Layers of the Soul

Layers of the Soul

The challenge with using Sanskrit terms is that, though the meaning is often more precise, English doesn’t always have an equivalent concept.

For example, I’ve avoided the term Atman as it’s understood poorly and it’s broad application has lead to sloppy English use. We could say Self Realization is Realization of oneself as Atman. But one might also say the same about the discovery of the inner Self, the jiva wakening. Both are forms of Atman discovery, much as Oneness also is. The awakening journey can be said to be the journey of the deepening unfolding of Atman awareness.

Add in how people will use terms in different philosophical outlooks plus how Self is perceived in different states of consciousness and you get a sense of the diversity of possible definitions.

Most typically, you’ll not see a staged series of terms like we might define in English. Rather you see word pairs, where one word is understood in relationship to another. For example, Atman/Paramatma or jiva/atman.

Here is a larger list with relative context.

Ego – sense of doership, idea of me. Ahamkara is sometimes used, a term for  individuation as a separateness. This leads to the perception of individual mind.

Jiva – living being, sense of “dweller in the body”, individuality

Jiva-atma – individual living soul, much the same as Jiva

Atman – soul, Self, spirit, the wave of the ocean. The presence of the Self-soul draws the body to life, to breath. But it’s clear this is more a spectrum, from the individual to universal, depending on how Self is perceived at different points on the path. Atman may be used to denote Self, intellect, mind, breath and body as these are all expressions of that and not separate from it. Atman we could say is Jiva without limitations, our unbounded nature. Atman and Brahman are one and the same, just as waves remain one with the ocean.

Paramatma – oversoul or ultimate soul, an aspect of Brahman, in the heart of Jiva. In this context it is the observer where Atman is in the experience.

We find all values of soul in the light in the center of the chest. Jiva is like the lively life-giving golden surface, Atman is white within, Paramatma is the infinite point at center.

But there are no real layers to the soul or to anything else. Rather just a spectrum of expression and experience.

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  1. Pingback: Where is the Soul? -

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