Atman - the spirit or soul — the true "self" of every person is eternal – a divine spark.
It is ultimately indistinct from Brahman. The goal of life is to realize that one's atman (soul) is identical with Brahman, the supreme soul. Monier-Williams, Monier (1974), Brahmanism and Hinduism: Or, Religious Thought and Life in India, as Based on the Veda and Other Sacred Books of the Hindus , p20-37
It is the eternal core of the personality that survives after death and that transmigrates to a new life or is released from the bonds of existence.
Atman underlies all the activities of a person, as Brahman (the absolute) underlies the workings of the universe.
To know this truth brings bliss; the Atman is part of the universal Brahman, with which it can commune and fuse.
Reference: " atman ." Encyclopædia Britannica . 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 Oct. 2007 < http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9010116 >.
It is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation , preservation , and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva”. These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad" or the "Great Trinity". Flood, The Purāṇas , p. 139, (2003)
Brahma – the Creator, is the deva (god) that serves the cosmic function of creation. (BIRTH)
It is not to be confused with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedanta philosophy known as Brahman
Vishnu – serving the cosmic function of renewal and preservation. (LIFE)
the master of and beyond the past, present and future, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe.
Shiva – the Destroyer or transformer of evil. Serves the cosmic function of dissolution or destruction that precedes re-creation. (DEATH)
Hinduism, the oldest religion, says people want four things. Two lie within the Path of Desire.
First, people seek pleasure.
This is very natural since we are born full of senses, which guide us from dangerous pain (fire, sharp sticks, etc. = death) and guide us toward pleasurable things (sunsets, beautiful flowers, consummating a marriage = new life).
Hinduism does not scorn this, but it does not hold pleasure as the highest good.
“ Like everything else, hedonism requires good sense. Not every impulse can be followed with impunity”. Small pleasures must be sacrificed for “long-range gains” (Smith, 14).
“ Only the stupid will lie, steal or cheat for immediate profit or succumb to addictions” (Smith, 14). Hinduism says seek it intelligently.
1.“Wealth, fame and power are exclusive, hence competitive and precarious” (Smith, 15).
2. “The drive for success is insatiable…when one makes these things one’s chief ambition …one’s lusts cannot be satisfied”.
“ Poverty consists, not in the decrease of one’s possessions, but in the increase of one’s greed, wrote Plato” and “In Hinduism ‘ To try to extinguish the drive for riches with money is like trying to quench a fire by pouring butter over it’” (Smith, 16).
3. Centers on the self and we seek something greater than ourselves to fulfill our deep desire for life. Country house, sports cars and posh vacations aren’t enough.
4. The gains of wealth, fame, power are ephemeral – they do not transcend our death.
The way of pleasure and worldly success are not to be scorned. Hindus say, “Do not turn from desire until desire turns from you”. It is a nature stage of development to adult maturity.
Japam is the practice of repeating God’s name incessantly, constantly focuses the mind and heart in adoration and thanksgiving (p35 Smith)
Changes of love – love assumes different nuances according to the relationship involved: (friends, parent to child & visa versa, man and woman, beloved servant to master)
Worship of one’s chosen ideal or ishta. God has innumerable forms and each is a symbol that points to something beyond. None exhaust God’s actual nature.
Karma yoga: starve your EGO to reach your ATMAN
Path to liberation, or moksha, through work .
Shrinking and starving the EGO by seeking to serve the other
Selfless service unsheathes our ‘diamond beings’ and our eternal Truths shine through
Hinduism says work is the staple of life
one doesn’t have to go to a monastery to be close to God, we can find God in the work of our lives.
“ Thou art the Doer, I the instrument” (Smith, 38).
Gandhi’s life was an example of one who journeyed this path:
“ To be true…one has to lose oneself in continuous and continuing service to all life…for me there is no escape from social service; there is no happiness on earth beyond or apart from service” (Brodd, 53).
One can approach Karma yoga with the heart or the intellect
For Karma yogi, point of life is to transcend the smallness of the finite self.
“ If I chop down a tree that blocks my view, each stroke of the ax unsettles the tree; but it leaves its mark on me as well, driving deeper into my being my determination to have my way in the world. Everything I do for my private wellbeing adds another layer to my ego and in thickening it insulates me more from God” (Smith, 38).