The body is like a car. The soul is like the driver of the car, seeing through the window, making sound through the horn, turning left, turning right, going forward, and going backward. When we go to sleep, we forget this body. We may dream that we are in a whole another place that has nothing to do with this body. That means the soul is identifying itself with the subtle body at the time of dreaming and with the gross body at the time of awakening.
Some people say, how can we accept the presence of soul unless we can see it, unless we can touch it, unless we can taste it? But can you taste, touch or see your thoughts? Are they real or are they not real? Thoughts are more real than the physical; it’s thoughts that push the world—people’s desire, people’s aspirations, people’s motivations. It is a physical power that is very much an essential part of us. And subtler than thought is consciousness; consciousness is the symptom of the presence of the soul. It is this consciousness that is the source of life. It is this consciousness that is our original and true identity.
Vedanta sutra explains the nature of this consciousness: anandmayo bhyasat; this atma or this conscious force is always seeking pleasure. And therefore the whole world, all species of life, is driven by the aspiration for pleasure; the little insects are looking for pleasure; the birds in the sky are looking for pleasure; the fish in the sea are looking for pleasure; the beasts in the forest are looking for pleasure; and all human civilization, regardless of caste, regardless of nationality, regardless of race, regardless of sex, everyone is looking for pleasure.