Q: Will the experience of being at one with God be totally impersonal ? What I'm trying to ask is if there is any trace of my soul that will forever belong to me which will allow me to experience my oneness with God, or will I just be God?
A: You have put your finger on a very important question! The answer to it is a part of the nature of God and the nature of man--so it reaches deep within the world view of a person. Hinduism and Christianity will give quite different answers to this as their view of God and human nature are quite different.
Hinduism believes that "Atman is Brahman." This means that each creature has a soul (Atman) and is a part of God. It is a pantheistic or panentheistic view. The four great vedic statements from the Vedas are:
1. TAT TVAM ASI (THAT THOU ART).
From Samveda – Chandogy Upanisad
2. AHAM BRAHMASMI (I AM BRAHMAN).
From Yajurveda - The Brhadaranyak Upanisad
3. AYAM ATMA BRAHMAN (THIS SELF IS BRAHMAN).
From Atharva Veda – Manduky Upanisad
4. PRAGNANAM BRAHMAN (BRAHMAN IS CONSCIOUSNESS)
From Rigveda-Aitarey Upanisad
This view of God is that God is within man and enlightenment means to discover this and to unite with Brahman. This view of heaven or moksha is to escape from the deceit of this present place (maya) and to be united with the One. This view would say that there is a loss of personal being and an absorbing of the individual into God. In a sense, the separation of individuals is an illusion; the opposites of the world will disappear and unite into peace and quiet within Brahman.
In contrast to this, the Christian view of God and man''s nature is quite different. This view states that the universe and the creation is separate from God. The Bible opens with "In the beginnig God created the heavens and the earth" and continue on to describe the creation as separate. Each person is viewed as unique individual with a mark of something like God (the image of God), but definitely not God. Some Christian pundit has said, "There is a God and He is not you." The view then of heaven from the Christian view is that individuals are real and God is a real separate Creator. The issue for reaching heaven is not essentially deceit, but rebellion against God or sin. Forgiveness from these sins as a free gift by the intentional sacrifice of God''s only Son, Jesus is the means to attain heaven. Heaven then will be a place of fellowship between individuals who are forgiven and enjoy mercy and grace, and God.