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The Bhagavad-gita describes it in this way: “For the atma there is neither birth nor death at any time. He does not come to be, has not come to be, and will not come to be. He is unborn, eternal, undying, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain . . . .The atma can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, moistened by water, nor withered by the wind. This individual atma is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable, and eternally the same. ( 2.24).

One who realizes this eternal atma within himself—that is, one who recognizes himself to be the eternal consciousness or soul within the body—becomes a perfectly self-realized person. There are innumerable atmas, all in essence the same yet each eternally distinct. And above all these atmas is the Paramatma, or supreme atma—God. God, too, is distinct from all other living beings, and this distinction is eternal. God, the supreme infinite, is the complete spiritual whole, and all other living beings are infinitesimal parts of God. A living being can never “become God” any more than a drop of water can become the entire ocean.

(The painting shows how our bodies may be different, but the soul, atma, is what we all have in common.)