Category: Atman

Artwork by Pat Brennan

Who am I?

I am that
I am that I am
I myself am the Swan

Soham (so ‘ham सो ऽहम्) is the Sanskrit for “I myself” or “It is I” or “He is I”.

The mantra is also inverted from so ‘ham (the sandhi of saḥ + aham) to ham + sa. The combination of so ‘haṃ haṃsaḥ has also been interpreted as “I myself am the Swan”, where the swan symbolizes the Atman. “Atman” is the individual soul or essence. The essence that is eternal, unchanging, and indistinguishable from the essence of the universe.

In the Bible, when God was asked what his name is, He answered ” I Am That I Am’. In Sanskrit, the most ancient of languages, the sound of the inhalation is termed So, and the exhalation is Ham. Combined, the word Soham is translated as “I Am He/That”. So, whenever you are doing this technique, you are calling on God. Every breath thus becomes a prayer and adoration. Soham is referred to as the “Mahamantra”, the Greatest Mantra, and is considered along with Om to be the most powerful of all techniques. The divine energy of Soham is limitless heavenly love and light. -source

Related info:

Soham (or Sohum) mantra audio example (mp3) courtesy of
Meditation on the white swan (Hunsani)

I am that I am (Vivekananda)


Recently I was asked the following question by a friend, in an email.

“Is it possible to be born without a soul? Or does it get lost? One person in particular who I believe was soulless also had a creepy residence. Middle of the country with no birds singing, or is that just a coincidence?”

I’ve decided to address this question here, for discussion’s sake. So to her (Sylvan Swan) and my other readers, I’ll give the best answer I can, based on my beliefs.

I do not believe anyone is born without a soul. I believe that the soul (consciousness) animates the mind and body, and without it, no one would be born into this world. Without a soul, no human, plant or animal would or could exist. And I don’t believe our souls are created during conception, but rather we are eternal beings, and we have always existed, outside of time and space, beyond the cycle of birth and death. Neither do I believe the soul can be destroyed, any more than God or electromagnetic energy can be destroyed. For me, the individual soul (Atman) and God (Brahman) are in essence one in the same. We are the eternal life giving force which animates all things great and small.  Learn about Advaita philosophy if you’d like to know more.

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