If you ask, what then is real in all things and in every individual soul? the answer is, Brahman, the One without a Second, the One besides whom there is nothing; but this answer can be understood by those only who know Avidyâ, and by knowing it have destroyed it. Others believe that the world is this or that, and that they themselves are this and that. Man thinks that he is an Ego dwelling in the body, seeing and hearing, comprehending and reasoning, reasoning and acting, while with the strict Vedântist the true Self lies deep below the Ego, or the Aham, which belongs to the world of illusion. As an Ego, man has become already an actor and enjoyer, instead of remaining a distant witness of the world. He is then carried along into the Samsâra, the concourse of the world; he becomes the creature or the slave of his accumulated acts (karman), and goes on from change to change, till in the end he discovers the true Brahman which alone really exists, and which as being himself is called Âtman or Self, and at the same time Paramâtman, or the Highest, Âtman and Brahman, both being one and the same thing. Good works may be helpful in producing a proper state of mind for receiving this knowledge, but it is by knowledge alone that men can be saved and obtain Mukti, freedom, and not by good works. This salvation or freedom finds expression in the celebrated
words Tat tvam asi, thou art that, i.e. thou art not thou, but that, i.e. the only existing Brahman; the Âtman, the Self, and the Brahman are one and the same.