The Anatomy of the Soul

By Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo


" There are no conditions to fulfil. There is nothing to be done nothing to be given up. Just look and remember, whatever you perceive is not you, nor yours. It is there in the field of your consciousness, but you are not the field and its contents, nor even the knower of the field. It is your idea that you have to do things that entangle you in the results of your efforts. The motive, the desire, the failure to achieve, the sense of frustration-----all this holds you back. Simply look at whatever happens and know that you are beyond it."                    

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj



Every soul is pure consciousness. It arises from the Absolute, the Parabrahman. In the Absolute everything is included and nothing is excluded. In the Absolute there is no individuality, no individual essence and no mind. There is absolutely no differentiation and it has been in this state from eternity. From this Absolute (non-beingness) a Beingness emerges. The sprouting of this droplet of pure consciousness is named the atman, the soul. The characteristics of the soul (atman) are sat-chit-ananda in Hinduism. Sat means Being. Chit is consciousness. And ananda is bliss. In other words another description of the soul is ‘blissful being of consciousness’. Beingness is at the level where gods and deities reside. On further differentiation, Beingness becomes I am. This is the moment an individual being is designated. As soon as I am is infused into an individual soul it is called spirit before birth. At this level before birth, Beingness and I am are composed of pure consciousness. The second I am incarnates into a human body and when it identifies with the body, this consciousness is contaminated by the mind. Beingness can be felt every morning for a few seconds at the time of waking before the mind intrudes to take over. Beingness is also present during deep sleep when there is no self or individuality. From birth the soul begins to acquire all attributes of an individual until the characteristics, qualities and samskaras consolidate into an ego. Summarizing the above process, the Absolute (Cosmic Consciousness) gives rise to Beingness (pure consciousness), which in turn differentiate into I am (the individual consciousness). Although after Beingness sprouts out from Cosmic Consciousness, it will develop its individuality only when I am comes into existence. From here on the spirit (composite soul) will release into each incarnation a small percentage of itself. When this atman identifies with the body-mind as a separate individual in the world, it becomes a jiv-atman. A general estimate is that an average person would bring down 10% of its composite soul from the spirit. Much later after numerous incarnations when the individual is much more developed he can siphon more and more down into his physical body when the need requires. This may explain why some of these developed people possess varying amount of psychic powers, depending on their proclivity to these powers. On the other hand some enlightened saints do not have the slightest inclination for these powers at all, but they still may bring down more than 10% to utilize the wisdom, love and compassion acquired so far.

Anatomy of the Spirit

The soul is not a unified entity. It is a composite structure like that of an orange. There are many ‘cotyledons’ in one soul. There is a suggestion that more cotyledons are added as each spirit matures with wisdom. That means each composite soul is multifaceted and multidimensional. Whilst still in the spirit world, this total composite soul is called a spirit. Before the spirit (beingness) arises from the Absolute, there is no knowledge of individuality. It is pure universal consciousness. As soon as I am is formed the spirit becomes an individual consciousness. Now it is time to enter into the time-space continuum i.e. earth. This process of coming into the world is repeated many times. However, at each incarnation only a small percentage of the spirit is sent down to experience life. This small portion of spirit is called jiv-atman (incarnated soul).This soul is still part of and strongly attached to its own spirit (the composite soul). The main reason why the spirit sends down only a small percentage is because while gathering experience and love, it also has to work out the karma it has accumulated from past lives. In the Absolute, there is no karma because there is no individual. Karma can only be earned when I am exists. At the peak of experience after many lives when suffering and sorrow are untenable the individual decides to opt out of the rat race. At this stage his total karma is too large to be cleared in one life. So only a portion is sent down in each incarnation to be dealt with, but new karma earned in that life will also be added to the total karma of the individual. During these earthly incarnations, experiences and gathering of love and wisdom must also be carried out. So how does the individual spirit deal with this heavy load? It is dealt with by apportioning out a percentage of the spirit to each incarnation.

