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'I' is The Soul and not The Body

by Swami Sivananda

A sense is not soul, because you can apprehend an object through any other sense, e.g., Previously I saw a tree and now I touch it; such an expression will be meaningless if 'I' is not different from the eye which cannot touch, and from the skin which cannot see. The 'I' or the Soul is distinct from the senses.

There is a fixed relation between the senses and their objects, e.g., between the eye and colour, the ear and sound, and so on. It is the eye and not the ear that can apprehend colour, and it is the ear and not the eye that can apprehend sound. If a sense were the Soul, it (the Soul) could apprehend only one object, but the 'I' can apprehend many objects; the 'I' can see colour, hear sound, and so on. Therefore, the 'I' or the Soul which confers unity on the various kinds of apprehension is different from the senses, each of which can apprehend only one object.

If we do not admit a permanent Soul beyond our frail body, we shall be confronted with many absur dities such as loss of merited action (Kritahani) and gain of unmerited action (Akritabhyagama). A man who has committed a certain sin may not suffer its results in this life, and unless there is a Soul conti nuing in the next life, he will not suffer them at all. This is loss of merited action. Again, we often find a man suffering the results of actions which he never did in this life. This would be a gain of unmerited action, unless we believe that his Soul did exist pre vious to this life and that he did the action in his previous life.

A thing seen previously by the left eye is re cognised now by the right eye. This would have been impossible if the Soul were identical with the left eye alone or the right eye alone, on the principle that the seat of recognition must be the same as the seat of perception. Hence we must admit that there is a Soul which is distinct from the left and right eyes and which is the common seat of perception and recognition.

The Soul is distinct from the senses, because there is an excitement of one sense through the opera tion of another sense. When you see a mango fruit or lime pickle, there is salivation in our mouth. The sense of taste is excited. There is an excitement of the sense of taste on account of the operation of the sense of sight. This would be impossible unless there is a Soul distinct from the senses and uniting the senses. The Soul sees the fruit or the pickle and remembers its properties. The remembrance of the properties of the object excites the sense of taste.

You can remember only that object which you have seen. You remember the smell of an object by seeing its colour. This would be impossible if re membrance is a quality of a sense, e.g., the eye, which has never smelt the object. Therefore, remembrance must be admitted to be a quality of a distinct entity called the Soul which is the common seat of percep tion of colour and smell. The Soul is the absolute Seer and is Consciousness in nature, whereas all other things, objects, body, senses, Pranas, mind, intellect, etc., are the seen and are inert in nature. The Soul is the Imperishable Reality, while everything else is perishable and false.

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