Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Acharya Prashant (AP): What is the Aatman?
Do you already know what I am going to tell you?
Listener (L): No
AP: Yet you will understand, right? Now, how do you understand, without knowledge? How do you understand, without having already known? How does something absolutely new come to it and yet you are enamored by its beauty?
That, which remains active, even in your absence, even in the mind’s absence, even in knowledge’s absence, is Aatma.
Hence, it is utterly reliable. Because it is not a product of circumstances, because it is not a product of time. So, it can never desert you. It never came to you. It is not a product of some happening. Did somebody teach you that these mountains are beautiful? Then why are you captivated by them. You have been looking at them, over and over, again and again, and your eye seems to have some strange fascination for these mountains. Every day or the other, I am seeing, somebody or the other, just standing, lost, absorbed. Who taught you exactly that these are beautiful?
That, which you know, without being taught, is the Aatma.
Who taught you that silence is soothing? Who taught you? Then why do you all look so peaceful in silence?
Aatman is innate. And that is what is peaceful, and that is what is soothing.
That, which is so intrinsic, so innate, that man has neither made it, nor can man comprehend it, is the Atman.
And the proof of Atman is everywhere. Just open your eyes and you will see nothing but Atman. And that is such a relief that man does not have to do everything. That there is something so beautiful, so all encompassing, present before us, present in spite of us, and would be present, even in our absence. Is that not a great relief?
That takes away, a lot of burden from our shoulders. You don’t have to try to understand. You don’t have to define beauty, you don’t have to enter in love. You don’t have to fall silent. You don’t have to be liberated. All this just is. Peace, relief, I don’t have to do all these things, not my…