Evidence that the Spirit is a Composite

The following are some of the facts and legends to suggest that the spirit is not a unified whole:

The Goddess of Mercy--- Kuan Yin

Although this is a legendary, celestial Bodhisattva, Buddhism expounds the fact that this deity has multiple components. The progenitors of Kuan Yin are the Tibetan Avalokitesvara (Chenresigs), Tara and the Chinese Princess, Miao Shan. Kuan Yin is all these three combined and more. Avalokitesvara (Alvalokita) was born from a ray of light that sprang from Amitabha Buddha’s right eye. His existence was known four to five thousand years ago. He is the secondary emanation of the energy of compassion. According to the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra, Avalokitesvara (Avalokita) had 337 earthly incarnations. All these incarnations were males except for one, in which he was a female Balaka horse. Therefore Avalokitesvara is almost always male but he has the ability to assume the female form. Avalokita has been worshipped from India, Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia to Cambodia in the eighth to the eleventh centuries. In the seventh century, Avalokita was introduced into Tibet from India. The mantra OM MANI PADME HUM has always been associated with him. As a Bodhisattva of compassion both in India and Tibet he has often been depicted in statues as a tall, huge male Deity composing of eleven heads with a thousand eyes and a thousand arms, the easier to succour as many people at the same time. On the other hand Kuan Yin has always been a female Goddess for centuries. Avalokita is Indian and Kuan Yin is Chinese. And yet both represent the same being. How did this transition come about?

This came about through a tertiary embodiment of compassion, Tara, of Indo-Tibetan origin. Tara is a beautiful female divinity who is able to manifest herself in 21 different guises in order to succour sentient beings. She was "Born of a tear shed from by Avalokita in sorrow for the world’. She is accredited to have 2 functions: (1) rescue beings from present woes and (2) assisting them to rid themselves of delusions binding to samsara. These are the very duties of Kuan Yin! As the Chinese would prefer a more appealing deity than the multi-headed and multi-armed Avalokita, the female representation in the form the beautiful Tara is just the embodiment they want. Thus the male Avalokita is now embodied in the female form of Tara. In Tibet, there is a green and a white Tara. White Tara normally manifests during the day, whilst Green Tara usually appears at night. There are also other Taras e.g. a Red Tara. From this lovely form of Tara, it can be seen that there is no difficulty of assimilating the Chinese Princess Miao Shan, a historical princess of compassion, in to the ultimate Kuan Yin. Many stories abound with regards to Miao Shan as a possible reincarnation of Kuan Yin. All the stories tell of the purity and the dedication of Miao Shan and her personification of compassion. Miracles galore are also associated with these stories.

The main point to emerge from all the above stories with regard to all these Bodhisattvas is that they can be at many different places at one time to succour many sentient beings. This multiple component of a single soul is what one would garner from the Kuan Yin mythology, although most worshippers of Kuan Yin do not take Kuan Yin as a myth. They take her as a real Bodhisattva. That means if a thousand supplications are made to her simultaneously, she is able to help all of them all at once. As a matter of fact multiple requests have been answered simultaneously all the time. That means she is multidimensional in the true sense of the word, and that her soul has at least 1,000 cotyledons.


Bilocation is quite often reported with normal individuals and highly developed personalities. A wife who has just left the husband in the sitting room suddenly sees him in the bedroom as well. A healer who is sleeping peacefully in the early hours of the morning in his own bedroom is seen visiting patients in hospitals, especially when there are cries for help. Several friends and relatives simultaneously in different parts of the world see the spirit of a person who has just died

Padre Pio of San Giovanni of Rotondo in Southern Italy.

