[Advaita-l] Concept of soul

Ramanathan P p_ramanathan at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 25 20:35:13 CDT 2007


I am intending not to get caught into discussion; but
I want to input a few thoughts for yourself and others
to consider. This is not meant to prove the Vedanta
statements but to suggest that there is room to be


Are you seeking definition of life and non-life, or of
jiva and jagat ? As you know, our Vedanta affirms a
single advaita satya called Brahman. The remaining
classifications are considered superimpositions that
correspond to our experience of the world. Vedanta may
not regard the "life" categorization of science as
essential to its approach, for it does not believe in
such a line of distinction. That means, if you choose
a certain set of upadhis that you observe as that
minimal line and say this is life and that is
non-life, Vedanta says fine as far as classification

Similarly the set of minimal upadhis that Vedanta
chooses to classify as jiva is what it considers as
useful for its purpose, which is to guide the
self-conscious individual to attain jnana. In
particular, it need not match with science's
definition of life, nor need it apply to prokaryote
and what-not. 

In particular, even if a Vedantist wants to affirm the
subtle body, he/she is not obligated to affirm the
concept of a subtle body for every cell, etc. It is
affirmed for human beings for base minimum. Nor need
we state the exact state of the upadhis when the
entrance of the subtle-body happens. The subtle realm
of existence is beyond the domain of ordinary science,
which is expressly denoted "gross" in Vedanta. (Here
you must understand this as a statement regarding the
present day methods of science in its analysis of the
world. It will reveal what Vedanta calls gross.) In
particular, if the sages affirm reincarnation of the
subtle body, it is a statement of before and after
based on their supersensuous realizations, and not an
exact description of the processes in-between and
their correlation with the gross universe. Those
details, we simply do not know; but the overall
assertions remain, and we incorporate them into our
understanding as best as we can. (Like science, we
determine causes based on observations of effects; but
what observations the yogis obtain we must practice
their methods to find out.)


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