Soul and Oversoul
1. Soul is the Reality and the Essence. It is one as well as a totality. In one there is always the delusion of many, and the totality does signify the existence therein of so many parts. The ideas of a part and of the whole go cheeck by jowl, and both the part as well as the whole are characterized by the similarity of the essential nature in them.
2. The essence of a thing has its own attributive nature and the two cannot be separated from each other. Just as the essence is both one and many, so is the case with its attributive nature.
3. The essence of a thing is its Jauhar, its very life breath. It is the only primal principle that pervades everywhere and is the reality behind all forms and colours. This active life principle is the very source of creation and goes variously by the names of Prakriti in the subtle, Pradhan in the causal, and Maya or matter in the physical world.
4. The attributive nature of a thing is its integrated part and parcel in which its nature inheres. Just take the case of light. Can light be conceived of as apart from the sun, or radiant vitality apart from a gloriously healthy personality? One does not exist without the other as the two are inseparable and fully embedded in each other.
5. Any attempt to consider the two – nature and its essence – as separate, even if only in imagination, is bound to bring in the idea of duality. It is only in terms of this duality that one can conceive of the creation as distinct from the creative principle as being the result of the outer play of the twin forces of spirit, called matter and soul. The scientific investigations too have now come to the irresistible conclusion that all life is one continuous existence at different levels and what we call inert matter is nothing but energy at it's lowest stage.
In nature itself, both in the subtle and causal planes, these two principles are always at work: God and Prakriti in the subtle, God and Pradhan in the causal, and soul and matter in the physical universe. The creation everywhere is but the outcome of the impact of the one on the other.
6. Soul then is the life principle and the root cause at the core of everything, for nothing can come into manifestation without it. It has a quickening effect, and imparts its life-impulse to the seemingly inert matter by contact with it. It is by the life and light of the quickening impulse of the soul that matter assumes so many forms and colours with their variety of patterns and designs which we see in the Universe.
7. This life current or soul is extremely subtle, a self effulgent spark of Divine Light, a drop from the Ocean of Consciousness, with no beginning and no end, and eternally the same, an unchangeable permanence, boundless, complete in Itself, an ever-existent and all-sentient entity, immanent in every form, visible and invisible, for all things manifested themselves because of It. Nothing is made that is not made by It.
The One remains, the many change and pass, Life like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity.
8. Just as the sun spreads out its rays in the world, as an ocean carries on its surface bubbles, ripples, waves, tides and currents, and as a forest is made up of innumerable trees, so does Oversoul or God, when looked at through His creation, appear to be split into so many forms, exhibiting and reflecting the light and life of God in a rich panorama of variegated colours. Yet His spirit runs through all alike, just as a string through so many beads, while He, unconcerned, remains apart from all in His own fullness.
9. The first downward projection of the Spiritual Current, as it emanated from God, brought into manifestation, ether – akash –, which is the most subtle of the elements and spreads everywhere in space. This has two aspects. The one that of the spirit or soul remaining unmanifest in the ether, and the other, that of the manifest ether, wherein the two forces, positive and negative, which are inherent in it, further combined and brought into manifestation air – vayu – and exactly in the same way the manifest air gave birth to fire – agni – and the manifest fire produced water – jal – and the manifest water led to the formation of earth – prithvi –, while the spirit of each element which is essentially the same remained unmanifest throughout.
In the same way as above, what we call God has an essential Godhood, absolute and imageless, the life and spirit of the Universe, and at the same time the Universe itself with its varied creations full of and manifesting so many forms and colours, appearing and disappearing like ripples in the sea of life.
The unmanifest and impersonal God is free from all attributes while his individualized rays, as manifested in countless forms and colours by constant contact with Maya, Prakriti and Pradhan (physical, subtle and causal) feel themselves, through ignorance of their true nature, as limited and separate from each other and are thereby drawn into the ambit of the inexorable Karmic Law or the Law of Cause and Effect, which entails a consequence of every deed, every word and every thought. What is unfulfilled in one life is fulfilled in another, and thus the giant wheel of life and death once set in motion goes on perpetually by the force of its own inexhaustible momentum. Herein lies the difference between the individualized soul on the one hand, and the Great Soul of the Universe (called God) on the other, the one being bound and limited, the other being without bounds or limits.
Source: ‘The Crown of Life – Part I, Chapter I: Soul and Oversoul,’ by Kirpal Singh, 1894–1974.