Atman and Brahman are both central concepts in the Indian spiritual tradition, particularly in the Vedanta philosophy. Atman is often translated as “self” or “soul,” and is considered to be the innermost essence of an individual. It is the individualized aspect of the ultimate reality, often referred to as Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality, the absolute and unchanging ground of all existence, often described as the ultimate godhead.
A common analogy used to explain the relationship between Atman and Brahman is that of a spark and a fire. Just as a spark is a small, individualized aspect of a larger fire, the Atman is a small, individualized aspect of the ultimate reality, Brahman. And just as all sparks come from the same fire and ultimately merge back into it, all Atman ultimately merge back into Brahman.
Another example is the one of the wave and the ocean. A wave can be seen as an individualized aspect of the ocean, and it is created by the ocean and will ultimately merge back into it. Similarly, the Atman is an individualized aspect of Brahman and it will ultimately merge back into the ultimate reality.
In summary, Atman and Brahman are considered to be the same essence, but different in their manifestation; Atman is the individual soul and Brahman is the universal soul.