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  • Brownie's Version

The Power of the Atman

at·man |ˈätmən | (also Atman)

noun Hinduism

the spiritual life principle of the universe, especially when

regarded as inherent in the real self of the individual.

a person's soul.


from Sanskrit ātman, literally ‘essence, breath’.

This song is a kind of hymn, conceived in 1986 in Mumbai, India, at the 'World Congress For the Synthesis of Science and Religion', which my husband and I stumbled upon when we were traveling and then attended on a whim. Hosted by the Bhaktivedanta Institute (, we were humbled to find ourselves in the presence of the Dalai Lama, although not for the first time during our 3 months sojourn in the country but that's another story for another time.

Present also were leading members of the scientific and spiritual communities from around the world - Nobel Laureate George Wald, religious scholar Huston Smith, and the charismatic and visionary Indian statesman, Dr. Karan Singh - there to inspire all in attendance to think outside the box in the quest to understand the nature of consciousness. It was barely a budding topic in scientific circles then but thankfully, is now beginning to gain some traction. An address by Dr. Karan Singh inspired the lyrics to this song. In his speech he repeatedly urged, "To whom much is given, much is expected," like a battle cry, "because the power of the Atman is there!" I was transfixed and deeply stirred. It hit me as correct and further ignited an already deep desire to honour, not just the gifts in my life but the gift of my life, by learning to stay awake and watchful for moment by moment direction coming from an invisible current beneath the surface of the mundane. For me, 'much is expected' isn't so much about all kinds of 'much good doing' but more about 'much good being', because it's from this place that the Atman can then, seemingly, magically align, guide and creatively manifest whatever is quietly required.

I didn't actually know that Karan Singh was quoting from the bible (Luke12:48) until quite recently but long before I had come across the sign in the photo (here above) in a local store, the first of only two times I've seen one. I bought it immediately and it has hung in our house ever since as a reminder to pay attention, take nothing for granted, stay grateful and do my best. Interestingly, our son growing up found it a heavy motto to live by, apparently too demanding during uncertain years of youth. It never dawned on me it could be daunting, more just a call to right action no matter how subtle, which I guess is something we come to know through experience and example, perhaps even over many lifetimes.

The Power of the Atman

Everything you think and do

ripples out away from you

to the ends of the universe

where it turns around and comes back to you on the rebound

Creator of your present life

sole designer of your destiny

be ever watchful you reap what you sow the divine boomerang is coming ‘round slow

Because the power of the Atman is there

yes it is

Cue the cards

colour you life

welcome your fate

call it paradise the light is within so let the light shine

Cease to do evil learn to do good cleanse your own heart look within where you should

don’t hang onto the passing show

and the sky will open when it’s your turn to go

Because the power of the Atman is there

yes it is

Walk through the valley in the shadow of death

feeling protected with each sacred breath

pass through the fire not fearing the flame and let those who know tell those who don’t

from whence we came

Look for the hidden God in everyone not one can be rejected

and know

to whom much is given much is expected

Because the power of the Atman is there

Yes it is yes it is yes it is

© Anne Beverly Brown - 1986

1 Comment

B Schoemaker
May 22, 2020

Very powerful Anne. beautifully written. Thank you!

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