When someone asked the mystic about the nature of the soul, he pointed to the sole of his foot and asked, “you mean this sole?”    He scoffed at the concept of a “soul” because it implied a singularity of existence.   Instead, he prefers to talk about a spirit, which differs from the concept of a soul because it is more inclusive and can incorporate an almost infinite number of earthly existences.

Swami Kriyananda’s guru was Yogananda, and in Swami Kriyananda’s book,  A New Path, he talked about Yogananda’s discussions regarding the nature of the “True Self.”   Yogananda said that we have an internal presence that manifests itself in countless earthly lifetimes.   The True Self can be thought of as the “I am” or your personal point-of-view that lives on after death.   It maintains the continuity of existence from one lifetime to the next because it lives outside of space-time.  According to Yogananda, in some situations, the True Self may incarnate as multiple lives that exist on earth simultaneously.   From one lifetime to the next, the various existences can have entirely different personalities.  In fact, Yogananda talked about examining his incarnation as a guru before being born into it.  Despite the fact that he had a very advanced and thoughtful personality, he still saw flaws in his personality from his pre-birth perspective.  He described it as a “heavy coat” that he dreaded having to wear.

There are two opposing concepts one can discern from Yogananda’s discussions about the True Self.   One concept would be that our earthly personality does not survive death.   In discussions with the mystic about the survival of the personality, he described our individual personalities as smelly odors.   In addition,  Yogananda said that every so often,  a very strong personality or point-of-view emerges from a particular incarnation, and rather than merge back with its original True Self upon death,  it fragments and creates a new entity: a new True Self.   The two True Selves maintain a connection with each other, just as two leaves are connected on the same branch of a tree.

One thing to keep in mind regarding the survival of the earthly personality is the concept of a True Self that exists outside of space-time.    In addition, the Akashic Record, which I believe I experienced as the place filled with basketball universes, also exists outside of space-time.   The basketball universes that I experienced were instances of “now” from a particular person’s point-of-view that were preserved forever.   When I jumped inside of a basketball universe, I experienced a living person in the middle of their everyday existence.  So, from this point of view,  the personality does survive death, because its experience of life is forever preserved in the Akashic Record.

In Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander,  he talks about his near-death experiences while in a coma for seven days.   He traveled to a place he believed to be heaven where he experienced an unseen presence that seemed to know everything there was to know about being human.   It communicated with him telepathically and gave him information about the nature of life and the afterlife.   Dr. Alexander thought this presence must be some aspect of God.   I believe that he met his True Self.

In my experiences that I’ve described in Beyond Heaven, I experienced the True Self several times.  The first time was part of the death meditation, when I traveled through the tornado-bathed-in-light to the void filled with basketball universes.  There was an unseen presence there that communicated with me.    Later during the meditation experiences of the silence program, I  met this presence and it materialized in a physical form that mirrored my own appearance.   I realized that it took this form as a way to show our connection. It continued to communicate with me telepathically, and I realized that it was my True Self.  It showed me an array of basketball universes that it said were its “eggs.”   These were its many incarnations in space-time, and I was currently only one of those instances.   It allowed me to merge into itself and experience existence from its point of view.  It was an amazing experience of pure divinity, an expression of all-that-is.   It did not have thoughts as I do, and it did not judge my  life experiences as good or bad.

During my experiences with my True Self, it first introduced me to the concept of True Self fragmentation.  This was the concept that I later found mentioned by Yogananda in Swami Kriyananda’s book.   The reason that my True Self had referred to the basketball universes as its eggs was because each had the potential to fragment off into a unique True Self.  This was how consciousness evolved, and it explained both the importance and meaning of our earthly lifetimes as well as the importance of our eternal True Self existence.

In my own interpretation of this concept of consciousness evolution,  I saw the fragmentation process connected with the concept of enlightenment.   Whenever an earthly existence became so strong and evolved to fragment away from its True Self, that lifetime experienced enlightenment.    Therefore,  beings such as Jesus and the Buddha,  and even Yogananda and the mystic were lifetimes where this fragmentation of the True Self had occurred.

In my experiences with the True Self, it showed me how it was connected to other “larger” True Selves.  For example, it showed me the True Self of the mystic, and I could sense that it was connected to an immensely larger array of basketball universes.    The True Self of the mystic and my True Self had some type of connection, which explained why when I originally met him I felt like I had known him for a 1000 years.    I remember the mystic once telling a group of us, “I am you.”   I now understood what he really meant by that.

My True Self also showed me a much larger presence that incorporated the mystic’s True Self,  my True Self, and all of the other True Selves that currently were engaged in earthly incarnations.   My True Self said that this larger presence always stayed in this realm,  and that all of us were fragments from this source.   It was known by names like “Shiva” or “The Holy Ghost.”

Finally, the most importance aspect of the True Self that was communicated to me was that after a sufficient period of evolution, my True Self would leave this realm, and move onto another existence.  This is where I realized that was another existence, “beyond heaven.”    I also learned that we did not have to wait for this passage.  It was possible to merge back with our originating True Self who was more evolved, and tag along for the passage to the next realm.   That’s when I learned that the mystic was at that point in this existence, that he would not be incarnating again after this lifetime, and that he was offering an opportunity for merging for the passage to the realms beyond.   He told us once, “you can get on the bus with me, or you can run along and follow the tail lights, or I’ll give you a map.”   That essentially meant that we could merge with him or follow his road map over countless many more lifetimes and do it ourselves.    The question now before me is was, which one to choose?