Atman (soul) is the innermost self. ‘I’ is not Atman. holding 'I' as the self is holding the falsehood as reality. There is a need to know what is ‘I’ before indulging in the pursuit of truth.
Dualist sages including many sages and thinkers could not distinguish between ‘I’ and ‘formless witness.’ The 'I' was the witness. Their highest was the Jiva. One is so much attached to the 'I', and he does not want to think that 'I' does not exist. Again one is unable to detach the ‘I’ from the Real witness.
The dualist object:~ If everything else is false then the statement I am Brahman is itself false, the but when one says non-duality is false, there must be the awareness, consciousness, behind the very statement. You will also go, die. One has to rely upon that which is permanent. Formless witness of the ‘I’ alone is permanent. Anything that one says is a witnessed (waking), but there is the formless witness (consciousness) there before any statement could be made.
They mean the body by “I", but it is the formless witness which is the real “self ". Theists dualists did not, or could not analyze further than ‘I’ on this point, because they thought the ‘I’ without the body as self.
WHAT IS ‘I’?
The ‘I’ disappears as deep sleep, so what is the use of being attached to it? It is impermanent and illusory.
There is really no ‘I’ which in the form of mind. And mind is in the form of the universe. And universe appears as waking or dream. The ‘I’ or mind or universe or waking or dream dies disappears as deep sleep. Thus, one that appears as ‘I’ or mind or universe or waking or dream is consciousness and it disappears as deep sleep is also consciousness. In deep sleep it is in its formless nondual true nature. The one, which witnesses the coming and going of the three states, is also consciousness. Thus, the witness and witnessed are one in essence.
Thus, the universe is reality on the base of individuality and universe is unreal on the base of the consciousness, which is the innermost self. The seeker gradually will grasp and realize the unreal nature of the universe or mind. Individuality is illusory because the self is not an individual because self is formless and it pervades in everything and everywhere in all the three states. .
Dualist’ sages have written big volumes about the soul. Yet they are quite ignorant of the fact that the ‘I’ about which they write itself comes and goes and has no permanent existence, is only an idea after all.
Bible says:~ “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)”,
Yazur Veda also says:~ “Nathasya prathima asityasya nammahastha (32.3)”, God has no image and His name is Holy.
Mythreyi Upanishad 2:26 says:~ “Pashanalogamani moonmayavigrahashi pooja punarjanana bohahari mumusho tasmatati: swahdayarja nameva kuyarta hayacharam parihareta punarbhavaya”, all those who desire to have salvation without taking several births, should worship God in spirit and truth.
Swami Vivekananda:~ The Higher your ideal is, the more miserable you are,' for such a thing as an ideal cannot be attained in the world — or in this life, even. He who wants perfection in the world is a madman — for it cannot be. How can you find the infinite in the finite?
Ignorants mean the body by “I", but it is the formless witness which is the real “self ". Theists dualists did not, or could not analyze further than ‘I’ on this point because they thought the ‘I’ without the body as self.
He who knows the formless witness of the three states as self, knows it is distinct from cause and effect. If one knows the meaning of causality, no karma will affect him. If one thinks that self is untouched by cause and effect, then they don't affect him, because he is not the self.
The Self is quite unconnected with the causes and effects, because it is the mother of all causes, but it itself is uncaused. . The waking entity has to be left behind; the soul is something unconnected with the waking entity and the waking world. Then the thought of cause and effect is left with the whole waking experience.