This Roman Catholic priest was born on 25.05.1887 in Pietrelchina and died on 23.09.1968 in San Giovanni. At 15 he entered the Capuchin Novitiate at Morcone and was ordained a priest at the age of 23. On the 20th September 1918 he was marked with 5 stigmata wounds: his two hands and two feet and the heart at San Giovanni Rotondo. These stigmata bled every day for 50 years. The blood had a fragrance like a perfume, which usually betrays his invisible presence. He never suffered from anaemia throughout these years. He was also endowed with bilocation, prophecy, telepathy and the gift of tongues. He was particularly attached to his Guardian Angel. He also had to struggle and fight with all sorts of internal enemies of the most grotesque varieties. All these battles were his lot to prove his love for the ones he loved. Besides his first love for Jesus, his forte was in the confessional. With his telepathic powers he was able to tell those that came to confess all their sins before they open their mouths. This was a great advantage over all the other priests, and numerous parishioners return to the Sacrament of Penance totally guided by him. During the Second World War, British pilots, who were flying to bomb an Italian city, saw him in the sky re-directing them away from the target. These British planes finally went back to England without accomplishing their task. The most relevant psychic power of his is his ability to bilocate. He is known to be praying in the chapel, but others have seen him doing chores in different places far away from where he is praying! A few days before he died, all his wounds disappeared. On 2nd May 1999 in Rome, he was beatified and is now known as Blessed Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the place he was born.

The Five Constituents--- by Shinji Takahashi

This modern Japanese teacher was born in 1927 and died in 1976. He was a scientist by training and had a very successful business in the electronic trade. He was a founder of a spiritual movement called ‘God-Like Association’. He has written several books and quite a few articles. One of these is called ‘The Five Constituents’. The two books that are well known are (1) The Man Shakyamuni and (2) The Nature of the Mind.

According to this modern Japanese teacher, each spirit is composed of 6 components. There is a core and 5 other constituents. Although the constituents have different and distinctive physical characteristics, they share a fair amount of common strengths and weaknesses, and the six have a common path and goal. The core is responsible for the whole path of the total spirit and has to correct the karma of the constituents, but each constituent is only responsible only for its own karma. The core overseers the behaviour and activities of the entire group. He is the conductor of this small orchestra and decides what tune is to be played at each incarnation. The core has a much more responsible task. The core must attain enlightenment on its own. When each constituent comes to earth to practice, it must choose an environment, with which it is easy to attain enlightenment. The other five in spirit will act as spiritual guides to the one in incarnation. The core or its friend or the constituents’ friends would also be helping the one practising on earth. In this programme there are four possible combinations of the five constituents with its core:

  1. A male core with five male constituents.
  2. A female core with five female constituents.
  3. A female core with two female and three male constituents.
  4. A male core with two male and three female constituents.

The third and fourth combinations are composed of three males and three females each and these two combinations tend to balance the population of the earth. If a war depletes the male population, the first combination will predominate the subsequent post war generations. The second combination will come into play when some disease has decimated the female population.

In normal circumstances, the core will incarnate first followed by the five constituents in rotation. However if one of the constituents has been a laggard or went astray, he or she will have to comedown to earth for repeated incarnations until he or she has caught up with the group.

This combination of the core and five constituents fits in nicely to our idea of a composite soul. In this scenario, the core is the dominant component of the composite soul, the spirit.

Seth---As Channelled through Jane Roberts

Jane Roberts channelled this teacher, an energy essence personality in the sixties when she was alive. Seth at that time need not incarnate into the physical world anymore. Seth reckons that all of us are living parallel lives at the same time. That means each spirit, which is a composite soul, is living numerous lives simultaneously. There is no past or future. There is only NOW. The spirit partakes of every life simultaneously. He is acting out many personalities in 1685, in 1755, 2050, 2000 and 3000 at this very moment. In fact in her tapes she was able to record subjects who are able to move from one personality in one century to another in a different period very smoothly with no difficulty. This is done in one sitting! This holistic viewing can only take place in the Now, not of the past or future. In this way one can change one’s life by changing one’s belief. The present is the point of power. By altering one’s belief, one can change the past so that the present and the future in this new line of behaviour can totally change one’s predicament or illness. Even in normally fatal diseases, one can change the outcome of these diseases by changing one’s beliefs. In the same rationale, all these parallel lives are to Seth the reincarnation lives of that one person. So if one is suffering now, he will bring in an unwholesome past life to explain away his present awful life. According to Seth, the reincarnation lives of people are really being enacted simultaneously now in the present. While one is living this life knowingly, that individual also has a host of lives running in a parallel fashion, but the other lives are being suppressed, so that the present life holds the total focus of his consciousness. The daydreams and normal dreams of that individual are also the parallel lives of that individual. In other words, Seth’s teachings are par excellence in expounding the multidimensionality of the composite soul. The spirit is composed of numerous component souls, which are enacting their realities in different centuries as different individuals, but in actual fact these lives are all part of the one spirit!

