Soul is the innermost self. The soul is present in the form of consciousness. Consciousness is ultimate truth or Brahman. Ultimate truth or Brahman is God. Realize that to be Brahman which is Existence, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute, which is non-dual and infinite, eternal and One and which fills all that exists.
After realization of Advaitic truth, the attainment of which leaves nothing more to be attained, the pure blessedness, and the Knowledge after which nothing needs to be known. When seen, there is nothing more to be seen. Having become after which one is not born again in the world of becoming.
Consciousness permeates everything and everywhere in all the three states. Consciousness illumines the whole universe that includes the Sun, Moon and the whole galaxy.
The consciousness pervades the entire Universe outwardly and shines of itself, as the fire that permeates a red-hot iron ball both inwardly and outwardly shines of itself. There exists nothing that is not consciousness. People perform all their actions in and through consciousness, but they are ignorant of the soul, the innermost self not being a consciousness is a mere illusion. From illusion springs separation wherein the experience of birth, life, death and the world have root.
Ashtavkara Gita: - The universe rises from you like bubbles from the sea. Thus know the Self to be One and in this way enter into the state of dissolution."
For the Gnani who realize everything as consciousness, what is there to meditate or not to meditate, what to speak or not to speak, what to do or not to do? Those who give up the highest and purest Brahmic consciousness live in vain and though human, are like into beasts. Having turned the visible into the invisible, one should realize everything to be consciousness itself. A Gnani always dwells in nondual awareness. The ever-existent soul or consciousness shining within the three states can be realized only through self-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana. The self indeed are this soul, which is present in the form of consciousness, not the phenomenal universe which is present in the form of the mind.
Sage Sri, Gaudapada:- - The non-dual Atman is realized when the individual self (jiva) is awakened from its ignorance. Atman is unborn, dreamless, sleepless, and motionless; and is beyond duality. It is cognition at its purest. It is Brahman- Ayam Atma Brahma, this Atma is that Brahma; Thus epitomizing the core of Upanishad teachings.
Gaudapada expands further on these states of consciousness. The Self is AUM. It represents manifest and un-manifest aspects of Brahman. It is the single syllable that symbolizes and embodies Brahman, the Absolute Reality. It is the Pranava that which pervades all existence and is our very life breath.
Vaisvanara in waking state is A the first part of AUM, One, who realizes this, attains his desires.
Teijasa in dream state is U the second part of AUM. One, who realizes this, attains knowledge.
Prajna in deep sleep is M the third part of AUM, concluding the sounds of the earlier two parts. One, who realizes this, attains compressive understanding of all.
The Syllable AUM in its entirety stands for the fourth state, Turiya the one beyond the phenomenal existence, supremely blissful and non-dual.
AUM in its integral whole stands for the fourth state which is transcendental, devoid of phenomenal existence; and is the source of all existence. AUM represents Ultimate Reality.AUM is thus verily the Self itself. One who realizes this merges into that Self. Meditate on AUM as the Self.
In Vedas the God has been described as:-
v Sakshi (Witness)
v Chetan (conscious)
v Nirguna (Without form and properties).
v Nitya (eternal)
v Shuddha (pure)
v Buddha (omniscient)
v Mukta (unattached).
The nature of the Atman (soul) is:-
v Without form and properties
Thus it refers to formless and attributeless God, which it the Atman (soul), the innermost self. It indicates clearly all the Gods with form and attributes are mere imagination based on the false self. Thus Atman or soul, the innermost self is God.
The mind is present in the form of the universe. The universe appears as waking or dream. From the ultimate standpoint the universe is mere illusion. Whatever the universe contains is a mere illusion. The whole illusion is created, sustained and finally dissolves as consciousness; therefore there is no second thing exits other than consciousness. Thus consciousness pervades in everything and everywhere in the all the three states. Hence it is nondual. Thus limiting the self to the waking entity or ego is the cause of the ignorance. And ignorance is the cause of duality. Duality is the cause of experiencing the illusion as reality.
Orthodoxy accepts the concept of god in many forms. Sages of truth declare the Atman is Brahman. That is the soul, which is in the form of consciousness is ultimate truth or Brahman. That is ultimate truth is God. And the ultimate truth itself is worthy of Godhood.
Kena Upanishad (6) Chapter I - That which cannot be apprehended by the mind, but by which, they say, the mind is apprehended-That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship.
Kena Upanishad (7) Chapter I - That which cannot be perceived by the eye, but by whichthe eye is perceived-That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship.
Kena Upanishad (8) Chapter I - That which cannot he heard by the ear, but by which the hearing is perceived-That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship.
Kena Upanishad (9)- Chapter I -That which cannot be smelt by the breath, but by which the breath smells an object-That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship.
The masses in India cry to sixty million gods, and still die like dogs. Where are these gods?
