Arvindus

Contemplations

A Modest Exploration of 'I Am', 'I Am That' and 'I Am That I Am'

  • Title: Contemplations, A Modest Exploration of 'I Am', 'I Am That' and 'I Am That I Am'.
  • Author: Arvindus.
  • Publisher: Arvindus.
  • Copyright: 2023, Arvindus, all rights reserved.
  • Index: 202302191.
  • Edition: html, first edition.

§

In preparation of possible future contemplations some views on the expressions 'I am', 'I am that' and 'I am that I am' were explored. For this the religions of Christianity and Hinduism, as also the teachings of Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, Baird Spalding, Guy Ballard (or Godfré Ray King) and Mark and Elizabeth Prophet were consulted. Findings of interest were noted down together with their references. Because these findings may be of use for a general overview and for reference in the future they have here been gathered and arranged.

The exploration started at the Old Testament of the Christians where it is mentioned that God, Yhwh, expresses the wish to Moses to be named "I am that I am" ("ehye aser ehye" in the original Hebrew) and "I am" ("ehye"), thus positing himself as such.1, 2

With the Hindu's a similar expression is found with "I am that", such as for instance in the Chandogya Upanishad. The original Sanskrit regards "tattvamasi", meaning more literally "thou art that", whereby reference is made to self being (sat) or truth (satya) and the soul (atma).3 Another example is found in the Isha Upanishad. The original Sanskrit there regards "sohamasmi", whereby in abstract reference is made to the spiritual sun.4 Well known is also the expression 'aum tat sat', wherein 'sat' corresponds to the subjective 'I', 'tat' to the objective 'that' and 'aum' to 'am', which moves from the subjective to the objective and thus connects the two former mentioned.5

According to Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) the Sanskrit word 'hamsa', meaning 'swan', is derived from 'a-ham-sa', meaning 'I am he' (being in neuter expressed as 'I am that'). This goes also for the term 'Brahman', which is used to indicate the transcendental, and it applies too to the name of the god of creation 'Brahma', who strikingly has the swan as his vehicle.6 The 'I am' Blavatsky relates to the spirit principle,7 just like the 'I am that I am',8, 9 which is also related to 'sat'10.

Alice Bailey (1880-1949) employs a more strict distinction between the different expressions whereby the 'I am' principle is related to the personality, the 'I am that' principle to the soul and the 'I am that I am' principle to the monad.11, 12 In this teaching the monad is related to spirit and the father, the soul to consciousness and the son or child, and the personality to matter and the holy spirit or the mother.13, 14

In the teachings of Baird Spalding (1872-1953) the 'I am' principle is, probably loosely and not strictly terminologically, equalled to the "Christ Consciousness", which with Bailey regards the soul principle.15, 16 To refer to the personality, which, as mentioned, regards with Bailey the 'I am' principle, Spalding uses as term the 'me'.17 To refer to the spirit or father principle, being 'I am that I am' with Bailey, Spalding seems to use the term 'I am' as well without strict distinction between 'I am' as soul and as God.18, 19

'I am that' and 'I am that I am' are not mentioned in the books where Spalding quotes the teachings of the Masters he met, but the terms do occur in his own explanations of these teachings. In 'I am that' the 'I am' refers, so taught, to an embodiment and 'that' to the "All-Mighty", so the 'I am that' refers basically to one's own embodiment of God.20 And this goes also for 'I am that I am',21 to which Spalding also adds the Biblical phrase "and beside me there is no other".22, 23 Further broken down does the 'I' refer to the masculine, spiritual, individual identification principle and the 'am' to the feminine, embracing, embodying principle.24

Interesting to add to that is that this 'I am that I am (and beside me there is no other)' regards according to Spalding not just God but also the universe as the sum total of all things.25 They are equal. And another equation that is made regards that between the meaning of the 'I am' and the meaning of the Hinduist 'aum'.26

Now 'aum' is in Bailey's teaching set apart from 'om'. The 'aum', from which the Christian 'amen' sprouted,27 is there related to the personality, and thus too to Bailey's conception of the 'I am',28 whereas the 'om' is rather related to the soul29.

