This morning I sat on the balcony, observing the sunrise over the Tuscany hills. This time of year is beautiful, as a vibrant green returns to the trees and peacocks run around in excitement. Noticing that the fresh new leaves were gently swaying in the breeze, I pondered a challenge I recently received: “Have you seen the soul? Prove that there is such a thing.” Good challenge. I responded with the basic philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita and the man was satisfied, yet still I felt as though I could have explained it more clearly.
Now, we know that air exists and when moving is called wind, but have we actually seen this air or wind? As the leaves and branches of the tree gently sway in the breeze, we certainly know that wind is present, as also when the clouds move overhead, but have we actually seen the wind? Is it the air moving that we are seeing or just the effects of that movement, or we could say the symptoms of the wind? In fact we cannot see the wind but we can see how wind affects the environment.
Similarly, we cannot see the spiritual particle called soul, but we can see its symptoms. It is described that consciousness is the symptom of the soul; it is the soul’s intrinsic quality. The soul is sat-cit-ananda; eternal, fully conscious and full of blissful love, whereas this physical body is composed of unconscious elements in constant flux. Whilst the soul is within the body, it acts as a battery supply by keeping the body working, yet when it leaves at death, then the body quickly decays. Although the soul is said to be situated in the heart chakra, its symptoms are detected throughout the entire body. Even if a person looses a limb, they may still feel as though that limb were there, their consciousness still extending to the missing limb, producing a “phantom limb” phenomenon.
There are many who say that consciousness is produced from chemical synthesis; however, although they have a laboratory full of chemicals, such chemists still fail to produce consciousness. They say that life comes from matter, whereas ancient teachings declare that life comes only from life. Matter goes through constant change, but the conscious spirit soul is an energy beyond decay or change. In fact the soul, or in other words, ourselves, are in a foreign place.
Someone living in a city may claim to see the air as it carries dust and pollution, or pollen in the country; yet again, this is not the air we see, but what it carries. Similarly, the soul carries layers of dirt in the form of false ego, bodily identification, lust, anger, and greed, to name but a few, but these can be removed by such a process as buddhi yoga or the yoga of spiritual devotion.
We can feel the wind as it caresses our skin, and so also we can feel the soul within a loved one when they touch our hearts. It is the soul who is the person we feel so much love for, not this temporary body. Although their body may lie before us, when a loved one dies, we still lament. We understand that someone has left us, just as they have left behind their body, their temporary residence. It may have been someone who physically attracted us, maybe sexually, yet now we are repulsed by the decaying form left behind.
So, as the wind has great power and potential when harnessed, we also have incredible potential, if only we can understand our actual identity and true source. When we pray, like in the Hare Krishna chant, we can become infused with unlimited potential, so long as we know how to direct it properly towards our spiritual source.