The Anatomy of the Soul

Once the soul incarnates, this jiv-atman will have the protection of 5 coverings (koshas).

The First Covering of Bliss

The first covering is that of bliss. Although this first covering reflects the blissful nature of the soul, it is also the creator of our ignorance. When a desirable object is obtained, the happiness that manifests is from this blissful covering. When righteous people are rewarded for their good deeds, the resulting bliss is due to this covering. When one meditates up to the Jhanas or absorption states bliss is there. All the joy that exists in any happy individual results from this covering. One is naturally happy. It is also present when one is in deep sleep. It may also be present when one is awake or in a dream state. This superficial state of happiness is an illusion. This blissful covering is fed by the soul, which is a ‘blissful being of consciousness’.

The Second Covering of the Subtle Bodies---Auras and Chakras

The auras with their chakras are the second covering. These are the subtle bodies. They are sustained by prana, the life force. It is through these associated chakras that prana can be fed to the individual. It is also due to prana that the physical body is kept alive. Prana vitalises our human body. It is as essential as oxygen. It provides us with energy, without which we cannot act. If any chakra is blocked and no prana can be absorbed, the organs under the influence of that chakra will be diseased.

There are at least 7 auric bodies. These auric bodies interpenetrate each other, and each body is of higher vibration than the one beneath it. The first auric body is the etheric body, which is the framework for the physical body. It interpenetrates the physical and extends about a quarter to two inches beyond the physical body. The etheric body came before the physical body. It duplicates every physical organ. This is the aura that every person can see with the naked eye. Similarly, the next aura, the emotional aura interpenetrates the underlying etheric and physical bodies. Each aura is more rarefied than the one beneath. Although we know that there are at least 7 auric bodies, some clairvoyants reckon there are more. These seven auric bodies are: (1) The Etheric Body, (2) The Emotional Body, (3) The Mental Body (4) The Astral Body, (5) The Etheric Template Body (6) The Celestial Body and (7) The Causal Body. Ordinarily, clairvoyants can see only the first 3 auric bodies, but in order to see the more subtle ones, the clairvoyant must go into meditation. If a yogi can see the 6th aura, the Celestial Body, he probably has reached the ‘I am’ state. When he can see the 7th body, the Causal Body, he has reached the ‘beingness’ state. Beyond this is the Absolute.

Each auric body has at least 7 chakras attached. That means with 7 auric bodies, there are at least 49 chakras throughout one human body. All the chakras are located in the same anatomical positions, so that each locale has a pile of 7 chakras packed like ice-cream cones. An 8th chakra has also been mentioned.

The Third Physical Covering

The moment one is conceived, the physical body is formed. Although physically it grows the fastest, it may also be short-lived. This body can die any day after birth, and its life span is between one second to more than a hundred years. Food and water sustain this physical body. The moment one identifies with the body, one is trapped into samsara, the cycles of birth and death due to ignorance. If both arms and legs are amputated, the person can still live. Therefore it cannot be the true self. Thinking that the body is the self is the most delusional of all our follies. This identification with the body coincides with the perception of objects, which will be claimed as mine. This corporal foundation of the ego then starts to desire material possessions and this is the beginning of a full conceptual separation from the Absolute. This is the beginning of suffering and sorrow.