In Blavatsky's teachings this distinction between 'aum' and 'om' is not explicitly found,30 however Blavatsky does equate the 'om' with the 'am', regarding them both as referrers to the divine.31

In the teachings of Guy Ballard (1878-1939), who is also known as Godfré Ray King and who founded the I am movement,32 the 'om', not mentioned as distinct from 'aum', is equalled to the 'I am'.33 This 'I am', also mentioned as the 'I am presence', is taught to regard God in action (in the individual).34 The 'I' therein regards "the Infinite God-Power", and the 'am' the "motion to successfully accomplish".35 'To accomplish what?' Basically 'this or that'. For in a sense Ballard's teaching is one of 'I am that', whereby 'that' can be anything.36, 37 Ballard's teachings pivot dominantly around the 'I am (that)' as God in action (to manifest), and then a further mentioning of 'I am that I am' does not take place.

Ballard however does quote Jesus from the New Testament where Jesus says "Before Abraham was born, I am", whereby 'I am' in the original Greek appears as 'ego eimi'.38, 39, 40 In this quote does Ballard relate the 'I am' to the principle of life and 'Abraham' to its expression.41 This is of interest because Blavatsky relates Abraham to the earlier mentioned Brahma,42 whom she together with the transcendental Brahman related to the spiritual 'I am that'. This transcendental principle Ballard thus sets apart from Abraham, but he does connect to Blavatsky's teachings where he relates the 'I am' to the father principle.43

Much of interest is also to be found in the teachings of Mark Prophet (1918-1973) and Elizabeth Prophet (1939-2009). They consider the 'I am' as the individualized presence of God, who in turn regards the 'I am that I am'.44 'I am' is not equalled to the Christ consciousness, as with Spalding, which with the Prophets, like with Bailey, regards the mediating principle between the highest principle and the lower self.45 Further terminologies and presentations of man's constitution however may differ between the Prophets and Bailey, but we won't conduct a detailed analysis of these here. Regarding the 'aum' and 'om', that are sometimes equalled to 'I am' in other teachings, it can be said that the Prophets do not differentiate between 'aum' and 'om' and that they relate them to the mother principle.46

There are many more interesting elements to be found, however for a general exploration this will suffice. Different views on 'I am', 'I am that' and 'I am that I am' were explored, and what they basically had in common was that 'I am that I am' is related to the principle of the father, the spirit, God. Further conclusions shall here not be drawn. May the raw, unrefined, in the sense of 'uncontemplated' and 'unexplained', data serve as a tool for reference.

