The soul is disguised when you are tired or stressed; you are pulled outside yourself; your attention is dominated by externals; you let others think for you; you act out of compulsion; you are influenced by fear and anxiety; you struggle and suffer.
Theses conditions have to change before the soul connection can be reestablished. Death provides access to the domain of the soul, but Vedanta declares that the soul has a great deal to offer before death. Life is conducted under the gaze of the soul.
Your portion of pure consciousness has certain universal qualities: It is constant; it never loses sight of you; it is connected to every other soul; it shares God’s omniscience; it is untouched by change; it lives beyond time and space.
So it isn’t only tender, loving, quiet moments that reveal the soul. Rather, it’s those moments when the soul’s own qualities come to the surface that are most important.
The soul is revealed when you feel centered; your mind is clear; you have the sensation that time has stopped; you suddenly feel free of boundaries; you are keenly self-aware; you feel merged with another person, either in love or silent communication; you feel untouched by aging and change; you feel blissful and ecstatic; you have an intuitive flash that turns out to be true; you somehow know what is going to happen; you sense the truth; you feel supremely loved or absolutely safe.
If there is only one reality, as the rishis declare, then life is not a struggle between good and evil, but a tangled web where all actions, good and bad, move us closer to reality or deeper into illusion. Karma spins the web. Hell, like every other location in consciousness, ultimately reflects the state of our own awareness, and freedom from hell is won, like every other achievement, by coming closer to the reality of the soul.
Adapted from Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2006).