The Fourth Covering of Emotion and Intellect

The fourth covering is composed of emotions and their associated intellect. According to the teachings of Vedanta, this covering is the discriminating faculty with its powers of intelligence and the organs of perception. It has the faculty of knowing and acting. It is also this fourth covering that identifies itself with the body and it’s sense organs. In other words it is an essential component of the ego, which is a false self. It is the individual in the man. It acts by being propelled by emotions and it accumulates karma and samskaras. With all the previous tendencies and impressions the individual earns negative and positive karma, which are kept in the auras. This 4th covering of the emotion and intellect is invariably mistaken for the soul, but it is only a garment of the soul. The other trap is that this covering of the intellect shines with a bright light because of its proximity with the shining soul, which resides in the vicinity of the heart chakra. Again this bright light is also mistaken for the soul.

The Fifth Covering of the Mind

The fifth and last covering is the mind. Together with the organs of perception, it forms the mental covering. This is the locale where ignorance dwells. It is the mind that can differentiate objects to the extent that desires arise, and the sense of I and mine is developed. Ignorance fuels the mind with craving and desire, thus leading the individual to bondage life after life. This is the way the universe of subject and objects is formed. The mind creates the attachment to the body and things of the world. Paradoxically, it is also the mind that can unravel our attachment and lead us to discrimination and dispassion. Thereby we can be free to work our way towards enlightenment. It is the greatest delusion when the mind is identified as the soul. Similarly, the mind causes us to be reborn time and again in pursuit of the 5 poisons: desire, anger, pride, selfishness and ignorance. Therefore it is paramount that we purify our minds first with meditation. When the mind is purified by correct meditation then all lust and desires will disappear. Thence the path leading to self-realisation is made easier. With meditation, the mind can be seen to be transient, and therefore cannot be the soul. Behind all thoughts there is our primordial voidness and silence. This is Beingness.

Karma and Samskaras

Around the soul with its 5 coverings there are also the attachments of karma and samskaras. The latter are impressions and accumulated imprints of past experiences, which determine one’s desires and actions.

In other words, when one dies, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th coverings maybe sloughed off at death depending on the developmental state of the individual. The 2nd (physical) and the 3rd (auric) coverings are the first to go. The 4th (emotional) covering will be dropped when the spirit goes to the mental realm. Then when the spirit ascends to the spiritual realms the 5th (mind) covering is also shed. The first, blissful covering still remains endowed with its karmic attachments and samskaras. The minute one is reborn the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th coverings will reconsolidate around one’s soul (jiv-atman). These coverings are associated with one’s karma and samskaras. That means we start life at that stage from which we ended our past life. It is with our karma and samskaras that we worked the blue print of our G-plan in the spirit world before birth. In other words, if we are not yet enlightened, in the spirit world we are still deluded by maya and the blissful covering of our soul. This is the situation even though our ego (body, emotion and mind) is not present in the spirit world. Maya is the principle of ignorance and the creator of illusion. It is there as long as we do not realise our own soul.

The Ego

Let us summarise the sequence of events leading to the formation of the ego. The Absolute, the Ultimate State of Consciousness, sprouts out a portion of itself to form a Beingness. This Beingness, which is destined to be a human, then differentiates into I-am-ness. Up to this stage, although it is destined to be separate, there is no knowledge of individuality yet. The Beingness is still in spirit. It is in this realm that the G-plan is formulated. The Hindus call the G-plan prarabdha, which is defined as this present life’s destiny according to one’s karma. The knowledge of individuality comes much later, after birth. After sexual intercourse by the parents, and at the moment the ovum is fertilised by the sperm a portion of the spirit is sent down to the new embryo. This portion in incarnation is called jiv-atman. This newly conceived being has still no idea of individuality. After nine months in the womb, a baby is born. Even at this stage the baby does not have the sense of a separate individual. The infant continues to deem that it and the mother are one. This symbiotic life continues until the child is 8 weeks old. The separate feeling comes only after he has learned to sit, crawl, walk and talk. This sense of being a separate individual continues to be built up until adulthood. Before the child reaches the age of seven, he or she would have developed a personality of its own. Before long or even before seven years, in some an ego is established. The ego is made up of the physical body, the emotions and the intellect. The first identification with self is the physical body. The child feels it when he hurts himself, when he is hungry and when he wants to urinate or defecate. Narcissism may not be exhibited before the age of ten; but it may be implanted in him during this period. Narcissism is in full bloom in the teens, when he or she begins to take pains over his or her appearances. This narcissism may continue until death, although normally it subsides after middle age.

