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Article LVII: Concepts of Vedanta

Important Vedantic concepts include Atman, Brahman, samsara, moksha, and maya. Atman is the Soul or the Self, which is ultimately the same as Brahman, the supreme Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, which is beyond space, time, and causation. Atman is sheathed by maya, which includes the body and the mind. Samsara is the cycle of rebirth, and moskha is freedom from this cycle, or enlightenment. When one transcends the maya of the body and mind, one becomes free from that bondage, and therefore, enlightened. Maya is the superimposing force, which gives objects nama (name) and rupa (form). Without name and form, everything is equal. A great analogy to understand maya is the water in a wave and the ocean. A wave is nothing more than the water of the ocean given a name and a form. However, the substance of the wave and the ocean are both water. Consider jivatma (the individual soul) as the wave, paramatma (the universal soul) as the ocean, and Brahman (universal Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss) as the water. The removal of maya simply represents the wave subsiding in the ocean, eliminating distinction between the individual and the supreme Truth. (This analogy is adapted from descriptions by Swami Vivekananda.)

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