I was recently asked the following question on a post, titled Humanity’s Most Important Discovery.
“Whenever you mention « True Self » I think « Soul [as opposed to Ego] ». Are they synonymous to you also?”
I quickly responded with a yes, but I realized what a great question it was, and it made me pause. I took some time to contemplate my answer and instead of just using my automatic response, I realized it was an opportunity to share some important things.
I hope you find the following helpful in some way.
To say the Soul and the True-Self are similar is not wrong but also not complete.
Words will never adequately describe the True-Self or the Soul you must experience them.
The best way I know to experience them is by meditating or through a practice that allows you to become unattached to your thoughts.
Your thoughts will regurgitate something from your past that you heard or read that resonated with you. It becomes your belief without any experiential knowledge or investigation.
Keep in mind that it is essential to our spiritual journey not to rest in what we think we understand but to continue investigating and questioning.
It is when we are confused or frustrated that we have our most significant opportunity to come to a new understanding of something, have an ah-ha moment and begin to awaken.
Our human mind loves to create labels and descriptions for everything including things it cannot understand or figure out.
As humans, we love to separate things out into pieces. Once separated and labeled we can choose not to go any further in our investigation because we now think we understand it. I bring it up so you can watch for it, even though it does not always happen.
Separating and labeling can cause problems. We begin to see only the differences, instead of our sameness and we forget how interconnected we are.
The True-Self includes the Soul and is part of the whole. The whole can be labeled many things, for example, The Creative Energy of the Universe, The Divine or God.
I find it easier to connect with the whole when I recognize that everything is energy. What we perceive as our physical material world, is not physical or material at all, in fact, it is far from it as shown in quantum physics.
I can tell you what I have experienced in my life and you will either agree or disagree based on your current beliefs. However, I challenge you to go further. Look at your views and your own life and question it. Do not base anything on what someone else says experience it for yourself.
You mentioned the ego in your question. The way you posed the question it seemed to state that the ego is the opposite of the Soul or True-Self. If that is not what you meant, then I apologize. If you did, then I would ask you to question that assumption.
There is a misperception for many that the ego is a bad thing and should be eliminated because it interferes with spiritual growth. This is true if the ego is overgrown and allowed to take control. However, the ego plays a necessary role in our human experience; it is the part that thinks, acts, discriminates, decides and acts appropriately in any situation you face in the world. I would contend that a healthy ego is a necessary part of any successful spiritual journey.
You may believe in God as a being who created everything, you may see God as the energy that created and resides in all things, or you may have another belief or perception. As an experiment, I would ask you to question that belief or understanding and see if it holds true for you now.
Are the Soul and the True-Self two separate aspects of who we are? Are they the same or perhaps something different?
I hope that rather than just give you an answer that confirms your current beliefs I have given you some things to question and contemplate on your journey. Because it is through questioning, awareness, and contemplation that you will bring more light into your life and this world.