The Atman is the witness-consciousness that experiences the action, the actor, and the world of separate things. It is like a light that illuminates everything in a theatre, revealing the master of ceremonies, the guests, and the dancers with complete impartiality. Even when they all depart, the light shines to reveal their absence.
The formless soul or consciousness is the innermost self. The soul or consciousness is self-illumined. So how can the body which is inert (insentient) and illumined by an external agent be the consciousness, which is present only within the waking or dream?
The consciousness (soul) the innermost self is apart from the three states and permanent, as it endures even after the death of the body and world within the waking or dream.
Even the subtle body consists of many parts and is unstable. It is also an object of perception, is changeable, limited and non-existent by nature. So how can this be the true self, when the body exists only within the duality(universe)?
The immutable soul, the substratum of the ego, is thus different from these two bodies, and is the true self, the consciousness, the formless witness of the three states; and it is present in everything and everywhere in all the three states and yet transcends them all.
Thus the enunciation of the difference between the soul and the body has (indirectly) asserted, indeed, after the manner of the inquiry, analysis and reasoning, the reality of the three states. The birth, life, death and the world are part of the duality (universe). The consciousness, which is the true self and it, is the formless witness of the birth, life, death and the world.
Thus the view that the body is the true self has been denounced by the enunciation of the difference between the soul and the body. The seeking mind has to grasp the truth, between the three states and the formless witness (the soul).
It is the Self that is in illusion and it is the self that gets free from the bondage of the illusion. The illusion is present in the form of mind. Mind is in the form of universe. Universe appears as waking or dream and disappears as deep sleep. The individual experiences of birth, life, death and the world are within the waking experience. The dream is parallel waking experience and waking is parallel dream.
Deeper self-search reveals the fact that the, self is neither the waking entity nor the self is the dream entity but the self is formless soul, which witnesses the coming and going of the three states in succession without the physical apparatus. This has to be mentally grasped and assimilated to realize the formless soul, the innermost self is nothing to do with the three states. On the standpoint of the three states, the three states are mere illusion.
The practical life within the practical world, which is present as waking experience, is mere illusion. If waking experience is mere illusion than the individual experience of birth, life, death and world are mere illusion. If the experience birth, life death and the world are mere illusion, it means the form; time and space are mere illusion. If form, time and space are mere illusion, it means the past, present and future is mere illusion. Thus it is necessary for the seeker to realize the fact that, form, time and space are one in essence, in order to realize the three states are one in essence. That essence is consciousness. Thus all the diversity is created out of formless consciousness. Thus no second thing exist other than consciousness, the innermost self. Seeker of truth has to constantly reflect on the subject in order to get firm conviction of the truth. Seeker has to reflect on the same truth again and again until it becomes reality. One needs to constant reflect on the subject until he gets firm conviction of what is what.