“I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.20)
Friend1: Listen, I understand the concept of Supersoul pretty well.
Friend2: Why are you defensive?
Friend1: Jivatma and Paramatma. One is the individual soul, like you and me. The other is God.
Friend2: What are the differences?
Friend1: Jivatma’s presence and jurisdiction is restricted to the local sphere, i.e. the body. Paramatma is everywhere.
Friend2: How does the latter happen? Does God divide Himself? Will everything come back together at some point?
Friend1: To divide means to diminish. God expands, though the identity remains one. This makes Him a unique and distinct individual.
Friend1: Here are some doubts that people from other schools of spirituality will raise.
Friend2: Doubts or objections?
Friend1: Okay, maybe arguments in favor of a different understanding. Justifications for contrary perspectives. I’ve heard people make the claim that through yoga the atma can become Paramatma.
Friend2: Not possible.
Friend2: Just as I can never become you nor you become me, we can never become God. He is separate from us. We are qualitatively the same, but quantitatively different. We are part of His definition, but He is not part of ours.
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)
Friend1: Okay, I agree with that, for sure. But then there are some verses in the Bhagavad-gita that might confuse people.
Friend2: Such as? By the way, that’s why the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master is required. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would often say that you can’t just read the books and expect to be enlightened.
Friend1: That always confused me. Wasn’t his life’s mission to write important books and distribute them on as wide a scale as possible?
Friend2: Exactly. That’s where people get confused. He’s saying that you can’t just read the original works of the Vedic tradition and expect to get the proper knowledge from them. Remember, the Sanskrit of the Bhagavad-gita is still available. This is the book in its purest form, the original. The same goes for the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Upanishads, Ramayana and the like. The idea is that you have to be taught the concepts. That’s why the acharyas, the spiritual teachers who lead by example, write purports to the verses, often translating them into a modern language, as needed.
Friend1: Ah, I see. I guess there is risk of confusion if you just read the books without the purports.
Friend2: For sure. There is a distinct culture embedded within the content. If you are not familiar with the culture, you will speculate as to what this word means and that. So which verse did you say would cause confusion?
Friend1: As an example Krishna tells Arjuna that He is the self, atma. He is seated in the hearts of all creatures.
Friend1: I thought that we are the self? I thought that we are atma and He is Paramatma. This verse seems to be saying we are the same as God.
Friend2: He is the atma of the universe. If you took the entire collection of matter, prakriti, and then thought of one person who is in charge of it, that is God. He is the soul of the universe.
Friend1: Okay, but what about being seated in the heart?
Friend2: He is the atma of the universe, and He simultaneously expands to reside within the heart of every creature. Both are essentially Paramatma, but just described with a different perspective.
Friend1: Oh, okay. So we are not the soul of the universe?
Friend2: No; we reside within the universe. We are the soul of the local space or field, which is known as the body. When we leave, the body becomes without soul, and thus considered dead. In a similar way, without God the universe wouldn’t exist. It would be dull and empty. Nothing would move. He is within everyone as the Supersoul, who gives sanction to the results of action. In every way God is everywhere, always distinct from us.
Speculative yoga teacher to say,
That to merge possible one day.
The individual soul atma,
Into the Supreme Soul Paramatma.
Krishna even as self describing role,
But meaning that of universe the soul.
Though similar in quality, separate to remain,
Merging only in bhakti of interest the same.