The Atman


Brooklyn, New York,

February 2, 1896

What does the Advaitist declare? He says: If there is
a God, that God must be both the material and the efficient cause of the
universe; not only is He the Creator, but He is also the created; He Himself
is this universe.

How can that be? God, the Pure, the Spirit, has become
the universe? Yes—apparently so. That which all ignorant people see as
the universe does not really exist. What are you and I and all these things
we see? Mere self-hypnotism. There is but one Existence, the Infinite,
the Ever Blessed One. In that Existence we dream all these various dreams.
It is the Atman, beyond all, the Infinite, beyond the known, beyond the
knowable; in and through That we see the universe. It is the only reality.
It is this table; It is the audience before me; It is the wall; It is everything—minus
the name and form. Take away the form of the table, take away the name;
what remains is Atman.

Vedantists do not call Atman either He or She; sex is
a mere fiction of the human brain. There is no sex in the Soul. People
who are under illusion, who have become like animals, see a woman or a
man; Godlike men do not see either. How can they who are beyond everything
have any idea of sex? To them everyone is Atman, the Self—sexless, pure,
ever blessed.

It is name and form—created by maya—which cause all
the differences we see in this world between various objects. If you take
away name and form the whole universe becomes one. There are not two; there
is but one everywhere. You and I are one. There is neither nature, nor
God, nor the universe—only that one Infinite Existence, out of which,
through name and form, all these are manufactured.

How can you know the Knower? It cannot be known. How can
you see your own self? You can only reflect yourself. So all this universe
is the reflection of that one Eternal Being, the Atman; and as the reflection
falls upon good or bad reflectors, so good or bad images are created. Thus
in the murderer the reflector is bad, not the Self. In the saint the reflector
is pure. The Self, the Atman, is by Its own nature pure. It is the same
one Existence, the same Atman, that is reflecting Itself as the lowest
worm and also as the highest and most perfect being.

The whole of this universe is one Unity, one Existence—physically,
mentally, morally, and spiritually. We are looking upon this one Existence
in different ways and creating all these images upon It. To the being who
has limited himself to the condition of man, It appears as the world of
man. To the being who is on a higher plane of existence, It may seem like
heaven. There is but one Soul in the universe, not two. It neither comes
nor goes. It neither is born nor dies nor reincarnates. How can It die?
Where can It go after death? All these heavens, all these earths, are vain
imaginations of the mind. They do not exist—never existed in the past
and never will exist in the future.

I am omnipresent, eternal. Where can I go? Where am I
not already?


©1953 by Swami Nikhilananda.

Trustee of the Estate of Swami Nikhilananda.

The above is excerpted from

Vivekananda: The Yogas and Other Works

which may be purchased from:

Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center

( www.ramakrishna.org/ )

Vedanta Society of Southern California

( www.vedanta.org/ )

or from

The Yogas and Other Works