“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतो ऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
Friend1: You would have to admit that the soul is prominent in discussions of the science of self-realization.
Friend2: It is, perhaps, everything. The beginning, middle, and end, of which Shri Krishna is aware for all beings:
अहम् आत्मा गुडाकेश
अहम् आदिश् च मध्यं च
भूतानाम् अन्त एव च
aham ātmā guḍākeśa
aham ādiś ca madhyaṁ ca
bhūtānām anta eva ca
“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: The soul is the knower within the field, kshetra.
Friend2: And Krishna is the knower of all fields. He is the ultimate kshetrajna.
Friend1: The soul identifies us, supposedly.
Friend2: Why do you say “supposedly”?
Friend1: Because of where I am going with this line of inquiry. Basically, we have the starting point of the soul. This is the basis upon which one enters the discipline of understanding, as passed down through the ages.
Friend2: The parampara system, which is knowledge arriving in a descending manner.
Friend1: Okay, so what if someone is skeptical of this soul?
Friend2: What do you mean? Skeptical of what?
Friend1: Its existence. Its presence. The very identification. What if I don’t believe in soul?
Friend2: Do you believe in gravity?
Friend1: Don’t change the subject.
Friend2: I am making a point.
Friend1: I don’t have to believe in it. Gravity exists.
Friend2: Okay, the soul is the same way.
Friend1: But how do you prove the existence of the soul? To someone who doubts, who requires visual confirmation, what is the way? I can’t see the soul.
Friend2: Can you see gravity?
Friend1: No, but its presence is obvious.
Friend2: How so?
Friend1: Release that object held in your hand. Watch it fall to the ground. Without gravity, everything would be floating in space.
Friend2: But you still can’t see it.
Friend2: It’s the same with the soul.
Friend1: Please explain.
Friend2: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada uses a wonderful analogy. Consider the example of a machine.
Friend1: What kind?
Friend2: Any kind. Let’s take a household appliance.
Friend1: Alright. The dishwasher.
Friend2: Which is so amazing. You don’t need to hire someone from the outside. Place the dirty dishes inside, press a few buttons, and the machine does its magic.
Friend1: There are intricate details to the construction. The machine might malfunction. It suffers wear and tear, but it is amazing, nevertheless.
Friend2: Electricity is what powers the machine.
Friend2: If you take away the electricity, the machine does nothing, correct?
Friend2: Therefore, a thoughtful person understands that the electricity is everything.
Friend1: A vital component.
Friend2: The most vital component. Without the power source, the machine does nothing. It is not capable of autonomous movement.
Friend1: Right. I agree with you.
Friend2: That is how you prove the existence of the soul. It is the power source for the body. Without the soul, the exact same body quits functioning. It just lays there. That is the very definition of lifeless.
Friend1: Hmm, okay. I sort of get what you are saying. But what about concrete evidence?
Friend2: What more do you want? The soul’s presence determines life. The body constantly changes, but the soul does not. The same concept with the wind.
Friend1: In that you can’t see it?
Friend2: You know it is windy based on the effect to objects. The trees moving back and forth. The force touching against the body. The movement of the clouds.
“The power of electricity is transmitted through the medium of copper, but this does not mean that the copper is electricity. The power is generated at a powerhouse under the control of an expert living being. Similarly, behind all the jugglery of the natural laws is a great living being, who is a person like the mechanical engineer in the powerhouse. It is by His intelligence that the entire cosmic creation moves in a systematic way.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 5.51 Purport)
Friend1: The soul is there based on movement, which is perceptible.
Friend2: More than just movement. Life itself. Real religion should focus on this soul. If you cannot properly identify it, you will be lost. You will be left with blind sentiment. You can always approach God, but the more knowledge you have the better chance you have of keeping the arrangement, of remaining loyal and experiencing the bliss of surrender, of accepting His shelter.
Soul defining what to be,
But where evidence to see?
Never an image to take,
Or experiment to make.
Prabhupada to machine to compare,
That electricity must be there.
Otherwise as useless mass standing,
Same dependence the soul commanding.