The soul,is the innermost self. the soul is in the form of consciousness. The consciousness is within this universe but it is not of this universe. It is in this universe, but not of this universe means it is the formless substance and witness of the universe, which is present in the form of the mind (I). The mind (I) appears as waking or dream and disappears as deep sleep.
The soul, the innermost self which is present in the form of consciousness is the formless witness or knower of the three states, which comes and goes in succession. Consciousness is above; it is transcendental to all the miseries, which are inevitable in this illusory universe. Therefore, there is a need to realize the fact that, the mind, which is in the form of universe is mere mirage created out consciousness. Thus, the birth, life, death and world are mere mirage on the stand point of the formless soul or consciousness, which is the innermost self. Only on the base of physical self or ego the universe is reality. Thus the Self is within the universe but it is without the universe.
Only a Gnani alone can actually create the awareness of the truth. He can enliven and illuminate others to get out of this ignorance by being transcendental to the illusory birth, life, death and the universe. A Gnani tries to guide the seekers get rid of the inborn and inherited ignorance and, rise above the egocentric concepts, be in this universe, but not of this universe, be in tune with the consciousness, which is his true identity and the ultimate truth.
This material existence is mere mirage. It is like a wax in the candle it will burn away. All attempts for freedom is possible only when one is ready to overcome the ignorance. To overcome the ignorance is possible only when one realizes the birth, life, death and the world are mere illusion created out of consciousness. The consciousness is ultimate truth. And the one who knows this truth knows the knower (consciousness) is free from the known (mind).
Through Self-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana, all of one’s egocentric successes and all of his credible accomplishments within the duality are ultimately evaporated and consciousness alone will prevail as formless non-dual existence.
Anyone who has an intense urge to know the ultimate truth of Brahman can realize the ultimate truth or Brahman while living householders life.
This world is common to every living creature; therefore one must begin his inquiry with the world that confronts him. . It is only after one has inquired into the nature of the objective world, that he should inquire into who is the knower or witness. If, however one inquires into the knower before the inquiry into the universe, then it is mere mysticism. What is the world? must precede Who is this ego or physical entity ? in in pursuit of truth.
In olden times, religious and Yogic and mystic discipline, which were not an end in itself, considered to be a means for Self-Realization or truth realization. But such discipline is almost impossible task for the modern man to adopt. Day by day modern man is becoming aware of the fact that, religion and yoga are nothing to do with pursuit of truth.
The religious truth is individual truth. Every religion has its own idea of god, heaven, hell paradise, sin karma, code of conducts thus they are not universal truth. Religion is based on the false self and false experience thus religious truth cannot be accepted as ultimate truth or Brahman. Thus religious oriented Self-Realization is not the means to acquire Self-Knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana. The religion is the greatest obstacle in the path of wisdom or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana.
The modern mindset is pre-eminently scientific owing to the great progress that science has made. And the best method of freeing the mind from its inaccurate ways of thinking is to imbue it as fully as possible with the scientific spirit. It is therefore only one who possesses a clear knowledge of its methods and results i.e., who is able to make reason the highest means of enquiry that would be fit for Self-Knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana.
Vedanta itself admits its highest Truth that is, Atman or Brahman cannot be reached by any path other than that of reason and unless the reason is sharper than the ‘Edge of a razor'.
That is why Sri Sankara, in Bhaja Govindam says: - [Jnana Viheena Sarva Mathena Bajathi na Muktim janma Shatena] - one without knowledge does not obtain liberation even in a hundred births, no matter which religious faith he follows.
Thus it proves that wisdom is universal irrespective of any religion of faith one belongs. Thus religion is not the means to Self-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana. Thus Sri, Sankara's Advaita minus orthodoxy is true Advaita.
Reason on the true base is the highest means of attaining Self-Knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana. Religion, theology, mystic practice and yoga are not the means to acquire Self-Knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana. Absence of reason is absence of wisdom.