Possibly one the greatest concepts we will ever work toward wrapping our human brains around, is the Truth that we are the Universe. I know. Most people are like, "Whaaaat...?" Yes, we are having an experience in this physical body as a human being, that is also true. But what we are is Infinite. Our Soul is of the ethereal, unseen, unchanging Spirit – pure Love, Source, God, Ultimate Reality, Universal Intelligence, the Divine – whichever Name or word resonates with you. We all came from That, and to That we will all return. Therefore, even while in this body, we are That. Simply in a more limited form, so to speak. Just as a single drop of water is made of the same qualities as the entire ocean, so does our consciousness have the qualities of God's consciousness, just in a different proportion.
The Sanskrit Tat Tvam Asi, (or sometimes Tat Twam Asi, or Tattwamasi) encompasses the vastness of this concept in these three short words, which translate to English as "That thou art". A further explanation being that the Self – in its original, pure, primordial state – is wholly or partially identifiable or identical with the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena, or the Universe, in a limited sense. Again, You = single drop, God = Ocean, a.k.a. SAME STUFF.
Other alternative translations of Tat Tvam Asi are “Thou art That” or “You are That” or “You are Brahman (God)” or “You are the Divine” or “You are the Absolute” – all accurate translations of these three tiny but mighty words which are the ultimate Truth, and summarize the very essence of India’s ancient vision of God, and man’s equation with God.
The origin of these words is from the oldest scriptures in the Yoga tradition called the Vedas. The Vedas form the fundamental source text for everything in Hinduism. Each of the four Vedas has metaphysical speculations, known as Upanishads, at the end. The Chandogya Upanishad is where the words Tat Tvam Asi first appear. You see, among the various discussions in these Upanishads there are Mahavakyas (or "Grand Pronouncements" – Maha is Great, Vakyas are sentences), which are of foundational importance & deep significance. This Mantra is one of these.
This ancient scripture tells the story of a father, Uddalaka, teaching his son, Svetaketu, about the spiritual way. He begins to tell him about the nature of the Universe and the Highest Being, explaining there is "spiritual knowledge that enables you to hear the unheard, think the unthought and know the unknown." He elaborates, explaining:
"Just as by knowing a lump of clay, everything that is made of clay can be known, since any differences are only words, and the essential reality is clay. In the same way by knowing a piece of gold, all that is made of gold can be known, since any differences are only words, and the reality is only gold."
“The Supreme Entity is everywhere, though not seen – like the salt dissolved in water – and it is the Self, and it is the only reality, the Truth."
And he concludes:
“Sa yadha tatra naadahyata, Aitadaatmyamidam sarvam tat satyam, Sa aatma tat tvam asi, Svetaketo iti, Tatdhasya vijajnauviti, vijajnauviti.”
“The essence of Atman is everywhere in the Universe, and Thou Art That Atman, Svetaketu, my son.”
In very subtle terms, Uddalaka tells us that by knowing the SELF (Self-realization) or Atman, we will be able to recognize the entire Universe because of the fact that the Universe cannot exist without the presence of God. It is just like saying there will not be a pot without clay and there will be no more golden ring without the gold!
You may have heard the phrase "You are That which you seek". Well, herein lies the power of this Mantra. That Ultimate, higher, Divine source of Love that we often so desperately desire to connect to, already exists within our very own form. We are it. This Mantra serves as a potent reminder anytime you are struggling with those feelings of "separateness" from God, or are even noticing yourself simply getting caught up in the minutia of daily life.
Repeating TAT TVAM ASI brings you to the present moment & connects you straight to source
Here is a general breakdown of this Mantra:
Tat: from Tattva, or Absolute Truth (That)
Tvam: You (Thou)
Asi: Are (Art)
In this, the effect is nothing but the cause. Hence the body is nothing but food, food is nothing but water, water is nothing but fire, fire is nothing but Sat (pronounced saht – true essence, God). Sat alone is true, and That thou art. This Sat is the real cause of the Universe. When a man dies his speech is dissolved in the mind, the mind is dissolved in the Prana, the Prana is dissolved in fire, fire is dissolved in Sat. This Sat is thy Self – That thou art.