(Extract from a satsang given by Swamiji on 6 February 2003)
The body and the atma, the soul, are two completely different things. Our body is total maya, illusion, whereas the soul is pure. You have both a body and a soul. If you want to realize the Self while you are still in this body, if you want to mature and attain enlightenment while in this body – through whom should you do it? Through the soul. It is your soul that wants enlightenment, not your body. Enlightenment is your soul’s wish. The soul or atma takes very many births and after a long time has the very great fortune to take on a human body. This makes the atma extremely happy. A baby cries when it is born but its soul is very happy for it is thinking, “Now I have a wonderful body and so I will definitely be able to attain enlightenment!” But the body does not listen and tarnishes the atma and never supports it. The atma and body fight because they both have their own expectations. The atma wants to attain enlightenment whereas the body only wants to enjoy a material life. The atma pleads for the body to practise and attain enlightenment but the body refuses to listen because it prefers to enjoy a luxurious life.
However, some people have the willpower and self-confidence needed to practise. I always stress that you must have self-confidence, self-confidence, self-confidence! The one who has the self-confidence and willpower to practise will be able to fulfil the soul’s wish. But this is rare, most people fulfil the body’s wish. What is it that is born and dies? Birth and death are concerns of the body. The soul never dies. It goes through many births – including as monkeys and donkeys – until finally it takes a human birth. Human beings have six senses while other animals only have five. With this sixth sense a human being can reach the seventh sense and become enlightened, but in order to do this the atma must use the body and not the other way around.