What is the relation between soul and God?

Swami Chinmayananda

Let us first of all make sure that we agree upon the definitions of the terms used, or else there will be confusion. Can I assume that you mean by soul, the spark of life in the body that makes our bodies alive? Shall we also assume that what you mean by God is the ultimate reality, the total life force? Now we can restate the question raised by you as: “What is the relation between the life spark in us and the total life force?” If I have understood your question correctly, let me now ask you: “What is the relation between the electric current in the power-house and the current in a switched-on bulb hanging in your bedroom? What is the relation between your bedroom space and the atmospheric space?” This is exactly the relationship between the soul and God!

The individual soul is a manifestation of the Oversoul as “life in a form,” and the seemingly limited entity, the “soul in me,” is the same as the total life – God, the all-pervading. The atmospheric space is homogeneous and all-pervading, but when conditioned by four walls, a roof, and a floor, it gains an individuality as the bedroom. Arrogating to itself the ego that “I am,” the bedroom comes to claim that conditioned space as the bedroom space. In fact, it is ever the same as the eternal space. Before the room was built the room space was there, one with the entire universal space; when the room crumbles down in decay, the room space shall again lose its selfish arrogation as a separate identity and shall merge to become as it was in the beginning, one with the whole.

Similarly the soul: Conditioned by the enveloping layers of matter (body, mind, and intellect), the Spirit that reigns within gains in out egoistic false identifications with the unreal wrappings of matter a misunderstanding that “I am the body, mind, or intellect.” This mistake is the cause of our delusion and sorrow. When this misunderstanding is removed by a correct understanding of our true identity as Ātman, the soul merges to become God! In this process there is no modification or change; it is but a question of Self-discovery. The soul in its essence is God. If we follow our agreed definition: The soul minus our egoistic “mistake” is God; God plus our egoistic “mistake” is the soul.

Excerpt from In the Company of Sages [CCMT Mumbai : 2008]In the Company of Sages is a collection of responses to questions posed by devotees to Pujya Swami Chinmayanandaji and Pujya Swami Tejomayanandaji addressing many questions that can arise in the minds of spiritual students through answers which are thought provoking and immensely inspiring.© Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, reproduced courtesy of Central Chinmaya Mission Trust