with the Supreme Self, and lives in that state forever.  OM

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