“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)
Friend1: One of the more important teachings of Vedanta, which the Bhagavad-gita nicely summarizes, is the difference between the two souls.
Friend2: Which souls? Me and you?
Friend1: Jivatma and Paramatma.
Friend2: Did you know that atma can refer to the mind, the body, or the soul?
Friend1: I did. But in philosophical discussions the reference is usually to the soul.
Friend2: That which is distinct from the body. Spirit has consciousness. Matter does not.
Friend1: Jivatma is me and you, fragments of the total spiritual energy. Paramatma is the Supreme.
Friend2: Jivatma is at the local level. Paramatma is all-pervading.
Friend1: I’m glad you mentioned that last part. It’s what I wanted to discuss. What exactly does that mean?
Friend2: It’s pretty straightforward. Paramatma is everywhere. You and I are not. It’s impossible for us to be in two places at one time. Paramatma is a plenary expansion of God, the original and total spirit, but it is not divided. Paramatma is the same and its influence is everywhere.
“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)
Friend1: That’s difficult to conceptualize. You end up thinking of a single person whose body is stretched in every direction.
Friend2: Especially when you hear things like hands, legs, and eyes. That’s the complexity of God. If He were easy to understand, then He wouldn’t be so different from us.
Friend1: Alright, so the Supersoul is all-pervading. He is everywhere. Is there some proof?
Friend2: Of what? The Supersoul being in the heart of every living thing?
Friend2: Existence is itself proof. You can’t have a living thing without the Supersoul. You can’t have the results to action, either. Man proposes, God disposes. The proposal occurs at the local level, through the jivatma. The reward, which can be considered good or bad, comes about through the sanction of the Supersoul.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: I’ll give you further evidence. We can use another Bhagavad-gita verse for this. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is non-different from the Supersoul, says that He is situated in everyone’s heart. He is the source of remembrance, forgetfulness, and the like.
Friend1: Alright. Again, is there some evidence?
Friend2: Have you ever wondered how birds are able to find their nests?
Friend1: I have. It’s pretty amazing, if you think about it. I get lost after coming out of a shopping mall. I can’t find my car. I have to retrace my steps from when I first entered. Only then do I have a chance. Otherwise I’m spending hours searching, freaking out the longer I go without success.
Friend2: Right, and everyone agrees that the human being is the more evolved species.
Friend1: For sure. That is the entire basis of the theory of evolution. You start with something primitive and gradually improve. You make your way towards something, and hopefully in the future the human beings will become even more improved.
Friend2: Okay, but the reliance on the GPS completely invalidates that. The bird is less evolved and yet it doesn’t need anything written down to find out where to go. It doesn’t need a map. Certain animals learn to walk almost instantly after birth. The human being is deficient in these categories.
Friend2: There is intelligence coming from somewhere. That is proof of the all-pervading nature of the Supersoul. Shri Krishna is everywhere. He is the source of remembrance. He brings forgetfulness, too.
Friend1: That’s where some people get upset. They want to know why God would help people to forget Him.
Friend2: It’s because that’s what they want. That is the meaning to “permitter,” which is one of the roles of the Supersoul.
“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: The intelligence embedded into nature is one form of evidence. The inherent intelligence within the living being is further evidence. People may not know what to call it. They may use words like “intuition” and “nature,” but it doesn’t really matter. Something is there. That something is the Supersoul, who is more clearly defined as Bhagavan, i.e. God.
Intrinsic ability from somewhere gaining,
At birth still in potential awaiting.
The Supersoul, God’s expansion everywhere,
Giving forgetfulness, knowledge to be aware.
Distributed in space every existing,
Not divided, through time persisting.
Bhagavan the image giving clearer,
In human birth chance to go nearer.