Notes
  1. The American Standard Old Testament, (software), Version 1.0, Ages Software, Albany, 1996, Exodus, Ch. 3, v. 13-15. "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."
  2. The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, Part I, Genesis and exodus, George Ricker Berry (translator), Hinds & Noble, New York, 1897, Exodus, Ch. 3, v. 13-15 / p. 228.
  3. Chāndogya Upaniṣad, With the Commentary of Śaṇkarācārya, Swāmī Gambhīrānanda (translator), Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 2009, Ch. VI, sec. 8, sl. 7 / p. 468-469.
  4. 'Īśā Upaniṣad' in: Eight Upaniṣads, With the Commentary of Śaṇkarācārya, Volume One, Swami Gambhirananda (translator), Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 2008, sl. 16 / p. 27-28.
  5. 'Contemplations, The Fractalness of 'Aum Tat Sat'', Index: 201107191.
  6. Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Volume I, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002, p. 78.
  7. Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Volume II, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002, p. 245.
  8. Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Volume IV, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002, p. 99.
  9. Helena P. Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002, p. 43.
  10. Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Volume VIII, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002, p. 147. "It is impossible to reveal in print the first reading, when it is written AHIH, beyond stating that exoterically it is connected with the "I am that I am" and with Eheieh "Absolute BE-NESS or SAT.""
  11. Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, p. 245. "The first manifestation, the Personality, embodies the "I am" principle.
    The second manifestation, the Ego, is embodying the "I am that" principle.
    The third manifestation, the Monad, will embody the "I am that I am" principle."
  12. Ibidem, p. 420. ""I am" refers to the personality consciousness on three lower planes, or to all that is considered as inferior to the causal body. It concerns a man's realisation of his place upon the globe within a chain.
    "I am That" refers to his egoic consciousness, and to the planes of the Triad. It concerns a man's realisation of his place within the chain, and his relationship to the group of which he forms a part.
    "I am That I am" refers to a man's monadic consciousness, and his relationship to the planes of abstraction. It concerns his realisation of his position in the scheme."
  13. 'Ageless Wisdom, Triplicities in Man', Index: 201308292.
  14. Alice A. Bailey, The Light of the Soul, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, p. 46.
    "Aspect Quality Centre Macrocosm
    Spirit Father Monad Will Head Central spiritual sun
    Soul Son Ego Love Heart Heart of the sun
    Body Holy Spirit Personality Active Intelligence Throat Physical sun"
  15. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, California Press, San Francisco, 1924, p. 17. "[…] my I AM, my Christ Consciousness, […]."
  16. Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on White Magic, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, p. 35."Therefore the soul is another name for the Christ principle, whether in nature or in man."
  17. Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, p. 144. "The I AM is expressed through the me, then the me is no longer allowed to suppress the I AM. If the body is not obedient to the Spirit, how can it express the Spirit?"
  18. Ibidem.
  19. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, Volume III, DeVorss & Co., Los Angeles, 1935, p. 51. "I AM and my Father are ONE in all meekness and Almighty Greatness."
  20. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, Volume IV, India Tour Lessons on, DeVorss & Co., Santa Monica, 1948, p. 20-21. "The Hindoo always puts it as Principle, or the All-Mighty, which means that man does become that mighty, controlling element. […]. This is the whole secret power but, to manifest that Mighty power that is ours, we must obey that source and embody the characteristics which it possesses; then we should not hesitate to proclaim "I am that," as the Hindoos put it, when that becomes the thing we have embodied."
  21. Ibidem, p. 42. ""I am THAT I am," which is the embodiment of God."
  22. Ibidem, p. 42.
  23. The American Standard Old Testament, Isaiah, Ch. 45, v. 5. "I am Jehovah, and there is none else; besides me there is no God."
  24. Note 22.
  25. Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, Volume IV, p. 142." The Universe is the sum total of all things visible and invisible that fill infinite space. The Universe is the great whole, composed of all its parts. It might be said that the Universe is another name for God for He identified himself as "I am that I am and beside me there is no other." It is the sum of all life, all substance, all intelligence, all power."
  26. Ibidem, p. 26.
  27. Alice A. Bailey, The Rays and the Initiations, A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Volume V, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, p. 51. "Through the constant use in all the Christian Churches of the word "Amen," which is a western corruption of the A.U.M."
  28. Ibidem, p. 52. "The A.U.M. and the Amen are both of them an expression in sound of the principle of active intelligent substance in the divine manifestation, the third aspect, and have served human need in that phase of material and form development. I refer here also to the development of mind or of the mental form. The personality as a whole, when perfected and brought under control of the soul, is the "Word made flesh.""
