Question: Guru, once you pointed out to us a man whose soul you said had already left his body. How could he still have been alive on the physical plane if his soul had left his body?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul leaves the body many, many times while a person is still alive. Your soul has left your body many times during your sleep and has come to me. The soul may leave the body for only a few seconds, but those few seconds of earthly time may seem like many months or even years. The maximum amount of time the ordinary soul can stay outside the body is between eleven and thirteen hours. If the soul leaves the body and does not return after eleven, twelve, thirteen hours, then usually it cannot come back into the body-cage. By that time the cord that connects it to the body will snap. But for half an hour or an hour, the soul can easily leave the body and the body can function automatically. The body is like a machine; the mechanic can leave while the machine is running. After a few hours he can come back and the machine will still be running. Sometimes during sleep our soul may go to various worlds or to a distant part of this world, but after half an hour or forty-five minutes it comes back to the body. This can happen not only during your sleep but also while you are awake. Many times during my deep meditation my soul flies like a bird to my spiritual Centres. My disciples see me as clearly as you see me right now. It is a matter of a few minutes or a few hours.

While outside the body, the soul may have an experience in one second which would take an hour to narrate. Here on earth you see with your ordinary eyes and it takes time to observe an experience. But if you see with the soul’s light, then you will be able to see everything in a fleeting second. When you want to express the experience of that fleeting second with your mind, you can spend at least an hour giving all the details. So when we have a conversation with another soul, even though this conversation may have lasted for only a few fleeting seconds, in those fleeting seconds we get a collection of thought waves which are absolutely real. In one minute the soul can do the work of ten or eleven hours.

If the soul permanently leaves the body, then naturally the body will not be able to stay on earth. If the bird flies away from the cage, the cage is useless. It is only when the bird is in the cage that we care for the cage.