Knowing this, stand up and fight! Not one step back that is the idea. ... Fight it out, whatever comes. Let the stars move from the sphere! Let the whole world stand against us! Death means only a change of garment. What of it? Thus fight! You gain nothing by becoming cowards. ... Taking a step backward, you do not avoid any misfortune. You have cried to all the gods in the world. Has misery ceased? The masses in India cry to sixty million gods, and still die like dogs. Where are these gods? ... The gods come to help you when you havesucceeded. So what is the use? Die game. ... This bending the knee to superstitions, this selling yourself to your own mind does not befit you, my soul. You are infinite, deathless, birthless. Because you are infinite spirit, it does not befit you to be a slave. ... Arise! Awake! Stand up and fight! Die if you must. There is none to help you. You are the entire world. Who can helpyou? - Swami Vivekananda
(Delivered In San Francisco, on May 28, 1900) -The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 1/Lectures And Discourses/The Gita II
The Self is indeed Brahman, but through ignorance people identify it with intellect, mind, senses, passions, and the elements of earth, water, air, space, and fire. This is why the Self is said to consist of this and that, and appears to be everything. - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Yajurveda says: - if one worships God
They enter darkness, those who worship natural things (for example air, water, sun, moon,animals, fire, stone, etc.).
They sink deeper in darkness those who worship sambhuti. (Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol etc.) -(Yajurveda 40:9)
"Deep into shade of blinding gloom fall asambhuti's worshippers. They sink to darknessdeeper yet who on sambhuti are intent.("Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Giffith pg 538)
"They are enveloped in darkness, in other words, are steeped in ignorance and sunk in thegreatest depths of misery who worship the uncreated, eternal prakrti -- the material cause of the world -- in place of the All-pervading God, But those who worship visible things born of the prakrti, such as the earth, trees, bodies (human and the like) in place of God are enveloped in still greater darkness, in other words, they are extremely foolish, fall into an awful hell of pain and sorrow, and suffer terribly for a long time." (Yajur Veda 40:9.)
So, Yajur Veda indicates that:-
They sink deeper in darkness those who worship sambhuti. (Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol etc _(Yajurved 40:9)
Those who worship visible things born of the prakrti, such as the earth, trees, bodies (human and the like) in place of God are enveloped in still greater darkness, in other words, they are extremely foolish, fall into an awful hell of pain and sorrow, and suffer terribly for a long time." (Yajur Veda 40:9.)
The Hindus believed in polytheism, believing all of their Gods to be separate individuals, which were introduced much later by the founders of Hinduism which contains diverse beliefs caste and creed.
When the religion of the Veda knows no idols then why so many gods and goddesses with different form and name are being propagated as Vedic gods. Why these conceptual gods are introduced when the Vedic concept of God is free from form and attributes.
Who introduced the concept of God with attributes and attributeless gods, when Yajur Veda says: - those who worship visible things, born of the prakrti, such as the earth, trees, bodies (human and the like), in place of God are enveloped in still greater darkness. Therefore, all these add-ons proves that the form and attribute based concepts are introduced by some sages of the past with a new belief system and code of conducts in the name of Vedas.
It clearly indicates that: -If the human goal is to acquire Self-Knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana then why one has to indulge in rituals and glorifying the conceptual gods and goddesses to go into deeper darkness. Instead spend that time moving forward towards Self-knowledge, which is one’s prime goal.
Since it is eternal and infinite, it comprises the only truth. The goal of Vedic religion, through the various yogas, is to realize that the consciousness (Atman) is actually nothing but Brahman.
The Vedic pantheon of gods is said, in the Vedas and Upanishads, to be only higher manifestations of Brahman. For this reason,- "ekam sat" (all is one), and all is Brahman.
Kena Upanishad (1) Chapter II - If you think: "I know Brahman well," then surely you know but little of Its form; you know only Its form as conditioned by man or by the gods. Therefore Brahman, even now, is worthy of your inquiry.
Kena Upanishad (2) Chapter II - The disciple said: I think I know Brahman. The disciplesaid: I do not think I know It well, nor do I think I do not know It. He among us who knows the meaning of "Neither do I not know, nor do I know"-knows Brahman.
Kena Upanishad (3) Chapter II - He by whom Brahman is not known, knows It; he by whom It is known, knows It not. It is not known by those who know It; It is known by those who do not know It.
Kena Upanishad (4) Chapter II -Brahman is known when It is realised in every state of mind; for by such Knowledge one attains Immortality. By Atman one obtains strength; by Knowledge, Immortality
Kena Upanishad (5) Chapter II - If a man knows Atman here, he then attains the true goal of life. If he does not know It here, a great destruction awaits him. Having realised the Self inevery being, the wise relinquish the world and become immortal
Thus, the goal is to realize the Atman (consciousness). If the Atman (consciousness) is nothing but Brahman and by realizing Atman (consciousness) as Brahman (ultimate truth) is truth realization or Self-Realization, then there is no need to follow the religion, study the scriptures or glorifying the Gods and the Gurus and follow the path of doubts and confusion by losing oneself in the labyrinths of philosophy, when there is an easier path. By mentally tracing the source of the mind from where it rises and subsides one becomes aware of the fallacy of the mind, which rises as waking or dream and subsides as deep sleep. The mind raises form consciousness and subsides as consciousness.