A monk asked: “In our Sangha, we have a prayer that asks God to bless our body, mind, and soul. Why do we pray for the soul, since the soul is already one with God?
What we are asking is that our soul consciousness become (forgive me, I can’t resist!) our sole consciousness.
Why, you might equally ask, do we say “Jai Guru!”?
After all, the Guru certainly doesn’t need us to pray for his victory! We surely don’t need to lead a cheer for him.
With that phrase, we are simply praying that the Guru be victorious in winning over our hearts, and that he bless us with the love and firm determination to surrender our ego to him.
Jai Guru! We are praying that the Guru will triumph over our delusion and dwell in us forever.
English is not as exact as Sanskrit for discussing spiritual matters. When we say “soul” in English, we mean, rather vaguely, certain soul qualities that exist, again vaguely, somewhere in ourselves.
In Sanskrit, there are more exact words. For example, jiva means the individual spark of God that lives in every incarnated being.
Swami Kriyananda defined jiva as “The soul as individualized consciousness: the Infinite limited to, and identified with, a body.”
The term jivan mukta is used to describe a person who is spiritually free (mukta) but still lives in a body. A common translation is “Freed while living.” Swamiji notes that a jivan mukta lives in a state of complete freedom from ego-consciousness, while still having karma to work out from past lives. By contrast, a param mukta is a “supremely freed” being who has worked out all of his past karma and is completely free in God.
If you want to speak of the unquenchable spark of divinity that has become you – the bubble of Spirit that is you – that individual spark is your jiva.
To talk of “this jiva” – instead of saying “I” – can sound a bit pretentious, but it is a very valid way of affirming our divinity, at least in the privacy of our thoughts.