How Can Atma Choose Who Gets Realized?

The Katha Upanishad states, “Only he realizes whom Atma chooses.” But how can Atma, which has no personal qualities, choose anything or anyone at all?

Let’s listen to Atmananda:

It is ordinarily said that a thing attracts one. It is not on account of anything done by that particular thing that it is said to attract, but one gets attracted to it of himself. It is in this way that Atma’s ‘choosing’ has to be understood. It means that he who is earnest about getting to Atma–the ultimate Truth–gets attracted to it without anything being done by Atma itself. That is the choosing.

Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda: Volume 1, ed. Nitya Tripta,p. 54.

Atmananda sounds patently Neoplatonic here: there is something, presumably, so peaceful (ananda) about Atma that some wish not just to see Atma (for seeing still implies duality) but to be Atma.

Thus, what grows and grows in the sadhaka is what I term earnest resolve: only to be Atma and nothing else. This, and this alone, is what drives more and more of the spiritual aspirant’s activities and inactivities.

That natural attractiveness of the Source, however, mustn’t mean that the spiritual aspirant finally “gets merged” with the Source; it must mean, rather, that ignorance gets shed and shed to the point at which there is nothing remaining but the Source alone.