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Distinction Without Difference: The Nature of the Atman

the nature of the Atman
from the National Geographic Channel

Q: What is the difference between atman and jiva? Also do you believe that we are all one soul, or many living entities?

The atman and the jiva are the same thing, though since atman is derived from the root at, which means “I breathe,” you could say that atman is the jiva in relative existence and experience, and the jiva is the pure spirit-Self. Still, they are the same.

There is only One Reality: Satchidananda Brahman, the Paramatman. Yet in a way beyond our comprehension there are a virtually infinite number of individual spirits or jivatmans existing within Brahman, absolutely one with Brahman. They are not separate from Brahman, but there is a very real distinction between them and Brahman–distinction, but not difference. Only those yogis who have attained Brahmajnana (Atmajnana) comprehend this.

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