Where Is the Soul in the Body?

Question

Hello :) I had a question regarding the location of the soul. Yogananda says that the soul is located at the 'spiritual eye' in the forehead. I however have tended to associate the location of the soul with the heart. The reason for this when I experience feelings of devotion, or a spiritual upsurge of love/joy I tend to feel it around my heart/chest. I hoped you could therefore offer insight into the roles of the heart and spiritual eye in relation to God. Thank you!

—Jacob Sivyer, United Kingdom

Answer

Dear Jacob,

It is easy to conclude that Yogananda spoke of the soul as residing at the spiritual eye because of his emphasis on that area as the positive pole of the sixth chakra. But, in fact, he taught that, in the ancient tradition of yoga, the soul resides at the top of the head in the “thousand-petaled lotus” of the crown chakra. He taught that after we achieve enlightenment through the door of the spiritual eye, a subtle passage opens up to the crown chakra. Enlightenment precedes liberation. (A separate topic, to be sure!)

Having said that, it is nonetheless nuanced as you suggest. The spiritual eye, the doorway to enlightenment, is said to be the spiritual ego, while the divine Self is said to reside in the heart! How to reconcile these? The best I can offer is to suggest that the soul, somewhat like Krishna in the Gita, is not involved directly in the battle of life between delusion and liberation — somewhat like the Christian idea of the guardian angel, perhaps. But once perfected and while remaining encased in the three bodies, the divine (incarnate) Self is centered in the region of the heart. Yogananda reported in his Autobiography of a Yogi after an experience in cosmic consciousness that “I perceived the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart.” The empyrean, then, is the created universe (versus union with Bliss beyond, of which the soul is but a “spark”).

In any case, do not deny your own experience and the innate and intuitive importance of the “heart’s natural love” (to use Swami Sri Yukteswar’s term). And, to some degree, always try to uplift the heart’s natural love upward in self-offering to the spiritual eye, lifting it past the I-Thou consciousness and past the medulla (seat of ego) into Oneness, union, Light, and bliss beyond. It is typical on the spiritual path to have the heart’s energy awakened, but if we dwell too self-consciously (even proudly!) upon this feeling, it can feed the ego and sense of separateness. Furthermore, we may find that the awakened energy cannot sustain its high-altitude refinement and drops into sudden attachment to some random object: material goal, experiences: or a person (falling, e.g., in ‘love’) — thus undermining the promise it holds for our soul.

So enjoy — cautiously, so to speak — and take this gift and offer it with non-attachment back to its Source in Unconditional Love! Okay?

Blessings,
Nayaswami Hriman