Question: What is the difference between the soul and the Spirit?

Sri Chinmoy: The Soul is the direct representative of the Supreme in each human being. The Supreme manifests Himself in each individual, as well as in every other form of life. He comes down as a living form when the individual soul begins its journey, its divine pilgrimage. When the animal enters into the human evolution, when one becomes human for the first time, his soul starts its divine journey proper. At the beginning, the human is partly animal and partly divine; his soul is like a small jewel implanted in clay. In each incarnation the jewel becomes more evident and more luminous. As the human grows and evolves spiritually, the divine jewel inside him shines more powerfully, until at the very end of his pilgrimage the person is full of radiance and the divine jewel, the soul, illumines his whole being. He himself becomes the soul. So the soul is the divine representative.

The Spirit is something different. It is not really connected directly with the earth. The Spirit is an aspect of the Highest Transcendental Consciousness which plays upon, shines down upon each individual soul, but is itself undifferentiated. The Spirit is eternally one, undifferentiated like the white light of the Supreme before it is broken up into different colours. The Spirit is higher than the soul. It pours down as a manifesting Divine Power and protection for humanity directly from the Unmanifest for the manifested cosmos. It is a kind of divine radiation hovering above and influencing the earth. It is a very high and unified Force from the Supreme. The Spirit should not be confused with other divine qualities of the Supreme, such as Peace, Power, Light, etc.

As you know, the soul, although it is a portion of the Supreme, is individualised and differentiated. Each soul possesses its own colour, fragrance, divine attributes and even its own mission and destiny. But the Spirit is eternally undifferentiated. The Spirit has a direct connection with the Supreme and also an exalted connection with the creation. When the Supreme breaks Himself up into small individual entities, you have the individual souls. When His Force is sent down as a pure and unified power, in direct touch with the Supreme, but hovering over humanity, high above, that is the Spirit. Normally we do not have the same direct connection with the Spirit that we do with the soul. The Spirit is there above us and only when we are in the highest meditation or in contemplation, can we reach it or be in touch with it. It silently advises the soul, elevates the soul or can illumine or console the soul.

We are speaking about the Spirit with a capital "S". In English we also use the term "spirit" for a multitude of small entities like ghosts, elves, gnomes, hostile elementals used in black magic, etc. These beings are small and insignificant and are not to be confused with the Spirit, the Transcendent Force coming from the Unmanifest. The soul is individualised; the Spirit is unindividualised.