So when we speak of educating a child in mental development, three things which are necessary are: the power of conceiving, the power of understanding and the power to withdraw from the rush of emotions so that one can witness them. These three powers are extremely important in mental education.
Every human being normally has got these three elements – the body, the vital and the mental; but none of these is the soul, although the soul is present in all of them. The soul is the stuff of everything but the soul is still different from all the three. Many people think that the vital prana is the soul, which it is not. Similarly many people think that the mind is the soul (which also it is not) because mind seems to be uplifted and high and can move about in imagination – it looks as if it is ethereal, something corresponding to our concept of something that is superior and high. Now it is true that mind is certainly superior to many things in our consciousness but there is still something deeper than mind and that is the soul. In Sanskrit it is called antaratman. How do we distinguish between mind and the soul? Since the soul is the stuff of everything, it will naturally have qualities that are present in the body, life and mind. The soul, for example, has a kind of substantiality which even matter has got, it has feelings just as the vital has got, it has the knowledge just as the mind has got. Now these three things are present in the soul and yet it is something else. What is that something else? First, a spontaneous sweetness in the consciousness, spontaneous sweetness, not depending upon objects – when I am with you, I may feel very sweet because of your presence; with you I understand what sweetness of a relationship is. But when the same sweetness, or even greater sweetness is experienced without dependence upon any object that is the sign of the soul.
In Katha Upanishad it is described as madhvadaha – madhu means honey, adaha means eater – the soul is described as the eater of honey, the eternal honey; it is like a sponge which constantly oozes out honey. Each one of us has got a soul, just as each one of us has got a mind. It is full of sweetness, inherent sweetness, you do not have to manufacture it and you do not have to be in contact with any object in the world to experience it. When you touch it you will automatically find sweetness in it and you will be filled with sweetness. That is the first characteristic of the soul – inherent sweetness of consciousness – not merely sweetness coming from outside, but that which is inherent, inborn – just as the capacity of thinking is inborn in the mind, similarly the capacity of experiencing sweetness independent of any object in the world, internally, is a speciality of the soul. The second characteristic of the soul is that it has an automatic knowledge of the truth. If the soul is brought into the real play, put in the presence of many facts, many people, it will automatically turn to the truthful man, truthful woman, truthful child, automatically, just as the sunflower turns automatically to the sun. The soul is like a needle that automatically turns to all that is truthful. In the mind, truth is to be sought for. In the mind it may be mixed with error. We start with ignorance and doubt and gradually eliminate errors and arrive at some kind of truth. It is a big labour and in that too we are not sure whether it is really true or not. We simply say: 'I think it may be true, probably it is true,' and to make it certain you require so much evidence. Only then can you say, 'Now I think it is really true' and even then fresh evidence might emerge and disqualify what was previously believed to be the truth. We see in the judgments of the courts, how very often, even with clinching evidence, a wrong judgment is given. So, mind is a seeker of truth, it may arrive at the truth but it is never certain about it. The soul on the contrary is automatically sure of what is true, without evidence. Therefore if the soul consciousness is really discovered, it can automatically find out what is true and what is false. It is compared with a swan, which has the capacity of separating milk from water. It is so said that if you fabricate a story and give it to the soul, it will automatically separate the truth from the falsehood, it will not look for evidence. Similarly, it has another capacity of distinguishing between good and evil, who is noble and who is not noble, whether somebody is truly self–sacrificing or not or only making a pretence of sacrifice. Similarly, the soul has a real eye for beauty; even in the ugly it can find out what is beautiful. That is why, when a mother has real love for her child, she always finds the child to be beautiful – because real motherhood is very near to the soul. All mothers in the world while experiencing real motherhood are very near to their soul. Fathers cannot experience this but mothers experience this very deeply, that is why motherhood is such an important thing in life. So, sweetness is the first recognition of the soul, and then comes the capacity to distinguish truth from falsehood, capacity to distinguish good from evil and the capacity to distinguish between the beautiful and the ugly.
There is a third element in the soul; it has an inherent knowledge of what is the purpose of the life in which it is involved now. 'What is the direction that my life must take? What is the purpose of my life? What am I here to do? Should I be an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer, a coolie or a scribe, or what? How do I know what I am to do?' These are questions that everyone asks. If you give a chance to the soul it has an answer. In fact this is the one question, the answer to which you can find in no book but which you can find only in the soul, 'What am I to do in life?' Books can give a general guidance, but what your specific work is, can be found only in your soul and nowhere else. That is why if you really want to know your aim in life, it can be achieved only by going to the soul. So, this is the fourth important element in the soul – the knowledge of the aim of life of the individual.