Difference Between the Gross Body, Subtle Body and Soul

Death often gives rise to a number of doubts pertaining to life, after life and eternal life, all of which are a part of the journey of the eternal spirit soul. This spirit soul, however, is often disregarded and even confused with the soul which is a part of the subtle body.

According to spirituality, the basis of all life is the spirit soul which is a part of the Almighty Lord. It is the spirit soul that transmigrates from one body to another and gradually realizes its constitutional position in terms of its relationship with God.

The Holy Bible, too makes clear distinctions between the soul and spirit soul as can be understood with the help of this statement:

“May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:23

The Apostle Paul refers in this verse to the spirit and soul separately to “sanctify you wholly”. So, God has distinguished the spirit from the soul. The Apostle Paul also mentions:

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
~ 1 Corinthians 3:16

Thus, along with the spirit soul, the God’s Spirit or the Higher Self also dwells in the body, and both the Eternal Self and the Higher Self reside in the heart.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
~ Proverbs 23:7

Living beings are composed of the gross body, the subtle body and the soul. The gross body, as we all know is the physical body consisting of the five sense organs, organs of action and elements of nature.

Coming to the subtle body, it can be understood in terms of the astral body which comprises the mental body, intellect and false ego. It is this astral body that has been associated with supernatural phenomena.

In addition, it is the subtle body which is subjected to the sufferings of hellish conditions after death for those who deserve such punishment. Unfortunately, it is generally mistaken for the pure, eternal, spirit soul or the
eternal self.

You can read more about the finer divisions of these different components of the living beings in this article from the Deccan Herald explaining the body as the house of a man. It is also mentioned that it is the subtle body which actually experiences the material pains and pleasure.

Thus, the spirit soul is not affected by these changes. The Vedic scriptures also define the spirit soul as eternal, immortal, and changeless. In fact, it is full of bliss but has a small free will which when used improperly conditions the soul to the material world.

In the material world, the conditioned soul identifies itself with the material body which is controlled by the mind and intellect so that it takes delight in being the lord of the living being.

The polluted mind and intellect, however, can be purified by engaging the astral body’s higher mind comprising higher intellect and intuitive wisdom properly, leading to purified consciousness which in turn will help the pure eternal soul to “rejoice in the Lord”.

To gather more information on the difference between the spirit soul and soul, you can visit this page.