The blowing up of the ego to enormous proportion is the peak of suffering

Late in adult life the idea that the body is self begins to wane with deep reflection. He now thinks that the mind (emotion and intellect) is the true self. ‘I think, therefore I am’ is now the credo. And this is the period onwards when the ego is consolidated and enlarged depending on the standard of education. The higher the education, the greater will the ego be expanded. In the same vein, the reverse psychology is that a low standard of education may result in an inferiority complex. Whatever it is the majority of people do not realise that the ego is only a projected image of the mind. In truth it has no reality at all. With this mental projection, the ego can be blown up, and often times it is blown out of proportion to the individual’s real worth. It then becomes a bubble very vulnerable to pinpricks. The formation of the ego and the pumping up of it to such an enormous size can only happen due to Maya, the cosmic illusion. This is the primordial illusion of identification with the body-mind complex as self, separate from the rest. This great pride usually accompanies the academic, the highly educated and the materially successful.

Therefore whilst in incarnation and for some even in the spirit world after death the ego is the greatest obstacle towards enlightenment. In the astral and mental realms, the 4th and 5th coverings of the soul are still in tact. That means the emotions and mind are still present. The 4th covering will be sloughed off when the spirit is promoted to the mental realm. Beyond the mental realm the 5th covering is also shed in the higher spiritual realms. Therefore with further development, the ego is finally destroyed in the spiritual realms. Hitherto, this illusion of the ego life after life prevents us from realising who we really are. With ignorance, there is no way the ego will allow one to return to I-am-ness. However, long before I am can be realised, the practitioner must absolutely disavow that the body and mind are not self. This is essential. Contemplation of the truth and correct meditation into emptiness are crucial steps in the spiritual path.

Let us follow the steps again:

The Absolute (The Ultimate State of Consciousness)—Cosmic Consciousness


Beingness------- Pure consciousness in spirit


I-am-ness-------Pure consciousness in embryo


Birth à Infant à Baby----Symbiotic life up to 8 weeks (individual consciousness)


Crawling and walking child-----Sense of individuality is being formed (individual consciousness)


1 to 3 years a personality is formed, and the body is deemed as self (first intimation of ego)


3 to 10 years, the mind intrudes itself as a dominant force, the ego.


After 7 years the body, emotion and intellect would have consolidated the ego


Enlargement and inflation of the ego continues until the peak of sorrow and suffering


Thence onwards this individual on the spiritual path would ask the questions ‘who am I?’ and ‘why am I here?’


The true spiritual path is the reversal of the above sequence of steps.



