Apologies for this belated reply: Buddha's god is very much like Kapila's God. Buddha believed in a supreme, universal and eternal self. Like Kapila, but did not believe in a personal god. It is very interesting that Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita gives Kapila the most respect among the sages. Yeah, the soul is finite, but within the ocean, it is infinite. What do you think? Yes and No. I don't think we are forced to do anything, after all we have free will, and there is nothing limiting us other than ourselves. I think our past karmas, only make it more difficult to attain liberation, but out presents karmas are far more important. I think, there is only one way you can go in spiritual evolution and that is up. Could all the good karmas I've done in past life be supplanted by bad karma in this life? No, and this is why I think so; those good karmas of the past, are a part of the personality we have developed over our many lifes, and how we act today is affected by these past samskaras. For example, if I am a saint in this life, then how could I become a tyrant in the next? If am wise and knowing in this life, how could I be unwise and not knowing in the next? I do not believe the soul is the self. The self is the unity of the soul with that ocean of universal cosciousness - that infinity. The soul itself is a finite part of that ocean. Would you and I? No. Would a soul, where a life on earth would seem like a single moment in the astral. I think it is important to ask yourself why would any soul want to incarnate on this Earth? What is here, that isn't in those subtle/astral planes? In the BG, Krishna says to Arjuna that the Earth is the "Karma Bhumi" which you know means the land of karma. I think this illuminates a very important reason why we incarnate here; here to earn karma. Here we learn the hardest lessons. It is baptism through fire so to speak. Why should our free will end with our material life? If our consciousness continues on, then so do our ability to will. If we are forced into a life we do not want to live, then that denies our free will. If we accept we do have free will, then we must also accept that we choose ourselves whether we want to incarnate here. When we choose which life we want to lead, we don't know if that life will be of happiness and suffering. That will depend on our past samskaras. We may choose to live as beggars, but become kings. We may choose to live as kings, but become beggars. Their personality. Every soul has made a string of life choices through all their lives, and everyone is unique. We cannot all have made the same life choices. God essentially experiences reality through all of us infinite souls. There is a verse in the Rig Veda(1.164.20) that says this, and I really think it beautiful: Two Birds(God and Soul) With their beauteous wings Associate in intimacy Perch on the same tree Of them, the soul tastes the fruit The other, god, enjoys without tasting Do the demons contain Brahman? Does Hell contain Brahman? I think Yes and No. If the spirit of Brahman pervades all this universe, then he is the core of everything in this universe. He is the core of you and me. Yet, you and me, or at least the ego of you and me, have those pranic currents flowing in different proportions. So it is also true that god does not exist in this state - he cannot exist in this state. That is why he too has to incarnate in mortal form. In the lowest astral planes(or hells) he cannot exist. Prakriti and Purush are eternal. Matter has always existed, in it's undifferentiated/Avyaktum state, but as soon as Purush fuses with it, matter comes alive. So I think, I am wrong in thinking that Purush does not pervade matter. I think again, as above, it is more about matter in it's gross state cannot support the infinite energy of Purush. It is very interesting to note, that at the casual, matter can no longer exist in duality, it completely merges, just like the soul, into this oness. So, now to be extremely confusing, it is both right and wrong that matter is pervaded by god!