Is me and my body separate?
The "I" is the soul. And it is distinct from the body. The body is declared to be dead when the soul leaves the body.
Asya visramsamAnasya sharirasthasya dehinah |
DehAdvimuchyamanasya kimatra parishishyate | Etadvai tath ||
When, one, who is established in the body as it's lord, gets detached from the body, what remains in the body then? That is That (or the AtmA).
When the soul leaves the body, depending on it's accumulated Karmas, it goes to various Lokas, where it either enjoys the fruits of Karmas or gets punishments for the same.
But immediately after leaving the body it does not live in a gross body (Sthula Sarira). It has then only a subtle kind of body called the Linga Deha. Some call it Sukshma Sarira too. This body remains attached to the soul as long as it is not liberated.
- The Karma, auspicious and inauspicious, done in many previous lives and preserved in seed forms, remains always inherent in a human soul. Urged on by this Karma, the Jîvas quitting their previous bodies, enjoy Heaven or Hell as effects of these, their own acts. 22-23. According to their good or bad works, the Jîvas acquire the higher happy body and enjoy various pleasures in the Heavens, or they take up very painful vicious bodies and suffer various pains in hell. 24-25. At the expiry of the above period in Heaven or Hell, when there comes the time of his assuming another body, the Jîva becomes conscious of the subtle body (Linga Deha) and takes his birth again. When the Linga Deha comes into existence, the part of the Karma done in various previous births that are ripe and ready to yield their fruits, gets attached to the Jîva by God (or Destiny).
From Devi BhAgavatam 7.30
The ChAndogya Upanishad 5.10.6 describes how the soul (after leaving the human body) lives in the Chandraloka, till the fruits of Karmas are not exhausted. Thereafter, it gradually becomes air to finally becoming rain bearing clouds. Then the soul gets born as cereals and grains (which are cultivated aided by rainfall). Next, whoever (capable of producing children) eat those grains, the soul is born as their offspring.
So, the answer to your question is that the soul always lives within a subtle kind of body (the Linga Deha), that lasts till the soul gets liberation.
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