Our Source is the Absolute, the Ultimate State of Consciousness, which is also Cosmic Consciousness. The Absolute is non-dual and has no past or future. Everything is in the Now. Everything in every universe is included in It. Nothing is outside It. From this ocean of Cosmic Consciousness a droplet of pure consciousness emerges. This is Beingness. This spirit possessing no mind has no idea of individuality. It knows only It is. This is the Causal Realm, which is free from karma or samskaras. It is thought-free and word-free. Although there is potential to be an individual, there is no sense of an individuality yet. The moment I-am-ness is infused into the atman (the soul), the potential of being an individual is instituted. The soul at this stage is called a spirit and is in the Celestial Realm. One step down in the Etheric Template Realm, karma and samskaras of that individual is infused into this spirit at this level. This infusion may take place in the lower levels as well, depending on the stage of development of the individual. So it may take place in the Astral, the Mental, the Emotional and Etheric as well. The infusion of an individual’s samskaras and karma fits in well with Gautama Buddha’s Annata doctrine (that is karma and samskaras is infused into the individual only after I-am-ness is in place within a conception). In the Etheric Template and lower realms the spirit is a composite structure and it is termed Self by some. In these realms a G-plan with its sacred contracts is formulated. When the spirit sends down a portion of itself into a conception, the Beingness has already differentiated into a ‘I am’. It then further descends down the next stage to form an embryo. From the higher realms, e.g. the Celestial, the spirit has to spiral down the other realms, (namely, the Etheric Template, the Astral, the Mental, the Emotional and the Etheric) before the atman enters the embryo. These are the coverings (koshas) and the garments of the atman and they are required as equipment and vehicles to experience the earth. As soon as that portion of atman is entrenched in the embryo it is called jiv-atman (the atman in a body). It is only in the physical world that the five coverings (koshas) are in place. This I-am-ness in the embryo is the forerunner of an individual. Throughout this embryonic stage, the brain is still not well formed, and therefore, the mind does not exist. As the mind is not yet formed there is no conception of self. At birth, although the infant has the sense of I-am-ness, its brain needs further development and therefore the sense of ‘I’ includes its mother. This symbiotic life usually lasts about 8 weeks. After these 8 weeks, the child now begins to realise it can separate itself as an individual. From thence, the child will grow into a toddler; then it develops into a teen and finally into an adult. Throughout this development consciousness in the guise of I am has identified itself with the body, its emotions and finally its mind. With this threesome the ego is formed. The jiv-atman, which is transformed from Beingness and I-am-ness, now adds another layer in the form of an ego. The mind deluded by Maya is now the strongest force here. The individual needs food and water to sustain the body, but prana (life force) is crucial to the working of the entire body-mind. Prana acts through the chakras of the subtle bodies. At the background of everything, it is pure consciousness (Beingness) that sustains the soul. Without the pure consciousness from the beginning, there would be no being. This prompts the koan ‘what is your original face before you are born?’ This koan is asking ‘who am I’ in another way. All these questions would finally lead us back to I-am-ness thence to Beingness and finally to the Absolute. In correct meditation in emptiness, one must hold on to this I-am-ness or Beingness as long as one can. The purpose of every soul’s journey on earth is to learn and experience unconditional love and wisdom. To carry out this exercise, the I-am-ness requires a body-mind. Without the body-mind, Beingness and I-am-ness cannot be expressed, and therefore no lesson can be learned.


The Absolute is the ocean of consciousness, which sprouts out a Beingness, which knows only ‘It is’. At this stage, there is still no individual, no mind and no word. This Beingness is still pure consciousness, and it then becomes ‘I-am-ness’. This I-am-ness is now a potential individual. It is this I-am-ness that recognises its body and then the rest of the universe. From then onwards this I-am-ness identifies with the body and the mind, and the desire for objects follows. This is the beginning of sorrow. So the lesson here is not to identify with the body and mind.

The primordial voidness is present in deep sleep, as well as in the I-am-ness and Beingness. This is our daily return back to the Absolute in the state of non-duality. And that is why when one wakes up after a good night’s sleep, one is thoroughly fresh. In the morning when one wakes up, the clear perception of the body is there, but the mind has not come in to identify with it yet. This clarity is the state of Beingness (non-dual). It is pure witnessing. It then slowly differentiates into I-am. Once I-am identifies with the body-mind one goes back to duality and becomes the usual self with all the hang-ups. In meditation, the state of silence, stillness and no thoughts may equate with I-am-ness, which may be transcended to Beingness. If one is persistent enough, one may finally recede into the Absolute! Then one’s work is finished.


1 Shankara’s Crest Jewel of Discrimination (Viveka-Chudamani), translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. Vedanta Press. 1947.

2. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. The Nectar of Immortality. Blue Dove Press, San Diego, California. 1996.

3. John Blofeld. Compassion Yoga. A Mandala Book. Unwin Paperbacks. 1977.

4. Jane Roberts. Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul. Bantam Books. 1974.

5. Jane Roberts. The Nature of Personal Reality. A Seth Book. Bantam Books. 1974.

6. Shinji Takahashi. The Five Constituents. Private Publication.