Question: What is the difference between spirit and soul?

Sri Chinmoy: In the West the word ‘spirit’ is used in a different way than in India. In India when we use the term ‘spirit’, we mean the Unmanifest, the Absolute, the unlimited Divinity, the Cosmic Self, which does not take human incarnation. In the West the term ‘spirit’ is used in connection with the vital world, the world of disembodied vital beings. When a frustrated individual dies, from the vital world his spirit tries to enter into other human beings, sometimes to punish them and sometimes to bring a message from the world of spirits. In this case when we speak of a spirit, generally we mean a hungry, aggressive, unsatisfied being in the vital world.

The soul abides in everyone. It has no birth and no death; it is beginningless and endless. A spirit connected with the vital world is something debased and destructive, while the soul is something luminous and ever-progressing. When we feel the presence of a spirit, we may feel nowhere near God. We may be influenced by lower occult powers and dark forces. But when we feel the presence of the soul, we feel the Breath of the Divine. The soul within us is a portion of the Infinite, of the Supreme. The soul is something extremely good, spiritual and divine. Each soul is the direct, conscious messenger of the ultimate Truth. It feels the vision of the Absolute and at the same time it wants to transform the vision of the Absolute into reality. The soul will not be satisfied until it has manifested the infinite Truth here on earth. When the soul enters into this world, which is the field of manifestation, it evolves according to the receptivity of the individual human being. Finally it manifests the ultimate Truth here on earth.