Those who conquer the mind realize paramatma and know tranquility. To such souls, happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same. (Bhagavad Gita 6.7)
A number of spiritual traditions speak of an aspect of God that is found in all beings. The Vedic texts call this feature “the inner guide” or “the witness”. In Sanskrit, the individual soul is called the atma, whereas God as the inner guide is called the paramatma, or the “Super soul.”
Out of love for all beings, God, who is already present everywhere, presides in every being’s heart and takes a personal interest in each being’s welfare. When we calm the mind and senses though yoga, prayer, or some other contemplative practice, we can feel his presence and, if the mind is very quiet, hear his guidance.
The Katha Upanishad compares the individual soul and the Supreme Soul to two birds sitting on a tree. The individual soul spends its time tasting both the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree, while the Super soul, ever-satisfied, remains as friend and witness. The Supersoul never abandons any soul, because he loves each of them, but neither does he interfere with any of the soul’s choices. Rather, he’s eager to bestow his grace and offer direction to those who turn to him. This is why the Lord in the heart is sometimes called “the inner guardian,” a fitting description of the safety and protection this close friend provides. Patanjali’s yoga sutra declares that meditation on this divine inner guide, this “guru of all teachers,” leads to samadhi, a state of unshakable peace.
Most of us have a number of mental voices that influence us. Most of us are dominated by the voice of the ego-affected mind–the voice that compels us to act out against those we envy or urges us to gratify our physical or mental passions. There are also the voices of our parents and teachers, of popular media–even the advertising jingles we heard as children. Paramatma, however, is not just another voice. His voice is the prime voice, the voice that reminds us how to act in the best interests of the true self.
The Gita tells us how to find him:
Those who conquer the mind realize paramatma and know tranquility. To such souls, happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same.
Paramatma could be described as the source of our higher intuition and the insights that surpass our ordinary intellectual or creative conscience. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a leader ofthe19th century transcendentalist movement, wrote in his essay, “The Oversoul,” “Within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and parcel is equally related; the eternal One.”
Many Christians refer to the Supersoul as the Holy Spirit.
Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:20)
Paramatma chooses not to interfere with our free will, but he is always present in our hearts, lovingly waiting for us to turn to him. Paramatma guides us, but the amount of guidance he gives is reciprocal with how much we want o receive it. If you want to hear paramatma’s direction over all other voices in your head, it requires to lead a clean, healthy life and follow genuine spiritual practices. Without these lifestyle changes, we may mistake our ego-affected imagination for paramatma’s voice.
We can find guidelines for living such a life by hearing from enlightened teachers and reading revealed scriptures, both of which are said to be the “external voice” of paramatma.
(This article is an excerpt from Radhanath Swami’s The Journey Within)