A question from Facebook:
I’ve heard this explained in MANY ways.. but I want to hear your understanding.
The Atma is the real self, the true essence which remains unchanged.
However, it is often translated as the “soul”.
The soul is what carry’s our past impressions (samskaras), our karmas, from this life to the next – meaning, it is not the Atma, because the Atma is never changed!
How can we make this clear distinction between the soul and the Atma? Please share your own definitions to help us all build a deeper understanding into these Truths.
I look forward to hearing your insights!
Atma is not the soul. Atma is the essence of the universe, it is constant flow and dynamic with all of reality. Beings that are of the essence of localized worlds are identified with deities.
Soul that part of the true self that is as enduring as the Atma as long as only if it has an honest relationship with the worlds or universe. The soul while incarnated, the spirit essence, prana, closest to the soul informs the body and the relationship with the world. The experience, samkaras, karas, disciplines, temprements, that previous incarnations have built in a relationship to prana, is carried through lifetimes. That informed prana has an energetic relationship on the body it inhabits, with temprements and attachments it drives the body and personality, and in the physical sense its relationship with the world physically. When we spiritually identify with the soul and the spirit it works with, through it we can identify and have a relationship with spirit of the world and then Atma. One can choose to become one with Atma, whether you call Shiva or Vishnu or Brahma, or even more detachedly as a Buddha. Or one can choose to continue the cycle or choose a dynamic relationship with it all. Religions and spiritual practices in all of the literature describes these identity pattern people choose, lives to inhabit, demons, ghosts, demigods, human, animals, or even beings on other planes or lokas. Or unique things that inhabit the inbetween places. Or secluded places like Tantric Hidden land traditions, or build lokas like pure land traditions. Either way it depends on our relationship with the dynamic essence of what is, atma/universe or some smaller subsection of it. We can be absorbed into it or hold onto a pattern. This is the soul. Most go blind from lifetime to lifetime. Few learn to program possibilities of various lives, fewer learn to disconnect from it all to experience it all, or can you.
The dynamic aspects, for example, between Shiva and Shakti, observation and manifestion, and the interplay between the two, where we are small parts of that dynamic. If you are disconnected thoroughly, do you have a relationship with Shiva/Shakti, or Maya, no? If you are connected, are you only that and that only?
I am of the mind set, keep the practice, build that intellect with the soul, so that incarnation in this tool, we develop and evolve, and reflect that back into our soul. And then have that relationship with that is in the world, or Atma or what have you, and your experience and naming of those dynamics. Then you can choose, or not.
Try to know before hand, so that the ego, body and our developed tool is in agreement with the working process. You can not forge the best of all swords if you don’t know your hammer as a master, and work with Anvil as a master. So are we, forging our soul, with our relationship with our being and the universe. Then there is the mystery of the crucible…