We have always assumed that our body, our mind, our intellect, our memories define us. But now we are being told that these do not define who we are. Our bodies (and the associated mind, intellect, memories) are just temporary. They are like houses which we change after living in for some time. They are like clothes which we change after wearing for some time.
So, what does define us ? What does define who we are ?
Answer: The Soul. That part of us which is eternal. The spiritual part of us, as opposed to the material part of us (our body).
The Soul is the "I" which defines us as spiritual (eternal) entities.
Thus, we have a spiritual Soul trapped inside a material Body, inside a Material World. Please note that when we say Material World here, it includes all the heavenly, earth and hellish planets.
Thus, we have a spiritual Soul trapped in the Material World. Everyone, every living entity in this world, is a spiritual being (Soul), trapped in the Material World. Right from the chaste puritan to the worst scoundrel. Now, let us sit back for a while and look at the big picture of the Material and Spiritual Worlds.
So, if the Souls/Jivas are spiritual beings belonging to the Spiritual World, then what are they doing in the Material World ??
Answer: The Souls/Jivas are trapped in the Material World.
What traps the Souls/Jivas in the Material World? What keeps them from reaching the Spiritual World where they belong?
Answer: The Souls/Jivas in the Material World are bound in the Material World due to their Karma accounts (their past deeds and desires).
The next illustration shows how the Souls are trapped in the Material World by their Karma.
This raises two questions:
- How does Karma trap us in the Material World?
- How does a Soul/Jiva renounce his/her Karma account and become liberated and return to the Spiritual World?
To answer these questions, we have to discuss the nature of Karma in a little detail.