What the Soul Does When It Leaves the Body


Dear sir,I just want to know...when thye soul leaves the body..Does it recognise itself with the name of the body or it takes it as leaving an old cloth? Does it recogise the relations?Can it speak?Can it meditate even without a physical body?Can it visit sacred places?What is the actual state of mind of the soul after leaving the physical body?does it have to move as per the instructions of the lord?Can it perform anything(stay on earth)with its own will?Plz guide,I'll be obliged.Thanks&Regards

—Aditya Bhargava, India


Dear Aditya,

I can answer your questions about the soul after death from what I’ve learned of the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. I would highly recommend that you read his book Karma and Reincarnation. There you will find excellent answers to your questions and much more.

Yogananda described the soul as if encased in 3 bottles. The bottle most like the soul, closest to it, is the causal or thought body. That bottle is within another bottle, the astral or energy body. And the 3rd bottle, on the outside of all, is the physical body. When the physical body is removed at death, the rest remain as they were.

The ego and personality, being part of the astral body, remain untouched by the loss of the physical form. All of one’s bonds of loving relationships are very much alive. The soul discovers it has many more relations than just the few from this lifetime.

Yogananda said that it takes 5-8 million lives in human form before the soul finds God. So, we have loving, familial relationships with countless other souls. The bonds of love draws us back to those souls in the astral world and also when it’s time to reincarnate into a new family. That “new” family is almost certainly composed of souls you have known in the past.

While i can’t answer all of your questions, I can repeat Yogananda’s words that while the soul can meditate on the astral plane, it is not as motivated to put out the effort to transcend and to know God in that place.

The astral world is very harmonious. Our souls are drawn to realms where they feel great ease. The saints say we need a human birth to truly make spiritual progress.

How the soul thinks and behaves in the astral world depends very much on who that person was in their physical life. A criminal will not be drawn to a place with a God-seeking atmosphere – he would not be comfortable there. He will be drawn to the same sort of angry and self-centered people he liked to spend time with on earth.

On the other hand, a soul who has practiced meditation in this life and has created harmony around him, will be drawn to a refined and uplifting atmosphere. If you are used to trying to attune to God’s will, you will be much more able to do so in the astral world.

Whatever types of emotions you are used to in the physical world will be greatly heightened without the weight of a physical body. If those emotions are angry or painful, they will be intensified. If you have experienced spiritual love and joy, these will also be greatly intensified.

After a certain point of resting in the astral world, the soul’s karma calls it to reincarnate in another physical body, and it comes to earth to continue with his education in how to become increasingly free inwardly.

I find it helpful to understand some of the things I’ve described above, but these kinds of beliefs can only take us so far. It is only through meditation that we experience the depth of our connection, our oneness, with God.

In divine friendship,