The Soul

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Ghosts certainly exist but we must know what exactly a ghost is? And how is it different from the soul? The ghost is the stuff of the vital desires, which are very strong and persistent; and when the human body dies, these desires still remain alive. They have a kind of subsistence and even a form, which is very similar to the form of the living man of which these desires were a part. So in certain conditions it can be seen even physically – you might say an invisible visibility – and there are so many facts of this kind that there is no reason to doubt the existence of this. But they basically are a kind of a conglomeration of the desires of the dead man and they are so strong that they persist for their satisfaction. There are human beings who are very attached to their wealth and after the death the individual remains around the wealth and protects it. They can even harm the person who tries to steal the money or makes an attempt to possess the wealth. But it is not the soul. It is only a conglomeration of a few desires, which have been left unsatisfied, and they are so powerful that they want to persist in the same old atmosphere.

Over and above the vital desires there are also mental thoughts. There is a big distinction between desires on one hand and mental thoughts on the other. This entire science is very briefly given in one Upanishad, which is called Taittiriya Upanishad. There are hundred and eight Upanishads, out of which twelve are very important Upanishads like Isha Upanishad, Katha Upanishad, Kena Upanishad, Chandogya Upanishad, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad, Taittiriya Upanishad are some of these twelve Upanishads. They are extremely important because they give in brief what is given at length in the Vedas. Vedas are such a vast literature – four big books containing thousands of mantras – that even one lifetime is not enough to read them. They are all in Sanskrit and in a language which one cannot understand. But the Upanishads are more intelligible, that is why many people turn to Upanishads to understand what is written in the Vedas. They are very brief, for example Isha Upanishad has only eighteen verses but in eighteen verses the whole philosophy of the Veda is contained. Some other Upanishads are smaller or bigger. Taittiriya is quite a long one but it is a very important Upanishad, which says that a human being is basically composed of three parts – annamaya, pranamaya, and manomaya. Annamaya is the physical, which is visible to all of us. Anna means food and food is a word, which is used in Sanskrit also for physical.

There is also pranamaya, which is a vital self. This vital being consists of desires; now the word desire is only a kind of a small abbreviation of many things. There is first of all instinct at the base of the desire. There is a distinction between instinct and desire. Instinct can even be unconscious but desire is always conscious – when you say: I desire something, you are conscious about it ̣ but in the case of instinct even though there is an impulsion you may be unconscious about it. When you say, 'Instinctively I got up', you may not have even intended but instinctively you get up. So an instinct is an urge to do something without any voluntary decision or even any conscious decision. You may also become conscious of it but for doing it you may not need to take a conscious decision. 'I become angry', is an instinct, anger is an instinct; curiosity is an instinct. You hear some sound and immediately you want to know what it is; I enter into some house, and immediately I begin to look around – it is simply curiosity, there may be no purpose in looking around but there is a real curiosity to find out what it is all about. Sexual desire is also an instinct; there are some attractions which are instinctive, there are some repulsions which are instinctive – for example the mongoose has an instinctive dislike and enmity against the snake and vice versa. Similarly among human beings also there are instinctive attractions and instinctive repulsions, they are involuntary. But all of them imply some kind of action.  All instincts are, as it were, drives of action; they result always in action – there is an emotional feeling and there is also a drive towards action. Now this is the lowest part of our desire.

At a little higher level, instinct begins to manifest as a desire in which you consciously begin to have an intention, motive and impulsion to do something to satisfy the intention and motive. There is also a distinction between motive and intention although we use the two words interchangeably. My motive is to get knowledge so that I can pass the examination. Going to the library and getting a book are intentions aimed at realizing that motive. Therefore, the higher object is called the motive and all other actions that we need to fulfill or to realize that motive are called intentions.

In a desire there is an emotion involved; the base of it may be instinct but not only instinct; you may have gone beyond the instinct. So although in the beginning it may have begun with an instinct, afterwards you begin to have a conscious desire for an object in which there is emotion involved, then there is a motive involved in it and then there may be an intention of doing something. And usually the desire has a kind of an urge to fulfill itself.


At a still higher level, there may be pure emotions. Not desires, but emotions, which are states of feelings. When you go to a beautiful forest full of flowers, you feel very happy – there is no desire to clutch at anything or to obtain something, but you feel happy, that state of happiness is an emotion. I am sitting with you and I feel very happy, there is a joy, there is no desire in it but it is a state of happiness. Similarly, there is no desire for sorrow, yet there is an emotion of sorrow. One can have a long list of various kinds of emotions. These different kinds of emotions are called feelings. While I am talking to you there is a real joy but a special movement of it may be feelings of joy. I may talk to you, there may be fun, there may be wit and it produces that feeling of greater happiness – apart from a general state of happiness there is a greater happiness – it is a feeling.  Various branches of emotions are all feelings.

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