Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ask Asha: Explaining a Prayer

[You can ask your own question here.]


Brahmachari Warren asks:

When we pray for body, mind, and soul, why would we pray for soul since the soul is already the essence of God?


Dear Warren:

It is a convenience, merely, to phrase it this way. It is easier to say and sounds nicer than “physical, mental, and spiritual,” which is what we mean.

What we are also asking for with this prayer is that our soul consciousness become (forgive me, I can’t resist the pun!) our sole consciousness.

Why, you might also ask, do we say “Jai Guru”? Certainly Master doesn’t need us to cheerlead for him. With that phrase we are asking our ego to surrender to the Guru and affirming that Guru will triumph over our delusion.

English is not an exact language when it comes to spiritual matters. When we say soul we can be referring either to the Infinite Itself or to that aspect of the Infinite which has become individual and identified with ego-consciousness.

In Sanskrit, there is a more exact word. Jiva is the individual spark of Divinity that is the unchanging Divine Presence within every incarnation. That is the meaning of the phrase jivan mukta, which describes one who is spiritually free (mukta) but still living as an individually incarnated being.

If you want to speak of the everlasting spark of divinity that has become you -- your bubble that will ultimately merge into the sea -- that is your jiva. To refer to “this jiva”-- instead of using a personal pronoun -- can sound a bit pretentious, but it is a valid way of referring to your ego-identified self, and at the same affirming your divinity.

Nayaswami Asha

P.S. To understand more clearly what the word jiva means, use the index of the book to look up references to it in Swami Kriyananda’s The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita.

[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of]

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