  29. Ibidem. "The mass of aspirants and of disciples are today learning the meaning of the O.M., which is not the Word made flesh, but the Word released from form, and expressing itself as soul-spirit and not as body-soul-spirit."
  30. Theosophical Glossary, p. 239.
  31. The Secret Doctrine, Volume II, p. 43. "[…] for the words "am" and "om" meant at one time in nearly every language the divine, or the deity."
  32. David V. Barrett, Sects, 'Cults' and Alternative Religions, A World Survey and Source Book, Blandford, London, 1996, p. 191.
  33. Godfré Ray King, The "I AM" Discourses, By the Ascended Master Saint Germain, Lotus Ray King (editor), Saint Germain Press, Chicago, 1955, p. 84. "The Oriental phrase for "I AM" is "OM.""
  34. Ibidem, p. 84.
  35. Ibidem, p. 62-63.
  36. Ibidem, p. 130. "[…], when one says: "I AM this or I AM that," he is setting God in Action, […]."
  37. Ibidem, p. 71. "Consider only: "I AM that, which I wish to bring forth.""
  38. The American Standard New Testament, (software), Version 1.0, Ages Software, Albany, 1996, John, Ch. 8, v. 58. "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was born, I am."
  39. The New Testament, in the Original Greek, Ivan Panin (editor), The Book Society of Canada Limited, Agincourt, 1975, p. 204.
  40. The "I AM" Discourses, By the Ascended Master Saint Germain, p. 152. "In the Scriptural statement: "Before Abraham, was 'I AM.' " Abraham represents the outer expression of Life and "I AM" represents the Principle of Life, which was expressing through Abraham. Thus, was the Perfection of Life, before any manifestation ever occurred, and thus is Life without beginning and without end."
  41. Ibidem.
  42. The Secret Doctrine, Volume II, p. 77. "For who, after studying dispassionately the respective legends of Abram or Abraham, Sarai or Sarah, who was "fair to look upon," and those of Brahmâ and Sarasvati, or Sri, Lakshmi-Venus, with the relations of all these to the Moon and Water;—and especially one who understands the real Kabalistic meaning of the name Jehovah and its relation to, and connection with, the moon—who can doubt that the story of Abram is based upon that of Brahmâ, or that Genesis was written upon the old lines used by every ancient nation?"
  43. The "I AM" Discourses, By the Ascended Master Saint Germain, p. 7. "Arise! I say, Arise! and walk with the Father— the "I AM"— that you may be free from these limitations."
  44. Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Kabbalah, Key to Your Inner Power (eBook), Summit University Press, Gardiner, 1997, p. 103. "The I AM Presence corresponds to the Father-Mother God. The I AM Presence is the Presence of God individualized for each one of us. It is your personalized I AM THAT I AM."
  45. Mark L. Prophet, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Saint Germain on Alchemy, Formulas for Self-Transformation, Summit University Press, Corwin Springs, 1993, p. 373-374.
  46. Ibidem, p. 257. "[…] – even the sacred AUM (OM), the universal sound and syllable of the Divine Mother – […]."
Bibliography
  • 'Ageless Wisdom, Triplicities in Man', Index: 201308292.
  • 'Contemplations, The Fractalness of 'Aum Tat Sat'', Index: 201107191.
  • Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on White Magic, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, The Light of the Soul, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, The Rays and the Initiations, A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Volume V, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • David V. Barrett, Sects, 'Cults' and Alternative Religions, A World Survey and Source Book, Blandford, London, 1996.
  • Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Volume IV, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002.
  • Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Volume VIII, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002.
  • Helena P. Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002.
  • Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Volume I, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002.
  • Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Volume II, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002.
  • Godfré Ray King, The "I AM" Discourses, By the Ascended Master Saint Germain, Lotus Ray King (editor), Saint Germain Press, Chicago, 1955.
  • Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Kabbalah, Key to Your Inner Power (eBook), Summit University Press, Gardiner, 1997.
  • Mark L. Prophet, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Saint Germain on Alchemy, Formulas for Self-Transformation, Summit University Press, Corwin Springs, 1993.
  • Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, California Press, San Francisco, 1924.
  • Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, Volume III, DeVorss & Co., Los Angeles, 1935.
  • Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, Volume IV, India Tour Lessons on, DeVorss & Co., Santa Monica, 1948.
  • The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, Part I, Genesis and exodus, George Ricker Berry (translator), Hinds & Noble, New York, 1897.
  • The New Testament, in the Original Greek, Ivan Panin (editor), The Book Society of Canada Limited, Agincourt, 1975.
  • Chāndogya Upaniṣad, With the Commentary of Śaṇkarācārya, Swāmī Gambhīrānanda (translator), Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 2009.
  • 'Īśā Upaniṣad' in: Eight Upaniṣads, With the Commentary of Śaṇkarācārya, Volume One, Swami Gambhirananda (translator), Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 2008.
  • The American Standard Old Testament, (software), Version 1.0, Ages Software, Albany, 1996.
  • The American Standard New Testament, (software), Version 1.0, Ages Software, Albany, 1996.