Soul is both: the universal and the individual.
Through identification with the body,
which of itself is not the soul,
the soul becomes possessed
with a sense of ego around the body.
This sense of ego is the bondage
of the individual, embodied soul.
When this sense of ego ceases, it is called liberation.
That which gives birth to this sense of ego
is called avidya, false learning,
and that which leads to the cessation
of this sense of ego is called vidya, true learning.
What is bondage? What is liberation? Now come the answers to these questions.
There are two methods, two ways to seek to understand life, to understand existence. One is the method of analysis, the second is the method of synthesis. One belongs to science, the other to religion.
Science reduces things into their smallest unit, and through this it accumulates knowledge. Science dissects objects into their minutest parts, and only through this dissection is the knowledge of science born.
The process of religion is just the opposite. Religion synthesizes each and every unit with the ultimate whole, synthesizes the parts with the whole, unites the divisible with the indivisible. Only when everything is one, does religion become the ultimate knowledge.
Understand it like this. There is a flower: you can dissect it. A scientist will dissect it; to study the flower he will analyze it down to its chemical components, down to its elements – how many minerals it contains, how much water it contains, what chemicals it contains. He will dissect and analyze, and be able to describe the components of the flower. But no poet will agree to that; a lover of beauty will call this analysis murder because in the very analysis the flower is destroyed. What we have come to know is not the flower. What we found through analysis may very well be the constituent parts of the flower, but the flower itself is something else. We come to know the parts of the flower by analyzing them, but the flower itself remains unknown; it disappears in the very dissection and analysis.
The beauty of the flower will not be there in the labeled bottles containing the parts of the flower after the scientist has dissected it; that beauty was in the wholeness of the flower, in the total flowering of the flower. The beauty was not in its parts, it was in its totality.
Understand it like this: someone has written a song – can we know this song better by dissecting it? A linguist, if asked to explain the song, could explain how the song was written, what words were used, what grammatical rules were applied – but the song will be lost, because the song was not in its grammar. A song, when understood deeply, is not only the sum total of its words…it is more than that, something plus. That plus is lost.
So science searches for the subtlest unit, the ultimate particle, but is deprived of the whole – it misses the divine. Religion says that that which emerges out of the organic unity of the whole is the divine. These two kinds of knowledge are totally different, in fact quite contrary. But these are the two ways in which one can know.