1. What is the difference between heart and soul?
1. It seems you wish to know the difference between heart and soul. Soul is the life or consciousness that we see in a living body. Soul is the real person, the individual, who animates the body. When we say “I” or “You,” we are actually referring to the soul in that body. The body is simply a dress that covers the soul.
Heart is the region of the body where the soul is located.
Q. Do you meditate?
A. Members of the Hare Krishna movement practice mantra meditation. In Sanskrit, manah means ‘mind’ and tra means ‘freeing’. So a mantra is a combination of words that is meant to relieve the mind of anxieties arising from worldly entanglement. Vedic literature compares the mind to a mirror, and our present state of spiritual forgetfulness to a mirror which has accumulated dust. Mantra meditation clears the dust from the mirror of the mind so that we can see our original self. When our spiritual nature is inwardly perceived, then the anxieties caused by illusion cease, and we experience spiritual happiness.
Why do you chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and why specifically 16 rounds?
There are four yugas i.e. Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kaliyuga and for every yuga a specific process has been recommended in the scriptures for self realization.
Satyayuga – Meditation
Tretayuga – Yajna (sacrifice)
Dwaparyuga – Deity worship
Kaliyuga – Harinaam sankirtan (congregational chanting)
The scripture Kali Santaran Upanishad mentions the specific Mahamantra (comprising of the Holy name of the Lord) i.e. “Hare Krishna Mahamantra” to be chanted as the only process required for self realization in Kaliyuga.
Moreover, this Mahamantra has been given by Lord Chaitanya who is none other than Lord Krishna himself. So as followers of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we chant this Mahamantra.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder Acharya of ISKCON always recommended that we should chant the whole day. But seeing the restless nature and hectic lifestyle of the present yuga he mercifully reduced it to 16 rounds.
Q. Do you believe in reincarnation?
A. Yes. The Bhagavad-gita, the principal scripture of the Hare Krishna movement, and the roots of understanding reincarnation, states “As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.”
The Vedas further explain that the soul in the material world transmigrates within a cycle of material birth and death through 8,400,000 forms of life. The human form, however, is the only birth which affords one, the chance for spiritual realization. Species lower than humans are not endowed with sufficient intelligence to understand the soul as different from the body.
Q. What is reincarnation?
A. The Bhagavad-Gita states that life does not begin at birth nor end with death. It is eternal. The soul is constantly transmigrating from one body to another according to its desires and quality of activities (karma). The Vedas further explain that the soul in the material world moves through a cycle of 8,400,000 forms of life. The human form, however, is the only birth which affords one the chance for self-realization. Lower-than-human species are not endowed with sufficient intelligence to understand the self as different from the body.
Q.It is said that spirit is very tiny, invisible to the gross material eye! but for any person willing to do bhakti, he should first understand distinction between body and spirit! For a neophyte how is it possible to know about something(spirit) which is not visible to gross material senses! For the gross materialists won’t this be an easy argument for atheism?
A.The spirit soul can be detected by inference, since there is no change in the material composition of a body at the time of death. So one may inquire from the gross materialist as to what is the cause of consciousness?
However this debate can and will go on forever. Our senses are far from perfect and even with all the material advancements we cannot even solve the mysteries of the material world – trying to reach or even understand Krishna, or even the spirit soul, with our imperfect senses is impossible. The basis of spiritual advancement is to have faith in the scriptures. The ultimate proof of the existence of the soul is that Krishna affirms it in the Bhagavad Gita.
Q. The soul is like God but it is not God. The soul is eternal – it has not birth and death. How does the soul come into being from God? What happens to the soul after ‘complete destruction’ i.e. after the death of Lord Brahma? What happens to the ‘unused’ karma?
A. The soul is co-eternal with God, just as a spark of a blazing fire exists with the fire, although not independent of it. At the time of total annihilation all the conditioned souls enter into the body of Maha Visnu and remain there in a dormant state for eons. ‘Unused karma’ is held in a dormant or suspended state, awaiting the next creation. Each soul gets another material body in one of the 8,400,000 species of life during the next creation, according to his residual karma. If he becomes a pure devotee, all his karma is finished and he can go back to Godhead.
Q. What is the relation between soul and body; soul and mind; body and mind: sufferings of soul; suffering of body?
A. The body is like a vehicle or machine upon which the soul is seated. There is nice analogy in Katha Upanisad which describes the body as the chariot, the senses as the horses, the mind as the driving instrument, the intelligence as the driver of the chariot, and the soul is riding on this chariot. The soul actually experiences neither enjoyment or suffering in this material region, because it is spiritual by nature, and is full of eternity, knowledge and bliss. However, the soul experiences the pains and pleasures of the body, which are just material interactions, because he is thinking he is this body. The suffering or enjoyment of the soul is just like one’s suffering in a dream; it has no reality. Cf BG 13.21 and 22.
Q. How is our soul a part of Krishna?
A. The analogy of a spark to a blazing fire is given to describe our relationship with Krsna. We are the energy of Krsna and are just like a small spark of the Infinite Absolute.
We have our individual identity and freewill, but we can never function independently of Krsna.
Q. What happens to our spiritual bodies once we take on a material body?
A. The spiritual body (or spirit soul) is described as being situated in the region of the heart and is covered by the subtle and gross material coverings. Prabhupada compares this to a man wearing a shirt and coat. It is the spirit soul (or spiritual body) which is activating the material body, just as when the man’s hands move, the arms of coat also move. In other words, the spiritual body is present, but covered and existing in a dormant state.