STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
This means that the infinite, eternal, formless soul finds itself as finite, mortal and having form.
Impressions (sanskaras) are the cause of this ignorance. In the beginning the soul, which is eternally in the Over-Soul, at first acquires ignorance through impressions rather than acquiring Knowledge.
When the soul acquires a particular form (body or sharir) according to particular impressions, it feels and experiences itself as being that particular form.
Soul in its stone-form experiences itself as stone. Accordingly, in due course, the soul experiences and feels that it is metal, vegetable, worm, fish, bird, animal, man or woman. Whatever be the type of gross form and whatever be the shape of the form, the soul spontaneously associates itself with that form, figure and shape, and experiences that it is itself that form, figure and shape.
When the soul is conscious of the subtle body, then this soul experiences that it is the subtle body.
When the soul becomes conscious of the mental body, then this soul experiences that it is the mental body.
It is only because of impressions (nuqush-e-amal or sanskaras) that the soul without form, the Infinite Soul, experiences that it is veritably a gross body (sthul sharir), or a subtle body (pran) or a mental body (mana or mind).
The soul, while experiencing the gross world through gross forms, associates with and dissociates from innumerable gross forms. The association with and dissociation from gross forms are termed birth and death respectively.
It is only because of impressions that the eternal, immortal soul, existing in reality without births and without deaths, has to experience births and deaths innumerable times.
While the soul has to undergo this experience of innumerable births and deaths because of impressions, it has not only to experience the gross world, which is a shadow of the Over-Soul and which is false, but together with it the soul has also to experience the happiness and misery, virtue and vice of the gross world.
It is only because of impressions that the soul, which is beyond and free from happiness and misery, virtue and vice, has necessarily to undergo experiences of misery and happiness, vice and virtue.
Now this much is established, that the experiences of births and deaths, happiness and misery, virtue and vice are experienced only by the gross form of the soul while experiencing the gross world; but the gross form of the soul is a shadow of the soul and the gross world is a shadow of the Over-Soul.
Thus all the experiences of births and deaths, virtue and vice,
happiness and misery experienced by the soul are nothing but
the experiences of the shadow. Hence all that is thus
experienced is false.
GOD SPEAKS, 2nd ed, pp. 5-6
1973 © Sufism Reoriented, Inc.