“The example is given of the fire in wood. The fire kindled in wood is always the same, although the wood may be of different types. Similarly, the bodies within the material creation may be specifically different according to shape and quality, but the spirit souls within them are not different from one another. The quality of fire, warmth, is the same everywhere, and the spiritual spark, or part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, is the same in every living being; thus the potency of the Lord is distributed all over His creation.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.32 Purport)
Whether you take a large log from the sturdiest tree or a leftover piece of wood that doesn’t seem very dense, fire will burn through it all the same. The fire may last longer in some kinds of wood than others, but the burning takes place nevertheless. The fire thus does not play favorites. It retains its behavior no matter the attached substance. The spirit soul is the same way. It is vibrant within any species, though to the outside observer sometimes that vibrancy is difficult to perceive.
As souls are found in all species, it means that the spiritual energy is distributed everywhere. This is the meaning to “all-pervading,” and it is one way to understand God. He is the source of the spiritual energy. Therefore to say that I am disconnected from God at any moment is not correct. In consciousness I may be far apart, but in physical proximity I need look no further than my heart. In there resides His expansion as the Supersoul, the all-pervading witness. The Supersoul is present everywhere. If it were absent from any location, it would mean that the location was lacking an existence.
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
At the time of death, the individual soul leaves the body. It is like when the fire is done consuming the wood. If a fire is extinguished, fire itself doesn’t become extinct. It does not mean that you can never get fire again. Similarly, when the spirit soul leaves a living being, it doesn’t mean that life stops. The soul’s existence is constant. It will just find somewhere else to live. This is a way to understand reincarnation, or the changing of bodies.
The soul is a subtle element. It is finer than body, mind and intelligence, none of which can be seen with blunt instruments. It’s sort of like seeing the wind. “Can you show me the wind? Can you tell me its shape? Can you tell me what color it is? Can you tell me where it lives?” There are no answers to these questions because the wind must be perceived through its effect on other objects. We know that it is windy outside based on the movements of a flag. If the branches on a tree are moving back and forth, we know that the wind is present. If we feel a pressure of air on us from time to time when we are outside, we know that there is a breeze.
The soul is perceived through the autonomous motions of a living being. A living being is by definition a collection of matter that is controlled by spirit. The beating of the heart is done by the soul. Science will say that the heart beats involuntarily, but if there is no soul there is no beating heart. Therefore the soul is the heart of the heart, the life of the existence.
The Supreme Soul travels with the departed soul to the next body. With that travel, the next living being retains its previous consciousness. In the Bhagavad-gita this transfer is likened to the air carrying aromas. A flower has a pleasant fragrance, but that flower might be situated many yards away from me. I can still smell it, however, through the potency of the air. The aforementioned wind carries that aroma towards me. Thus something that was far away gets right next to me. The spirit soul and its consciousness were in a different body and place in a previous existence, but through the influence of the Supersoul they are carried on to the next life.
Such knowledge is pertinent since it helps the individual to realize that God is everywhere. In His original form He is a personality who is all-attractive. Therefore realizing Him is important. Attractiveness means that others will find Him attractive. Even the so-called enemies of God are still attracted to Him in some way. They are enamored by His material creation, which is His inferior energy. They are taken in by the illusion of temporary sense gratification, which is strengthened by wine, women, money, drugs and gambling.
“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.5)
God’s residence within all life forms represents His superior energy, which is the spiritual energy. Attractiveness towards the superior energy brings superior results. And yet it is difficult to be attracted towards something we can’t see. Therefore guidance is provided through shastra, or scripture. They teach one how to see God everywhere. The guru teaches one how to connect with God everywhere after seeing Him, and the sadhu helps one to maintain that connection through devotional practices.
Obviously, if God is everywhere, it means that He doesn’t play favorites. All souls come from Him, so they are viewed equally. His viewpoint is meant to be our viewpoint as well. Through the illusion of the material energy we take one person to be our friend and another to be our enemy, one species to be superior and another to be inferior, but this is actually not the case. The equality in vision is achieved easily by one who studies the Supreme Lord in His personal form and then always connects with Him through chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Type of wood fire not to care,
Through it intensely to tear.
Fire extinguished but not gone,
Somewhere else wood to set upon.
Though bodies not all the same,
Spirit inside, like burning flame.
His all-pervasiveness on display,
To see God this is one way.