If we identify the soul with the vital breath, we must regard Prakrti as the sole supreme creator of everything, and accept the logic of this idea; and it must mean that the soul cannot make itself free from the bondage of life. But if we believe that the very goal of its life is this freedom, we must come to a very different conclusion.
Logic of ideas: We cannot deny that, if we identify the soul with the vital breath, the logical consequence is that we must regard Prakrti as the sole supreme creator of all things; and this has the advantage of giving us a simple monistic conception of life.
The issue: But the real point at issue is not this, but rather that the soul is not an actor, and only imagines that it is so, whereas the real actor is ahankara. It is said that the soul is able to imagine itself to be an actor because it imitates ahankara, and has the power of doing so. But this argument involves an inherent contradiction; for we cannot explain why, if the soul is really not an actor, it should imagine that it is so. Again, it would be impossible to show how, if it imitates ahankara, it can cease to do so; and in such a case there can be no possibility of its freedom from the bondage of life.
A different view: But the very conception of the soul as a non-actor arises from this desire for freedom; and if that is not possible on this assumption, the assumption itself must break down. Hence we must agree that the soul is an actor. But this does not mean that it is subject to change; it only means that our idea of freedom has been changed, and life itself becomes like sport. It eliminates the idea of harshness or evil from things; for, if we look at the beginning of life, we find that there can be no harshness or evil in the first action of a creature; and it is this first action that makes for the continuance of action without end.
The soul as an actor: We cannot know the origin of creation or action; but we know that each action is distinct from the other, and has a purpose to serve. We cannot deny that the soul is an actor, and ahankara is only its form when it engages in action. The real actor is the soul, and it is the soul that perceives all things; but it cannot function without the assistance of the body.
The nature of action: We cannot know the origin of creation or action, and can only say that it is of the nature of life itself. But each action is distinct from the other, and has a purpose to serve.
The soul as an actor: We cannot deny the importance of the soul; nor can we divest it of its intellectual powers, or say that it is not an actor.
The soul and ahankara: The real actor is the soul; but, as it is without a form, it is necessary to give it a form to understand it; and ahankara is its form when it engages in action. This is proved by the fact that the two are not separate entities and cannot exist side by side; for we find from experience that when the higher one or the soul appears, the other disappears.
How the soul acts: The real actor is the soul, because there is continuity in action; and that is possible because there is a permanent factor of action, namely, the soul. We can understand this if we exercise our memory, and memory is an attribute of the soul. There can be no existence without perception; and the real perceiver is the soul.
It is in this manner that the soul acts. But it is not the whole actor, for it cannot act without the assistance of the body. Thus we might say that there is no fundamental difference between the soul and the body because of their eternal co-existence. Indeed, we cannot even say which of the two is master or lord, and they are best described as friends.
At the same time we cannot say that the soul is like an organ of sense; but from a purely scientific point of view, there is no real contradiction between the soul and the body.
God, nature and the soul: Ether can be regarded as a creator only when it is identified with Prakrti. Prakrti is said to be without origin, and we can understand the idea of God only by meditating on it. The soul is minute like an atom; and it is an actor and experiencer of joy. The idea of evil arises from absence of order, or impropriety of conduct. The actions of the soul can be said to be both good and bad; but at the moment when it acts, they are the best it can perform. The soul is minute, and is like the light; it cannot be destroyed; but we cannot explain its real idea as it is.
Ether: Ether is not the original creator of things; but it may be said to be so in a secondary sense, when it is identified with Prakrti or Nature, as it sometimes is in the sacred books.
Prakrti and God: But Prakrti is without any origin; and all vital energy is said to arise out of it. Indeed, we can understand the idea of God only by meditating on it and its characteristic marks, and not by means of our intellect or mind, as is sometimes imagined.
God is said to be the refuge of all that move and do not move. But this does not prove His existence. Nor can His existence be proved from the existence of the soul. It can only be proved by meditating on the character of Nature or Prakrti.
The soul: The soul is minute like an atom, and abides in the heart of man. In common parlance we might say that we get this idea from its association with the Gunas, for the statement that it is minute like an atom is its Guna, attribute, or distinctive mark. Indeed, it is because it constitutes the core of the Gunas, that it is said to be characterised by intelligence. But so long as we understand it as soul, there can be no defect in its idea merely because of looking at it in a particular way.
The soul is an actor; because it is admitted by all that it is an experiencer of joy, because it clings to life, and because we are required to perform certain actions as obligatory. Were the soul not an actor, there should be none of these.
Good and evil: The idea of evil arises from absence of order, or impropriety of conduct, and it is based on our own perception of things. Impropriety of conduct arises from a perverse exercise of power, or a lack of proper adjustment of things.
The soul is really like a carpenter, who acts in both ways, that is, good and ill. But at the moment when it acts, it acts from the best motives, so far as its own self is concerned.
The character of the soul: The soul is minute, but can fill the body in which it abides. It is like light, and there is nothing higher than the soul.
The soul acts or refrains from action because of its bond with the body. As it is without mass, it cannot be destroyed. Indeed, it is beyond the grasp of the mind, and is superior to the intellect. We cannot explain its real nature by referring it to something else, for it is what it is by means of its own inner nature.
The soul and the vital organs: The pranas or vital organs exist like the soul; but the soul is the best among them all. Nevertheless, the two are different; and the soul is characterised by both knowledge and action.
The Pranas: The pranas or vital organs exist like the soul, and they ate possessed of Gunas or the attributes of Nature from their very birth.
The soul: But the soul is the best among all of them. It is said to have five functions like the mind, and is said to be seated in the intellect, and functions by means of the vital breath. But the sense-organs are different from the soul, and the soul is superior to all of them. Although the soul is said to be a personification of consciousness or knowledge, it is really a threefold actor. Nevertheless it is different from flesh and other constituents of the body.
The problem of the soul: The soul dwells in the body in order to act and attain to perfection; and it does so by means of the function of the intellect. The departed soul is re-born because of its previous actions; and its real problem is one of knowledge or action as its end. It is also concerned with the problem of pain.
The object of life: The soul is united with a body in order to engage in action and attain to perfection. It does so by means of the intellect, which has an important place in action, and comes next after the soul itself.
Re-birth: The departed soul is born again as a result of its previous actions, both good and bad and this takes place in accordance with a law. The souls of creatures ascend and descend after dwelling for some time in the city of the god of Death; and we say so from the observation of their course of life.
The problem of the soul: The real problem of the soul relates to knowledge or action as the goal of life, for that is the problem under discussion here. There is a third problem too, that of pain; and we say so because the occurrence of calamity is so common. But there are other things too besides pain, which are a source of joy in life.
The soul and God: The act of procreation is an act of the soul, and it gives us an idea of creation by the Infinite, which may be called the Supreme Soul. We can understand the idea of God in a number of ways.
Procreation and the soul: The act of procreation is an act of the soul, for after it the soul becomes self-conscious in a very special way. The sex-instinct is indeed most powerful, and serves the purpose of Nature. But it is necessary to exercise restraint, and that too is done by the soul.
Creation and the supreme soul: This creation of the soul gives us an idea of creation by the Infinite, provided we agree that the Infinite creates; and so we may conclude that there is a Supreme Soul, for the idea of the individual and the Supreme Soul is identical.
An intellectual conception of God: We can have an intellectual conception of God by regarding the universe in a special way, that is, in terms of the idea of Sacrifice. There is also another idea of God, in terms of negatives ("not this, not that"); and both these enable us to understand His vastness and omnipresence; and then we realize that it is He who bestows the fruit of actions. Indeed, it is this that gives us the idea of Dharma too.