Soul or the Body?
The great Himalayan yoga master Swami Rama said, "Humans are not so much bodies with
souls as they are souls with bodies." What did he mean?
The difficulty in understanding this quote comes from thinking the person is the body. If I think this, I am identifying with the body, thinking I am my body. But am I the body? According to yoga philosophy, I am not; rather, I am the soul.
Saying I am a body and have a soul is like saying my clothes have a person. No, I a person, have clothes. They do not have me. The body is dead and has the semblance of being alive only due to the presence of the soul.
The soul is alive; it is life itself; and it brings the appearance of life to the body. When the soul departs, the body is dead. This is why it makes sense to say I am a soul with a body rather than the other way around. I, the living soul, have a body. When I depart the body, it is dead.
In 2015, I stood beside my father. We were in the hospital after he was taken there by ambulance. Having just consulted with the doctors, I explained to dad that he had heart failure and it didn't look like he was going to survive the crisis that brought him into the hospital. He seemed to accept that, and than said, "how old am I?" I said "you're 93, dad." He said, "almost 100!"
A little afterward, he drifted off to sleep, and then, suddenly, his heart went into tachycardia and finally stopped. He was gone. In that moment, seeing this lifeless body before me, this body that I loved, I realized that I'd always recognized this body as my father. But I was mistaken in that. Dad wasn't the body; he was the soul. Now that dad, the soul, had left the body, all that was left was his lifeless garment, the body.