Brahman is a word used rather liberally. One must always be careful in understanding what it means in a particular context. The Samskrtam word, Brahman comes from the root 'brhi', which means big or great. Therefore Brahman is that which is the biggest, greatest or most important. It may be used to imply the pure awareness (soul), since the pure awareness is the source of the individual and hence is the 'greatest' among the constituents of the individual which include the body, energy, mind, . intellect and soul. Also, it could mean God since He is the Greatest. He is source of Creation. He creates the universe with the creative power Maya, which is the totality of Pure Awareness. Brahman (God), is actually beyond the Maya. He is the Possessor of Maya. He possesses Maya as if it were a quality. God, beyond Maya is called the Nirguna Brahman (God, who is beyond qualities). However from the individual point of view, God appears only within the Maya. The individual is part of Creation. He is a product of Maya. He cannot imagine anything which is 'beyond Maya. The Nirguna Brahman (God, who is beyond qualities), cannot even be imagined by him. All that can be said about the Nirguna Brahman is that It exists. As far as the individual is concerned, God appears only within Maya as its Possessor. God, associated with Maya, is called Saguna Brahman or God with quality (since He possesses Maya as if it were a quality). Saguna Brahman is called Isvara. It is God as human beings can conceive of Him. In the Advaita (Non-dualitic; Monistic) philosophy propounded by Sankara, Brahman only means pure awareness, which is the essential nature of the individual. It is identical with the source of creation which is Maya. It is not to be mistaken with Nirguna Brahman (God, who is beyond qualities) since It is beyond the conception of the human mind. This Brahman (pure awareness) is of the nature of peace. You can attain that peace by becoming Brahman, which is your Self. If you detach from the body and feel that you are Brahman you can attain peace. However this will happen only if your detachment is total; you should remain in peace thinking that you are pure awareness even if you are beaten in hell. Isvara, the Saguna Brahman (God with attributes), comes as the human incarnation called Lord Datta, who outwardly appears peaceful and blissful. Actually He donates His peace and bliss to His devotees and does not enjoy the peace and bliss internally. The Veda says the same (Esha Hyeva Anandayati). Datta means sacrifice and not enjoyment. He takes the fruits of all the sins of His real devotees and is an ocean of unhappiness inside. He suffers for the sake of His devotees. He alone can come as human incarnation in this world. Any living being is already Brahman because the pure awareness is present in any living being. However peace and bliss are to be attained (attaining the Brahman) by the grace of Isvara only, even in this stage of self-knowledge as said by Sankara (Isvaranugrahadeva). The peace and bliss that you attain by self-knowledge may remain with you while you are mediating. Of course that too happens by the Grace of God (Isvara) alone. However you will be utterly miserable and disturbed while being beaten in hell. The peace you attained is not permanent. Attainment of Brahman is not the ultimate goal. Isvara (God) is the ultimate goal and not the Brahman (Awareness), since Brahman is already achieved by any living being. Even a worm wriggling in the sewage, has already achieved the Brahman (since it is also conscious). The path towards Isvara is full of sacrifice because the very nature of Isvara (Datta) is sacrifice. As you achieve more and more sacrifice you are practically becoming more and more Datta. The above is a message by Datta Swami. His teachings can be found at universal-spirituality.org.