Chapter 3: The Sage Answers
So we can explain the first step through the destination; but if we have accepted the first step as everything, then the destination cannot be explained - then even the first step cannot be explained. The means can be understood through the end, but the end cannot be understood through the means. So the drop cannot explain the ocean, but the ocean can absorb the drop.
The sage says:
Soul is both: the universal and the individual.
Two words have been used: universal soul, meaning pure consciousness, the divine; then the individual soul, or self.
What is the difference between the individual soul and the divine? The sage says there is no difference. There is only as much difference as there is between the ocean and the drop. The drop is also the ocean, it contains everything of the ocean. Only one thing is to be remembered - that the ocean is not only the sum total of its drops. The divine dwells within a person; then it is called the individual soul.
It is like the sun rising in the sky, filling your courtyard with its rays. There is no difference between the sunrays in the sky and the sunrays in your courtyard, but the rays in the courtyard have a boundary; the walls of your courtyard surround the sunrays and a boundary has happened.
The universal soul dwelling within limits is called the individual soul. But is it true that the rays of the sun which fill your courtyard have a boundary, or does the boundary belong to your courtyard? Do the walls create a hindrance for the sunrays? Walls enclose your courtyard, but how can the walls enclose the sunrays? But if the sunshine in your courtyard has the illusion that it has limits, that it is in bondage, then it will be called the sunray’s ego.
The universal soul which is within the boundaries of the body is called the individual soul. But if this individual soul has the illusion that it is the body itself, then it is called the ego. There is no difference: even when the sunrays are under the illusion that they are imprisoned in the courtyard, in reality they are not. Rays cannot be bound; that is the very nature of sunrays. Close your fist and you cannot catch hold of the rays. Their very nature is unbounded - that is their very freedom, their very life. The walls are not there for the rays, they are there for the courtyard; but the illusion can be created. Illusion binds the individual soul with ego. With the dissolution of that illusion, the individual soul becomes the universal soul, the whole. Religion sees the whole of life in such a vast perspective.
It is very useful for the seeker to remember this line of thinking because his journey also starts from the courtyard - from the walls of the courtyard to the sunrays, and from the sunrays to the sun itself.