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 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.
|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"|